A Waiting Room Answer to ‘What do you do?’

When my daughter Molly was younger, people would always ask her, “What do you do?”

What they wanted to know, of course, was which extracurricular activities she was involved in. Soccer? Dance? Piano? Tennis? Competitive tight-rope walking?

blooming rose

The answer? Until her fourth-grade year, nothing.

For a while, she went through a phase of weeding out what she didn’t want to do. Not surprisingly, this endeavor was largely based on what her older sister was interested in the time. Every now and then, on the way home from dropping Lilly off at some practice or class, I’d hear from the backseat:

“Do you have to play soccer?”

“Do you have to take ballet?”

“Do you have to sing solos in the first-grade musical?”

No, nope and most assuredly not!

If you ask me, knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do—especially if you are a planner like Molly who tends to make big decisions only after lots of careful thought. (And I firmly believe my job as her mom is not to force her into things she doesn’t want to do, but rather, to let her discover her own interests at her own sweet pace.)

Now, though, I’m the one who’s getting the question. I realize “What do you do?” is a natural query for adults as well as children, but I’m not exactly sure how to answer it these days.

It’s not that I don’t know what I do. Homemaker, housewife, math tutor, writing coach, household engineer, bookkeeper, taxi driver, chief cook and laundry washer—it all applies, just as it has for quite a long time.

I love being a stay-at-home mom, but now that my girls are getting older, I’m actively investigating what might be next for me, professionally. In the last year or so, I’ve added blogging to my mix of ongoing activities and resumed a bit of editing. But I’m still in somewhat of a nebulous in-between phase when it comes to regular work that results in actual income.

In today’s marketplace, finding freelance writing or editing work is not an overnight process. It’s not only what you know, it’s who. It’s not necessarily where you look, but when.

As a result, it’s easy to get discouraged, to convince myself that there’s no way I’ll ever get much work in my field so I might as well just start applying for checker jobs at the local big box retail store.

Then again, I’ve logged enough hours in God’s waiting room over the years to understand that things happen when the timing is right, which often is when I least expect it.

So I’m not rushing into anything. I’m not knocking on every door I see. A few months ago, I made a list and I’ve been working my way through it, slowly and methodically. When an opportunity pops up or an idea begins to germinate, I take the next step and wait. If nothing happens, I move on to the next thing.

I’m trying to do my part while trusting that God will send the work I need to do, when I need to do it. There’s a lot of peace in that, even though it doesn’t make for a flashy answer when someone asks me what I do.

For her part, Molly now welcomes the opportunity to try new things. She signed up for math club. She’s in special chorus. She’s even playing the clarinet in the fifth-grade band. (This, after stating for years that she wanted to play the violin because she was sure that blowing on a wind instrument would make her dizzy.)

She sampled a tap-dancing class just the other week, but left the building with the firm conviction that this form of movement was too loud for her. (I could have told her that before she went in, but sometimes we have to find things out for ourselves when we are almost 11.)

It’s too early to tell if any of these activities will become her main “thing” as she gets older. Maybe none of them will. But she’s trying and growing and stretching, because the time is right for her to do that.

And because the time is right, I don’t have to push things on her. I just get to sit back and watch the beauty unfold.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Way to Go, Royals!!!

P.P.S. I’m linking up this week with Grace & Truth, Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.

38 Responses to A Waiting Room Answer to ‘What do you do?’

  1. Angie Webb says:

    You are a great writer. I found you from Suzie’s site. Glad to connect with you.

  2. Kristi Woods says:

    “Competitive tight-rope walking” ~ I love it, Lois. Your post offered a smile initially, it finished with one too. Several head nods joined the party in between, especially with the freelance market. Your words brought sweet, sweet encouragement to me today. They are well worth the blog space. Thank you! Visiting via #livefreeThursday.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Kristi … I know what it’s like to be needing that kind of encouragement as a writer and editor, so I’m glad the post made you smile. I initially posted it a while ago but it just seemed to fit the “limbo” theme on Suzie’s linkup today! 🙂

  3. Crystal S. Hornback says:

    “Then again, I’ve logged enough hours in God’s waiting room over the years to understand that things happen when the timing is right, which often is when I least expect it.” YES!!! Love this post, Lois! Thank you for the reminder & encouragement! #livefreeThursday

  4. Kathy Beachy says:

    Happy Birthday, Lois!! Praying for a beautiful year of peace, beauty, and unfolding surprises in the waiting room of God’s perfect timing! May He open doors of opportunity that delight your heart and satisfy your soul. May He schedule divine appointments in your days for your good and His glory. It’s been a joy to grow with you this year in loving my family and my God. Blessings. XOXOX

  5. Candace says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t rush your daughter into any activities until she was ready. Kids are desperately over-scheduled these days.
    I’m a stay-at-home mom as well and can so relate to you on the “what do you do” question. My kids are growing fast, with my daughter now living on her own and my son in middle school. Blogging has been a wonderful outlet, but I’ve felt like I’m in “God’s waiting room” for a while now. Thanks for this encouragement and the reminder that we don’t have to rush into the next opportunity.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      You’re very welcome, Candace. I can’t help but think our presence at home becomes even more important the older our kids get … what do you think? All that time spent listening and asking questions (and, OK, trying to keep my mouth shut) doesn’t result in a paycheck, but it pays far greater dividends in the long run, at least I hope it does! Blessings to you today!

  6. Anna Smit says:

    I’m visiting from Jennifer’s Link-Up. Thank you for your wisdom here. Your words are a timely reminder for me in my own waiting room to not rush into things, but to look to God in trust. Thank you.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Anna, I think that’s the best approach too. I know when I try to force things or rush into them, I usually end up creating a lot more stress for myself and everyone else! I’m so glad you stopped by today. 🙂

  7. Dawn says:

    This is the first year that my son has participated in an active traveling sport, Cross Country. Bless his heart, he began running as a way to spend time with me ( apart from his two vociferous sister) and fell in love with running, like me. He learned the art of diligence an discipline in the short 3 ( though they felt long) months of training and competing and it lead into finding something fun for his younger sister to start looking for. I am not sure I am welcoming the busy travel that takes my introverted self out of my comfort zone but like you I have been contemplating just what I do. I want to be one who waits expectantly for HIS direction and says yes to that rather than worry that my vocation is anything elevating, though I don’t always succeed in that. I too have resorted to lists for the goals in my heart, letting prayer be the impetus to move me forward. Your words were an encouragement to keep moving on.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Dawn, I love that your son took up running as a way to spend time with you apart from his sisters! I know what you mean about having to venture out of our comfort zone to support a child’s passion … we are in that space place with my older daughter and ballet. And as far as letting prayer being the impetus to move us forward … absolutely! I find myself praying, “Not my will but yours be done,” quite frequently. There’s a reason Jan Karon (of the Mitford books) calls that “the prayer that never fails.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts today … 🙂

  8. Enjoy watching the beauty unfold. May the Lord open the right doors for you at the right time, Lois. I’m in the same boat! Learning to wait.

  9. Really needed to here this today: “Then again, I’ve logged enough hours in God’s waiting room over the years to understand that things happen when the timing is right, which often is when I least expect it.”

    Sometimes, no matter what experience I’ve had with this, I just need to be reminded! Thanks for your post!

  10. Linda Stoll says:

    and this … too funny –>’Competitive tight-rope walking’

    but this? –>’ I’ve logged enough hours in God’s waiting room over the years to understand that things happen when the timing is right, which often is when I least expect it.’

    You’ve captured in a nutshell exactly where I am right now, too. And there’s no place else I’d rather be …

    Thanks for this time together, Lois!


    • Lois Flowers says:

      It seems a lot of us are in that same place, doesn’t it, Linda? And I’m with you … I’d much rather be here than out there on my own, wildly trying to make something happen myself. Blessings to you as we wait together!

  11. Devi says:

    A friend of mine used to ask, what do you do for work, which seemed to me like a slightly more accurate question than, What do you do? We are all doing so much, whether or not that counts in the world’s eyes.. sometimes our hobbies say so much more about our hearts than what we actually do for work.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I need to remember your friend’s question, Devi. You’re right … it is more accurate than “What do you do?” and probably much easier to answer. Thanks for stopping by today!

  12. Valerie says:

    You are a gifted writer and I pray that the Lord opens doors for you. Thank you for blessing others with your gift!

  13. Lisa notes says:

    I’m never quite sure how to answer that question either: What do you do? Now that I’m in the empty nest season, I’m no longer homeschooling; I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom (since no kids are in the house!). My sister and I joke about being stay-at-home people. ha. My goal is to do each day what God calls me to do that day, and so far it’s not been a dull moment yet.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Stay-at-home people … I like that, Lisa! Home is my favorite place to be, too, and, I’m never bored either. 🙂 I think the secret to contentment lies in what you said: doing each day what God calls us to do that day.

  14. I so relate to your words, Lois, both as a mom and as a woman. At 12, my son is learning to find his niche and discovering what he loves. I believe I’m doing the same. God has rewritten my story, and while I know what He’s unfolding is so much better, it can be tempting to what to rush to the other side. God has given me peace too, in waiting on Him, trusting His timing, and believing that what will come to pass, comes by His hand. Such a blessing to know that though our journeys are different, we still walk the same path with and for Him. #tellhisstory

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m so glad God has given you peace in the waiting, Tiffany. There really is nothing better than that, is there? You are a gifted writer/encourager, and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where God leads you. 🙂

  15. Kathy says:

    I love this..it dove tails my blog today on change..and confirms my own in-between state of seeking new work! I love your daughter’s answer..’nothing’..I must say it’s been a challenge for me since my change/transition is slow going..I’ve not received God’s clarity of direction. Although I’m now in a place where I’m more content hearing God’s call, I wish I could have done ‘nothing’ all along and been okay with it! I just love the little children, Jesus is so right..be like little children! visiting from #raralinkup ..I drawn to your post!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      We must be on the same wavelength today, Kathy. Much of what you wrote in your post resonated with me, too! It’s hard to do nothing and be OK with it, isn’t it? I’ve never been good at waiting for God’s timing, but He has been gracious to give me many opportunities to practice! Whenever God’s clarity comes for you, I hope that the next season of your life is fruitful and productive!

  16. Lois,
    You’re a wise and loving mama to allow your girls the freedom to learn what works and what doesn’t…and I pray God will continue to encourage you as you wait…I feel like I’m in that space now, too, in some things…Anyway, you and Linda are highlighted in this post http://soulstops.com/post/2015/11/03/3-ways-to-build-hope-3.aspx


    • Lois Flowers says:

      Dolly, you never fail to bless me with your encouraging words! I pray the same for you … that you will be able to rest as you wait, knowing that God knows the big picture even when we can’t see the next step. Thank you for sharing your post … it’s a joy to be included with Linda!

  17. Trudy says:

    I love that you let your children discover their interests at their own pace, Lois. 🙂 I’ve seen it happen where parents push their children into activities that interest them rather than their child. “God’s waiting room.” I love that. Just trusting He will send you where He wants you to go.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’ve seen that kind of parental pushing too, Trudy, and it always makes me sad. We’re in a fun season of watching our girls’ talents and interests blossom, and I’m enjoying every minute. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement today!

  18. “Logging hours in God’s waiting room.” Love it. And I’ve been there. Am there.

    I particularly love the peace in your attitude of allowing God to work in his perfect time. That wil happen. I believe it for the both of us. There is a lot to be said for finding contentment in the process. For owning what you don’t like so you can truly find what you love. Thanks!

  19. Christi says:

    Oh my sweet sister. I needed this. Love it. It was like having coffee with you this morning.

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