Part 1 – Stepping out of the boat
Why would I offer this for free? Let me tell you a piece of my story.
My husband and I have served the Lord overseas for 14 years. For several years we raised the money that we received monthly from our agency. When we came home on furlough, we spent each weekend in a different church, sharing our stories and hoping for financial support.
In 2008, we felt convicted to leave the system. We didn’t like it being such a business, a job. We thought serving the Lord should be 24/7/365, not a 40-hour week. My husband also felt like he was “unequally yoked” at his job teaching English. He didn’t like that they controlled his time.
So he left his job, and we left our agency. We wrote to all of our supporters and told them to send their money to orphans instead. We stepped out of the boat and onto the water. We were going to trust the Lord to provide, and we were pretty sure we would be tested to see if we really did trust Him.
Part 2 – The Test
We eventually ran out of money, but that’s when the miracles happened. We were trusting God to provide. We knew we were obeying, had always given very generously, and had faith that His word was true. The bills were due the next day. A few people still sent us money from time to time, saying that the Lord had prompted them to give. We accepted their gifts. They would give through Paypal, and it would show up in our bank account under “pending balance.” With nothing pending in our bank account, we knew it could be at least three business days before money would be available, even if someone sent something that night.
Before bed, my husband decided to check the bank account one more time. And there it was, our miracle. $1000 was in our available balance. It said it was a direct deposit. We had told no one of our need. My parents were the only ones with our bank account info, and they were traveling out of the country at the time and had nothing to do with it. $1000 was enough for the whole next month (We lived in a ghetto very cheaply.)
Part 3 – The Accidental Blogger
That same year our family learned about lapbooks from a friend of mine. She pointed out one that we got for $1. (This is also how we learned about Currclick.com.) I started designing lapbooks for my kids to make because I couldn’t/wouldn’t shell out money for something I could just make myself. My kids started designing lapbooks for themselves.
I had always posted family pictures online for our far-away family and friends, and I would post pictures of our lapbooks to show the grandparents what the kids were doing for school. I started getting strangers showing up at my family page to see our lapbooks. (Google alerted them.) I felt strange having these strangers looking at my family photos, so I separated them and started posting our school pictures on a blog, “Just Us.”
I thought I could earn money by making lapbooks and selling them on Currclick.com. I sent them a sample and they sent me a contract. Before I signed it, the Lord convicted me. I was impressed to not sell them but to give them away. So I did. Giving away free lapbooks, I started building a small following at my homeschool blog. They were the first to hear about EP and were the ones who first spread the word about it.
Part 4 – The Rest of the Story
There’s more of my story between then and now, but I guess that’s for another day. There was never a question of selling this curriculum. The Lord had already turned my heart on that issue, but I was making the site for my own children, and I didn’t want to have this whole curriculum and have only my children use it. I wanted to help others who needed to homeschool for free. From day one I wrote the assignments to be used by anyone, not just my family.
If you’ve been following along, it’s not hard to understand how I got started homeschooling for free. We are no longer in the same situation. My husband got a great job teaching foreign languages to homeschool students online through Currclick.com. He worked part time, set his own hours, and he LOVES foreign languages and has fun teaching.
But now I am committed to homeschooling for free. The first year I was putting together the curriculum, no one else was using it. When a few people did start using it, I added the donate button to the site. I knew I was offering something of value and that there would be people who would want to give.
So, hopefully you can see who I am and why I would offer this for free a little better now. I love giving. It makes me happy. I have learned to trust God to provide, so I don’t feel the need to build the curriculum into a business. It’s an encouragement every time I’m surprised by a donation message in my inbox, but it’s a bigger encouragement when people write to tell me about how they couldn’t have continued homeschooling without the site. I’m not going to take it away from them.
2020 Update: I have updated this post a little with a few tweaks. We’re no longer overseas, having lost our visa. After pursuing for a little while my husband getting work and us earning our living in the world, we feel strongly again that the Lord wants us to trust Him with our income. So, while there had even been thoughts of a paid and free version of the site (which only would have been about mom convenience and never a difference for the kids’ experience), I still felt convicted to just make the new My EP Assignments the same for everyone. You can donate or not. Everyone gets the same thing. In the fall of 2019, my husband started helping me with EP. It’s our family’s income. EP is our full-time work, sort of. We serve the Lord; part of that is serving you. My husband is currently working on Bible translation in the Romani language in the dialect of the largest Romani settlement in the world. (We used to live there.) He encourages pastors around the world, is a guest preacher in India, and is an all-around helper to me and EP. He does editing, laundry :), and has made some courses for the high school site and poetry videos for the younger students. We also have several contract laborers helping out with this and that as well, as EP grows and gets more demanding.