How I Put My Husband Through College – As A Homeschooling Mom of Five!

I still can’t believe we made it. Three years of college. Five children. Homeschooling. Running a business from home. Extremely late nights for my husband and I. Somehow, we have survived.

Sean with his youngest daughter!

I promised to share our story now that Sean has graduated college earlier this month. It’s a story of God miraculously providing for our needs the past few years.

When I met Sean, he was in college pursuing a graphic design degree. He grew up as a boy drawing, and even the work he did as a boy is far better then anything I can draw! He went to college for two years before deciding to quit the graphic design degree. He did this for many different reasons…one of the many being he was about to be presented with classes that involved nude drawing, and he couldn’t justify doing that as a Christian.

Some of Sean's Work on displaySome of Sean’s work on display at his graduation party.Β 

He went to a community college for a few semesters to be sign language interpreter, but decided against that as well and began working in a cabinet shop (this was my idea). We were married while he was learning the cabinetry trade, and a few years after we were married we decided to start our own cabinet shop. Sean did an excellent job making custom cabinets, but it was a difficult business to be in financially. Eventually we stopped the business and he took over my Dad’s part time lawn care business and grew it into a full time business. He enjoyed mowing, and did a great job with it.

Eventually though, he realized that mowing lawns was not what he wanted to do the rest of his life. He came home one day from mowing, and told me he really felt like he needed to use the talent God had given him in art. We started talking about the possibility of him going back to college. At that point Deborah & Co. (then known as The Modest Mom) was more of a side income, but it was growing quickly.

We took a step of faith, and enrolled Sean in a local community college. We received the FAFSA grant and that covered the tuition for that year of community college. Sean juggled keeping up the mowing business and attending college, many times pulling his truck and trailer to college, still wearing his mowing uniform to attend class.

After one year of community college it was time to transfer to a traditional four year college to finish the degree, which would take another two years. He toured several colleges, and found a college he really liked.

But it was time to take few more huge leaps of faith. We needed to sell our lawn care business (our full time income!) and sell our house. We advertised our business at the worse possible time – in the fall. However, one week after Sean started college full time at the traditional four year college, we sold our lawn care business to a wonderful Mennonite couple. Sean really cared for his customers and wanted to make sure they would be well taken care of. It was a huge answer to prayer to sell the business but even more so to be able to turn it over to new owners knowing they would do a really good job.

Jumping for joy! College is over!

One huge miracle down, another yet to go. We had been trying to sell our house for two years. I loved our house; it was the first house we had purchased, and we had special memories there. It had a large yard for the children and fantastic neighbors in a safe area but it was too far away from the college and with the sell of the lawn care business, we had to get a lower monthly house payment. We simply had to move.

After putting it on the market and taking it off multiple times, we finally gave up on selling it and took it off for good. We were uncomfortable with this because selling our house was one of the requirements we set up for ourselves to determine if college was the right way forward. About two weeks after we took it off, though, someone pulled in our driveway while we were all outside. They wanted to know if our house was still up for sale, and long story short, we ended up selling it ourselves! We were shocked! We didn’t even have a sign in the yard! Now, where to move?

Thankfully, our friends offered to let us rent their rental house for a good deal. It’s not in the best area of town, but it’s not the worst either. The yard is small, but there is a ditch that my boys love to play in (woods and dirt!). The house is smaller (1200 sq. feet total, but 200 of that is used for the business). But it’s been a blessing, and we have made it work. It is very close to our church and my sister, which is great!

So that leads us to, how did we financially make it the last two years? My husband has not worked a job the last two years, and has only done a few cabinetry jobs over christmas breaks while helping me with the business whenever he could. Being in college for graphic design is tough. The homework literally never ends – you are constantly designing projects. It’s not like you can cram for a test; you have to spend hours and hours on a project, turn it in and start on another one. Sean has spent most of his nights up until 2 or 3 AM for two years, and staying awake all night more times then I can count. It got to the point that I knew Sean would be in bed with me Friday and Saturday night, but every other night he was up late and crashed on the couch for a few hours so he wouldn’t wake up me. :/

Finally done with college!

Deborah & Co. and Lilla Rose has provided for us the past two years. More specifically, the wonderful support from you all, my amazing blog readers and customers, have made it possible for my husband to finish college.Β 

Every cami you bought, every flexi clip you purchased, every skirt you ordered, every skincare product from L’BRI you ordered, or every affiliate link you clicked through from my blog, you have literally put food on our table, and made it possible for us to survive the past few years. I’ve been so humbled many times over. I truly feel like God wanted Sean to finish college, our story seems so amazing.

We can’t begin to thank you enough, thank you for your support, your encouragement, your faithful following, and for believing in our company.Β 

As a family we survived college!

Deborah & Co. is not going anywhere, and I’m not going anywhere, though I might take a step back and not blog quite as much, as least for a little bit. You’ve probably noticed I haven’t been on here as much the past two weeks. Between graduation and then a graduation party, I’ve been busy! I also was purposeful to take May off, and spend time with my family, and enjoy my husband home before he finds a full time job to start. My children need more of my attention, and so I’m going to work harder on balancing my priorities. God, husband, children, homeschooling, homemaking, business and blog. Pretty much in that order. πŸ™‚

A few more testimonies to share….remember the classes I said my husband did not want to do as a Christian? We prayed over the classes he would take, knowing that it would really take an act of God to make his path clear through two years of design classes (the design field, if you didn’t know, is far from being conservative and even further from being Christian). He was miraculously able to avoid a drawing and photography class that would have required him to do nude work. The class at the four year university that would have required this atrocity he was able to take at community college and the one at community college that required it, he was able to take at the four year university! We didn’t even know what he was saved from until he transferred over to the four year college! He refused to do anything regarding sex and liquor, and in case you haven’t noticed, those two things are quite popular in the design world. :/ Projects that should have happened were canceled, and he only had to go to his teacher once and ask to be excused from a project, and he graciously gave Sean a different project to work on instead of giving him an F!

The last testimony…remember the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that happened last month? I prayed about that bundle for over a month before it happened. I asked the Lord for one final testimony to end this amazing college experience, I wanted to be able to pay off half of Sean’s student loans with the money I earned. Guess what happened? Yes, it really did happen. Half of his loan is being paid off, thanks to all of you who purchased a bundle through my link (and I hope you are enjoying all your wonderful ebooks and bonus offers!).

How I put my husband through college, while homeschooling with five children! | themodestmomblog.com

Just to be clear, our story is not something we want to hold up as an example that other families should follow. It was very difficult, and really nobody will ever know just how exhausting it was. We had to sacrifice a lot of family time. Sean and I went into this adventure with a really strong marriage, otherwise our marriage could have easily fallen apart. It was that rough. We had a vision of him finishing college, and strongly felt like God wanted him to do this, which kept us going. While we don’t have any problems with moms having businesses from home, trying to keep up a full time business without much help long term is very difficult to do, while still trying to homeschool. We will be hiring more help so the business can keep running once my husband finds a full time job.

You can see my husband’s portfolio website here, in case you are interested in some of the graphic design work he has done!

To God be all the glory!!

Comments

  1. Johanne says:

    Wow! God is sooo good! Thank you for sharing, and God bless you and Sean and the children! πŸ™‚

  2. My mom put my dad through college, too…fortunately my sister and I hadn’t happened yet, but it is still so hard! Congratulations on all you and Sean have been able to achieve!

  3. Praise God! It never ceases to amaze me how God takes care of His children. My own testimony, like so many other moms who took a leap of faith and stepped into a life of reduced income and seemingly missing opportunities all to be faithful to what we knew God was leading us to do, is full of impossible things being fully possible and prayers answered in amazing ways. God is more than faithful when we go out in faith for His glory. I am so happy for your husband and pray that his talents be a witness for Christ in a field that seems dominated by worldly priorities. We definitely need more Christians using their talents for our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Sarah

  4. Congratulations to Sean and to you for all your hard work and sacrifice. It is wonderful to know that there are men who will take a stand for right, even when it may cost them a grade or a degree. I’m so thankful your husband said “no” to the degraded art culture.

  5. What an awesome testimony! It is so encouraging to hear you have come out on the other end fairly intact. My husband works full time and begins a full-time student load in August. Our fourth child is due in July and so begins a similar adventure for us. Fortunately, we only have two years of schooling to work through but no doubt it will be a busy season of life.

    Thank you for sharing your story and being an encouragement as we head into this new season!

  6. Rosemary says:

    Congratulations to all of you! Best wishes to you and your family. God bless!

  7. That was so good to read. Honestly as I got to know you online and know how much you have to do with several home businesses and homeschooling with littles, I had to remind myself not to judge. I know that I could never keep up with that without something suffering. I also homeschool 5 with littles and though I could have a business with my sewing skills, and have been asked to several time, I know that it would take away from more important things. It is good to know that the sacrifice you made with all this was temporary. Though I would never want to try to juggle all that full time and long term, I would for sure do it with God’s leading for a short time and with a goal in mind. I am glad that the Lord reminded me not to judge and even more glad that you were faithful and that it is now all over! Enjoy your time and the sweet reward of your sacrifice. Congrats!

    • Caroline says:

      I think people have been under the impression that I sew everything myself. I actually can’t remember the last time I’ve touched a sewing machine, I think it was a year ago! I started the business 4 years ago sewing the skirts, but quickly realized I couldn’t do it all and hired a seamstress. I have a fantastic seamstress who does all the custom work, and then we have inventory for the rest of our business. With Lilla Rose, I don’t have to do any of the shipping as I’m a consultant. So I stay busy doing all the online work, blogging, and just keeping everything in stock. πŸ™‚

      And like I said in the post, I would never encourage someone to do this long term, without help. My accountant told us a year ago we needed to hire someone to help ship orders, and that was the best decision ever!

      • I’m glad I saw this comment…I was wondering who made all the clothes you sell. I would love to sew for money, but I have no idea how to go about selling things, or finding someone to sew for. Maybe one day…

  8. kim Crawford says:

    My husband and I were in school the first five years of our marriage between college and seminary. Our first three children were born in those years. Thankfully, my hubby was the breadwinner running a painting business in the summers. After 18 years of marriage, we look back on those years as foundational in our lives. The Lord taught us SO much about His faithful provision. My dad would often say to us, “The Lord loves to provide for young married couples because He wants them to learn to trust Him.” It is a joy now to be able to encourage young couples and to be God’s tool of provision in their lives.

  9. Congratulations to you both. I can only imagine the difficulties. I am reminded of Crystal Paine’s similar journey, and I know that in just a little while the days of sacrifice and going without will probably be a thing of the past. You lived like no one else, and now you’ll live like no one else!

    I was encouraged to see how God protected your husband from the courses that would have greatly displeased God. So many people give in, thinking it impossible to get out of. God will honor the sincere desires of our hearts to please Him.

    • Caroline says:

      Crystal Paine has been a big encouragement to me over the years, it takes a lot of hard work to get to where you want to be!

  10. What a wonderful story of God’s faithfulness. Congratulations!! Blessings on you in the next chapter of your life.
    Becky

  11. Charlotte Moore says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to all of you. GOD is good!! So nice to read about the stand your husband took. GOD surely honored that.

    BLESSINGS!!!!

  12. That’s a wonderful testimony about God’s faithfulness !!! He is so Good and is only trough Jesus that we can do ANYTHING!! I’m in tears! The Lord bless you and keep guiding you!!! I love the last picture!!! Lots of love to all of you!

  13. Jessica says:

    Congratulations to you both. I know firsthand how unfriendly the design field can be to Christians; I ended up having to transfer out because there was no way for me to avoid the classes. It was a blessing for me because I am happier where I am, but I’m so glad that it worked out for your husband to be able to avoid them. Praise Him! It’s amazing that God was able to navigate you both through the minefield, and it makes you wonder how many instances He protects us from that we don’t even know about. Blessings to you both; you’ve been such an encouragement to me.

  14. Wow! I am sure Sean is looking forward to getting a good, long nights sleep! And you too!
    I guess I will go buy some more flexis from Lilla Rose and consider it a graduation gift πŸ˜‰

    • Caroline says:

      Lilla Rose has been such a HUGE blessing, and it’s such a fun product to share about! And yes, we are looking forward to more sleep!

  15. Jennifer says:

    This was a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. It just goes to show what a married couple can do when they share a goal and work together as a team. I KNOW Sean will be successful in his business – there are plenty of Christian businesses out there looking for a designer of integrity.

  16. Crystal says:

    Beautiful and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!

  17. What an amazing story and testimony! Praise God! Your story is so inspirational; thanks so much for sharing. I’m so happy for your family!

  18. God is so GREAT!! I love your site and your heart. It’s so wonderful to hear praises to God for everything you’ve come through. He has truly blessed you and led you. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. It was a blessing to read as we are going through some tough times right now – even though we know this is where God wants us. And congratulations on the graduation!!

  19. Annette H says:

    God is good ALL the time! πŸ™‚ I’m so happy that you can both get more sleep now… It’s sure to make a world of difference for you!

  20. You really made Proverbs 31:10-31 and Philippians 4:13 come alive! What an amazing testimony of God’s leading and faithfulness, thanks for sharing!!

  21. Such an encouragement as we start down our own schooling venture!! Homeschooling, 4 kids, and year one of Bible school down–“just” 5 more to go!

  22. I am so touched by your testimony! I am so thankful my MIL found your site and bought a gift-card for me. That is how I was introduced to your company, blog, and family! I am so happy for you that you are behind this point and can move forward. You are Blessed indeed!

  23. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Congrats to your family and blessings πŸ™‚

  24. What a beautiful testimony! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  25. So incredibly inspiring!!! Kudos to you both!!

  26. What an encouraging post! Congrats to you all as this was a family effort. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Vanessa says:

    I so admire your faith and dedication to your beautiful family. I’m a relatively new reader and hadn’t really grasped yet what steps you and Sean were taking to build such a bright future. You are such an encouragement Caroline πŸ™‚

  28. Thank you for sharing your amazing testimony, Caroline! To God be the glory indeed!

  29. Congratulations! May the Lord continue to bless you and praying for the job the Lord has for Sean. Thank you for sharing your testimony of how God provided!

  30. Congratulations to your whole family! This is a wonderful accomplishment and you are an incredible wife for supporting his dream.

  31. So can I ask a question? When you mentioned paying off half of his loans, did it mean that you did take some loans out to pay for school/living expenses? I’m only curious because we just made it through law school, and my husband worked through it, but we still had to take out some loans to make ends meet.

    • Caroline says:

      I meant to talk more about his college fees, the post just got so long I stopped. πŸ™‚ We were very blessed, Sean received a huge transfer grant since he was coming from a different college. He also received the full art grant, and a special grant because my dad graduated from the same college! Even after combining all the different grants, scholarships and FAFSA, we still needed to take a loan out. We didn’t like it, but knew it would be very feasible to pay it off once he found a job. We only took out loans where the interest would not start until after college ends, they actually don’t start until next year! So we will get them paid off, Lord willing, before the interest even starts.

  32. I am absolutely THRILLED for your family! Rejoicing with you all πŸ™‚

  33. Congratulations to you all. God is certainly good! About 8 years ago we started a similar journey. My husband and our then 6 boys moved from Australia to Canada so he could study at a seminary. They were 4 lean years of study and hard work, but it all paid off and we did not suffer in the end. In fact it has made life richer and we have become more appreciative/thankful for all the things in life. Wishing you well as you pursue jobs and settle in a new routine…all to His glory !

  34. I commend you both for faith, hard work and commitment. You both powered through exhaustion. I do however have to disagree with you on something. Drawing and photographing nudity is not an atrocity. Getting kidnapped from your classroom, raped and tortured daily and sold into slavery, is an atrocity. Suffering through war is an atrocity. How about using a different word for avoiding that class.

    • I agree – I wouldn’t feel comfortable drawing or photographing such subject matter either, so I certainly understand their position and congratulate and celebrate with them on being able to avoid it. But I do think “atrocity” is a bit strong to describe nudity or alcohol. Perhaps “immorality” or “taboo” would have been better words to use.

    • Caroline says:

      You’re right about the word. Much too strong and misapplied. Sorry about that.

  35. Gill Hill says:

    Congratulations and well done to you both. Thank you for also giving glory and thanks to God for all his help in this most stressful of times in your marriage. Enjoy your time together with your beautiful children this summer and now make sure you both rest and savour this most precious time in your lives. We have a proverb here in the U.K. All work no play makes Jack a dull boy! God Bless you both and of course your darling children. X

  36. Wow, congratulations, Sean! So happy for y’all!! I Art classes are hugely time-consuming…so even more of an accomplishment. I sure enjoyed having Sean as a classmate for that one drawing class at Longview, and was just wondering the other day how y’all were doing. πŸ™‚

  37. Thank you so much for this, Caroline! We have 3 young children and my husband is in the middle of getting his bachelors. He is able to work part time, but I’m trying to help supplement our income through blogging. Your story was inspiring and just the encouragement that my weary self needed! Like you said, no one will ever know how tiring it is to try to do this- and I find most of our friends just don’t get it. But like you, we felt strongly that this is the path we were to take and there have been numerous confirmations along the way too. That helps so much!

    So glad you are on the other side now! πŸ™‚ Blessings!

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