Book Love, Christian non-fiction, Writing life

Happy book birthday to Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go

During one of my many clean-out sessions of the past year, I stopped for a few minutes to flip through a little book I haven’t paid much attention to in a long time: Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go. It’s my first devotional book, the one that allowed me the privilege of saying I’m a published book author.

Work from home moms devotions to goIt also turns 15 this year, which is a bit crazy to wrap my mind around. To celebrate, I’d like to share the story of how being a work-from-home mom led to a book.

I began working from home when our son was about five months old. It wasn’t under the most ideal circumstances; I’d learned a few weeks after returning to work from maternity leave that positions currently held by four people would be consolidated into a single role. To make a long story short, I wasn’t the person chosen to continue in that role.

I had handled a few freelance writing or editing projects over the years and my husband and I had talked about how great it would be if I could find enough freelance work to stay at home once we started a family.

As much as I liked the idea, I have to be honest: I would have never had the nerve to leave my job and try full-time freelancing.

God knew that and put me in the position to try. And He blessed me with work all the years I was at home.

A while after my work-from-home journey began, God nudged me in another direction I would have never imagined.

I had looked in bookstores and online for a devotional book written for moms who worked from home. I even called stores and asked them to search their systems for such a book. No one found anything.

The longer I searched, the more frustrated I became. Working from home wasn’t as common as now, but it also wasn’t unheard of. Surely there was a devotional book for women juggling families, work and everything else under the same roof.

My answer came as I mulled it over once again while rocking our son to sleep for his nap.

Write it yourself.

Three simple words that rang as loudly in my mind as if someone had spoken them beside me.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

Again: Write it yourself.

I’d never had such a thing happen. Lord, if that’s you …

The thought latched on and I continued to pray about it while doing other things as our son napped. By the time he woke and we were getting ready for a walk around the neighborhood, my prayer had shifted to, “OK, Lord, I’ll do this if you want but I don’t know what to write.”

Because God is God (and because for some reason this was His plan), He answered my puny challenge. Ideas for devotions related to being a work-from-home mom popped in my mind so quickly during our walk I could hardly keep them straight.

I scribbled down as many as I could remember when we got back home. More than 30 ideas filled the page.

And that was the day that led to Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go. It was a long process full of ups and downs, starts and stops, that eventually led to a publishing home with Extreme Diva Media. I had the chance to meet and work with amazing women including our publisher Jean Ann Duckworth and fellow authors Marilyn Nutter, Sherry Cummins, and Shelley Galbreath.

God was so good to turn my personal desire for a devotional book into something that others might enjoy. Even all these years later, I only know of one other devotional book written for moms who work from home – and it’s written by a woman I connected with during this process who endorsed it.

Many parents have learned to simultaneously balance work, home, and family during the past year. If you know someone who might like reading Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go, it’s still available in print (through me or some used book sites) and as an eBook.

Thanks for humoring my trip down memory lane. It’s reminded me anew how God can use all of us, even when we have no clue what we’re doing or where we’re going.

What nudges have you felt from God that might have led to unexpected places? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you into a drawing to win an autographed copy for yourself.

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Living in Faith

5 things I’ve learned since working from home during COVID-19

I left work on March 13, 2020, with a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. My laptop, keyboard and cables were in my backpack. Several project files, my favorite pens, my spiral-bound notebook for meeting notes, and an assortment of other things filled a white cardboard box I’d snagged from our department’s work room.

We had been told to begin working from home “until further notice” because of COVID-19 (which at that time we still referred to as “the novel coronavirus”). We had no idea how long “until further notice” might mean, but I’d be willing to bet none of us imagined it would stretch beyond a few months.

But now it’s a year later (or tomorrow will be) and I’ve only been back to our building once, to pick up a few more things in mid-July. It’s been a year of fear and faith, of happiness and sorrow, of adjustments and learning.

Here are five of the many things I’ve learned (or relearned) since working from home during COVID-19.

  1. The little things really do matter. Two years ago, I never would have imagined being happy to walk into a store and see an aisle with fully-stocked shelves of paper towels, toilet paper, and Clorox wipes. But I’m pretty sure I sent a picture to our kids when I saw it for the first time in months after all this started (give thanks for all things … Ephesians 5:20).
  2. Time together is great, but time alone is still important. Our kids both came home from college at Thanksgiving and finished the semester online. They were home for about eight weeks before returning to their campuses for spring semester. I will always cherish those weeks with them because our days together at home are dwindling. But I’m also wired to need time alone to regroup and recharge, which can be hard to find when you’re all under the same roof 24/7 with very different schedules. Early in the morning, Jesus went to a solitary place to pray … (Mark 1:35). I have a fuller appreciation for that now and found that getting up earlier for my quiet time really does make a difference in my day.
  3. Boundaries between work and home are a must. I worked from home for 17 years while our kids were growing up, so being home all the time wasn’t as difficult for me to adjust to as it was for some people. My current job can have some long days and unpredictable hours. It can be hard to turn the workday off and for a few months it seemed like some of us rarely did, just because of the nature of our jobs. But we have to step away from the deadlines and demands. We have to rejuvenate ourselves – physically, mentally, spiritually – so we’re better at our jobs and better for our families. Even God took time to rest (Genesis 2:2), so why should I feel guilty about doing the same?
  4. A great team is a great team, whether you’re in the office together or only meeting over Zoom. In some ways, I think we collaborate and rely on each other more now than when we were face-to-face. I miss the spontaneous interactions and breakroom conversations but you feel like you know someone better when you see their home environment, whether it’s the cat waltzing across the table behind them, the cool artwork in the background, or the suit-wearing VP who now seems to live in wrinkled t-shirts.
  5. Life goes on – so enjoy what you can. Within our department we’ve had illness and death and grieving, and I would never undermine the importance of those things. But we’ve also had many causes for celebration: a pregnancy and birth, new homes purchased and settled into, graduations, an engagement for one co-worker and a wedding for another, and more. I think those things have been made sweeter against the backdrop of COVID-19.

Through it all, God is God and nothing about all of this has surprised Him. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve been reminded of again and again.

Life will never go back to the same “normal” we knew in 2019. In many ways that makes me sad, but there are lessons and experiences I hope to keep with me – many more than the five I’ve shared here.

What about you? What kinds of things have you learned during COVID-19 that have impacted you positively? I’m not asking because I’m trying to downplay any sadness or grief, but because holding to something positive – even if it’s the smallest of things – can help get us through those tough times. Maybe your positive lesson can help someone else.