This post was originally published in January, 2010.

It is not lost on me that the majority of my acquaintances – family & friends included – do not approve of my chosen ‘vocation’. We live in a world where getting paid to nourish or care for other people’s families is a respectable position. But if we do that work for our own loved ones instead of earning a paycheck, well then it is drudgery and we have either been coerced into it or are perceived as too stupid to know better.

Maybe you’re a mama who spends her days cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry, and teaching her children. Maybe you’re a keeper of the home and your morning "commute" involves heading to the goat pen to collect milk. Maybe you’re a farmer’s wife who keeps the home fires burning while he plants the field for 12 hours a day.

Maybe you’re a midwife who delivers babies, but is glad to never see a hospital. Maybe you’re a father who is tired of leaving your family every day so you give up worldly praise and possessions to work from home.

If you are any of the above then you’ve probably heard some interesting ‘comments’ flung in your direction. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • But, what do you do all day?
  • Aren’t you bored? (hahahehehoohoo)
  • Aren’t you just wasting your college degree? (now there’s a chicken or the egg kind of question)

Whenever I hear these things I’m a little taken aback. Of course it stings a little, but what do you say; "Yep, I’m bored – just not enough soap operas or bon-bons to fill my day." (That’s even funnier because we don’t own a tv and I don’t know what a bon-bon is).

It’s true, I probably spend at least 60% of my days feeding my family – from gardening and preserving to cooking to dishes. (The other 40% is spent washing the other half of the dishes. just kidding. sort of.)

What’s scarier than that is that I actually love what I do and if you’ve chosen a different path then you probably do too.

Maybe none of the above applies to you, but instead you receive a low-level condescension for the things that you value and work for.

If you’ve faced this kind of negativity then I want to encourage you. What you do matters…

If you’re that husband who has chosen a simpler life to be with his family over any of the trappings of this world, then your family is blessed.

If you have turned down a paycheck to nourish, educate, and care for your family then you’ll see the grace that every small moment of the day can bring – through your children and your husband.

If you help a woman deliver a baby in her own home then I wish there were more caregivers like you.

If all you do in a 12 hour period is nurse and rock a baby then, my dear, you are the one thing on this earth keeping that baby loved and alive.

If you help people because you are tired of watching them get sick when they are lied to (often out of ignorance) by food companies, corporate farms, health care professionals, and even our own government (gasp!), then please keep helping people.

If you have given up all of the praise of the world to serve your husband, family, and community and you do it cheerfully because you love it and you know you are blessed, then all praise be to God.

 

70 Responses to Encouragement for The Doers

  1. Katie says:

    I try to put myself in their shoes, but I just don’t understand how some women can want to work instead of stay home with their children. I have been working full time, not by choice, for 5 years. I’m an engineer, so my job really does help society, but I honestly feel as though I am WASTING my life. For the first couple of years that I worked, I got sick every Sunday night, dreading Monday morning.

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  2. Shannon, what a lovely post. I have experienced that same kind of negativity – mostly from my family. Most of our friends are in similar situations with one exception which is that we choose to homeschool, and no one can understand why. What I’d like to know is WHY does everyone worry so much about what SOMEONE ELSE is doing.

    Bless you this morning; keep doing what you do!

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  3. Noelle says:

    Thanks for such a lovely post. My husband and I fall into this category. I work as a postpartum doula, encouraging families. But I work nights (I do get some hours of broken sleep) so I can be here with my kids during the day. My husband left a mega church where he was working 70+ hours a week. He works at a small church now, with less than half the hours and less than half the paycheck. We lead a simpler life, but one that requires more work at home from us. And we LOVE it!

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  4. Denise says:

    I am here too! Thank you. I love this life. Sure, I use to earn good money. But, now I earn so much more. And, you are right. I am so blessed. Somedays, I am just flooded with emotion of the blessings of my life. Awesome post Shannon.

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  5. Thanks for this post, it is just what I needed. After 10+ years of homeschooling and being a stay at home mom for over 17 years I still struggle with feeling worth. I find I have to keep my small circle of supportive people close and even after all this time I need reassurance that I am doing the right thing. It is a head game for me some days. I needed to hear your encouraging words. Thank you

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  6. nichole says:

    This is beautiful!
    One of the biggest things I’ve had to do as a stay at home mother is to establish boundaries-at times some of the people I know seem to think that I can babysit, help them out with errands, etc. because I don’t have an “outside” job per say.
    Of course I don’t my helping out someone in need, but that feeling of “oh lets ask Nichole because she’s not working”, kinda gets to me.
    So boundary setting has been hard, but a very necessary thing for me to do.

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  7. aurelia says:

    I have found that the most effective way to remove this negativity is to reduce or eliminate contact with those who feel it necessary to judge me and tell me about it.

    Friends and family alike.

    If they can’t accept that I value what I do and not devalue it themselves I don’t need to waste mental and emotional energy dealing with them. Others need my attention more than them.

    This has significantly cut down on the drama in my life.

    Cheers!

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  8. Magda says:

    Both DH and I work outside the home so we appear mainstream LOL. But we have made some not-so-popular choices in our lives: natural diet (WAPF/traditional), homebirthing (we’re due with baby #2 on 1/18 !!!), extended breastfeeding (my son was BF till he was 3), not vaxxing and I plan to cloth diaper baby #2. My mom happens to be my worst critic: she had a hard time raising my brother and I and didn’t have many “conveniences”. She now appreciates them and wonders why I “make it hard on myself”. She has come around some in the last few years but still feels I should “take advantage” of many modern things…. Oh well. Can’t win them all. I’m finally comfortable making my own choices and not caring what others think. I share what I can with her, but no longer get into arguments (oftentimes she just doesn’t want to hear it so we drop the subject. Sad, but true.).

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  9. AJ says:

    Shannon–
    We couldn’t be more different in the ways you discuss–for instance, I have a full-time-plus job outside the home and no children!–but I don’t look down on your choices, and I hope you don’t look down on mine.

    As is obvious from this blog, you can be an educated, creative, caring woman whose work is a positive influence not only on your own family, but on the bigger community, regardless of whether you receive a paycheck from The Man.

    It’s a shame other people feel our business is theirs, isn’t it?

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  10. This is such an awesome post. I used to think that if I was not “working” all the time I was not living to my potential. Now, I am home with my kids ( I am considering homeschooling my 7 year old autistic son next year) and have a part time job I really enjoy (CF coach). I spend a LOT of time cooking all our food. I am very interested in starting to grow more food and learning how to can and preserve things too. My husband and I started our own business and we do have less money but LOTS more time together.WE own our own life.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this post.

    PS We do not vax either. I am proud of those who if they make that choice, can stand up to the doctors and say no.

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  11. Aileen says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for this! I sometimes need to be reminded that we’re choosing to live with less so that we can raise our children the way we want to raise them.

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  12. Tracee says:

    As a mother who works 10 hour days and gets home at 7:30 pm at night it’s so good to know that some people still get to focus on their families and give them the care they deserve. It’s hard to work outside of the home and take care of your family the way they should really be cared for. Most people can’t think past boxed dinners and soda, so of course they would be bored. But some of us know better. I am insanely jealous. Enjoy your family and say a little prayer for those of us who would love to be able to do the same. I get blasted by my inlaws for not letting my child have junk. They feel so sorry for him. He’s the posterchild for pity (he get lots of homemade treats that he loves). So I can relate with you on that front.
    Best Wishes!

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  13. this was wonderful. i remember when my now six year old daughter was still a baby and a toddler, how it seemed liked others didn’t really get the idea of me staying home. we sacrificed a lot for me to stay home with her after her birth (my paycheck, a car and eventually, our tiny home to live with my parents) but we believed that by me staying home, it would be the utmost best thing for her and it would honor God as well.
    I remember going to a family get together where my father in law heard the word ‘work’ in a conversation i was having. “oh, your back at work now?” he said. I replied no but i do work being at home (and any mother knows babies & toddlers are a lot of work). he laughed and said ‘that isn’t work”. in my angered reaction, i replied ‘well, i know you couldn’t do what i do” and with that the conversation was over.
    it stung me badly but you know, i would not change our decision for anything in the world. i am proud to have stayed home with my daughter, to have experienced all her ‘firsts’, to have nurtured her and care for her and i know we have and will continue reap the rewards for that. :)

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  14. JenE says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this post!!! I believe I will print it out and hang it on the ‘fridge.
    Bless you! : )

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  15. Thank you for this! It is hard dealing with the negativity, particularly when it happens behind one’s back or at social gatherings. I used to get a lot of comments about food from my husband’s family and they would sneak my oldest junk food, but…now they are dealing with diabetes and celiacs because of their food choices. My children are not and God willing, will have happy healthy productive lives.

    With five children I do feel like I spend all day cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and diapers, but I try to include the kids in what I do as much as possible. I also spend time educating them about the choices we are making, especially my oldest. He’s only seven years away from being on his own and he will have at least one issue to deal with – alcoholism. I hope that he can make his choices with his eyes wide open to the consequences of those choices.

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  16. Amanda says:

    Beautiful post! I think sometimes, we can be our own worst critics as well.
    I think one of the most frustrating things a woman has said to me (while I’m with her during labor- the one I’m thinking of was a long one- though this has been asked of me more than once) is: “Who is with your kids? I could never do what you do. I think it’s so important that a mother be home with her children!”
    Ugh! Seriously hard to hear as a midwife!!
    I get it both ways. Sometimes my family thinks that I don’t have a “real” job because I’m self-employed and therefore ask me to do things like sit at their house waiting for the cable guy while they’re at work. But then I get this guilt for being called away from my husband and children to care for others.
    It’s been challenging at times. My hope is that I am modeling for my children how important it is to me to find balance between these poles. I really enjoy my work and find it incredibly rewarding. I really enjoy my children, but also know myself well and feel like working a bit helps me personally be a better mother.
    We all need to find our balancing point- whether we have to work out of necessity or desire or really just love being at home and doing the work of maintaining a household. (And everything in between!)
    Own it, find peace with it, and don’t let the naysayers get you down!
    xo!

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  17. Amy says:

    Such an encouraging post. Thank you for speaking so clearly to me today. Praise be to God. May His blessings flow.

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  18. Cathy says:

    I notice I also get a lot of comments about how “lucky” I am to stay home. And yes, I agree I am blessed. But it isn’t luck allowing this, but rather many small daily sacrifices and frugality. We manage 4 kids, soon to be 5, and a whole lot of debt from our younger less-wise days on a single enlisted military income. Lots of hard work, no luck involved!

    Great post, by the way!

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  19. Well said!
    I still don’t understand why people think they have a right to question my decisions, and let me know everything they feel I’m doing wrong- just because I’m not living the typical, mainstream life. I find it most frustrating when friends and family feel the need to tell me my children would be better off if I didn’t homeschool them. Yet I have a degree in middles grades education, and taught public school before I was able to come home. Funny to try and process how it’s ok for me to teach 120 children a day that belong to other people, but wrong for me to teach my own two! Crazy, huh?

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  20. Breanne says:

    What a great post. I’m a freshman in college and already experience the negativity from (well-meaning) friends and older adults who think I’ll be wasting my great mind (as if any mind isn’t great) if I don’t go to medical school and become a doctor. But I’d be perfectly happy to “waste” my undergraduate degree AND my mind if I can be a great stay-at-home-mom and wife! People don’t understand that anymore! I’m going to college because I love it and that’s the season I’m in, NOT because that’s where my fulfillment comes from!

    Thanks for the great post!

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  21. Jess says:

    To spend my days serving my Lord, serving my husband, raising my children with a vision for building future generations in Christ’s kingdom . . . it doesn’t get better than this! The quality of life that my husband, children and myself enjoy since I’m home and am able to focus on healthy eating, a clean home, a love of learning in our homeschool and a loving and nurturing environment, is beyond compare. This is TRUE WEALTH. Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

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  22. Simone says:

    Amen sistah! :)

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  23. Motherhen68 says:

    Every day when I’m working at my lame hostess job, cleaning the bathrooms @ the restaurant, I think “I could be doing this at my own house, but no, here I am”. When I am fixing salads for customers, I think “I could be doing this at home.” Everything I do at work, I could do much easier at home. Only 154.00 left to go! One more check and I’m done!

    My sister gave me grief when I homeschooled. Later when we made the decision to put the kids in school, she had her boss offer me a teaching job. Wth? I can’t teach my own kids, but I can teach others?? LOL

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  24. Shannon – this was just beautiful. I love it. Thank you.

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  25. Lori says:

    Thank you!

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  26. Nicole says:

    I’ve been “lurking” on this blog for a while. It was actually my “gateway blog” to a nourishing lifestyle. I’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years with my health, my “career” and my relationships. I’m a newlywed now, working part time so that I can devote the other two days a week to developing “homeskills” and maintaining peace in our home and our relationship. We also don’t own a TV and I don’t know what a bon bon is, but I’ve gotten that from people – it’s usually behind my back, or voiced as a “concern”. This blog post is just what I needed to read. Thank you so much for blogging and living authentically. God bless you and your family.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Nicole – So glad to hear you are turning your heart towards home even through adversity.

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  27. Lizzy says:

    hello! I just wanted to say that this post was so encouraging for me that i almost began crying! I am a college-graduate and taught elementary school for five years. loved it. but then i got married to the love of my life last summer and made a huge life transition…i went from being single @ 27 to married, working-full time to homemaking, new state (we are military), new church, new friends, new roads to navigate, new grocery store and farmer’s markets to become familiar with. although there have been a few times where I long for my teaching days to return, I am honestly LOVING this new season of life! researching issues regarding healthy living/eating, cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, baking, making healthy lunches for my pilot husband, cultivating a warm, welcoming home for us and for anyone who crosses the threshold. I also await the day when I can God-willing return to teaching…my own children…just like my dear mom did for my three sisters and me. I THANK YOU for being so bold in writing this post! i think there are so many women out there who are ‘closet’ lovers of their home but are too scared to admit it. unfortunately, we live in a day in age where those of us who make our life-calling to care for hearth&home are wrongfully seen as ‘oppressed’ or ‘unfulfilled’. this is truly tragic and must be changed! we can all make a difference in eradicating this misleading, pervasive, WRONG notion that poisons the heads of so many people – man and woman alike. a wonderful book i would highly recommend to anyone is Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. so inspiring! God bless you and keep up the great work! I really enjoy reading and learning from your blog.

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    admin Reply:

    Lizzy – Thanks for sharing your story. I agree that many women have a heart for home, but society makes it difficult to express that.

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  28. Jodi says:

    My husband and i did a role switch after my last son, who is almost 3. We switched roles bc I had good potential to earn better money and he had the ability and desire to stay home with the kids. We are criticized, even politely, by many people who are unable to comprhend we CHOSE this. We work well, my husband is home when our kids need him, and I have great flexability to be able to come home everyday for lunch. I am blessed and thankful that my youngest child was able to grow up at home than in daycare, as my older two did. Families are what makes the world go round

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  29. Jenna says:

    I stumbled on this blog looking for a slow cooker chicken stock recipe and while poking around, found this entry, and I have to say… I love it. I was always a nerd and a “smart kid” growing up, and now matter how hard I tried, I could never find a career path that felt even remotely satisfying to follow. The only thing that ever really made me excited to think about was being a mom, taking care of my babies, my husband, and a home. I’ve been called a “bad feminist” (I thought feminism was about choices!), and loads of other things. I’ve always hated my job, and the prospect of any “job” job, really. I do it because it pays, though.

    My husband was like minded, and when I got pregnant, we were heading toward me quitting my job and staying home with the baby. Cue the economic downturn and the tanking of his industry. I was pregnant, and he lost his job. Long story short, in the end I am the one who ended up working, and he is home with the baby. It’s not how either of us wanted it or expected it to be, but he’s a wonderful father and does a better job taking care of our baby girl than any day care ever could. I continue to work to support us all, and while it’s difficult and miserable, I know that I’m doing what I have to do to take care of my family. My husband is doing the same, despite the sexism he often faces as a SAHD (“mommy and me” classes, anyone?).

    Funny to think of cultivating a family and a home as drudgery, isn’t it? Teaching my child is infinitely more engaging and rewarding than anything I could do behind a desk in a law firm.

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  30. Debra Worth says:

    Wow! Thank you!
    My lifestyle is not one most people agree with. Even stay at home mom’s seem to think I’m crazy for cooking nourishing meals from scratch among other things.
    It’s frustrating at times for me, because, I don’t really have support. (Well, my husband and he is the best.) Also, it’s a pretty unglorifying job. Meals take 15 minutes to eat. It’s so much easier to notice messes then the fact that someone spent their day cleaning up from them or preventing them.
    I know it’s a job that needs to be done. Some of the most important jobs are completely taken for granted. It’s one thing though know it and living it.
    A favorite past time among friends is to husband bash. Children are allowed to rule their households and stay at home moms (never dare to call them housewives) count the years until all their children are shuffled off to school so they can be ‘free’ again.
    Sorry, I really shouldn’t rant like this. Or complain… but anyway thank you for writing this. It is encouraging.

    [Reply]

  31. Chandelle says:

    Thanks for re-posting this, Shannon.

    I am definitely a feminist, but I don’t think that precludes sticking close to home. My husband feels the same way — he chose a profession that would allow him to be equally present for our family.

    I do have professional aspirations, since I doubt farming will ever be lucrative — my husband and I share a responsibility to ensure our family’s financial survival. But my family, my garden, my animals, these come first, always, and I will always shape my work around them rather than the other way around — just as my husband has done.

    Judging by the comments, I doubt this is important to anyone else. But to me my position is entirely consistent with feminism, which honors individuality and personal choice and rejects stereotypes. It’s common to blame feminism for families leaving the home, but I think it makes more sense to look at the ravages of corporatism and industrialization. I’m happy to see more men rejecting this standard as well, and returning to the home.

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  32. Amanda says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for re-posting – I missed it the first time around. I have heard each of those three questions, and of course many more unsupportive ones about being a midwife. We live in a culture where the time people spend driving around, shopping, and watching TV goes unquestioned, but those who stay home cooking, watching food grow, and nurturing others often receive short shrift. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Amanda – Your words about our culture ring so true. We are blessed beyond words to have had you as a midwife and a friend. You truly are a nurturer of plants and people. And your life choices have inspired us – I am trying soaking seeds now :) .

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  33. Denise says:

    i love when you re-post things. I like seeing what my previous comment was. And, I am proud to say I feel the same as the comment I wrote the first time!

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  34. Janelle says:

    It all used to get to me. But then I realized we are a rate breed with an amazing support group. Thank you for the reminder through such beautiful words.

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  35. Herbwifemama says:

    I see this is a repost. I think you should repost it regularly. Maybe once a month? (Kidding. Only kind of.)

    While my husband has been working out of the home (working harder now, so he doesn’t have to continue to), and I’ve been left to fend for myself with two kids, I REALLY needed to hear this today. I was spiraling down into negativity. And the dishes! Omg! I know what you mean! :p

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  36. Angel7 says:

    Awesome post!

    I heard something that made me laugh and I had to agree with that goes along with what you were talking about. A woman I know said how she was tired of people asking her what her profession was, because she would always respond back that she is homemaker, and usually got the same look, as though being a mom is not a job in and of itself–it is like it is not prestigious enough. Well, after she thought about it, she decided to tell people that she is CEO. When they gasp and inevitably ask her what she is CEO of, she lets them know that she is CEO of Her Household :)

    We live in a culture where material things and money are important to many people, because that is what is advertised. I wish that more advertisements would be geared toward the importance of God and family life–that is in an ideal world, though.

    http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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  37. sara says:

    This post is great thank you..i have been maried for 25 ys this yrs..to a wonderful man and we have 6 children and 3 grandchildren..i am blessed to have only worked out of the home for a liitle time..i am proud to tell people that i am a home-maker..the highest compliment i recieved was from my older girls that they wanted to be just like me..highest praise i have ever recieved..
    love to you and yours
    sara

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  38. Kathi Harju says:

    Very good post, my daughter. And I see some things never change. When I was a stay at home mom when you three children were small and was asked what I did, I would reply “I’m a full time momma”. Of course, some people would respond with a condescending “Oh” – as if it wasn’t important. Love you!

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  39. gail firenze says:

    May I add just one more to your list.

    If you care for elderly parents in your home rather than putting them in a nursing home because they get in the way of your lifestyle. ( I realise having said that, there are certain elderly folk who do need the care that only a nursing home can give )

    Thank you, a really great post and I agree with you 100%

    Blessings Gail

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  40. Stephanie says:

    Wow. Thank you. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams to be a home with my three kiddos for the last 8 years. We’ve had the added “blessing” of having my husband home for 17 months while out of work. God has been so gracious to take care of us, and we have loved having this precious time together as a family.
    We’ve certainly had our fair share of the nay-sayers over the years, but I try to stop myself after each encounter and ask myself, “Is what they’re saying enough to make me want to change what we’re doing?” Each time the answer is a resounding, “NO!” It doesn’t always take away the hurt of being judged and misunderstood, but it definitely puts things in perspective for me.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  41. Regina says:

    If you did not hear it today….thank you for all that you do, and for sharing it with all of us! I am truly jealous, and wish I could grasp the simpler things in life. I learn a lot from reading your post! Especially, about taking the time to slow down and enjoy everything that has been given to me! So, Shannon, I thank you and please keep doing what you are doing:)
    Regina

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  42. Jill says:

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
    Seeing this many comments, it’s great. I will feel better until the next “Are you bored” comment comes my way, Or, get a life. So depressing!
    Well, I did it with my 4, homeschooled, sahm, and I’m seeing the fruits of my labor shining through. Now I’m doing it for my grandchild. Yes, sometimes it is a bit harder. But the look on his face when he does something wonderful, like potty’s in the toilet is worth it all.
    I do have a life, if I want a bon bon, I’ll make it myself with raw milk, if I want to watch tv, well, I don’t want to, I don’t have time to be bored.
    Happy Easter!

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  43. Nada says:

    This reminded me so much of the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. Very well written. I really enjoyed it. My husband and I have arranged for me to stay home during the day and work three part-time shifts in the evenings, while he works during the day. We are looking to provide the best for our daughter.

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  44. Hi :)

    I am new to your blog—and I loved this post!! Thanks for the happy words and encouragement!

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  45. A beautiful post, Shannon. Thank you for this loving and encouraging perspective!

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  46. Lisa says:

    Shannon:

    (Long time reader, first time responder.) I, too, could not be more different than you (work outside the home full time, no kids by choice), but I admire your lifestyle. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of work you do in one day. Regardless of our differences, I have loved reading your blog for a couple/few years now.

    Barb: FYI — Celiac Disease is not comparable to (Type II) Diabetes as far as it being brought on by lifestyle. It is a disease that people are born with, although it doesn’t always present early in life. Please don’t lump the two together.

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  47. Thank you for this thoughtful post.
    I was just explaining to my parents why I want to homeschool and could hear how weird it sounded to them that “I just want to be with my children more.” Or “I believe there’s a lot to learn right here on our urban homestead.”
    Again, thanks.

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  48. Renee says:

    Amen Amen and again Amen!

    What a great encouragement!!!! LOVE this post!

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  49. This encouraged me very much! We are preparing to have a homestead, as soon as the Lord provides it! You answered these questions:

    Is my desire to create a homestead God-given?

    …Where my husband can spend his days, retired from the hustle of the business world?

    …Where my beautiful girls can learn to be more self-sufficient and be protected from the “values” of this world? (Their value is greater than rubies!)

    …Where we can enjoy a simple life, working the land and appreciate a sit on the porch in the evening, enjoying all that God has given us?

    Lord willing, we will be there soon…

    [Reply]

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