A popular saying here in the Ozarks is, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” I’m not really sure what that means. . . but it seemed like a good beginning quote to segue into the topic sentence that there is more than one way to pay for college, and it doesn’t have to be a screeching, squalling, fur flying, cat-scratching experience!

But, then I discovered that it was hard to continue the cat-skinning metaphor in a practical and meaningful way, so I decided to switch paths, and meander through a different theme, and then somehow I took a shortcut and ended up at a vineyard. So hold onto your cat — I mean hat — it may be a bumpy road to the grape patch!


Somehow we stumbled into a great pathway in our parenting journey for paying for college (if you can ever say that a Christian, following the Good Shepherd along the good paths stumbles. . .) I thought you might enjoy hearing about it. . . in case you want to try that path, too!

When our daughter graduated, she wasn’t on the college track, so she took a different pathway and began to pursue her interest in photography and graphic design, taking classes in web design and following other artsy pursuits. I have to admit that when her friends packed their cars and prepared to get on down, get on down the road toward college that first fall, I felt that she was being left behind. . . from something. . . that society said she needed. . .whatever that ‘college experience’ was. . .

With some extra time on her hands the summer after she graduated, her Dad hired her to work for him, and here’s where her path took a really interesting turn.

She got up at 4:00 a.m. every morning (by herself), and rode into work with her Dad, and worked a dirty, sweaty job in a shop that sometimes reached 120 degrees. . . and she enjoyed receiving those hard-earned paychecks!

She determined to deposit the majority of her paycheck in her savings account, and limited her personal spending money to the same amount she gave to the Lord. She wasn’t sure what she was saving her money for, but she continued to save it for some really great investment. . . maybe a cute car, or some more classes or certifications, more photography equipment. . .

Now here’s the good part, as she earned a salary, her savings was growing and earning a little interest, but she accrued so much more. She earned a good work ethic, she earned the friendship and regard of her co-workers, she earned the trust, confidence and regard of her father, she earned the satisfaction of a job well done, she earned the pride in knowing that she was pulling her weight, and she earned a maturity that we marveled at as she took on each challenge and learned from it.

That one year that she spent under the tutelage of her father, she earned all of these valuable life skills that cannot be purchased, only earned from the University of Life! I would have paid a great deal in tuition for the benefit of this wisdom and experience. . . and yet it cost nothing. . . and actually earned a return dividend!

During the course of the year, a new pathway appeared, an opportunity arose, and she has stepped into it, confident, self-assured, prepared, ready for the next step in her educational process. And she now understands completely the value of what she expects to receive from her investment.

I am convinced that she will find new opportunities, apply herself more diligently, see new pathways that she now has the ability to traverse because of the skills she gained in that one year of ‘continuing education’ that she spent in that sweaty shop.

As she placed her tuition check on the counter Saturday, she felt pride in the fact that she had earned every dollar of it, and that she was investing the sweat of her brow into her future.

And isn’t that just the way God directs our steps? He provides for one opportunity, from the fruit of the efforts of another. Laurel considered a field and bought it, and from the profit of her earnings, she is planting a vineyard, which will yield even greater returns in the years to come!

I can’t wait to taste the vibrancy of the wine from this harvest. Years from now, I hope that she’ll uncork this year, pour it into a goblet, and I will raise it and call her blessed, as I partake of the fruit that represents her labor and sacrifice of today, yielded in a distant future season.

Salue Laurel!

And may you follow the path into pleasant places of growth and increase as the Lord directs your paths, bringing peace and abundance into your life. Don’t feel pressure to take the same path that everyone else takes. . . it just leads to the same old, same old destination. Follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, beside still waters, as He restores your soul and prepares the way for you. . . perhaps leading you down a road less traveled. . . maybe past a vineyard or two. . . and who knows, maybe you’ll see a cat along the way!


p.s. And here are some of the cover designs that Laurel does for Injoy as our in-house graphic designer!

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