Monday, May 10

Why I Work

This has been a blog post in progress for a long my mind.  Many other posts have been written, saved and published while this one remained in the editing state, so to speak.  I don't know if its because I was afraid to write it (you know, that whole 'fear of man' thing) or if I wasn't sure how to write it.  Either way...I've decided that today is the day I will free my mind of these thoughts and express what I've been feeling, living and know to be true, by the grace of God.

I'm a working mom.  And before I get any comments about how all moms work...I mean, I work outside the home.  I'm fortunate enough to not have to work full time and can do a lot of my work from home.  This leaves me free to be with my children 5 out of the 7 days of the week.  But I work nonetheless. 

At first, this was a decision made out of necessity.  My husband is a Christian school teacher.  Taking that job was a calling from God.  But, that meant that we would live on less in order to serve.  I'll admit, working was a bit selfish at first.  I like buying new clothes, going out to eat, traveling to see family in other states.  All things that we would not be able to afford if I did not work.  We would not live in the house that we do, or have the means to give at the level that we're able to give.  We are passionate about the Great Commission - and though God has not yet called us to go, we are having a wonderful time helping to send!

But, lest you think my attitude has always been so glorious...well it hasn't.  When my first child, Annelise, was born, I went back to work after 6 weeks.  I spent most of my time working from home...but as a new mother, that was difficult.  I didn't want to sit on my computer all day.  I wanted to take pictures of my sweet, baby girl, go for walks and playdates with friends.  You know, all the things that moms do.  I struggled for a long time.  Angry at myself for wanting to work, resenting my husband for not making more money to support us, bitter at friends who had made the decision to stay home.

This lasted for nearly a year...and I was miserable unbeknown to anyone but my husband.  The poor guy.  He put up with a lot of moaning and complaining.  I was not a godly wife.

Then the Lord blessed us with another pregnancy.  Another beautiful baby girl.  And, selfishly, I decided that I would take 12 weeks off after her birth.  My initial plan was to prove to my husband that we could make financial sacrifices and survive without me working.  And for a short time, we did just that.  But slowly, God started to break away the crusty, bitter layer around my heart and reveal His true plan for our family.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

You want to know the real truth about me?  12 weeks of maternity leave did not give me more time to be a homemaker, mother, godly wife.  I didn't do the Bible study I had intended or teach Annelise a foreign language.  I didn't have more time to read books or visit friends.  Instead, I had more time to be lazy and selfish.  Ouch!  Reading books that I wanted to read, being consumed with "me" time. 

Let me say this...I do not believe that all stay at home moms are lazy and selfish.  Many that I know use their time very wisely, in a way that nurture's their family and honors God.  Unfortunately, I was not one of those moms.

God used those 12 weeks to show me that He had a purpose in my working outside the home.  He has gifted me in ways that are useful to the Kingdom.  If I were not using those gifts, I would be squandering them selfishly.  I'm driven by tight schedules.  I enjoy getting a lot done in a little bit of time.  In fact, too much time to do a project drives me crazy.  I'm weird, I know.

Believe me, being a working mom isn't easy.  There are pressures and expectations that I often feel I cannot fulfill.  There are times when I'm torn between family and work.  There are lots of times when I feel like I'm not a good mom...or a good employee.  I've been fortunate to have close friends and family available to watch my children so I don't have to utilize public daycare.  Most of those caregivers have been able to come to my home.  I have a wonderful young lady watching my girls this summer...I babysat for her when she was little.  Its joyous to know that she will be impacting my children.

Speaking of my children...God has given me two beautiful girls with strong personalities.  In fact, I believe He gave them those personalities to help them (and me) cope through the busy times I have at work.  Neither of my girls are so clingy that I cannot leave them.  They are independent in nature and have a "I can do it on my own" attitude.  Because of that, I believe God has gifted them to understand and support my work outside the home.

And my dear, sweet, supportive husband.  I always thought he pushed me to working because he didn't want us to go without.  I always equated it to money.  How selfish and arrogant of me.  I now realize that he understood me (my personality, emotions and needs) more than I did.  He saw my creative drive, my need to have purpose, to make a difference.  He sees to the future.  He understands that when our children are gone I will want to reenter the workforce, and how difficult to do that with a 20 year gap in experience.  He has been the biggest supporter in times when I felt like he was my enemy.  He was the silent cheerleader when I felt like he was the taunting opponent.  I'm thankful for his insight.  I'm thankful for his love.

So, when you started reading this blog post you didn't know it was going to be a book.  Sorry.  I had a feeling it was going to be a long one.  But, its my story.  And its one that I didn't write.  I'm proud of who I am - who God has made me to be.  I have found freedom over the past 6 months...I'm no longer slave to my feelings of being inferior as a mother.  I know that I am who God has called me to be for such a time as this.  Instead of wallowing in "what could have been" I'm rejoicing in WHAT IS.  And who knows...maybe this post will inspire someone who has been feeling the same bondage in their chapter of life.  I hope that this is an encouragement to others.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your open and honest feelings. I feel much like you did staying home. I love my little one with all my heart but I think we would all benifit from me working outside them home! Well written and thank you for the inspiration.

Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing. I work 1 day a week outside the home and I get mixed reactions from people all the time. The people I work with give me a hard time that I only have to work one day a week and that my husband must make a lot of money. Honestly, we make sacrifices so I can be home. Some full-time stay at home moms make comments to me about working. Hello, it is one day a week and she is with Damian or my mom while I work. My attitude is that my family is happy and I get the best of both worlds and it sounds like you do too.

The Kampers said...

Great Job explaining! I appreciate you and Matt on this! God puts families together in all different ways and what works for one doesn't work for another. A wise friend of mine says often, "we need to remember that everyone is trying to do what's best for the family, and let it all go!" And you have such a great set up!:)

Kimberly said...

I absolutely applaud your honesty and directness. God has given us all richly different personalities and family situations...I'm so glad that you are able to glorify Him in what he's called you to do! I know that I've struggled with what others think of me for NOT working outside the home. What an encouragement to all mothers to be obediant to God's call on their life - whatever that may be!

Jerry Isaak said...

Thanks for sharing! It's good to hear what you have learned and the journey you have been on. Living in Canada is so different from the US-we get a full year of PAID maternity leave. It was a great year and now that I'm back full time I realize how I missed using my gifts that the Lord has given me and how it challenges me and grows me in different ways. I'll admit that I'm looking forward to starting another year of maternity leave (in just 4 1/2 weeks!). There is NO "right" or "wrong" way of being a parent in terms of working. Loving your kids is what matters and I know you do that with ALL your heart.

Heather V said...

Thanks for the encouragment!

juliajudah said...

I am not an avid blogger or blog reader-so please forgive any blogging faux pas I may make in this comment- but I stumbled onto your post and after much thought and probably never enough prayer I really felt the need to comment.
I can see you put a lot of time and thought into this post about working as a wife and mother, and I can also see that you love your husband and children very much. I think that one of the most exciting thing about being a parent is obviously the biblical promise that if we raise them up in the way that they will go, when they are old, they will not turn from it. God also goes on to say in Deuteronomy that the purpose of marriage is to raise Godly children…kind of a tall order sometimes when you’re just trying to get the laundry done and make sure everyone gets fed for the day! And although I could go on and on (because I’m pretty long winded) this is just a comment so I will get to the point. Although I so want to applaud the thought you’ve put into your post, and say that there is no right or wrong way to parent I must broach this question to you…what is the point of having children? Is it so that they grow up happy, or that they enter society as a normal person? Is our goal to raise well adjusted children who are successful in a field or fulfilled in what they choose to do? What is our goal? We must have a vision because the Word says that without a vision, the people perish. I summit that our goal should be simply what the word says and nothing else…to raise Godly children. Obviously that is something we all want. However my question continues in this. Who do you think cares MOST about your Childs spiritual well being? It is you. Therefore, when you work, you are passing that responsibility off to a person that, no matter HOW much they love the Lord, or your children, is not as equip to teach and train your child to become a Godly individual. It is you who will take the time to explain that they should not steal another child’s toy because this is selfish and disobedient to God, while a grandmother or day care provider will separate them from the other child, not having the time or the desire to mold and train your child. There is so much more to be said about this, but I hesitantly suggest that the reason we feel a nagging in our conscience when we leave our children with someone else is because God is telling us that we are missing our God given responsibility to train that child up in the way that they should go. Unless we are the ones who are daily doing this, I cannot see how we can cling to Gods promise that when they are old, they will not turn from it.
Sister in Christ

Heather V said...

Although I appreciate the tone of your comment and thank you for being so passiate about raising Godly children, so refreshing! However, I disagree with some of your points. I do not think God’s word discourages mothers from working but rather commands them to keep Him their focus in raising their children. Using other people to watch your children while you work a couple hours a week is(among many reasons) a great way from the kids to see that other people love and are committed to the Lord…not just their parents.
“Who do you think cares MOST about your Childs spiritual well being? It is you.”
Of Course! My husband and I will love the children God has blessed us with more than another person on earth! And I do believe we are the most qualified to raising them to be Godly, but not the only.
“Therefore, when you work, you are passing that responsibility off to a person that, no matter HOW much they love the Lord, or your children, is not as equip to teach and train your child to become a Godly individual. It is you who will take the time to explain that they should not steal another child’s toy because this is selfish and disobedient to God, while a grandmother or day care provider will separate them from the other child, not having the time or the desire to mold and train your child.”
I would like to mention that the woman in Prov 31, as I am sure we all know, was very industrious. I wonder who was taking care of her family while she was selecting wool and flax, bringing her food from afar, or buying a field. Maybe a Grandma…maybe like Timothy’s, with whom he recalls her unfeigned faith…I wonder if he learned that from her by watching her or hearing stories of her? In 2 tim 3:14-15 it says, But as for you,continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Greek for whom is plural.
I am so thankful for my close friends and their commitment to raise their children up in the way of the Lord. I am also thankful that they take the time “to explain that they should not steal another child’s toy because this is selfish and disobedient to God”, and I am confident that when I leave my children with them, they will continue take every opportunity to teach God’s word and the gospel to my kids too. As I do theirs. What a great community of Believers!
In addition I am so thankful for the advice and help and example that I have received from older women (including but not limited to their grandmas)
Titus 2:1-5 …the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things–that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Again I agree that the parents are the BEST source for teaching God’s word, but not the ONLY. And I am thankful for that because so many times I fall short. Thanks again for loving your kids and the Lord so much that you took the time to share your thoughts.
That is just my 2 cents. Much love!!

Sarah T. said...

Rachael, great post! Having experienced your home first hand, I know that you are far from being an inferior mother, and I LOVE the way you parent your girls in a godly manner. And I'm so glad you have been freed up - it was for freedom that Christ set us free! Isn't it wonderful that God accounts for our personality differences in our lives? He knows what is best for you and I trust and know that you continue to seek His guidance in your parenting as you do in all things.... So sorry we didn't make it to you for Tulip Time this year, but we will pray God makes a way next year! Love you!

juliajudah said...

Heather V… Thank you for hearing my heart in my comment…not to cast judgment but to encourage and spur one another on to righteousness is always the goal! And I’m always thankful for discussion between Christians as we delve into the scriptures and look for God’s will. Just looking back over your comment though and wanting to keep this discussion alive for a little while longer, although in the end, we may have to agree to disagree! As you say “I would like to mention that the woman in Prov 31, as I am sure we all know, was very industrious. I wonder who was taking care of her family while she was selecting wool and flax, bringing her food from afar, or buying a field” I guess I’m a little confused because it doesn’t say anywhere in Proverbs 31 that anyone else was keeping her home while she was doing this, so why are we guessing that someone was? These all seem to be things that I or someone else can do while at home. I know that God always wants us to be more industrious with our time as mothers so we can be an example to others, and I think we can take this as an admonition to not become a lazy soap watching stay at home mom, and instead serve our families in many ways as we keep our home. And I love that Timothy revered his grandmother, as I do mine because of her Godliness and I am constantly going to her for advice (and sewing lessons:)) as Titus 2: 1-5 says, but is being raised by her instead of your mother ideal? God is such good God who always provides when there is something lacking, as seems to be the case with Timothy, but why, when we are fully equip and able to be the trainers of our children would we want to resort to a backup plan if, as you say you “agree that the parents are the BEST source for teaching God’s word”? I also think the major difference here between what we are saying is that there is a difference between having your mother watch your children for a couple hours while you run to the grocery store, and having someone else regularly keep your children as part of their weekly and daily routine. Of course there is no harm (and it is silly to become pharisaical about) having someone help you while you are having a new baby, or going through a death in the family ect...I believe this kind of support comes from the AMAZING community of believers that you speak of and we BOTH seem lucky to live among! But what I’m really trying to highlight on is when we drop our children off to ANY other person REGULARLY. It is in this situation where we miss the daily opportunities to teach and train our children and leave it up to someone else, hoping that, as you say they “will continue take every opportunity to teach God’s word and the gospel to my kids too.” It seems you are, as you said, very confident that they are doing this with your children, but if raising up children is as grave a responsibility as God seems to think it is as He shows all throughout Proverbs, I just can’t see being 100% confident that someone else is doing the job that God specifically given to me, and here is the crux of the matter...why do we want to? Please, please hear this not as judgment because I am CONSTANTLY searching my own motives in EVERYTHING, but why do we think we cannot live on what our husbands take in? Why can we not follow them, allowing them to make mistakes and rise to the challenge of being our providers and protectors so that we can in turn be the nurturers and teachers of our children? I think so much of the time we live in fear as women, fear that God cannot provide, or perhaps that we cannot live with what He does choose to provide. Or perhaps it is hard for us to find satisfaction in the little recognition we will receive should we choose to stay home, but isn’t that the essence of storing up our treasures in heaven? I thank you so much for your two cents, and hope only to provide the other side to those coins:)!

Rachael Neal said...

Wow - never did I realize the pot I would stir writing this post. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments and responses, especially all of the Biblical references and godly wisdom imparted here. I would like to clarify something, in love. Though I reference working outside the home, NEVER did I refer to anyone else raising my children. juliajudah - when you attend church, do you put your children in nursery? And when you and your husband go out on a date, do you get a babysitter? Or maybe there are times that you have to travel out of town without your children and a family member cares for them? I ask, because during those times, I'm certain you don't refer to those caregivers and people that are "raising your children." I have had the opportunity to work full-time, but have promised that I would be home far more than I am away. In fact, out of the seven days in a week, my children are out of my care a mere 16 hours. Those hours are filled with love and care - and godly instruction - by family members and dear friends. Just wanted to clarify that NO ONE ELSE is raising my children. Thank you for the friendly conversation back and forth and the willingness to view anothers perspective. I hope you'll come back to the blog to read in the future.

juliajudah said...

Rachel, it is quite a pot to stir as you put it, especially in today's society as we all are trying to figure out our roles as Godly women! So glad to have found your post and thank you for your understanding on my different perspective. Just wanted to make sure you read my comment...
"Of course there is no harm (and it is silly to become pharisaical about) having someone help you while you are having a new baby, or going through a death in the family ect...I believe this kind of support comes from the AMAZING community of believers that you speak of and we BOTH seem lucky to live among! But what I’m really trying to highlight on is when we drop our children off to ANY other person REGULARLY. It is in this situation where we miss the DAILY opportunities to teach and train our children and leave it up to someone else".
As I posted above I definitely use family to babysit occasionally (who could live without it during a time of emergency?!?!) and don't think of those people as raising my children at all because as I posted, it is infrequent , and not regularly part of their life schedule. If someone is REGULARLY watching my children for two days, five day, or seven days a week, then they are in essence raising my children for those days each week, and every week. I wanted to make sure you saw that I DID differentiate between the two situations so that you understood that I am not staying at home, swaddled in a jean jumper with unshaved legs, fearing the world and what it might do to my offspring:) Thanks again, and I would love to visit this blog again...even though, as I said before, I am a novice to the world of blogs, much to my sister's dismay!

Heather V said...

:) this is fun! Julia, you are right again...i think we will have to agree to disagree. I see your point and I think I am hearing your tone/heart correctly through the text. I really don't think you are being judgemental and I thank you for that. My huband and I count it a blessing to have godly parents who are able and willing to watch our kids while I work (which happens to be 3 hours twice a week, and the majority of that time is purposfully during their naps, more for the grandparents sake than my kids)Although, if it would a bit longer time and not during their naps, we would still be more than ok with it...actually happy for it. We love the fact that our children get to see their grandparents regularly, furthermore we decided that even if I didn't work we would still schedule a regular time when the kids would go visit. I don't think that counts as them raising my kids. To this point I see that we disagree...which is ok...I still love you as a sister in Christ :) I just won't offer to babysit for ya :)

Ok just a side note...The proverbs 31 women was clearly doing things outside of her home "from a far" and they didn't have the internet so she couldn't exactly buy a field without going to check it out. It mentions that she has a family to tend to, so they are obviously young, and she can't exaclty run after toddlers while amking a business transaction. your first post you mentioned that "the purpose of marriage is to raise godly children." It is pretty clear in Eph that the purpose of marriage is to reflect Christ's relationship to the church.

Our Family said...

The children God blesses us with are a gift and a responsibility. God calls us to raise them for his glory and the example we set for our children is the greatest teaching tool we have. I have to say that your reasoning for working does not sound like it is in the best interest of your family. You mentioned the fact that you were jealous and wanted to have new clothes and go on vacation....those things will mean nothing in eternity. But what WILL mean something is getting your heart and attitude right about your WANTS and put them on your family’s NEEDS. When your children are grown what do you think will have meant more to them of their childhood, the name-brand clothes and fancy toys or time spent with a mom who had a thankful spirit. I noticed you brought up God several times and even implied that it was His leading that sent you to work. I would like to know where you read that in your Bible. When I see women put "things" before their children it makes me sad for her family. It really is very selfish and materialistic. You also mentioned that you felt your husband pushed you to work. Maybe this was because you made him feel inadequate in providing for the family? The Bible tells us ladies that we are to be keepers of our homes and helpmeets to our husbands. We have a choice to obey God or do what "feels" right.

Rachael Neal said...

Our Family - Thank you for your comment. I have to say I was a little taken back by the tone of your comment. I certainly didn't mean to communicate that by working 2 days a week I am "putting my WANTS before my family's NEEDS." Maybe I neglected to mention that the work I do 16 hours a week is for a Christian Ministry that provides for the homeless. God has called me to this work - undoubtedly. I think you misread my blog, because my original intentions for working WERE selfish - desiring things that we could not afford otherwise. Since then, God has done a total transformation of my heart when it comes to work. Its not something that I need to do, but something that he has called me to do. I am the caretaker of my home...I am the primary caregiver of my children, I love and care for my husband as his helpmeet. My children understand to the best of their ability who God is, why He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins and they see evidence of that salvation in their parents' hearts. I don't see anywhere in scripture where it says that a woman cannot work or she is disobeying God. In fact, if you read the discussion between Heather V and juliajudah you will note that Proverbs 31 talks of a woman who works outside of her home. Lest I seem hostile, I'll tell you that its comments just like yours that make women and mothers all around this world feel like they are doing an injustice to their family, when God has truly called them to a task. Please don't feel sad for my family. My children are deeply loved and cared for and my husband couldn't ask for a better helpmeet - ask him yourself!

chodgkiss said...

This post was brought to my attention by a friend and I just felt I should leave a small post. Just one simple question....those little kids that love you so much and would do ANYTHING to be in your presence...why won't you? Is your "job" THAT important?? Who cares if it is for a "christian organization" you think that really matters to them?
Just a thought...although, it seems that no matter what anyone says you aren't willing to listen to them & maybe check yourself out to see if what you are doing is really benefitting your family?!

Heather V said...

Let me roll up my sleeves...OurFamily and chodgekiss, I don't recall Rachel asking for anyone's opinion or "advice" and more importantly you are not the Holy Spirit so stop trying to convict her. If you would take the time to read Juliajudah's comments, although she also disagrees with this choice, she is at least respectful. Take the plank out of your own eye ring a bell.

Our Family said...

If I misunderstood your blog, I apologize. But from what you wrote it appeared to me that you were working for monetary reasons. I think its great that you feel led to help homeless people through a Christian organization, but have you ever thought of doing it on a volunteer basis and bringing your children along with you so that they could see their mom in action? What a great lesson that would be for your children and to be doing it as a family. I also wanted to comment on the Proverbs 31 woman. She is a hard working woman who takes care of her home and her husband but nowhere in the chapter does it speak of her dropping off her kids for someone else to take care of. My aim is not to hurt your feelings but to speak the truth on a very important issue!

Rachael Neal said...

OurFamily - I agree with you on the point that this is a very important issue. I'm less concerned about whether or not my feelings have been hurt and more shocked at the hearts displaying such judgmental attitudes in many of these comments. So many women quick to jump to assumptions about another's family based on a short blog post. One friend even commented: "Wow, can you believe the things some women will say?" I find it interesting that the Godly (and I emphasize "Godly") women who know and love us have been an encouragement.

These comments have confirmed for me an attitude amongst some women in the church of superiority or a "holier than thou" mentality. And I believe that God has put me in this unique situation to minister to OTHER working mothers.

A wise, dear friend passed along a wonderful comment to me that I believe is true: "If God had one specific way of parenting that we were to follow, He would have written it down in detail."

Some of His commands:
1) Train your children in the way they should go.
2) To Fathers: Do not provoke your children to wrath.
3) Wives, submit to your husbands.
4) Husbands, love your wives.
5) Love others. (1 John 3)

I've still yet to find a passage that says "Be with your child 24 hours a day or the training you give them will be void." In fact, I am rejoicing in the truth that His Word will NOT return void. Its not dependent solely on ME. Praise God! I'm flawed. So, this morning when my daughter and I were reciting Ephesians 6:1, I'm confident that God will use it to do a work in her sinful heart.

PS - Unfortunately, the work I do at the homeless shelter doesn't lend itself to bringing children. But my kids will grow up around those people and love them, just as I did. Its a Christian Ministry that my parents have been involved in for over 20 years. I praise God for the ability to work for my dad and with my siblings on many occasions. I liken it to work on the mission field. And yes, women work on the mission field.

Our Family said...

Rachel, after much thought and consideration I feel that I need to apologize for the way I came across in my comments to you. Looking back, some of the things I wrote were judgmental and it was wrong of me for forming an opinion from reading just one of your blog postings. I still strongly believe that a womans place is in her home with her children, but I should have done a better job sharing my views with you. Again, I apologize for being rude.

Rachael Neal said...

Our Family - Apology accepted, you are forgiven. I thank you for your passion about family. There isn't enough of that today. But lets be sure that our passions don't lead to tearing the brother down and making claims that simply aren't biblical, but rather personal preferences. I hope you'll come back to the blog and voice a differing opinion in the future. No doubt this post has caused others to truly consider what God has entrusted them with.

Our Family said...

I appreciate your willingness to forgive my wrong attitude, and I completely agree with your comment on sharing our passions with one another and that they need to be said in love. I do want to add that I use the Bible to form my opinions and that I interpret the command to be a "keeper of home" to mean I need to be at home, realizing of course that some people are in special circumstances where that's not possible.

Jaymi said...


I know I am way behind on all of this, since you first posted over a month ago! But I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your honesty and clarity in this issue. I've long felt that staying home full time with my children and having that as my sole responsibility would be good for neither them or me. But I've never been able to really articulate or understand exactly why. Your post here (and the discussion here afterwards) has a clarified a lot of that for me.

As Luke and I look ahead to future ministry opportunities, we hope to split the home and ministry responsibilities between the two of us. We both feel like that is what is best for our family. But it can be so hard to articulate, and so many people just don't get it (and judge it, as has been shown here!). Thank you, thank you, thank you for your boldness to speak up and your encouragement of how to be a "non-traditional" godly mother.