Monday, September 5, 2011

Ants

This sweet girl, who turned 18 months yesterday, has developed quite the fascination for ants. I am not totally sure how this started... maybe when her Aunt Kate took her outside and showed her a little ant army crawling on the sidewalk? I don't know. But I do know that she spent the better part of yesterday's cookout, which had more kids than I could count, staring in utter excitement and awe of hundreds of ants scurrying back and forth along one neighbor's front steps. It didn't matter that there was a water table, or balls, or tons of kids to play with; she was captivated by these little creatures and what they were up to... pointing to them, laughing out loud, and exclaiming "FUNNY!" over and over again. It was a sight to behold... not the ants themselves, but the fact that my daughter was so enamoured by them; and the fact that they held her attention longer than any other kid or toy around.

I suppose this post should really be titled, "How We Made the Decision for Me to Stay Home." But that isn't nearly as fun as sharing about Eliana's latest fascination with ants. There's a connection... I promise. Hang with me.

A few weeks ago, I was out back talking to a neighbor who is also a teacher in the school system in which Spencer teaches (and in which I am currently on leave). She asked me, "How in the world are you able to make this work?" Clearly, she knows about how much Spencer makes since she works in the same school system. My honest answer to her was this: I really don't know.

You see, while we were able to prepare some financially for this year, the decision for me to take leave from teaching was less about the how, and more about the Who. And when that finally clicked (which, truthfully, was only a few months into LAST school year), the decision was totally easy... not because we have some hidden treasure in financial resources, but because we have a greater treasure than this world could offer... and that is a God who loves us and will provide for our every need. Not necessarily our wants... but definitely our needs.

We knew that foregoing my income meant that Spencer's salary wouldn't cover our minimum monthly expenses.

We knew that foregoing my income meant that we would no longer be able to save or accelerate mortgage payments.

We knew that foregoing my income meant that there wouldn't be a trip to Disney in our near future... or really any trip or vacation that didn't involve a free place to stay.

We knew that foregoing my income would be a huge sacrifice, that the numbers didn't totally add up, and that it was a huge leap of faith. We knew that it meant trusting in the promise of Matthew 6:25-33--

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Has God provided for us in practical, tangible ways? Absolutely. He has provided me with a part-time job which I can do from home while Eliana naps, working for a great boss. But what's more, is He has given me a heart of complete peace with this decision, particularly when it comes to our finances. Do we still wonder how we are going to really swing this? Sure. But we trust in the One who loves us and has a greater vision for our lives than we ever could. We know without a doubt that this is what God was calling our family to, and so we are more concerned with the Who.. with Him... than how this thing will all work out.

I also wanted to say that I recognize that there are some of you reading this who just may not be able to swing it financially to stay at home; I want you to know that you are no less of a mother because you are working outside of the home. I realize that for some, staying at home just isn't an option, and a recognize what a sensitive and divisive topic this can be. We just know that given all that unfolded in our lives over the last year, that this truly was God's desire for our family for this season.

So, as I sat and watched Ellie watching the ants, I marveled again at how those littlest creatures are cared for by our God; and how if even the ants are cared for and provided for, then how much more will we be, even if we didn't have it all figured out. He does.

I had to chuckle as I thought about how fortunate I am that I get to sit and marvel as I watch my daughter so engrossed by the ants... and learn to count... and sing the ABC's... and help me make pumpkin pancakes... and the list goes on...

11 comments:

Joannie said...

Stacy, God will bless your decision AND provide for all of your needs. When Albert decided to stay home with our boys, it was a scary thing but it has been an amazing ride. Our income was cut in half abruptly, but the time that he was able to spend with our boys was PRICELESS (just like in the credit card commercial!). Sometimes I find myself thinking about what our bank account would look like if he was still working, but knowing that we are investing in our boys' lives and futures puts a stop to that right away. I can't even describe the peace I had sending our oldest away to college, knowing that we have given him everything that we could have in terms of time, teaching and support. God is great!

Michelle Karr said...

By the grace of God is my answer. :) I love to watch how He works it all out!! I am glad He has given you a peace and blessed your family in this way.

Sarah said...

I'm so glad that God has given you a peace about what He has called your family to do. It's a tough decision for any family, but you are so right. It's not about the how but the WHO! He is faithful to provide, indeed! I hope you are enjoying finding some creative ways to make it work! :-)

Jenny said...

This entry really came at the exact right moment, as I have been struggling myself with whether or not the decision to be a stay at home mommy (working on the weekends) is really the right one. Living in NYC on two salaries is challenging... and on one it is very difficult. Over the last few weeks, I've really been questioning if I should put the boys in day care and start working full time again. But I KNOW that being home with my boys is what is truly in my heart. Reading the last paragraph of your entry is what made me feel 100% better about my decision. :)

Taylor said...

I love this post! I have a really similar one that I started a long time ago that I have yet to finish. :) I love the Scripture passage; it's been one we've turned to many a time over the past year and a half. The way God has provided for us since I've been home has been incredible. He is good.

Jennifer said...

Stacy,

This is exactly my story. When you were struggling with this decision last year, I think I may have even shared a tidbit about my story with you then. Can't remember for sure. But, my point is that when I quit work nearly 9 years ago my husband and I were fully persuaded that was God's will for our family in spite of the fact that the numbers did not add up. 9 years later, the numbers still don't add up. We've not been able to do many things...vacations, cable/satellite tv, memberships that many of my mom friends have, but God has provided for our needs month, after month, after month. Even now when we add it up on paper each month we don't know exactly how it's all going to work out, but it always does. We've always been able to pay our bills and our needs have always been answered. Our income was cut in half! Over these 9 years, we've gone on to have a total of 5 children. My husband's income has not increased with each child, yet God's provision has!! Keep those scriptures close so if you ever begin to doubt you can remember the Lord's promises to you!! When you trust the Lord and follow His direction for you life, you will never regret your decision!! Enjoy those babies!!

Blessings, Jennifer

Jacks grandmom said...

I am so happy for all of you! I wish that all Mom's would be so fortunate to stay home with their little ones. I know that i always had wished that I could have done so. Good for you, Spencer, for little Eliana and also for the new little son!

Unknown said...

Stacy, this post really inspired me, as I am so fearful of not having "enough". I also appreciate your respect for families for whom staying at home is not a good option. Similarly, I want to say that if you are a parent who chooses not to stay home, not because you can't, but because you are a more balanced, happy person by working outside the home, and therefore, a better parent, blessings to you as well. We all need to do what we feel is best for our families and I extend my deep respect to all parents; I truly believe we are all trying to do the right thing.

Sonya said...

you are so sweet to write this and bless the hearts of working mothers. I am a mom who has to work outside of the home and I hate what I miss on a daily basis with my kids. BUT you better believe that I make sure I enjoy the time I do have with them.

I am glad that you are able to stay at home and that God has provided for you and your family!

Jenell said...

I love this post! You shared this all so graciously. I was in the same boat this year and was able to quit my job when Benjamin was 18 months. The money didn't add up for us either and I was the sole income for a long time because we own a business and income wasn't steady at all but God gave us the same verse and some others in confirmation. So, in a huge leap of faith, we too followed His prompting and He has faithfully provided and taken care of us! It is such a blessing to fulfill God's calling and be home to raise my little guy. Thank you for sharing!

elaine said...

Thank you for posting this. I've been a long time reader/follower of your blog but never posted. My husband and I are thinking of starting our family soon - and both of us agree that mommy (I) should stay home when that happens. I guess I always thought that we'd have (a lot) more income later on in life ... and THEN we'd have children. The "a lot more income" hasn't happened. Our income will be cut in half if I stay home. I know I should TRUST, but it's so hard when it doesn't ADD UP on paper. My husband and I both feel God's calling us to start a family but I'm so hesitant because of finances. Thank you for sharing your heart - and letting others know we're not alone. :-)