My homeschooling adventure began in the 8th grade. My life drastically changed once we began homeschooling. The world just had a different light to it, and I actually felt truly alive for the first time. There was such freedom in homeschooling. I was no longer confined by the opinions of my peers, and the shell that I had put up to protect myself from the harsh world started to crumble. It wasn’t long before I began thinking about my future and what God wanted me to do with my life. Over the years I had many ambitions-I wanted to be an archaeologist, a photographer, a counselor for troubled teens, or the owner of a movie studio that made Christian films. Most of all, I wanted to fulfill the God-given role of being a wife and mother. At 15, I began experiencing some serious health problems after a tonsillectomy. I went from being a healthy teen in 1996 to a very sick person in 1999. Simply walking across the room was terribly fatiguing. I knew college was out of the question and that even my dream of marriage and children was hazy. After all, I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone anyone else. I needed to look at my future realistically and ask the question, “What can I do?”
Around this time I began designing fliers and newsletters for a business my sisters and I had started. I realized that I truly enjoyed creating things on the computer. It didn’t drain me too much physically, and it was something I felt gifted in. That is when I found out about a correspondence course in Computer Graphic Arts from Harcourt Learning Direct. (Harcourt Learning Direct is now Penn Foster. You may visit their website at http://www.pennfoster.edu.) After I graduated from high school in 2000 I began taking the correspondence course. I completed the two-year course in nine months. That in itself was a huge accomplishment, because most of the time my brain felt like it was in a fog!
Completing the correspondence class was easy, compared to trying to find a job that I could do with my limited energy. I began creating cards and t-shirts and tried to sell the ideas to Christian companies, but it never panned out. While I was waiting to land my first job, I had the idea of creating a historical costume book. The idea sprung from my love of dressing up as a child. My sisters and I had this wonderful collection of dresses and we would use them to create different characters. In my book, I wanted to show people how to take one dress and add accessories to make it look like different eras. It took me about a year to complete the ebook, Costumes With Character, and this year I’m actually working on revising it to offer as a printed book!
I managed to get a few jobs creating designs for some businesses, and for a few people in my church. One of my t-shirt designs landed a contract with Victory Won, a pro-life company. The front of the shirt says, “Americans born to be free” and the back says, “If only they are free to be born.” God gave me that statement one day, and I just knew I had to create a t-shirt that shared it with the world.
Over the next few years I continued to grow my business by adding a website, www.AmyPuetz.com, and writing ebook unit studies about inspiring, Christian ladies. I can’t help but smile at God’s sense of humor. If someone had told me when I was a child that I would eventually be a writer, I would have laughed out loud. I didn’t exactly hate writing, but I certainly wasn’t very good at it either. After I graduated I went through an Excellence in Writing class from Andrew Pudewa. Writing might not be easy for me, but I now have the tools to do it. God can redirect our paths when He wants us to do something new. I have 5 books in my Heroines of the Past ebook series and several others on the way.
In 2004 I started writing a historical column for Home School Enrichment Magazine, and I have compiled those articles into a printed book – Uncover Exciting History. I also have two other books published, Countdown to Christmas and Countdown to Easter. Homeschooling really helped prepare me for the different hats it takes to be self employed. While being educated at home, I learned perseverance, dedication, and the importance of working hard.
As a homeschool grad, I can look back over the last ten years and be thankful that God led me to start a business that would encourage and bless homeschool families. I’d like to say a few things to encourage you as you look ahead to your post-high school years. This is directed mostly to girls, but guys may get something out of this too!
Because of the wonderful Christian examples of our mothers, most homeschool girls have one goal in life, and that is to get married and raise a family. This is a wonderful and God-given aspiration, but before God brings the right man into our lives, many of us will experience a season of singleness. It is imperative that we have a plan of what to do with our lives during this season, and a direction to go in case we never marry. For one, if we stay active it is much easier to be content, and two, if we look at the time of singleness as a learning time, we will grow.
Homeschool families should teach their girls how to cook, clean, and take care of a house and children, but those should not be the only skills they learn. Most homeschool families have a bit of entrepreneurship blood in their veins and a stay-at-home daughter can certainly benefit from knowing how to do some basic home-business skills. Here are a few things I would recommend if you are thinking about starting a home business:
· Learn how to create a website. HTML may not be very fun to learn but something that will come in handy.
· Learn how to write articles. As I mentioned before, Andrew Pudewa has some very good curriculum available. Visit his website at http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/
· Learn basic book keeping skills.
· Learn a little about marketing.
· Continue dreaming. When starting a home business, we will run into many roadblocks. It’s important to never give up on our dreams.
· And most important of all, seek God’s will through prayer.
Have goals of what to do after high school. It doesn’t have to include college! There are lots of different options for getting more education without going to a secular school. Correspondence classes worked really well for me. There are also online classes available and you might even consider taking a class in a specialized area at a local college. What I especially liked about my correspondence curriculum was that I learned about the particular subject I was interested in, instead of taking two years of boring classes that I didn’t need.
When I graduated it seemed like the general consensus among homeschoolers was that girls should be preparing for marriage instead of a job. I’m not disagreeing with this, but I think that we need to have a backup plan in case the looked-for prince charming is a long time in coming. So many girls spend years in discontented singleness because they didn’t plan for those years while still in high school. Choosing to have a career during singleness is a wise decision, but it is also important to keep in mind that if God changes our course and we marry and have children, the career may need to be laid aside. For people like me who are looking at a lifetime of singleness, I’m glad that I decided early on to be content in pursuing a job that I could love.
While I was in high school I took a career test from Crown Financial Ministries, called Career Direct. This was very helpful in determining the kind of job I would enjoy. Based on the answers I gave it determined the kind of work environment I should have and also the areas I had weakness and strengths. Although I wanted it to tell me that “Amy, you should be a __________” and the blank would have the name of a profession, it was more of a road map to what kind of job I would find rewarding. Several different jobs fit into the categories where I have strengths. For instance, it told me that I’m a very detail-oriented person, and that I would be better at working with details than with people. I would highly recommend that every high school student take the Career Direct assessment. You may get more information at http://careerdirectonline.org/.
Most homeschoolers have a deep love of learning. We should continue to expand this after completing school, and we will always be growing. We should also make goals for the future, both spiritual and physical. Where do we want to be in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? What are some practical steps that we can take to accomplish those goals? A Bible study I went through several years ago that really encouraged me in this area was A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George.
In closing, I would like to say that God is in control of our future, and He has plans for us. Bathe every decision in prayer and ask Him to show you what He wants you to do. God has created every one of us with a unique assortment of gifts that He wants us to use for His glory.
About the Author: Amy Puetz (pronounced Pitts) is a homeschool graduate, a self-taught historian, and a servant of Jesus Christ. She is the author of Uncover Exciting History and Countdown to Christmas. History has been a passion for her since childhood. Years of in-depth study (both in modern and old sources) have equipped her to write history related books. She especially loves to dig for little-know stories that show God’s providential hand. Because of a chronic illness (fibromyalgia) that limits what she can do, the Lord led her to start an online business which she can do from home. She is the author of several e-books. In her spare time she enjoys sewing and reading. She also publishes a bimonthly e-zine for ladies of all ages called, Heroines of the Past E-zine. Visit her website at www.AmyPuetz.com to see many resources relating to history.