I grew up in church. I’ve been ‘saved’ ever since I can remember. I have vague memories in early grade school of answering the “if you want to receive Jesus or just rededicate and make sure” call to come forward.
Church was a regular part of life that I took for granted, without thinking about it until everything changed in 6th grade.
Growing up in Kansas City we’d get anywhere from 0 to 4 or 5 good snows each winter and they weren’t often thick enough for sledding, so when we got a good snow it was a big deal. But I can’t really remember the sledding. All I remember is the last time we headed out to go sledding, and I never made it there.
I was sitting ‘shotgun’ in the front seat, my brother and neighborhood playmate were in the back seat. We stopped at one of two stop lights that were on the way to the park with the great sledding hill. As the light turned green my dad looked up and started to go and I looked over and saw that this lady in a van was running the red light and was going to hit us. I instinctively folded my arms over my chest and ducked my head, and boom, crash.
I woke up a second later in the car, pushed up against the far left side of the intersection. My door was smashed in, my dad was checking to see if I was ok. Apparently I seemed fine, but then I started to move and realized my shoulder hurt, bad.
I remember asking my dad what was taking so long and he said the ambulance was on its way, but was taking a bit because the first report that went out said no one was hurt.
It turned out all I broke was a collarbone. And while that was a painful injury with what felt for a 10 year old to be a painstakingly slow and annoying 8-12 week recovery, it was also a miracle.
I distinctly remember them telling me that if the van, which impacted the car near my feet, had been a foot closer to me that I could have been in a body cast.
I remember simultaneously not being able to truly process what that meant – body cast? what did that even mean? what did that look like? – and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that something had saved me and that I was here for a reason. I walked away from that accident with a sense of calling and destiny that I’ve never been able to escape.
But it took 20+ years to make sense of it. I set off on a personal quest for meaning in the only source I knew – the bible. I found a copy of Haley’s Bible handbook in our house, and I remember sitting in our sunroom in the summer between 6th and 7th grade, reading it, and then reading the Bible, and then reading the handbook again. I set out to read the Bible and understand it.
And not just the Gospels and Genesis. I read Numbers, and Leviticus, and the minor prophets, referring to the handbook when I didn’t understand something.
In 8th grade I visited a Nazarene church with a mission friend who was home on furlough and discovered Bible quizzing. So cool, I was hooked.
It was April and there were only two months and a few quiz meets left in the year. I went home and memorized as many as I could of the dedicated 100 memory verses that there would recitation questions about.
The following year I memorized all of them. And when I won the jump I knew the answers to the question 95% of the time. I started memorizing whole chapters. We went to regionals and nationals and won trophies. It was a lot of fun.
Senior year came and it was time to go to college. I almost went to MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas City, but my parents convinced me to visit Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, and I really felt the presence of God there, somehow I knew that was where I was supposed to be.
I absolutely loved my four years there, and I remember talking to the career guidance counselor freshman year about picking a major and telling him I wanted to teach and he said there were two tracks. I could get a degree in education and go that route or I could pick a topic and take it all the way to a doctorate and then teach it at the graduate level.
Getting My Degrees
I decided to go deep. Now I just need a topic. Some good friends of our family that I looked up to advised me to get a ‘tent making skill’. Many times over the years I’ve questioned my degrees and wished I would have listened to them. But at the time although I enjoyed everything I learned in school, church was my world. I felt drawn to whatever had the highest meaning about life in an ultimate sense. For me that was the Bible and I felt drawn to study it deeper.
I wanted to understand, to know, why I was here, why we here, what God was really telling us through the Bible.
So I picked New Testament as my major. I tried to minor in Youth Ministry or Psychology, but because of the classes ended up needing another option and ended up picking Old Testament. So I learned both Greek and Hebrew, and it was fascinating to learn to read the text and the terms in the original language, while also studying the accompanying culture.
Senior year I met my now-husband, and after graduation followed him home to Virginia Beach, Virginia to get my Masters degree at Regent University. They had the degree I was looking for, not the typical 60 hour MA or the practical ministry track, but the 72 hour Pre-Doctoral academic track. Yep, that’s for me, because I am so serious about this. I started my studies in Virginia in Jan 2006.
In 2007 we got engaged, Charles graduated and found a full time webmaster job at the School of Divinity where I was still a student, and we got married in the fall. I took the spring semester off and then resumed my studies, finishing in May of 2009.
In the fall and winter of 2008 I came to a fork in the road. I was preparing to graduate, which raised the question, what next? Was I getting my doctorate? Where? How?
That Christmas we had a really special time with extended family and I remember coming away from that holiday with an impression having been left on me. Something touched my heart, changing my priorities. I had only applied to a few, hard-to-get-into doctoral programs, and when the letters came back negative, it felt right.
I felt in my heart that it was time to start a family, and then see where we went from there. I graduated in May, started looking for a job to help pay back student loans, and found one building websites for a small real estate team. We started trying and I got pregnant in Aug. I worked in the office full time for 9 months and then after my son was born they let me switch to working part time, mostly from home.
One night that summer right before I found out I was pregnant, I woke up from the only dream I’ve ever had that impacted me this way. In my dream I had seen a boy and he and I had this special bond, and then I woke up and found myself crying from a real sense of loss. Because it felt so real and meaningful, when I woke I felt I had lost something I was meant to have. A week or two later I found out I was pregnant and then I was at peace because I knew God had shown me my son. I told my friends and family that I knew it was boy, and didn’t even think about names for the first kid because I knew my husband had always wanted to name his first son after himself, and his father. And I knew we were having a boy. That’s the only time in my whole life up to this point that I’ve ever had a dream like that. Usually I don’t even remember them at all.
During my years in college and grad school I always felt a bit restless, like I was searching for something I could never find. I got used to this feeling, it was a constant companion that never went away.
Until I got pregnant for the first time.
Being pregnant filled me with this incredible peace that I was where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I think the dream really contributed to me being able to be in that place during my first pregnancy.
That restless feeling went away for 8 years. I spent those years working from home and raising kids. We had another boy in 2011, and another in 2014 and then got surprised with a final fourth in 2016, while debating whether to have 3 or 4 kids. But he is meant to be here, I see now how he completes us. Looking back I also see so much providence in his coming in 2016, helping me to keep my priorities on family at a pivotal time.
When he turned 6 months old and started sleeping through the night, I began to get back to normal, getting enough sleep and feeling more myself – as happens at some point for us after each baby. But this time that restless feeling came back.
I couldn’t shake it.
What now? What’s my purpose? What is the meaning of everything? What are we doing here? Isn’t there something more?
At the same time the feeling was more one of purpose and hope and curiosity. I knew so much more than last time.
Me and my husband. Our four boys. Doing life together. Ok, what does that look like?
As my older boys had gotten into school, it became increasingly on my heart to research homeschooling and consider homeschooling our boys.
This would require leaving my job, and so I started reaching online business and other ways to work from home, with greater freedom and autonomy.
Early in my research, learning about homeschooling took an unexpected turn into personal growth and healing.
What I found in a few early books I read helped shed incredible light on me, and why I was the way I was. It helped me see how being schooled had formed a large part of my identity. This set me on a course to ‘unschool’ myself and made me more determined to find a way to homeschool my boys.
Starting a Blog
I’ve always been a big reader, but I had slowed down quite a bit during those early child raising years. But now I was searching again and I was hungry so I read book after book about psychology, business, personal development, nutrition.
I started a blog in the Spring of 2017 called Energy for Moms and I shared about the books I was reading. I was increasingly not only restless, but truly unhappy and just feeling, stuck. You can see in my blog archives from the summer of 2017 where I talked about trying to read my way out of starting to feel depressed. After my second son I had been in a bad place emotionally for awhile and I wanted to keep from going back to that state of mind.
So I searched, and I learned, and I worked, and made dinner and changed diapers, and searched, and read. I took courses and learned strategy. I read books and worked on my mindset, and my attitude, and my patience. I took a blogging course, and recorded a couple of videos during that time, saying where I was at and where I wanted to be. It’s evident in my writing that I had a faint but solid glimmer of hope and resigned determination to just keep going forward.
I learned a lot about the blogging and the online world, but I hit a few roadblocks. I stopped writing. I rebranded to Energy for Mompreneurs. This felt a bit silly because I was not an entrepreneur yet, but that was the world I felt drawn to and I wanted to learn everything I could about it and figure out how to belong in it. As 2018 turned into 2019 I was switching my focus from writing and blogging to figuring out how women made money now, without building a reader base first.
So I learned all about service-based solo entrepreneurs, I met a lot of other moms and saw what they based their businesses on. The biggest categories seemed to be virtual assistants, marketers, and coaches. I knew I had the potential to do any of those. I was encouraged by my options.
In all of my spare time from mid 2017 to mid 2018 I worked on ideas for my business. I talked to women online, did market research, learned how to diy my branding, looked at which of my skills were marketable, and made my first money from a small job for a friend.
The first half of 2018 was full of turmoil at work, and this combined with the culmination of my own journey brought me to a breaking point in August.
By late summer 2018 I had set up two desks in my office, with two computers. One was for my job, and one was for my business. I would work the hours for my job at that desk, and then look for time to sit at my business desk and work on figuring out a plan that would carry me to the future I was envisioning.
I remember two days in a row sitting at my computer desk for my job, and sitting there, making myself work and just sitting there crying through the process of getting simple tasks done.
That was when I knew it was time to make a change. My parents came in town for the weekend and at the end of their visit, on the way to the airport I finally told them where I was at, how I was feeling and what I wanted to do. My dad called the next day and offered to loan me some money as an extra emergency fund for my income. The next monday, Aug 27, I gave my company two weeks notice.
My last day was Sept 7, 2018. I had been there since Aug 3, 2009. Some of my friends thought I should just be grateful for a reliable job that paid well and let me work from home. But what had long been God’s provision and a perfect fit had become a toxic environment for me. And I see now that something in me had been awakened and I was being called forward into a new season.