I don't mention much my choice to live at home with my family here on the blog. For one, it's self-evident, and for another, it doesn't have much to do with the topic at hand, of books. But when books and stay-at-home-daughters combine, I don't mind sharing a little of my experiences since graduating in December of 2011.
I chose not to go to college for reasons both of where my interests lay, and where my convictions were. My interests didn't fit into a college degree, and I could get farther through independent study. But that wasn't the main reason. My main reason was that our family knew living under my parent's protection and authority was the way God designed it from Scripture, and I wanted to follow that biblical mandate.
Not everyone can. We'll start with the disclaimer that you can love Jesus just as much and go to college. I realize that I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity of living at home and pursuing individual interests that not every girl is able to take advantage of, and if you aren't, then God bless you. But on the other hand, I think sometimes we stay-at-home daughters try to be so sensitive and apologetic for the people not like us, that we can fall into the trap of being a bit wishy-washy about our choice and our convictions. We love and embrace and support people who don't follow the same life-path we do. But that doesn't mean we have to downplay or belittle our own choice. It's ok to make it lovingly clear that by our choice we are trying to support the biblical family unit, and we believe that woman has one role from Scripture, for her whole life, not the role of a man if she can't get married and the role of a woman if she is so fortunate as to get a husband.
I have good friends across the spectrum that are passionate about the Lord and his Kingdom. But today, I would love to share with you a little bit about the choice that I've made, and a book that explains some of the ins and outs of what staying-at-home really looks like.
And the best book I can recommend to explain some of the concepts and ideas behind this life is Jasmine Baucham's Joyfully at Home. A young woman whose chief desire was to win a Pulitzer Prize and be a filmmaker as good as Peter Jackson, Jasmine had a remarkable heart-change, and when she graduated highschool, chose to live at home, serving her family, instead of going off on her own.
In her book, she writes with a wealth of encouragement and counsel to young women who are considering the same path.
Jasmine's not indoctrinating young women, and time and again she refuses to give checklist answers, instead telling us that each family is going to have a different culture and different convictions. She gives the basic biblical groundwork, but beyond that she expects her readers to seek out the Lord's will and His Word for themselves.
In writing this book, she also reaches out lovingly to those who don't have the same mindset, explaining what we mean when we stay at home. Even if they don't agree, she just explains that they too have valuable lives in God's sight. In the midst of leaving room for individual choices and giving grace to different viewpoints, she doesn't compromise. And if a principle is clearly stated in God's Word she stands on it, and encourages her readers to stand on it as well.
The purpose of this book is to encourage young women considering the homeward route to become, not stereotypes, but ballistic missiles for the purpose of blessing family and community. In reality, it's anything but sitting around at home. It's serving, and growing, travelling and ministering, learning and enterprising. Seeking to use our talents and abilities to bless those we come in contact with.
And that's a mighty calling.
The first time I read this book in 2010, it was a godsend.Though I knew what I was doing after highschool, I didn't know how to put it into words, and this book helped me not only to define what being joyfully at home really meant, but it also helped me gain some confidence in answering questions from people who disagreed with my choice.
After I have two years under my belt of post-highschool life, I read it again recently from a slightly different perspective. I have some experience now of what this choice is really like, and I smile a bit when I think of how I really had no idea what it would be like. It was bigger than I ever dreamed of. And if I were to counsel anyone making this choice, it would be to put on their armor for battle. It's going to take all the strength you have, and then some. It's going to take all the grace you can give others, and more that you don't have. It's going to take the greatest self-discipline you can muster, and the biggest amount of God-love that you can squeeze out of your heart, and the most tenacious perseverance and humble re-calibrating time and time again.
In other words, this choice is too big to make lightly. But if you open yourself up to this God-size dream, then you're opening yourself up to see some God-size working, and the adventure never stops.
I've gotten to make friends on different continents; in the first year between my blog and novelling I wrote the length of two normal-sized books, and I wrote just as much the second year. I travelled west and south and took on independent contracts, did election working and went to booksales, made all kinds of sourdough experiments, and took on a couple of meals a week for the family.
I made mistakes, and hurt and laughed and loved and lived. I learned what it was like to choose between sleep and work, and spoke at my state's homeschool convention, and blogged twice a week for over two years, and lead 37 girl's Bible studies. I've counseled people and written emails and met new friends and grown closer to old ones.
And probably a bunch of other things that I can't even remember.
The point of all this is not to make a list of all my accomplishments and be the next Jane Fairfax. But just to give a little taste of what joyfully at home can mean, and the amazing opportunities that it has. My life looks different than yours will. For one, my siblings are able to dress and feed themselves, and I don't have little people around. For another, we live in the city and we don't run a home business, so my time is a little different than yours might look like.
There are some things that are no different from staying at home than from going to work. I have to answer business emails and place orders just like everyone else. I can't sit around in my pajamas all day. I get up, get to work, take lunch break and get back to work just like other people. I'm a writer; and I do the same things that other writers do, even ones who have totally different perspectives and objectives than I do. I catch up on sleep on Sundays like regular college students. And we joke quite often in our house that with two of us graduated, it's almost like all going to college together, complete with late nights and crazy schedules. :) I have to build up a resume and reputation in my areas of interest just like anyone else.
Just because I'm at home doesn't mean my days are aimless ones. I work when I don't feel like it just like everyone else. I have to make conscious effort to stay connected with the family and not get lost in what I'm doing, and I'm far from perfect at that. But I have the freedom to drop what I'm doing when my mom is working on a project, or we're going out of town, or half the family's sick. I can use my driver's license to run personal errands. I organize my schedule and take on personal projects.
Freedom from cultural expectations comes at a cost. You lay awake nights wondering if you're doing it right. You cry out to the Lord again and again for wisdom, and fall down, and get up again. Sometimes you wonder if you're the only one in the universe who feels like they're walking blind. But one thing I can say; and that's that I've never looked back. It doesn't mean I never will, and it is only by God's grace that he has kept me faithful thus far. But I wouldn't trade this messy, scary existence for another one.
Freedom from cultural paradigms is a big thing to steward, ladies. But I think deep down each of us would give anything to be whole, mission-oriented, God-centered women who are safe with the family that he gave us. He didn't just give your family to you; he put you in that house for them too.
The difference between daughters who stay at home and those who don't is not always in activities. There are some things in life that are the same across the scale. The differences are in the choice of companions, the ultimate objective, and the vision for family.
I choose to live with my family instead of roommates or by myself. And I wouldn't trade discussions with my parents and Bible studies with my brother and ecstasies over story characters with my sister for anything.
My ultimate objective is to advance God's Kingdom, instead of just focusing on how to put food on the table and pay off college debt. I have the freedom--and I realize that it's an incredible freedom that not everyone can have--to pursue passions and talents God has given me without having to worry about living on my own and all the expenses and responsibilities that entails.
And in the end, my vision is not for independence, but how it all fits into the family unit. I don't get it right. I struggle with independence and relationships just like the next person. But I couldn't think of a safer place or a more fulfilling place to make mistakes and pursue dreams than in my home and with my family.
There are some copies of Joyfully at Home still out there; the publisher that distributed it is no longer in business, so I don't know if Jasmine plans to republish or not. But whether you can buy or borrow a copy, it will give you a funny and convicting look at what we folks really are trying to aim for when we choose to go against the culture.
And for all my joyfully at home friends out there, if you haven't read this in a while, consider picking it up, ok? It's a good reminder to keep dreaming, keep our focus on the Lord, and live joyfully in every task that He gives us to do.