It's hard for me to think about what life will be life retired. After a combined total of 12 jobs, 1 college degree, 2 sold houses, and 4 moves all done in the last ten years, you can understand why I find it hard to believe my life might finally settle into a nice routine.
It was August 27, 2007 when the call came from my husband that would forever change our lives. "I'm getting it tomorrow," he said. A RIF, they called it. Reduction in Force. 60+ people in one day. It was called the Great Recession and we were living and working at ground zero--construction in Florida. Second only to tourism.
It was our thirtieth anniversary. I had just arrived in Seattle to meet our first grandchild. I remember wondering what life would look like after my husband lost his dream job. I found out quickly. Dark days followed as we cried out to God to help us understand why this had to happen to us. Getting out of bed to face endless hours of applying for non-existent jobs became harder and harder. I wanted to hide in my closet and come out when the sun shone again on our lives. We had just married our daughter off the year before. These days were supposed to be filled with empty-nester fun--travel, eating out, visiting with friends. None of that happened in the years to follow.
When life sends you a roadblock, you have two choices: give in or go forward. I'm thankful to be writing this post on the tenth anniversary of the change that grew our faith. Our view of what life should be like is so much different than reality. Because you work hard, and be kind to everyone and honest does not mean your life will be a bed of roses--excuse my cliché. No, life will give you trials no matter what you do. But how you deal with them makes all the difference.
After a lengthy phone call with a friend, I started to write our blessings on a piece of paper stuck to the refrigerator. Little things at first. No bills in the mail. I didn't cry today. We were able to find a discount grocery store that sold soup in dented cans. Looking at my blessings and being thankful for every little thing saved me. But it didn't change what we went through--selling our home we loved, moving across the country to a job my husband hated, moving again and again and again to find something that would support us and let us get through each day without fear of ending up on the street.
The fear was real. We were those people on the nightly news who couldn't find work to support themselves. We lived on unemployment, savings, retirement and finally sold our house before we lost it. Friends were empathetic but couldn't save us.
Only our faith in Jesus saved us. Only the trust that He would see us through like he had in the past only this time our situation was much more dire than not having enough money to send our kid to camp. This time we had to believe or give up. It took some time --some anger, some tears, some disbelief, more anger then finally we gave it to God. Let me say this, the surrender wasn't a pretty picture. It was a work in progress (still is) but God never turned his back on us like some people in our lives did.
He still hasn't.
So here we are. Ten years later. Packing. Selling our house. Preparing for a semi-retirement because one can never totally retire after the run we had but we will be doing life at our own pace again. Together. A tiny piece of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. I doubt that feeling will ever go away but then I tell myself to breathe. Breath more. But mostly to pray. Pray and give thanks that I'm still here to tell our story.