Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why I Became a Stay at Home Mom

The ache seemed to come from out of the blue. I had never considered being a stay at home mom, yet the idea ballooned from a fleeting fancy into a longing that gripped my thoughts with near painful intensity.

I was on a fast-track career path, climbing a corporate ladder, making great money, and earning the respect and recognition of both peers and superiors. Others told me (and I believed) that I was destined for great things, so as I considered my future, an active professional life seemed obvious. 

But the Lord was moving in my heart. He began to open my eyes - gradually at first and then with soaring urgency - to see how much I was missing when I left home for the office. Each day when I kissed my kids goodbye, I was more disheartened. As I drove away from them, I opened the door for someone else to mold their lives, shape their ideals, their confidence, and their dreams. 

I tried to dismiss my conflicted thoughts. Our family needed two incomes and I couldn’t just leave a full-time work environment… could I? I enjoyed my professional life. I found it fulfilling and it was certainly lucrative. But the longing to take a more active role as mom continued to swell. I adored every moment with my kids and it hurt my heart to leave them day after day.

Nothing is Impossible with God

Before long, instead of believing that leaving the work place was an impossibility, I began to wonder, “What if…” And the more I considered it, the more discontented I became at the office. I started to see a more negative side of professional life, fueled by the ache I felt when dropping my young children with their care giver. 

Have you ever noticed that when the Lord wants to make a point, He’ll sometimes surround us with a similar, repeated message? As I wrestled with the idea of leaving the workplace, I began to hear parenting sermons at church. Soon, my friends were talking about cutting expenses to prepare for decreased income. Then a pastor on the radio delivered a word about trusting the Lord rather than our paychecks, and the D.J.’s were discussing it too. When picking up a Bible study I found myself confronted with the reality that if God was prompting this transition, He would certainly provide for our needs.   

What we Expected

As I prayed, and studied, and discussed this potential life change with Mike, we agreed that, aside from the loss of income and notable hole it would create in my resume, there were scarcely few disadvantages. The blessings, however, were easy to list:
    • I’d have much more time with the kids and experience the joy of pouring into their lives. We’d develop closer ties to one another.
    • I could teach and influence my kids for Christ.
    • Our family could enjoy a healthier lifestyle with earlier mealtimes with less eating on the run (aka less fast food!) 
    • Our family time would become richer. We had become slaves to the clock. Arriving home from work meant cramming a whole day’s worth of family time into a few short hours that included dinner, play, baths, and hurrying the kiddos off to bed.
    • We’d save money on gas, lunch expenses, and childcare. Those were big ticket items in our budget.

Still, I felt a healthy level of fear over stepping away from my job. Mike and I spent countless hours in prayer over the matter. We found that the Lord calmed our hearts and provided peace. He went ahead of us to prepare hearts of bosses, co-workers, and family who we expected to balk at the idea. God made it obvious when the time was right to make a move, and suddenly it felt easy to say goodbye to dual full-time incomes and embrace our trust in Him. 

What We Actually Found

Over my next two blog posts, I’ll share the emotions and challenges we faced and more practical points about how our family managed my transition to professional parent.  This post focuses on why we made the decision and the bountiful blessings that followed. As we journeyed through the switch, we discovered benefits we couldn’t have imagined without seeing them firsthand. This is what we found:

    • My time at home improved our marriage. The rhythms of our family life now afforded relaxed, quality-filled conversations that were not rushed or filled with distractions from the office. Mike and I developed deeper bonds than we’d experienced in our marriage so far, and truly felt the teamwork of home and family life. 
    • Completing housework, grocery shopping, and other “chores” during the week freed up our weekends for fun and relaxation. 
    • The kids developed deeper relationships with Mike. When he arrived home from work, the three of them shared undivided time together. We realized that when I was working, the kids poured out a lot of energy trying to share their hearts with each of us. Now that I was home, evenings were calmer and more relaxed. The kids could bask in daddy time. 
    • We purchased fewer “toys” (for both children and adults) that our dual income had allowed and realized freedom from materialism. Life seemed simpler and more rewarding when we enjoyed what we already owned. We didn’t really need that new car stereo or those new shoes and the kids didn’t need the video games that we’d once buy so readily. We stopped the mindset that more was best and were blessed by the freedom that came. 
    • I found I became more available to the Lord.  My prayer life multiplied. We began to see Him move in our lives and we gave Him glory for what we once believed we’d accomplished on our own. I took part in Bible studies and began to grow in my relationship with God. 
    • We felt we could say “yes” to participation in church small groups since our evenings felt so much freer. 
    • Our church attendance increased. It no longer seemed as if Sundays were our only day to sleep in, rest, or catch up on errands or neglected projects around the house. 
    • Mike and I both believed that we drew closer to the Lord and could more easily discern His promptings and directions. 

In short, nearly everything in our lives swayed with a calmer, more rhythmic beat. Our schedules and our relationships began to move to the cadence of a common drummer. We could more easily walk in step with God’s prompting and direction for our family. 

Where to Go From Here

The purpose of this post and my encouragement for you today is to listen to the Lord’s prompting if He is stirring the desire become a stay at home mom. It’s so easy to dismiss the thought as an impossibility, but I want you to hear and understand that if the Lord is directing you, He will provide for your every need. So instead of ignoring the longing of your heart, listen to it. Seek the Lord’s will in it with all your heart. Ask that He prepare the hearts of those who will have involvement in the decision - particularly your husband - and then sit down and have the conversation.  

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:12 (HCSB)

Whether or not you move forward with this life-changing transition, you’ll know that, at the very least, you sought the Lord’s will and were open and available to follow His lead. 

I don’t believe that the Lord calls every mom to stay at home with her children, but I believe the possibilities and blessings are worth considering. The bottom line is this: When we walk in obedience to the Lord, He brings His best to our lives. It doesn’t mean that we’ll live free from trials or difficulties, but we’ll experience the blessings for lives fully surrendered to Him. 

I, for one, want always to listen for His direction and live my life in ways that are worthy of my calling. May that be the cry of your heart as well.

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12 (HCSB)

Your Turn:

Do you feel the Lord developing a longing in your heart to become more intentional and purposeful as a parent?

Do you feel that might include stepping away from full-time employment?

How can I prayerfully support you in your journey to discover His will in this matter?

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word
Psalm 119:28


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