When You Take the Time It Takes…

When you take the time it takes, it takes less time.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to go through some amazing self-development training.  Some training that forced me to dig deep.  To look at why I do things the way I do them.  To learn why I react to things the way I react.  We worked with horses as we went through this life-changing training against the backdrop of God’s artistry in Wyoming.  During our time there, this line was repeated- “When you take the time it takes, it takes less time.”

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It’s a nice sentiment on it’s surface:  if you take the time it takes to read an entire recipe instead of getting halfway through prepping dinner to discover you don’t have all the ingredients, it takes less time to get dinner on the table because you don’t have to scrap that and figure something else out.  If you take the time it takes to properly potty train your new puppy through consistency, it takes less time because your puppy isn’t confused about what to do when it needs to go outside.   But this quote?  This idea is far too intense to let it just sit as a nice little saying.

We live in this age of instant gratification, instant information, instant food, instant anything really.  We live in an era of everyone wanting something done and wanting it done right now.  We live in this space where if something is taking too long or is getting too hard, we decide it’s not for us any more.  We want the biggest and best without having to put in the actual time and effort to get those things!  We want to lose weight in a week with a magic shake.  We want to make six figures as soon as we graduate from college without having to work as an intern and do the grunge work while working our way up the ranks.  We want to have that big house or that fancy car or the vacation home without putting in the years of saving and investing and time.

A child throws a fit because he doesn’t get his way, so you give them what they want because it’s easier and it’s hard to see them so upset.  Then down the road, you try and change that behavior after it’s been established (or worse, you continue to give them what they want leading to an entirely different battle of entitlement, but we’ll leave that for another time).  If you’d taken the time it takes to teach them right away “that’s not how you get what you want,” it would have taken less time (and your preschool years would have been a lot easier with established expectations for behavior!).

You start a business, and you’re excited and passionate and can’t get enough of it…but you aren’t successful overnight.  It’s hard!  It takes so much time and effort and blood and sweat and tears.  It takes trying new things and making sacrifices.  So rather than give all you have to your dream, you quit and move on to another business venture and start all over.  Or worse yet, you settle for something that doesn’t bring you any fulfillment at all.  Or you can take the time it takes so it takes less time to do something that feeds your soul.

You discover marriage is hard.  You discover living with another human being everyday means you committed to the good things and the bad things.  It means learning to share your entire self with that person- hopes, dreams, feelings and frustrations.  It means learning how to communicate and to not go to bed angry and not hold in feelings that build up.  But that’s scary and hard, to let someone see your entire self, so instead you choose the easy path and walk away because that’s less work for you.  But if you’d taken the time it takes, it takes less time.

You lose a baby at six weeks.  You’re devastated but you hear “you can always try again” and “there’s always a reason for everything” so you make yourself “get over it” and pretend like it wasn’t a big deal.  Until weeks later, all those feelings come flooding to the surface because you weren’t allowed to grieve that little life.  If you take the time it takes, it takes less time.

You have these dreams and these goals and a vision of what you want your life to look like…but it’s taking too long.  Instead of letting it take the time it takes, you try and make things happen faster or skip the important parts.  The necessary parts.  The growth.  The learning.  The valleys and the mountaintops.  The recognizing it’s not always all about you.  We don’t like that.  We don’t like it when it’s not all about us.  So we walk away from those things too and decide those dreams just “aren’t meant to be.”

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But when we take the time it takes- If we continuously point our babies in the way they should go, they learn from early on that it’s not always all about them.  We learn that the little things that seem so tedious and monotonous, done day after day, build upon each other to create an amazing business or career that ignites our passion.  We learn that relationships get so much better over time if we take the time it takes to tend to them faithfully and learn how to do life with another person.  We learn that if we take the time it takes to grieve losses, it takes less time to bring beauty from ashes.  We learn that our greatest purpose in life lies not in living a mediocre life spent focused on ourselves but in an amazing life filled with purpose and happiness and joy that’s chosen and overflows to serve those around us.

We learn that when we take the time it takes to grow, to learn, to listen, to reflect, to take the hard roads, it takes less time.  While the easier roads may seem faster, you have to travel and backtrack and turn around on far too many of them to reach the same destination.  In fact, you may never make it there at all, and then you get to look back on a life of regret.  On a life of giving up when you should have given it your all.  On a life of quitting when you were on the brink of a breakthrough.  On a life of just getting by instead of a life of thriving and passion.  On a life wrapped up in your own wants instead of a life marked by making a difference.

When you take the time it takes, it takes less time.

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The Day You Should Have Been Born.

My Dearest Clara,

Today is the day you should have been born.  Today is the day, had you not decided to come earlier like your brothers, we would have had a C-section scheduled.  Today is the day I should have held you in my arms for the first time, seen your sweet face, smelled your baby smell.  This is the day our family should have been complete.

I’ve been dreading this day, Sweet Daughter.  I’ve had this letter mentally written for weeks.  When September rolled around, I got a pit in my stomach; and as this day has drawn closer and closer, every morning I’ve woken up wanting to puke.  Because this day is not just the day you should have been born, but a reminder of the things that should have been, could have been, and likely never will be.

This day is a reminder that I should be holding you in my arms instead of typing this while sitting in a coffee shop with tears running down my cheeks.  I should be anxiously awaiting your brothers to get out of school so they can meet you-  a sister they were so excited to have.  I should be feeling relief that you made it here safe and sound.  I should be feeling contentment, that our family was complete and whole.

This day is a reminder that I will never get to watch you grow up.  I will never get to see you twirl around in a princess dress and wrap your baby dolls up in blankets.  I will never get to take you to get your ears pierced or put your hair in a ponytail.  I will never get to have a girl’s day with you shopping.  I will never get to hear about your crush or watch you go on a first date.  I will never get to watch you fall in love with Jesus.  I will never get to watch your Brothers be fierce protectors of their Baby Sister.  Oh Clara, Wyatt had been praying for a sister since the day he found out you were in my belly.  Before that even!  He would have loved you so fiercely, the way only a brother can love a sister.  I will never get to see you wrap your Daddy around your little finger or watch him walk his Little Girl down the aisle.

This day is a reminder that while I love your Brothers with all that I am, our family will forever feel like a piece is missing.  This day is a reminder that, barring an act of Divine Intervention, I will likely never see that test say positive again, feel a baby move in my belly again, never experience the first cry again.

What would you look like?  Would you have curly hair like me?  Would you have your Daddy’s blue eyes like your brothers?  Would you have been a whirlwind of energy like Logan or more reserved like Isaac?  What would it have been like to have a little pink bundle in a house full of Boys?

I miss you, my Daughter.  I sleep with a blanket with your name on it every night because it makes me feel just a little bit closer to you.  Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever been through.  But you make me braver, Sweet Girl.  You make me stronger.  You make me so grateful for what I have- your Daddy, your Brothers, our family.  You give me the courage to fight for the things that matter in this world- quality time with those that mean the most to us and serving those who are hurting.  You give me a passion and an empathy for others struggling, and you taught me how to not only give grace because we don’t know what others are going through at any given time, but to receive it in return when our world was falling apart.  I never held you outside of my belly, Clara, but you changed my entire world.

So today, snuggle in a little closer in Jesus’ arms.  Know that you are missed and loved oh-so-much.  And I can’t wait to braid your hair and hear all about Heaven when I get there.

Mommy

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The Day We Chose Experiences

A year ago at this time, we were in the process of trying to sell our house.  We were making good money with our business, these larger homes were beautiful, and we were sucked in.  Oh, it felt amazing to know we qualified for such gorgeous homes after living so tight since we began our life together.  Suddenly we felt like our house was tiny, and we needed more room.

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We were in no way prepared to sell our house.  In fact, it was a whirlwind operation that stressed me out to the max.  Once we got it clean and picked up enough to go on the market, the task of keeping it that way with three little boys seemed impossible.  In addition, because of my self-employment income, the process to secure the mortgage required much more paperwork that kept me constantly running. Add in trying to run my business, and my stress level was about at it’s limit.

The days ticked by as our house sat on the market, and the expiration on the contract for our “dream house” came closer and closer… and then it passed.  I cried that morning knowing that house was gone.  We took our house off the market and decided we wouldn’t put it on again until we did a few projects to update a few things.  By this point though, we were set on moving!  So we continued to look at houses.  A lot of them.  And we found a house I loved even more than the first.  It had a HUGE backyard complete with a beautiful patio and fire pit.  The basement was perfect for our business.  It came with Greg’s coveted larger garage and an amazing walk-in closet in the master bedroom.  So much room for clothes!  Let’s not even talk about the master bathroom!  It was the kind of house where you walk in and just know this is the one.  And this whole whirlwind process started all over again.

Our house went back on the market.  My stress level rose.  Again, the days ticked by.  Again road block after road block arose.  Until finally one night, as I lay awake (because sleep was rarely seen that summer with all my worry about the financing and the showings and losing that gorgeous home along with a devastating miscarriage we suffered during that time) I begged God to DO something, to make it clear if this was His plan.  I was so tired.  I was emotionally drained.  I was at my tipping point.  In the still dark of my room that night I felt Him whisper, “I am doing something, my Daughter, but you’re not listening.”

Greg and I talked it over the next morning.  It all seemed so crystal clear as I sipped my coffee and took a good hard look over that past two and half months.  There’s something to be said for perseverance and digging your heels in when pursuing something you know to be true and right.  There’s also something to be said for moving on when a door is repeatedly shut.  Most importantly, though, is having the ability to recognize which camp your current situation is resting.  I realized that morning that we were at a crossroads.  We were looking at two choices, and whichever way we chose would greatly impact what our future would hold.

One the hand, we could continue to pursue this home that I absolutely loved.  It was in a quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood in a beautiful part of town.  This gorgeous home where I could watch my Babies grow up and make memories.  But while I could certainly make that house work in our budget, there would be little wiggle room.  If things got rough for more than a few months in a row, that’s about all we’d be doing…watching the Babies grow because an emergency fund can only fund for so long.

OR.  Or we could opt for experiences.  We could stay in our current home.  We could not worry one bit about having enough to send our kids to the school that fits our family’s current needs perfectly.  We could put money towards vacations and family memories (I so want to take our kids to Disney!), pad our emergency fund even more, work towards the debt-free lifestyle we dream of.

As you might guess, at this point, the whole situation seemed ridiculously obvious.  I had been praying for God’s will the entire past two and half months thinking He would move mountains to get us into our “dream home” when the fact was He was moving mountains to make sure we stayed exactly where we are.  As I called our Realtor (who is one of the most gracious people I know dealing with this whole chaotic process) to have her take our house of the market for the second time in less than two months, I physically felt the weight lift off my shoulders.

Over the next few months, we struggled to keep that choice front and center.  We’d see beautiful homes pop up on the market.  I would even look at some of the listings online.  I constantly had to bring myself back to why we chose this path.  We told ourselves, “let’s just get a few updates done so we can get more for our house next summer” thinking this would fix my financial insecurities.  (I’m big on having a LARGE emergency fund, and I’ll suffer through a lot before I dip into that fund.  Yes, we’re also big Dave Ramsey people.)

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So this spring, we started remodeling our kitchen.  This was a project we’d talked about doing since we moved in.  We took an entire wall down, built an island, purchased new appliances.  We started repainting the entire upstairs.  As we went about this process, I looked around and just saw so much…stuff.  Why did we have so much stuff?!  In the midst of the remodel, we purged the entire house.  Broken toys went straight to the trash despite objections from the Littles.  Toys that hadn’t been played with in the last six months went into rummage sale boxes.  Kitchen items, decor, knick-knacks…toys.  So many toys.  (When asked for birthday or Christmas ideas for the boys, we actually ask for gift certificates to go bowling or go towards a zoo membership or something other than toys now.)  We decluttered and decluttered and decluttered.  If it hadn’t been used in the last year, it was gone.  If an object was just there to fill space, it was gone.  (We also made a nice chunk of change at our rummage sale last weekend thanks to all that decluttering!)  I organized until there was nothing left to organize.  (Seriously, organizing makes my heart soooo happy!)  And the craziest thing happened…

Our house got bigger.  I’m completely serious.  I feel like we gained a ton of square footage, and I think to myself why did we ever think our house was too small?!  And as medical bills rolled in for the miscarriage and subsequent surgery last spring, as we have another kiddo entering into our private school system, as we planned a fun mini-vacation next month, I’ve been able to take them all in stride- because we chose experiences over our dream house.  Because we chose to stay in our smaller home to make memories and watch our Babies grow.  Because I finally let go of what the world expects us to do (get into the biggest house you can afford, buy this and that, drive the nicest vehicle you can, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade!), we can say yes to the other things- the swim lessons, the t-ball, extended weekends at the lake, ice cream dates.

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Our kitchen remodel is close to completion, and I can’t imagine moving at this point.  We’ve put so much work into that project.  We’re making this house ours.  While we still desire that walk-in closet and larger garage, while I still peek at listings every once in a while, the truth is, I’m perfectly content right where I am.  Here, in this place, I know how to keep materialism at bay.  I don’t care about the next big thing.  Experiences win the day in our house.  Days at the zoo, family vacations and date nights take priority over the new phones, a nicer vehicle and more square footage.   Investing in our kids’ education takes the cake because that’s where we are called to have our boys enrolled right now.  Being able to show our boys selfless giving and what it means to serve others when the Welcome House needs bread, milk and sugar or when a family faces tragedy and a GoFund me account is created?  That’s worth giving up our “dream house” any day.

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The Day I Went Back to Church.

Last Sunday, I did it.  I went back to church.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a Jesus-lover, worship-dweller, service-oriented person.  So this topic may seem kind of silly at the onset, but bare with me.

I haven’t been to church since we found out Clara’s heart had stopped beating.  Not because my faith was questioned.  Not because I was angry at God.  Quite the opposite actually.  I leaned harder into my Savior than ever before with the loss of our Baby Girl.  I proclaimed His Truth and His Grace and His Mercy over and over because there was no way I was letting Satan take even more from me at that particular moment in time.  I knew God would take the tragic loss of our Baby and bring beauty from those ashes, and He has proven faithful in that time and time again over these last two months.  Being open about our loss has allowed me to serve others who are silently suffering, not ready to share their loss.  We’ve started a little project called Clara’s Grace to serve others who are struggling and hurting.  I’ve seen Him move in big ways and little ways, and I’m anxious to see what beauty He brings about next.

 

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So why the hiatus from my church family?  Why this break from worship?  My church family lifted us in ways I couldn’t imagine when we lost Clara Grace.  They made sure we had meals for the next two weeks.  They sent care packages.  Our pastors reached out to us and offered prayer and services.  Our volunteer dates in the kids ministry were immediately covered for the rest of the year without us having to lift a finger.  Oh yes, our church family served us with the humbleness of Jesus.  It was beautiful and humbling and filled out hearts with so much gratitude.

But the truth of the whole matter is- I wasn’t ready to face all the people.  I wasn’t ready for the sad hugs, the questions, the physical “loving on.”  I wasn’t ready to answer the questions of how I was doing or politely reply to the well-meaning words of those who said the wrong thing not knowing what to say.  (PS- there is nothing you CAN say in situations like these.  Simply saying “I’m so sorry” is all that’s really needed ❤ )  I wasn’t ready to face those who may not have heard yet that our Baby Girl had passed.  With our past two miscarriages, no one really knew.  They were early, and we hadn’t shared we were expecting with many.  But it’s different when you’re 16 weeks along and starting to show.

I wasn’t ready.  And that is perfectly ok.  Grief knows no timeline.  It’s an endless ocean of calm and waves.  Sometimes the tidal waves come out of no where, and sometimes it’s a beautiful scene of remembrance.  Grief is forever unanswered questions and constant faith in a forever God.  I knew I would know when the time was right for me.  I knew I would know when I was ready…and so did God.

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He started planting that little seed a few weeks ago so that when I found out my Boys would be celebrating the end of VBS in church last Sunday, my heart was ready to go.  God orchestrated this beautiful return of allowing me to slowly see our dear Friends in Christ each night as we brought the boys to and from VBS (which ironically, or not so ironically, was the perfect theme- Shipwrecked) so that when Sunday came, I could simply focus on worshipping the Lord.

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I feel like this post is all over the place, and I had a hard time writing it but felt like it needed to be said.  Healing after a tragedy can only be done with grace and time.  I knew if I rushed back into “normal,” it would catch up with me all too quickly.  As I’ve navigated these waters steadily with my eyes fixed on Him, I’ve found He’s put me right where I need to be when I need to be there.  So whether for you that’s church, a Mom’s group, a volleyball team, a family reunion, a book club, or something else, take your time, my Friend.  Grief knows no timeline.  Whether you’re feeling tossed among the waves, like you’re drowning in the tide or sitting on the beach remembering all that was lost, your grief is part of your story…and your story’s not over.