Sometimes, a legacy of such strength and industriousness is inspiring. Sometimes, it makes me feel remarkably weak and, by comparison, abysmally unproductive.
So, back to this week's theme: Camille's Squirrelly Address on Financial Aspects of Being a Writer...(You thought yesterday's post about Great-grandmother's obscene phone caller was a bit random? No, actually, there is a connection!)
In Part 1, I wrote about the very conservative goals I set for my first year in the writing business and about how God graciously allowed me to meet those goals. In Part 2, I told how a friend once challenged me concerning giving, and I shared how Year 2 allowed me to step out in faith in this area in a small way.
As I work at this new little enterprise, I have additional financial concerns on my mind as well, besides business expenses and tithing and Christmas presents and ministry support and gas for the van. I have actually been mulling these other concerns over for years. Today, I am going to try to articulate these concerns in Part 3 of Camille's Squirrelly Address on Financial Aspects of Being a Writer.
For the nearly 30 years that I have been a mother, I have made a full-time job of cooking meals, washing and folding laundry, sweeping and mopping floors, nursing and diapering babies, and schooling my awesome children. When I have worked outside of the home, it was always at jobs that allowed me to work at night, after dinner was cooked and Steve was home from work and the babies were tucked in bed.
(I once worked nights at Kroger as a cashier. My supervisor accidentally scheduled me to work days one week. I explained to her that, with six little kids at home, it cost me more per hour to pay for a babysitter than I was making per hour at Kroger. Every hour I worked during the daytime put me in the hole several dollars. Graciously, my supervisor immediately redid that week's work schedule!)
While I do not regret one tiny iota of the time and energy that I have poured into my work at home, one regret that I have long struggled with is that I have not been able to help my family more financially. The few jobs I worked and the little income I earned were only intended to provide temporary financial help during specific emergencies.
Others have helped our family financially over the years in too many ways to list. My in-laws paid closing costs for the first house we purchased. My brother and sister-in-law paid to have air-conditioners installed in our air-conditioner-less house one hot summer. My sister and brother-in-law helped repeatedly with car repairs. Friends from church actually paid for and installed a new roof on our house one time, and others kept our big family fed and clothed during lean times. I am so very thankful for all of the precious people who have helped us over the years - thinking about each of them has me sitting here smiling and crying tears of gratitude!
I am thankful, too, that all of our children have grown up to be hard-working and resourceful. They have paid for their own clothes, their own college educations, and, if they have them, their own vehicles. They each know how to stretch a dollar. They know how to ferret out really good bargains, and they aren't ashamed to shop at Goodwill. I occasionally hear other parents talking about how their kids are constantly asking for money - for school field trips, for gas, for cell phones, etc. Our kids have never done that. On the contrary, they have often been the ones to help Mom and Dad out in a pinch!
I do not feel like a failure as a parent because we didn't give each kid a car when he left for college or because they paid for their own cell phone plans. I also don't feel like my kids think of me as a second-class mom because I couldn't buy them trendy clothes or the latest technology. I suppose some sour children might complain that their parents don't do enough for them financially, but not mine - rather, my kids honestly make me feel like a Queen Mother.
I have long wished that I could give to my family with the kind of generosity with which they have given to me. Scripture nowhere tells me that, as an adult child, I should expect or demand the kind of generosity I have received from my parents and my in-laws. Scripture nowhere tells me that, as a parent, I should expect or demand the kind of generosity I have already received from my own children. Scripture nowhere authorizes me to look up the family tree or down the family tree and say, "You owe me this!"
Scripture does, however, speak to me about my own responsibilities, both as an adult child and as a parent of young adults. God's Word admonishes me to provide for my parents if they need my help in their old age. God's Word admonishes me to provide for my children and to endeavor to leave an inheritance for the next generation. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, I have worked very hard for many years to do just exactly that. Financially, however, I have not provided generously for either my aging parents or my children.
We are all familiar with the Proverbs 31 Woman, right? She's The Perfect Woman, the one that so completely intimidates messes like me. I once heard a sermon on Proverbs 31 in which the pastor explained that the Proverbs 31 Woman was an ideal: all that was good and best about an exemplary woman's entire life painted into a single portrait. The pastor went on to explain that women experience different seasons of life, when they are called to different tasks.
Some seasons are heavy on nurturing babies and educating children. Some seasons are heavy on household maintenance and management. And then some seasons provide opportunities for enterprise outside of the home. We are not called to do all of these things all of the time, working with exceeding excellence in every sphere simultaneously; rather, we are called to make the most of the different opportunities given to us during the different seasons of our lives.
My children are growing up and starting lives and families of their own. I have much less laundry and cooking to do these days, and Helen and I are nearing the end of the last set of school books. I am hoping that in this new season of life, my little writing business will grow into an enterprise that will enable me, finally, to financially bless my family - both my parents and my children - in the years ahead.
I am amazed at and grateful for the Great Big Little Things God allowed me to accomplish in Year 1 and Year 2 as a writer. I am jumping into Year 3 with prayer, determination and excitement, eager to see what He has in store for me next.
And I am thankful for strong women like Great-grandmother, women who have lived out before me what it means to be faithful with little and faithful with much. Great-grandmother was a beautiful woman - I am grateful for the legacy she left me.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1 Timothy 5:8
For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. - 2 Corinthians 12:14b