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3 Ways to Make Post-Baby Career Decisions

Author Suzanne Hadley Gosselin shares a few basics couples should consider when making post-baby career plans.

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I never thought I’d have to plan post-baby career decisions. I hadn’t really been after a career in the first place. I assumed I’d get married during my twenties, have babies, and stay home with my children. So when I took a job as the assistant editor of a children’s magazine after college, I thought the position was temporary.

I stayed in that job for 10 years. I was promoted twice and developed a variety of skills in my field.

Nine years in, I met and married my now-husband, Kevin. He shared a desire for me to stay home with our children someday, so we kind of assumed there wouldn’t be much “planning” involved when that time came.

But six months into marriage, when we learned we were expecting, our situation didn’t seem quite as simple. I still wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom after the baby was born, but as a store manager at a coffee chain, Kevin didn’t pull in quite enough income to cover our basic expenses.

During the previous years, I had gotten the impression that staying home with my children would be easy to do, but when the actual time arrived my husband and I had some realities we needed to consider. Here are a few basics couples should consider when making post-baby career plans:

Set Your Priorities

Up until the birth of our son, we had lived on two incomes, which allowed us “extras,” such as eating out, travel, and entertainment. We both agreed that we were willing to give up some things so I could stay at home. Disposable income — and the fancy lattes I enjoyed — went lower on our priority list, while me being in the home with my baby went higher.

In my book, Expectant Parents, one mom, Denise, talks about the priorities she and her husband, Andrew, came up with:

There are certain realities we just have to deal with, such as the economy, but we asked ourselves, “What are the things we know the children need?” Stability, love, security. There are different ways you can provide that and still be a God-honoring parent.

Even though Denise had to return to work to provide for her family’s needs, she and her husband came up with a solution where they were able to trade off caring for the children in the home. In this way, they upheld their family’s priorities.

Leave Your Options Open

It’s impossible to predict exactly how you will feel after your baby is born. You may go through pregnancy with one plan in mind only to discover you desire something else once that bundle of joy is in your arms.

Think through a few different arrangements that might work for your family. Maybe you can tweak your budget to live on a single income. Or perhaps one of you can bring in supplemental income from home, or work a more flexible schedule.

Even though Kevin and I couldn’t make ends meet on one income, we figured out how much money I would have to bring in each month through freelance work and decided that we could make it work for me to stay home.

Seek the Lord

God has a calling for your family. Both career and raising your children are a part of that. Spend time in prayer with your spouse about these important decisions.

When my son was born, my husband and I believed God was calling me to quit my full-time job and stay home. While I was pregnant, our pastor delivered a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer and the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He asked us to write a prayer to God expressing trust in Him to provide for us. I wrote that I trusted Him to supply our daily needs as we took the leap of faith to go to a single income. I still keep that prayer in my Bible as a reminder of how God has been faithful these past four years. We have never been in need.

God will honor you as you put Him first in your career and family decisions. Seek Him, set priorities that are close to His heart, and allow Him to help you come up with creative solutions that work for your family.

expectantparents

For more practical ideas on how to welcome a new baby into your family, check out Suzanne’s new book Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.

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Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular contributor to Thriving Family magazine and Boundless.org and writes children’s resources for several publishers. After having three children in fewer than five years of marriage, Suzanne and her husband, Kevin, who is a children’s pastor, consider themselves on the family fast-track — a blessing they wouldn’t trade for anything. Gosselin is the author of the newly released, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.

4 Comments
  • Good things to consider, Suzanne. And very excited for your new book!

  • Suzanne

    Here’s a question: One criticism of the book is that I don’t come down hard on the man needing to be the main provider/breadwinner. I do believe men and women have separate and different roles within the marriage and family. However, is “who brings home the bacon” an area of freedom in Christ, a wisdom issue (as in it may be more wise for the man to be the one to do this for various reasons), or is it biblical for the man to be the breadwinner, without exception.

    • I would take that criticism as a complement, Suzanne.

      I do not believe it is biblical for the man to be the breadwinner without exception. I don’t think this is exemplified in scripture at all. I do believe that scripture teaches the man is bears the weight of responsibility for his family, materially and spiritually, but this is an intangible weight that works itself out in tangible ways differently in each family.

      Have you read “The Measure of Success” but Carolyn McCulley? I’ve got it on my to-read list, but I heard her speak. She makes the very good point that we cannot place our 21st century ideas of home and workplace and insert them into the biblical text. Home and work looked completely different in biblical times than they do now, and to extrapolate that women shouldn’t “bring home the bacon”l isn’t in keeping with what we know about that culture. Work and home life were completely tied together during biblical times and during most of western history up until the Industrial Revolution when work went “outside” the home and tax laws changed.

      Men, women, AND children worked incessantly for the family’s survival, income, and provision during most contexts of the Bible. Whether farming or mending tents, the whole family took part in whatever “industry” the family made money from. Not only that, but Paul constantly partnered with business women like Lydia to share the Gospel!

      Not to mention we need wisdom about the future. We don’t go into marriage thinking the worst possible scenarios, and yes, we can trust God to care for us, but wisdom is still needed. God does work through common sense and that is not unspiritual. Sickness, disability, and divorce exist in our world. My mom and my mother-in-law have both been forced to provide for themselves when their respective husbands left them for other women after 20+ years of marriage. They were both stay-at-home moms with no college degrees. They have had a very HARD time providing for themselves. My mother-in-law now lives off of the federal government now that all her alimony is gone. My mom never received any alimony from my dad and in her 60s now must work physically very hard as a care taker for the elderly. Neither of them regret staying home with their children, but I do think they regret not finishing their education and/or keeping up marketable skills.

      Sorry for the long comment, but it’s a subject I am passionate about! And check out that book if you haven’t!

      • ashslater

        Danielle, I think you responded so well to this. I have read “The Measure of Success” and it is a fascinating look at how work has changed over the years.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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3 Ways to Make Post-Baby Career Decisions

by Suzanne Gosselin time to read: 3 min
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