Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Seven Year Switch.

Last summer, Jim lost his job. This was a blessing, from one end to the next.
6 weeks later, we felt peace about an offer for a new one, which turned out to be a wonderful job, a great position just exactly where he wants to be in his field (engineering)- save for the commuting, which we made our peace with.

Six months later, after a series of salary cuts, he was finally, very reluctantly, laid off, along with 1/3 of the company's workforce, and millions of other Americans. From the start, we only felt the peace and provision of God, who hadn't ever forgotten about us in the past, and wasn't surprised at our present. See the How to Lose a Job series for more on that.

This season was most likely the best and worst since we've been married, which was 7 years ago last June.

I called it our "Seven Year Switch".

Don't we always hear that the 7th is the hardest?

Jim (a successful engineer) and me (a successful maker of the home and all it includes), we essentially switched places. Now he was home. All the time. And I was gone. For what seemed like all the time. God does love to shake it up, you know.

We fully embraced his time at home. Because God does give all the peace and perspective and provision we need if we ask for it, we owe it to Him alone that we weren't plagued by doubt or fear. Sometimes, when I heard other people talking, read the news, or even just reflected on our current situation, I felt like it was strange that we felt so much "normal peace". But we did. And that's all God, and no one else's doing. So I'm thankful for that. Let me repeat: that was all God's work, not our own mustering up of confidence.

And so, we did what we do. We loved each other, we made the most of our unexpected time away from the "typical" pace of life.

Jim worked on many MUCH needed additions to our home, using almost entirely supplies we already had here, waiting for us in the basement store room, until he "had time" to do it. Praise God for that gift of time. You can click here and here for more about that.

We enjoyed Daddy being home all day, every day, and every benefit and bonus that comes with it. Our kids thought life had never been better.

We found that as the weeks went on, we weren't clenching our fists or weary over our bank account. Basically, we didn't change anything. Of course, we weren't saving anything, or filling up our 401k, and we weren't doing anything really extravagant, but we never really did extravagant things anyway. We're the Kochs, not the Rockefellers. Our lifestyle, remarkably, didn't change. How I discerned what I spent, whether or not we chose to give extra over our tithe, or eat out, anything- it was all still just one thing at a time. Our children noticed no difference, I think, at all, with few exceptions- such as, when our Zoo season pass ended, we didn't renew it, and they totally understood. No problem.

No big stress, no credit cards- It was exhilarating to know, to know, that we aren't in our hands, or the world's hands, we're in God's hands- and He perfectly provides for His children in whatever way He chooses, wherever they live, whatever He leads them to do, all over the world. He has plans for each one. We've never felt more free. Or more rich.

Almost instantly after Jim lost his job, I found a new one, one that has given me many, many great encounters and friendships, and has been unbelievably flexible- just right. More than a means of extra income, it's generated several wonderful relationships I never could have had otherwise. I was ripped in half over being gone so much, and it was perhaps the biggest adjustment I've had since getting married. Bigger than having children in the first place. Seriously. But I'm married to an amazing man who cooks, does the dishes, listens well, and is entirely hands-on with our kids- and so with him by my side, we worked on it. Once August came and school approached, we felt a lot of peace about me cutting back to just 15 hours a week, which has been perfect.

Oh, and by the way, I totally started a business. What?! I never, ever would have had the flexibility of time to invest in it- in creating Full Life, or in gaining skills if Jim had been working. I absolutely never would have gotten to it. It was always a "someday" and now it's a now. And I have found a passion I will never, ever live down! I'm wholeheartedly sold for good. I am a photographer. As timid as I am to say it (write it) out loud, I'll say it, and praise God for it. Now that I'm established, it's a passion that fits in amazingly around family and life. I'm in love, and it's only going to grow.

Jim and I did a lot of searching and stretching with God- What defines who we are? (Who we are in Christ as His creation, not in what we "do"). We know all provision is from God (and boy, did we learn that when we were first married in college!), but it has almost exclusively come from Jim's job for so many years. What would happen if God took all our regular income away? (He just provides in new, creative, stunning ways- the same whether it's from a salary or anywhere else. He can do whatever He pleases, and in case we ever wondered if we have control over what we earn- our hearts are stamped all the more clearly with the truth that none of it was or is ours to begin with- He gives, He takes, He leads in how to best use the riches lent to us. Amen.)

In one year, God took our income, and both of our careers. He stripped them down, showing what was growing there that shouldn't and what was gold. All our hidden insecurities, little quirks, large flaws- when placed somewhere unexpected, those things unexpectedly pop up in the strangest places. And there we were, on this strange "island", together all the time with nothing to do but face it and work it out. He stretched us, pushed us to new places we'd never been, blessed us and gave us new things, healed us up to something new, more full, and better than before. Much, much better than before.
He never left us, even making Himself so much more intimately here with us as we walked through each day. I have never been more in love with Jesus.

I've never been more annoyed with Jim. Picture someone else doing your job right in front of you, you've had 7 years to get great at it, you know how you would do it, but you're tied to a chair forced to watch while someone else figures out how to do it. There you go. In a nutshell, that's what I felt a lot of the time- all the while, in the wake of all my time at home being pulled away from me, I was extremely emotional, missing it so much. And I thrive on being alone. A couple hours a day of just me, or I blow. And when I wasn't working at my (highly social) job, I was dying for some time alone. But there he was, always there. Always. I had to get over that. Up to this point, in nearly 8 years, I could honestly say I'd never felt like I needed to get away from Jim- having him beside me was always best, and was never enough. Now I know, I do have a threshold- nothing personal, but I did hit my limit- not so much because of him, but because I know I need some space, and even when my kids were napping (my space time) there that sweet man was! Whew!

But for every bit I was annoyed, frustrated, whatever- it was gold.
I've never loved him more. Being that frustrated with someone, and knowing in that same moment that they are the only one you love, and thinking how even at your worst, you never think about being married to someone else- people, that's priceless. What a priceless marriage we've been given. I love that man. I just know it even more now. Praise God for that.

If Jim were a writing man, he could insert his own post all about how much I annoyed him. But he isn't. I just thought I'd insert that here. For the record, I'm hard to live with. (And he loves me, too.)

For every time I felt torn apart, sad and lonesome for all the time I spent living and loving with our kids and being at home and making it a home- I knew for certain- even more than I used to- that being a wife and a mother and being at home- really being there- this is the only "big" career I want, and it's the one I'm called to spend the bulk of my days working in. Being a woman at home was something I'd already embraced with my whole heart- but now my heart has grown, and it's still got it all. Any other job I have, and other way I serve must be at peace with it. And I've never loved my days at home more.

Because Jim was home more, we were able to invest much more in our neighbors, including so many of the children living near us in our neighborhood without stable homes or a set of parents. Jim spent hours riding bikes, playing cards, investing in some of those kids. We all had time to spend a lazy summer getting to know them, inviting them over, inviting them in. And now, we've got a bit of a reputation for being a fun house- a warm house. And that won't go away. We've loved that new, bigger, ministry we've been handed. God has plans.

We knew, wholeheartedly, that this season was gold. And as we reached the six month mark, we began praying very specifically that it would end. We sensed the transition happening- things were coming together, I was home much more, we were blending in so greatly together, we'd had time to process all these above things, a lot of time. Things were really rounding out. We moved into a new school year, my business was nicely established- and Jim was still home, now completed with his tasks for our house, and several tasks he'd helped others with along the way. Jim had been fully immersed in my world at home, and I was very familiar with what his was like, being away so much and balancing work and family. We've really blended together in a very neat way. So much better perspective.

All along, every possible job proved it wasn't the one. And we made peace with that. And after all, see all the other things we gained? But it just seemed near. It seemed right, that as the summer turned to autumn, our season would turn as well. As labor day weekend approached, we began praying specifically that God would give Jim a job- on Tuesday.

And last week, a year from the day he started his last job, Jim got a phone call. On Tuesday morning. At 7:15. His company-the one he left in February- called and emphatically asked if he'd like to come back. Things had turned around, his position could finally be restored, if he wanted it- and, if he was still available, his job, his original salary, all of it was his. He could start the next morning. His schedule would fit in with my new work, and we didn't need to talk it over long. He accepted soon after, and was off to work the next morning, and strangely, it's as if things were normal. Like that 6 month season was a dream of sorts. Except that we have this "normal" life back- filled with new blessings.

So I wrote this post, this long, long post. Not for you amazing readers (as I do try to practice brevity in my storytelling to all of you), though I'm sure you enjoyed it if you got this far- but really it's for us. A chance to put it down before time fades it, to look back and remember how God has done a good thing with a "bad" thing. He has plans. And He gives peace, regardless of circumstance.

Full circle we've come back to where we began, restored and renewed.


american mum said...

So pleased to hear this! I can really relate to all that. Except I didn't handle nearly as well, but the point is, yay! You made it through!

Shelby-Grace said...

Loved reading this. I'm so glad for your family! What amazing things have happened to your family through one "bad thing." God is awesome the way He weaves the threads of our life, to achieve His purpose for our lives!

Unknown said...

Congrats to Jim on the "new" "old" job! I'm so glad to hear that things are back to the way you prefer them to be. I know God will continue to richly bless your family.

anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said...

Great post.
I've loved seeing you guys on this journey and seeing how great you have handled things!
You are such an encouragement to me!

Becky said...

That's amazing, Megan! I absolutely love reading about how God is at work in your life. BTW, I'm going to be in the neighborhood on Thursday (Dell Rapids).

God bless!!!

Kiki said...

Congrats on the job! I've thought often of your family through this year and have wanted to ask and then knew you would tell us.

I love that God answered your very specific prayer with a yes. A resounding yes. He is good. And I love that your telling us!

Blair said...

Megan, wow. You have really helped me see this season, that our family has shared too, with the eyes of faith. Thank you for that.

What are the chances that, also after nearly 6 months, my husband got a job offer on that same Tuesday last week?

God is good. All the time.

Megan O. said...

Thank you for sharing what the Lord has been up to in your lives. What a powerful thing to see His hand over a season of your life like that--and it's such a faith strengthener for those of us reading too. He's so faithful!

Jamie said...

just a stranger here, wanted to say hello. It's awesome to look back over time and see NOW how God was working THEN! May your new adventures in life be blessed!

Unknown said...

Praise God!!! He is so good and so faithful... ALWAYS.

Lisa said...

oh yay megan! you are such a strong, wise woman & I'm so happy that things have worked just the way God intended for them to work :)

A Crafty Mom said...

What an amazing and beautiful post, Megan. I am so happy for you all that things have been wonderful. You are truly blessed to see things so positively and take control of your lives. Inspiring, to say the least!