Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Homemaker's Resume

I'll be honest. If I were going to compile my homemaking "credentials" into a resume, I wouldn't want to give someone the impression that my life's work is defined by the following:

-Excellent toilet-scrubber. Is especially accomplished in the finer points of outer-toilet detailing.

-Experienced in doggy-maintenance. Has handled upwards of 300 "doggy-breach-of-hygiene-code" critical cases.

-Almost twenty years' experience in sock-folding. For the past fifteen years, has consistently maintained a 97.5% rate of accuracy in sock-matching.

-Three years' experience in maintaining husband's distinguished tie collection
[Here's where I slyly omit that he only owns about two ties...wink, wink;o)]

-Has managed Christmas letter creation and distribution for three years. Recipients have generally reported "extremely high satisfaction" with the festive report's combination of news, humor and an appropriate level of self-deprecation.

-Has mastered such cost-cutting skills as:
1. Cutting one's own hair
[This is an art, let me assure you! Mirror-placement and backward-arm-bendage are especially complicated.]
2. Spotting the store-brand green beans in less than three seconds.
3. Saving dryer lint to maximize throw-pillow plumpness
[I could do this. I don't...but there's no need to mention that!]

No...I may be prideful, but I'd like to think that my existence on earth will account for more than the above accomplishments, impressive though they may be. I happen to believe that homemaking is a calling higher than any repetitive manual task. Successful homemaking requires creativity well beyond reusing dryer lint, far more intellectual power than necessary for sock-matching, and a wealth of skills beyond scrubbing toilets. It is one of the most diverse positions available.

Sure, homemaking entails repetitive manual tasks. So does just about every other job on earth. I don't generally mind these tasks, as it gives my brain a "resting period" to think or pray or simply listen to the radio while my hands are busy. Not to mention that it's nice to have the exercise. I remember the feeling of sitting plastered to an office chair for nearly eight hours straight. I used to relish my trips to the bathroom, providing for just the barest amount of physical activity!

But homemaking entails much more than keeping the house clean. I am discovering new growth opportunities within the field of homemaking every day. In fact, were I to work 24/7, I don't think I could expand my horizons far enough to exhaust all the possibilities! The days just fly too fast to allow for more than merely scratching the surface.

As a woman, a wife, a [future, Lord willing] mother and a worker, I would like to look back at the end of my life and see these accomplishments on my resume:

-Loved her Lord and spent time getting to know His Infinite heart. Allowed Him to transform her character to be more like His.

-Loved and honored her husband. Never made him doubt his place in her heart, second only to God. Always sought little and big ways to demonstrate her love for him.

-Nurtured her children, prayed for them, and placed them in her Father's loving hands.

-Made her home--Not a showcase for expensive, impersonal relics--but a place pulsing with life, love, and industry. A place of welcoming hospitality. A place where, when night arrived, she rested peacefully with that comforting sense of having her loved ones gathered in nearby.

-Read A LOT. Was always learning and developing her mind.

-Wrote things that helped and encouraged people.

-Assisted and engaged in her husband's industry and calling. Found creative ways to make him (and by default, them) more successful. Helped, wherever possible, and by whatever skills she possessed, to earn and manage their family's income.

-Pursued and developed the following skills and interests (including but not limited to):
Cooking fabulous and nutritious meals for family and friends
Frugality, so that excess money could be put to good use
Financial investment
The art of encouragement
Creative teaching of children
Writing skills
Cultivating beauty in the little aspects of life
Musical talent as a pianist
Photography and scrapbooking
Refurbishing old homes and old furniture
Sewing, especially beautiful skirts and things for the home such as pillows and curtains
Historical interest
Opportunities to travel
Service to others

-Served others in her family and community, as their needs arose, and learned to do it with a loving and gentle spirit.

-Learned to be faithful and trusting in God through the trials that arose, and to be resilient.

Looking at this "future resume" is overwhelming. I have SO far to go. I hope I will get to spend my whole life attempting to rise to this challenge, because I know that's how long it will take! Thank God that HE will be there to help me. I could never do this without Him.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Still here!

I've been spending most of my free computer time the past couple of days working on creating / adapting forms for and compiling my Homekeeping Journal (aka Home Management Binder). I've decided that, for me, more detailed schedules and record keeping will be beneficial. I'm just the type of person who operates more efficiently within a well-detailed framework! So I'm upping the "structure factor". The only thing is, I HAVE to remember to view my to-do list as many baby steps, and not allow myself to get overwhelmed by worrying about completing the entire list. Schedules and routines and to-do lists are wonderful if they are used as tools or guides, but I only get discouraged if I view them as the be-all / end-all taskmaster of my existence:op

It's happened already a few times this week. I started worrying about all the things I felt I needed to do, and then told Micah that I was feeling overwhelmed. Wonderful husband that he is, he helped me isolate my highest priorities, and I focused on those. What relief I felt at the end of the day, when I realized that all the most important tasks had been completed in good time!

OK, so here's a question for you organized and structured types: How do you schedule your Quiet/Devotional times into the day without making it feel like just another "task" to cross off the list? I've found that if I don't "plan" for a quiet time, it rarely happens. And yet, I'm not sure how to still my mind and rest in the moment when I'm on a schedule and have many other things to "get to". I'm really wanting to find that balance between structure and efficiency, and taking moments for restful thought, prayer, enjoying life, and spontaneity. I'd love to know what has worked for some of you!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day-in-my-life #1

Becky recently suggested that I do some "Day-in-the-life" posts, sharing how I schedule my days and manage my time. I think that sounds fun! But more than that, I believe it will provide me with some motivation and accountability as I work at becoming more disciplined and organized with my time. If I know I'm going to have to post my day for everybody to see, it might help me to stay on track! So here's the first installment...

I don't have a minute-by-minute or even hour-by-hour schedule. I've tried that and found it very hard to stick with. Micah's work schedule is variable, so mine is too:o) Instead, I am trying to follow a general outline of regular duties that need to be accomplished.

I'm also trying to take a moment every day to write out a to-do list of all of those ever-changing little details that need to be attended to. I try to prioritize these details as I fit them into the bigger picture of my day. It's nice to be able to check things off and see my accomplishments!

Here's my outline (As a general rule, I try to do #1 and #2 first thing in that order. #3 and #4 are always flip-flopping around:op) :

1. Wake up, shower and dress for the day. Since I've been working from home, I've tried to make a point of continuing to dress nicely everyday (makeup, hair, the whole thing...though I usually don't bother with June Cleaver's pearls and high heels;o), even if I'm not going to leave the house. Yes...I'm sure I would save some time if I didn't worry so much about it. But I don't want to let myself slack in this area! My husband deserves my efforts to look nice for him. And I feel more fresh, more energetic, and more focused when I've outwardly prepared for the day.

2. Tidy house. This includes making the bed, straightening each room, and making sure that the kitchen (especially dishes and counters) is clean.

3. Business duties. This takes a variable amount of time each day, and the duties are often different. My prioritized "to-do" list comes in here.

4. Homemaking tasks. Same as with "Business duties"...different things everyday. There may be errands to run, cooking or baking to do, laundry, a room or closet to organize, or in-depth cleaning projects. I figure out what needs to be done each day as I make my to-do list. Currently, I'm not following a weekly schedule, such as: Mon-grocery shopping, Tues-clean the bathroom, etc...although I may eventually try to adopt a more regularized approach. We'll see. First things first! here was today:

9am- I woke up, dressed, and talked with Micah for a bit (That sounds horribly lazy...I know! But we did go to bed about 2am last night. Like I've mentioned before, our schedule is flexible, so we tend towards being night-owls as is our nature:op )

At about 10am, we ran out to the hardware store to buy some paint for the dressers I'm working on refurbishing. I pushed off #2 on my general outline, so that I could start painting before the heat of the day caught up with me. We got home, Micah left to go do some jobs away from home (his work responsibilities involve outside jobs, as well as working at home to prepare and file reports), and I painted. I finished about 12:30pm.

Micah was home for lunch, so I made us some salads with a side of baked brie and crackers.

After lunch, I did some of the tidying (#2) that I had neglected earlier. Then I sat down at the table and made some "business" calls, wrote some emails, and did a few business tasks. I also found myself blog-surfing a bit, but I tried not to get carried away:op

Late afternoon, I took a shower to wash off the dried paint on my skin. Then I responded to a letter from a friend (snail-mail! Yes...I have a friend which I actually hand-write letters to on a regular basis. We've always done it that way and just never stopped!)

I prepared a dinner of leftovers, and Micah and I ate together. About 8am, we took our evening walk together.

For the rest of the evening, Micah's been working on the computer, so I've been on the computer myself doing some reading and blogging. I also took a break to talk to a friend on the phone. But now that it's 12:45 am, I'm going to sign off and start thinking about going to bed. Maybe tomorrow can be an earlier start?:o)

Notes to self: This evening, I neglected cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. That will mean waking up to a messy kitchen in the morning...not fun! I need to really work on cleaning the kitchen immediately after we finish eating (For some reason...dinner seems to be the hardest for me!).

If anybody else wants to take the Day-in-the-life challenge, I would love to read about how you manage your time! I'm sure I have a lot to learn from more experienced homemakers. Please comment and let me know if you post on this subject!

Stretching those dollars

The Dollar Stretcher: Another website with TONS of articles dedicated to frugality and helping the one-income family. I haven't had time to sift through all of these yet, but many of them look quite interesting! They discuss everything from home businesses, to stay-at-home-moms, to stay-at-home-wives without children, to single moms wanting to be home with the kids.

And if you want advice or inspiration (like I do!) on how to be a better manager of your resources, check out Dollar Stretcher's topical index. This site is a wealth of information!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Miserly Moms (and SAHWs, too)

Even women without children can find encouragement at the Miserly Moms website on learrning to live on one income! Check out the Successful Coming Home Stories--women's experiences in leaving the workplace to work at home for their families. Also, the Work-At-Home Stories are interesting. Since I'm currently working on being better organized and disciplined, I am especially motivated by what this woman shares (long, but good, so I just posted the whole thing!):

Work-At-Home Story #6
Occupation Homemaker
Many SAHM (stay-at-home-moms) fall into a rut and feel bored, lonely, and/or insignificant. Sometimes the fear of these things even keeps women from staying at home in the first place. Often, the secular world paints a picture of a mom at home as very quaint; not glamorous like a city job, or rewarding like a passionate career, or entertaining like a hustle-bustle working lifestyle; only simplistic and cute. It doesn’t usually sound very attractive to young women. If it isn’t these things that deter a family from having mom at home then it’s the lie that they can’t afford life on one income alone.
I personally experienced some confusion when I first got married and began my life at home. I had the house organized and just as clean as any other house and yet I still felt bored a lot of the time and was somewhat discontented. It didn’t make sense to me. I had been an excellent student and an exemplary worker. Yet, here at home, I was continuously bored which led to feeling lonely. I kept wondering why I felt that way.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough to do. I had two children with one on the way, I was beginning to teach my 4 year old, I helped my husband run his carpentry business from home, I sang on the worship team, taught Children’s church, cooked and cleaned, etc. So I had plenty to do.
It also wasn’t that I was just unhappy at home, because I wasn’t. I was thrilled to be able to be at home with my kids when so many others I knew felt that they had to work to support their families. I was grateful for the time and opportunity to homeschool my kids and really be a helper to my husband.
One day, my mother finally pointed out to me that when I had been in school I was very regimented with my time. I kept an organized calendar/journal in which I planned and pre-planned the timing of assignments and events and all they entailed. Then, each day I would see what was in store and complete everything efficiently and often beforehand. When I worked, I had a clear and concise position and had the mind-set of being good at my job. I always completed tasks in a timely fashion and with a cheerful demeanor.
It was then that I realized that my attitude towards being at home wasn’t right. I was being too relaxed. I was treating my time at home everyday like I had previously done on the weekends when in school or at work. I decided to treat my life at home with the kids as my new career; with the kids as my subordinates and my husband as my boss.
I immediately got planning. I got out a new calendar/journal and allotted time for everything I sought to accomplish each day, week, month, etc. I scheduled everything: Housework, errands, cooking, schooling the children, special projects, paperwork, shopping.... I even put reminders to give the kids their baths and change the bed sheets and the fish’s water. I PLANNED EVERYTHING!
Now every morning I wake up with an agenda. I have the drive of being able to cross off the things on my list each day. That helps me conquer the feelings of unimportance because I can see on paper that I am getting so much done.
I don’t get terribly stringent on WHEN things get accomplished in the day. I know that life with small children doesn’t necessarily fit into strict time slots. And the purpose of the schedule was not to stress me out or rush us all day. It is a guideline to keep me on track.
I have discovered that I actually have a lot of time to do almost anything I want. Being at home with the kids is no longer the reason I can’t do the things I desire to do, (read my Bible, pray, exercise, write, etc.) rather, it’s what enables me to do them. I had completely eliminated the dull gaps in my day where I would just sit and think about how I had “nothing to do”.
This was such a refreshing change that I decided to carry the concept over to other areas of my life. For example: I have a calendar on the wall on which I write out all the suppers that I’m going to fix. I spend one afternoon going through my recipe books and cook books and I plan all the suppers out ahead of time. This way I know in advance that on the nights we go to church we’ll have something quick and easy to fix, and on the nights we have company we’ll have a larger meal, and on Sundays we’ll have a meal in the crock pot so it’s ready when we get home, etc. As I write out the meals I also begin to make my weekly grocery lists (while I have the recipes handy). That way I’m sure to have all the ingredients handy for each meal. Then, before I go shopping, all I have to do is add the items I need for breakfast and lunch throughout the week and whatever baking necessities I’ve run out of. I even coordinate them with my grocer’s weekly flyers so that I can save us the most money. (For one of several references regarding this topic, please see Matt. 25:21.)
Doing it this way may sound like an awful lot of work but it actually saves a lot of time and frustration. I never have to fret over what to fix for supper and I know we’re eating healthy and cost-effectively. Besides, I really enjoy the planning part. I like to go through my cookbooks and try new things.
I have found that having this well-organized approach to things helps me do my job with ease and efficiency making it easier to be content and cheerful. It also helps me get the kids involved. They work with me each day. In the morning, when they ask what we’re going to do that day all I have to do is check the book and say “Well, it’s dusting day and then we’ll vacuum and clean the basement”, or something to that effect. We know what we need to do so we’re able to do it with gladness. And we always make sure to leave plenty of time for romping, reading, catching frogs, and feeding bugs to the chickens, etc (all things three small boys love to do).
So that’s my secret of being a SAHM. I take my “job” seriously. With all my time and effort I take care of my home. My “boss” (husband) knows that his best worker (me) is capable and motivated to do the best job each day. Now, when I fill out forms that ask for occupation I always smile as I proudly pen my title: Homemaker – for references please see Titus 2:1-5.
By: Amanda

Friday, July 14, 2006

Frugal and Versatile: Roast Chicken

I've now successfully roasted three chickens, so I feel I can safely recommend this recipe to you!

Here's the great thing about roasting whole chickens:

1. Whole fryer chickens are comparatively cheap! I buy them for between 0.70- 0.90/lb. Now granted...about half of the weight is bone. But it still comes out to be a lot cheaper than your ordinary package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if you don't mind having some dark meat (I like the dark!).

2. My chickens have been coming out SO tender! Leaving the skin on the chicken while it cooks slowly at a medium temperature keeps it very moist.

3. The following recipe has proven to be very versatile. Last night we had roast chicken with mashed potatoes and was SO good! In the past, I've made sandwiches out of the leftovers and also frozen part of the chicken to use later in recipes like quesadillas and eggrolls. It would also be great in soup, casserole, or just about any recipe calling for cooked chicken! If your roasting pan fits two chickens at once as mine does, it works great to make extra for later use.

4. Preparation time is very minimal. The oven does most of the work:o)

Roast Chicken

(Recipe originally found on; has been slightly adapted)

1 whole chicken
1 stalk celery (optional...I don't always use this)
1 sweet apple, cored
2-4 cloves garlic (I use 3-4)
Olive oil
(Amts. of spice used will vary to your own taste.)

1. Prepare, wash and dry chicken. (I try to buy chickens with the neck and giblets already removed.)

2. Pour olive oil onto one hand and coat the chicken.

3. Rub freshly-cracked pepper, rosemary and sage onto the chicken. Season with salt.

4. Place in roaster.

5. Cut celery into half-inch chunks and apples into eighths.

6. Slice garlic into slivers (or mince)

7. Combine the celery, apple and garlic with more rosemary and sage. Place half of the mixture into chicken cavity. Place other half around chicken in roaster.

8. Roast in oven at 325-350 degrees (Note: I've been roasting at 350, but I just read that 325 is the ideal temperature!), basting every half hour or so. Depending on the size of the chicken, roasting time will be 1 1/2 - 3 hours. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 180 degrees. My chickens usually roast for almost three hours, because my husband likes them falling-apart done!

9. Remove meat from bones and enjoy!!!

I'm honored!

Becky nominated me for a Blogs of Beauty Awards category...frugality! Oh I'll really have to work harder at living up to that nomination! ;o) Well, even though I wasn't a finalist, it was exciting to be nominated. (I truly mean that, because I wasn't expecting a nomination at all!) Thanks, Becky!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Our computer's here!

That means more writing time for Erin! (Hopefully! :o)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A year ago today...

...I posted my first entry on this blog:o)

I hope you don't mind if I celebrate my "blogiversary" by recounting what God has done in Micah's and my life together in the past year. He has been so good to us...despite us!

A year ago, Micah and I were just beginning to come out of a very difficult period in our lives. Several months before, we had moved away from our friends, church and apartment in Dallas because Micah couldn't find a job that paid enough there, we were deeply in debt (mostly school moral of this story is: do NOT finance your education with loans!), and we weren't really making it financially. We had no specific prospects for work here, either, but my parents offered to let us stay with them while we searched and tried to get settled. I absolutely love my parents! But when what was supposed to be a matter of weeks turned into six, seven, eight months...I was beginning to despair.

We felt like such failures. Friends and aquaintances of ours were graduating from college and smoothly transitioning straight into great jobs, buying homes, doing well financially, and then there was us: we were living with my parents, Micah was working at a hardware store while he searched for a "real job", and I was working odd jobs to try to help out. I was also feeling depressed. All I wanted was to not to have to worry about money anymore, and to make a home for my husband and me. Yet I felt obligated to find some job I didn't want to do to help get us out of this mess we were in. I felt very sorry for myself. I kept thinking: I've always been the "responsible one", the one who did well in school, the one who succeeded at most of what I tried to do. So why me? Why am I in this situation? Why do Micah and I have to be the losers that everyone else pities and looks down upon?

In April of last year, God sent us a connection for a better job for Micah: a friend and neighbor of my parent's told us that his company was looking for more people. Micah has always been interested in construction and real estate, and this job was in that field. The pay potential was greater than Micah had expected to find! The downside, however, was that Micah would be working as a private contractor for the company, and it would take a while to accumulate the needed certifications and training to have a regular work-load. As a contractor, Micah would not be paid a salary, but only for the work he accomplished. We knew it would be difficult to make it through the training/certification period. But, we also felt that this job would be a big step in the right direction. Micah went on his interview, while I waited nervously in the car. In my pity-party mood, I fully expected to be disappointed, so I almost couldn't believe it when Micah came out and told me that he had the job!

Fast-forward to one year ago: now that Micah had his new job, we were seriously looking for an apartment or a home to rent and trying to get back on our feet. I was substituting at a preschool/daycare, and looking for a full-time position. But I was feeling very discouraged. My heart was at home, and I REALLY wanted to work at and from home. I had already done the whole office-job thing many times over. It's difficult to go to job interviews and act enthusiastic about a position you don't really want! I tried, but I'm not sure how successful I was;o) My heart just wasn't there, and I just didn't care for having a career away from my home and little family.

I had recently discovered the "Homemaker's blogosphere" ;o) It was a refreshing escape from my reality. These women had the lives I wanted, and I suppose I enjoyed living vicariously. When I began reading blogs, I never intended to start my own! But I soon began wanting a connection to this world of home-centered women. I needed an outlet where I could write (a sort of compulsion with me!) about the things I truly cared about. So my life wasn't perfect. I had to get a job in an office and spend my days doing work I didn't truly care about. But my blog would reflect what I did care about. Maybe someday my life could come to reflect that as well.

So I got my little office job. I didn't really think I had any other choice! With Micah and I both working our new jobs, we were able to sign a lease on a rental home. Though it wasn't funny at the time, it kind-of is now: we had our home for almost a month before we could afford to turn on the electricity, gas and water and actually move in! But finally, we did!

Life went on. Micah worked on his certifications and training, and I sat in my office and in the car (for my 2-3 hr. commutes every day!) and dreamed about working at home. Blogging and reading others' blogs continued to be a source of inspiration and motivation for me. Though on some discouraging days, reading about other women loving their jobs at home just made me feel worse about my situation, more often it planted seeds of hope that maybe I could get there too.

In December, we lost our little puppy. Though I could never compare it to losing a human child, it was still one of the hardest losses I have ever had. Since we had no human children, she was our baby. We had her since the very first months of our marriage. Through all the rough times in her two years with us, she was a faithful and cheerful little companion. She could always make us laugh with her antics:o)

Also in December, we made the decision for me to quit my job. We had been talking about and trying to plan toward this for a couple of months, but to be honest, we were still not exactly sure if it would really work out! If a financially-minded person looked at our budget and at Micah's job situation, they would have probably told us not to do it. But we both felt that if we were going to make the leap for me to be at home, there would never be a "perfect" time. We just had to do it and trust that God would work out the details.

Well, I'm not sure how much I actually trusted! In fact, I'm fairly certain that there was a large amount of doubt and anxiety on my part! But God truly DID work out the details. He is faithful, even when I am faithless. For the first couple of months, I LOVED BEING HOME (!), but we still didn't know how or if things would work out. Somehow, we squeaked by through the early part of this year without missing rent or getting our utilities cut off. We didn't go hungry. Though some people thought we were being crazy and irresponsible, we forged ahead with our crazy and irresponsible scheme to have a home business:o)

Now it's July. Our business is still in the start-up stage, but through God's grace it's already way more productive than I ever expected! At this point, we're better off financially than when I was working full-time away from home. Oh...and we have a new little puppy friend:o) Life isn't won't ever be outside of Heaven. We still have all that crazy debt to pay off. Something could happen tomorrow, causing another another crisis, financial or otherwise, for us to fight through. I don't know. But I do know that God has poured His blessings out on us, even through difficult times, throughout the past year and throughout our lives. He is in control. All He asks is that Micah and I let Him be our Guide forward. I can't wait to see what I'll have to reflect back on a year from today!

My first post, a year ago, was a poem. I think I'll post another poem can be a yearly tradition!:o) This is one our pastor read in church on Sunday. It was written by William Cowper in 1774:

God Moves in a Mysterious Way
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Work, blogging, togetherness, etc.

I find that it's usually better for me to write in the evening, rather than during the day. Evenings are better suited to relaxing and reflective activities such as reading and writing, whereas when I try to do those things during my daytime hours, other important "active" tasks can be easily neglected.

Lately, I have been trying to focus on my homemaking and home business jobs during the day when Micah is away for his job, and postponing blogging and other writing. But since my husband needs to spend a lot of his evening time on the computer (work/business-related), and the rest of the evening we spend together, my access has been limited.

Not for long!:o) This weekend, our business was able to pay cash for a second computer, which should arrive in the next couple of days! Now Micah and I will be able to work "together" on our business, or be together when we are both doing computer-y things! I am so excited! We both use a computer for so much of what we do (Micah's job, our business, my writing, etc.), and have always had to take turns working alone. Now we will be able to work "together", even when we're each focusing on separate projects. I think that's what I'm most happy about. I like being close to my hubby and spending time with him, even when we've got work to do:o)

P.S. Oh...and no, we don't work ALL the time! We just have a weird, flexible, often-late schedule. Many times we do most of our work during the late mornings/afternoons/part-of-the-evenings. We also stay up way too late most nights. I keep thinking that we should get on an earlier schedule (it just seems like "the thing to do"), but we're both naturally night-owls and it's SO HARD!!! *sheepish grin* :op

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Our Business

Several people wanted to know more about our business. Let's just say, it's not in it's final form yet, and we're excited to see where it will eventually end up! But we're thrilled with the fact that it's becoming productive for us!

When I quit my away-from-home job at the end of last year, we didn't know how God would provide the money to start the home business we dreamed of having. We had no start-up capital at all, and are committed to not taking on any more debt. So we started "scheming", and decided to try to find some bargains to sell on Ebay for start-up money. After a few weeks of garage-sale hunting and trying to sell our finds, we realized that this was a very hit-and-miss endeavor. We sold some items for quite a profit, but our good fortune was essentially canceled out by all the not-so-great deals we ended up with. Plus, we were spending a lot of time to find just a few items to sell. I think some people have been successful selling used collectibles and things, but Micah and I don't know nearly enough about which items will be losers and which will be winners. You have to have an eye for it, I guess!

I was discouraged, and wanted to give up on Ebay, but Micah decided that we should try selling new items rather than used. I was rather skeptical, to say the least! But my smart hubby obtained a business tax ID for us and did his market research to find some good products and product distributors we could work with. (The companies he found provide direct-shipping to our customers, so that we don't have to keep very much inventory. So we were able to start with almost no money--we purchase most items as customers order them--and build our capital through our sales.)

I wish I could tell you which companies we are working with, but Micah took great care to find some market areas that weren't overly saturated. He did a fantastic job selecting our distributors! They have been wonderful about shipping out items quickly, and have given us excellent customer service. In return, we receive positive customer feedback:o)

There are a lot of "scammy" type drop-shipping companies out there selling junk from overseas, but then there are reputable distributors of quality goods who just "happen" to offer drop-shipping as one of their services. These are the ones to look for!

We are still in the process of deciding what to do with the capital we are earning. Right now, as much as possible, we are trying not to draw out our profits. We plan to re-invest as much of it as we can to hone and grow our business. We want to take it slow and steady. No debt at all! Eventually, we hope to start a website and all of that good stuff, and try to focus on one niche market. We would like to be able to stock our own inventory and arrange for our own shipping, so that we can be in control of those aspects of customer service. We'll see what God has in store.

Right now, I'm just SO happy to be making money from home! I find so much CONTENTMENT here, which the office never afforded. And I'm thankful for Micah, who worked hard to set up this income-producing project for us. Maybe, someday, we will actually be able to get out of debt completely! It seems like a far-off dream, but so did making money from home just six months ago! God is certainly good to us.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I've been tagged... Rachel!

5 Things in my Refrigerator:
1. Sweet and sour sauce, left over from trying Mrs. R's Eggroll recipe (Good, btw!)
2. Half a watermelon
3. A dozen eggs to make Deviled Eggs tomorrow
4. A whole chicken to roast
5. Apricot preserves that I use in my Baked Brie recipe

5 Things in my Closet:
1. My wedding dress
2. About 4 suitcases
3. 2 cases of bottled water (It's a hurricane season thing:op )
4. A box of inventory for our business
5. A Hawaiian lei

5 Things in my Purse:
1. A receipt from our first official business purchase today! Two 2-drawer filing cabinets! (Maybe that sounds boring to you, but I am super-excited to have them and finally organize the piles of papers lying around my house!
2. "Extra" spearmint chewing gum
3. Cherry ChapStick - I'm addicted to it and literally cannot be without it.
4. Junk
5. More junk. Purse needs cleaning!

5 Things in my Car:
1. A bag of clothes in the trunk that have needed to be taken to the thrift store for the past month!
2. Pine needles stuck in the carpet in the trunk since last Christmas (Yes, I have tried brushing and vacuuming!)
3. An umbrella
4. There is still random litter in the car from a week and a half ago when we took a weekend road-trip with our friends to stay in a relative's cabin :op Car desperately needs cleaning too.
5. A shocking lack of technology! (Yes, somehow I survive without a built-in cd player or even a car-charger for my cell phone;o)

5 People I am tagging:
Absolutely whoever wants to do this! (Let us know if you do!)