In today’s economy, stay-at-home moms are an even greater novelty than ever before in America’s history. It can be difficult to balance a passionate belief that I’m called to be exactly where I am, at home, with the economic reality that I need to find some creative way to supplement our income. It’s important to start with the simplest and most obvious ways of doing that first — cutting expenses and finding ways to save money, but when the budget has been pared to it’s frugal best, it’s time to actively pursue other possibilities that fit with the call God has placed on me. In Proverbs 31, the wife “of noble character”, looks first to the ways of her household and family, but then continues on. “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Then as I continue reading, God shows me, “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” The Proverbs 31 woman, owned her own business, made wise investments and contributed to the prosperity of her family, after her household responsibilities were complete. She found creative ways to use the talents and gifts God instilled in her to care for her family and extended their use to also create income.
My oldest daughter, recently commented to me that she can’t remember a time when I didn’t “have a project”. It’s funny because I never really thought of it in that way, but obviously those watching from the outside, see you more clearly than you see yourself. I have never seen the point of doing any task “half way” and so I tend to invest a lot of myself and my time in whatever I have to do. Hopefully, as they watched my endeavors, my children saw the value of a strong work ethic and the satisfaction that comes from being industrious. Just being still and having nothing productive to do with my time, is not something I can manage for any length of time. I prefer to be “doing” and apparently, my kids have taken notice.
Income generating activity has taken many forms for me over the twenty-six year course of our marriage. As, I reflect back over them I have to laugh as I get a “better glimpse” of what my family must have seen. In the earliest years of our marriage, home party plans dominated my outside-of-home work. I worked well-known standards that you all would know and other lesser known plans. I loved the people and the connection to other women. I was excited about the products and so was a natural at promoting them. These ventures still took me away from home several nights a week and required travel time, too. The business expenses often outweighed the commission percentage that was earned and so with each one, I eventually became dissatisfied and sought a better way. I longed to be at home where I could focus on my family, our homeschool and our home, but generate enough supplemental income to keep us from living paycheck to paycheck.
Home daycare was an obvious choice and one I relied on periodically throughout the years. It provided necessary income in a simple and practical way, but limited our “family time” and strained our homeschool schedule. Each foray into the field of babysitting eventually ended in the realization, that while God had gifted me to provide and care for my own five children, caring for the children of others in our home, presented some challenges that weren’t always fair to our own children. As a short-term way of meeting needs, it would work, but it was not the fulfilling use of skill and talent that I was sure God had given me. I just needed to discover what those were.
February 27, 1998, King’s Harvest was born. It was “my new baby” and a natural for me — Christian homeschool curriculum and educational resources. Our online presence grew exponentially over the next 7 years and soon my “new baby” was grown up and demanding the lion’s share of my time. I loved it! — lol– It was books, it was people, it was writing, it was what I knew. It was also too much as I gave birth to our fifth child and as, in the 6th year, we moved my husband’s parents to Nebraska to help with their care. Instead of running my business, my business had started running me. While I loved every part of it, there was no question my family suffered from my lack of time. Once Mom and Dad arrived, it was clear that the season to operate my own business from home had ended and God had new priorities for that next phase of my life. I retired the business name and sold off the inventory. This began a hiatus of nearly three years where my time and energy were consumed with nothing but the intensive care of our family.
It’s funny how you start to define yourself and who you are by what you are doing. For three years, my time was full to brimming over. The blessing of caring for elderly parents is a full-time job and it was such an honor to be allowed that. I had a toddler, a college student, a high schooler, and two elementary students. We also moved to a new home, planned and celebrated a wedding for our oldest daughter and moved her and her new husband to Colorado Springs, CO. I spun the plates and kept things running, wearing all my different hats. Again, I loved it! It’s who I am. I am at my best surrounded by people who need me. And then, the folks were gone. There was not only the grieving, but the overwhelming sense of, “Now what?” Just when you think you know exactly who you are and what you are about, God stretches you a little more.
We built a house and moved again. It was time, to jump in and find a way to generate income. In my usual, “just do it” fashion, I bypassed God, and headed straight for what I knew would be a simple, quick-fix — home daycare. We welcomed two adorable children into our new home and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to interact with them and I was again contributing to the family budget. The strain on school time and limitations placed on my ability to come and go, soon started to wear thin. Our daughter and son-in-law had moved back to our hometown and started their family. Grandbabies! Without a doubt, a little touch of heaven here on earth. I needed more time with them, too. Seeking and searching, always seeking and searching — What was right? How to do what I knew I was called to do and still alleviate some of the financial burden our family was facing.
I have been writing since I was a child. It is an outlet and a passion that I didn’t always share with other people, but has always been a part of who I am. In school, my writing was always complimented and others enjoyed reading it. Packed in a box of most special treasures, I have a worn copy of a teen magazine that published one of my poems, when I was in high school. Writing was something I could do for fun. People enjoyed it and it made me feel confident that there was one thing I might be good at. Along the way, I was encouraged several times to “write”. Here’s the thing. When you think there might be some small chance that there is something you can do, that God has gifted you in a certain area, it is much safer to just sit on that thought and hold onto it in safety. Who wants to take a chance that you might not be as good as everyone says? If you fail, then what? Maybe you’ll discover you don’t have a gift. Your “talent” was a childhood fancy and if you let go of it, you will lose it. So, of course I started another job.
Technology has provided a means to work for large corporations, from the comfort of your home. Telecommuting has been around for awhile, but the trend toward eliminating high-overhead call centers and replacing them with people trained to take the same calls from their own home offices has exploded in recent years. I spent a little over one year earning money in this way, working for three major corporations that are commonly known. The income was excellent for working out of my house in my pajamas, much more than I could have earned working in a local business in town. The time constraints are real however, as the schedules are not always as flexible as you might need. There are no paid sick days, as a matter of fact, as an independent contractor, there is no “time off”. If you are scheduled to work, you work. Again, not a great fit for a wife and homeschooling mom whose first priority is her family and home.
“Be still and know that I am God.” I passed that billboard, probably a dozen times over the course of the two years when I was scrambling around doing the next thing that I thought would solve our financial problems. I didn’t really start paying attention to it until, the hours at my “call center” work-at-home jobs started drying up. I would log in to set my schedule and there were no hours available to take. The first week, I accepted this as a fluke and enjoyed the vacation. I had been running around like a chicken with my head chopped off, after all, trying to keep up with work, homeschool and my responsibilities at home. This would just be a nice break. The second week, I was a little more concerned, but we had three birthdays in July and a brand new grandson. There was plenty to occupy my time. By the sixth week, I was utterly broken and so frustrated. “Lord! What do you want me to do? How can it be right for me to just sit by while we sink?” — “Be still and no that I am God.”
Obviously, if you have made it this far into the story, you already know “being still” is not my long suit. I talk, a lot. I do things. Its what I do. It’s who I am. “Lord, please — sit still?” In less than two months, our home sold and we were moving again. I had the ability to switch my paperwork and phone lines and take the work-at-home jobs with me, but somehow I knew God was closing that door. “Be still.”
“You have such a gift with words. You should write.” For several years now, someone very dear to me has encouraged me to pursue writing. “I don’t know how. What would I write? Who would pay me to do that?” It came up again recently, and during a time when I was being reminded that God often “speaks” to us through others. I started doing some online investigating and discovered that if I had some recent examples of my writing and an online presence, I could apply to be accepted to do freelance writing. “Ok Lord, I hear you.”
Last week, I was accepted as a freelance writer for Textbroker. The articles are short (350-500 words usually) and the pay per article has varied from $3 to $7, so far. I can research and write one in fifteen to 30 minutes. The assignments I’ve had so far have actually made me laugh. I’m learning quite a bit about things I never knew I should know. I wrote, “How to Rent a Portable Generator”, “Lowering Your Cholesterol with the Mediterranean Diet” and “Luxury Wedding Venues in Scotland” in one short session. Plus, in the bargain, I got this blog. I love it! I don’t know if God gifted me to write for income, but most certainly He has allowed me to enjoy it. What I earn is dependent on how much I work. I control my schedule and work around the needs of my family. Seems like it can work, but will it be enough? Well, there IS one other place I could try.
Overwhelmed and intimidated best describes the way I have felt about applying to write at Demand Studios. Expectations are high and quality closely monitored. This is a much more professionally demanding organization. Articles are not anonymous and are often published with the author’s byline and bio included. I don’t have a bio. I would need a resume and more writing samples. I made a point of avoiding this application and the impending rejection it held for me. “Lord, if I am supposed to be a writer, then please make it clear, so I have no doubts.”
Last night in a fit of sleeplessness and hotflashes, I carried my laptop into the front room and filled out the application, uploading my resume. There it was. Done. There was no way to get it back or avoid the voice of those saying, “You’re not a writer after all.” And to top it all off, there would be no instant answer. I would have to wait to hear the dreaded words. At 11:30 a.m. this morning, I received a welcome letter and New Writer’s packet from Demand Studios. Faithful, as always, He made it clear.
I don’t know what I will be doing in the future, but today, I am a writer. God has allowed me to use what I love to “plant a vineyard” and I just want to say an enormous thank you to the one who kept encouraging me to “consider the field” and encourage all of you to “be still and listen” for the one He may be using to speak His plan into your life.