Mother Mason

One of my favorite books was “Song of Years” by Bess Streeter Aldrich. My mom had loved it when she was growing up and told me about it. Our library in our hometown had a copy and according to the library card my mom and I were the only ones who ever checked it out. That was a shame because it is such a well-written, lovely book.

Are you familiar with Bess Streeter Aldrich? Here is some information about this wonderful author: Bess Genevra Streeter was an American fiction writer born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Attending high-school in the town of her birth, she was the winner of two magazine fiction writing contests prior to graduating at the age of seventeen. She was the last of the eight children of James Wareham and Mary Wilson Anderson Streeter] After graduating from Iowa State Normal School with a teaching certificate, she taught school at several locations in Utah, later returning to Cedar Falls to earn an advanced degree in education.In 1907, she married Charles Sweetzer Aldrich, who had graduated with a law degree from Iowa State University and had been one of the youngest captains in the Spanish–American War. Following the war, he served for years as a U.S. Commissioner in Alaska. They had four children—Mary, Robert, Charles and James. In 1909, they moved with their children and Bess’s widowed mother to Elmwood, Nebraska, where Charles, Bess, and Bess’s sister and brother-in-law Clara and John Cobb purchased the American Exchange Bank. Elmwood became the location for many of her stories, albeit called by different names. Aldrich began writing more regularly in 1911 when the Ladies’ Home Journal advertised a fiction contest, which she entered and won $175 for her story entitled “The Little House Next Door”. After this success she continued to write and submit work to publications such as McCall’s, Harper’s Weekly, and The American Magazine where she was generally paid between one and one-hundred dollars for her work. Prior to 1918 she wrote under her pen name, Margaret Dean Stephens. She went on to become one of the highest-paid women writers of the period. Her stories often concerned the Heartland/Plains pioneer history and were very popular with teenage girls and young women.Aldrich’s first novel, Mother Mason, was published in 1924. When Charles died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of 52 Aldrich took up writing as a means of supporting her family. She was the author of about 200 short stories, including “The Woman Who Was Forgotten”, and thirteen novels, including Miss Bishop. The latter novel was made into a movie Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941), which starred Martha Scott and Edmund Gwenn and premiered in Lincoln, Nebraska.Aldrich received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in literature from the University of Nebraska in 1934 and was named into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1946 Aldrich moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to her daughter and her writing slowed to just one story per year as age began to take its toll. She died of cancer on August 3, 1954 and was buried next to her husband in Elmwood, Nebraska.Aldrich’s papers are held at the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska. Books by Bess Streeter Aldrich are among the many fine books written by Nebraskan authors. (source: wikipedia)

So, I decided to spend some time during this social-distancing period reading some of her other books. I started with her first book, Mother Mason, published in 1924. Such a good book! Molly Mason is fifty-two and the loving wife of the bank president, mother of four fun-loving Masons, and she is active in helping with the library board, missionary society, and the women’s clubs. She is involved in nearly everything that happens in her midwestern town. In fact, Mother Mason never has any time to do just as she likes. Finally, she makes a break for freedom! Aldrich published stories about the Masons in a magazine during World War I. Americans demanded more, and in 1924 the same family became the subject of Mother Mason. Aldrich is known for writing strong female characters and this story is no different.

I highly recommend you check it out! Here is a link:

#28 – Eat Ten Different Kinds of Ice Cream

#28 – Eat Ten Different Kinds of Ice Cream

I know, ambitious, right?

After all the years I spent declining dessert while on some diet or another, I have some make-up work to do when it comes to consuming sweets. From around 1985-2010, if you asked me if I would like some ice cream, I probably said, “no.” I opted for the yogurt, or the fresh fruit, or a diet coke, or nothing at all. Either that, or I ate ice cream while alone, usually while on a food binge after some extensive period of dieting. It was tragic.

Because that’s how dieting works – you find some rules to follow that are guaranteed to slim you down, and you follow those rules for a period of time, and then one day you get so weary of following the rules that you eat everything in sight.

I was an excellent dieter. I was very, very good at following the rules of whatever diet I was on at the time. Over the course of twenty-five years I lost small amounts of weight and I lost large amounts of weight. Every time, I gained the weight back.

It always came to a point where the rules made my world seem so very small. Dieting made it so that eventually all I seemed to think or talk about was how much weight I had lost or what clothes I was going to buy when I hit that next milestone of weight loss. I would bask in the success and compliments and then cower under shame every time I needed to go off the carefully prescribed dieting course and eat.

One of the best things I have done is stop dieting. I stopped telling myself certain foods were “good” and others were “bad.” I stopped deciding I was beautiful only if I could fit into my smaller-size clothing. I stopped making anything off-limits. I started saying “yes” to the damn ice cream.

So, it wasn’t hard to try ten different kinds of ice cream. I’ll probably try at least ten more before my fiftieth birthday. But in the spirit of my Fifty Things I Want to do Before my Fiftieth Birthday task, here are the ten I have had in the last few weeks:

  1. Cookies and Cream
  2. Bunny Tracks
  3. Caramel Cashew
  4. Peanut Butter Core
  5. Scotcheroo
  6. Monster Cookie
  7. Goldmine
  8. Tonight Dough
  9. White Chocolate Raspberry
  10. Juneberry

For the Next Fifty: Eat ice cream like it is my job.


We were on the road between Hokitika and Cromwell, New Zealand, listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast. I forget which episode it was, but something in it made me think about the coming months and how I will be turning fifty at the end of May.

And in that moment, I decided to make a list of fifty things I wanted to do before I turned fifty. It wasn’t a bucket list – just a list that was a mixture of things I have loved in this life so far and things I had thought about doing and things I wanted to do more of in the next years. I called the list FNF: For the Next Fifty.

The list has some items that are easy to complete and others that will take a great deal of effort. I’ll share the list and the process of my completion of the items with you in coming posts.

Side Hustle Ideas from Women in Ministry

When I entered the ministry over twenty years ago, I was pretty sure that money would never be a problem. I’m not a big spender or shopper and I enjoy simple pleasures in life. I knew I had a lot of student loan debt but I figured with time, patience, and diligence I would take care of that soon enough.

I was wrong.

I not only didn’t understand the crippling weight of student loan debt, I also didn’t foresee the ways that the church and our culture would change in such stark ways and so many of my pastor friends and I would find ourselves needing to do other work on the side in order to earn enough money to survive and raise our families.

This isn’t just true for ministers. People from all different careers and callings are looking for side hustles or other part-time work to pay their bills or get rid of debt. Whether you already have a side-hustle in the past or are looking to start one in the near future, here are some stories I collected from real-life clergy women regarding what they have done to supplement their income. Maybe these will give you some ideas if you are thinking about starting your own side hustle:

  • Working in a nursing home as an activities assistant, librarian, elder home care, school cafeteria worker, freelance writing for denominational publications, working in a group home for teenagers in the foster care system.
  • I am a certified teacher, and I sub in public schools. I have also worked at the public library a few days a week.
  • Writing curriculum for the denomination publishing house.
  • I was a non-medical home aide for the last ten years. Now my side gig is hospital chaplain.
  • Started as a dream, now it’s become a nonprofit. I just fill in at churches on Sundays!
  • Copy editing, writing/publishing, selling crocheted items, making & selling sugar cookies, on call list for funerals when no pastor is specified.
  • Writing devotions and articles, doing weddings and funerals, and teaching yoga, most recently.
  • Childcare, hosting international students, copy editing, pet-sitting, collating personalized calendars in a factory, teaching craft classes, substitute teaching in public and private schools, cookie decorating for a boutique shop, Girl Scout outreach to at-rusk kids, paid mentoring for kids in foster care, temp agency clerical work, and selling Pampered Chef products and craft supplies
  • I teach full time at a residential treatment center in one city and preach 3 hours away in another.
  • Teaching at a community college — world religions, and ethics. Also some freelance writing (my career before clergy).
  • My primary job is side hustles. I’m a program evaluator, online college professor, and occasional gigging musician.  I am also managing editor of an academic journal, and have a badly neglected non-profit that I wish could replace some of the other hustle.
  • I’ve done non-profit work, mostly harm reduction, mostly with sex workers and some with women exiting prison. I’ve worked retail–best was at a European bra fitting salon, worked at Starbucks and a local coffee shop, written, coached, weddings and funerals, supply preached, made stoles… I’ve been thinking of getting a new side hustle lately, mostly because I miss meeting new people, learning new things.
  • I’m a chaplain, and I’ve side hustled as a pastor.
  • Thinking of opening a bed & breakfast
  • Raised tropical birds to sell. Bought vintage items at auction and garage sales and sold on line
  • Working for a non-profit that staff’s concession stands. I made around $16/hour tax free because the non-profit would pay money directly to my daughter’s figure skating club. It was so many long, hard hours on my feet that when I became a judicatory official I had to stop doing it.
  • I run a business leading trips to Egypt and the Holy Land
  • I sold Rodan + Fields skincare products. Never got rich, but did make a few hundred extra dollars a month.
  • I was a LuLaRoe retailer for several years.
  • I did adoption consulting, spiritual direction, and was a Shaklee distributor.
  • Catering occasional parties. Free-lance writing. Speaking engagements. Funerals, weddings.
  • Legacy writer
  • Funerals
  • Wellness art group runner
  • I work full time hours as a chaplain in a nonprofit long term care home. I supplement this income by accepting pulpit supply opportunities whenever I can, and by working a couple of evenings a week with a local heat pump and solar energy company, staffing their instore display in a local big box and educating people about ways to save energy and reduce their overall environmental impact.
  • I worked as an Education Director at a House Museum, I went into schools and gave presentations on many differnt people and topics related to the history of our site, I also led tours for thousands of school kids each year. It was the very best side husstle ever.
  • You’ll find me singing with the kids of the local elementary school, as they’ve been without a music teacher for some time. Musical moments, community connections…and a stipend, to boot.
  • Retail: Fabric store, department store, substitute teacher
  • Executive Director for a local nonprofit.
  • I work as a hospice chaplain full time. I do pulpit supply, funerals, and weddings for side income. I have tried a couple of direct sales/MLMs in the past but have never been successful. I made 4 Door Dash deliveries and think that might be something I may pursue again, it was easy. I also sell stuff on line, ebay, craigslist, FB Marketplace.
  • I teach English to children in China, Korea, and Thailand on the internet through VIPKID
  • Young Living
  • Mary Kay
  • For a while I was the social media manager for a non-profit.
  • Chaplain and marriage counseling,
  • I graded standardized test essays. Also was a substitute teacher. Now I am a part time pastor and full time real estate agent.
  • Taught philosophy and religion at local community college, and developed an Embroidery business while on family leave. It is now my main hustle while I now pastor 1/4 time. Custom clergy stoles are my specialty
  • I am a full time hospital chaplain; every morning I get to lead a prayer over the intercom.
  • Special needs foster care and adoption.
  • I have recently been certified as an end-of-life doula. I do Elder Care Consulting, helping people with paperwork, advance directives, forgiveness issues, planning for end of life vigil celebration of life services, and grief care for their loved ones. I limit my work to one person/family at a time.
  • Event planning, grant writing, graphic design, consulting for small businesses and nonprofits
  • I teach Youth Mental Health First Aid. The school district trained me with a grant they received. I train within the district and I can train anywhere in the US so another trainer and I have been lining up more trainings for ourselves all over the place.
  • I do admin work for a real estate team and shop for other people’s groceries as a Shipt shopper in the evenings.
  • I converted my basement into an Airbnb rental and hosted people.
  • Grant writer
  • I am part time pastor, part time hospice chaplain, and am working towards becoming a licensed massage therapist. I
    have done child care and overnight hospital on- call chaplaincy.
  • I am actually looking for something to supplement and help pay off school loans. Thank you for helping me brainstorm
  • I teach first aid and CPR realizing it may have to become THE hustle.
  • I started small company after ordained for women clergy
  • Craft things for craft fairs and commissions- knitting, jewelry, soap and bath products.
  • Professional writing and teaching and conference directing (not sure if these are ‘side hustle’ or an additional part of my main hustle)
  • Retail work
  • I worked at Barnes & Noble seasonally
  • I do intentional interim ministries in addition to my part-time Regional job.
  • Social work, substitute teaching, even working as a cashier
  • I have spaces at antique malls. Started with 2 spots at one place. Now have 5 at three. It’s not very reliable for extra funds but usually brings in something, and I get rid of stuff. I also do antique shows, garage sales in the summer and flea markets with my husband as time allows.
  • In my previous call, I provided Spanish translation for the school system where we lived. Right now, I’m planning to start selling Color Street after the new year. I was part time when I translated for the school and am part time in my current call.
  • Teaching piano- because it brought joy as well as modest income.
  • I do funerals for people who don’t have home churches.
  • Years ago I worked part time as a rep for a software development company on the internet while at a church full time. Now I’m in a band and I write articles on line for extra.
  • I am a Certified Christian Life Coach for pastors and Nonprofit Executives.
  • I am on retainer to serve as the Title IX Investigator for the local seminary which is my former employer. Did theological review of confirmation materials for pub house.
  • Spiritual direction and retreat leadership.
  • I am in the outbound sales call center at Omaha Steaks.
  • Shipt – shopping for and delivering groceries. So easy! On my own schedule. Use my link when you sign up for Shipt and get free groceries!
  • I’ve worked Michael’s seasonally.
  • I accompanied patients that do not speak English to their doctor’s appointments and translated for them
  • I have a pottery studio and travel around doing workshops, as well as setting up and selling my pieces at various galleries and events. It’s my side-gig that keeps me balanced amidst the demands of ministry. Holy Ground Pottery GROUP
  • House sitting, nannying, ushering at the local arena
  • I have a degree in ethics as well as over 2 decades experience in that field and chaplaincy with older adults. I lead workshops in the gerontology certification program for Rutgers social work con Ed. I do ethics consulting / per diem work, and I write for Activity Connection.
  • Weddings and funerals for folks/families without church homes; Type/format another congregation’s bulletins; Anti-Racism facilitator; Babysit; Drive for a senior center; Lead Protestant worship at a Catholic nursing/care facility
  • I have worked in a Funeral home and am on call for funerals.
  • Writing curriculum, retreats. Also taught as adjunct lecturer.
  • Writing children’s books and devotionals.
  • When I was a parish pastor I did non-church weddings and wrote. My writing became my primary business in 2012 (Clergy Stuff) and now my side hustles include foster parenting, nannying, and driving for Lyft. I have more non-Christian friends than ever before as well as friends from other colors and cultures. My faith continues to grow and shift. So happy!
  • Edited Sunday School curriculum.
  • I did Premier Jewelry parties.
  • I write articles and poems for magazines, sell my paintings on the side and have a private voice studio where I teach young women to sing. I’ve also worked part time as a house/dog sitter and I sometimes travel to preach places.
  • I’m working part-time as an auxiliary administrative support person for a local government, mostly in the Building Permit/Inspection department.
  • Editing dissertations
  • Wrote liturgy and cross-gen confirmation curriculum.
  • I teach English and math in the local public school.
  • Worked as direct support staff for an agency that supports individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities
  • I drive Lyft and work sales for a timeshare company.
  • Ski instructor!
  • Also some paid knitting jobs, or knitting in return for yarn.
  • Instructional Design
  • My friend has started a fitness and nutrition coaching business specifically for ministry leaders. Check it out here:
  • I also work full time as a Special Educator/Coordinator.
  • I have worked as a Kelly Services temp to supplement.
  • Playing violin in the local symphony orchestra, working on the family ranch, and I’m thinking about substitute teaching
  • Leading retreats (doesn’t make a lot of money now, but when we do online retreats, I’m hoping the income will increase). Teaching an online comparative religion class for a community college.
  • Iconography – workshops and commissions.
  • When I needed extra income while at the church part-time I worked with the local court doing mediation. Decent pay.
  • Speaking, writing, working the local elections, and my most profitable venture – running an Airbnb!
  • Weddings for people who don’t have churches.
  • Teaching knitting, and contract test and sample knitting for designers to use for patterns and photos.
  • Currently ministry is more part-time than my main gig, which is working as an optician in an optometry clinic. It’s been satisfying to learn a trade, get good at it, be in a “normal” job in the community, and truly help people in terms of how they want to look and see. And, side bonus, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of cool glasses.
  • Selling stuff on eBay and craft shows
  • Tutoring, and writing “Timeless Truths for Troubled Times,” a Christian devotional book.
  • spiritual direction and career coaching
  • Jewelry
  • Before I retired I did counseling and group therapy ….am a licensed clinical social worker …billed insurance
  • I substitute teach
  • Hospital chaplain, photographer and jewelry maker
  • I’m a librarian and get paid well. I’ve been working part-time while studying at seminary part-time for 7 years.
  • Practicing law
  • I do puppet shows and teach puppetry in public schools.
  • I run private retreats,
  • Substitute teaching.
  • Closed Captioning and Transcribing.
  • Just got certified as a Life Coach.
  • Hospice Chaplaincy
  • Referee
  • Psychotherapist
  • Waited tables
  • Amazon Flex driver

What about you? What creative ways have you found to supplement your income or pay off debt? What advice would you have for those looking for a side hustle in 2020?

Looking for more side hustle ideas? Chris Guillebeau has written several brilliant books on this topic. Click on the picture to find links on Amazon. Also listen to his podcast: Side Hustle School.