Friday, September 18, 2009

How Are You?

People have been so kind over the last two days in asking how we are doing -- particularly to me -- regarding Kevin's job loss. I'm sure Kevin has been asked the same questions by many, and I'm sure, like me, that he is very appreciative of the kindness of the people who are asking.

I want to share with you (and myself, too, I suppose, in years to come) how I am feeling right now about this.

Many months ago, I felt a strong .... what's the word I want here? .... sense, I suppose, that something big was going to happen in our lives and that we were on the cusp of a change. I also felt very strongly a sense that God had something bigger and better planned for Kevin in the area of his work.

Kevin will tell you that I spent a lot of time encouraging him to send his resume out, to look for other work opportunities and probably pushing a little too hard. I even job searched a bit for him and would send him job postings of things I felt might be "up his alley". In retrospect, I'm sure it was this sense that there was some change coming, and in the fact that I strongly felt that his company and in particular, his branch office, were not doing well financially and that there was certain to be more lay-offs in the near future. More than anything though, there was always this sense of change that I carried around with me.

I have spent countless hours the last few months considering my life, my work (as noted in the 1000th post) and our lives trying to figure out what the change was and what I needed to be doing about it.

In all honesty, I was rushing God and even, in essence, playing God, trying to control this change. My patience level has never been a strong suit of mine. I am impatient to a fault and want everything to come quickly and easily. God continues to work on me in this area -- by giving me lots of opportunities to practice patience.

God blessed me enough to give me this sense of upcoming change, I think, so that I would be prepared for what was about to come in our lives. He's an all-knowing God and knows me well enough to know if something like this had come out of the blue I would have had a meltdown. But, because of the forewarning I felt, I have had a strong feeling of peace about all of this.

I got an email today that was perfectly stated: WHEN GOD IS ABOUT TO REPOSITION YOUR LIFE, SATAN WILL BEGIN TO ATTACK. We have felt since the beginning of 2009 that Satan has been attacking our family unrelentingly. It was literally one thing right after another. There are lots of things that have happened to our family in 2009 that I have not posted on the blog, but if all added up and listed would make most folks cave. I'm not saying we are uber-strong, but it has certainly be the biggest tests of our faith that we've had in our lives, I think (even more so than Ellie's adoption, which was huge). It would probably make you shake your head and go, "Holy cow, how much more?" It's something I've asked myself a lot this year. I have spent countless time searching God's word, praying, confessing, asking what we were doing wrong. BUT... this most recent event (Kevin's job loss) has come, to me, clothed in peace and acceptance. Kevin has even said that it brought on a "sense of relief" for him.

Philippians 4:7 KJV: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I was reading a story on The Parable Life talking about someone who's husband is battling cancer, and it seemed parallel in some ways to my life right now. It read:

Actually, her emotions are quite understandably all over the place right now. But there was a deep sense of surrender to God's eternal purposes, and a singular, ravenous desire to cling to each word He is speaking into her life right now. She is at peace, even though she is living in the middle of a war zone.

What does "the peace that passes all understanding" really mean? This favorite Christian phrase is often shorthand for "an irrational sense of emotional calm". Is Jesus talking about our emotional state here?

"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:25-27

God has reminded me a lot in the last 24 hours of verses that I hid in my heart years ago. He reminded me of the birds that don't have to worry about their next meal [Matthew 6:24-34]; He reminded me of the daily manna He provided to the Israelites in the desert [Exodus 16:14-15]. I feel a certainty from Him that I am only to concern myself with this day. And today, I have food to eat, clothes to wear, the bills are paid, we have a home to live in, vehicles to drive, health insurance, I have a job, we are all healthy and we all have one another. Will that be the case tomorrow? I don't know and I don't have to worry about tomorrow.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34]

I will admit, there is the occasional foray into the "what ifs" of Kevin's current unemployment. My biggest fear and concern, honestly, is health insurance. I let that nibble at the back of my mind a little too frequently because it is certainly a big concern of our mine and Kevin's. We have a toddler with a less-than-stellar immune system who will likely need to see the doctor. We have a son who is on monthly medication. We are heading into winter and the cold/flu season. There is the huge what if's of catastrophic illness. And there is the reality that we most likely will not be able to afford COBRA coverage considering we are already paying over $750 a month for family coverage and COBRA will probably be more. So, I continue to meditate on the fact that God is in control and claim the peace that He has given me. I remind myself that my job is to not worry.

The Bible is clear about worry and it's destructive nature.

[Philippians 4:6-7] Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

[Matthew 6:31-33] So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Worrying puts your focus in the wrong direction and is "me-focused" instead of "God-focused". It equates to doubting God's ability to care for us.

[1 Peter 5:7] Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. God created us; He loves us like no parent can ever love their child. He is big enough to handle my worries. I, however, am not.

So, when you ask how we are doing and we respond as if there is simply nothing wrong in our lives, don't get us wrong. It's not that we are walking around with our heads stuck in the sand. We are certainly aware of the fact that this is a less-than-desirable situation to be in. But we both feel certain that God has planned this for this point in our lives and we are willing participants with a faith that whatever path he needs or wants us to walk, we will and will give Him the glory for all the good things in our lives. We are certain we will stumble and have days where our faith is tested and possibly even lost, but the prayers of our family and friends will sustain us on those days. I hope that when we walk out of this valley that God will bless Kevin with a job that excites him again, that He will give Kevin a place to enjoy working and to let his life be a witness to others. I hope that He will feel the desire to bless us in a financial manner that will eventually allow me to be a stay-at-home mom for Josh and Ellie. I hope that He will take care of our needs so that we can, in turn, be a blessing to others who are in need. And, if He doesn't do it the way I think it should happen, I hope we are both mature enough to realize that it's His plan -- not ours -- and that He is doing what is best for our family.


Kimberly said...

Praying for you guys! It sounds like God is already using this to prosper you!
I was just reading tonight and it makes me think of your post:
II Chron. 16:9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.
It sure seems He is doing just that with your family!
Blessings and continued peace to you!

Julie said...

Unless Kevin worked for a nonprofit/church (something like that) the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) makes companies pay a very big percentage so COBRA is more affordable. Didn't work for us, because my DH worked for a religious institution (I forgot the exact technicality). But for sure look into that. Then look into your stae insurance. Our is actually very nice, makes RXs free!!!

Julie said...

I meant STATE.

Your outlook is great!! I wish you guys the best.

Mom to 2 Angels said...

Great post, Maria, in the midst of a not-so-great situation. Can you imagine going through life without faith and knowing that all we really need He will provide? We are praying for you guys.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Prov 3:5,6

Kelli said...

I have been thinking and praying for you guys since I first read your post about the job. You have a great outlook!