What Nobody Ever Told Me about Finding My Purpose

What Nobody Ever Told Me about Finding My Purpose 1

With all of the changes and different things that have unfolded in our life lately, I have been thinking a lot about the road that brought us here– to a place where, at least for now, Donnie and I are both blogging full time. This is something that, up until about a year ago, we had never even considered or dreamed of doing, but now that we’re here, not only do we feel like we’re getting to live our dream jobs, but the path we took to get here all of the sudden makes so much sense.

When I was younger and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “A teacher.” I didn’t really know what I wanted to teach, just that teaching sounded fun and I liked the idea of helping others in that way. So I went to college, earned my teaching degree (in secondary education, English and communication), and began to teach. Honestly, my time teaching at a high school was one of the hardest times of my life. I worked 24/7 trying to create amazing lessons for my students and come up with strategies that would help them all master the concepts to the best of their ability. Very, very quickly, I got burnt out, and I was almost relieved when I had to leave teaching as Donnie started a job with the border patrol and we moved out to Arizona.

Purpose and Calling | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Donnie and I during our time living in Arizona.

Still feeling sort of “shell shocked” from my first teaching experience and not really knowing how long we would stay out west, I took a job as a nanny and tried to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” 🙂 Teaching was all I ever planned on doing. I had never come up with a backup plan for if that didn’t work out. Though nannying, I figured out, wasn’t something I wanted to do forever, I am so grateful for all of the things I learned while I was caring for an infant and a kindergartner. I felt like it gave me a little head start for when I had my own kids, something else I always dreamed of doing.

Though we really did love our time in Arizona, all of our family was back in Pennsylvania, so after a year, we moved home. Still not knowing “what I wanted to be when I grew up” and still not ready to return to teaching, I began working at a bank. I knew that this wasn’t my “calling” either, but Donnie was in finance at the time, so I thought I could learn some things and maybe help him with his business sometime down the road.

I got pregnant with Connor soon after I started working at the bank, and after he was born I continued to work there two days a week. It was an easy job and allowed me to get out of the house and interact with adults a little bit, I made a little bit of extra money and still got to spend most of my time with Connor, and when I wasn’t with him, family members watched him. Even though I didn’t feel like I was doing life-altering work at the bank or pursuing something I was passionate about, the setup was a good one for that time in my life, and I am thankful for it.

Purpose and Calling | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Baby Connor “helping” me do the laundry. 🙂

It was also at the bank that I discovered blogging. I worked at a small town branch that would have periods of down time here and there, and since I could only organize my cash drawer so many times, I would read the news or find interesting articles on the web. Then one day I stumbled upon I Heart Organizing. I sort of knew what blogs were before that, but I never knew they could be so helpful or so addicting! I started reading more and more of Jen’s posts and even trying out some of her ideas at our house. At one point, I think I even made a Facebook photo album of my organization projects. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pre-blogging. 🙂

I had Caleb and when he was a year old, I left the bank and became a full time stay-at-home mom. Connor was going to be going to preschool several days a week, and I wanted to be the one to take him. The timing seemed right and we could swing it financially, so I started spending every day with my 2 little Cs. And I loved it. We definitely had our rough moments, but I was glad for the opportunity to be able to be the one who was caring for them all the time. It didn’t take long, though, for me to start searching for some sort of project or hobby that I could do for me. I was focusing on the Cs 24/7 and while I loved being with them, I felt like I needed something to challenge me and stimulate my brain a little bit more. (Not that parenting isn’t a challenge– it totally is, just in a different way.)

Purpose and Calling | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

With my Cs!

So in January of 2013, Just a Girl and Her Blog was born. I never thought anyone would read it. I thought it would just be my secret little project that I worked on in my free time for fun… and then I caught the blogging bug. I started reading and learning everything I could about blogging and trying out different strategies. To my surprise, they actually worked and the blog started to grow.

One day my mom sent me an article about Jason and Lisa of 100 Days of Real Food and how they had grown their blog and were both doing it full time. I immediately sent it to Donnie and said, “THIS COULD BE US!!!! We are the perfect team! Everything I lack, you are amazing at!!!” He was hesitant at first– his full time job in oil and gas was pretty demanding and he didn’t have a lot of free time– but he started doing more, little by little.

Then about a year ago, Donnie wrote his first paperless post on the blog, and as a result of affiliate sales from that post, we began to realize that this little hobby I had might actually become our business. He was all in. Our plan was to build it up until we were comfortable enough that Donnie could leave his job and we could both do this thing full time. In like a year. When the blog was a lot bigger than it is now.

But did you know that God doesn’t go by our plans but instead has a much greater, big-picture, master plan of His own? I don’t know why I still continue to be shocked every time I learn that lesson, but it’s true. So before we were ready, before we were comfortable, Donnie was laid off and we were both thrown into full-time blogging. The longer we’re at it, the longer we feel like we’re really in our element and maybe, just maybe that “calling” we have been looking for might actually be revealing itself bit by bit.

Purpose and Calling | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Our family this past weekend

 You see, whenever people talk about finding their purpose, it always seems like it’s this thing that you’re supposed to “just know” or happen upon one day. But what if purpose is less about the destination and more about everything we learn along the way? It’s so interesting to look back on all of the different events that happened in our lives and see how they’ve all led up to what we’re doing now. I studied English and communication, which helped me really hone my writing skills. I took education classes and taught, which showed me how to take a concept and break it down in a way that people could understand. Nannying allowed me to “practice” for my most important job, being a mom. My time at the bank led me to discover a hobby that I really loved. And that hobby turned into this blog, the business that was there to support our family when we unexpectedly needed it. I could go through Donnie’s story and point out the same types of things, but this post is already waaaaaay too long. 🙂

In no way do I think we have “arrived.” In fact, I think that the place we’re in now is just the very beginning, the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think this road will always be a smooth one– I’m sure we’ll experience disappointments and setbacks along the way– but I’m so excited to see where it leads.

I recently read Jeff Goins’ new book, The Art of Work: The Proven Path to Discovering what You Were Meant to Do, and it was like a lightbulb went on for me. As I read it (all in one night because I couldn’t put it down close my laptop), I’m sure a goofy smile was plastered on my face the whole time because I felt like he was telling our story. Through the stories of others who went through unexpected twists and turns that eventually led them to discover their “calling” or “life’s work,” I saw that God had been using things in my past that seemed completely irrelevant to what I’m doing now to prepare me for what was ahead. I’m sure the place He has us in now is preparing us for whatever is to come in the future.

If you’ve ever struggled with finding your calling or purpose or if you feel like you’ve been searching for the “right fit” somewhere, I understand. I have totally been there, so I am very excited be an affiliate partner of Jeff’s as he does something incredible– he’s giving away his book The Art of Work for free, just asking readers to pay shipping. (NOTE: Offer expired 03/23/15) When you sign up to receive the book, you also get access to some great bonuses: a PDF of the book so you can start reading immediately (like I did), a video mini-course about finding your calling, a workbook to walk you through the process, and more. This book truly helped me to put a lot of things into perspective, and I hope it will do the same for you.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

If you came looking for DIY projects and decorating tips today, I apologize for the over-abundance of mushy, personal stuff you received instead. 🙂 I just know that I was that girl who was looking, searching for that “thing” that was a fit for me, for a way I could help my family while still being at home with my sweet little Cs. And while the story will play out differently for everyone, I encourage you that it’s possible. YOU can do it. You never know what God has in store or how he’ll use the things you’re doing right now to prepare you for the future. It’s not all about the destination; it’s the journey that is incredibly, incredibly important. HUGS!!

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

29 Comments

  1. Hi Abby!

    My story is very similar to yours. When I was child, I wanted to be a teacher. Now I am a teacher and I think I burnt myself out with my first teaching years. At the moment I’m at home with my two boys and I really do not want to go back to work. So I try to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Oh, and it is hard…

    Cheers,
    Riina

  2. Lauren @ Mom Home Guide says:

    I loved reading your story, Abby! I hope all is working with you and Donnie full-time blogging. Great family pics! 🙂

  3. Boy this post is so well-timed for me! I have been thinking a lot about my “purpose” since my children are getting older and I wrestle with what will come next. I have felt a lot of anxiety over it and confusion about my path…and this post has encouraged me to have patience, faith, and trust that God has the big picture in mind and what I’ve done in my life so far prepares me for the future, even if I don’t always understand how. Thank you so much!

  4. Hi Abby!
    Thanks for sharing this post! I will definitely be reading into Jeff’s book! Right now I am on the part where I don’t know what I want to do.. I started university and didn’t like my career choice at all, now I’m just taking some time to figure it out and my husband has been very supportive of my choice, however my parents have been a bit pressuring .. I would love to have a blog someday as I love everything about it and just reading your story is so inspiring !! Thank you & God bless you!

  5. This post timing was excellent as I have spent the start of 2015 trying to figure out the next step in my life since turning 40. As my son’s schedule becomes more busy working outside the home sometimes becomes overwhelming. Looking forward to reading the Jeff Goins book and finding my purpose/calling. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. You’ve put this into words beautifully! I have a 17 year old who is looking to college and his future and trying to figure out “what he wants to be.” I keep telling him that that is something he’ll probably discover along the way and that there are opportunities out there that he doesn’t even know exist! Your story is proof of that! I can’t wait to check out the book too I think I’ll love it as much as you did!

  7. lindsay @ Wild Ginger says:

    God’s time is always perfect timing (whether we think it’s perfect or not), and similarly to the above comments, God’s using your post in my spiritual timeline.

    Thanks for your willingness to tell the story. This is divine timing.

  8. Emily, Our house now a home says:

    You said this wonderfully. I have a canvas with the words ” I may not have gone where I intended to go. But I think I have ended up where I intended to be. ” It is one of my favorite sayings, and I adore it. We too have stumbled along, been planning for something. When another opportunity makes itself known. Then it makes sense why that other thing fell through. I also was a nanny, then a preschool teacher, and then a stay at home Mom once I had my oldest (she is 7). A little over 1 year ago I took my love for all things DIY and home decor and turned it into a blog. I did not think I would be where I am, was not even aware of the possibilities. I am still growing, changing, figuring it all out. But, having opportunities come my way is exciting. I did not realize I needed something for just me, and to be able to make money off of it is blowing my mind. I get paid to decorate my home, meet people, write, be inspired, and create! I also am there for all of my kids small and big moments. This was not what we planned, but it is exactly where I am supposed to be. Yay, for stumbling along and finding our purpose!

  9. I love and appreciate this post! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Valerie Donaldson says:

    Thank you so much for another great post! I have somehow found myself as a beginning blogger, “early out” teacher, and a crafter/DIY’er. I really don’t know where I am supposed to be right now. All I know is that God has a plan, and I think that you have helped me with one of the many steps to help be still and listen to what He is leading me to be. I have purchased the book and look forward to writing all in the hardcopy with notes and reflections. But until then, I will begin this journey with my ebook and other resources. Thank you so very much! You are a blessing!
    Valerie

  11. Karen Marie Kedzuch says:

    Abby,
    One of my favorite sayings is, “God hasn’t finished with me yet.”
    We are all works in progress twisting and turning into the lessons, people and stories we are meant to leave when our work here is complete. Thank you for your heartfelt post today.
    Happy Creating,
    Karen Marie

  12. This is such a great post, and I can totally relate. An Ex-English teacher myself, I feel that I’ve finally found my passion…two careers later! Like you, I can see God’s hand leading me through paths to prepare me for where I am now. Here I am in my first year of blogging, loving every minute of it and remembering my love of writing that was lost while I was busy working outside of the home. Growing up I always “knew” I wanted to be a teacher, and although I am no longer on that path, I can see how God used my experiences to bring me to where I am now. Thanks for sharing you story! It encouraged me today!

  13. Hi! I’ve been reading your blog here and there as time allows and have enjoyed it. I shared it on facebook. I am praying for your sweet family. It is hard when you know God is working in your lives, but you’re not sure what that direction is. I am an art teacher and am also burnt out which our art show is quickly approaching and it covers an entire second floor and every time it’s on its way, I get really burnt out! I almost killed myself last year toting a 15 ft. ladder up the stairwell.! lol Anyway, your post today hit home so much for me, I had to write. I’ve prayed about “when I grow up” for as long as I can remember, and I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. God puts us in different roles to grow us and prepare us for the next step. For the past couple years I’ve been praying very hard about homeschooling our kids. I am not happy with public ed, and just miss them so much. I want to be with them and teach them through “God goggles” everyday. However, my husband and I know we can’t make it without my little income. I really enjoy design and home decorating on a budget and got to take a course a couple years ago on it. I have also felt a calling for a long, long time to open an art studio where kids could come after school to get a snack and do art with a Jesus twist. There are so many kids who go home and never get another meal the rest of the day, and will never hear about a Father who loves them. This would have to be a free program, so I wondered if I could also run a decorating business, an art studio business where people could choose art themed birthday party packages, and a business where my husband and I work together to redo furniture, shelving, and create art for children’s rooms, etc. We’ve done some projects together that have turned out FANTASTIC! We’ve also decorated some houses together, and found out we work together really, really well! My husband is at a point where he would love to own his own business, and has discussed a farm which God keeps closing that door. I’m praying about mentioning my idea to him. I really feel like God has something up His sleeve for us and is preparing us for more than we’re doing now. I signed up for the book and am so excited to do it with him! Thankyou for the info, sorry this is so long! I’m just really excited about trying to move in God’s direction with our family!

  14. Thanks for this post, I can definitely relate! During all four years of college AND all 4 years after college, I’ve spent wondering what I’m really supposed to be doing for a living. I was never one that knew she was going to be a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, an engineer. My husband, my mother, my siblings… they’ve always been so dedicated and passionate towards their work and always knew it was right… and then there’s been me, wondering why I’m the oddball that can’t figure out that one special thing I’m supposed to be doing. I started blogging almost a year ago as a little side project and creative outlet, and I’m becoming more and more interested as time goes by. I guess you never know where life will take you, but I always believe everything happens for a reason! I think I’ll have to check out this book 😉

  15. This post couldn’t come for a better time for me. I am recently brand new to blogging within the last month I found you on Pinterest for the home binder to get me organized and show your blogs and decided to sign up. Little did I know you were going to suggest 2 books that could change my life just when I need it and give me hope that even though I am going through the hardest time of my life, have hit rock bottom and trying to find what that calling is for me this is the path and jounery I was put on to find where I am belong! Thanks! I read your story and it’s given me the hope and determination I need to just stay focused on my true passion of photography! Thanks Abby look forward to reading more of your blogs and get the books you suggested to really see where I belong!!

  16. JaneEllen says:

    Hi Abby Boy did I enjoy reading all the comments to your post.
    I remember when I graduated high school in June/58 thinking, now what am I supposed to do? duh.I started out going to U of A in Tucson. Didn’t go very long realized that wasn’t for me, at that time. I got married in july 59. Had first child by july 1960. By May, 1964 I had 3rd .child. Still didn’t know or even wonder what I was supposed to be doing, I was a Mom to 3 adorable little people. Knew not the first thing really about being a Mom except what my Mother told me I should do, not really my ideas at all. Whenever I tried to exert my own ideas I was scorned and told I was making big mistakes and getting confused all the more. By April, 1965 I was divorced, didn’t drive or know what I was going to do.
    We all have those little things that happen in our lives that happen for very good reasons. It wasn’t til I got divorced I started rebelling even more to be “me” or find out who in heck “me” was. Kept getting those same reactions from Mom. When I married my 2nd. husband after knowing him for very little time. ( I’d been told nobody was going to want me, let alone 3 kids for pretty much whole time I was divorced). Our first date was Oct. 18, 68, got married 11/30/68 and he left for Nam on 12/26/68. Wow I’m married to somebody I don’t know. But he’d wanted to marry me with 3 little kids. Why?
    I’ve always been a very spontaneous person, didn’t like all the rules about what I should do and when. I’m still that way but now feel good about being that person. Hubs and I have been married 46 yrs this last Nov. Oh sure we have our spats, and I’d like to distance myself from him sometimes but even tho we’re such different people we both seem to kinda like each other and want to stay married. Finish this story.
    I feel that all the things we’ve been thru have been for reason, even tho it’s hard it’s happened for reason, to teach us something we might not even be aware we’re learning. We all need to keep growing, growing toward being the person we’re meant to be and maybe that could take our whole lives, so what?
    I was always being told I needed to grow up, I was doing that but just not the way people in my life thought I should. Again that had to have happened for a reason, I had to get the guts to go my own way, on my own time table. To the time my Mom died she was still giving me grief about the person I was. I was told by a very good friend that had known me since I was about 12 or 13 that my Mom was jealous of me, that I had nerve, guts, whatever to keep working on being my self regardless of all the negative stuff I was being fed. Where that came from who knows but I’m sure glad it was there when I needed it.
    I’m not blaming my Mom, she was going with what happened in her life to try to protect me from myself? She’d say things to me but in my own head I was thinking – “maybe for you what you’re saying is right, but not for me”. I felt that so strongly so many times.
    When hubs got out of Air Force in Aug.69 we moved to Colorado Springs, Mom was not happy at all. I was jubilant as I thought I’ll finally have chance to find out about me with out all the jabber at me. Mom was pretty ticked off. Boy was moving to CS a lesson hard learned but it served it’s purpose. Hubs Mom had her own ideas about what her first born son’s life should be, believe me it didn’t include me or my kids He arrives with wife, 3 kids and pregnant wife soon after. But that’s another story. MIl and I never did like each other.
    Your post happened at a time that was meant to be for yourself as well as your readers. Bravo. It’s in the stars, what happens to us, God has his own plan and we can go along or float out in wherever til we figure it out.
    Wish I could come up with something totally poignant and mature, all I have is what I said here. We don’t have an easy life but we have each other, our kids and theirs, our little house, dog, cat, 5 chickens, who knew?
    I watch our youngest, hubs and my daughter, she has her own stumbles. That’s ok, when she gets worried or scared she’ll talk to me about it and she ends up feeling ok, enuf to let it happen. Now that’s not easy, she’s a person that needs to plan and be in control. She’s always so surprised when how we live turns out ok. Her crazy spontaneous Mom. She’s 44, will be 45 in early April. She’s a very good and caring Mom. Whole bunch different than I was but she’s having her turn now, she’s entitled to that, it’s her life. Amen.

  17. Oh Abby…
    It is such an honor to get to peek in on the life that God has given you…I was back at Ashland a few weeks ago and sat in the Eagle’s Nest with friends from college and we laughed about sitting at these tables with you and your Dad and he just sat you in the middle of our table and we all fed you from our plates! 🙂 (your mom was out of town…obviously) You just giggled, you were so fun! Now I get to see where God has taken you and learn from what He is doing in you and your family!! What a blessing!!! Thank you!
    Buffy

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Buffy! How fun to think back to those times! (Even if I made a mess with the broken fishbowl…now it’s my boys that are getting into those types of shenanigans! 😉 Hope your family is doing well!

      ~Abby =)

  18. Meaghan | Cook. Craft. Love. says:

    this post had me in tears. Our journeys are so similar except I’m not married. I wanted to be a teacher my entire life but when I couldn’t find a public school teaching job right out of college thanks to the recession I got burnt out in my preschool job after just 3 years. I tried nannying for a year but that wasn’t something I enjoyed full time. It kind of made me wonder if I even wanted to be a mom at all. When I left that nanny job I started substitute teaching just to make ends meet and then found blogging. Because of you! I finally found a “job” that I’m excited to do every single day and I hope to make this my full time real life income as soon as I can. Thank you for inspiring me over and over to follow my dream no matter how off the beaten path it is!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are the sweetest, friend! I am so glad that you found blogging because you are such a joy and a light in the blogging world. Keep doing your thing, girl! Hugs!!

      ~Abby =)

  19. Brandi @ withBrandi says:

    You couldn’t be more right about how finding our purpose being less about the destination and more about everything we learn along the way. I’m not 100% what my purpose is, but everyday I feel like I’m closer to figuring it out. I’m reading your e-book now and will be sure to The Art of Work next.

  20. Hello Abby! Your email newsletter about the Art of working totally piked my curiosity and I ordered AKA paid for the shipping 😉 Now I”m waiting for the bonus material. I’m in place where I know I”m doing what God has planned for me but I also think about the future and it gives me a bit of anxiety.. So thank you for sharing this knowledge and I’ll get back to you with my thoughts about “The art of work”.
    (Totally unrelated, today I posted a review for a book, (my first!), so I found it funny you and I posted about books on the the same day 🙂
    hugs!
    Ursula

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I’m so excited for you to read it, Ursula! It was a total game changer for me! And so funny about the book reviews. You know what they say– great minds… 😉

      ~Abby =)

  21. Rev. Suzanne L. Taylor says:

    Dear Abby,

    Thank you for this encouraging blog post. I love your references to God and that you give Him the credit for your success.

    I wondered if it’s possible that you might tell me who your blog hosting company is. I am looking to create a blog for devotionals and current events. Feel free to e-mail the information if you wish.

    In His service joyfully,

    Rev. Suzanne L. Taylor

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Rev. Suzanne! I give a full rundown of hosting companies I recommend in this post: https://justagirlandherblog.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ . I currently use Synthesis, but I didn’t switch to them until my traffic had started to grow significantly. When you are just starting out, I would recommend Bluehost or MediaTemple; they are both great services and have a lower price tag than Synthesis. I hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

  22. Hi Abby! Thank you for posting about this book. I ordered it today and have already watched/listened to a couple of Jeff’s videos and find them very inspiring. Between your book (as well as the AWESOME facebook group you and Donnie started for those of us who have enjoyed Building A Framework) and Jeff’s book, I hope to achieve my dreams this year! Thank you 🙂 ~Dianne

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I’m so excited to see what you accomplish this year, Dianne! I think you will really love the book– it is truly fantastic. “See” you on Facebook! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  23. I’d love to read the book but when I clicked over I couldn’t figure out how to get it for free plus shipping. Can you help?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Amy! Sadly that deal ended on Monday. 🙁 The book has officially launched online and in stores, though, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the chance to grab a copy. Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

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