“You’re Still At Home?"
- Friday, July 06, 2012
"You're still at home? So . . . what do you do with your time?”
I’m sure I’m not the only homeschool graduate who has ever gotten this question. It usually follows the question “Where are you going to college?” and then the startling revelation that, actually, I’m not going anywhere. Sometimes it is asked in a friendly, curious way; other times, I suspect the questioner thinks I’m not quite “with it” because I’m not following the cultural norm. Most of the time, it just seems to be a new concept which simply needs to be explained.
I am twenty-one years old and still at home with my parents and nine younger siblings. I could go into detail on some of the reasons why I’m not going to college, such as the biblical principle of always being under the protection of a father or a husband, or the fact that so far, I have found nothing in a college that can better prepare me to be a wife and mother than the training ground I have here at home. However, that is not the point I’m trying to make here. I am not intending in any way to preach at anyone who feels that she should get a college degree, and I certainly don’t want to appear critical of anyone who holds a different view in this area. I am simply writing to any young lady who is living at home, regardless of the reason why.
You may be at home because you are not yet old enough to go to college. Or perhaps you already have your college diploma, or you are still studying to get it through distance learning courses. Maybe you are in the same situation I am, and you believe that the woman’s primary role is to be a godly helpmeet to her husband and mother of children, and that before she is married, she is to be her father’s helper, mother’s assistant, and siblings’ friend. Whatever your reason for being at home may be, the Lord has given you this time, and I want to encourage you to make the most of it.
So, what can a young lady do with her time at home? Obviously our highest goal should be to know our Lord. As I Corinthians 7:34 says, “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” We should be using this time to delve into the Word and really learn the character of God, developing a close relationship with Him while we have this time during which we are not carrying the responsibility of managing a household.
Secondly, we should be developing solid, lasting relationships with our family members. So many times we get caught in the trap of thinking that we need “best friends” outside of our family, because our family is just . . . well, they’re just too close. We tend to want friends who only see our good sides and who tell us the things we want to hear. Our families, on the other hand, know us too well, and they aren’t afraid to tell us when we’re wrong. And of course, human nature doesn’t usually appreciate that kind of honesty.
But have we ever considered that God placed us in our families for a reason? He didn’t put us in the same family as our best friend from church. He put us with the exact people He wanted us to be best friends with. I believe that the family is God’s built-in program for sanctification, fellowship, and accountability, and in all reality, if we can’t get along with the people that He has given to us, it wouldn’t be any different if He had placed us with someone else: we would end up having the same complaints with them!
For me, it was revolutionary when I realized that God had already given me my best friends, and it was my job to cultivate those friendships. Because of my parents’ faithful teaching and training, my siblings and I really are best friends! Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have friends outside of our family—on the contrary, we have some very dear friends who don’t live anywhere near us. Neither does that mean that we always get along with each other; we are still imperfect humans, frequently falling short of the standard God has set for us, and we have to daily confess and repent of sin toward each other. But we do have very close friendships. My sisters and I can talk heart-to-heart on just about anything, and that is a blessing that I don’t take for granted!
Although these relationships should be our first priorities, sometimes it’s still hard to know what to do with our time on a practical, day-to-day level. If you are like me, the possibilities may seem a bit overwhelming. There is so much to do! These years are filled with potential, and we have to be constantly seeking the Lord’s will, seeking to use our days the way that He would have us to in order to bring Him glory.
I graduated from high school in 2008, and though I’ve never lacked things to do, I do struggle from time to time with knowing what my daily priorities should be. The following ideas that I’m listing are just that: ideas. Everyone’s life is different; each person has a unique set of gifts, challenges, and opportunities that the Lord has given to be used for His glory. I am just mentioning some of the things I do in hopes that they may be an encouragement to you to be busy in this wonderful season of life!
Help Your Parents
For a girl who has always lived at home, helping your mom may be easy. Of course, pulling your share of the workload in the house is important. But what are some other ways you can make her life easier? One thing I enjoy doing is helping with the grocery shopping. I love food, and I love a good bargain, so I try to watch the grocery store ads, looking for the best deals on the foods we normally buy. I also clip coupons. I print them off the Internet, and we get the Sunday newspapers with coupons in them, so if we pay attention, we can save a good bit on things that we normally buy anyway. This helps my mom because, as the homeschooling mother of ten children ages two to twenty-one, she doesn’t have time to be browsing the Internet and newspaper looking for more ways to save money.
And what about your dad? This might be more challenging for some girls. In my family, although my dad isn’t self-employed and doesn’t run his own business, he is blessed with a job which allows him to involve his family in many different aspects. Because of this, I am privileged to be able to help him with secretarial duties, inventory tracking, website updates, and advertising. I usually go to the office with him once a week to have more concentrated “office time,” but a lot of those things can also be managed from my desk at home.
Just pay attention to what your parents do, and try to think of ways that you can make life easier for them. We have a dear friend who is in her twenties and still at home, and most of her time is entirely devoted to her family. Several years ago, she took over basically all of the sewing for her mom, while she works with her dad on the interior-design aspect of his job as a realtor. Maybe you could offer to take over the laundry for your mom or volunteer to pack your dad’s lunches when he goes to work. Perhaps you can babysit your younger siblings while your parents go on a date.
Ask your parents about it if you struggle to find ideas in this area. Whatever you can do to assist them and make their lives easier will not only fill your time in a profitable way, but will also be a blessing to them.
Participate in Family Ministry and Projects
The Lord has allowed our family to have a music ministry on the side (we do not travel vocationally), so we designate an hour every morning to group music practice. Along with any ministry come other jobs and opportunities for the stay-at-home daughter. For example, last year we were privileged to record a CD, and in getting that ready for press, my sisters and I spent hours proofing the recording, getting song permissions, and working on the graphic design. That relieved our dad of some of the things that he would normally have had to do, and it also filled our time productively and for the family’s benefit.
Our family also enjoys gardening together, which almost guarantees that the months of June through September will be busy with putting up produce, even if we do nothing else all summer! This not only builds family unity and a team spirit of each one working for the others, it is also beneficial because it helps cut the grocery bill!
Start a Home Business
This can be a fun one! I’ve always been a businesswoman of sorts. Ever since I was little, I was always trying to sell things, such as pretty rocks, “jewelry” I made of copper wire, or knickknacks I didn’t want anymore. And to this day, that interest hasn’t changed much, although my money-making methods have become slightly more sophisticated!
When I was fourteen, my parents allowed me to start selling cookies door-to-door to different businesses in town. I continued that for about a year and half, until life made it rather impractical to continue. Now, one day a week, I teach private piano lessons. My sisters have also caught on to this idea. My oldest sister, Jessica (19), has been making jar candles for a couple years now, and my sister Kathryn (17) makes and sells hair bows. They both also teach violin lessons, and Jessi has a couple of piano students as well.
You can make a business out of many different hobbies. Do you like to sew? Maybe you could teach sewing lessons. Do you enjoy crocheting or knitting? Find a product that you can make and sell profitably. I once made a poncho for myself which several other people saw and liked: before the winter was out, I made and sold at least two or three others by request, and I wasn’t even trying to get business! Maybe you find your niche in writing. Have you ever considered writing freelance for paying publications? The possibilities are almost endless!
Never Stop Learning
Keep learning new things, even if you aren’t in school! I think some people hold the idea that if you don’t go to college, you are burying all your potential for success and will never know anything beyond what you learned in your grade-school years. This does not have to be the case! I know many girls who are not in college but are some of the most intelligent and ambitious young ladies I know of. We know several girls who are studying professional labor support and midwifery from home. Another friend of ours is only a year older than I am, but she has already published two books and is working on two or three more. These girls are still at home under their parents’ guidance and protection, but they are not by any means sitting around and twiddling their thumbs just waiting for Prince Charming to come along. Personally, though I’m not going to college, I am still continuing education in areas that I am very interested in: history, music, grassroots politics, and medicinal herbalism.
Make Free Time Productive
If you are like me, you most likely have very little free time! However, I have a mental list of things that I enjoy doing, which I make use of whenever I do have a few spare minutes. Some activities I greatly enjoy are reading, playing piano, writing articles and blog posts, managing our family website/blog, writing and arranging music, and corresponding with friends and family. Having a very busy schedule as the norm can be a blessing in more ways than one, and it tends to build our appreciation for the downtime!
As I stated earlier, these are just some practical ideas for how to spend our unmarried years. I definitely do not have all the answers, and I pray that none of this has come across as prideful—I am still very much in the learning and growing process, and that is evident every day! I only hope and pray that some of you may be encouraged and inspired to press on in whatever phase of life you are in, and to use these precious years that God has given us in a fruitful and lasting way that will bring glory to Him!
Amanda Neely is the eldest daughter of Patrick and Darlene. She loves her life, finding joy, contentment, and purpose in living at home under her father’s protection, seeking to glorify the Lord by serving her family, pursuing practical skills, and preparing to be the helpmeet for her future husband. www.theneelyteam.com
Publication date: July 6, 2012
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