I felt a little different among these 90+ people seated in this beautiful ball room in the Chapel Hill Inn. Everyone there was in the business of making money in some way or the other. But not me, I was just a stay at home mom.
I used to make a lot of money. I was GOOD at making money. I love business. I’ve worked for myself ever since I quit my first job in a salon as a 20 year old. I even managed to work two full time jobs the 5 years after I got married…. I was a hairdresser during the week and during the weekends a wedding photographer. Two jobs that I LOVED but two jobs that were very client oriented and for years I focused more on bringing home a great income instead of caring for my body or my new marriage…. both which was struggling as I had put on 80 lbs in a matter of months and my husband had started a new career which he loved but which had a steep learning curve that required much of him. But we were used to living with both of our incomes… so stopping what we were doing didn’t even cross our minds. We put off having kids because of money… and my weight and kept thinking next year we’ll be healthier and we will be better off financially and then we kept doing the same thing over and over every day wearing ourselves ragged and pouring our heart and souls into everyone else (clients, students, friends, church,) but ourselves. We were living paycheck to paycheck, eating out mostly, happy… but not healthy.
Then after one wedding due to my lack of organization and focus I thought I had lost a good chunk of wedding images. I genuinely freaked out…. I had never stressed out that much prior and haven’t since. It was bad. I eventually found the images and all was good or so I thought. Shortly after that I started having hives, chronic hives. Looking back I can see that the life I was living was taking it’s toll on my body. The stress was getting to me…. to us. Now definitely wasn’t the time to have a baby. But that’s not what God thought. I was shocked but soon delighted on Christmas Eve morning when I took a pregnancy test that it came up positive. We no longer had to make a choice of baby or income… it was done. Well for reasons not really known we found out at 28 weeks that our baby had major complications going on as he was developing inside of me. We prayed and hoped that our son would be healed and 10 weeks later we welcomed Asher into this world and quickly had to say goodbye to him as his little heart just wouldn’t function outside of my womb. We were heartbroken. We knew that God was sovereign and that our son was whole and complete in heaven but we came home to an empty house and our arms ached to hold our baby. As soon as I healed from my C-section I went back to work…. Dan returned to teaching a few weeks later… our world kept going even though our hearts were still frozen in time.
About 4 months later in the middle of the winter around us and within us, God brought something that would thaw our hearts and spark our souls aflame with love and gratitude. A tiny 5 lb baby girl. She was mocha brown and the sweetest little thing you ever saw. We couldn’t begin to know how much we needed her, but Jesus did. It happened so fast and so suddenly that I didn’t have time to think about the loss of income as I took a leave of absence at the salon and didn’t even think about the coming wedding season ahead. I just knew that my arms were filled and my heart felt like a fuzzy pink blanket had been wrapped around it and we were a family.
After realizing that 6 months into this parenting thing that we actually could live on less and that God was continually meeting our needs in unexpected and surprising ways, we felt a stirring in our hearts for a change. We wanted to be closer to family… losing Asher had showed us how much we had taken family for granted for many years and we wanted those years back. So we headed west to Texas. Dan got a great teaching job but I only knew my family and a few others… so I didn’t have the vast clientele that I had in North Carolina, I still would take on a few weddings and sessions here and there but I was actually enjoying the freedom I was feeling in not always running around and always having a place I needed to be, or having a person always needing something from me. My grieving heart needed this. My unhealthy body needed this. And somehow we survived. We paid rent. We ate out occasionally. We were enjoying life.
You can read more about how quickly the other awesome kids we have came to be ours HERE. It was a whirlwind but at the same time it was lived within a confidence and steadiness we had longed for for years.
I had applied my business type go get-em attitude towards adoptions and raising funds where needed. (and Ya’ll, GOD provides for the fatherless!! He showed Himself so strong and mighty on their behalf as He moved in the hearts of many to bring these kids from hard places into our home!… Why had we ever doubted Him before?) But fundraising felt like a full time job. Oh the incredible freedom and beauty when we brought home our two children from Africa. I could relax…. well, as much as you can relax with 4 under 4 running around. I could handle the chaos around me, that’s just kids being kids, I get that. But why couldn’t I make sense of the chaos in my mind? It was always spinning, I felt like I wasn’t ever fully present around my kids, I had this insatiable desire to be doing something other than what I was doing (which was pretty much changing diapers and filling sippy cups), I was content but something wasn’t right. Shouldn’t a content mom be more at peace with what each day held for her?
Then through a blessing of God I was able to go to a MAKING THINGS HAPPEN Intensive one-day workshop in Austin Texas. (this was when the MTH team was traveling around, now they have twice a year conferences in Chapel Hill NC) And after 8 hours of listening and writing furiously and sharing what we were writing…. something clicked. I was living the grand scheme of my life on purpose (marriage, adoption, church) but the day to day was completely aimless. Sure I was a stay at home mom of A LOT of littles but my heart was longing for a life that was lived with intentionality. I hadn’t done anything that fired me up, that made me feel alive in a long time. I thought since I had gotten my hearts biggest desire which was to be a wife and a mother then I shouldn’t complain about feeling like life seemed pointless in the day to day. This workshop (and friends, this workshop puts the word WORK into workshop!!) was life changing!! My brain was thirsty for this challenging message and was weary from keeping everything spinning when it didn’t have to be that way.
Since then I have filled up several more notebooks using the steps Making Things Happen uses to continually get my focus and my days back on track to truly doing what matters most. I started making little changes to my days, changes that led to healing of my 4 year battle with chronic hives, changes that led me to having lots of time with my husband even in seasons where we have no time, changes that changed our address, changes that have kept us from mistakes that before we could have easily made, changes that have given me restful peaceful weekends, changes that have brought a lot of order to my chaotic mind, changes that will impact my children and hopefully their children for the rest of their lives.
I think sometimes we think that as SAHM’s (stay at home mom) that our everyday lives are consumed with so much more than others are because we are watching, and caring, feeding, loving and sometimes teaching our children from sun up till glorious sun down. But I think that all too often we have MORE intentional time to offer towards the things that 50 years from now will matter and the things that will help our families be in a better place financially, and spiritually and educationally. But we DON’T take advantage of it near like we should. I think that as SAHM’s we forget to do the things that fire us up… things that God created within us to enjoy…. things that after experiencing make us better moms, better wives, better people… things that actually might be given to us to use for the blessing and benefit of our home and finances. I think that as SAHM’s we say Yes to FAR too many things that sure are fun in the moment and offer us well rounded kids, something to fill our days, programs that we fit into because when you have little ones that’s just what you do, and chock full weekends that give us the pat on the back that we still are good friends to our friends and to our kids friends. We don’t say No near enough… because we are home and don’t have a “real job” we feel like we don’t have a reason to say No when asked. We are moms and sometimes Fear keeps us from listening to our guts, and taking risks we feel called to take in our family and home life. I could go on and on about how the MTH message applies to us as moms.
So here I was in Chapel Hill for the Making Things Happen Conference. I’m sitting there with almost 100 go-getters and feeling a little like “what am I doing here? I don’t make any money in the calling God’s given me right now. I’m not the business woman I once was.” “What do I even have to say and share with them that will apply to their lives?” But about 15 minutes into the conference I breathed out a long and steady breath… sat back and smiled from ear to ear. THIS is what was had impacted my life, this is what I so often get side tracked from, this is not about money… or what you do to make it or how much you make or where you live or even what your popularity on social media is, Making Things Happen is solely about what MATTERS MOST and How to live the life that God has called you to live. And I had a lot yet to learn about all of that… and I had a lot I could share about it too.
THIS was exactly where I wanted to be.
I have a lot more ahead of me in the changes I want/need to make and the goals and experiences I want to accomplish with and for my family. Even though we can pay all of our bills most of the time, we still could do much better with our finances. Even though I’m way healthier than I was a few years ago I still carry a lot of weight that needs to be shed. Even though I’m living with intention… as my children’s ages change so will my day to day goals and intentions… so will my yes’s and no’s…. so will my fears…so will the things that make me feel alive. I need to continually be reminded and challenged to keep on living for what matters most.
I know that for many Stay at home moms leaving little ones for several days, or budgeting for big conferences, or choosing this conference out of others your soul and heart may need more in the immediate time are all things that can keep you from attending a Making Things Happen Conference. (Link to MTH March 2015 Conference HERE) And I GET IT!!!! But one thing I LOVE LOVE LOVE about this is that if you really put your heart into it and give yourself the gift of time to read and write then you CAN get the benefit of using the MTH steps even when you can’t attend a conference!! There’s nothing magical about this conference or even these steps… but it’s the work you put into them and the time and mental power you put into them. It’s putting pen to paper and letting what’s spinning and cerebral and scared flow into something thats ordered and tangible and set free.
I would say first Go pre-order Lara’s Book Making Things Happen. $10 on Amazon. This book has all the steps you’ll need to get on the path towards living for what truly matters and making things happen! (I’ll have a full book review in a few weeks for you guys! Can’t wait!)
Then go order her Power Sheets. $35 for 6 months worth. These will help you stay the course this coming year. These are an incredible tool to have…. for not much money.
You can go ahead and follow Lara’s Blog and subscribe to her monthly newsletter.
If you want to get started before January 1st… then go on over to her Posts from January 2014 and Get started!! Just GO HERE even though it’s the last post in the series, it has the links for the steps you’ll want to do in order!
Let’s not underestimate what God can do in us and through us in 2015!