By Tammy Harrison
One of the best things about working from home is that I am able to leave my heart on my sleeve. Do you know what I mean? I've worked in offices where the boss determined what local charities we supported, what we did on our days off if there was a fundraiser going on that we should be involved in and where our donated dollars went. My husband still has to endure this type of treatment, when his employer sends out 'giving slips' to their favorite charity, with his paycheck.
Now that I'm my own boss, things are a bit different! I do support charities, but I also work to support other forms of making a difference in the lives of others.
I still converse via email with one of my major professors from college (which I attended more than a few years ago). He is much more fun now that he's not determining my future through some subjective or objective grade he puts on my homework! A couple of weeks ago, he emailed that he was now the department chair, and was having a difficult time keeping the other professors in his department motivated. There is usually a time in each academic semester that this becomes a problem, as students start to become bored with the subject and start thinking ahead to whatever they have planned for summer. But, in this case, the situation was enhanced because of the huge budget cuts and constraints that many institutions of higher education are facing across the country. He asked me if I had any words of wisdom that he could use as a carrot to dangle in front of his charges, to help them overcome the fact that they probably wouldn't see a raise in a while.
In my response, I told him that they should be glad that they had a job -- and the jobs that they chose had much more impact on human nature than nearly any other profession one could choose. I also mentioned that he wouldn't get much more than a positive life story out of me, since it was teachers who helped me see that a life as an orphan was profoundly affected by those who taught me and the books they shared with me.
I guess I had never mentioned to him, in all the years we've known each other, that I was orphaned and was raised in the foster care system. So, I spent a morning outlining the good, the bad and the ugly life that I lived as a child and into young adulthood.
At the time, though, I was thinking of what a day I had wasted! I should have been doing laundry, playing more with the kids and working a little. Instead, I was emailing back and forth with someone I hadn't seen in over 10 years!
But, as our communications continued, he found what he was looking for and I hadn't even realized that I could supply his dangling carrot. "Can I make this e-mail anonymous (take out all references to you and towns) and share it with the faculty? It is a supreme reminder of the differences we can chose to make on a daily basis. I've read it three times now!" he wrote.
Right then I realized that I had NOT wasted my day -- I actually made a difference to others!
Which brings me to today. I promised to make a baby quilt for a friend named Bell. Mind you, I don't really know Bell; but, I do have online business dealings with some of her friends and I felt the gesture was a kind one. Bell lost a son late last year, he was born with medical problems and he didn't survive them. I cannot imagine her pain. Not as a mother and not as a friend. She's hurting and those who know and love her are hurting, too. A month after Baby D passed, I suggested to some of these online friends that we should memorialize Baby D by making a quilt for his family. My suggestion stems from a blanket that I have, that an aunt gave me when I was 13 years old. It's not much, just an afghan -- but, someone who loves me gave it to me, and it is treasured as such. I wanted Baby D's mom to have the same type of memory of her son -- and I wanted the women who knew her, all across the world, to create squares for the quilt while possibly helping themselves and their grief process.
It all came together beautifully. Last week, I received all of the squares in the mail. I spent a couple of days just looking at them, touching them and shedding a few tears. I had to get the emotions out of my system so that I could sew the quilt together without crying through the process. I sewed all of the squares together today, into a beautiful quilt that will surely be treasured by Bell and her family. I know that Bell will process her grief and come together in her own time, just as those individual squares came together as I sewed them to make a lovely blanket. Each square was designed with love by women and families from all walks of life, but they all came together into a blanket of love.
Therefore, when we speak our motto at HBWM.com, "Work Where Your Heart Is"; you can bet that I am doing that with the utmost of satisfaction and joy. I am working to make a difference, not just with my children, but also in the business world that I have chosen. This is my home, and my heart is on my sleeve -- right where it should be.
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