The other day I was thinking about how 9 months ago I had no idea what to expect when I started blogging. There is a lot of time to think, dream, reflect, plan, etc. when working on furniture. I didn’t expect anything from blogging other than to post some before and afters, share paint colors, and have a little memory for my kids to look at one day.
***First I need to say that I asked Kevin permission to share our story, and in NO way do any of these circumstances reflect on him as a man or as a provider. He would have done anything to change our situation, along with hundreds of thousands of other men and women in our country. ***
8 months prior to writing my first post, Kevin closed his business and accepted a position at a local architecture firm. The 18 months preceding that were incredibly uncertain. He had worked out of our home for the previous 5 years building his own firm, and established a very good name for himself. But when the economy tanked, so did his industry. He was especially hit hard because he mainly designed custom homes, so when the banks stopped lending, people either couldn’t build or were afraid to build in the AZ market. We were one of the states worst hit by the real estate crisis. On top of that, the successful home based business I had built for several years was leveled. Along with many of our fellow Americans, our faith was tested daily and some days our ability to take things one day at a time seemed impossible. During that 18 months we lost everything – our savings, our equity, everything monetary we had built for a decade was gone. But, we still had each other and that was what mattered to us most. It is true that when you lose everything you realize that our actual needs are very basic, and relationships are everything.
I returned to what I had trained for in college, and was lucky to find a great nursing job that I loved, and still love. I worked as much as I could. Kevin and I sat down often with pencil to paper and cut out every possible expense. We got pretty creative. But as the weeks turned into months and the economy continued to spiral, our savings eventually depleted. Our basic expenses were more than I was making, so I started taking night and weekend call at another hospital for extra income. Getting called in at all hours of the night for surgeries that couldn’t wait until morning eventually took an enormous toll on Kevin and me, so after several months I had to stop. The good thing that came of that time period was that we learned to be frugal and to do without.
Our 3 girls were old enough (and wise beyond their years) that we couldn’t shelter them from the reality of what was happening. We taught them that the best thing to do in our circumstance is pray for our needs to be met, and for the needs of others. They were faithful to it every single day, even on the days we were too tired, or struggling with fear and bitterness to do so ourselves. We watched the government frivolously spend taxpayer’s money while the majority of Americans were forced to tighten their belt in order to rebuild their financial house. We eventually reached a point where we could no longer afford to be angry about what we could not control. There was no more agonizing, no more arguing. We were too tired and had given up the fight.
One afternoon those prayers were boldly answered when Kevin received a call from a company hiring for a project management position at a firm close to home. We were in disbelief that he even received a call in an economy when companies in a position to hire are flooded with qualified resumes, but we were cautiously optimistic. Come to find out later, they already had over 100 resumes, and had interviewed many good candidates. Everything quickly fell into place; the interview process went smoothly, and he got the job. I still get goose bumps. Something much bigger than us was in control of the whole situation the entire time, and we did emerge from our trial stronger and wiser.
Things were ready to change again. We decided I would cut back to 2 days a week to reestablish some balance in our family and home. I envisioned a life of bliss. There was a brief honeymoon period of nesting and reorganizing, but it lasted about a month. Not having Kevin around the house to touch base with, and having all three girls in school for the first time was a huge adjustment. I found myself wandering the house like I was in a foreign country. I was lonely, bored, not coping well, and I eventually slipped into a pretty deep depression. I got a glimpse of what empty nesting might be like, and I sure didn’t like it.
I kept telling myself, “snap out of it!” When that approach didn’t work I sought counsel. One wise person asked me whether or not I had a passion. That seemed like a ridiculous idea when I wasn’t even passionate about getting out of bed. It did get me thinking, though, about the things I used to enjoy that lifetime ago before the economy turned our lives upside down. One day I decided to pick my pathetic self up, dust off an old interest, and I refinished my first piece of furniture in 3 years. It brought me joy, and continues to today.
This chapter of my life – only scratching the surface of what I’ve overcome – has been hard for me to write, but I hope it will encourage someone going through a difficult time. Change and uncertainty can be a great catalyst to put us on a new and better path. We still have a lot of uncertainty with our housing situation, but we are at peace. [Edit: we are downsizing and closing on a house 5 doors down from my folks soon!] I don’t believe we can change God’s will, but if we ask to be conformed to it, listen and take action, we will experience peace and joy no matter what our circumstances: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phillipians 4:13).
My little business continues to change and evolve, but I’m enjoying the ride this time. I am very thankful for you all to enjoy it with.