Jennifer {In business, one must focus}

I’m so excited for Jennifer to share her story on the blog today.  Our friendship goes WAY back – we met almost 13 years ago the day we joined the same society at Bob Jones.  I’m so thankful for the way that God has led in both of our lives…He took us on different (sometimes very difficult) paths that led us both to the most amazing job we have ever had – being mothers.  I know that you will be encouraged by her sweet story to motherhood….

I absolutely love being a mom!  Anyone who knew me growing up or in college probably are in total shock that I am a mother and that I really love it.  I have always been known as the very independent, driven, outgoing, business-minded type, but NEVER as a “kid type.”  My mom owned a daycare for the majority of my life, and I grew up around babies and toddlers.  I always knew how to do basic baby care, but never had that ooey gooey feeling about babies and kids.  Let’s put it like this – I never once volunteered for the nursery!  I have learned that God has a funny way of changing our desires – who’s with me on that one?
In college, I studied International Business and French and had a very strong desire to go into business and work for a French multinational organization.  Well, that was not God’s desire.  I had the desire to travel all over Europe and Asia.  That also was not God’s desire.  Instead, God’s desire was to send me to teach French in a 3rd world Caribbean country to live on a $300 a month stipend.  Awesome.  Not.  I was pretty sure that I wasn’t cut out for the provincial life.  Little did I know that those couple of years would change my life and my mindset forever!  Even though we had lots of inconveniences – no hot water, sporadic electricity, crazy bugs and lizards, no cars, 2-3 month rainy seasons, burglars – I never really struggled with culture shock because I fell in love with the children from day one!  I don’t know why I all of a sudden developed a very strong affection for children, but I have to say that I loved them so much that I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving them to come back to the United States.  So many long-term relationships developed through my time being there and I saw several of my students saved that year!  One of my students was even a bridesmaid in my wedding!  I remember telling my mom that I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to love my own children because I loved my Dominican students so much!
After I moved back to the United States I started dating my husband and high school sweetheart, Jim.   I had a very successful life insurance agency and was working 40-60 hours a week.  My goal was to give it all I had and work very hard for several years to build up my residual income (small commissions received annually after you sell a policy and it continues to stay active) and become fully vested by the time I was 35.  Sounds like a marvelous plan, huh?  On paper.  There were many discouraging things in the cut-throat world of business to have to deal with.  I had to testify against sexual harassment, was expected to say and do whatever needed to be done to close a deal (even if it wasn’t true), and was expected to do other “below bar” things.  I realize that not all of Corporate America is like this, but as for me, I couldn’t sleep at night.  I really struggled with contentment, trust, and bitterness and I started to believe that I wasn’t meant to be successful or happy.  What I really realized was that I did not have to compromise anything to achieve and be successful.  Success rested in following God’s leading for my life, wherever that took me. 
Jim and I were married in June 2011 and in October of that year, I became pregnant.  I was so upset!  This was a very big “mistake” in my mind!  I was scared and selfish and a control freak!  We had even planned a trip to Paris for April of this year, but I was 6.5 months pregnant at that time and so it was cancelled.  I was so self-centered and thought that it was just the worst timing for us and for all of the plans that we had.  It took me about halfway through my pregnancy to become really excited.  My husband is a head football coach and had just taken a new job that required a 2 hour daily round trip, not to mention the very late nights during the football season, right when I would have a newborn.  Great.  When I was 20 weeks pregnant I finally felt the baby move for the first time and I instantly fell in love.  It wasn’t until after Beau was born that I held him in my arms while feeding him in the quiet of the night, and my tears fell on his face and I sobbed, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t want you!”  From that moment on I knew that I was created by the Creator to do this job of motherhood.  I know that this sounds utopian, but I really love motherhood! 
Where does this lead my business career?  Who knows?  I gave up my life insurance agency in January after many tearful conversations with my husband about what I should do.  I sought the advice of some very trusted friends, and decided that even though I have no idea what the future holds for me, God does, and He was leading me to dissolve my business.  So where did that leave me?  I have always wanted to pursue my Masters in Business Administration and had a couple of friends who encouraged me to just jump in and do it.  I thought, how crazy?  I am working (I substitute teach and still personally produce with life insurance sales), a wife, a mother, and now a graduate student?  I thought (and I’m sure I said it to God at some point in my quiet time) this is crazy!  What else?  Little did I know that God had one more thing for me to add to my plate.  I have just recently starting singing with my church’s choir and praise team.  So many people ask me how I do it all.  I really start thinking that I have too much going on and that it’s not possible, and then I read all of the wonderful stories of so many other moms who have more kids, more demanding jobs, more stressful situations than I do. 
The “mom experts” on tv shows say that life is all about finding a balance.  Yeah, sure.  Tell that to the mother of a disabled child.  Tell that to the mother of multiples.  Tell that to the mother who has to work 40 hours a week.  Tell that to the single mother who never gets a break.  Tell that to the missionary mother who does not have her mom around the corner or any other conveniences of home.  I know better.  I know that God is on His throne and that every one of my days are numbered and ordered and that there’s nothing beyond His scope of knowledge.  When I flip out (I feel like I do this a lot), I have to tell myself to take a step back and realize that I have it pretty good.  I consider all of the wonderful blessings that I have in my life and realize that this small window of “crunch time” with a small child, job, and school, is just that – a small window.  My life is worth so much more than the anxiety that I have.  My baby, my husband and my God deserve my devotion, not my stress. 

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