It was my upbringing that inspired me to succeed. My parents made the decision to move from Tonga to New Zealand when I was only 4 years old. It was tough. I watched them sacrifice long hours at low paid jobs, saving what little excess they had to help my five siblings and I get through school and into university. They were driven by the possibility of better opportunities for us. Because of this, I always knew as a child that, “when I grow up,” I wanted to do something great.
At eighteen years old I started studying politics at the University of Auckland with my heart set on a future career as a politician. However, I also never expected in my final year of University to meet the love of my life, get engaged, married, and also find ourselves pregnant with our first child. In this blog I want to share my challenges around exchanging my dream to be a politician for Gods call to be a stay at home mother, and what I learnt during this season.
Exchanging the dream for the call
When we arrived in New Zealand we didn’t know how to speak any English, and we really struggled as we learnt how to live in an unfamiliar country and culture. From a young age I was constantly reminded of the reasons why my parents chose to leave their familiar life behind, and to move to New Zealand.
I was acutely aware of the sacrifices my parents had made, and the challenges they had overcome was for their children. It was their desire to give us the opportunities to have a good education, career, and to live a successful life. I have always been a high achiever and very goal oriented, and I know it’s because I’ve always been motivated to make my life count. My dream for a career in politics was an expectation I had put on myself, a dream I had entertained ever since I was a child, and something I was unwilling to let go of.
I vividly remember when I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, Athalia. I was 23, a fresh University graduate with my heart set on a career in politics, newly married, and in the early stages of pregnancy. During my pregnancy I was always stubbornly adamant that when Athalia was born she would go to day care from 6 weeks old, and I would continue to pursue a career in politics. Although the godly women around me would question my decision, I was determined that being a stay at home mother wasn’t ever something I wanted to do, and I was unwillingly to let go of the dreams I’d had as a young girl.
However, after much deliberating, prayer and counsel from others, my husband and I made the decision after the birth of Athalia that I would be a full time stay at home mum. This was a tough decision for me to accept. I remember spending the first twelve months in prayer, crying out to God to change my heart, and to help me to love being the in the season he had called me to.
I spent the first ten years of marriage being a stay at home mother not just to Athalia, but to the three other children God added to our family. It took eighteen months for me to feel and find the joy with being a stay at home mother. I’d like to share the two key lessons God taught me during this time.
1. What you do doesn’t define you, God does.
One of the first questions I asked God was “why have you called me to stay at home and raise children, when you gave me dreams of what I would do?” I remember being in prayer one morning and God speaking to me clearly and saying “It’s because you’re defined by what you do, but I want to define you. I want to teach you how to lean on me to lead you, and not on your own plans, strength and natural abilities.”
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
During this season God taught me that in order for me to fully embrace the work of God for my life, I needed to let him teach me what it truly means to be found and defined by Him. So that in everything I do, serve, and create, comes from a heart that is centred not on the ‘thing I am doing’ but on who I know I am in God.
2 Trust God because he knows the bigger plan
The hardest part about staying at home with my first child was that I couldn’t understand how changing diapers, preparing meals, cleaning the house, and serving my husband would lead and prepare me for the big dreams that God gave me. During this time, I was offered several really great jobs which would have been a great stepping stone to a career in politics, but I had to turn them down. For the first two years I served willingly out of obedience, but I was heartbroken because I had no idea what God would do with the desires and dreams that he put in my heart.
Being a stay at home mother taught me how to not only trust God, but to also ask God to help me to trust him. I remember praying and reminding myself to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
It has been 4 years since I have been a full time stay at home mother, and I am amazed at how faithful God has been to me. I have not missed out on anything, and I am living the dreams and calling that God created for me.
I am currently running an IT & software business with my husband and a few years ago I qualified as a Life coach. One of the areas I work in is helping women who had dreams and ambitions, but found themselves as a stay at home mum, and unsure about what to do next. I love this line of work, because I know what it’s like to feel like you have traded your dream for a season of being a stay at home.
I look back at how far God has led me, and now understand the importance of trusting God through the ‘stay at home mum’ years. I whole-heartedly believe that the plans God has for the lives of stay at home mums is nurtured and revealed through those wonderful years.
I pray that as we celebrate mother’s day this year, that God continues to bless you in your work, and that you are reminded and encouraged by God’s plans for your life, “for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Lesieli Oliver is a certified life coach, wife, mother of 4 and business owner. She is passionate about empowering, encouraging and inspiring working mums of young children to juggle & thrive.
Lesieli helps busy moms how to THRIVE again! Check out her work at
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