Welcome back!  As I sit down to write today I feel like it’s necessary for me to clarify a few things before we go a lot further in this series.  First, I want to clarify who my target audience is.  I am writing this to women who are born-again Christians.  This is important, because I am writing with the assumption that you believe that God’s Word is completely true and completely relevant for our lives today.  As we get into the next few weeks, I will be sharing some scriptures to help us understand our call and if you don’t believe that we should obey scripture then you will have a difficult time understanding where I’m coming from.  I am writing to women who are married with children who either already have a career or ministry or who have a passion for a career or ministry and aren’t sure how that fits with their role in the home as wife and mother.  Second, I want to clarify my heart.  As a Christian woman who understands and embraces her role in the home, but also has a thriving career and ministry, I feel a burden to help shed some godly perspective and encouragement onto other women who are in the same boat.  Please know that I in NO WAY am discrediting women who do not work outside the home, nor am I trying to imply that we have it harder or that one way is right, and another is wrong.  Some of my dearest friends are home-school moms and I have a great deal of respect for them.  There are a unique set of challenges and hardships for moms who get to be home with their kids.

In fact, I haven’t always worked outside the home.  Different seasons of our lives have had me as a stay-at-home mom (with three kids in diapers in the early years), a part-time employee, a full-time employee, a direct sales consultant working from home, self-employed outside the home, and a business owner on several different levels.  I have also been in several different areas of ministry throughout my life from a volunteer listening to kids quote Bible verses in Awana to serving alongside my Pastor/Husband, to leading the lady’s ministry to pursuing a budding writing career (that has yet to take off).  Each of these seasons has had amazing benefits and incredible challenges.  Neither of these scenarios was easier than another and neither of these seasons were necessarily better than another.  They were all different and they were all part of God’s plan for the course of my life.

Let me share just a little bit about my story.  My husband and I were both working full time when we got married.  I was 19, just out of high school and he was 21.  I had dreams of being a hair stylist and owning a shop one day.  I also felt a distinct call when I was younger that one day I would write and teach.  However, all of these things required education which required money that we didn’t have.  We suffered a mis-carriage in our first year of marriage.  By year 2 we had our son, Peter.  Year 3 we had our daughter, Bethany and just after celebrating year 4 we had our daughter, Chloe.  I lost my full time job due to complications with my first pregnancy.  While I was taking on the role of baby factory, I tried my best to work.  Those early years of marriage were some of the most trying times of my life.  We couldn’t survive on one income, but I struggled so hard with working because all I wanted was to be home with my babies full time.  I somehow thought that working was making me a bad mother, and even when I understood it was ok I couldn’t find a job that paid enough even to cover day care.  Balance was definitely not an option in those early years and I had to fight hard to keep my head above water.  Did I mention that we were leading the entire youth ministry at our church all this time for no pay?  Try pouring full time into ministry, full time into your family, and full time into multiple jobs and STILL not having enough to keep food on the table or electricity turned on.  It was a choice each month if we would have lights, heat, or food.  We had to do something!  So, my husband left his job and started pursuing other avenues.  I supported him every step of the way and it led him into a career in the financial market and a full time calling into ministry.  I began pursuing my dream to be a hairstylist and my husband supported me every step of the way.  My oldest had started school already and we had a trusted friend devote herself to watching my kids while I went to beauty school.  Once we both surrendered to God’s call and ambition that HE put in us, things started to work out.  I began learning how to balance family, work, and ministry.  I learned what was truly important and what I needed to let go of.  God has blessed our callings and our family as we have followed His guidance.

Here’s what I can tell you from my experience:

You are better off following God’s call than you are staying in your comfort zone.  I heard an analogy years ago that has always stuck with me.  They say that the safest place during a hurricane is directly in the center, or eye, of the storm.  That small little space right in the middle of the winds and rain raging around is peaceful.  It’s calm.  I’ve heard that in that center, you wouldn’t even know there was a storm going on.  That’s how I view God’s will.  There might be a ginormous storm raging around you, but when you stay right in the center of God’s will you are safe.  It’s calm there, peaceful.  We had to make a choice to walk through the storm and find that center.  We have not once regretted it!

When you start to pursue God’s call, it will get worse before it gets better.  While my husband was searching I went to work at a full time job just 2 WEEKS after my youngest was born.  It was a temp job that lasted for one month.  Later, I found another full time job that became permanent.  Then, I picked up a second part time job in retail in addition to my full time job.  It was only for a short time, but it was necessary to support the path my husband was taking.  When I began pursuing my calling, my husband worked three jobs: factory, pizza delivery, and weekend security at Notre Dame.  It wasn’t easy, but we both made whatever sacrifices we needed to make so that we could follow God’s calling on our lives.  After 20 years of marriage, juggling family, ministry, and careers, we have learned to go where He says, when He says.  We have learned to discern opportunities from distractions.  We aren’t perfect by any means, but God has been so good to us as we strive to serve Him how He has designed us to.

Your children will be okay.  Our children were always well cared for.  They never knew how poor we really were.  Each one of them would tell you that they have always felt safe and loved in their home.  They are now teenagers who love the Lord and are actively pursuing God’s calling on their own lives.  They are independent and motivated to reach their fullest potential in everything they do.

Last week, I asked you to identify your ambitions and dreams.  Next week I want to start looking at the biblical foundation of our role as women.  You might not like all of it, but I hope you’ll stick with me.  As you begin to seek out your God-given call it’s important that you learn how to discern whether your ambition is from your own heart or from God’s.  Understanding our role is a big part of that discernment process.  In the meantime, what’s your story?  Do you work outside the home?  Inside the home?  Full time? Part time? Self-employed?  What are your struggles or concerns?  Comment below.   I would love to know who I’m writing to and how I can encourage you with God’s Word!