Friday, July 1, 2022

Making a Living or Making a Life

 by Sandra Byrd

Making a Living or Making a Life

I quit.

What, you too? Okay, so we’re in good company because, according to the experts, it’s currently a quitter’s market in what has become known as the Great Resignation. Millions of people are asking themselves, What am I doing? And why? A few months ago, 44 percent of workers were looking for new jobs. Some cited the desire for better pay, working conditions, and flexibility. But these have always been reasons to ladder hop or ladder climb. So what’s new now?


The pandemic brought into sharp focus that life is short and unpredictable; maybe we don’t want to spend the bulk of our lives making a living but not making a life. If the cattle on a thousand hills are already his, our ultimate goal can’t be to make money, can it? Is life, as Thomas Hobbes famously claimed, nasty, brutish, and short? Although the son of a clergyman, he seemed to hold little hope in faith. He moaned, “My mother gave birth to twins: myself and fear.”

More than we’d like to admit, we make career and professional decisions based on fear, not faith in how we’ve been created and by whom. We’re told—and we sometimes tell our kids—that “useless” degrees in areas such as history and English will lead to unemployment. On the other hand, STEM degrees are the clear path to success, so we’d better head into science, engineering, or math. My son, a bioengineer who was resolutely sad when he had no more calculus courses to enjoy, once told me that math is the language of God. “I sure hope not,” I replied, “because if that’s true, I don’t know who I’ve been talking with all these years.” Instead, God speaks to me in metaphors that are personal and intimate and which have also helped me build a profession neatly dovetailing with how he created me.

And no one wants my math abilities. Trust me.

I don’t think life is nasty or brutish though it is definitely short. And because of that, I’m going to pitch an alternative view for our professional lives and callings. Life can be rich and filled with joy. Jesus contrasts his intentions with those of the destroyer of our hopes in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

War, plagues, pandemics, inflation. It makes it difficult to believe that we can have an abundant life right now. TobyMac questions this in his song “Promised Land.” Many Christians might be nodding right along to that tune. Yeah. Hey. Where is my Promised Land? And yet, despite the turmoil roiling our earth, which a student of history sees punctuates every era, we were born for such a time as this. You were divinely placed in this season, designed and equipped to thrive.

Author James Clear tells us, “It’s only work if you would rather be doing something else. Find a way to carve a career out of what you already want to do.” My friend Renee Chaw took one of those “useless” history degrees and merged it with other things she loves: vintage clothing and caring for the environment. She said, “To me, finding, repairing, and often saving pieces from landfills to be worn and cherished by another generation thousands of miles away is the most rewarding part of what I do. Digging through digital archives to research each garment puts my history degree to good use. I never thought I could make a living doing what I love. But I am!”

Of course, not all jobs pay the same. My son, the engineer, made more money right out of college than most artists—myself included—do after decades of work. I refer to myself as a carbing artist, not a starving artist, because sometimes the stress of a writer’s life—reviews, deadlines, financial concerns—leads to a deep dive into a piece of cake or a bag of Ruffles. And yet God provides. In addition to writing, I coach, helping and encouraging those created to write, like I was. There may be seasons when we need to stay at a job we don’t love. We might need to splice together several opportunities to make a whole. We could choose to work a day job by day and a life job by night until the job we love becomes the job we keep and keeps us.

Our culture sometimes insists that we be content and thankful we have a job, as though it’s somehow selfish to look for a career path that is a good fit. One day on a research trip in France for my French Twist series, I wore a pair of pretty but ill-fitting shoes. Instead of enjoying Parisian art, food, and architecture, I spent the day looking for blister pads. A pair of shoes just right for my feet, pretty or not, would have helped me enjoy the journey. Would anyone suggest I continue walking in those painful shoes rather than buying a pair that fit and enjoying my stay?

However, just because we want a career that fits doesn’t mean it will be delivered to us in an Amazon van. In that John 10:10 verse, “may . . . have it abundantly” is written in the present tense (it’s for now, all time, to those who believe) and subjunctive mood. That means it’s a mood of possibility, potentiality. We have to do something. We must act instead of simply expecting it will be provided for us. It’s the same kind of action expected one chapter earlier, when Jesus rubbed mud onto the eyes of the blind man, providing the solution, and then told him to go wash, act for himself, and partner with him.

In my new book,
Heirlooms, my modern-era heroine has a decision to make, and she doesn’t have much time to make it. Does she play it safe to make a living? Or does she take a significant risk and choose to do things others don’t understand or approve of to make a life, one she felt God created and prepared her to enjoy? Each of the book’s four principal characters has a decision that leads her to take risks to create the life she wants to live in their essences, not their identities.

In his book, Called to Create, Jordan Raynor quotes Dorothy Sayers: “Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.”

What do you live to do? How can you offer yourself to God through this? Is this the year you’re willing to risk so you can make the life you want?

About Sandra

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books. Sandra's delighted to kick off her new historical romance series with Tyndale House Publishers, Victorian Ladies, with Lady of a Thousand Treasures. The three-book Victorian Ladies series follows her historically sound Gothic romances, Daughters of Hampshire, launched with the bestselling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor's Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was published in 2017. Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the bestselling The One Year Be-Tween You and God Devotions for Girls. She continued her work as a devotionalist, with The One Year Home and Garden Devotions, and The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional. Please visit to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

About Heirlooms

Answering a woman’s desperate call for help, young Navy widow Helen Devries opens her Whidbey Island home as a refuge to Choi Eunhee. As they bond over common losses and a delicate, potentially devastating secret, their friendship spans the remainder of their lives. After losing her mother, Cassidy Quinn spent her childhood summers with her gran, Helen, at her farmhouse. Nourished by her grandmother’s love and encouragement, Cassidy discovers a passion that she hopes will bloom into a career. But after Helen passes, Cassidy learns that her home and garden have fallen into serious disrepair. Worse, a looming tax debt threatens her inheritance. Facing the loss of her legacy and in need of allies and ideas, Cassidy reaches out to Nick, her former love, despite the complicated emotions brought by having him back in her life. Cassidy inherits not only the family home but a task, spoken with her grandmother’s final breaths: ask Grace Kim—Eunhee’s granddaughter—to help sort through the contents of the locked hope chest in the attic. As she and Grace dig into the past, they unearth their grandmothers’ long-held secret and more. Each startling revelation reshapes their understanding of their grandmothers and ultimately inspires the courage to take risks and make changes to own their lives. Set in both modern-day and midcentury Whidbey Island, Washington, this dual-narrative story of four women—grandmothers and granddaughters—intertwines across generations to explore the secrets we keep, the love we pass down, and the heirlooms we inherit from a well-lived life.

Release on July 5, 2022.


Thank you, Sandra!

Leave Sandra a comment below, or answer her ending question(s), and be enter to win a copy of her upcoming release, Heirlooms.*

*Giveaway prize courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and is subject to Seekerville and Tyndale House Publishers' Giveaway terms and conditions. U.S. mailing addresses only.


  1. Sandra, this hit home. I have never seen so many resignations, early retirements, and people leaving to "spend more time with their families." I credit the Pandemic, but I also wonder if it's partially to blame. Small businesses are struggling, museums are struggling to win back their patrons, and most of the churches I know are running at half the strength they were before COVID. I'm seeing a number of pastors resign, some without a church to go to. We have all been Forever Changed, for good or ill.
    I was ready to quit last week. Not writing, but Everything Else.
    I write Oregon Trail stuff and American Revolution, and it helps me to veer back into the struggles "my" people faced. The pioneers went out like Abraham, "to a land they knew not." The Patriots had NO IDEA whether their gamble would pay off. These are perilous times. Those were perilous times too.
    I've been praying the Jabez prayer, especially about my writing career, and it has made a huge difference. "Expand my territory" doesn't mean give me someone else's career. It means give me mine, whatever that looks like. With or without money.
    Out for the day, errands and such, may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey

    1. Kathy, that is such good stuff. I hear you. It’s a long moment to step back and ask ourselves, what are we doing? Are we living chosen, thoughtful lives? Or are we running on George Jetson’s treadmill, calling out, “Jane, stop this crazy thing?” (I’m dating myself here!) We each have one earthly life with a series of 24-365s and lots calling out for our time and energy.

      I just read that CNN anchor Christi Paul is quitting her job and moving back to her home state of Ohio because she was tired of being tired and wanted more time with her husband and children and to live a simpler life.

      I don’t know anyone who isn’t tired of being tired, so that resonated with me.
      I do feel for the institutions that have to pivot now. But each of them exists to serve, so maybe it would be a great time for a rethink on their parts, too, to find better ways to do just that while also carving out time to enjoy their lives, too.

    2. Congratulations on winning a copy, Kathy! Contact me through my website and I'll send a bookmark to you!

  2. Good to see you here on Seekerville, Sandra. A friend introduced you to me recently, and I ordered your great book Experiencing God's Love devo book....loving it! I would like to put my name in for Heirlooms! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jackie! Thank your friend for me for that introduction, and thank you for reading and loving my book! Stay tuned via my newsletter if you like as I have more devo news coming soon!!!

  3. What a timely post, Sandra!

    It was during the last turmoil ridden era (I would identify that as the Vietnam Era of the 60's followed by stagflation and gas lines of the 70's) that I decided my life would never be defined by what someone else thought I should do and be.

    I like to think of it as being "counter-counter-cultural." Not in step with either the culture or the movements tugging the opposite way. Instead I sit quietly in the middle following the path God laid out for my life - at least as well as I can.

    There have been a few times when I questioned that choice in the past 50+ years, but at no time have I regretted it.

    The result brings seasons of much joy.

    I remember the first time I read that quote from Dorothy Sayers: “Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.”

    And Elisabeth Elliot said something that also relates: “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

    The point is that sometimes it isn't the work that needs to change to make our lives full of purpose and joy, but our attitude toward it.

    Thank you for the great thoughts this morning!

    1. Jan, your quotes and thoughts remind me of Eric Liddell saying, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Thank you for sharing your insight!

    2. That was from Sandra, by the way! Not sure why my name didn't attach!

  4. Great post! Thank you!
    I'm trying to become a published author. It's almost exactly one year since I started. And so far I've published...nothing!
    My family members are all programmers, earning six figures and working for Facebook and Friends...
    Family get-togethers are awkward.
    I wonder constantly whether I should really be going all-in on this writing thing...

    1. Don't be discouraged, AA! I don't know any writers who were published in their first year. Many work toward publication for many years before they see their book in print.
      But if you're a writer, you'll keep telling your stories whether you're ever published or not!

    2. Jan is exactly right! (Write?! lol) Keep at it, if this is your passion and your calling!!

  5. Sandra, thanks for being with us today. Such an interesting post! Love the blurb for HEIRLOOMS! The story sounds intriguing!

    1. It was a pleasure to be here, and I hope you'll give the book a try!

  6. Interesting post, Sandra. Your new book sounds fascinating! I've been retired now for several years, and right now I'm playing "the body part of the week" trying to keep the different parts of my body functioning as they should. This getting old business is hard! I'm enjoying reading and promoting Christian fiction and clean and wholesome books. Thanks to all of you amazing authors who write those books so I can enjoy them!

    1. Thank you, Winnie, and I do hope you'll give the book a read! I'm learning that "motion is lotion" with all of my body parts, so trying to keep moving!!


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