For years and years I searched for a vision…for that thing that all the motivational speakers tell you that you must have to be successful. I must have come up with enough elaborate plans to count on both hands. Things that I could dedicate my life to and put in all my time and energy and effort for. After I had drawn up my plans I would show them to the Lord with all the influence of a little child with a drawing and say “This is what we should do, Lord.” All the while, the work that the Lord was building was right in front of my face. And honestly, it was the thing that I disdained above all else and I was absolutely sure that it was the antithesis of God’s plan. I am ashamed to admit that I fought the vision when it was still invisible. I wanted nothing to do with it.
When David and I got married, he worked for a man named Wayne Godbee. Mr. Godbee was a godly, kind, and generous man and really gave David his foundation in the technical world, before which he had only known sports. David excelled under his training and soon was ready to venture out beyond. To this day, I don’t think we have considered the investment that Mr. Godbee made into our future, but these first days had far reaching effects.
David went on to several different larger companies where he had bigger responsibilities and larger paychecks. Unfortunately he just couldn’t find a groove. My husband was built to be excellent…to see a goal and to find the fastest and best way to get the ball into it. He had such a hard time living the status quo in these places where the owner was god and noone could argue or offer. Two different owners that he worked for felt threatened by his knowledge and his capacity. The situations were totally different, but he was let go from both companies.
The second time he was fired, I had just quit my job to stay at home with our firstborn son. Talk about frightening. We were newly married, newly parents, newly home owners, and both newly unemployed. It was at this time that David made a decision that he could not be talked out of. He would become an entreprenuer. He would take the huge risk of striking out on his own. I specifically remember a discussion with his older brother on his mom’s front porch as he was making this decision. His brother basically told him that he was crazy. True to form, it didn’t even phase David.
And me? I was totally happy with status quo. Coming into our marriage from a wrecked family, I wanted 5pm clock out times and 6pm dinners around the table with our new family of 3. I was scared out of my ever-loving mind. I begged and pleaded. Honestly, I was not the supportive wife who helped her husband accomplish his dreams. I was the nagging woman in the background crying her eyes out because he obviously didn’t love me. It was a very rough time…but despite all, David forged ahead and the vision was born.
Ascend Technologies started with 1 customer…Town and Country Dodge. From scratch, y’all… from scratch. David did have a partner, a back office employee, and an small investor, but no customer base, no prior marketing, no real leads…from scratch. During the first couple of years, I begged the Hand of the Lord for our daily bread. That isn’t an exageration. I would decide which bills could be paid that month and save the rest for the next. We borrowed money from my sisters to buy groceries. Several very loving and supportive family members would give us gift cards to Kroger for Christmas. We STRUGGLED…and STRUGGLED. I hated every moment of it. I didn’t look at Ascend as a gift from God. I looked at it as a family wrecker. David was working all hours of the day and night, home for only a few hours to sleep, and right back at it. Though his office was at home, we barely saw him. I struggled as a brand new mom whose support system had fallen apart right before I got married. It was me and Jesus keeping this poor child alive. I loved being a mom, but I despised Ascend for making me a single one. Gift of God? More like spawn of Satan.
I’m not quite sure when it happened, but one day among all the other visions that I was trying to conjure up…all the other “spiritual” things that I was pursuing and devoting my energies to, God spoke. I wrote it down. Things He said about Ascend. Straight from His Word. Even after that, I laughed. God? Use Ascend? Haven’t You seen it? What a mess. Let’s go on to something serious, Jesus. As I sit here, I feel like Elizabeth when she realizes that Mr. Darcy is her one true love, “I’ve been so blind.”
So for years, though I was involved at times in the company, I was never attached. It was always “David’s business”…it wasn’t ours and it certainly wasn’t mine. I went on about my job as mom and let him worry about building a successful business. And he did. He and his team of people turned Ascend into a real company. They developed a reputation for good and honest work. They formed relationships. They worked for hundreds if not thousands of customers. They were starting to make money. Things were looking up. We had just moved into a new house and were beginning to resemble the “American dream” when the bubble burst.
The housing market crashed and with it our thriving residential division. People stopped buying things and new technology was one of the first things to be put on hold. Suddenly that old phone system worked plenty good for the moment. New sales were few and far between. Ascend had to downsize, employees had to take salary cuts, truly we should have gone bankrupt. It is during this time that I realized my heart had changed. Whether it was the 8-10 years of hard investment into Ascend…whether it was the time that David had missed as a dad for the sake of this venture…whether it was God allowing me to glimpse something greater for this company, I don’t know, but suddenly I couldn’t let it go. I sat in meetings with the partners where I cried TEARS to ask them not to bankrupt it and move on. I sat up late at night with David as we worked the numbers 50 different ways to squeeze out a dime. I spent DAYS in prayer and anguish in my heart over the future of this company that I had once wished would burn to the ground (okay, not quite literally, but you get my point).
And God heard. He kept us alive. There were really tough decisions. There were people that we couldn’t keep though we loved them deeply. There were things that to this day are misunderstood. There was oh so much opposition, but in the end, Ascend still stood.
So imagine my surprise this year when God Himself handed it over to me. I know, right? Hide your children, hide your wife. God has given David a wonderful opportunity elsewhere that will allow him to be home more and free up Ascend funds and through circumstances beyond all reason, I am now the majority Owner/Operator. Yes. It sounds and seems quite crazy…especially to me. What in the world kind of business do I have…this high school graduate, mom of 5…running a company? Only God knows. And let me assure you that He does…because every time that I have tried to “quit” in these last several months, He has spoken so directly to my soul through His Word, through my pastor, through our Sunday School teacher, through sunrises and sunsets, through crazy and unreasonable circumstances, that I cannot ignore it. I am driven to obedience.
God is going to build His Kingdom through Ascend. I am writing the vision this morning because I want to be held accountable to it. I want to feel foolish if I even think of throwing in the towel. With any great vision that God gives comes great opposition…and let me tell you that it has been THICK. January was the most painful month since those first days of walking the streets for grocery money. But it is always darkest before the dawn. In the last few days, I have seen new buds start to come out on some trees that we thought were long dead and gone. Ascend is transforming into a more simplified and streamlined organization. Ascend is developing a TEAM out of people who never imagined that they could work together. Ascend is being molded and shaped by a Great Redeemer who can take even dust of the ground and make beauty out of it. Ascend has not seen it’s best days.
Are my children sacrificing along with me? Yes. We have had these discussions at home. For mom to do what she feels like the Lord is calling her to do, there are sacrifices that the whole family makes. They spend more time at home than they probably like. I fail to be consistent in many areas. I miss events and functions that often define you as a “good parent” in our day and age. It is what I am sacrificing FOR that gives us all hope. The vision is much bigger than our family.
“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.” Isaiah 42:6-7
He has promised that this company will be a source of funds to build His Kingdom. We are not working and sacrificing for ourselves…it is for the people out there without hope. We are going to take Hope to the world. And yes, even children understand that…that following the voice and call of the Lord despite when it means giving some things up and “suffering”. As a matter of fact, I believe with all my heart that when children see their parents do hard things out of love for Christ, the lesson sticks better than anything we read to them out of the Bible.
What is the lesson in all of this? I couldn’t tell you. I think there are a whole lot of little lessons stuffed into one big one.
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
Often times we miss the vision, the thing that we are created for, because we think that we have better ideas about what God should do with us.
Often we fail to realize that REALLY, REALLY hard times in our lives might be investments into our future calling.
And MANY, many times what the world views as complete foolishness is really what is wise and prudent and will pay off in the end.
Ultimately I have learned one huge thing through all of this. His ways are NOT our ways. They aren’t and they never will be. That is why when He calls and you answer, the majority of people will think that you are slap out of your mind…some will even think that you are a bad and selfish person. The opposition to the work of the Lord will ALWAYS be there. And often opposition is proof that you are doing EXACTLY what He has created you for. Cause if there is one thing that could make Satan hate you more, it is walking in THAT.
So there it is… sorry…not sorry.