My iced latte this afternoon is creamy and delicious. The hum of conversations, soft jazz, and the tapping of my laptop keys is a special kind of music to my ears. I’m at one of my favorite local coffee shops, where I’ve spent many happy hours of my life over the past 12 years blogging my heart out.
My plate has been so very full these past months. I’ve missed blogging. I’m working on making more time to write regularly, though. Our business coach told me this week that he thinks I should make time to get away and write so that I can stay more balanced and energized for my business.
If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be working with a business coach, I would have assumed it was for the online ministry projects I was dreaming up last spring, like my November 2020 Mom in Peace Online Workshop.
But our business coach is not helping me bring all my ministry ideas to life. He’s coaching Michael and I through the startup year of our 3D laser scanning and drone services company, Red Stick Visual Solutions.
I had no idea a year ago that I would have a beautiful corner desk of my own in a spacious home office Michael built after Christmas for us.
I had no idea a year ago that my homeschoolers would be happily installed in small charter school near our house.
Or that I’d have a 14-year-old minivan in my carport rather than our big 12-passenger van.
Or that I’d be working side-by-side with my husband in the secular business world.
Or that I’d be enjoying it.
My name is Erin, and I have a Covid Story
Every last soul on Earth has a Covid story.
For a while in 2020, I convinced myself I’d be the exception.
A year ago, my way of life as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom was largely untouched by everything going on in the world.
But then Mike’s hours started being cut at work. And my beloved twice-per-month house cleaning service was the first thing to go. Then the kids’ music and sports activities. But I could take one for the team. So could the kids, who I had to drag to their activities most of the time anyway. I had all this new time, after all. I just knew this pandemic stuff would blow over by the Fall, and Mike’s hours at work would return to normal.
It was all going to go back to normal soon.
Things didn’t blow over, as we all know. Industry projections worsened, Michael came to me in the early summer with the idea for a new side business doing 3D laser scanning and drone videography. The business would help make up for our tightening finances and would serve as a possible fallback option if he lost his job. He told me he was more worried than he had let on that the industry he worked in was going to continue forcing companies like the one where he worked to downsize. We discerned a Yes to his idea, and he started doing a few projects over the summer.
Fast forward to October. I had spent the summer dreaming up the Mom in Peace Online Workshop, and I was busy pulling everything together for the month-long workshop to go live November 1st.
Michael and I were simultaneously discerning by necessity whether we should take his side business full time. One thing we kept coming back to was that I had some significant and valuable skills to offer the company if we went full time. My education, professional background, and volunteer work in marketing and public relations–plus my experience with websites and social media because of having Humble Handmaid for all these years–would be invaluable to a new company.
– 1 –
I Met St. Joseph
October was also the time frame that St. Joseph came into our lives.
A friend gave me Fr. Don Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph as a thank-you gift after a Domestic Church marriage retreat we led in October, but I didn’t pick it up for a few weeks. When I did finally decide to start reading through the book, though, I was immediately blown away by my re-introduction to a saint I’d never thought much about.
I was struck by so many things about St. Joseph and the Holy Family of Nazareth that I’d simply never thought about before. For one, as Mike and I’s financial situation became tighter and tighter, the poverty and dignity of the Holy Family was often on my mind. I remember receiving the gift of tears one night while watching The Star with our kids. I’d been reading about the near-scandalous poverty of the Holy Family in Fr. Calloway’s book, and suddenly it hit me while watching the end of that movie when Mary has baby Jesus in the stable: the incomparable dignity, unwavering faith, and unimaginable poverty of Mary and Joseph at the Nativity.
May and Joseph trusted God so much, that even what would easily be a Worst Case Scenario to others–certainly to me!–did not make them lose their faith. Mary gave birth to one’s first child alone, with few supplies, in a foreign land, with no friends or family or birthing helpers….and outdoors in an animal pen. Joseph was only able to provide her that much. Then, they had to flee an evil government planning the unspeakable, and run away in the night to a foreign land where they didn’t speak the language and had made no living or work arrangements ahead of time.
But it was the Lord’s will. And it was enough.
I started sharing my thoughts and also pieces of what I read with Michael, and his interest in St. Joseph was peaked as well. We decided to do a novena to St. Joseph together in November specifically to make a decision about the business.
Boy did St. Joseph deliver.
– 2 –
I Started a Technology Services Company with My Husband
On the ninth day of the novena to St. Joseph, we found ourselves unexpectedly sitting across our long farmhouse kitchen table from a business coach who had just finished working very successfully with a close friend of ours.
Three days later, we found ourselves in possession of two second-class relics of St. Joseph and Our Lady.
Michael and I decided to take a leap of faith. We quit the little that was left of his job and went full-time with Red Stick Visual Solutions.
The plan was that I’d keep homeschooling but would start start working seriously with the business as co-owner, primarily handling anything having to do with marketing. Michael and I coordinated extra childcare so I could work. I hyper-scheduled my time Monday through Saturday to get in 15-20 hours of work per week.
To further economize, we made the decision to sell our big 12-passenger van and downsize back to an older minivan. (I am going to stop myself before I gush here about the miracles St. Joseph did for us in finding us our wonderful new van though. I still praise and thank God for it daily!)
For a couple of months, I kept up a grueling pace with starting up the business, homeschooling, and running the house (even with Michael home and helping more). I got a lot done, including re-branding the company and building a new website. I enjoyed working, too. I just want to be clear. It’s been exciting, fun, and satisfying to work again in this capacity.
But by February, I was crumbling under the stress of everything I had on my plate. More and more, I would have to call just one more homeschool day or two or week off so I could rest, get a deadline for the business done, or finally change bedsheets.
I started having a nagging question in my head and heart: What is God actually asking of me right now?
– 3 –
I Put My Kids in Public School
When I took that question to prayer and to conversations with Michael and my spiritual director, I realized that God was actually not asking me to do it all.
Michael and I discerned–again in unity–that our family needed me to serve in a different capacity for this new season. Our change of discernment on homeschooling was fast. Michael and I made the decision officially on a Sunday to start the next day with looking into enrolling the older three children immediately in our neighborhood’s public elementary school. (Our youngest two were already in a Mother’s Day Out program a few mornings a week.) Then, on Monday evening, we found out about a new, tiny charter school near our house through a random text from an old friend. We had a call with the admissions director of the school on Tuesday, toured as a family on Wednesday, and the kids started on Friday.
Just like the van…St. Joseph’s intercession was all over little miracles that made our path straight in this situation. This school was the perfect soft landing for my homeschoolers. They love their school. The teachers have been wonderful. Everything with their school has been smoother and easier than I even hoped for. I am grateful. I still pinch myself sometimes at how good God has been to me.
“Be not afraid”
You know, being a classically-homeschooling, big-van-driving, stay-at-home Catholic mom of many had become part of my identity. I admit it. I held that worldly identity perhaps a little too tightly.
I’ve always told people that we were taking it year to year with homeschooling, though. We have always said that we want to keep our children’s needs, my own needs, and God’s will in our educational and lifestyle decisions. But when it came down to the circumstances of the past year forcing us to discern something radically different from what I’ve been doing for the past six years, I realized how much fear I had to deal with. God gave me the grace to go there, though.
The Heart Work that God did on me in a short time during our discernment about school was profound.
You know, when God says “Be not afraid” in the Bible 365 times, He means it.
He doesn’t want us to live in fear. He loves us too much for that. He wants us to live in freedom from all fear of wildernesses and deserts in our lives.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:19
This verse has been written on the chalkboard in my foyer since last November. Truly, God continues to may a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert for my me and my family. I have a “Miracles & Provisions” list in my journal that is line after line of God making a way for us for months now.
He is so good and so faithful!
Thank you with all my heart for remembering my family in your prayers, and may the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind (and mine) in Christ Jesus!