Sunday, January 27, 2013

Will There Be A Victory In 2013?

This is the third and final installment of the experiences and struggles of our last four months of 2012. Read the first here and the second here.

I need a reason to sing, I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
That is a reason to sing
A Reason to Sing, by All Sons & Daughters

I hope I haven't left you hanging for too long. As I wrap up some of our challenges, I realize I can't really put into words all that we have gone and are still going through. Let me pick up from my last update.

After interviewing for several Marketing & Communications Graphics Positions, I was able to start a new full-time job in mid-October. I am now still employed at Lunarpages, an internet hosting and services company based out of Anaheim, California. As a Web Designer & Integrator there, I am creating custom CMS websites for companies and individuals from literally all over the world. While the pay could be better, this full-time position is certainly a step up from my work at Staples and I am gaining valuable experience. Our full insurance offering starts February 1. While I am saddened we have had to wait this long for Kellin, I am still grateful that we may be able to follow up on his medical care soon.

We've had some activity with people looking at our home for sale in Montana. At one point in November, we had a buyer lined up and a contract signed. Unfortunately the buyer backed out, afraid of such a commitment in this economy. We had already started looking at houses here in Southern California and were getting used to idea of having our own place (and the kids sleeping in real beds). It was, and continues to be a huge disappointment. It seems our life is largely on hold until our home sells.

Andrea has been looking for positions as well. With her experience as a shift manager at Great Harvest Bread Company in Helena, she was excited to transfer into a position possibly at Panera Bread or the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. She also applied to Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and more. So far she has not secured a position but we are still hopeful for the extra income.

One of the most difficult transitions for us moving to California is the lack of ministry opportunities. There are certainly many churches here, but no real paid minatory opportunities so far. Additionally, it has been difficult for us to connect with a new church family as we still feel unsettled as if God has no home for us.

Days still come where we question our decisions, we question what God wants for us, we even wonder if moving here to California was a mistake. Certainly I am back into the same routine I was in before, nearly 10 years ago. But what other choice did we really have?

I dare not compare our experiences over the last year to those of Job, certainly things could be much worse. Perhaps Joseph's trials are a better comparison. Even though it often feels like it these days, I know in my heart the He is not done with us yet. I am still trusting that He moves mightily in our lives soon. We are simply praying that God is using us to His glory, even though it doesn't feel like it right now. Would you commit to pray with us?

It is for all these reasons and more that I find my self singing this song more and more...
I need a reason to sing.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Will There Be A Victory In 2013?

This is the second installment of the experiences and struggles of our last four months of 2012. Read the first here and the final here.

When the pieces seem to shatter, To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter, Is that I don’t feel You anymore When I’m overcome by fear, And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever, I’m afraid I might let go
A Reason to Sing, by All Sons & Daughters

At the end of August, I applied for a transfer from Staples in Helena, Andrea left her position at Great Harvest Bread Company, and friends helped us pack everything we own into a 24-foot Budget box truck rental.

We then made the two-day drive (with only a little drama) from our empty home in Montana to Southern California ready to start over again. At the time, I don't think we anticipated the challenges ahead.

Andrea's parents have been gracious to allow us to stay in their guest bedroom, but things are definitely crowded. Andrik and Kellin have been sleeping on the floor in the office for three months now. Andrea's parents have also been helping out in other ways. We are so grateful for these blessings.

It was also a blessing to transfer to the Staples Best Copy & Print Center here in Ontario, California. A "Best" Copy & Print Center stands out in service and quality from standard Staples Copy & Print Centers, so it was quite an honor to be accepted into the position. However, I did not get the hours I had hoped, so I continued to look for a better position.

Even with help from family, things continued to be tight financially. At one point, I was bringing home just $138 per week for our family of four. Since my medical scare last February, our healthcare costs have increased to over $300 per month for medications without insurance (nearly the same with the limited insurance offered by Staples). My mom has been helping in that area.

To further help with costs, we set our pride aside and applied for MediCaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly known as food stamps). The kids were accepted for MediCaid coverage and our family has received SNAP assistance since November. For a man who is highly and uniquely skilled in two separate career tracks and educated with a post graduate degree, the turn of events of 2012 have been huge.

I am truly a broken man.

It wasn't soon after, that we experienced another setback in these difficult times. I received a call one afternoon at work from Kellin's middle school informing me that he had been in an accident on his bike — he was on his way home from school when he collided with some piping in the sidewalk.

He was thrown from his bike landing face-first on the pavement. While he still does not remember getting from the scene back to the school (a concerned parent helped get him and his belongings back), he does remember seeing a lot of blood.

In the end, Kellin had broken his nose and lost a permanent front tooth. At this point, it looks as though a second front tooth will also be lost for good.

On MediCare in California, it was nearly impossible to find a doctor to see Kellin. We ended up at the emergency room of a local hospital where they did very little. Follow up care has been just as challenging.

We finally found a specialist to see Kellin about his nose after the intense swelling subsided. The dentist we found that actually accepts MediCaid has still not contacted us and seems elusive as we try to follow up with care for his missing tooth.

We are still praying for help and a resolution to Kellin's heath needs.

So where are we now? Why are we praying for victory? Check out my third and final installment here as I conclude the experiences and struggles of our last four months.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Will There Be A Victory In 2013?

These words from "A Reason to Sing" by All Sons & Daughters continue to sum up our experiences over the last year.

"Will there be a victory? Will You sing it over me now?"

As I look back at 2012, I can honestly say that it was THE most difficult year of my life. I had no idea last January that it would be so. Even though we had just closed the doors of Encounter Church and looked to God's new adventures for us, we were filled with hope and trust.

Working at Staples as a Copy & Print Pro certainly did not pay the bills and the continued poor economy was not opening any doors for paid ministry positions anywhere in the country.

We followed God's lead to explore Seattle and made some great connections there, but nothing that would help our family survive. Early in 2012, I also experienced a scary medical situation that increased our need for strong financial stability.

In my last post, I made the statement "We must be moving on soon." And so the final catalyst for our "moving on" lay in the need to financially support and provide the best life experience for our family. We could no longer do so in Helena, Montana.

After much prayer and consideration, our only true option was to move back to Southern California. I knew I could transfer my Staples position and we could stay with family for a season. Because I am uniquely qualified both in Ministry and the Marketing & Communications Arts, I was sure I could secure a related position in SoCal despite the depressed economy.

And so we did move. With much excitement and some trepidation, I brought the kids down to their grandparents at the beginning of August for the start of school in Fontana. Andrea and I followed just a month later to also stay with her parents.

It had been exactly eight years TO THE DAY since our move to Montana. Our empty home was still on the market waiting for a buyer, and a new life transition awaited us in a new place.

So where are we now? Why are we praying for victory? Check out my next post as I continue the experiences and struggles of our last four months. And the final post here.