In my family, when things work out in a strange and mysterious way, we say, â€œItâ€™s a God Thing.â€ Carol doesnâ€™t use those words, yet her reflection of a difficult year captivated our writing class. It’s an important lesson for all. Â
After much prayer and discussion, in the fall of 1973, we decided to take a temporary leave of absence from our Latin America Mission. We had no idea when the entry visas for Colombia would be available, but we did not feel it was right to take a salary from the mission while we waited. We would find work and stay ready to leave when the university chaos in Colombia subsided.
Thus began one of the most difficult times in our marriage.Â All of 1974 and half of 1975, we job hunted. With university degrees, we never dreamed finding work would be difficult!Â It was even more frustrating because relatives we knew who only had high school diplomas jumped from job to job with NO problems. We were hoping Richard could be the bread winner and I could stay home with Kier.
He filled out 100+ job applications and resumes. One city manager called him into his office and told him a man with a masterâ€™s degree should never apply for water meter reader. They wanted to hire someone who would be around for awhile. Someone with Richardâ€™s credentials would leave as soon as something better came along.
We typed research papers, substitute taught and took every temporary job we could find. One job had Richard riding the scoop of a front loader at a local factory and sorting trash. Organizers of church dinners sent us home with leftovers. A friend with year-old meat in her freezer gave it to us because her new half-beef was arriving. We had been eating peanut butter and spamâ€”roasts and chops were heaven-sent. Freezer burn did not matter to us.
Our church had a babysitting co-op where we could bank hours. If I watched a family with three children, I would earn three times the hours I took care of the children. Because we only had one, I needed only to spend one hour for every hour he stayed with the family.Â This came in very handy when we were both called to substitute on the same day. Families who outgrew clothes or toys would hand them down to us. Kier had a whole town of Fisher Price people and stores to play with!
The funeral home organist asked our pastor if he knew anyone who could house sit for them while they spent the winter in Florida. We had free housing for four months.Â Imagine a home with a grand piano and a full size organ situated right in the middle of our area of town!
I often wear a little gold pre-Colombian frog around my neck. A friend from church told me the letters F R O G stood for â€œfully relying on Godâ€™s grace.â€ AMEN!Â An anonymous friend sent periodic money gifts to us through our church. Every month the amount covered our obligations: $48 for the electric bill, $53 for groceries, $111 for a car repair.Â We never knew how much the check would be or even if there would be a check, but it came at the right time and in the right amount.Â [manna?]Â To this day, we have no idea who sent them. Our temporary jobs, gleaning from a friendâ€™s garden, and medical insurance remaining from the mission account met our every need. Â
It was during this time and the only time in my life, that God spoke audibly to me. A close friend of my mother-in-law called one snowy afternoon and told me to meet her at the curb outside our apartment in ten minutes. When we met, she handed me two overflowing grocery bags. It was two weeks before Christmas and every baking item I had ever used was in that bag: walnuts, chocolate chips, brownie mixes, frosting in a tube, brown sugar, white sugarâ€¦the list could go on but you get the idea. I thought that Kier and I could make holiday treats for those who had been helping us. As I began to unpack the bags, a small voice said out loud to me, â€œI have loved you with an everlasting love.â€Â Tears began to flow. We were in the middle of our very long unemployment journey, but that declaration stayed with me (and with us) until the end.
God provided for us during those 18 months. We were cared for in unique ways by both friends and strangers. We never would have asked for this learning experience, but it is one of the most powerful we have experienced in our 52 years of marriage. We cannot tell you how often we have used it to encourage others. August 1975, found us moving to Arizona to begin a public teaching assignment that would last for the next 30 years.
When we look back at our lives, we see how it all fits together. No one asks for challenges, and yet, WHEN WE REFLECT ON OUR LIVES, some of the most valuable lessons come to us when things donâ€™t go as plannedâ€”yet it was perfect in the end.
My invitation to you is to think about a challenging time youâ€™ve had. But donâ€™t stop there. Remember the blessings, lessons and gifts of that time and how you emerged stronger for all the â€œGod Thingsâ€ that were miraculously placed before you.
Note: My storytelling sessions are great for diving deep into your life. Understanding emerges. Call me at 623.466.5067 or email [email protected] to chat about how this might fit with your goals.Â