Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rapids Ahead

You know when you're rafting down a river, and it's calm, and you enjoy the scenery and chat with your family and friends?  But as you come closer to a rapid or waterfall, the water picks up speed.  In the rapids, you feel out of control.  That you can put your paddle in, but the water is in charge.  It can choose whether to let you sail through, or it can twist your raft around, or dump you out.  
This is where Justin and I are now.  In the rapids.  And it's not letting us sail through.
Several months ago, Justin got a new boss.  We thought this was great, because his previous boss was a nightmare.  Boy, were we wrong.  His new boss, Alan, was worse by a long shot.  Picking on Justin for minor, VERY minor mistakes Justin made.  Or calling him out on something he didn't do; making up reasons why he was a bad employee.  
[In July, Justin had requested to take two days off to go to a Scout High Adventure in Jackson Hole with the young men, and Jacob and Isaac.  He sent the required email, and vocally reminded his boss of his upcoming absence twice. The following week, Justin received an email from Alan that was cc'd to Alan's boss and the HR director how incompetent Justin was for missing an important conference call.  Obviously baffling Justin.  But we knew what was up.]
Justin, being the loyal, valiant man he is, tried to bend over backwards for Alan.  Doing everything he requested and much more.  Regardless, Alan laid the groundwork to fire Justin.  
At this point, we are in the river, picking up speed.  We knew something was coming, but had hopes it wasn't really going to.
Justin had the opportunity to go climb the highest point in Wyoming with some of his great friends from Minnesota.  If you know Justin very well, this is a BIG HUGE deal to him.  He stayed home from a Dittmer reunion (I took the kids with Alex) to work, hoping to make his boss see what a hard worker he was, and to only take off Friday to climb Gannett peak, not a full week for a reunion.  Well, on Wednesday, August 7th, he got an email from Alan, telling Justin to meet him at the airport the following Thursday, at the Starbucks by the luggage claim.  We knew what this meant.  Alan had fired two employees out of seven the past month.  Justin was so bereft with foreboding that he didn't go on the hike.
The rapids have started to pick up.
Justin still had hope.  He tried his hardest to make pre-season orders and was way ahead of other territories in sales.  

On Thursday, Alan texts Justin to bring his laptop.  
He meets Justin at the baggage claim, spends a few minutes with him, takes his laptop, and leaves.  
Justin asked why he was getting fired, and was told to ask the HR director.  

After 13 years of LOYAL employment with Raleigh America, he was fired.  
No severance. Insurance cut off the end of the month.  No nothing.  Kicked in the butt.  

Well the next couple of days are a bit of a blur.  I remember Justin sitting dazedly around the house.  Or finding him curled up in the fetal position with a pillow over his head.  It killed me to see him like this.  

I had signed up for Education Week at BYU several months ago, to be staying in the dorm with my dear friend, Erin.  I did not want to go.  As much as I love ed week and Erin, I was dreading it.  Leaving Justin home with all the kids, their first week of school.  It didn't feel right to leave him.  But there wasn't much choice.  
My first day there, I laid in bed long past the time Erin left, and stared at the wall.  I finally got out of bed and went to only two classes and couldn't make myself go to anymore.  I went back to the dorm and stared at the wall some more.  Usually I go to every hour that classes are scheduled.  Erin was sweet and  put up with my melancholy.  Tuesday things were looking up a little.  Being with a friend and going to uplifting classes was helping get my mind off of our troubles.   By Wednesday, I was in much better spirits; not happy or normal, but better.  We saw The Scarlet Pimpernel one night, and hiked to a hot spring another night, swam in a fountain another.  The evenings were fun.  I was able to attend many classes, maybe 5-6 a day was all I could do, but it was enough.  I came away with great insights and a much lighter heart.  
In one class I heard Heavenly Father tell me, "be patient, for I am with thee."  I need to remember these tender mercies, that we're being watched after and are exceedingly blessed with what we do have.
I feel like we have an eternal perspective of the situation.  It began with our fast in December of 2011, which started the ball rolling and ended with us living in Draper.  Well, that ball is still rolling, I guess.  Heavenly Father isn't done with this chapter in our book.  We don't know how it's going to end, but both of us have our sights toward God and are putting as much faith as we can muster in His will.  While trials stink, it does make me pray more fervently and feel closer to Him.
I heard this quote by C.S. Lewis at Ed week, and I feel it summarizes how I feel:

          “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”


Justin went to the LDS employment office and did a three day class.  He's sent his resume to several companies and done some networking.  He loved his job.  LOVED it.  Now he's looking at jobs that he doesn't feel qualified for, or over-qualified for, or just not interested in the slightest. 
This week, he's doing a trial run for a company that is owned by friends from our college days.  He hates it.  After 13 hours he came home last night a drained man, in tears.  He doesn't want to sell real estate seminars for a living. It's not a dream come true job.  It's a way to earn money and that's it.  The job is in Utah this week, but will normally be all over the country...having him gone for weeks at a time. No over-exaggeration.  Weeks.  Is it worth it to earn money for the family that you never get to spend time with?  While he is grateful to have this opportunity, it is NOT right for him or our family. It is a stepping stone.   I can't see how Heavenly Father would want this for us.  Not if you could see how Justin is feeling.  I'd rather live in a mobile home or apartment and have him work at a bike shop for $12 an hour and have him happy.  It's not worth it.
[UPDATE:  Justin has now done this seminar job for four days.  He doesn't seem to mind it.  He likes the guys he's working with.  We still are having lots of doubts about the time away from home.
 Time will tell.]
PLUS we just found out we need a $2k fix on one of our cars this month to get new tabs.  We don't have $2k to spend right now.  We had everyone go in for dental check ups before our insurance ran out and got cavities fixed etc.  Jacob needed his wisdom teeth out so that was a whopping $450.  We got a letter yesterday telling us the insurance wouldn't cover a part of it so now we'll have to pay for that part, not sure how much yet.  It never ends.  I feel like we're starting to drown, our raft is filling with water.  I'm trying to bail out water, but it's more than my little bucket can keep up with.

About tender mercies:  I have been watching out for them more since Ed Week.  
We are receiving food from the Bishop's Storehouse every two weeks. 
Justin was able to work for a friend and earned a little bit of money, also working for my parents a couple of days.  These little jobs add up.  
I had signed up for a lottery to win tickets to see James Taylor perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Symphony on September 6th or 7th.  Our Bishop had asked me to photograph their son's reception on August 30th but changed the date for the 6th of September.  :(
We got an email telling us we won the lottery but didn't tell us which day.  The tickets came in the mail with the date of September 7th!  We were able to go and it was such an amazing concert.  Truly like none I've ever been to.  It made me cry to be able to live in Utah and attend such wonderful things. I don't want to move.  We just got here!  Anyway, that was a HUGE tender mercy for me.  The concert AND being able to earn a little money.  I'm thankful for our Bishop.  He is a wonderful and caring man.   

Please pray for us, especially Justin.  He's really struggling like I've never seen.