Friday, November 19, 2010

The Difficult Act of Stepping Out

I have a very clear memory from about four and a half years ago of rocking my newborn Mattie when she was about eight or nine weeks old. My maternity leave was nearing an end, my anxiety about returning to work was setting in, and I was in tears at the thought of having to take my teeny tiny newborn to a baby-sitter. This emotion wasn't something I bargained for. I had my plan in place the whole time I was pregnant that I would be off work for eight weeks, then go back to work full time, and that would be that. But, like so many things with motherhood and parenting in general, you don't have any idea just how hard that will be until that baby is actually here. So I rocked and cried, and I remember praying and pleading with God to somehow make a way for me to be able to eventually stay home with her. At the time Matthew was not in a stable job position, having finished his degree, but having not passed all his certification testing that would make him eligible to be employed as a teacher, so I knew there was just no way at that time. I knew my prayer was big, but I prayed it anyway, and from then on, that has been the prayer of my heart.

Flash forward to exactly one year ago, and I was back in the same position; nearing the end of my maternity leave with my second baby, and wanting with every fiber in my being not to go back to work. I can't explain why, but my heart broke even more the second time I had to do it. I don't love my children differently, but going back to work after having Presley was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Many, many, many tears I cried, and looking back on it, I was probably depressed for sometime in the months after. Things at my job were not good, I was not being treated well, my maternity leave had been mis-handled in a way that was very unfair to me, and to go back into all of that while at the same time leaving my baby just broke me. Yet, quitting was not an option. We needed my paycheck, and no matter how we turned our budget inside out and upside down, we could not make it work without it.

I began to pray even more earnestly "God, make a way for me to come home". To be honest, when I prayed that prayer, I thought that maybe I could find a part time job, and continue to work some, but be home with my babies too. I looked for part time jobs with morning hours, so that I could work while Mattie was in preschool, and maybe be home in the afternoons. Just anything to have a little more time at home with my babies. But, nothing. I put the word out to everyone I knew that I was looking for a job change, and yet nothing ever panned out for me.

And then back in the early spring of this year, I got my sewing machine out. The one that had been collecting dust for quite sometime. The extent of my sewing to that point had been to make burp cloths, and a few other easy things. I wanted to make a simple dress for Mattie, just to see if I could. And I did. So I bought another pattern and made another dress, and it was so cute! I made her a dress for her birthday party, and got rave reviews on it. Then I got the crazy idea that I would make my girl's Easter dresses this year, and I did. And they were great. I was hooked.

I became addicted to fabric, became obsessed with cute patterns, and my mind was (is) buzzing with tons of ideas.

And then people started asking me if I'd make their little girl something. So I did.

Then I thought "I wonder if I could sell anything on Etsy?".

So, step by step, I got a shop up and going.

And slowly but surely people started finding my shop.

And I made my first sale (thanks, Melissa!). And then my second. And my third. And so forth. And today, just four short months after opening it, my shop hit 100 (quickly followed by 101 and 102) sales. I don't think words can even explain how unbelievable that is to me.

I have worked harder at my little business venture than I ever thought possible, and I have seen the hand of God upon everything I have done. I have sewed and sewed and sewed, and then sewed some more. I have stayed up way too late way too often, used every lunch hour, every nap time, every extra minute to sew, all the while working a full time job. I have become a master of time management and making the most of every spare minute. And I can say it has been worth every minute...I love what I'm doing. There is something so fulfilling about taking a pile of fabric, and turning it into something lovely.

This has been an eventful week for me at work. It started out horribly, as I got news I wasn't expecting about some pretty big changes that were being made that were not going to be good for me. It was definitely a "just when you thought it couldn't get any worse..." situation. So all the sudden, out of nowhere, I was being faced with some tough decisions. Do I stay and continue to take it? Or do I go, with no new job waiting, no job prospects, and not a lot of job opportunities in this wonderful economy? Of course, I prayed. And Matthew and I had a very long and thorough, open and honest discussion. And I prayed some more. And then we talked some more. And then we prayed some more. And then we finally decided that it was time for me to quit. So, Wednesday morning I gave my two week notice, and after Dec. 1, I will no longer be part of Corporate America. I have not been able to wipe the grin off my face all week.

As my sewing business has grown, I have felt for sometime that I was getting close to being able to leave my job, but I have been too scared to make that leap. At one moment I would think "this could actually work", and the next I would be filled with doubt and insecurites. My Etsy business is not "guaranteed" money like my paycheck is. You can't predict how well it will do, and one week may be great, and the next may be a flop. It is a HUGE step of faith for me to step away from a job I've had for eight years and say goodbye to a paycheck that we have depended on. We are counting on God to show up for us.

This fall in my women's bible study, we did the "Faithful, Abundant, True" series. There were two weeks where Priscilla Shirer taught on the following scripture, and although I have loved this verse for sometime - it's one of the ones I held tightly to when I was waiting on Presley - it became fresh to me as I related it to my job situation:
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we could ever
ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be all
the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever" Ephesians

God has done more than all I could ever ask or imagine. He has moved mountains, entirely on my behalf. He has taken the impossible and made it possible. He has taken a dusty old sewing machine and made the prayer of my heart a reality. To Him be all the glory forever and ever.

The next few months will be an adventure in budget cutting for us as we attempt to really make this work. We will be losing daycare expenses, which is huge (!), but we'll also be doing things like cancelling gym memberships, downgrading cell plans, cancelling our home phone (since we never use it), and so forth. I would love to hear any money saving tips anyone might have! And I would covet prayers for us as we make this huge transition from two stable incomes to one. And I would encourage you that if you have a mountain in your life that needs moving, cry out to the One who can move it for you.


  1. awesome!

    I'm so excited about your adventure, how you have been successful in your etsy shop and what the Lord is going to reveal to you about Himself.

    We've been through 2 job losses and the one thing that has worked for us is the Dave Ramsey method. Read Financial Peace if you haven't already and possible take a class. It's a crazy, intense kind of budgeting but we've been able to do it. You'll be amazed with how little you can live off.

    good luck girl!

  2. Congratulations! This is huge, and I will pray for you and yours during this transition.

    We are super frugal. We wait until certain groceries hit our price point, and then we buy in bulk and freeze what we can't use immediately. We never eat out. I sell stuff on Craigslist all the time, and I buy loads of things including almost all my clothes at Goodwill.

    What a wonderful holiday and winter you will have.