Mar 6, 2010

Beware...Work in Progress!

Wow! I glanced at the last blog date and realized it has been over a year since I've posted on here! Where does the time go when you're uh, having fun?! I started this blog to share lighthearted stories about the adventures in mommyhood, but with the recent events in my life, I thought I'd expand my "genre" in hopes that you might be encouraged, or, perhaps, encourage ME! :)
In November of 2009, my husband was laid off from his of the many victims of the terrible economic crisis in the U.S. A month away from completing his masters degree, my husband, who also holds a CPA license, never dreamed it would be his turn. Jobs had always come easily to him in the past..a bit too easily, to be honest. Boy, were we about to be humbled.
I found out about his job loss on my way home from a doctor's appointment, during which the doctor had informed me that my oldest son had broken his foot. This came on top of another medical younger son had sliced his finger open with a knife three days earlier, cutting through a nerve and a tendon. He would need surgery the following week. Having struggled with my own set of health problems for the past two years, I felt I was literally at the cracking point. So, it may not come as a surprise to you that when my husband delivered the news (via cell I was pulling out of the doctors parking lot) that I laughed half the way home and then cried the rest of the way. My oldest son simply patted my arm and told me "God wants us to have joy in our trials, remember, Mom?" Pretty impressive coming from a 13 year old. I'm embarrassed to say I had a hard time swallowing his advice. Sure, I knew the verse (James 1) but joy seemed the farthest thing from my mind at the moment. Panic? Yes. Exhaustion? Check. But joy? Not so much.
Its' been four months since that day. My husband is still out of work, without one call back on the dozens of resumes he's sent out. To summarize, it's been a roller coaster ride. One day, I'm up, the next day, I'm down. Some days, it's all I can do to pull my body out of bed. I wish I could tell you that I have tremendous faith, but some days, it feels more like that little mustard seed. I want to see the end result.and I want to see it now! I'm a victim of the microwave society that wants everything fixed in a moment's time. Internet down for five minutes? Let's hope we don't have a heart attack! Three cars in front of us in the Taco Bell drive thru? A litle faster, please! We want to snap our fingers and solve the world's problems, including our own, but sometimes it's not quite as simple as that. You see, there's work to be done. Things God wants to show us. Lessons to be learned. Grace to be found. Joys to be shared. And none of that could be possible if we lived in a perfect world without trials. We want comfortable, but how does one grow when everything's peachy keen 24/7? Boy, if anyone needs work, it's me! Just like a house in the middle of a remodel, I'm a work in progress. Most remodels take longer than expected. The process is sometimes painful, agonizing and frustrating. But the results? Stunning. A few years ago, our friends remodeled their home, nearly doubling the square footage. You can imagine all the work that was involved. The project was expected to take six months but ended up taking two years! It was through much blood, sweat and tears that that house was finally complete. It is beautiful, let me tell you. Granite counters, cherry wood cabinets, an ornately carved front door that sets the stage for what's to come inside. But it wasn't always this way. Dust and nails littered the floor, light fixtures hung half finished from the ceiling, holes in the drywall made one wonder if the house might literally come crumbling down in the process. But in the end, our friends got the beautiful house of their dreams. Oh, the landscaping still has yet to be done. Weeds cover the front and back yard, an afterthought in the process. But the overall project is complete. And if you ask my friends, they'll say it was all worth it.
I like to think my life is something like that remodel. Years ago, I didnt think I needed a remodel. I thought I was just fine the way I was. Life was going along swimmingly, and I was content, comfortable. And that was just the problem, you see. I was comfortable. It was when the trials began to son's special needs, a health crisis, a devastating move, the loss of a dear friend, the foreclosure of our home, and most recently, a job loss, that that comfy little bubble began to crack. Everything I thought I was and everything I thought I knew was shaken to the core. Oh sure, I knew the verses. I knew the sermons. I knew the songs. I knew what to do, but did I really believe it? Did I really believe God was good, had a plan, cares about our every need, provides for the birds and provides for his kids? Sometimes, I wasn't so sure. I got angry at God, plain mad. One evening, I went out into my garage and threw things at the wall. Before you write me off as crazy, hear me out. It was one of the most exhiliarating things I've done in my life. I picked up everything on the ground that looked invaluable and threw it as hard as I could at the wall. Bam! Bam! Boy, it felt better than kickboxing at the gym! And then, after a few minutes, I took a deep breath, walked back inside and read a bedtime story to my daughter. I never did it again, but I sometimes think about that moment and laugh to myself. A remodel? I need a full demolition, I'm afraid! :)
The good news is, those dust and nails on the ground don't stay there forever. One by one, we pick them up, throw them away and start polishing that new floor. And little by little, we see glimpses of the road ahead, the one that points to hope. A hope that can only come from a God who cares, despite what we think or feel at the moment. Perhaps one of the most exciting things in this process has been to see how God has provided for our family. Sometimes it's in the big things, like a family member helping with our rent. And sometimes it's in the little things, like a free fast food coupon that comes in the mail, or a friend saying "Coffee's on me today." At Christmas time, two different anonymous friends sent sweet cards with money tucked inside. I was truly touched and so thankful for their generosity. My son's youth group paid his way to winter camp a few weeks ago, a huge blessing, as he certainly couldnt have gone without that help. A rebate check from Costco came just in time last week, providing groceries for the week. A group of wonderful strangers at a yard sale found my missing wallet and stuffed money inside and prayed for me (that's another story in itself!) Several companies have asked my husband to come and do contract work for them part time, which has equated to nearly a full time job! Just when we think the work might be drying up, more seems to come. The publishing company I write for has acquired more work the past few weeks, another answer to prayer! The bills are being paid...on time! Only God can take the credit for all that!
Our future hangs before us like a giant question mark. If work does not come eventually, do we pack up and move away? I've always been a planner to some degree. I like to glance at my calendar and know what's going on in three months, six months, even a year from now. But the last few years have shown me that, as the verse says, a man can try to plan his life, but it's God who determines his path. I like to believe I have some control over the situation, that if I only pray harder, trust more, something will soon turn up. I like to think that if I could just see that everything's going to be okay in four months, I could get through the next three.But I forget that's in the waiting that the work is being done. One by one, those old windows are being ripped out, replaced by beautiful, clear ones that shine from across the room. I dont want to be an old window. And if it takes getting dirty and dusty in the process of being replaced, so be it. And so we wait. And trust. And believe. Even when it feels like a mustard seed and a mountain.
The recent Haiti quake didn't just rattle a foreign, impoverished country. It rattled us all. Once again, we were reminded that we aren't in control, that in an instant, our world as we know it can come crashing down. We were reminded that only one thing remains constant, certain, the same. God doesn't waver. He doesn't change. He's still got it all figured out. Nothing is too hard for him. And even when we don't get it, and wind up in the garage throwing old plastic lunch boxes at the wall, he isn't shaken. He's the one sure thing.
In the meantime, I'm riding out the roller coaster, trusting, questioning, wondering, waiting, believing. Up, down, up, down. I joke to my husband that as long as both of us aren't down at the same time we'll be okay. So far, so good. I'm remembering my blessings and taking nothing for granted. Hot water, clothes on our back, a (mostly) running car, four healthy kids? Thank you, God. Simplifying's not such a bad thing either. Who knew a game of Connect Four on a Friday night could be so much fun? And, I admit, I've become rather obsessed with finding deals. The challenge of a bargain holds almost as much thrill as a grande nonfat White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks, and that's saying a lot for a coffee snob like me! Clipping coupons from the Sunday paper is the highlight of my week. Literally. And if you pity me, please don't. I'd take a good yard sale over a Macy's sale any day of the week.
So, in a nutshell, that's my life. I'm a work in progress. You might not want to step inside my doors right now, becuase there's an awful big mess inside. But little by little, God's cleaning it up. Restoring, refinishing, remodeling. Don't you love those "re" words? They hold so much hope! And that, my friends, is what we must hold onto. Hope for tomorrow, hope for a new day, hope because we know that in the end, the finished product will be beautiful. And worth it.


Furrey Family said...

You are amazing! Just love reading your happy you are back! :O)
Praying for you as you continue your 'remodel'! You are such an inspiration to so many- keep the faith! God IS good - ALL the time!

Love you and miss you bunches my friend,

Beckey said...

Karen, you always seem to put into words exactly what I am feeling, I might just have you be a guest writer on my blog. Thank you for the encouragement.
We too are going through our own private remodel, that one day I will write about. But for now, it must remain "out of public view." God has continued to be absolutely, 100% taking care of us. The only way I am personally making it through is because of Him. Hold strong, the Lord is doing a beautiful work and He will prove faithful in the end.

We will both be able to look back at this most amazing, troubling, horrifying, humbling experience in the end and give God all the credit.

Jen Powell said...

You are an amazing writer Karen! I miss you and love you and wish I was there to bargain shop with you! Thank YOU for being so real! xoxo