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Learning More Than Earning (Part Two)

Updated: Jun 12

I have told Ralph for most of our years together that he is an excellent teacher. He has an incredible ability to patiently and effectively explain things. The same goes for teaching me how to stock trade.

(One of the first times I sat with Ralph as he was stock trading.)

Learning how to stock trade felt like it was coming out of left field for me. I am a producer. I love to create, not crunch numbers. I soon learned that it was MUCH more than that. I also thought this would be a good skill for me to learn should Ralph die while the kids were still at home. I would still want them homeschooled and would be solely financially responsible for them.

I found stock trading fascinating. It was fun, exhilarating, and nerve wrecking all at the same time. I was seeing things on the charts that Ralph had not noticed. There are so many approaches to stock trading and so much information to analyze at once. It’s impossible for Ralph or any one person to see all of it.

Just like how I have operated in my photography business, I started creating spreadsheets to figure out patterns in how we were trading. I was tracking everything we were doing even though the program we used could do some of that for us. Though Ralph didn’t need it, it helped me to better grasp what I was learning.

For Ralph, in a sense, it was like starting all over again. He had to pause do a lot of explaining. I needed to start small and experiment. We were managing trades with a $1.75 profit as if it were $1,000. We were understanding the behaviors of stocks better because we were in more of them and watching them closely.

Trading small and more often was something Ralph hadn’t really done. He shared with me that he had been driven more by the need to pay our bills. I don’t fault him for that. As the man of the house, he is driven to provide well for his family. I will never be able to fully understand that, as it's how God wired a man, and not a woman.

Ralph shared with me that he wasn’t patient enough at times while watching the market. He had a tremendous amount of anxiety when he was losing money and would sometimes stop a trade even though it was within the parameters that he was being taught through Tradeway.

Shortly after Ralph started teaching me how to stock trade in the mornings, God began pressing on me the book I had secretly started to write in the Fall. I wondered if maybe it was time to start taking it more seriously. I was really feeling the push to get our story out into the world as, I dare to say, it’s a powerful one.

In order to make some real progress on it though, I knew that I needed to leave the house and be alone. I would need Ralph to handle the boys and their schoolwork. I brought up the idea to Ralph. He agreed knowing how much I felt that God wanted me to get this book written.

This is where Ralph’s spiritual gift of “helps” comes into play. What I was trying to do was Kingdom work and his gifting is in helping in any way to see something that God is in, come to fruition. Ralph agreed to fill in the gaps that would be left empty when I wasn’t home.

I began leaving a few days a week for a few hours in the afternoon. I found a quiet spot at a park only a few minutes from home with minimal distractions. It was exactly what I needed. I was extremely grateful!!

While I was gone writing, Ralph was doing schoolwork with the boys. Afterwards, they would play together. After a week of doing this, I could feel the hope rising inside of me. Maybe I was actually going to be able to finish this thing! Still, it wouldn’t be any time soon before it would be done, much less generate any income.

Just like when I started in November of 2023, I didn’t say much to anyone because I didn’t know how long this would last. Writing this book was challenging. I knew exactly what I was supposed to write about, but the content was painful. Without giving away too much detail, it is centered around love, brokenness, forgiveness, healing, and restoration.

We continued in our new routine for a few weeks. Three to four days a week, we stock traded together in the mornings and sometimes late afternoons. I would write those same afternoons while Ralph did school work and played with the boys. On the other one to two days, we would go on our Wild and Free hikes with our friends. The evenings were spent reading aloud together as a family and we were going to sleep at a decent hour for the first time in years. That’s when God started waking me up between 4:00am and 6:00am.

One night, God woke up Ralph and told him to sell his smoking pipes. That week, he put all of them up for auction on Ebay. Every single one of them sold within two weeks for a total of $500. It was the most we had made in weeks!

While still waiting to hear from someone at the church about the job, Ralph went to men’s breakfast and updated Jeremy about what we were up to. Jeremy responded with, “my only reservation about you getting this job is that it will interfere with what you and Courtney are doing.” Ralph agreed, but told him that we were still OK with it if he got the job.

We wondered if this job would lift some of the stress Ralph had. He thought that maybe he would be able to approach stock trading differently knowing there was more money coming in. Time would tell.

Shortly after, we received the news that God shut the door on the job opportunity at our church. We were at peace. We still had about five more weeks before May 1, which was the deadline we had agreed on. We felt the push to just keep plugging away at what we were doing.

Even though we weren’t making much, we were liking our new routine. We were beginning to think that God might be trying to keep us in it: Stock trade, write the book, and work on slowly, and organically growing Simply Campbell. It's a routine that I didn’t expect. Isn’t that so like God?

I was simply delighted to see us working through stock trading just like how we did in life. We would pray before the market opened. We respectfully discussed and argued. We set goals, waited, and stayed united.

We would have instances where we executed a trade well, made some money, and would be encouraged. Then we would have other trades where we figured out that we entered too late or the stock would change directions, and we would lose. It was quite the learning process for both of us.

For a couple months we were just trying to earn more than we lost, protect our profits, and minimize our losses. Being profitable in the stock market is not an overnight thing. It’s more like a three to five year thing. Not every day is a good day to trade either.

Ralph shared with me that someone with a lot of experience in stock trading within the Tradeway community said that you have to become numb to both winning and losing. Becoming numb to losing $300 and winning $200 is easier said than done. It takes a lot of patience.

Ralph is only in year two and I’m just starting to grasp the main concepts that Ralph learned through Tradeway. These are solid, wise methods that they have curated. We constantly refer to what the coaches teach or recommend in the program before making trades.

It has not been easy for Ralph to try to make money for his family at something so new. Add teaching me at the same time. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for his patience with me and the time he has taken, and still takes, to answer my questions while we are looking at charts. Because he trusted me and believed that I was intelligent enough to grasp the concepts, he took another leap of faith in teaching me a completely new skill.

Sometimes Ralph says to me while we are trading, “why didn’t you do this instead?” Apparently I picked up on it quickly, but that’s because he was such a great teacher. :) I always remind Ralph in those moments that neither one of us can do this well, alone. We make a great team. The banker needs the merchant and the merchant needs the banker, remember?

(Photo credit belongs to Liam, our eleven year old)

Ralph does not find stock trading fun. I could see very early on when I was sitting with him that it caused him great anxiety. This is because he has a banker mindset. He doesn’t like probabilities. He likes absolutes and there are none in stock trading.

It has been almost four months since I started sitting with Ralph to learn this fascinating skill to make what traders like to call, the "easiest hardest money you'll ever make." As I have been understanding how it works and as Ralph works through it, I can see a great improvement in his anxiety. I bought him a fidget monster to tinker with while we are in the middle of trades instead of picking at his poor beard.

Sometimes I have to push Ralph out of his comfort zone and it’s no different when we trade together. I force him to argue with me as to why a trade is a good one or why we shouldn't get into it. I have been able to help him enter more trades instead of just overanalyze them. He told me recently that he has been in more trades in the last four months than he was in the first year while he was trading alone.

It was in the middle of all of this that my mom, sister, and niece came during the month of April to stay with us in our 997sqft house for 19 days. Imagine having little to no money coming in while your family is staying with you. You are trying to balance spending time with them, teaching/learning how to stock trade, write a book, and homeschool your kids, all while praying in front of them for God’s provisions because there is barely any money coming in.

Sound crazy? Definitely, but I love my family and I don’t worry like most people. I have the gift of faith, remember? ;)

It was during this visit in April that I wrote most of this update on my bathroom floor at 4:30am while the seven people in our home were fast asleep. I don’t want to get too far ahead of this moment in time because something I said was timely. This is what I wrote:

“Doing well enough in stock trading, to be able to live off of it, is still yet to be seen. We never believed it was to be our only stream of income, but we had definitely hoped it would be providing more than it is now. In the end, God can provide in any way He sees fit. It’s in his timing and ultimately in his hands.

The same goes for any person with a 9-5 job outside of the house. No job is secure. Anything can happen to change how a person can generate an income.”

(Connor, our four year old snuggling with me on the floor in the bathroom shortly after waking up.)

The deadline of May 1, 2024 has come and gone. We were still not to the point where our earnings could pay our mortgage, but our financial situation did improve some. Now four months into it, we are consistently earning more money than losing in our trades. We are not at the break even point that we were at when Ralph was doing it alone last year. I consider that to be great progress.

For twenty years Ralph and I have HATED saying goodbye to each other. It took working separately all of these years to see that we work better together. We had no idea that our synergy could be for more than just marital compatibility. There is something special that happens when Ralph and I are together. The more we do together, the more I am confident in that.

(Photo credit goes to Liam, our eleven year old.)

We have called the last fifteen months our time of learning, not earning. We are continuing to sell just about everything that’s not being used, ridding our home and minds of so much clutter. I told Ralph we can sell the couch if need be. It’s just stuff. Liam, our oldest, said that we could sell his bed and that he would be more than happy to sleep on our bedroom floor every night. Ha!

We are seeing more and more how so much of our money was spent on worthless things. We have coined the phrase, “the more stuff you have, the more that stuff manages you.” It is a first world issue to have to take so much time to manage stuff. We have been adamant about ridding our lives of as much of the stuff that consumes our time having to clean, store, or maintain. Our time is far too valuable and precious.

(Photo courtesy of Connor, our four year old of Liam on our bedroom floor.)

I keep saying to people that we have chosen this. We are not looking for anyone’s sympathy nor do we want it. We are trying to change the trajectory of our families life. It’s not a fast or easy process (and baffling for many).

We have had food stamps suggested to us by some well meaning friends. After discussing it, we concluded that as much as food stamps would help ease our financial situation, in the end, we are still choosing this lifestyle. We are not incapable of going out and finding some other kind of work. We do not believe our situation has grounds for food stamps.

I wish I could say in this writing that we’ve arrived. I’d love to say that we’re making enough money to pay for our mortgage and no longer relying on our savings account. Like I have written on this blog and to people who have been through hard times, God often waits to step in until it looks like all hope has been lost, so no one else gets the glory.

On one hand I am in full faith expecting that. On another, I believe we both still have more to learn first. Ralph, more often than me, questions whether we are doing the right thing. In such a loud world and with so much going on, it’s hard to discern that. It is a skill that we have been trying to learn.

In April, I signed Ralph and I up for a four week class at our church called, “Prophetic Training” to try and help with that. The titled scared me, but not enough to prevent me from wanting to understand more of what that meant. My curiosity was also peaked because Jeremy, the campus pastor told me many months ago that he thought that I had the gift of prophecy.

(Taken during the class. I snuck the first photo of Ralph with one of his buddies, Kristopher. Second photo is with our friend, Abby, who I refer to in this writing)

Before I lose some people (trust me, I get it), I will write out what I learned the first week. Prophecy is defined as:

  1. God’s act of communicating His heart to His people.

  2. The ministry of sharing impressions initiated by the Holy Spirit that call people up into their true identity in Christ.

  3. The gift of sharing an encouraging word from God.

  4. The timely message from God to a believer that results in their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort.

This class has been great confirmation for me with how I already live. It has built my confidence in what I have believed was His voice, His words, His direction all throughout my life. I just didn’t have a name for it until now.

If we are being honest, we have been reluctant to share with people what’s been going on, especially some of our close family and friends. We know that we are making many people nervous. Ralph said while reading this, "I even make myself nervous!"

We are thankful for our missionary friends, the Hancock family, who live only a few minutes away from us. I have learned through our own journey that they have been in very similar financial situations as us. Praise God for his faithfulness in bringing them into our lives two years ago for such a time as this. They often nod their heads as they listen in full understanding of what we are going through. (Melissa also needs to write a book.)

We have gone through so much change in the last two years. I told my friend Laura recently that for 15 years, I didn’t even have to think about it. I was a certified professional photographer and Ralph was a correctional officer.

God has rattled our cages and awakened us to a point where we can’t ignore His voice and promptings. I am confident that one of His clear directions to me has been to complete this book. This is no small undertaking.

I don’t want to rush the writing process, but I can’t be casual about it either. The supernatural push to get it done is real. I felt the exact same way about two years before we ever knew we would be moving to Florida. I remember telling Ralph that I couldn’t explain why, but I felt this push to keep working regularly on the house we were living in. Because of the diligent work we put into it, God blessed us beyond what we could’ve imagined when we sold it.

(Just a few of the MANY projects we did at "The Rusty House," as we have been calling it since we first bought it seven years ago.)

A couple of months ago, I was asking our friends privately for their prayers in my next steps with how to publish this book. God hadn’t made anything clear in that area yet. As I have been getting closer to completing it, the next steps are slowly coming into focus.

Our prayer requests have shifted a little to the costs of publishing. How much it will be and how will God provide? That’s another unknown. Ralph and I have also been praying for months for God to start preparing people’s hearts to want to read it. We are asking for your prayers now, too!

There are so many voices in this world. Many of them are loud and dangerous to the human soul, though they appear otherwise. I don’t love being another voice out there, but I can’t stay silent either when I see so much deception around me. My passion to encourage people to learn to hear from the only voice that matters, is greater than my desire to withdraw.

Back in April, while working my way through 1 and 2 Corinthians, the verse “We live by faith, not by sight” jumped off of the page and into my heart.  I forgot all about this verse despite what Ralph and I have been going through these last two years. I am amazed over and over again at how God works through all things.

It has felt at times that if Ralph and I make one wrong move, this whole way of life could go sour real fast. And yet, I have continued to have peace. Why? Because I know down to my core that God is sovereign.

We have prayed for this. Long before we ever knew we would be moving to Florida, we said over and over in our prayers together, “we want what you want, not what we want. Give us wisdom. Help us to see, raise, and love our boys as you would. Make your voice the loudest in our lives.”

Ralph and I don’t follow the mindset of “pursue your happiness.” It ultimately leaves you feeling empty. We don’t do the whole “follow your heart” either. It’s far too deceiving.

We follow Jesus and the tried and true Word of God. We listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us because we chose to surrender our lives to Jesus over twenty years ago. Though it’s not always easy, this way of life has proven to be steadfast, fulfilling, and satisfying.

(Photo credit belongs to Liam, our eleven year old)

When you are living by faith in extreme ways like this, you baffle people. Though our faith journey is not nearly as crazy looking as Noah’s, we are content to be in such good company. We have chosen to take God for His word. He has proven throughout history that He can part the seas, heal the sick, provide enough oil to feed families, feed thousands with two fish and five loaves of bread.

God has done countless miracles in our time, too. Will he choose to do anything with Ralph and I as he has done with others in the past? We can’t know unless we step out in faith, fully relying on His promises.

We have been learning that often times, God doesn’t give clear timelines. He says what He will do and gives instructions to us in the meantime. Our job is to obey and wait. Noah, David as king, the coming messiah, and the 11 disciples waiting on the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended back into Heaven are some examples that I can think of off the top of my head.

We’ve been waiting on the return of Jesus and have more and more signs of that promise being fulfilled sooner rather than later. We want to be living for Him in full surrender to His will till He returns. And if He doesn’t in our lifetime, we want to still be living for Him until our dying breath.

We have good days and bad days just like everyone else on the planet. We know that trials will always come. We also know that we have chosen to be in this trial in order to bring forth refinement in our lives for the glory of God.

Our family is learning gratitude and finding joy in simple pleasures. Our unity is beautiful. We are all closer today than we were fourteen months ago. The boys have a much better understanding of money. Out of everything, our family time in God's Word is our most cherished and protected.

I say to our boys all the time that God is a God of order. Though we strived to have it for many years, there were so many interferences that made it much more challenging. No, we have not arrived in this department, but it has vastly improved.

Together, we ask and thank God for His daily provisions, including our $1.75 earning in the stock market or $1.00 book sale from Ebay. In the midst of all of this, our mortgage and health insurance went up by hundreds of dollars. We're working on selling one of our vehicles to save money on maintenance and insurance costs.

We continue to cut corners where we can by doing less driving and eating differently. We have become very creative with how we cook. We never ate out much to begin with, but none the less, that has just about completely stopped.

Home is our favorite place to be.

Though we still aren’t making nearly enough to cover our monthly expenses, we have agreed to still give from what we have earned. It’s yet another step of faith. As our friend, Abby, Jeremy’s wife said recently, “giving is the only thing in scripture that God says to test him on.”

We are doing our very best to heed the wisdom of those God has used to speak into our lives. We are really trying to lean into what God is telling us to do as a family. We are constantly having to ignore the temptations that come from the enemy that says, “you can’t do this.” My response to Satan is this: Guess it’s a good thing we aren’t relying on ourselves.

Philippians 4:13- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Thank you for sharing your vulnerable journey, even the messy process of life in the "middle" where most people close their mouths and never express their thoughts, doubts, and GREAT FAITH. You do have a faith gift, and I pray that God continues to provide in so many little ways. HE ALWAYS DOES. You are a ROCK SOLID family and an example of humility and patience. Keep going, dear brother and sister, for HIS plans are always better.

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