4/06/2012

Motherhood and Moneyhood, part III

You can catch up on parts I and II in this miniseries, and you should! In sum, it boils down to me having the "perfect" at home job after Roger was born, it not going the way we planned, and me realizing I was sacrificing my own dreams of full-time motherhood due to fear that Jesus wouldn't take care of us financially.

One important component that drives all of this is Jason's and my Biblical conviction that the husband carries the burden of financial provision, per I Timothy 5:8 in particular and themes throughout Proverbs and the Bible as a whole. This isn't to say wives aren't to work; rather, it's that the burden falls on the man. For example, when constant health struggles made even 25-30 hours a week a strain for me, Jason chose to carry the burden of not quitting his second job so I could stay home, about a year before we became pregnant with Roger. My health improved and that was how I began doing the transcription job.

But all of this is to say that we both agree and feel the Bible teaches that if my paid work isn't generally a joy and blessing (beyond mere financial outlook) then I shouldn't carry the burden. If I'm working solely to make money and it is in any way a persisting burden, particularly one that impairs my ability to manage our home and now children then it needs to go, no matter how bleak the financial forecast is less my income.

So, here's the rub with Jason's job history. He's the hardest worker I know. I've heard guys whine about getting up for work at 4 am, but then they're home at 3 in the afternoon and have the lovely personality that expects their wife to wait on them hand and foot since they got up so early.

Dada studying while holding Rog.
Not Jason. His typical schedule included getting up at 2:30 am, loading 1,500 or so boxes into UPS trucks from 3:30 to 8:30, cleaning up and rushing to his IT job, working from 9-6 there (sometimes later), getting home around 7, trying to eat and shower and do life stuff and then to bed often around 10-10:30 pm (though nights with community group and such kept him up until 11 sometimes). He did this Monday through Friday every single week, without complaining. Plus he studied, doing school full-time, too, for 10-12 hours on weekends. Plus church and being a husband who took care of me, etc. And he never expected me to wait on him; he would still find ways to make my life easier, like emptying the dishwasher at 2:30 am because it was clean and he knew it would bless me to wake up and find it that way. What a man, right? I know I'm blessed.

As an aside, if you think that schedule was crazy, for three Decembers in a row he averaged about 2 hours of sleep a night because during crazy peak season at UPS he had to be there sometimes as early as 11:30 pm. And there would be random busy periods where he'd have to be there as early as 2:45 as a regular thing. Still no whining, no entitlement, just hard work that made him admired by most everyone who knew him (though he didn't even realize it, and he was still humble). He was willing to do whatever it took to take care of us and always only had me work if I wanted to. Even when I did, he was always more concerned with my heart while working than any money it brought in. I wouldn't brag on Jason this much if it weren't all true!

Super tired dada, in his final week at UPS, with super
tired 3week old Rog. One of my favorite pics of all
time, for the record.

So, once he quit UPS after Roger was born we knew he was 2 months away from what we hoped would be a decent raise at his performance review. What ended up happening, by God's design, was that he got a job as a Microsoft vendor that basically came out of nowhere, meaning he works at Microsoft but is payed by a contracting company. The pay is ok, but nothing near what FTEs (employees employed and paid directly by Microsoft) get paid, plus with none of the perks other than getting a free bus pass. It was enough of a raise that we could pay the bills but things were super tight.

See, when Jesus told Jason and me that I needed to stop transcription and focus on motherhood, it was a huge relief. I knew it was what I needed, but to that point was unwilling, to do. Finally obeying burst the stress bubble that clouded my head. But it was also scary because we didn't know what to expect of that potential raise. Jesus simply said, "I'll provide, trust me." And we did choose to obey and trust him, but things were hard. Our budget for groceries and diapers and basically everything after essential bills has been $250 for the last year. For 8 months of the time we were spending $80-$100 (so 30-40%) on Roger's formula.

I'd love to tell you that I was always filled with joy and peace because we obeyed Jesus. Sometimes I was, but other times I struggled in all kinds of ways. I wished I could earn money again. I wondered if I should go back to transcription or try to find a way for this blog to make money. I dreaded grocery shopping. Every tiny noise from our (1997 and pretty reliable but still old) car gripped my heart with fear that it would break down and we'd be effed.

How to do no-budget Halloween? Dress up as "cold Seahawks fans"
and say, "Yes, please!" when offered a hand me down and ADORABLE
monkey costume!

Do these people look like they're missing out on life?
No, I don't think so, either.
I knew people who love us would help us (and some even did) but I dreaded it and it was really hard for me to receive it with joy when it did happen. It made me feel awful, to see my talented, hard working, non-complaining, wonderful husband work so hard but we had to let people help us do something as simple as get our son a bigger car seat.

One struggle was putting my hope in our circumstances changing. Jason was excelling in his position at Microsoft and the goal was for him to try and get FTE this summer or fall. I would think about how, once you count Microsoft's amazing medical insurance (let alone their stock options and how just about everyone around here gives big ol' discounts to Microsoft employees and other perks), his pay would literally double. I figured I just needed to "get through" the hard time. Really, I just believed that Jesus would only be good when we had more money and that our current circumstances were a time for me to tough it out and shut Jesus out.

But over the last few months something beautiful happened. Jesus showed me, time and again, that he is good. His provision, his plan, are good. They might be painful, like money struggles, but they are good because Jesus is good. He told me very clearly that his plan is already written and I can do nothing to change it, but that he is good, an ever present-help in time of need, in every moment in the midst of it. Circumstances matter only in that Jesus wants my heart in the midst of them. And I realized that he was right and by his grace the Spirit helped me to start walking in belief.

See, a lot has been happening the last few months. Us finding out we needed to move. Some really intense, painful, and draining ministry stuff that has quite honestly ripped our hearts out. We still battle both in fighting against bitterness and enduring a pain that isn't lessening; it has actually gotten worse due to the response on the part of the other party. Then there was the continuing money tightness with an unexpected (but amazing gift of grace!) pregnancy thrown in, meaning we need a different car (two car seats won't fit in our current one) and probably a bigger place, all with the same amount of money that has already made the last 9 months a miracle that all our bills are paid every month. Oh, and the pregnancy has made me super sick. Not easy!

Best. Gift. Ever. Money means nothing in comparison.

Post-workout mama having fun with her boy--good life!

Then a totally unexpected wrench was thrown in--a job that we never saw coming came Jason's way. And since I've already typed quite the long post, the abbreviated story is that there have been a few weeks of uncertainty, prayer, and seeking wisdom and counsel from trusted godly friends about whether it's a wise move for our family. It's a job that, while being a dream job for Jason, would pay about a third less than an FTE position at Microsoft. It shifted my expectations and I realized that my hope had been in Microsoft FTE, not Jesus' provision. Jesus clearly told me to trust him and support my husband and remember what he had told me repeatedly about his good plan being already written.

Well, wouldn't you know it--not only did Jason accept the job, but Jesus above and beyond blessed us. Jason gets to have a job serving the church, growing in his career, and making significantly more than he was--in particular, enough to have a more reasonable budget, get a newer, bigger car, and start making a healthy dent in our student loan debt. Plus, as you know from my previous post, he gave us an incredible home that we could afford on the tight budget we've already had. Jesus' plan has included goodness that has been honestly more than I would have dared daydream about, had I the mind to be doing that before it all rolled out.

How could anyone with that washer/dryer
feel anything but spoiled? 
Here's the best part, though--Jesus isn't good because the circumstances are changing. Jesus is good simply because he's good and the plan is good simply because he's good and it's his plan. And I was clinging to that belief, by sweet grace, before the circumstances were changing to ones I liked better. To me, that's the biggest miracle. I still maintain that to Jesus money isn't such a big thing--he can provide homes and jobs and cars and pay off loans quite easily. But changing a fretful, distrusting, anxious heart to one that rests in him and trusts him regardless of if he provides those things? Amazing.

A great bonus is this: Jesus' plan is not deterred when we choose disobedience. Our joy in Jesus, however, is. It hit me this week that a little over a year ago we made a decision to believe Jesus that my working wasn't a way he wanted to provide for us financially. And now, because we chose to obey him and wrestle through the hard parts, we get joy as he's blessing us with multiple times more than I could ever earn doing transcription while trying to also be a mom. I get to be a focused, full-time mama, fulfilling my calling and living my dream, while Jason's going to be working his own dream job that is a huge blessing financially, all in a home that's better than we dreamed we'd ever have at this stage.

We move 4.15 and he starts his new job (still as a software developer in test, or SDET) on 4.17. We already started packing last weekend and can hardly stand to wait another week!

Man alive, what joy. After almost 2 full wintery months filled with a lot of heartache and tears, this spring is bright and green and full of rejoicing in so many ways that I almost--almost--feel guilty writing about it because someone else might be in that winter season still. But I won't feel guilty. Instead, I rejoice and ask you to rejoice with me. Jesus' plans are good regardless of circumstance and that is truth. Believe that with me, no matter what your season is!
Holding a newborn at Roger's party, and realizing that we're only 6 or so
months away from holding another newborn of our own.

Roger at his first birthday party. Yeah, blessed is
totally what we are!

Loved seeing my little man enjoy the gifts from those
who love him.
Thank you, Jesus, that you truly are good. You were good when money was tight and I was trying to work and everything felt so hard and I worshiped your provision more than you as provider. You're good now when things aren't so much that way anymore. You'll still be good when we're in painful seasons that are sure to come so long as your plan is that we are still alive on this earth. "Lord, teach me from my heart to say, 'Thy will be done.'"

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