Since we moved to Toledo back in 2001, I’ve written a letter at Christmastime, capturing for friends and family the year’s activities and lessons. I haven’t always been consistent, not writing a letter every year. Actually, there were times I did; I just didn’t get around to sending it. While we may mail out some cards this year, there won’t be as many as in the past. And instead of a lengthy letter, which I understand took some the entire year to read, I intend to contribute here in this venue.
I was watching Cinderella Man the other day. (I haven’t actually seen the whole thing yet; I’ve been watching it at the gym in 30-minute stretches.) Right now, I can smell the early preparations of tomorrow’s spread wafting from the kitchen, and I’m overwhelmed as clips from the movie appear in my mind: James Braddock standing outside a gate hoping for work at the docks, his wife Mae begging for their heat not to be turned off and watering down milk to make it last longer, and Braddock’s knocking out the #2 contender out of sheer determination to provide for his family.
Like Braddock, I lost my job last year. A strenuous season of ministry eventually led to considerable turmoil for our family. While I thought the outlook was improving, I was shocked the morning of October 14 when I learned I was being let go. (Change that to past tense: I’d been let go. I was merely being informed I’d been let go.) Perhaps I’d had my head in the sand or maybe in the clouds. I’d thought a new season of ministry was upon us. Apparently it was; it just didn’t involve me. My longtime apprentice would take over. My release was immediate.
Unlike Braddock, I never had to seek public assistance or return to my former bosses looking for a handout. We’d been prepared for such a financial catastrophe, having been on the Dave Ramsey plan for a few years. God sustained us primarily through our savings, gifts from people who love Him, and a part-time position at a church nearby. Certainly, we had to rein in our spending and focus only on necessities, but we never went without the things we needed. And we could still occasionally take the girls to Handel’s for ice cream. Even when our bank accounts began to dry up, it was then that I secured a position at a small town in southern Ohio. (I’ll tell you more about Eaton later.)
Severed from our church family, we found comfort from a few families who reached out to us almost immediately. We shared meals, conversation, and a lot of laughter. We’re forever indebted to the Macketts, the Nicholsons, the Burroughs, the Korns, Mark and Margie Bauman, and the Mills, for the way God hugged us through their arms.
This Thanksgiving, we feast with much gratitude, looking beyond the holiday season when we’ll make our home a few hours south. God has been good, and I can’t wait to tell you more about what He did over the past year: what followed our departure from NorthPoint, Cindy’s pregnancy, our time at McCord, family visits, our Preble County welcome, and our trip back to Arizona.