The Ultimate Encourager

Today’s encouragement story is from a very good friend of mine, Tara. Enjoy!
Growing up, I had goals. 

“I’m going to be a veterinarian!” I said to my parents when I was four.

“Okay, Honey, if that’s what you want to do, than do it. You can be anything you want when you grow up.”

They preceded to help me by bringing in a variety of animals into our small home, giving me horseback riding lessons, spending hours with me in the animal barns at the state fair, and introducing me to a friend who was a veterinarian so that I could hear from real-life experience if it was something I wanted to do. When I was 10, I won a scholarship to Iowa State University and decided that was where I was going to go—after all, it was one of the best vet schools in the country. I geared my high school classes and activities around my goal to go to ISU; participating in as many activities as possible so it looked good on my application and taking as many Advanced Placement science classes as I could so I would be prepared for the grueling schedule college life demanded.

Halfway through my freshman year at ISU I decided I no longer wanted to be a veterinarian.

My parents responded: “You can do anything you want to do, as long as it makes you happy. That’s the key to being successful: being happy in your choice of career.”

I graduated college, but decided I no longer wanted to work in my field of study: Animal Ecology (think Crocodile Hunter, but with less dangerous animals) with an English minor (because all of my extra classes were English-related…I like to read!). My parents encouraged me to look into temporary work until I knew more what I wanted to do. I got a job at one of the largest employers in Iowa, transferred from temporary to full-time, and became a high-level Administrative Assistant for one of the Vice-Presidents of Human Resources. I really liked my job, and I especially liked the pay and benefits. In the eyes of the world (and my parents), I was a success.

Then I got married and had a baby.

My husband encouraged me to continue working. After all, I was providing all the benefits for our family. My parents encouraged me to continue working. It would be a waste of my degree to quit and raise a family. Besides, I would be bored staying at home all day with no adult interaction. Keep working and soon I’d be an Executive Assistant, really making the big bucks.

Keep working.

I would come home every day and play with my daughter and feel contentment. When I took her to our friend’s house every morning, I felt as if a part of me was being ripped away. My husband often heard me cry over the fact that I would not be the first to see my baby crawl, walk, talk…all the major milestones. He felt helpless. He knew my heart’s desire was to stay home, but how could we live on his income alone? I made more money than he did and we were barely making it as it was!

I prayed for a way out. And God gave me one.

Shortly after my daughter turned six months old, I got a call at work from the friend that watched her for us during the day. She had just received a new foster child and the stress of keeping up with two infants was wearing on her. She could no longer watch my daughter. I hung up and called my husband. “Honey, if we have to put her in daycare, we’d be spending most of my salary on paying for that, not to mention gas money, eating out, work clothes, etc. I don’t want to pay someone else to do the job that I want to do. Please, can we figure out a way for me to stay at home now?” At his affirmative, I immediately put in my two week’s notice.

For the first time in my life, I did not receive encouragement from my parents.

My dad was uncharacteristically silent on the phone as I gave him the news. He didn’t come out and say I was making a bad choice, but I could hear it in what he wasn’t saying. There was even a tinge of disappointment—he was proud that I was the first college graduate in our family and now I was “wasting” my degree.

My mom wasn’t silent. “You won’t like it! I just don’t want you to be bored like I was. And what happens when the kids grow up? You won’t be able to find a job. I took me years to find the job I have now and I don’t make nearly as much money as you do even after 15 years!”

My husband was on my side, but even he was concerned. “I just don’t know how we will do it, but we’ll make it work.”

I felt guilty.

But in my heart, I knew it was the right decision. There is no higher calling than raising your children in admonition of the Lord. And there is where I found my greatest encourager: God.

As soon as my husband and I made the decision for me to stay at home, I felt overwhelming peace. I would no longer be divided in half every day. I was finally on the path that God had set out before me, and HE would provide. My degree (that I technically wasn’t utilizing) would actually be put to use in teaching my child. I believe in hands-on education and that is exactly what I learned to do with my major. Everything fell into place. How could I possibly be lonely when I had God? And if He determined I should go back to work after raising my children, HE would provide again.

God provided abundantly beyond anything I had ever dreamed. My husband got a steady-paying job and our needs were always met. Whenever money was tight, a check would miraculously come in the mail to cover the exact amount we were short. My parents eventually came fully on board and are now among my biggest supporters. After all, they told me I would be successful in anything that makes me happy. There is nothing that brings me more joy than teaching my children about the Creator of the Universe. I have found my true calling.

I am now a full-time homeschooling mom of four children and I can honestly say I have never felt more contentment with my life. And when I need encouragement, I seek out my Lord first. When I am seeking His perfect will for my life, He brings me peace. He is always there, and HE is my greatest encourager.

Tara is a homeschooling mom of four children ages 6, 6, 5, and 4. In her free time (which isn’t often), Tara enjoys reading, writing and playing with the animals on her small family farm. You can find more stories about Tara’s life with her small children at Mommy Life