I really love to study, and I really love to write. I love to read all the comments from you after I write. 🙂 So why am I getting so little blogging done?
Well, as you know, we moved to Wisconsin in late February, after my husband resigned from the pastorate. Life has been a little bit of a roller coaster since then. Most of our time has been devoted to getting my husband’s web design business going. But as we learned, starting a business from scratch isn’t always so easy.
We had a lot of scary moments this spring and summer. We weren’t at all sure where food for the next meal was coming from, let alone the rent bill, the electric bill, or the car repair bill.
I would come back here to my own blog, just to re-read what I claimed I said I believed.
Our work is never the source of our income; God is the source of our income!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).
It’s really exciting to actually do what we always said we believe. Our goal is to live by faith, praying about our needs and being thankful for what we have in the meantime.
My husband and I had a lot of late nights when we just sit and look at each other and shake our heads. We knew everyone else thought we’d lost our minds — and we were starting to join them in that opinion!
By the first of July, things looked pretty bleak. We were talking about where we could move if we couldn’t pay the rent. How would we move? How would we rent a truck? How could we sell every possession we owned — and would even that be enough to start over?
And I was tired. Very tired. Both Kraig and I had applied for multiple jobs, yet every job possibility had fallen through. We were working very long hours in web design, but because we were new to it, the pay wasn’t enough to cover our expenses. Months of long hours were taking their toll in many areas.
We celebrated our 20-year wedding anniversary by feeling about as low as we’d ever felt in our lives. The following sabbath, I pulled a wise, older friend aside, a woman who had herself been a pastor’s wife for years and then had been through economic hard times when her husband left the ministry because of a change in theology.
I started to cry. She only had a few minutes to listen to my story before she had to go, so she said, “Anne, let me just share what I was thinking about this week. If you had your life to live over, what would be your most important priorities? You know God will take care of you. So what does He most want you to do with your life? I want you to go home this week and pray about three things that you know He wants you to do. Don’t worry about the rent, and don’t worry about the money. Just live out your priorities each day, and trust God to take care of the rest.”
I didn’t really believe her. But the funny thing was that my husband had asked me a similar question only a few days before. “Anne,” he had said, “You’re not smiling as much as you used to. And we all miss that smile. If you had no worries, because you knew God was taking care of us, what would make you smile the most?”
The funny thing is that I’ve always claimed to want to live life by my priorities. I knew the answer to my friend’s question about what three things were most important to me. I promised her I’d pray about it, but I already had a good idea what God would answer. In my heart, I knew that I would need to pray for courage to actually live like I said I believed.
- Time for God
- Time for my husband and children
- Time for ministry
We had been putting in such long hours at the computer that I had very little time or energy left for God. Now, granted, He has been very close to us this past spring and summer, evidencing Himself in ways I could never have imagined. A moment reading through a Psalm while in the bathroom, or a quick read through a verse or two on my Kindle before falling asleep at night — these have been very precious, and YHWH has seemed to bring exactly the right words at the moments we needed them most.
But as Yeshua’s parable reminds us, “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” can choke out the Word that is planted in our hearts (Matthew 13:22). Choking was an appropriate word for how I felt many days!
As for time for my husband and children? We were all together in the same house, but each day was filled with waking up earlier and going to bed later. I was working, working, working long hours at the computer, too exhausted to do a good job of homeschooling, too grumpy to want to play with the little ones, and too tired to feel like laughing. We were sure it was “just for a season,” but the season was lasting way too long.
And ministry? How could we design websites and minister to others at the same time? I most love writing curriculum and resources for moms — but I knew that would have to wait until the season of website design and computer coding was over. Paying the bills was more important than ministry.
I would get emails from visitors to our publishing company, asking when new curriculum would be published and begging for helpful resources from Scripture. But I felt helpless to do anything about it.
To make a long story short, I came home from our sabbath fellowship that day, determined to pray a new prayer of faith, encouraged to step out and just live my priorities, even though I knew that it wouldn’t pay the bills, that we would be evicted and homeless, and that the future was ridiculously uncertain. But I felt a peace and joy I hadn’t felt in a long time.
The next day, I started to clean out the bookshelves in our school room. I figured that we would have to move, so I might as well start getting rid of books and clutter. As I worked, I continued to pray that we would have peace, wisdom, and joy throughout whatever happened. I asked God to help me not to care about the books I was packing into boxes more than caring about the husband, children, and needy people He had placed into my path. I asked Him to help me keep my priorities right — relationships over possessions.
In the middle of that day, I came across a notebook I hadn’t seen in about a year. It was filled with ideas for a curriculum company, one that supplied every homeschooling subject using the Bible as its primary textbook, but one that used a new (to me) marketing model. The idea was like Netflix. Join a membership site and have access to lesson plans “dripped” into your inbox week by week, for as long as you were a member.
Back when I had started the notebook, I knew I could supply content for a site like this because I had been writing curriculum and filling spiral notebooks, 3-ring binders, and folders on my computer since 2002. I had been using my ideas with my own children and collecting all the necessary reference books for many years. Teacher friends knew about my dream and had been donating books when they retired, and I had been haunting thrift shops and writing scopes and sequences throughout the whole time.
What’s more, I had taken two training classes in the past few years that included extensive how-to guides that gave step-by-step instructions for setting up a business like this. The materials for both courses were on my shelf, so I pulled them off.
I brought the notebooks out to the dining room table and showed them to my husband.
“Honey,” I said (because it’s always wise to start hair-brained ideas out with sweet talk like that).
“I really believe God is telling me to spend more time with the kids on their homeschooling than I’ve been able to do over the last few months. And it’s time to order their homeschooling books for our new school year, but I have no money to even buy one book. The silly thing, as you know, Honey, is that I have written all this curriculum for ourselves, and so I don’t really need to buy anything. And Honey, all our curriculum uses Scripture as its primary textbook. I was thinking that I could load up our curriculum week by week into a membership site, and maybe a few other people would buy it.”
He looked at me. He looked at the notebooks.
“I don’t think too many people are interested in having the Bible as their primary textbook.”
I agreed. But I showed him my plans, and we figured that if just ten mothers signed up, it would pay more than I had been earning by helping out with website design.
He agree to let me try, and it took only a short time to set up a website, since we were getting much faster at that. I sent out a survey to my small list of potential customers, asking if anyone would be interested in what I was thinking of doing.
That’s when things started really moving. Within 24 hours, we had over 100 interested people! I talked to some business friends who advised that we use some “real” software to handle a site like this, and that we start a Facebook page to see if it would take off.
Well, the software more difficult to install than anything we had ever done, but yet, we were amazed at how much God had prepared us with client projects over the previous months.
We opened a Facebook page for our new venture, and soon we had a couple hundred “likes.” Things were moving fast!
Within three weeks, our site was live. We have put in many long hours over the last six weeks, and it has been a roller coaster, to be sure. But we also received emails like this one:
This morning, like many mornings over the past two years that I’ve been homeschooling, I got on my knees before my children awoke and in desperation, sincerely pleaded for Father to show me a curriculum that would help me organize our school days. I’ve spent probably a thousand dollars nearly over the past couple of years on different things, but have ended up with tons of books and a mess that is causing more confusion than learning. Anyway…as soon as I got up from praying, I sat down at my computer — and the first thing I see is a link for your homeschooling sight! I nearly cried at the sight of such a direct answer to my early morning petition. So, thank you again for your obedience and for your diligence, hang in there, I have a feeling the trees are ripe for your curriculum and the fruit will be plenty!
I felt like Moses’ mother Jochabed, who was being paid to care for her own son! But even more so, I was seeing that God had a ministry for us to do! We could only see our financial needs and our exhaustion, yet God had a master plan, an idea for building His kingdom for which He had been preparing us for over ten years, slowly adding new pieces to our own training and curriculum so that we would be ready at just the right time.
Over 100 families have joined our membership site so far. I know it’s a tiny segment of homeschoolers, but it has been an absolute joy and delight. We are teaching hundreds of children using the Scripture as our primary text. We are training moms how to teach their children the Torah. Even better, I am “forced” to spend time with my own husband and children as we continuously develop more curriculum, as well as being allowed to write about Scripture full time, which is what I most love to do.
So in a nutshell, that’s what my summer has been like. I haven’t written much here, but I did write a short series of articles on how to begin using Scripture in your homeschooling, which you can read if you sign up for the newsletter list on our new homeschooling membership site. <wink>