"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
The desires of my heart began drastically changing about one year ago as I sat in the office of the therapist I hired to help diagnose Corey's behavior problems. My mom had encouraged me to talk to a Christian counselor about his moodiness and aggression- just to be sure we weren't missing something. Mr. Floyd (the most wonderful therapist, by the way) had just spoken privately to the then eight-year-old Corey and was now going to hand me the prognosis. I had mentally prepared myself for what I thought the problem was. The therapist would tell me it was Corey's biological dad's fault. Hmmpphh - I already knew that. My fingers twitched nervously as he began.
"Mrs. Bradshaw, your son's issue is very simple. He has an acute need for his mother. He feels you are always gone and always working and that makes him very upset. That is it"
Talk about a pin-drop moment.
Thus began my journey. A series of God-orchestrated events brought me closer and closer to a place where I know I was intentionally missing unreplaceable time with my family - and it was slowly suffocating me. The money was great, the success was greater and I had such a mixed bag of feelings. I loved what I did for a living, yet the price I was paying was too painful. Even the balance with Jason was off-kilter. We had decided years ago that he would stay home with the kids, and I started resenting him for it. I would lash out at him, holding over his head the fact that I made the money and was in control.. all the while, being so sad, jealous and resentful. I wanted to be with those kids! It was a never-ending cycle of anger, apologize, repeat. When I would tell Jason I wanted to try a different arrangement, he would tell me that there was no way we could make less money and live the way we were living and I would agree, with an achy heart and a lump in my throat. We were stuck. Too many bills, too much pressure to make that money. I would have to forge ahead and work every weekend and many evenings. My work ethic was such that I did whatever it took to get the sale- with every victory came a numbing pleasure that momentarily took my mind off my guilt of not being around. Of missing those t-ball games, those field trips, those homework sessions.
Still, God wasn't done with our situation. He drew me closer to him and began changing my selfish, proud heart- the desires of my heart were beginning to change as I delighted in Him. God consistently brought people into my life who helped me see things through different eyes. Tara Furman, a well-known Christian speaker, and her assistant laid her hands on me and prayed in the back of a conference room as I bawled, that God would touch my husband's heart-that He would make a way where there seemed to be no way. I will never forget the way she cared for me in that moment. Here is a link to her ministry. http://tarafurman.com/about-us/knowing-god-ministries/
I also read a verse last October in Isaiah that spoke to me.
If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn't guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?
Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Still, I wondered, "How can I get to place where I can spend time with my children and still be a responsible provider?"
That answer was given to me late last year when I found out that, due to market constraints, I would not be making the money that I had been used to- still good earning potential, but not enough that I could sleep at night and be the only one working. We decided that with the kids in school, Jason needed to work as well to maintain. Cue more stress and more unhappiness.
At a stop light in Harrisburg last fall, I cried prayed for God to show me how to find balance, how to know what God's will was for me- How we could possibly cut back in ways that would give me the freedom to be at home. I heard Him say in that moment, " I did not get you into this mess, but I am going to help you get out of it" I didn't know what that meant at the time, but somehow Jason agreed that we could try and downsize. A few days after our home went on the market, it was under contract. We were able to pay down debt and we moved to a much more simpler, smaller home. Humbling, yet necessary. We were able to save a substantial amount of money, yet not enough where we could get the math to add up to me doing something different. Meanwhile, my job was going great- sales, sales, sales. Still, I was empty and longed to work less.
I met with my Pastor, Dean Burris, and he listened as I poured my heart out about the marriage struggles with me being the provider, about how I wanted to simplify and be with my family. He helped me incredibly.. He said it sounded as if I need a "restart". I agreed.
The supernatural kept happening. We were strangely happy in our new small house. I didn't feel ashamed- instead we felt peace. God kept smiling on our decisions to get our lives in step with His plan.
My friend Celia texted me in February and suggested I go get a book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann VosKamp. Need I say more? God knew I needed that book- a book that chronicles a woman's journey to find pleasure and thankfulness in the simple moments of life. It resonated with me, so much so that I was in tears through most of it. (Please watch and see what inspired me in so many ways. The blog continues below)
During all of this, I truly tried to balance things better. I tried to leave earlier, go in later. But the industry I work in doesn't lend itself to not being there. My assistant, who I love like a second mother, and even my boss tried to work things out for me- none to which was helping. My heart was changing. I was pulling away from the career that had signified so much for me. The glory. The success. The awards. They were no longer appealing. As I looked out the model home windows on the weekends, I saw families walking and playing and just being. My heart ached to be with mine. It simply was not enough to see Corey and Avery three nights a week when I got home from work, and rarely on the weekends. It was no longer worth it to be deleted from the class email list because I could never respond. Not worth it to see my husband as we passed each other in the hallway at home and lived as life-less roomates. No longer worth it to have my "stuff" be more important than my children.
Tow Fridays ago, I felt a little tug on my hand. I was on the phone, trying to hammer out a sale, and shushed Avery with a typical finger to my lips. She handed me a card she had made at school in art class and I read it mindlessly, leaving it on the table. Later that night I picked it up again and re-read it. In her kindergarten scrawl, she wrote, " Mom, when are you off of work? I love you. I miss you"
My decision was clear in that moment. But how would Jason take it? That Sunday night after a long and grueling day in the real estate world, I came home and let it all crumble. Jason sat there and listened to me. He didn't respond at first, but I knew his response. Although I had numbers to support taking a sabatical and not working for the summer, he would say it was a terrible idea long term. There is no way this can work. We need your income. In this market, who walks away from a job like yours? His words always seemed to echo my fears.
But this time, He didn't say that. Instead, he pulled me over to him and said, "Baby, life is too short. It is my turn, and we'll make it work. In the fall, you can figure out something part-time when the kids are in school. I want you to be at peace."
Somewhere, the angels were singing!
Could this actually be happening? Only God could have changed his logical heart.
Last week, with sweaty palms and quivering voice, I met with the president of my company and formally told him I was resigning. It was quite possibly one of the hardest days of my life. Instead of anger, I received grace. He understood and gave me the best compliment I could ever hope to hear. He said, "Christy, if I wasn't your boss and didn't need you desparately, I would tell you that is the best decision you could ever make for your family."
Leaving Classica Homes is like leaving my other family. I am working until he hires my replacement, but even now my time is bittersweet. The past five years have been nothing short of amazing. To start as an assistant and be given the chance to be given the role of a sales manager is something I never took lightly. Every sale, every success in this market gave me tingles. I remember walking through the very first home I sold (as a to-be-built) when it was completed and crying tears of joy and amazement. Who takes a six week real estate course and then gets to sell million dollar homes to such wonderful families? My time here at Simonini/ Classica will be remembered with joy, as I found that I was a darn good sales person and real estate broker.
I have learned that dreams can change, as the desires of our hearts change. It was hard to sell my BMW last week. That beautiful car represented a dream that I was "trading in" for another dream. As silly tears streamed down my face, I handed the keys over to the dealership. It was more than just trading a car in- it symbolized the life I was trading in. I panicked for a few minutes. What am I doing? I will go crazy with my kids all day! I don't know how to cook. I haven't gone grocery shopping in years.
But the panic faded. We drove off into the disctance in the old SUV, and this aching heart finally felt at peace.
I may not be able to stay at home forever, but I am going to enjoy every minute that I am there- I have a lot of catching up to do. I pray that God will "smile" on this decision, as my friend Janette says, and that He will continue to reveal to me the next steps.
Below are some pictures of my journey- to be continued of course...