Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just Thinking Out Loud

Sometimes I let our family business drag me down - both when it is really busy or when it is really slow - I have nothing left to give because of being stretched too thin - my own health needs and meeting my children's needs (oh yes, I have  a husband too) - don't get the energy they deserve.  It is this lacking that has weighed me down these last months. 

Is this business really what God wants me to be doing NOW (Oh dear God I pray did you forget how I love being a homemaker and homesteader and creative crafter/artist?)   Can I really keep going trying to do it all but none of it as well as I could.

Perhaps I just put too much pressure on myself.  When the business is slow I worry about ways to get more business.  When the business is busy, I simply can't be the mother or wife I want to be as I spend hours wood burning, packaging and on the computer interacting with customers.

On the other hand, the business has provided us with a good income.  Living up here in northern Vermont, even being college educated (which really is pretty useless up here unless you are in the education or medical fields) means that if my husband was to find a job outside our home, he would probably only earn $8 - 12/hour.   So, I have to remind myself that I am contributing to our family's living.  

Perhaps it is because it is winter, I find myself feeling more isolated than ever.  Yes, I love our home, and don't need to get out all that much, but I crave more interaction with other people.  I find myself becoming discontent with our little rustic cottage four miles down a dirt road.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk to the store, the library, the post office?  Actually see other human beings in addition to my own sweet family?   How does God want us to live?  How can I live my life radically for Christ when I so rarely come into contact with others? (maybe blogging is one avenue I can count for this?)

Then, I remind myself that our children are the future and that by presenting them with God's love through me (which is sometimes not one I want them to emulate - me that is -  as I fail repeatedly, but I want our children to know that through the grace of God I am forgiven and they too will be) yet I strive to live with Jesus in me - this is most important.  

Right  now I have a lot of roles to tackle in one day and how I handle the added responsibilities is also what matters.  Do I do it gracefully? Or do I complain?  Am I grateful for the business or do I grumble?   They are watching me and learning from me (for better or worse) each and every second.  Am I an example of God's love, working on dyeing to myself each and every minute - or am I presenting myself as selfish and discontent?  

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes - 
"Christ says, 'Give me all.  I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you.  I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good.  I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there.  I want to have the whole tree down.  I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.' "


  1. Tonya, do you do Skype? If you do we should talk. I can only skype, we don't have a phone. But I think you don't have the best internet access for that, if I remember correctly.

    We are not made to "do this alone". Which is why we have partners but also we need friends. Friends to come along and to share life with.

    I too am isolated where I live and by the life choices we've made but I've been reaching out to friends online - to talk in person via skype and it's helped a lot.

    Let me know. You have my e-mail.

    xo, Renee

  2. Tonya, I understand many of your feelings.

    Our own business is just newly restarted after our move last year and still very slow, but in the past when we had busy times I resented it as much as I was happy about it. It's just hard, when we want to be a good homemaker, mother, homeschool teacher, and of course wife...because we just CAN'T do it all. It's not possible. I have heard the advice to prioritize, and cut out those things that aren't as important, but what happens when you have already done that and there are still not enough hours in the day? Just not sleep?

    I don't really have any advice for you, except to ask if it is possible for your husband or children to take over any of the shop stuff that you are doing now? It sounds like you are really worn down...maybe others should do some of your regular jobs until Emmy is older and letting you get a full night's sleep.

    I find I also feel isolated sometimes living in the country. I do miss being able to walk to the grocery store or library, or to chat with the neighbours...but I think the sacrifices are worth it to be here. I would not want to give up the ability to have animals and raise our own food. I did just invite the Mennonite family down the road to come over for a visit next week, I'm looking forward to that!

    In the end, we all just do the best we can. Sometimes we fail and grumble and get grumpy, but I bet you show a much better example to your children than you feel you do. Please don't be too hard on yourself. You are in a very challenging stage of your life!

  3. just sending a nice and warm, strengthening hug to you dear Tonya.


  4. It is hard, Tonya. You are doing well to surrender it to Him. I'm learning to look at one day at a time, to just "do the next thing", as Elisabeth Elliott said. Otherwise it can easily overwhelm.

  5. Thinking out loud can be a very good thing....God sees the desires of your heart. I am me...JUST ME... at home these days,and still some days I feel discontent...when I know I shouldn't. Winter sometimes can make us feel so!
    I too have had my days dealing with my heart,depression....missing those days when there were familiar sounds in my home,little voices,loving,griping, fussing,crying,laughing... sounds...where as now its quite most of the time...oh,so quite! Once I longed for this quietness,and while it is still a very good thing at times.....there are times still when, I long for those familiar little voices...those voices now homes of their own keeping. I think what your feeling...what we feel sometimes is normal..the what ifs...the maybes. Am I doing to much,not enough....the right thing,the wrong thing. I question myself daily.....and then we must die daily,as you have reminded us with that beautiful handmade piece. Each day is a new beginning..a fresh start...thank God! Sometimes in our discontented state,we are right where we are meant to be...where God has placed us...he shines a light on our hearts and helps to find our contentment..once again :) Blessings friend. Your blog is always a blessing to me...each and every visit.

  6. You are not isolated Tonya...yes, you do live far away from stores, the library and such...but you are really not alone. We are all here with you. We are here giving you the opportunity to share and to be encouraged by all of us that have been inspired by your words and your way of life.

    Your space was one of the first ones I found on the web, when my husband and I chose to sell our business and begin to live for Christ in our daily life!

    It is not easy my friend. It is not easy to be content - but in Him we can do so much!

    I believe that at this moment, the isolation is getting to you a bit....but Spring, oh Tonya, Spring is just around the corner :) My prayers are with you today...

  7. Such a wonderful post. I have very similar thoughts about our business. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts it has certainly helped me to see more clearly.I feel that all you young mums are doing such a great job these days handling and jggling so many things. Children also learn about how to handle these tricky situations from us as well. Maybe seeing you grumbly and how you deal with that is showing them how they can do it too. All is as it should be. Take care.

  8. Tonya, you have inspired me with your "Plain and Joyful" life. My own life is different from yours...very different. My family, that is so dear to me, is scattered every day to earn a living and to get educated. You are so blessed to be able to be at home and raise your children to God largely without much of the worldly influence they would find outside of your home. Believe me when I tell you this is a great blessing! You have greatly inspired me and while my life will never be exactly like yours, you have reminded me that it is best to simplify our lives and let God be in control. Thank you.

  9. I feel your so much here, Tonya! Asking myself a lot of these same questions, always, it seems. How much to work, what work to focus on outside of our home, how much to give myself to my kids, how to find time to nurture my marriage, how on earth to find time to clean the house and nurture *myself* so that I can take care of everyone else well!
    And how to be kind to myself, and not expect so much all the time, and not expect to have it all figured out. Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing here - I really appreciate knowing that you share these struggles!
    Blessings to you and yours.

  10. Tonya,
    You got me thinking. I too wish at times that things were different. I wish I had a job to help with the finances, but then when I'm working, I want to be home. We live close to town and I want to live out in the country, because it is too easy to just hop in the car and go to the grocery. If I would live farther out, I would be forced to plan better and save our family money. Being content with where we are and what we are doing can only come from God. Thank you for helping me see. I will be praying.

  11. Tonya,

    All I want to do is stay home, but there is no way that can happen right now. But, I did stay home full-time when the Airman was young and it was challenging at times. I knew it was time for me to get out with others when we had houseguests and I cut their meat for them! LOL

    I have, too, have no advice, except to encourage you to feel each moment as it comes. Being tired, the low light, and pressures of just making it through every day cooking, cleaning, and caring for a housefull is enough to wear one down and make one question if they are doing what they should be with their life.

    But, I know this; you are living the life God wants you in right now or it wouldn't be working. The shop wouldn't be busy; you wouldn't have the creativity; you wouldn't have the ability to find satisfaction / joy in the every day; in short, nothing would be working. But, it is.

    I learned one thing that has really helped me. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts practice what is called, "Faith in the day." What it means is that they have faith that every minute of the day is going to get easier, better, and they will be stronger. Sometimes I just whisper that to myself so that I can make it through the day!

    Spring is one day closer!

    Take care of yourself! M

  12. Tonya, thanks so much for your transparency! You are thinking deeply about God's calling in your life, and your children are also observing that. Here, in rural NH it can be isolating at times, but I am thankful for the body of Christ that I do have here, as well as those found in blogland. Peace and comfort to you, friend!

  13. Die daily... it's a beautiful reminder.

    Blessings, Debbie

  14. May God strengthen you during this time! Just a couple of thoughts that I had when reading your post (I don't know that they will be useful to you but I thought I would share just in case)- I do think that being a light to our family during this stage of our life is our number one priority but I also understand that desire to interact with and reach out to others as well. I don't know if this would work for you or not but a way that I have enjoyed being able to do this is through hospitality -whether it be having another mom and the kids over for lunch, inviting over college students for a meal or even having people stay over for the night. Our home doesn't have to be fancy to do this, we don't have to leave caring for our own family and yet we can reach out to others.

    Also I do think as you mentioned that blogging can be a great way to minister to others.

    This past fall I was also feeling overwhelmed and we did some adjustments around the home and I put the children in charge of more things for instance I don't cook on Saturday or Sunday evenings anymore - they do and I am in charge of laundry only one day of the week - my oldest daughter does it on the other laundry day. I don't know if these ideas would work for you (or perhaps you are already doing them) but it has been wonderful for me. The family is a team we have things to do to make the household function (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. ) and we also have things to do to earn a living (We also have our own businesses) and our children have a more rounded education when they learn how to do a lot in both areas.

    I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

  15. Hi Tonya,
    Another oh-so-timely post! I also work from home and the income I produce, though small, is important to our family's financial success. I feel it is a constant juggling act, too-- there are always things left undone. If it is a busy work times, then I am left feeling as if I am not being a good enough mother and an even worse wife. If it is a slower work time, and I have the time to focus on children and home, then I get anxious about needing to spend more time with work to build up that. There are so many days where I feel I am not balancing things well--that my attention is always divided.

    I am also in a relatively isolated area, and really lack in the day-day support of someone who sees the value of the family life that we are trying to create, yet understands the challenges too.

    Wish we were dirt road neighbors!

  16. I often wish I lived on a dirt road miles away from everyone - we live on a street of duplexes, traffic noises never stop. I think it is very hard to be content where God has placed us. Prayers!

  17. I am at a different stage in my life from you, however I to am doing some soul searching at the moment, not quite understanding these feelings that are drifting through my mind mind. During my quiet time this morning, the Lord led me to write down how I was feeling and that was difficult to articulate how ever as I was writing He stopped me and I wrote " Be still and know ". I stopped and waited and then began to write again of the way He loved me and cherished me and sustained me. Nearly a page in my journal on His feelings for me. Now at the beginning of my day I am still in a reflective mood but there is a peace. I still have quite a bit to accomplish today but I have more inner strength to keep moving forward. May you find His peace today as you seek to do His will.
    Blessings Gail

  18. Hi, I just wanted to say "thank you" for your blog. It is such a peaceful time in my day to sit and read what you've written and see your beautiful pictures. My husband and I are in a job that is either "feast or famine". During the "feasting" times we are often stressed with the busyness of it all; trying to balance the work load and family. In the "famine" times; like now, we can get stressed for lack of funds and by the "what-ifs?". Like what-if work doesn't pick up, what-if we have nothing to do, etc. A couple of things we have learned are: when it is stressful during the "feast" times we remember that things will eventually slow down, and that during the "feast" times we are "making hay while the sun shines" or laying up our store for the "famine". We often cut out a lot of extra things during the "feast" time and just maintain the basics, knowing that during the "famine" we will be able to pick those things back up. During the "famine" time, which often falls in the winter for us, we do projects that we have purposely saved up for this down time. We have extra family time. On days when we feel the walls closing in, we go for a drive or a walk just to get out.( We live in a rural setting also.) The most important thing we do is think what is true.(God has always provided. Spring will come. What am I thankful for? Be content with what I have and where God has lead me.) Someone once told me that God doesn't lead us to make a change in our life by using discouragement or opposition. Those thoughts come from the "enemy". Thankfully, most of the time, my husband and I aren't down at the same time so we are able to encourage each other. But we have been in this cycle now, going on 7 yrs. and every year it is the same. We are beginning to be able to recognize the signs and be more prepared. One thing the Lord is teaching me this "famine" time is to be faithful. He doesn't want me to be great, grand and glorius. He doesn't want me to be perfect and have it all together. He just wants me to trust Him, rely on Him and be faithful with what He has given me. So that's what I'll pray for you...that you will not try to do everything or be everything to everyone...only God can do that...but that you will trust Him, lean on Him, think what is true, and be faithful one day at a to you sister... Steffy

  19. Tonya,

    Ecclesiates 3:1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

    So many years have passed since I was dealing with the responsibilities you are living with each day. Now, they are much different. Reflecting back on my life as Mom, wife, working Mom, homemaker there is no doubt in my mind that God was with me always. Every breath, tear, laugh, financial crisis, diaper change, kiss, disagreement, hug, I was comforted by my Lord and Savior. Gratitude for answered prayers provides perspective especially when we are overwhelmed.

    There have been many times when thoughts of your beautiful home and family delivers me to a peaceful place when I need solace from this world. God has placed you, in his wonderful wisdom, where your dreams will come to fruition. How wonderful that your husband and children are working with you to reach those mutual goals. A precious gift that continues to unfold.

    Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

    Love, June.

  20. Hi Tonya! There is snail mail going out to you. I am pulling for you and for the sun. I have noticed that the days are a bit brighter in the mornings and the afternoons, spring is coming and so are easier?? days.

    I always have a picture of you in my mind - walking to mailbox with a flock of chickens following you. You shared it on your blog a long while back and it has stuck with me.

  21. Your post really resonates with me :) I know exactly what you mean about being a crafter and a mother! I know I am called to be both yet finding balance is not always so easy :)
    I have come to the conclusion that every life has it's positives and negatives. For so long I've wanted the simple country life and yet God has put me in the middle of a town and I now I see that there has been a good reason for this and that it has brought our family many blessings over the years. Yet still, of course, it is not always perfect :)
    I am really inspired by your family and your life and the way you choose to live simply. Thank you for this honest, real post :)

  22. Sweetheart, remember that we are given no more than we can cope with. You have a wonderful family and are truley blessed, you have created a beautfiul life, simple by LIVING for the day, enjoying everything around you, personally i think just being a mummy is hard work and quite mentally draining (very often for me at the moment) but then i think hummm..look how much i have! Your doinga sterling job, Thankyou from me for your lovely blog, no matter if im down or "touched" out by the state of humanity and the hatred that seems to be rife at the moment, i allways come here because your blog makes me touch base with what is important. Loads of love chickie ..hope you feel brighter soon xx

  23. Thanks to God who sent me to your blog! I sat here for myself, sent a prayer to God that He would lead me to someone I can recognize me! I think I found it, right here