Stop. Think. Pray.

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Maggie’s costume I made in the fall of 2010.

For the next 6 months I will be writing once a week on a topic given by my readers. This topic was provided by a friend who is trying to decide whether or not to leave their job that they are just “over” that provides some income and time to spend with the kids and go after something they are passionate about and take a risk in doing so.

The topic provided was – “DISCERNING the difference between the Universe nudging you (or shoving) in a direction vs. wishful thinking to go in said direction vs. the anti-Universe tempting you with things to move you in the wrong direction.”

My answer is…

Stop. Take time to think. Pray.

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Apple pie I baked entirely from scratch last fall.

When I was teaching typically there was once a day that I would look at the window of the door to see someone else watching me teach and just smile. The first time this happened I went to the door and asked if everything was okay and they replied, “Yes. Everything is fine just keep teaching. I’m enjoying watching you.” As the time went on, it was all kinds of people, administrators, co-teachers, librarians, parents, all kinds of folks just walking by… One person said to me “You know… I had no idea you had so much energy and charisma until I saw you with the children. Now I understand why you have so few discipline problems, your scores are good and the kids love you.” I poured everything into it and became a leader on my second year teaching and had an observer or student teacher from Virginia Tech every year that followed. My annual observations were great and I was not only scoring high on test scores, but also rapport with students, leadership skills and lesson planning were all high. Some people thought this passion was for history and honestly no… my passion is in teaching. I could be teaching anything and find a way to embrace it and teach it.

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Maggie’s 1st birthday cake I was determined to bake entirely from scratch. I did it!

In my personal life, I was pregnant the same year I became a leader and by December of my 2nd year of teaching I could not walk due to my pregnancy. My husband and I worked opposite shifts. We had juggled so much and managed to do so much in a short amount of time. Being a mother was always very important to me. I was very much in love with my son, but still had so much passion for my students. Two years later we struggled to get pregnant with our second child. I stepped down from my leadership at work to try to take out stress and worked on my fertility issues with the doctors. One person even said to me… “Well you know how to do it April.. you have a son. What could be so hard about having a baby?” I was told when I was 17 it would be hard to have children when the time came. Our son was a miraculous gift and blessing without much of a struggle. After months of fertility medicines and lots of stress, in November of 2008, we found out we were pregnant with our daughter. With the problems that I have I have an increased chance of losing babies and with Maggie we had a few scares of that, but she made it and we were truly blessed. Then we had the big scare with the babysitters the following fall after Maggie was born. My focus had gone away from teaching and more on being a Mom.

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No formal decorating skills for cakes, but it was fun and cute.

Being a mom was more important than teaching and having something so serious happen with the babysitter was a definite shove from the universe for me to make my decision to leave teaching. When I resigned from teaching I questioned and questioned everything. What if Crystal backed out and quit her job? What if John had to have another surgery? What if we had gotten the money wrong? What if something major happened to the house? What if our cars broke down? What if the insurance was too expensive? What if? What if? What if?

Stop. Take time to think. Pray.

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Maggie’s 2nd birthday.

When I was home everything ran smoothly and someone said to me, “What are your hobbies now that you just stay home with the kids?” No offense to all the stay at home moms out there, but I don’t “just” stay at home. Staying at home poses challenges like not having enough money to do fun things and needing to go places because you and your kids need it. I don’t discredit those moms at all, but if you think my kids get that kind of attention you are poorly not aware of the situation here at this house. I run a business- have a business license as well as my teaching license. I have a tax id and pay business property taxes on all of those strollers, beds and toys. Additionally, I pay independently for health insurance and have no covered holidays, sick days or retirement. I also have business insurance that we pay as well. I watch my kids yes, but also 5 others… yes that’s 7 kids a day. Currently, a 5 month old to a 7 year old. My doors to my home open at 7am and close at 6. During the school year, I have kids dropped off right at 7 and picked up right at 6. That is an 11 hour day and I work five days a week. This doesn’t include laundry, dishes, cooking or carpet cleaning that I do during my work and off hours. Once you count how much I make and how much we save from paying out daycare expenses I make just as much as I did when I was teaching. So for those who think I stepped down and took a cut in pay… surprise surprise my friend. It’s a job… a real one. I made it work. I took a risk but I made it work.

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I made these curtains from scrap fabric last summer for the daycare.

So after I patted down my ruffled feathers on the “just stay at home” comment I answered the hobbies question with right now I don’t have any to really speak of at the moment. I had put the kids first doing this daycare and put myself on the back burner. I have always put these things on back burners. Putting your passion and goals on the back burner is not setting an example for the kids anymore than overworking is and never being home for them… You must take care of yourself. That first fall after teaching I made curtains, Maggie’s Halloween costume, 8 pumpkin pies entirely from scratch, countless loaves of bread and batches of cookies. It felt so good to bake and sew. To have time to do things I loved doing. I gave half of my baked goods away. I painted some signs and frames. These were hobbies I had had for some time, but didn’t humor while I taught. Teaching engulfed all other passions and everything else I was doing and I allowed it to take that away from me. My husband is in an improv troupe and has been for about eight years. He rehearses one night a week almost all year and has a show once a month for 9 months out of the year. My son said to me, “So Daddy goes to rehearsal and has fun with his friends. When do you go out and what do you do for fun?” Um…. I sew, I paint, I bake…. He responds with, “Oh you don’t have fun often then.” Well… no. He says, “Daddy gets to go out once a week. You should too.” Yes. You’re right kiddo. Now I started to listen. I’m blogging, running, and throwing pottery (not very well, but I show up).

I will return to the classroom, but this time I want to be a duckling. I have no desire to be a leader. I want to teach. I want my passion back, but I refuse to lose myself in the job. I am a mom/wife/teacher/business owner/animal rescuer/blogger/painter/runner/baker/somewhat-sewing and clay-mess-making fool.

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Sookie the cat we rescued and adopted this spring. Sleeping soundly.

It may seem as though I have digressed a lot from the topic, but not really. To my friend who posed this topic. You can not go through life asking yourself “What ifs” or “I should haves”. I don’t question leaving teaching, I was burnt out and my passions were at a head with each other. I don’t question my business. I quieted the “what ifs” by prayer and trust that God would provide what we needed. I urge you to go after your passion and set a good example for your children by going after your dreams not sitting back waiting for time and life. Get side jobs to pay the bills… use common sense and have a cushion, but truly go after your passion. That alone will help your children grow and blossom by seeing you grow and not stand idle just for them.

Stop. Think. Pray.

I met a mom the other day that has a new empty nest. She left her business job to stay home with the kids and now they are off to college and she’s trying some new hobbies. She said to me, “The only “I should have” that I have is I wished that I had focused on me. Would the kids have thought less of me if I had not been able to afford soccer one year? They now say to me that they wished I had taken more time for myself and I wish that I had.” As much as we try to set good examples, for our children, in being at home and there for them… It is just as bad of an example to set that your needs are not as important as everyone else. It is important that we don’t put ourselves ahead of everyone, but equally important that we don’t put everyone ahead of us either.

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The tallest thing I’ve managed at pottery.

Life is too short to be unhappy with your job and situation. So stop. Use your common sense make a plan to pay the bills and go after your passion. Pray and ask God for guidance and be thankful for your blessings.

I truly believe that if we stop, think it through, and pray that we will go the way we need to for us. Our path is unpaved, but if you stop the “what ifs” with common sense thinking and prayer you wont spend anytime saying I should have… You know the decisions you made were right at the time. Have faith that sitting on that bench in the park and taking a break from the path to just stare at the tree tops and be amazed by God’s wonders that when you get up from the bench you will go on the correct path. If you go left, right or straight doesn’t matter if you listened to God in the trees you will take the path you were supposed to for you. Don’t make rash decisions, but stop. think. pray.

For my readers who want to give topics. You may either message me on fb or leave a comment to this post on fb. If you are a wordpress follower and are requesting a topic just post it on the comments to the blog. If you want it private say so 🙂 and I wont post the comment to the blog.

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