Why 14? 15 are too many; 13 aren’t enough
Among the millions of workers who have decided to work either a full-time or part-time home-based business are Christians with strong convictions about their place and importance in today's society.
The reasons Christians start home-based businesses are as varied as the types of home businesses they manage.
The most obvious reason for Christians with families to work from their home is their concern for the welfare of their children. With the moral fabric of society fraying and the ever-increasing danger of children attending public schools, thousands of Christians have decided to homeschool their children (the number of homeschoolers in America is now over 2 million). Since at least one parent must become the children's educational mentor, finances can be strained to support a family on one income. Therefore, many homeschooling parents have opted to start home-based businesses, allowing them to monitor their children's progress while at the same time manage their business in a home office.
Christians with no school-aged children may start a home-based business out of necessity, interest, age, or their desire to proselytize. With inflation rates soaring in an insecure economy, often both husband and wife must work to make ends meet. However, if the finances are stable on one income, the other partner might develop a home-based business just to see what happens. Many craft hobbies can turn into lucrative businesses as the creator of the craft wisely develops management skills, keeps accurate records, and uses promotional tools effectively. When considering age for both married and single Christians, the "mid-life crisis" years often draw those who have had successful careers into a complete shift in job desires.
Starting a home-based business offers not only a complete change in a person's approach to business but also new goals. In a sense, a Christian can view it as a new lease on life, his new business salvaging him from what might have been a boring existence, punching a clock at an office or factory every day for decades. He might also view the change in professions as a reprieve from personal attacks by co-workers who have hostile reactions to his faith. Thus, the job change in itself could be initiated by the Christian's desire to share his beliefs under more friendly circumstances.
Ideas for Home-Based Businesses
Home-based Businesses Can Involve On-the-Job Training for Children
Many Christian homeschooling parents see their home-based businesses not only as a way to make a living, but as a training ground for their children as well. Often Christian parents who send their children to school also have lucrative home-based businesses that are kept in the family after the parents retire.
With the proper licensing or certification, young apprentices can start learning the ins and outs of a home-based business, sometimes at early ages. As the family works together, years of training develop proficiency in highly-skilled offspring who are proud to carry on the family name.
Succeeding Family Home-Based Businesses
Home-Based Businesses For Degreed Christians
A Christian who is ready for a job change may find that he already has the skills to succeed at a home-based business. With encouragement from family or friends and a facelift to the house to convert a spare room into an office, any Christian can launch a new venture. College degrees or previous years of training are valuable assets in establishing one's reputation. If a Christian leaves the work force with years of efficiency and frugality notched in his belt, he has all he needs to promote his new business. Even if his new "job" is in a completely different endeavor, his reputation will follow him home. Word-of-mouth will serve as a home-based entrepreneur's best promotional tool.
A large amount of capital is not necessary to open a home office. Depending on the complexity or refinement of equipment needed, second-hand pieces are often available at yard sales, school auctions, and foreclosure sales. "Keep it small" is a wise slogan to remember when starting out. There is always room for growth as the business progresses.
Succeeding Home-Based Businesses of Degreed/Licensed Christians
Home-based Businesses for Non-Degreed Christians
Although it is not impossible, it is a great challenge for a non-degreed Christian to succeed at a home-based business. Motivation is the key word when trying to predict the success of a new home venture. Whether much training is required or not, the Christian needs to focus on the new business, spending long hours planning, promoting, and building clientele. Since experience is not a prerequisite, shifts in job interests are easy; however, a middle-aged or older person might find it extremely difficult to learn new skills that accompany the job. Up front monies are usually not budget breaking, and local banks should be friendly to a blue-collar work who has outstanding credit.
As with degreed professionals, non-degreed Christians need a place to start. A desk, computer, phone, and file cabinet and perhaps a basement for a workspace are adequate. As the home business prospers, the office or work area can be expanded and improved. Although it takes time, unwavering determination to succeed along with the support of family and Christian friends guarantees success!
Succeeding Home-Based Businesses for Non-Degreed Christians
How a Christian Home-Based Business Differs
Whether the person is a Christian or not, starting a new business venture is exciting yet unpredictable at any age. However, a supportive family and praying friends greatly enhance a person's quest for a successful home-based business. A strong faith in God and a moral base that demands honest hard work also increase the chances for the business to succeed.
If a Christian is fortunate enough to attend a church where fellow members will support him not only in prayers but in patronization as well, he will find his new home-based business has a head start on the road to success.
Besides making money, a Christian may feel that God has given him a golden opportunity to share his faith while he works from his home. He may consider it as a direct calling from God. Mounting a framed Bible verse such as "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13) on a newly painted wall will give any Christian the desire and encouragement to work hard and succeed at any business he tackles, all for the glory of God!
"Homeschoolers are just … a … little different!"
"Homeschoolers are antisocial. They hide and don't mix well with … us!"
"Homeschoolers are poor and ignorant. They can't learn. All they do is watch television!"
"Homeschoolers have lice!"
If you are among those who do not know much about homeschoolers, you might be surprised to learn that homeschooling is one of the fastest growing movements in America today. But what has caused this latest phenomenon in education?
Since the sexual and social revolution of the 60's, America's public schools have been on a downward spiral, deteriorating not only socially, but academically as well. Because of the decline in morals and in educational standards, thousands of parents who never would have entertained the thought twenty, or even ten, years ago now homeschool their children.
Although the majority of homeschooling families are Christians who teach their children Biblical standards and a love for God as well as strong academics, many non-Christian families have decided to homeschool. With the recent brash of violence against both students and teachers, it has become obvious that the spiritual and moral vacuum in our schools has opened the door for tragedy. Homeschooling offers one solution for parents who are concerned for the well being of their children in such an unstable and sometimes hostile environment.
Because of the surge of interest in homeschooling, each state in America has had to adopt laws, or educational policies at the least, that provide a standard for homebound instruction. Some states like West Virginia have little or no guidelines where homeschoolers have total freedom to "do their own thing". Other states like Pennsylvania have a list of requirements that includes a yearly evaluation by an educator and achievement testing in selective grades.
When considering the actual academic program of the average homeschooler, one pertinent question comes to the forefront, "How can a parent with only a high school diploma teach subjects like algebra and chemistry?"
Dozens of publishing companies, both religious and secular, have seized a marketing opportunity by providing top quality curricula and resource materials for homeschoolers. Besides textbooks, some of these companies provide cassette tapes, CD's, and classroom lectures on video or satellite. An ever-increasing market is the internet where several companies already offer full academic programs on the world wide web. With such programs available, parents serve as monitors, supervising their children's study time. Assignments and tests can be sent to the publishing companies' home offices where the paperwork is scored and graded. At the homeschooling families' discretion, credit is accumulated toward earning a diploma that is accepted, and even welcomed, in most colleges and the armed forces.
But what about the average day in the life of a homeschooler? Does he watch TV or play all day long?
With rare exceptions, homeschooling families are well disciplined and conscientious. Children rise early to crack the books, often in a makeshift classroom that has evolved from a spare bedroom or den. After the entire morning is consumed in study, a trip to the local library or a museum in the next town might be on the schedule.
Homeschoolers far outshine their public school counterparts in reading interests and knowledge from field trips. The average homeschooler reads 25 to 30 enrichment books a year and goes on about 5 to 10 school-related field trips to enhance their education.
Socially, homeschoolers are usually neither outcasts nor islands onto themselves. Generally, children who are homeschooled are more secure than their public school peers. Bonds among family members are strong and supportive. With the absence of pressure to conform to a rebellious peer group, homeschooling children help one another and respect those in authority in a strong nuclear family unit.
Because of the freedom of schedule, most homeschoolers develop passions for the fine arts. The many hours available to develop such young talent often produce proficiency in music or theater at an early age. It is also not uncommon to find homeschoolers who can quilt, paint, or design their own web pages for the internet.
Homeschooling families often avail themselves of one of several homeschool support groups usually found in any given area. The groups provide activities that range from regular writing classes, gym time, or science "lab" to practicing and performing plays, concerts, or competing in team sports.
Academically, homeschoolers do not take back seats in any discipline. With the excellent variety of texts and resource materials at their disposal, homeschoolers have the world at their fingertips. Any subject required for college entrance is available for homeschoolers today. From the primary grades to senior high, national standardized test scores reflect students who are two to three years above their own grade level in reading, math, and language.
Recent statistics prove that homeschooling is no joke. It is estimated that there are 850,000 homeschoolers in America today, and the number is expected to increase to a million in the next few years.1 Homeschoolers are making their mark in national scholastic contests like the geography and spelling bees held annually in Washington, D.C. Over the last few years, homeschoolers have placed first to third in both. In the spring of 2001, a homeschooler won the Gold Award at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards held in Washington, D.C. (sponsored by Scholastic Incorporated, New York)
Regardless of the public's opinion of homeschooling, the facts speak for themselves. Most homeschoolers are performing well and are here to stay. Their academic programs are solid, and their futures are promising.
As far as their watching too much television? They'd rather go fishing!
[Marsha Hubler has a master's degree in education and is a certified evaluator from Middleburg, Pennsylvania. She has evaluated hundreds of homeschoolers over the last 12 years in the Susquehanna Valley where she resides.]
1"The Daily Item". Newspaper, Sunbury, PA., p.2A, Friday, Aug. 3, 2001
(reprint in LIVE magazine, Springfield, MO, Feb. 2004; first published as "Bus Kid" in "Joyful Woman" magazine, Murfreesboro, TN in Jan/Feb. issue 1991)
I squeezed into a child-sized desk in an elementary school in Charleston, South Carolina. The door opened and in rushed 26 wide-eyed second graders. I smiled at them, and they stared at me.
Many years had passed since I had first stood in front of a second-grade class. Now I had come to observe another teacher.
"Good morning," she said confidently and cheerfully.
"Good morning," they piped back.
A Life-Changing Decision
when I'd first heard about this beautiful young lady, 10 years
"I'm sorry," I answered. "We're much too busy. Our ministry takes up all our time."
"But anything you could give her would be better than what she has now," the minister said, tears in his eyes. "My wife and I would take her ourselves, but with our three children, we don't think we can squeeze her into our house."
"But I'd have to leave her alone often. What could be worse than a teenager at home alone?" I questioned. "But we'll pray about it."
The next Sunday morning we staked out a corner pew where we could watch the bus kids when they came in. We recognized Donna immediately. She was cute and clean, and her blue eyes sparkled. Her smooth complexion was littered with freckles and her blond hair was styled attractively.
"She seems harmless enough," I whispered to my husband. "But I've heard that 14-year-old foster kids, especially girls, can be difficult."
"Well," my husband muttered between his teeth, "she can't be a moody, sassy, fickle, flirty, back-stabbing liar all at one time!"
"Let's take her to lunch!" I said.
"Sure," my husband agreed. "But remember, you're the one who must decide what we do, because the burden of caring for her will fall on you."
Lunch at a fast–food restaurant revealed how much staring, gobbling, and burping one teenager can do in an hour. We asked questions about school, home, and life in general. No matter what the question, she answered, "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" without ever lifting her eyes from the food on the table.
My husband and I stared at each other. Could we take this hateful, damaged creature into our home and actually help her? Later I phoned our youth pastor. "You win," I said. "We'll take her."
Donna's mother gave permission for Donna to live with us, and suddenly we had a daughter. School would begin in less than a week, and she had nothing to wear. We raided every yard sale in the county.
The church ladies surprised us with a "baby" shower, complete with cake, cards, and the necessities for a teenager's happiness. As we drove home from the shower with our car loaded with the generous gifts from our church family, we rode into the sunset anticipating a lifetime of family bliss and harmony.
Facing the Challenge
My husband and I had been married 12 years. We were accustomed to quiet solitude and isolated hobbies. I was acting principal of our church's Christian school and adept at loving and disciplining children of all ages. But living with one of the creatures was something else! My training hadn't included disciplining a teenage cyclone with an unbridled will. I ran to the Christian bookstore, searching for advice. The only book I found remotely close to my need was HOW TO BREAK AND TRAIN WILD MUSTANGS. I bought it and read it avidly. Meanwhile, Donna appeared to be writing her own book with her friends: HOW TO HOODWINK AND HORNSWOGGLE NAÏVE FOSTER PARENTS.
At church I found strange solace in singing "Master, the Tempest is Raging" and "Sound the Battle Cry!" I would slump into a pew, still hearing, "Bug off, lady!" or "True or False … I hate you!" My husband and I asked ourselves if we had made the biggest mistake of our lives.
On her first Christmas with us, I gave Donna a large and adorable teddy bear.
"You are really ridiculous," she said. "I'm 15! This is baby stuff."
But before long, the bear became a bedfellow who shared her broken heart and deepest longings. His face was shaped like a wrinkled prune, so she named him "Pruneface." She found it much easier to talk to me when she buried her face deep inside his.
Donna, Pruneface, and I began to share intimate thoughts about bad times, lonely nights, fears of midnight thunderstorms, and much more. Love began to weave our hearts together with a devotion for one another that could have come only from God.
I began to read the Bible with Donna at bedtime. We talked each evening about the day's activities. Late one winter evening, I asked her if she really understood what it meant to confess her sins and turn to Jesus for salvation. The youth pastor had told us she had made a decision earlier. Still, she seemed to understand so little about it. I felt I needed to make it plain. As we talked, she began to understand her need of God's mercy and grace. We both wept, and I hugged her.
"Donna," I said, "I love you very much, as if you were my own."
For what seemed like an eternity, she said nothing. Then she poked her head out from behind Pruneface.
"I love you, Mom." Her voice quivered. Then she said, "I can't believe I said that," and she plunged, with Pruneface, under the covers.
With tears of joy streaming down my face, I turned off the light and left. So this is the reward of motherhood! I thought to myself.
Watching God Work
During the next 3 years, this awkward chrysalis was miraculously transformed into a beautiful butterfly by God's grace. Consistent prayer, love, and discipline molded a potential dropout into a sweet young lady. Donna's grades came up and stayed up.
Eventually she found two part-time jobs. She also worked on a church bus route and still made the honor roll. On three separate occasions, Donna won first place in poetry recitation at the Christian school state convention. At high school graduation, she received an award for Christian character and honors for the highest math average.
Donna then left us, headed for a Christian college, marriage, and a teaching career. She prepared our hearts to care for 11 more foster children who needed a home.
Ten years had passed since I first met the teenage phenomenon who changed my life forever. Now I sat in Donna's classroom and watched her teach.
Over in the corner I spied a surprisingly familiar face – a face that looked like a wrinkled prune. His head was tilted, and I'm sure I saw him wink. He must have been remembering the good times we three had shared.
Donna stood up. The children grew quiet, sensing the special moment. Their teacher lifted her eyes from the pages before her, looked at Pruneface, then turned toward me. Tears trickled down her face.
"Children, I want you to meet my mother. Mom, I want to thank you for everything." Her voice broke; then she whispered, "And don't forget, Mom, I love you."
My beloved daughter picked up her book, cleared her voice, and became the confident, professional teacher again. "Now, boys and girls, turn to page 16 in your reading books."