In going from a full time job outside of my home, to a full time job inside of my home where I am teaching and nurturing my family, I knew I would have to pursue an income that comes from my natural role as a submissive wife and helpmeet, and a nurturing Mom. Financially, we couldn’t make it on just my husband’s income, so I needed to find supplementary income. and this income couldn’t be something that competed with my other roles, but something that complemented them. So I looked in scripture for inspiration and wisdom, and I found that in the Proverbs 31 woman. She is creative, and resourceful, she finds a variety of ways to keep her household running, and is actively involved, in the daily running of her household, the education of her children, and in business matters that will provide her household with necessities, and even some luxuries.
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.” (Proverbs 31:10-19, ESV)
When my husband and I both felt convicted that my place was in serving our family, and in cherishing the blessing of each child God gives us, we knew it was a financial leap for me to quit my full time job. Since then, life has been a bit of a financial struggle, one after the other, with few breaks in between. Despite this, we were committed to making my roles as Wife and Mother a no. 1 priority. By God’s grace, we’ve found ways to make our bills, and no one has gone hungry. From cleaning houses, our rental property income, and my Lilla Rose venture, we have managed week by week. And so I’ve gained a new appreciation for portions of Proverbs 31 that I’d never taken a second look at as a teenager sitting in the Mother’s Day service thinking “yeah yeah yeah, My Mom is all that, can we skip right to the special lunch?”
Womanhood looks a lot different when YOU are in a place to learn to become the Proverbs 31 woman. I often feel as if I am always failing at becoming her, but sanctification, and wisdom, are almost never instantaneous in coming. Proverbs reminds us that to get wisdom, we must listen to instruction, and seek knowledge. Sometimes this means meandering out of our normal comfort zones. My comfort zone was working in a business, 40+ hours a week, to provide for our family. Stepping out has meant creatively getting involved in our family’s business matters. Every so often, My husband and I agree on new and creative ways to make ends meet. Our newest adventure this week is going to be a flea market table.
My husband buys many “unique” antiques at auctions and real estate sales. Most of the time he really only wanted one thing, but they sold off a “lot”, which means… a box of junk. Amidst the junk are some treasures, but more than I’ve got room for, and so now I will get creative, and resourceful, and turn a bunch of “junk” into a business proposition. I once would have considered this an annoying and embarrassing idea, but now I am realizing that this is one more way to serve my family, and honor God in the process.
Another exciting venture that I’ve recently discovered is that a local bank features small businesses on a monthly basis. If I can cook up a beauty of a display, for one month my Lilla Rose flexi clips and other hair jewelry will be displayed in a larger community. This has reminded me that God is in control, and that hard work ends in a reward. I have found that building a business is hardly an overnight venture, and often involves some level of sacrifice, and an ability to creatively market what it is you have. In trying to contribute to my household, I’ve learned that it goes far beyond simply selling items, and stretches us beyond what we expect. Not to mention little eyes and ears hearing, seeing, and sometimes participating in the hard work that goes on. It becomes a whole new way for me to bond with my children, and teach them firsthand the value of work. I will never forget when one of my children, witnessing a transaction, made the connection between what had just transpired, and our ability to buy milk and bread at the store later. It is one thing to have Daddy be “at work” but to help Mommy “at work” changes things. Money becomes real, and its value to our family, apparent. It almost becomes a little economics lesson in progress.
As I’m growing, changing, and finding ways to fit into this (still) new role of Stay at Home Mom, the Proverbs 31 woman no longer looks like some kind of unattainable super woman (although I don’t see myself measuring up to this standard any time soon!) but like a map for what women can be in their own homes. Being submissive and serving your family is not a mark of weakness, and does not relegate us to this fantasy world of the 1950’s, placing us into a gilded cage with lipstick, heels, and the roast in the oven, waiting for our husband to come home and appreciate our flouncy skirt. It puts us in a unique position to serve our families in a variety of fulfilling ways. In one role I am capable of being a businesswoman, an artist, a rental manager, a teacher, a handy woman, a childcare expert, etc etc etc. The list could continue endlessly. Current cultural trends in womanhood and feminism will tell you that to have it all, you must leave your home. In my own experience, leaving my home ended in me losing it all. I never seemed to have a grip on anything, and I missed my children desperately. I felt as if life was a constant failure, a race that I could never win, and where I could never catch up to the other working women I knew. Getting closer to those women, I realized we all struggled with the same sense of failure, of being good at everything at once, and nothing at all. Of losing our children even when we were with them, because work was on our minds, and losing our work when we were doing it, because children were on our minds. I felt caged in that life.
I have been surprised to find that rather than a cage that keeps me limited to one option, taking on a feminine Biblical role within my home has freed me to really “have it all.” There is a beauty in being able to still serve my family, and yet find new ways to do so creatively, and resourcefully. And who knows? Maybe this flea market thing will become a regular homeschool lesson in economics!