Without going into my entire work history, know that I have worked very hard my entire life. Instilling a sense of responsibility into myself and my siblings was very important to my parents. I got my first job at the age of 15 bagging groceries on the weekends at a local Winn Dixie grocery store. By the time I was 16, I was working on the weekends and after school, and I was using the money I made to pay all of my own bills (car insurance, cell phone, gas etc.) and also buy my own clothes and pay for things like movie tickets and food when I wanted to go out.
Daniel and I married young and traveled a hard road in the beginning of our marriage-- attending school and each of us working multiple jobs at different times, and it was no different when Leeland was born. I worked part-time (after being laid off from my full-time job) some shortly after he was born, Daniel worked 2 jobs and finished up his degree. It wasn't easy, family time was unheard of and so were date nights, but we felt like we were doing what we had to do to survive.
By the time we found out we were expecting Hayden, Daniel had a much more steady full-time job (and only 1 job), and I was working part-time. We found ourselves at a cross road. The biggest struggle was gong to be childcare (soon for 2), but we weren't sure that we could support ourselves entirely on Daniel's income. That is the point that we decided it best for me to stay at home.
It was NOT an easy decision to make, and it was NOT a decision that we took lightly. The decision to stay at home with the boys came with a lot of prayer, a lot of time in God's Word, and a whole lot of trust and faith. So that answer's the "why" question. Why do I stay at home? Because that's what we feel God has called us to. This certainly doesn't mean that a working Mother is going against God's will, and don't twist my words into saying that all women should be home. The Lord gives each of us desires and talents and gifts, and He gives each of us a calling. This is MY calling. I can take heart in the struggle, and I can cling on when it's tough because I know whole heartedly that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do.
So the "how".... now that is a little bit harder to explain, because honestly most month's I'm not even sure of the how. Living on one income in today's world is incredibly difficult! (Especially one income that by the world's standards, isn't much.) If you've read any of my posts from a couple years ago about the horrendous time we had buying the house, then you know-- even buying a house on one income was almost impossible. I've always been the worrier, and when it comes to the finances end of things, stress each month is one of my biggest struggles. But every single month, God faithfully provides for us! Every single month. We have a roof over our heads and we have food in our bellies. Our needs have always been covered!... And often times, He even provides our "wants."
In the last couple of years, we have encountered SO many major financial hardships and unexpected expenses, and every single time, the money has been provided. God is so good to us! He is so good to us, even when I stress and worry.... my faith can be so small sometimes and He is always good!
Many of our friends know that we have encountered a lot of car trouble this year. Car trouble to the tune of about $1,500 just a few months ago. It's to be expected when you drive a 10 year old vehicle with 163,000 miles on it... AND because it's the only car that your family owns, it really takes a beating daily. Well just this week, my check engine light came on yet again. My gut reaction was to take it in right away. I sat in the parking lot of the library with the boys and I prayed-- I covered our car in prayer and I prayed really hard for a good, honest mechanic. After I said Amen, Leeland very inquisitively asked me why I would pray for our car, and we had a great conversation about how God cares about us and how He wants to talk to us about anything we wanted to talk about. I felt at peace heading to the mechanic. I knew it was going to be expensive, and I knew that we didn't really have the money to do it, but just something in me said I needed to drive it to the shop right away.
My first reaction to the sad news and high bill of the multiple repairs we needed was to cry. I feel terrible for that poor guy who had to break the news to me of the cost and the problem-- in fact, I saw his eyes well up a little too and his voice got a little shaky. He said that he was going to talk to his manager and find out if there was anything better they could do for me, or if they had any coupons, I could use. In the mean time I called Daniel to break the bad news and ask about fixing it--- he was also quite upset and angry. He's been quite literally working his butt off, and a lot of times with setbacks like this, it feels like he's working for nothing. One step forward, and two steps back. I don't blame him at all for being upset-- the unexpected is very frustrating. After that I went to the Lord in prayer and immediately felt a little bit of peace when this verse came to mind....
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" -Matthew 6:26
Finally finding a bit of comfort in the expensive repair, the man who broke me the sad news came back in and said that after some coupons and speaking with his manager.... he could reduce the bill by about $40. When you're spending that much money, $40 doesn't seem like much, but every little bit counts, so I told him to proceed on with the repairs. As it turns out, when I went to check out, he said that he and his manager were able to help me out a little bit more, find another coupon AND it turns out the labor wasn't as much time..... when it was all said and done, my bill was almost $110 cheaper than the original quote. It was still a lot of money for us, but not as bad as it could have been! Add that to a few off-duty shifts that Daniel was able to pick up, along with some childcare work that I was able to do and the bill is covered. Sure, if we had a choice on what we were to spend this "extra" money made on, we wouldn't choose the car.... BUT, how perfect that this repair fell when we had this extra income to cover it.
.... And I could go on and on with story after story of how He has provided for us, but this story is one that I will remember for a very long time. Shortly after we got back in the car and back on the road home, Leeland asks me, "Momma is our car all better now?" to which I replied, "Yup! They fixed our car up, and it should be ok now." which he followed with, "I praise God!!!" I burst out in big, proud, happy Momma tears right there. So while I have so many stories of God's provision and His never ending love for us, THIS story will stay with me for a while, because this story reminds me of who is watching me. In those stressful situations, when I'm weeping in the waiting room at the mechanic, when I open up a completely unexpected piece of mail, when our insurance rates go up and I can't fathom how we will come up with that higher amount, two of the sweetest little boys have their eyes on me. They are watching my every reaction.
So to the "how", the how part is not of our own doing, it is all God. Apart from Him, I can't explain how we make ends meet month to month, how I have the energy, strength, and guidance to raise, chase after and teach these precious little ones that He has entrusted us with. Apart from Him, I can't explain how I juggle this life, our hectic schedules, appointments, work, and activities. Apart from Him, I am nothing.