Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!
One of my most frequently asked questions is: How was I able to get my husband out of his 9 to 5? But answering that is very difficult for me to share. There’s just so much that goes into it.
I’m opening the door for the first time on a very vulnerable, difficult, at times embarrassing, and then exciting part of our story. I needed to get to a certain place in my life, and in my heart, before I felt ready to really open up and share. I’ve been feeling, for a few months, that I’m getting there and now it’s finally time.
I’m taking deep breaths here, guys. Here we go.
So, a little bit of a disclaimer, before I start…
I’m not going to give very specific numbers, just because this is not a business blog and it doesn’t really matter. I have friends and family who read my posts, and money changes relationships, and it can sometimes be negative. So, while I think maybe one day we’ll get there and share certain things because I do think that the specific numbers add to the power of this story, I am not going to tell you everything in that regard here in this post.
I do think that an aspect of this, and this whole story, can help somebody who wants this lifestyle and who’s maybe on the verge of making a change and pursuing their dreams.
The second disclaimer before I begin to tell my story is…
This is NOT luck.
I think when there’s any aspect of fame or a spotlight in something, people think that you got there because you’re lucky – because you were chosen.
THIS is the life that you were chosen for. I believe that God has plans, that he has a purpose for each and every person, but I also believe that you can make choices that cause you to miss it.
I said YES to this. I worked for this. I planned for it. I put in the hours, by getting up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning so I could work on growing my business before Brian left for work. I followed God’s lead and I did the work. It was simply an issue of timing.
Let me start by sharing a little bit about where we came from and how our life was before.
Brian and I met in junior high school, and were in the same circle of friends throughout high school and throughout our lives. We were never super close until senior year, when we started hanging out more. I started to really like him. I was attracted to his humility and his character, and he was just really sweet.
Want to hear the cheesiest story ever?
We ended up going to senior prom together, kind of a last minute thing. It was the day before the actual dance, when he asked me to go with him. Just as friends, because neither of us had dates (I’d actually just broken up with the only other person I had dated), so it was kind of a weird point for me.
Brian wasn’t supposed to go either, but at the last minute he was able to because the school band had canceled their event so that everyone could go to prom. He asked me, and I said yes!
From there, we just kind of clicked, realizing we were right in front of each other for years, started dating, and got married about two years later.
About eight months into our marriage we found out we were pregnant with Bella. Which was a surprise, because as a teen, doctors had told me that I may not be able to get pregnant, or that a pregnancy could be very difficult. We found out that was not the case, were thrilled, and just started having our family.
Brian landed a job doing cable and internet installation. He’d go into businesses and homes and install services like that for a very large company.
It was a very good day when he got that job!
That was September of 2009, so it was a long time ago! This job was supposed to be 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, but it definitely wasn’t. There was forced overtime, but we were grateful for it because we needed it. We couldn’t get by very well on the normal hours’ pay. So he would work overtime and take other people’s shifts too.
He was working about six days a week with twelve to fourteen hour days. Every once in a while he’d get two days off, but we would always suffer for it by not having enough money to pay all of the bills.
There was a constant pressure on us to make money. Not because we wanted a ton of it, because we never had enough of it.
We were in total agreement that we wanted me to be at home with the kids, though. Especially while we were having babies. I was content to be a stay-at-home mom – I loved it. I had a hard time with it for sure, but I did love it and knew it was where I was supposed to be. Brian always agreed, and any time I felt like I should go out and do something to contribute, he would quickly disagree and remind me how much he loved that I was at home with our kids. It was just how things were supposed to be in that season, and we could tell by the peace we both felt despite difficult circumstances.
Our life, having our kids and living in Southern California was very difficult.
There were a lot of scary nights. We had cars repossessed, and a lot of traumatic experiences because of money. We scraped by, made things work, and worked very hard together to make that happen. My part was the budgeting – making sure we didn’t spend too much.
That was our life. I’m very, very much just grazing the surface, but I wanted to give you some background so that I can get to the point. But, it was very difficult and dark.
We’d always talked about moving out of state, because California’s one of the most expensive places to live, especially Southern California. But, our whole family and all of our friends were here. We didn’t really know anyone anywhere else and didn’t really know where we’d move.
We went to Texas and looked around to try and find if that was where we were supposed to be, and it was almost comical how hard God shut that door in our faces. Like, “this is NOT where I want you!” So, we obviously didn’t move there.
During this time, when Emmett was a few months old, we really began to feel led out of California, more so than ever before. It was the kind of thing where you know God’s pulling you do to something, and you can’t get away from it. It’s that undeniable force, or tug, on your heart to do something.
We couldn’t really afford to go out and look anywhere. We’d used any excess money that we had to go to Texas.
We started talking to God, asking him to make it really obvious where he wanted us to end up. It was obvious to us that He would have to move and make it happen for us. We couldn’t afford to do anything.
We looked at North Carolina and other parts of Texas. We looked at Oregon and Colorado and places like that. Nothing felt right.
Long story short, of all the places in the country, Arkansas made its way into our lives. At first we were really resistant to moving there. My great-grandfather and my grandmother are from there, so I knew a little bit about it, and this particular area that he was from was not good.
But, then a job opened up in a town called Fayetteville. For those of you who don’t know, it’s in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s a neat little city. Very trendy and cute! It’s college town, up near the Ozark Mountains, and it’s just very beautiful.
We decided we’d look into it because it kept popping up and they kept contacting us, telling us that they’d transfer Brian right away. We researched and fell in love with it online. We prayed about it for a week, and just felt like this was it.
So we said YES!
Maybe a month passed (it was a very fast process), and we were saying goodbye to our heartbroken family members.
The only reason we were able to move was because we got two thousand dollars back from our rental deposit we had put down when we moved in. Seriously, we would not have been able to go without that. We were walking by faith that God would provide what we needed right up till move-out day. And of course, He did.
We got rid of everything and had the tiniest little trailer attached to our minivan as we road tripped across the country. We were moving for a better life.
The job that Brian was moving for was the same job that he had in Southern California, but because of the lower cost of living, even with a little bit of a pay decrease, it worked out to be more money each month. It was also supposed to be better hours, and no mandatory overtime. Our hope was to not be stretched so thin, and we’d have Brian home more.
Our goal has always been to be together. I’ve shared a little of this in the past, but Brian and I really like each other. We have a friendship marriage, we WANT to be together. We had this really unique conviction on both of our hearts to be together and have some kind of life where we were together a lot, if not all the time, raising the kids together.
It was weird because people would tell us, “That’s just a dream, you need to let go of that. You have to work hard and you have to work away at a job to make money. You go to work and that’s it.” We understood that, and we were doing that, but for some reason we couldn’t quite shake this dream of just wanting to be together, wanting to raise our kids together, and spend the bulk of our days together at home.
We always had this in the back of our minds, but we never thought it was really possible. But we thought this might be close. THIS was at least more time at home together, and so we pursued it even as leaving our loved ones broke our hearts.
When we got to Arkansas, we were very quickly met with the hard reality that this was NOT what we were promised by the company.
The pay was a good chunk of dollars less per hour than we were promised. It was basically a lie. The pay was not what they had said and the hours were different.
Our life got dramatically worse.
Not only did it get worse, but now we were away from everybody that we knew and loved. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me and my faith. My faith has never been shaken like it was in those first few months in the Northwest Arkansas area. It was very, very difficult. For a certain amount of time, I completely stopped talking to God.
I was so angry and hurt that He would lead us out here, away from everybody, for THIS. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand, and it was very difficult for me.
It was January and it was frigid freezing for me because, you know, I’m a So-Cal girl. I was standing outside letting the kids get some energy out because they were so cooped up from being indoors all the time. Brian called me from work and said, “I just wanted you to know I found out that in Southern California all of the offices for my company are taking away hours. People are losing their homes, they can’t pay their bills, and they’re losing their cars.”
We were already so close to barely making ends meet, that if that had happened to us, we would have lost everything.
I realized that maybe that’s why God moved us out here. I remember praying and apologizing to the Lord. Asking him to help me be grateful for Him saving us from that, and asking, “But is this really what you want for us? This life? We’re still barely getting by. We missed this difficult time in California, but is this really what you want for us?”
I’ll never forget where I was standing that day in the park. I can see it in my head right now. I felt Him just come over me and say, “No. There’s something coming, and I need you to not move away from me. I need you to be close to me and talk to me so that you’re open to receive it when I’m ready to reveal it to you.”
That gave me a little bit of hope!
During the move to Arkansas, I started to focus on the blog I’d had since Leland was born. Moving away from my family, I decided to really throw myself into it because I didn’t have anyone.
I started to fall deeper in love with not just blogging, but with helping other women through my story and my experiences, with minimalism and simplifying.
My audience had grown by a few hundred, it was still very small, nothing like it is now, but it felt big to me at the time and I was really starting to like what I was doing.
After that day in the park, I was sitting with Brian, and we were panicking because we were going to have to leave our condo. We couldn’t afford to stay. We were not making our very low rent every month because of what had happened with Brian’s job.
We were just talking, but I kept bringing up how much I loved blogging, and how I wished I could turn it into a business from home.
I was raised by two very successful entrepreneurs and I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit and drive in me. I was sitting with Brian, and we decided to start looking things up. Brian ended up finding Femtrepreneur, a blog all about turning your blog into a business.
I plummeted into this season of googling and learning everything about marketing and being an online entrepreneur, creating courses and growing a very successful business from your blog. I spent all of my late night and early morning time googling and reading and researching and watching YouTube videos.
I created new Audible accounts with old email addresses so that I could get free audio books (they give you a free book credit if you sign up with a new account. I know, humbling) and learn all about marketing and running a business.
I ran straight ahead, full force.
I had this feeling that this is what God was telling me about. THIS is what he wanted me to pursue.
This became a way to not only contribute to our family income, but also to start getting my message out louder and bigger.
I knew I wanted to grow my blog, and it had always been a frustration point of mine because I just couldn’t seem to grow beyond a few hundred people.
I knew that if I started doing these webinars that I was learning about – these online classes – and inviting people to share and tell their friends about my blog and my message, it would help me grow.
So, the one thing that was really complicated and very new at the time were webinars, online classes like this one. Femtrepreneur had a course on how to do webinars, so I borrowed five hundred dollars from my dad to buy this course. I’ve never asked my parents for money and it was awful, but I knew I needed saome kind of small bit of help. I knew I would make it. Failure wasn’t an option.
Once I learned how to do that, I just started. I didn’t have a microphone. I was using an old Toshiba laptop that had a fan and would make sounds to cool off and you could hear it in my recordings – it was so bad! But I had to use what we had because we couldn’t afford anything else.
Then, I started opening up and being more vulnerable, and helping other women. Slowly, my audience began to grow, and these women began to ask me for something more, something deeper, something where all the things that I was teaching them and helping them with was consolidated.
This is what would end up becoming my course, Your Uncluttered Home.
I went right to work, starting to create this thing they were asking for. I would ask them questions and get their feedback, and then began outlining this course and realizing it was going to be the thing that I’d sell on my blog.
I didn’t want to pour all this time into this thing and then launch it and have nobody buy it, so I pre-sold it. I started to do webinars and pre-sell the course at the end of the webinars to make sure that people who were saying they wanted this would actually put their money where their mouths were.
From that pre-sale launch, I made more money than Brian made per month. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a lot for us, and it was enough to get us feeling confident that this was a solid idea and really worth pursuing.
I was learning how to do everything myself, like coding and website building, because I couldn’t afford to hire anybody to do anything for me.
I was a machine!
I had this drive in me that wouldn’t die. I was setting my alarm for 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning, every morning, and working for hours before Brian would leave for work. I’d work when the kids were napping, and then get them busy and work more. I’d make dinner, and work at night, stay up late and work even more. It was like I didn’t need sleep, I was on fire and was pursuing this dream.
I will NEVER forget that season of my life. It was when I became an entrepreneur!
After a few months we hit a wall. I was growing, I was working my butt off, but we were seeing almost no financial benefits yet. I had already pre-sold my course to my audience and that was kind of it. I had sold to a good percentage of who was following me, and in the online business world, I’d sold way more than is “standard” in the industry.
My focus then switched from selling my course to growing my following, reaching even more women. But to do that, I needed more time to spend on this thing.
I remember seeing some other very popular bloggers be able to bring their husbands home from their corporate jobs, and I really wanted that. We decided that I was going to be able to bring Brian home from his job, and we were going to work together. It became really exciting!
But God very firmly and quickly let me know that making the money we needed AND THEN bringing Brian home was not going to be my story. He wanted to use our faith to tell a story and make a point to other people someday.
He made it VERY clear to both of us that he wanted us to leave the safety of Brian’s job before it made sense.
It was scary. No, it was TERRIFYING.
What we ended up doing was truly the epitome of a leap of faith. We ended up leaving. It got to the point where I was working so hard, doing everything that I could, but I simply could not do what I needed to do and put the time and effort into this to be a success. And also be at home with the kids. We couldn’t afford help, not even a cheap mommy’s helper or pre-school or anything.
It got to the point where it was either he had to quit, or I had to quit. Something had to give. I wasn’t the mom that I wanted to be. I was frustrated and yelling and being pulled in all these different ways. I needed help so that I could focus.
We prayed about it for a couple months. And we’d talk a lot during the day while Brian was at work. What would it look like? What would we do? How long would it take to get the business off the ground?
And we both felt God’s pulling. We knew we needed to do something that would seem ludicrous to everyone around us.
It came down to a question from God. Are you going to trust me or not?
I know it looked crazy and stupid to everyone around us, and I know we scared the crap out of people, but we had confirmation several times from God.
We knew it was the right move, so Brian went in to the main office one day, and quit.
And you know what they said to him? “Go home now. Forget the two weeks. You’re replaceable.”
Seven years of work and just like that, “bye.” This cemented our desire to work for ourselves and build a company where people would love working.
Brian came home that same morning and we have never hugged that long or that powerfully ever. It was a very sweet moment that I’ll never forget.
I began the work of actually creating the course, outlining it, and recording the lessons. I even took a trip to California with a portion of the earnings from my first month making money from the pre-sale so that I could purge some friends’ homes and talk to people who struggled with hoarding.
I spent five days basically not sleeping and going and purging homes and talking to people who needed help. I wanted to make this course the best it could be!
I had a drive to change the world and save my family.
God gave me a really powerful word for my business that I still cling to, and that was “I will use you to change the world twice. Once with the message that you’re sharing for mothers, and again with the money you make sharing it.” I truly believed this message, but we faced several incredibly grueling, difficult months first as I clung to it.
You have to understand that we had followed in faith when we made the choice to leave Brian’s job. So as we went into this season of financial poverty, we felt like idiots. We still knew this was the right choice, that God called us here, but dang it was hard.
Brian can do anything, he’s amazing. And he’s very good at building furniture. So, while at home, he was building benches and chairs and things like that, and selling them on Facebook resell groups on the side. He would make a little from building somebody a custom bench, then I’d do another little pre-sale and make a couple hundred dollars, and that was okay. But we had to ask ourselves, now how can we stretch this? That’s where we were at for a few months.
I was doing everything that I could. I was writing guest posts while simultaneously working on the course. I was taking whatever I could get. I was learning about marketing and applying it to my website. I was doing webinars and falling deeper and deeper in love with this process of spreading my message, and hearing about how women’s lives were being changed, and really clinging to that promise that God gave me about changing the world twice.
I really believe that our thoughts and our words shape our beliefs, and that our beliefs form our reality.
I believe that we were made in the image of God the Creator, and that He spoke the world into existence and that we can speak our reality into existence, because of the power He gave us.
I believe that prayer changes things and your words matter.
During this time, I was working on my mindset and choosing to speak words that felt ridiculous at the time. Every morning I would get up and I would go stand outside in my driveway and say affirmations and scripture. I’d say things like, “I am extremely wealthy. I am running a successful business. Money is flowing to me. I am grateful for it, and generous with the money I receive.” While I literally didn’t know how we were going to eat dinner that night. I felt INSANE!
This went on for a few months, Brian was supportive, he was helping me, we were working together, we were brainstorming together. How can we make this course better? How can we get this done? How can this be amazing? We had launched the course. It had done okay, but not what we wanted because our audience wasn’t big enough.
I ended up writing a guest post, “How Getting Rid of my Stuff Saved my Motherhood.” I poured my heart and soul and story into that post, and did everything that I could to make it viral and change the world. I studied virality, formatted the post in a way that captured the audience while sharing the realness of my story. I learned the ins and outs of writing a captivating post and prayed like crazy over it as I submitted the final draft with butterflies in my stomach (and hardly any food).
A couple weeks passed and it wasn’t getting as much traction as I wanted. I had put a content upgrade in the post, which is something that you can download from the author that will help you take the next step. That content upgrade was The Minimalism Starter Kit that I had put together, and it was how to take minimalism and apply it to your life.
I had been hoping that the viral post and the content upgrade would grow my email list and maybe people would come and find my website through it and buy Your Uncluttered Home. I was frustrated because it wasn’t working.
At the end of this three or four month period (about three weeks after that blog post had been published), and we were at rock bottom.
I wondered, “Why isn’t God blessing what we’re doing?” We were just confused. There was one point where we had to go to a food bank, and I felt like a thief. We had a job and we left it in faith, by choice, and we still hadn’t “made it.”
I felt like I had failed my family. I had applied for and got denied for a job at Target. I remember this one incredibly difficult night, Brian was angry, I was angry, we were confused and upset and scared, and we had stretched one portion of dinner for four kids. Their tummies were full but ours weren’t.
I was terrified. We went to bed and I kept saying, “I’m sorry I failed our family, I’m sorry that I couldn’t do what I thought I could do. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen here.” Brian repeated my apologies on his own behalf. We just kind of fell asleep scared.
When I woke up the next morning, I went to log into things and check on my work stuff. So I logged into my email service, and I noticed that they had locked me out. I had an email in my inbox saying that I was a spammer, and that they shut my account down because it looked like I was breaking spam laws.
I was already feeling depressed, and this was just the cherry on top of everything that was going on with me.
I looked into it and saw that my email list was now over 15,000 people. Overnight! And that number was literally growing by hundreds every time I hit the refresh button. UNHEARD OF.
How could this be?
I went and logged into other things and I realized that the guest blog post I had written had gone viral. It was EVERYWHERE!
My story, my face and my family were everywhere. All over the internet, and it just kept getting spread around.
That morning I opened up our PayPal account and there was $20,000 in it.
TWENTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.
I had never even seen that number with a dollar sign in front of it. We were freaking out!
I wish I had a video of that morning. We were jumping and screaming and dancing and sobbing. The kids were so confused!
I got in touch with my email service and said, “I’m not a spammer, but I had a post go viral, and that’s why my list exploded.” They fixed my account right away!
There was an email in my inbox in the next couple days from ABC News. They wanted to do a story on me. Good Morning America followed. Then, The Jenny McCarthy Show. Fox News Network. The Today Show. Canadian radio. All of these people emailed me asking to talk to me about my story and about this message.
People were buying the course, and things started happening. My business grew! I had thousands and thousands and thousands of fans on Facebook and Instagram. It was incredible!