Saturday, November 14, 2009

been there done that

If statistics mean anything, of the thirty readers who frequent this blog, approximately 3 might deal with unemployment in the coming year.  I've come across two recent posts written by women who've gone through this in the last decade.  I hope their words and wisdom bless you.  I had tears in my eyes as I read both posts, and I found myself continuing nodding in agreement.  What a blessing that these ladies took the time to recount their experiences. 

Thankfulness Thursday - A post by Paula, from Paulas Ponderings

Each Thursday in November I am going to post something I am thankful for in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. I would love for you to do the same!

Today I am thankful for the gift of rest in the midst of turmoil.

Up until a few years ago, I worried over everything. My husband told me that if I didn't have something to worry about, I'd make something up. And he was right. I had no peace. I did not know how to truly trust. I could not rest.

And then for some crazy reason about 8 years ago, I decided to make my Scripture goal - "I have learned to be content in whatever situation I find myself in" (my paraphrase). Little did I know at the time that the Lord had that goal for me also.

Shortly after that declaration of my new Scripture goal, my husband was laid off from his job of over 20 years. Stress! Maximum stress! Now 7 1/2 years and much turmoil later, I understand trust. And I know how to go to sleep at night and truly rest. Our struggles are not over. My husband has had to start over in a new career when many are beginning to count down the years to retirement. But we have lost our retirement savings and live day-to-day, not knowing what the next month's commissions are going to be or how the bills will be paid. There is a song that says He gives "just enough light for the step I'm on." That's where we are.

My journal notes in December, 2003:

"I try so hard to lay it at the feet of Jesus, but fear gets the best of me. I live in a constant state of fear these days...Why can't I trust?? Why can't I shake this fear that controls my life?? I'm so tired and weary. It's taking too long...I know deep in my soul that the Lord is there and with us and will carry us through - is carrying us through. But I'm just so tired."

My journal notes a few months later in August, 2004:

"Thank You, Father, that I am reaching the point of thankfulness to You for Your teaching, for growing me deeper and deeper in Your love. Thank You, Father, for being more concerned with my character than my comfort. Thank You, Father, for taking my control from me. Through this I've learned to hand control over to You. Thank You, Father, for helping me to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself in ~ because You are there in the midst ~ in control. Thank You, Father, for helping me see that I have never had reason to fear, for You have always been my Provider, my Peace, my Comforter, even when I've not been so sure of it. Thank You, Father, because it's finally getting from my head to my heart. This could not have happened without trials to the point of despair, without learning to give up control, without learning to be content no matter the circumstance, without learning, through trials, to rest in You. It's all about You, Lord, it's all about You.

More of You, more of You. I've had it all, but what I need is more of You.

We have lost all monetary crutches, and have gained ~ You! We have no resources left to rely on ~ but we have You! Our assets have been cut in half, and we are left with You! You are truly all we need. Your faithfulness endures forever!"


How does one rest in the midst of difficult circumstances? I believe it it simply something that must be learned. (Remember my Scripture goal? I have learned to be content...) It is not something that can be conjured up or willed into existence through clenched teeth and fists. Our trials help us grow. I wouldn't trade the past few years for anything. What a wonderful thing to finally be able to trust my Heavenly Father and rest in Him.

(And FYI - I still have my moments! Human!)

I hope this has not been too depressing as a Thanksgiving post! But I know that many are hurting during the holiday seasons each year and pray that the Lord will give His rest to each and every one. I would love to read your Thankfulness posts! Leave a comment and link to your blog if you have one.

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

"Father I pray for my dear sisters who are fearful and distressed during this Thanksgiving season. Show them Your peace...and teach them Your rest. Amen"

This next post comes from Kimberly, author of Adventures in Mothering.  I found it in her Frugal Living category.

Paycuts stink, don't they?

Just about ten years ago, when my husband lost his job, and had to take a job with lowered pay, we felt pretty alone in the world, because no one else was going through that (that we knew, anyway). The tool and die industry, once a sure well-paying job not requiring a degree, was now forcing down pay in most of the skilled labor people that weren't working for a unionized shop. Hubby was back to making what he made 5 years earlier, and yet our expenses had gone up. Over the course of those years, he'd take more paycuts, and we'd have to pare it down further. I was not smiling, girls.

Well, I'm no longer alone. Maybe I got to walk through the wilderness to be an encouragement to others now, ten years later. I hope I can be an encouragement. It seems that the biggest "trend" in this job struggling recession thing is paycuts, according to this article. Now, it may seem like, "Well I live on that much money, why can't he?" but let me point something out to you....if you have been earning $100K, and suddenly you get cut down to $34K, that is a much harder adjustment than if you had been earning $34K all along. Trust me on that one...we've been there and done that.

Back when it happened to us, everyone seemed to say "Well, Martin needs to just look for a better job." (oh, sure...good idea...) or use it as an opportunity to remind me that I could get off my lazy behind and find a job too. You know how us stay home moms do nothing all day long but eat bon bons and watch the soaps. With five young children, there was no way for me to get a second job, even if I felt that God wanted us to do that. In prayer, God had made it clear that He was at work and that I was to press on. We both had peace about it.

Even more not-helpful was those money saving articles and books I'd read. Sometimes I'd get frustrated with them, because although it's good to plan, to save, to budget, to do all that is humanly possible for us to do...there comes this point in our lives when we reach the end of ourselves, and no matter how much we cut, we save, we scrimp, we eat rice and beans, and we do all of the other things we're supposed to do...we just can't do enough to stay above water.

Even with our padded emergency fund, our lower-than-pre-approved mortgage, and our savings accounts, as well as our debt paydown plan well underway, absorbing the loss of almost 2/3rds of our income was not an easy thing to do. You can't live on a fraction of your old income for too long even with emergency plans in place.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't cryng out to God, sometimes shaking my fist at Him, angry at His apparent betrayal of us. It was a frustrating time. Still is.

However, God poured out a blessing on us, first by teaching us that His blessings are not always financial. When he provides for us, it doesn't mean that my husband is going to get the pay raise he deserves, and be paid what his skill level demands. Sometimes it means that God gives us the GRACE to live one day at a time, and to gather our manna one day at a time.

By nature I think we are ungrateful. We don't like going out for manna every day. We like His provision to be clearly stated so that our sweet looking budget spreadsheet makes us look like we are being wise stewards, and so that everything fits in there neatly and cleanly. When you have a budget shortfall of a couple hundred a week, you can't really make a budget. It's funny though how, with God, and by faith, a budget that doesn't work on paper can often work in reality, and cause lots of provision to rain down like manna just as we need it.

A friend, sister in Christ, and blog reader from, what often seems like a galaxy far, far away (namely, somewhere in Central Africa) has told me that she finds the whole money management stuff that American and Western Christians obsess over to be really bewildering. On the one hand, she and I would both agree that God calls us to be faithful stewards of what He provides. On the other hand, we have become so fixed on providing for ourselves, managing our finances according to the world's best wisdom or following Bible money-management principles in our own flesh, and leaving our provider God out of our picture.

As I've pointed out in my book on this very topic, Thriving on One Income, God can provide through a paycheck, but He isn't limited to that. Martin's boss may pay him on Thursday, but God provides for us everyday. Lost most of your retirement savings? Yeah, join the club. Us too. Mortgage underwater even after a generous downpayment? Ditto. College savings fund have enough to buy one new textbook at a state university per child? We're there with you. Thankfully God is too. He knows our circumstances, and better than that, He knows our needs...not our wants...not our wishes...not our hopes...but our needs. He often will provide those hopes and wishes and wants too, of course...but He will take care of us.

The best part about times like these...all of the "stuff" that gets in our way of seeing God in the everyday, and all of the things that push what's really important aside fall away, and God is able to really grow us as people, as Christians, and as servants to the king. That's something to smile about.

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