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Continuous Faith

Updated: 1 day ago

In some ways this feels overdue, but in most ways, this feels like it’s exactly when the Lord wanted me to write this. For many weeks now I have thought that I needed to get an update written, but the timing hasn’t been quite right. I was originally planning to just hop on camera with Ralph to share, but that is much harder for me to do in my present life circumstances.

I currently have three extra people staying in our 997sq ft house for the next nearly three weeks. I cannot possibly film and produce a video to share our update in a loud and cluttered house. Therefore, my words on a page will have to suffice.



Writing has been the one thing that I have been able to do without much interference. I can write in the car, on my bed, at the park, or in the middle of the night. Currently, I am sitting on my pillow in my pajamas with only a night light.

I can hear heavy breathing outside the door because the boys are sleeping just outside of it. We gave Gramemaw their bedroom to sleep in so there are five of us in one room. The boys would do this every day if they could.



I was able to creep out of bed at 5:00am this morning using the light from my phone in order to avoid stepping on any children. For the last six weeks, I have been awakened between 4:30 and 6:30. This is not like me. And no, it’s not because of hormones.

This is the Lord’s doing. I knew it was Him waking me up the first week it started, but I didn’t know how long it would last for. I still don’t.

It’s been nice to read the word and pray without wondering if one of my boys will interrupt at any moment. For a few weeks I was using my remaining time to catch up on computer work. Now that our office is being slept in by my sister, I’ve resorted to writing this update in my bathroom. I can’t work in my living room either because my niece is on the couch sleeping. I am thankful for my laptop.


(How about a toilet for your background?)

As we shared in our Faith Journey Series, fourteen months ago, Ralph left his 9-5 job and came home. It’s hard to believe it has been that long already!! We get asked often how it’s going. Trying to give a short answer is tough because there are so many layers to this. We have shared through email with those that are subscribed to the blog and touched on it in our Christmas post in December (click here to read "Abundance in Simplicity This Christmas"), but have not taken the time to write in detail up until this point


For anyone that knows Ralph and I, or has been following along, we make it clear that we aren’t the ones ultimately making the decisions around here. We let God lead. It’s done imperfectly of course, but we are very intentional with asking Him to speak to us and direct us in whatever way He chooses.


This is MUCH easier said than done. The enemy is crafty. The distractions are real.


With that being said, I will backtrack for a few paragraphs to help jog some memories for those that have been faithfully following along with us. Also, this will bring up to speed those that have no idea what’s been happening. Then I will share over the course of the next few weeks how it's been going and what we have been learning through it. The name, “Faith Journey Series” has continued to be a very fitting one.

 

We invested in two online schools/communities in the summer of 2022 after attending LifeSurge in Orlando (click here to read "LifeSurge"). One was for stock trading called Tradeway (click here to read "Tradeway") and the other for online business called Flipped Lifestyle (click here to read "Flipped Lifestyle"). We viewed Tradeway as something that had the potential to eventually replace Ralph’s current income and bring him home to his family.

When we invested in those, we saw the trading thing for Ralph and the online business thing for the both of us. We decided that Ralph would learn trading first so that we could have some steady income while we slowly learned about the online business stuff. I would be behind most of the online business though since I had the knowledge in web design and photography.

At the end of February 2023, Ralph came home earlier than we expected, but it was clear to us that again, this was the Lord’s doing (click here to read "A Time to Be Free"). We had a reserve in savings that we would use to pay our bills until we could generate an income. Now Ralph could concentrate better without feeling mentally and physically exhausted while going through Tradeway’s material. As he describes in one of his posts, it was a flood of information.

At the same time, we were settling into our new home that we had only been in for a month when Ralph came home. Since it is only 997sqft, we had a ton of organizing to do. It took a good six months to get it functioning in a manner that was conducive to having five people living in it. For me, that was a priority because it is hard to function well in a home with stuff everywhere.



It’s been about fifteen months since we started to move into the house. We love it here. It is EXACTLY what we needed for this time.

We also have had it in the back of our minds since we bought this house to rent it out when we are out of town. We repainted the vanity in one of the bathrooms already and now I am in the middle of painting the kitchen cabinetry the same black color (hence the photo with the old paint already off the lower ones). My goal is to have it ready for this summer’s trip to Buffalo for my twenty year school reunion (that just aged me).



My little brother, Tyler and his Catahoula puppy Milo were staying with us for a few months while he was transitioning between housing and work. The boys absolutely loved it and I was happy to receive Tyler’s amazing hugs and back cracking every day. It was good confirmation, too that our family was not ready for a dog...if ever.


Though I will confess that Milo is my favorite dog, three boys are more than enough to wrangle!



It is also hard to believe that we have been in Florida for two years. We still love it! There is more to do than time. Our favorite thing to do is explore all of the parks, hiking trails, and preserves in the Central Florida area. We often hike twice a week thanks to the Wild and Free groups we are a part of. Settling in this state was quick for us which we are grateful for. In fact, I have two writings about this that I haven’t posted yet (shocker)



In addition to learning how to stock trade, Ralph has been selling stuff on Ebay and Facebook Marketplace. We had more stuff in our home than we could fit. We were taking trips to the goodwill to get rid of what we couldn’t sell online.

It may sound absolutely crazy to some, but Ralph has been selling some items for $1.00. As a result, he has been getting good, steady reviews making him a more credible and sought out seller. He has 100% on all his feedback. We don’t know what exactly God is doing with this side gig, but it has helped bring in some money even if it feels like pennies at times compared to what we need to pay our bills.



By the middle of July of 2023 and five months into Ralph learning how to stock trade, I asked him if maybe I could start learning how to do the online business stuff. He had finished going through all of the material for Tradeway and was trading regularly in the mornings, but it was still not enough money to cover our bills. We thought he could help with the kids in the afternoon and I could have a few hours to start learning this online business.

Prior to that, we were trying to work on it together periodically, but it was slow going. As parents of three young homeschooled boys, we can only do so much.

Part of what we paid for with Flipped Lifestyle was 24 private coaching sessions. What we didn’t realize was that we had to use those up within a year. We had a month left by the time I was able to direct my attention and energy into it.

While in one of those sessions, the coach suggested that we ask for an extension. Immediately, I put in a request for it and it was graciously given to us. We now had about four months to get our coaching calls in without wasting our money.

I then dove headfirst as best as I could into the online program and community called Flipped Lifestyle. I loved it! I enjoyed the people that were also a part of it, the mission behind it, and the couple that started it.



Though I loved doing all of it, the challenge of balancing what the kids needed was still there. Despite Ralph being home to help more, I was finding myself still struggling to accomplish things in what I viewed as a “timely fashion.” The boys came in the room often and I did my best not to scold them while Ralph tried helping to keep them busy.

I couldn’t tune them out if someone came in with an ant bite or wanted to show me something they made. Motherhood has always been my top priority. On top of that, I always knew that I struggled with focusing when other people were around, but now I was really seeing it and it frustrated me. I started to use Liam’s noise cancelling headphones which helped some.

We had until December to wrap up our coaching calls before they expired and I really didn’t want to waste those. We were both plugging away all while trying to help our boys acclimate to our new lifestyle of everyone being home together practically all the time. It wasn’t easy, but I was so grateful to still have Ralph home and loved having him around more.

In the middle of all of this, during the Fall, Ralph and I attended an eight week class through our church called Soul Care. Also, Ralph had the opportunity to get away by himself for three days with a bunch of men from our church. Both led us to face some challenging things in our past that had not been addressed for years. God was doing an amazing work which I am not going to touch on now, but hope to at another point.


We spent so much time discussing, planning, and trying to figure out what our first online business could be. For a short time, I started building something relating to my photography business. It makes sense, right? I have eighteen years of experience that I can teach in that field, but it didn’t sit right with me.

I needed to do something that had more impact on the world. What happened between Soul Care and Ralph’s time away confirmed that for me. I had a few directions that I could go in still though and didn’t know what to focus on first.

I also wanted Ralph to be a part of the business for a few reasons. One being that I like to be with him because he’s my best friend. The second reason being that I love his perspective on things. Just like in life, Ralph would be a good balance for me.

Between the coaching calls that we were in and the courses that we were taking, we decided to try the idea of creating an online community where we emphasize simple living with purpose. I loved people, we were living that way, and saw the many benefits of it. Seeing so much chaos in our world, we believed it had the ability to impact lives. 



My goal was to get this online business launched before our last private coaching call. Often those calls went until 1:30AM because our amazing coach, Steven Foust lived on the west coast. He was impressed by our dedication, loved working with us, and gave us his personal number with the words, “I don’t give this out to just anybody” if we wanted to reach out more after our coaching sessions ended.

I worked every moment I could on this. We even flew in our old babysitter from Tennessee so that we could record a bunch of podcast episodes without disruption. I learned a brand new program and built a new website in two weeks. We were committed to making this happen.



We were successful in launching it when we planned. We finished all of our coaching calls before they expired. We received great and encouraging feedback from our coach. Some others that saw what we were doing loved the idea and content.

We just had one little problem. We needed people to buy, but we didn’t really have much of a following. We knew this going into it, but we struggled to build an audience at the same time. Trying to do both was just too much to manage for me on top of my regular responsibilities.

The success of any online business comes from volume. That’s why you see hundreds of thousands of followers on an influencer's page. They built that up through a series of very systematic steps in order to sell something or become sponsored by companies. I see the methods every time I go online now.

I knew that I had to market more and get more content out there, but I hated it. I diligently tried producing content, falling short. It was still too much to manage with the boys around. Ralph offered to help with some of it because, unlike myself, he didn’t mind it.

I had so much tension in my body as I was trying to figure out how to sell this and as I was sending emails out about it. It’s not like I hadn’t sold something before. I was asking for much more money for my photography work than this.

Through Flipped Lifestyle I learned that the first online business you start almost never pans out. I had that in the back of my head the whole time as I was building this, but like they say in the community, you have to start somewhere. I worked through every necessary step to build and launch this with my whole heart, but after we launched, it suddenly didn’t feel like it was it anymore.

I decided to keep moving forward to see if it was just anxiety or my emotions clouding my judgement. We had a handful of people interested in the online community and some that said they would join, but there was something that still didn’t feel right with it. Something was holding me back from bringing people into the community. I was beginning to think that God wanted me to push the pause button.


(Click here to be notified when the next part is posted!)



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