Past Tears and Prayers
I cannot tell you how many times I have cried on my way to work, missing the baby smells of all four of my children’s bald little heads each time I returned to teaching after maternity leave. I’ve felt jealous that some other woman got to hold them, teach them, watch them take their first steps or say their first words and then lie to me when I picked them up so that I did’t get my feelings hurt for not being the one for whom my children showed off.
I cannot tell you how many times I have begged God to open the doors to bring me home and close the doors that keep me working 45-minutes away and so hard that when I come home I am worthless: I’m tired, having given all my energy to other people’s children, and now feigning enthusiasm when my own kids or husband want to share the excitement from their day, but all I can think of is that stack of papers to grade, and that lesson to still plan, and how I’m going to do that along with giving everyone their baths and making dinner and still grabbing that box of diapers because we are down to the last one and the baby will need a fresh one before bedtime. I can barely breathe just saying those words aloud.
My husband helps so much. He is a wonderful and attentive father. He wakes up with the kids and makes sure they have breakfast and are dressed before taking them to daycare or school while encouraging them in the day’s events. He takes them to their doctors appointments while I’m at work, reads bible stories in the evening with them, helps them practice their karate moves and makes sure they go through their checkoff list before bed before awarding them their prize-earning stickers. He leads us all in prayer. So I can’t get upset and say my husband doesn’t help. He does. In many ways, he does a better job than I do all while running a business from home.
But one day on my way to work two years ago, after I left my daughter with the daycare provider at 8-weeks-old, I was crying to God as usual and felt him strongly tell me that he would bring me home one day, but not now. That I wasn’t ready and that Owen wasn’t ready. We still had more to learn to prepare us. The thoughts came out of no where. I was crying, asking God to please get me laid off or something and then the words just stopped me in my tracks. I remember it clearly now, sitting at the red light on the 76 right before the 15-on-ramp. And a peace just overcame me. Ok, God. For those of you who have a relationship with the Lord, you know what I’m talking about. When the thoughts and feelings are clearly not yours but they nudge you from the side in the midst of your thought, headed in a different direction entirely. And you test them by comparing them to what the Bible teaches to find they do line up. Then you know–this is from God.
I decided then and there that if this was the case, I was going to really enjoy my job while I still had it. And I did. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it certainly is a job I love, but I embraced it with a joy I hadn’t had in years–rekindled that early love for it. You know the kind? The one with fresh ideas and untainted expectation? I’ve written about this in the past. I have felt like a “born again” teacher the last couple of years.
And then four months after I drove on to that north-bound freeway at 6:15 that tearful morning, Owen was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymus Cancer.
And we grew.
Night sweats, chest pains, weight-loss, then finally–answers. Then it was surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Loss of hair, weight, and pride. We were pruned. Stretched. We grew faith and hope. I developed a supernatural strength I didn’t knew I could have. Owen softened with patience and compassion he struggled with before. It was a painful and beautiful trial. Not just our family. But for our friendships, and our marriage.
And then after one year of treatment while still running his business (he is a rock star!), Owen was healed from Cancer. And we celebrated and grew some more as we basked in the sunlight of hope, ready for further growth and new possibilities. Last week we just got our news that Owen is still cancer-free after one year since treatment.
That summer during treatment two years ago, I worked on creating content for a marriage app I invented, realizing I should apply some of what I preached to the world around me. The ideas multiplied. Ideas lead to paper, led to spread sheets, lead to app developers and branding designs. And we grew some more. Then over the last year, the idea for the marriage app morphed into a marriage Facebook page and private group that has lead me to be a part of a movement to strengthen marriages and heal broken ones called Thriving, Sexy Marriages. And so we grew some more. Marriage app still to come. But something else has sprouted in the process.
The Turning Point and the Faith of a Child (or a Husband)
So when my husband’s business went through some changes this winter that lead us to to reconsider our understanding of God and to trust him in ways we didn’t understand, I would never have guessed that it would yield in my husband a desire for me to step out in faith with him and quit my job to come home. By no means was it a surge of prosperity that lead to this decision. Something I thought would need to happen for that decision to ever happen.
This was not how I had envisioned it. But God’s plans are not our plans. God did not say we weren’t ready yet because Owen’s business wasn’t making him so rich we could quit mine and still live a life of quarterly weekend getaways, season passes to Legoland, and a winter cabin in Big Bear. I thought this when he said we weren’t ready. But I have learned that God was talking about our character. Our faith. Our growth as husband and wife. Our unity and vision for our future.
What is Next
Taking a leave of absence from my well-paying job to stay home will take sacrifice, there is no denying that. At least for now. But we have plans to be a husband-wife team. I will not be trading grading papers and lecturing seniors on the rhetorical triangle for lying around all day cuddling with my 2-year-old and watching day-time television or making Pinterest boards on animal shaped sandwiches. While cuddles will certainly be apart of my day, it will also be helping my husband out with his business, finishing my other children’s books, growing my blog, and growing our marriage ministry so that we can make it a virtual marriage support movement–something that could lead to courses and books and private coaching or accountability. Owen and I have learned so much through just our short seven-and-a-half years together. And we know that in the trials that have hit our marriage, what the darkness intended to destroy, God is using for good.
So we will need to work at it. And it may be tight for awhile. And there may very well be some conflict. But yes, I will also be able to take my kids to school. I will be able to teach my daughter how to read and put her down for her naps and enjoy her company at lunch. I don’t have to hear my son Jameson pray at the dinner table that his Mommy could get her work done faster so she could play with him. I will be able to pick up my boys from school and do homework with them in the afternoons. I will be able to enjoy them in the evening without a distracting pile of papers to grade.
And just as importantly, I will be able to watch them walk across the stage at high school or college graduation, without regretting losing those precious moments with them in those short years God lent them to us because I wanted fancy face washes, Arbonne shakes, and shiny cars, or a remodeled bathroom. I don’t want those material things at the expense of my children saying they remembered me as the stressed out mom who rushed them through everything– never really present.
Personal Faith and Purpose
So that’s my story. That’s my reason. I don’t write this to guilt-trip any working moms. We are all different and I’m sure there are many working moms who can do both well. But I’m just not one of them. I can do one really well and the other just mediocre. And I’m tired of putting my kids second. And I can’t really get away with doing the other mediocre in the age of test scores and professional development accountability. This is God’s call on my life.
Until then, when my husband says lets step out in faith and see what God can do with the passions and talents he has given us, I say heck yes. I already feel a change happening within me just knowing it’s 5 weeks away. It makes me want to hold on to my husband, my kids, and Jesus all the more tightly because I have to let go of my idol of a stable income.
But I think that is a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a blind faith. We’ve crunched the numbers. We’ve looked into health insurance. We’ve looked at our mortgage budget. It will be tight at first. But it can be done and it can and can loosen up later. The difference is that when you work solely on bringing income from your own business, the income varies month to month. It doesn’t feel as “safe” as a contracted salary position. So there is a reliance on the Lord that doesn’t happen when relying on that steady paycheck with the exact same number every month. But what it also means, is that there is no cap on our income. We get what we put into it too. If I help my husband with his business Videospot, his business can grow faster. If he helps me with the Thriving, Sexy Marriage business (he is an expert in selling with video, by the way) then I can eventually bring in some supplemental income through that business project to keep me home with my babies.
And I don’t doubt for a second that God will certainly show off for me since I’ve given him room to do so. A good friend of mine, Jamie once asked me–how can we see God’s power in our lives if we don’t give him a chance to show off for us because we play it safe? In the end, I think it is rooted in distrust of God. And that is unwarranted.
And if I’m wrong–perhaps yes, we’ve seen all the wrong signs or God wants this to be just temporary and hasn’t revealed that to us as of yet, my leave of absence allows me to return to my secure job as a teacher in a year or two. Within two years though, we hope to have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We won’t know until we take that turn down that road
I don’t know the future, but I know I’ve got a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I’m tired of walking down a different path than my family. There are here in Vista and my husband has this vision for our future that I want to be a part of, but I’m on this side-road heading off in a different direction, constantly shouting over the valley between us, saying, “You can do it honey!” I want to be with him. I want to say “we can do it.” And when two people share a common vision and work together to achieve it, I don’t see how that could not lead to many good and plentiful blessings.
Those two paths have finally joined because of my husband’s faith and vision. It is a faith of God’s child. And I will not say no because Lord, we are ready to walk down it, wherever it leads.