One year ago this weekend, these three retail mavens were loaded up and ready to caravan down to Indianapolis for the Junior League Holiday Mart. It was the largest retail show The Initial Co. (under our ownership) had ever participated in, and we had been preparing for the show since July. The big, black trucks were loaded down with tons of merchandise, our game faces were on and we were ready to put forth our best effort to make it our best year ever.
We did. It was.
On my wrist, I wore a bracelet that my sister, Kaley, had given to me a few weeks earlier. It says “It is well.” Kaley knew we had been trying for a baby for several months and that I was hopeful this would be the month. But with all of the stress of preparing for the show and the chance that life doesn’t typically happen according to our plans, she wanted me to be armed (metaphorically and literally) with a peace from knowing that whatever happened, It Is Well.
The show was a huge success for us. We met tons of new customers, made great leads, had hundreds of sales, and came away from it feeling vocationally successful, but emotionally empty. See, while we were in Indianapolis, I had that false hope that so many women get when they’re late. About halfway through the week I realized that according to the calendar, there was a good chance I was pregnant. The time had come. I resisted buying a pregnancy test while we were there because I wanted to give it a few days to really see if this could be true. Driving home after the final day, alone in my truck with three hours of highway to think about being pregnant, I had myself so convinced that I was pregnant that I had already planned out how we would announce it to our families.
I got home that night and no sooner than I pulled into the garage, my hopes were dashed and I realized that what I hoped was early pregnancy was more likely normal biological confusion due to the few days that my body was stressed, overworked and physically off-kilter. There was no baby this month. And back in the Summer when we decided we would start trying again, I prayed that God would not let me get pregnant unless my body was physically able to maintain a pregnancy and deliver a baby and allow me to survive it all. So every time God kept that door closed felt like a stab to my chest. I can’t. I won’t. He promised me I wouldn’t get pregnant if I couldn’t sustain it, and I’m not pregnant, so it must mean I can’t sustain it. I’m not well. We’ll never have more.
After that week, Maddie and I had a nice, full cash drawer, but an emptiness inside of us and a lot of questions about our futures. Here I was wanting another baby while the two I already had spent most of their time at school and with our babysitter while I toiled away in the basement obsessing over how to grow my business instead of obsessing over how magnificent it is to watch them grow and learn and change everyday. And here she was, a fresh college grad, wondering if there would ever come a time that she may regret not pursuing a corporate job when she knew that a creative entrepreneurial pursuit would always be available to her later in life. One year ago this week, the trajectory of my career and life began to shift.
We finished out the holiday season and celebrated our best year yet. We felt on top of our game, but the workroom had gone quiet. We went about our daily work with less chatter and singing and laughter than usual, while we silently thought about what would be next. We both took some time after the new year to slow things down and do a little less social media marketing so we could catch up on rest, and introspection. While on vacation with my boys and my mom in Florida, I looked at my mom one day and I said “Mom, I think I need to close The Initial Co.” We talked at length about what that looked like, she having been through a similar life change a few years prior when she chose to close her own retail store, Orange Tree, in the pursuit of focusing on her grandkids, her art and philanthropy. I knew I wanted Maddie to feel like she could pursue anything in the world she wanted to pursue, and I also knew she was too loyal to leave me. I knew I wanted to have more time with my kids, as my thought perpetually pointed me back to one question: Why would God give me more kids when I don’t even invest as much as I could in the ones He’s already given me? I knew that the only way for me, an obsessive personality, to find that balance was to break up with this wayward lover of mine… my job. I had felt the nudging to quit since that week in Indianapolis in November, but I ignored and suppressed it for 3 months. It was now time to face the music and start trying to uncover the why for what God was stirring up.
Stockton stood beside my decision and never questioned whether or not it was the right thing. His unwavering support is the sole reason I was able to move forward with confidence and never second guess if I was making the right choice. Right after making the decision to close, I spoke to Maddie and sweet, loving, compassionate woman of God that she is, she completely agreed and got behind me with full support. She began looking for a permanent job immediately while fully rallying behind me to begin the liquidation process. We began to have sales and offering discounts with a great deal of discretion so as not to reveal our plans to our customer base too early in the process; after all, we still had a great deal of inventory to sell and we wanted to be strategic and smart about how to reduce it without taking a loss. Our business was officially on its way to being closed.
Then I found out I was pregnant. On Stockton’s birthday.
When we made our business-closing announcement public, I received an email from a customer that will always be a very significant part of the story for me. Two excellent customers, sisters whose family had become friends over the years, reached out to me inquiring about my possible interest in selling the business to them. After several long-distance phone calls, Facetimes and business meetings, the transaction was complete in the early Spring. And none of it is a coincidence. God helped me to grow this business, then asked me to trust Him to let go of it while it was still “up and to the right” as they say. By letting go if it while it was in its growth season still, it was primed and prepared for its new owners to take over and continue to expand what had already been established. God blessed me by allowing me to watch it live on, and I felt the reward of giving Him my trust even when I had my doubts. It wasn’t until I trusted Him that He would say “Now you’re ready for that baby. Now your health can keep up with your lifestyle with more children.”
April 1 our closing was complete and the Denver based sister-owner team officially took over their new business.
One year from the date that I began my vocational trajectory shift, Kaitlin and Kelly are embarking on their own first retail show at the Holiday Food and Gift Festival in Denver, and I am at home nurturing my sick 5 year old, giving loving guidance to my energetic 3 year old, and watching my newborn baby girl sleep soundly in her bassinet. Again, there is no coincidence here. The Initial Co. lives on, is being run by another sister team in another city, and has a bright future in the hands of its new owners. And I am right where I’m supposed to be, watching them from a distance.
God is in the details. He shows up and He shows Himself to be good every single time.
If you’ve been ignoring a God-sized nudge in your life, please. Stop ignoring it. Pursue it. Trust it. Your outcome will look different than mine, because your story is being written with a different pen. But the author is the same. And He’s really good.
*I write this post with utmost awareness of the sensitivity of pregnancy, infertility and infant loss. If you’ve suffered on your own fertility journey or are still in a season of despair, please know I am not trying to be insensitive in sharing this story, nor am I being callous to believe every story ends the way we want it to. I do believe that God has a plan for each and every one of His children, and wherever you are on your journey, there is hope and a future for you. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”