Taking The Leap

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It only took 4 months for Jake and I to take our first “leap of faith”. We married in May of 2011 and in September of that year we decided to up and move to Ohio. Not for jobs, but simply because we felt for some reason God was saying “go”. It made about zero sense but we were young, (I was 21, Jake was 22) we didn’t have kids, we were newly married and an adventure sounded fun... for about 5 minutes.

My name is Kristi, and my husband Jake and I are the owners of Honeysuckle Shop. We run our business out of our home in Manheim, PA and this is a glimpse into our story.

Most of the time, when you hear people talking about leaps of faith you picture a scene from Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” It’s almost a romantic notion that we leap out into the unknown for the sake of being called, not knowing how but trusting that He will catch us. That may have become true later in our story but not at this particular time.

We left for Ohio with jobs in line, got there and they both fell through. Family members were telling us to come home and that it didn’t make sense, trying to convince us to "come to our senses". It was hard, we didn’t know why we were there but we also knew we couldn’t leave. It was the first time God called us to leap and we had no idea why.

I guess I should fast forward a little bit and explain what we do. Four years ago I picked up some free pallets from Jake’s brother-in-law with the intention of building some super cool, Pinteresty couch thing for the kids playroom. (I’m still waiting on that couch by the way). Jake surprised me instead and built bookshelves for our oldest daughter’s room. It took me about 2 minutes to post the them to Facebook yard sale sites and less than 24 hours to get over 200 orders!! Partially because they were amazing, partially because we charged something crazy like $10 for each shelf!

That summer I was pregnant with Noah... it was incredibly hot, and we were out in our little 10’x6’ shed until 1:00AM almost every night without the tools we needed to tear apart, sand or put back together these pallet bookshelves. It was a very long summer.

By that following winter, we had developed a little bit of a following, with Jake’s witty personality and my love of all things reclaimed and decor related. So, I rolled with the momentum and started playing around with painting on scraps and realized I wasn’t half bad, and more importantly, I really enjoyed it! It became my haven, my break from motherhood, my stress reliever, my place to meet God, it became all these things to me that I didn’t know I needed. God quite literally handed me my gift in the form of a broken, battered piece of wood and then He gave me the vision to make it beautiful, and the irony in that is and was not lost on me. That first sign I painted took me about a week and it had one saying on it, “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus” Which is 100% true to this day.

The gap between that winter of 2014 and August of 2017 is kind of a blur, but it’s a blur that I didn’t realize at the time was setting us up for the rest of our lives.

Jake was working in the car business at the time, and moving up the ladder very quickly. He has a work ethic that is borderline workaholic in nature. He was passionate about his job, and he was GOOD at it! He could probably sell ice to an Eskimo, then have them come back for more and refer all their friends and neighbors. He was reaching every goal he had ever set for himself, but it came at a cost. Working 70-80 hours a week, in an environment that wasn’t very healthy, with a pregnant wife at home struggling to pull herself together. Our marriage was taking a hit, as well as our relationships with people around us. We were unconnected with Jake focusing on his career and me burying myself into motherhood and our kids. It was a rough time and we were desperate for answers.

By the time I was pregnant with Eden we were at an all time low. Not that we ever talked about the “D” word but I was emotionally checked out. I can remember saying “this is just how our life is going to be, nothing extraordinary, just two people who live together”. I had decided Jake needed to either pick me and the kids or his career, and that he couldn’t have both. He had decided that he was too big of a disappointment to ever make me happy again, so why try?

I’m not sure when or how it happened but I can remember one night on a date, we were sitting in the parking lot of a movie theater eating Taco Bell, (pregnancy craving) and I just remember Jake praying “God, break us”. In the parking lot of the Kendig movie theater, God broke us. We cried, we surrendered, we prayed for change, for healing, for help, for answers. We just broke.

A month later Jake quit his job, took a job that wouldn’t pay us for a full month until his training was complete, in an industry that was just starting to take off on the East Coast. All while being in the 2nd trimester of our third pregnancy. Enter leap two.

Somewhere in between all that was Honeysuckle. I remember the days of working in that little shed till all hours of the night and God telling me “This is the start of something” and me kind of laughing saying “how can bookshelves become something?” Well, now I’m laughing at how I doubted. The years of hardship were also the years God was behind the scenes growing Honeysuckle, and more importantly, growing Jake and I.

With Jake’s new job he was able to work from home more. Coming from 70-80 hours a week that sounded like a dream! We learned very quickly though, that we didn’t know how to be around each other anymore. We were so used to being apart that suddenly having all this time together we were driving each other crazy! It was like being newlyweds again, we had to learn how to work together, talk to each other, the words we used, the way we said them, and we had to watch our body language. Everything had to be a conscious and intentional effort to work for each other and not just alongside one another.

Remember, that Isaiah 40:31 reference I made? We thought maybe once we ironed out the kinks of getting used to each other again that then we would have that ‘being carried on the wings of eagles’ feeling. We did at first, then he started traveling to Maryland for appointments that were a waste of time. Then Philadelphia, and Reading, Mechanicsburg. He was traveling 45-90 minutes away multiple times a day for appointments that didn’t pan out. We were sitting back going “Okay, God, we leapt twice now! This was supposed to be the answer to our prayers, this was our saving grace after our breaking point. This was supposed to be the financial freedom with the quality time. What is going on!?”

Again, God was in the background working in ways we couldn’t even see. We didn’t realize it but by the summer of 2017 our business was just about bringing in enough money for a family to live off of. We were clueless as to the turn Honeysuckle was about to make because we were so focused on what God wasn’t doing in Jake’s ‘real job’.

Our daughter was born in July of 2017, so we took a ‘maternity leave’ from Honeysuckle for the month of July and August. When we came back in September things really started taking off. Business was growing quickly and soon Jake had to start taking days off to work in the shop, then he started using vacation days to work in the shop, then we had to call in my family and our entire small group for a shop day! Things were growing faster than we could imagine but we also attributed it to the holidays and kept saying “January, it will slow down and we will be back to normal”.

We worked on orders until Christmas Eve. Took Christmas Day off, and headed right back to the shop December 26, December 27, January 1, January 15, February 1, time kept passing and we kept waiting for the ‘slow down’ that didn't come and we started to panic a little bit.

There was one day in particular where the kids had an extra dose of crazy, I had too much to paint, and Jake was working late. So, naturally I loaded up the kids and headed to Chic-fil-a. It’s about a 25 minute drive to the closest Chic-fil-a, and I spent the entire drive just praying. I was reciting Philippians 4:13 over and over again. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. “God, strengthen me. Give me the time, the energy, the passion to get through all of this. Give me the strength to still be a mom, and a business owner. Help me find the balance. Give me the strength.” I felt him saying “ALL things through me?” My initial thought was “What kind of response is that?” I just felt Him saying over and over again, “Are you willing to do the work if I give you the strength?” It was like God was asking me to be committed but at first I didn’t understand how to.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that He was saying “I’m going to give you the strength, but you have to be committed to this. You have to be committed to ME, doing it MY way, leaping when I say leap. You have to give this to ME. I’m giving you the strength but I’m also the one that’s going to take it to the next level, if you give it to me.” I can remember physically shaking on the drive home that night. I took an extra long route home because I just couldn’t process what He was saying. It was the first moment I heard Him say “This is the real leap”.

All along I thought the leaps of faith we had taken were going to be the answers to all of our problems, but really it was God seeing how faithful we would be in the small leaps (even though they didn’t seem small at the time) before He showed us the big one.

When I got home, I knew I couldn’t call Jake and tell him all of this right away. Jake takes a little longer to process. When I hear God saying ‘leap’ I’m the one who says, ‘Ok!! So like tomorrow?’ Jake is the one who takes a week or four to process then commit. We balance each other out well that way.

I knew I couldn’t call Jake yet. I also knew I needed to talk to someone and process out loud so I called my dad. He answered “Hey babe, what’s up?” Right away I said “what was the biggest leap of faith you ever took?” He said “probably when I quit my job with four kids and no job lined up” I continued to ask questions like “How did you know it was the right thing to do?”, “Did people tell you you were crazy?”, “What did mom say?”, (Jake and my mom are very similar, whereas my dad and I are similar). He answered all of them and then finally asked “Ok, Kristi what is this all about?”

I spent the next hour going on and on about every moment I ever felt God saying to me that more was coming. Every article I ever read, every testimony, every message I ever heard, I realized in that moment were leading up to this. I told him about my conversation with God on the way home from Chic-fil-a. I told him about the verses that God had been placing on my heart, I told him all my fears, all the things holding me back (which as I said them seemed less and less problematic), I told him everything that was on my heart and more, and he patiently listened until I got it all out. When I finally finished he was quiet for a minute. I didn’t know what to expect but when he finally spoke he said:

“Kristi, if God is calling you to this, then you have to at least try”.

We went on talking for awhile after this about more practical things like finances, insurance, etc. However, that one line stuck with me. I have to at least try. He didn’t say “If God’s calling you, then you’ll absolutely succeed”. He didn’t say “This is crazy, don’t do it”. He said “try”.

One of the biggest fears of leaping is falling or in other words, failuer. Which is where most people’s responses to a leap like this will come from. A lot of people responded with “can you afford it?”, “is it really doing that well?”, “are signs enough?”, “what will you do about insurance?” and so much more. All of which were coming from the view of “What if it fails?”.

And yes, that is a fear. However, if we had learned anything from our previous leaps (that to others seem to have ‘failed’), it’s that we at least tried. While some view moving back from Ohio six months later, or us realizing Jake’s new job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be as failure, we have learned that in those moments is when we heard God the most. In those moments is when we heard His voice the clearest. In those moments our marriage was the strongest. In those moments we were growing, and preparing for the biggest leap we would ever take, all because we at least tried.

The next few months were a blur of “is this really happening?”, “God, are you sure?”, “why us?” and about 1,000 other questions that we kept asking as we were walking towards an end line we didn't even know was there.

We initially planned on making Honeysuckle Shop our full time business by the end of 2018. However, in the beginning of March we took a trip to Pittsburgh to spend time with my best friends from high school. It’s about a 4 hour drive (Side note: Isn’t it amazing how little time it takes God to change our plans?) and we listened to a lot of podcasts and a lot of Steven Furtick. I have no idea what podcast it was that we listened to that day but we started talking and as we got closer to Pittsburgh we felt more and more like “I think maybe God wants us to do this sooner?” Yes, it was a BIG question mark. By the time we arrived in Pittsburgh we had decided on the end of April as our timeline for Jake to quit his job.

I told Deborah and Krystin (my best friends) and winced as I waited for the response. Krystin jumped in and said, “This is awesome! It sounds like this is absolutely what God is leading you to and I think you absolutely have to try!” (Again that word: try) Deborah chimed in quickly in agreement saying, “You guys obviously have the talent, and it’s clear this is God’s calling for your life”. The conversation went on as they continued surrounding us with words of encouragement that we were neither looking for nor expecting, but 100% needing. (God has a funny way of doing that).

We came home not sure where to even begin but just taking it one day at a time and one step at a time. Finalizing all the legal stuff, business accounts, taxes, seeking business advice, all the “on paper” things you need to do when starting a business, all while in a daze.

I remember someone at Sunday school in church sharing a story of a man who rode bike on a tightrope across Niagara Falls multiple times. He asked the crowd “Do you think I can do it again?’’ The crowd shouted “Yes!” He asked “Would you bet money I can do it again?” The crowd again, shouted “Yes!” He asked “Would you ride on the back of the bike while I do it?” The crowd hesitated, until one man spoke up. Apparently there is a picture of this event with the bike rider on the front and the man on the back holding on to the bike for dear life. This was a perfect portrayal of how I felt! I knew God had done this 1000x before and I knew He could do it again. I was still holding on for dear life as He was steering the bike, not sure when or how or in what way we would get across.

You would think this is where the story ends and Jake quit at the end of April and now everything is perfect. Well, just bear with me here a little bit longer.

We went to Pittsburgh March 9-10. On March 11, my dad spoke at our church. The title of the message was “When He has you, follow Him”. I happened to be in nursery that Sunday so didn’t hear the message but Jake and my mom came out saying “It’s probably a good thing you weren’t there, you would definitely have been crying”. The next few days Jake kept making comments like “we should just make the change now”, slightly joking, slightly serious. Finally I had enough and decided to listen to my dad’s message. I immediately called Jake crying saying “We need to do this now”.

Our Leap date was pushed up to March 31, still not knowing how or why.

In the following days, things progressively got worse with Jake’s job, things also progressively slowed down for Honeysuckle. Yup, slowed down as we were headed right for full time. (Enter the image of me on the back of the bike holding on for dear life). We were sitting here saying “God, shouldn’t this be picking up!?”

March 20 I came down with a stomach bug and spent all day in bed sick. The next day I wasn’t sick anymore but I was having a lot of pain. It turns out I had appendicitis and had to be taken to the ER for surgery. (Did I mention this was in the middle of a snowstorm?) I had surgery the morning of March 22, but by the end of the day I was having symptoms of a blood infection. The next two days were back and forth of me having fevers spiking up to 105, heart rates through the roof and blood pressure going all over the place. All of which forced us to take 2 weeks off.

All the while heading full force for Jake quitting his job just a week later!

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this and I promise it’s for a reason, and the reasons are these. When you are about to take a leap there are 5 things that in our personal journey we have learned and want to share:

1)  Get prepared - God is going to prepare you long before you ever have the vision. Be faithful in the little moments, for they are preparing you for the big ones.

2)  Be committed - Before you take the leap you need to decide and be 100% committed to the decision that you are doing this because you are called. You also need to be committed to doing it God’s way. God has a greater vision for our lives than we could ever imagine, and the only way to get to that vision is through Him, literally.

3)  Try - The fear of failure is not a good enough excuse to not try. God will bless your obedience, and He will bless the lessons you will learn through what seem to be ‘failures’.

4)  Buckle up - When we find our calling in life as creatives and business people, especially when we are using that platform to glorify God - you better get your seatbelt buckled, get your helmet on and be ready for what the enemy is going to undoubtedly throw to try and steer you off course. Whether it is health related, financial, time oriented, relational, distractions, he is going to throw everything he has at you to get you from proclaiming the name of Jesus.

5) LEAP - You’ve felt the Lord preparing you, you’re committed to doing it His way, you’re willing to at least try, you’ve got your safety gear for whatever the enemy is going to throw at you, now all that's left, is to GO. At this point you’ve done all the hard scary things, the rest is emotional baggage. Drop your fear and drop your insecurities. Hold tight to the knowledge that this is your calling, take a deep breath, and leap.

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On March 31, Jake quit his job and April 2 we launched what we called LEAP WEEK where we shared our heart, our vision, and our prayers with our followers. God has blessed our business in the last month more abundantly than we could have ever imagined. We launched new sign collections as well as classes that include two levels of paint classes and DIY classes. In addition, we have started a monthly DIY subscription box so people  can build and create in their own homes. We are excited to be launching a membership group entitled ‘Sign Makers Monthly’ in June where we will teach people how to create their own signs and home decor.

The leap is scary but the view is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And the only way to see it, is to LEAP .