Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

The Need for Strategy

I caught myself doing it again this morning – thinking about what I can do to use my technical skills on the side to earn some extra income.  I tend to have a flood of ideas from tutoring to consulting to teaching part time to baking…  The list goes on, and my thoughts fly from one to another.  And all of this before I’ve even finished my current job.  And, honestly, I was thinking on these things this morning after praying last night for forgiveness for this compulsion I seem to feel to have some plan in place to earn money.  I think this compulsion is coming from a few various sinful areas in my life – stubborn independence, pride (partially in that independence), and probably some insecurity, feeling I need to prove my value or contribution to our family in some way through a pay check.

This morning, my reading in Ezra and Haggai brought me back to reality a bit.

This is what the Lord Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.  “You expected much, but it turned out to be little.  What you brought home, I blew away.  Why?” declared the Lord Almighty, “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.”  (Haggai 1:7-9)

Haggai is only 2 chapters, so it’s quick to read the whole book.  The message of the entire book spoke to me significantly today as we approach this new season of our lives, and I encourage you to read it, too.  The phrase in bold (above) is what stopped me for a moment, though.

Even if I don’t work outside the home in some capacity (or work at home for a profit), I will be busy in my own house trying to make improvements to our systems at home, trying to optimize efficiencies, build memories, coordinate schedules, teach the children, work on handcrafts, and likely many other things.  No, I’m not physically building my paneled home before the temple construction is finished, but am I losing sight of what my priorities really should be?  I’m not at all saying that being busy at home is a bad thing!  These verses are about priorities.  Who is coming first in my life?  Dana?  God?  Someone/something else?

In Six Sigma training, I remember being trained to help hold back a team from jumping to solutions when a problem appeared.   Six Sigma practitioners, known as Black Belts and Green Belts, are called such because of the discipline required to methodically go through the problem-solving steps of Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC).  I have emphasized again and again to my students the importance of that Define step.  If the team doesn’t really know what needs to be worked on and how it will help the organization meet its strategic goals, how can improvements be made?  I thought I was pretty good at this…

That is, until they were my problems I was addressing.  I find myself jumping to solutions to without first evaluating what is best and why.  Even worse, I’m working to solve problems that aren’t even problems yet.

Our main motivation for me leaving my job to be at home is to invest myself in our children out of obedience to what we feel God is leading us to do.

So then, why I am I spending so much time brainstorming these ideas that really center around ME, when our desire is to center our lives and our family around CHRIST?  (Sigh)  I told you I’m a work in progress…

It’s time for me to take a step back and seek direction through prayer, not my own ideas.  God has been so faithful to me over the years!  The greatest steps of faith He’s guided me toward have not made logical sense to me from a worldly or financial perspective (e.g. The time I resigned from my job as an engineer to go back to school full time.).  His ways are not my ways, and His are so much better!

In the days to come, may I be still and seek Him first to find what the Lord would have as our mission and strategy and only then may I set to work.