Note to readers: this blog post isn’t deep, or hugely eye-opening, but it’s part of my story, so I wanted to record it here. I’m so grateful for those who have continued to encourage us on our journey, so I wanted this to be an update for those folks. Tune in later for some Stationery Academy recaps.
I just returned from the third and fourth sessions of Stationery Academy. On the three hour drive back to Oklahoma from Dallas, I found time to catch up with clients and colleagues, all grateful. All awesome. All good. How incredible it feels to say that. Sometimes I live like the other shoe is going to drop at any moment, so, right now, before I open my inbox tomorrow morning, I just want to capture that feeling: everyone is AWESOME.
There were so many things flying through my brain as I drove. Namely, I was ready to see my kids. A week without their little faces waking me up, and I missed them terribly. And sure enough, Charley has learned to say NO, and she’s pulling up on low tables, so she’s able to play trains with her brothers. We’re going to have to get her some princess stuff soon, before she turns into a total tomboy. Bubba and Kiddo’s sentences seem to both have doubled in size. The conversations around our house right now are adorable. There isn’t really any way to capture and record them, so I have to remember the sound bytes. “My tired,” instead of “I’m tired.” Tonight, David was asking Kiddo something about trains, and he pointed to his blue track on the floor and proudly said, “Mama helped me,” in a way I want to never forget, because I only know that all too soon he’s going to be telling me to stay ten feet back and pretend like I don’t know him. Bubba has this evil, charming laugh, and every night, when we tell him not to get out of bed and DO NOT turn on the light, he chuckles. He’s going to have to learn, somehow, to obey. I’m going to have to learn, somehow, to not laugh at that little snicker of his.
Did I mention that I missed my kids?
Another thing running through my head: reflecting on David’s career. Close friends and some clients know the struggle we’ve been going through for a while now. It’s not my story to tell, so I’ve chosen not to cover the details on the blog. What I can say, with gratitude and TONS of thanksgiving, however, is that last week, David rounded a major bend on what has been a very difficult journey. To put it simply, God has worked.
Two years ago, we set out for the first Stationery Academy in our family suburban. It was David and me, and Kiddo, and a little tiny Bubba, and our dear friend Anna, who was tagging along to help with both kids and Stationery Academy. The day before we left, David passed his commercial insurance licensing exam. He’d been studying for months, and we fully expected this little journey to Florida to be the last family vacation for awhile, since he would immediately begin the process of building his insurance business when we returned.
I’m glossing over a lot of details, but that year of building an insurance business didn’t go as planned. Twelve months later, we realized it was going to take a LOT longer than we anticipated for his income to be able to replace what I had been able to provide for our family. And long story short, the income I had been able to provide previously wasn’t there anymore. In the analogy of a plane taking off, it’s safe to say that we were out of runway.
So he got three jobs. For over a year now, David has gotten out of bed at all hours of the morning to go clean my Dad’s car wash. For the better part of the past year, he also worked at a retail furniture store, nights and weekends, selling furniture on straight commission. Two months ago, he made a switch from furniture sales to office equipment sales, with better hours for family living. All while continuing to build the insurance business. It’s been tough, to say the least. But it’s been good. And in so many ways, necessary. We’ve learned how to live with SO much less. We don’t have cable, and we don’t really watch TV anymore. We buy only what we need. We’ve sold anything we don’t use regularly, and we continue to eliminate. We continue to unburden. I may turn into a minimalist yet.
All this while, in the background, God was working. We were working. We were praying. Our marriage counselor and friend challenged us: work like praying doesn’t matter and pray like working doesn’t matter. There were days when it felt like we were just treading water, exhausted. On those days, I reminded myself to NEVER FORGET. The low points, the humbling points, these are the points that connect us to each other, and connect us to Him. I could choose to let them define me, or refine me. And we’re going for refinement here, folks. I definitely don’t want to be defined by this stuff. It’s hard, and it’s part of my story, but it isn’t my story. My story, hopefully, is that He’ll be glorified. I’ve got so far to go.
A dear family friend reminded me when I was in high school: the Bible tells us that we will know Him through the fellowship of His sufferings. “It doesn’t say we will know Him through the fellowship of His FUN, Whitney.” I can still hear her voice in my head.
[insert heavy sigh here]
If that’s what it takes. Thank goodness the sufferings and the pain are material for sacrifice.
So here’s the incredible thing, ya’ll. The truly amazing, tears-in-my-eyes-as-I-type-this thing. Last Thursday, David gave his notice at the office equipment job, and officially began the process of acquiring an insurance agency in Edmond, Oklahoma. And here’s the even more amazing thing: he’s ecstatic. If you never thought it was possible for someone to be passionate about insurance, you need to meet David. He thinks insurance is pretty much the coolest thing ever, just outside of helping people, which is his core strength. And it makes me nothing but thrilled that he’ll be able to use that passion to HELP people on a daily basis.
It really has been an amazing story, full of weird twists and turns, and some unexpected rugs being pulled out from under our feet. David and I both feel like we each have a long way to go, both together and independently, both personally and professionally. We know it’s not going to be easy. We do know it is going to be worth it.
You know what else? I’m so grateful for David. For how he’s fought for our family over the past two years. How he’s continued to love me through some pretty ugly moments. How he’s made me laugh during some pretty ugly moments. I’m so proud of his ability to love on other people, and make them laugh, and make them feel important, and worthy. And I guess I just wanted ya’ll to know that.
Thanks for your honesty Whitney- and that’s so, so, so cool. Thank you for sharing how you and your family are making it through- how all the hard work in the same direction is coming to bring about something good. So many of us need to hear this!
Thank you for your comment, Melissa!!
Oh Whitney, thank you so much for sharing this. I had tears in my eyes reading this, knowing those feelings a little too well. I am so glad that y’all are making it and persevering through- and with flying colors too! So excited for your family!!! xoxox
So I know you missed your kids waking you up every morning… But how was I for your replacement kids? Should I have jumped on the bed every morning?
PS I love you Kolbs!
I’m filled with happiness for you, Whitney. Grateful for so many blessings, knowing that more struggles lie ahead for all of us, but our eye is on the ultimate prize.
thank you for sharing this bit of your story. i love hearing about men who love their families and take true ownership of providing for them. it’s so great to see that you are both so supportive of your careers while still caring for and loving your family!
love this so much : “Work like praying doesn’t matter and pray like working doesn’t matter”
I appreciate your honesty and eagerness to connect+encourage, I’m lucky to have spent a few days with you in Dallas, thank you.
Love this Whitney! I’m so happy for you and your family and so grateful that you share your story. We are finally seeing the other side of things too and it’s definitely faith in God and each other that we venture into this new phase in our lives with baby #2!
Loved reading this!!!
This post was a song to my heart. Thanks Whitney for leading the way!
Love your authenticity, Whitney! Thank you for being so open and real in sharing your story!
Congratulations to David!! So happy that things are looking UP!
Thanks so much for sharing pieces of your story – even the not so glamorous pieces. Because we all know that life isn’t always glamorous – just not enough people are talking about that part of life – so it’s refreshing to see “authenticity” on this level. I’m so happy to hear that things are looking up for you and your family – I’ll pray that your burdens will continue to be light! Thank you also for giving so much of yourself to the development and betterment of other creative entrepreneurs… I sure am grateful to be a beneficiary of your generosity, and I intend to give credit where credit is due!