Today’s guest post is a special treat from my childhood friend, Sarah Nielson Andrews (a.k.a. ‘you be Diana and I’ll be Anne!’). We were playmates back when I was my daughter’s age (can you imagine! NO!) and our mothers were best coffee buddies. I loved to ride my bicycle to her house, discuss the latest Mandy mystery book, stay up late watching Pollyanna (and of course, Anne of Green Gables!), and dream about our becoming authors some day. Alas, the teen years came upon us too soon, and our families lost touch. I moved across the country several times and thought I had lost my bosom friend for good.
Suddenly two years ago, the Lord brought Sarah back into my life through the wonders of internet networking. Our friendship picked right back up where it had left off … only better. I have gained not only my dear friend, but her accumulated wisdom and faith from the decade and a half we spent apart. Though we still live across the country, the Lord has brought us together three times by His grace. And now we can keep in touch – and prayer – faithfully throughout the week. Such a wise, loving friend is a treasure and a safeguard.
Recently, the two of us were discussing the importance of truly staying at home. For those of us who value our calling as “at home mommies,” this is not a new subject. But the battle lies in how we prioritize our time and energy. Sarah has given me great encouragement and wisdom in this area. I think this will be a blessing to you, too!
I must begin by saying how excited I am to be a guest blogger for Whatever State. I have been so blessed and encouraged by this blog. Lea Ann and I were childhood friends and I am so blessed to be friends now as adults, wives, and mothers. Let me introduce myself.
As a very young girl, my dream was to be a wife and mommy. I went to college and trained to be an RN; but that dream was always foremost in my heart. I have been married to my MOST patient loving husband for almost nine years. We have been blessed with an amazing soon-to-be five year old daughter. We will officially begin our homeschool journey in the fall. I work from home as a distributor with Premier Designs Jewelry. I assist with our church’s two year old Sunday school class and have really been enjoying that. Though some days are overwhelming, I find myself praising God and thanking Him for blessing my life beyond measure. He has blessed me with fulfilling my dream in His way and time.
Lea Ann and I were discussing an article last week about Biblical femininity and womanhood. I shared some things with her that God really brought home to my heart several years back. Truths I would like to share with you now and ask you to consider how God may want you to implement them in your family’s life. I am a “stay at home” or “work from home” mom. However, I am often surprised at how hard I have to work actually to BE home and do what is necessary AT home.
When my husband and I were first married I was home for a couple months and then found a part-time job as an RN in our local hospital. Our intent was always that I would stay home with our children as soon as the Lord saw fit to fill our home with them. Well, as a couple years went by, and we did not have children yet, we began realizing that God’s call for wives to have their home as their highest calling was not just for mothers. We began thinking and praying about how we could make that decision. We found that though originally our intent was to “save” my income, we were easily getting accustomed to “extras” and living off two incomes. After a lengthy knee injury kept me home for several weeks, we realized that we could and should make that decision for me to be home. So, happily I resigned and began living my dream of being a stay-at-home wife.
After some time went by, through some reading on my own and teaching at our church, I began to realize something. Though I was officially “at home”, I was often not AT HOME. And, my heart was not always AT HOME. Let me give you a little background: I am NOT naturally organized. I am NOT naturally a neat freak. I do NOT naturally like mornings. And, as an extremely social person I do NOT like being home alone. It was so much easier for me to make lunch plans, go shopping, take craft or food classes, even help out with church events and child care for friends.
I cannot remember exactly where the following ideas originally came from but here are a few of my favorite “sources.” Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time by Donna Otto and many of Elisabeth George’s Bible study books such as Life Management for Busy Women or A Woman after God’s Own Heart. Here are a few things that I try to keep in mind as I plan our schedules now. These ideas have helped me as I strive to implement Titus 2:5 to be “workers at home, kind, subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” How we manage our family and our homes can dishonor our Lord if we are not careful.
- I ask my husband. I know this is counter-cultural in our society, but this one simple thing has helped me stop and think before I commit. And, even though I know pretty much by now how he will answer, it reminds me of his place as leader of our family.
- I plan certain days for certain tasks. I know this may sound archaic, but I have come to love this. Combining my errands into one (occasionally two) days allows me to have other days completely at home.
- I look at the surrounding days when considering a commitment, not just the actual day in question. I know many people think I should have been born knowing that; but I don’t know how many times I saw a blank square on my calendar, committed to something, and later realized how full the surrounding days were. And, for the end of the month this includes actually turning the page to see what’s coming. J This also allowed me to stop having to back out of commitments after realizing there was no way I could do it.
- I realize that my family IS my God-given ministry. Women experience so much pressure to do it all, that we need to remember that our family is God’s call for us. Yes, we are able to be involved in our churches. But, I think so often we are so busy doing for the church, that we neglect responsibility at home. How often did I rush out to help at church with not even realizing my home was not in order? Am I helping others so much, I am not serving my husband and child?
- Our family has even chosen to limit our activities for our daughter. Again, many options abound. However, we must ask ourselves what is best. A lot of time can quickly be eaten up with classes and activities.
- My husband and I discuss our plans and priorities. We plan what our family needs from my jewelry business. That way when I schedule those events I know he is in agreement with me and I am not causing strife.
- I try to limit “social” outings. Now, I do not exclude these. I just try to limit them. Of course, I am able to justify them a little more when they are social for our daughter as well.
- I often hear this phrase playing in my head: Sometimes you have to say no to good things in order to be able to say yes to the best things.
- I really work hard not to compare myself to other women. I am learning what works for us. My husband and I are responsible for our family and our responsibilities, not theirs. This also includes not dwelling on others’ opinions of what I should or should not be doing. I cannot live and “do” out of guilt.
- I try to remember that some things are “for a season.” What I am able to do or not do when my daughter is young will be different when she is older. And, that is ok. I need to honor God in the season where He has placed me.
When the Lord began showing me this area that needed improvement, I really scaled back outside commitments. Once I felt that I was in a more managed place, I tried adding things back in slowly. And, one of my biggest tips would be if you are unsure and really hesitant about committing to something, many times you shouldn’t. I don’t know how many times I went ahead and committed to something because I “should” and it was not the right thing to do and I was overburdened. That is when tensions ride high at home and things start to fall apart.
I also have really sought to learn to love my home. I often was wishing and yearning for a bigger home, a newer home, maybe newer furniture and décor. However, as I sought to educate myself about home organization and management, I discovered something. I really love my home! I enjoy being home! I love that I am the one serving my family. I love planning for them. As I streamlined some things and got rid of clutter, I began to love our smaller home. And most of all I began realizing that I was learning contentment and would be able to teach that better to our daughter.
I was also invited to share a little about my home-based business and how I “balance” it. That last part makes me laugh because I think I have so much more to do to be “balanced.” But, I am working on it. I have been a distributor with Premier Designs Jewelry for four years now. I often think of it as my “Proverbs 31” business. It is not a vineyard, but it is something I am able to do to help my family. I truly love the company and the Biblical principles of service, integrity, and enriching lives that it is based on. I LOVE that the company actively reminds us that they are to be helping our family and not adding pressure. I LOVE that they actively remind us that our family is priority over our business. As my husband and I discuss how many home shows I should have scheduled or other business obligations, I have confidence when I am out of our home working my business it is not “too much.” And, with Premier’s compensation plan, I feel that my time out of my home is well compensated. I love that I can schedule work time around family and church obligations and events. I block them off on the calendar then plan time for my business around that. I do confess that working the phone and paperwork from home can be challenging with a preschooler. Though, often that just goes back to planning and time management.
I hope some of these ideas help you. I purposely did not put amounts of things or times that I do things, because I know everyone’s life is different. I am not saying in any way that I have arrived. This is an area in which I am constantly working. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I pray that you have been encouraged.
You can find me on facebook or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to email me with inquiries about Premier and I will get you the information or catalog you need. Here is a special just for you: Order $50 at retail price, receive one half price item. If you’d like to pass the catalog around to your friends and collect orders, you will receive a bonus $25 FREE jewelry when the catalog show reaches $100 or more! (You also receive 20% of the orders in FREE jewelry and half off items!!!) Offers expire August 31.