I hear a lot of talk about the economy lately. People seem scared. We were discussing this a bit in our Life Group this morning and I was reminded of our personal economic low. I thought I would share it here. This is a story I used to share often, but it's been a while. I am constantly astounded by how much my Savior loves little old me and has for me only good plans. When I say, "This is good, God," He says, "You haven't even entered the beginning of good yet. Hold on, THIS is going to be good."
So here is the story of Terry & Donna in 1995. This is going to be good. If you are worried, you aren't alone, but don't let that worry become crippling...keep following the Lord. He may take you somewhere new and cool.
In 1995 we were living in Albuquerque and Terry was an accountant. He was looking for a new job because being Terry Lawson in Albuquerque in 1995 was not a high paying job. In September, he was offered one of those "too good to be true" jobs. He would be the CFO for a small home health care company owned and operated by a Christian family. They would pay our moving expenses, find a place for us to live and there would be a big old raise. The only catch...it was in McAllen, Texas. Texas is good, I'm from Texas, but a border town...I wasn't sure. We prayed about it an felt it was the way to go, so in October, we went. Terry's dad helped us move and his new company found us a cute little house to rent. The rent was expensive, but we were rich now...right? The leasing agent was so kind and eager to please. They even let us pay our deposits out in installments because she was a friend of his boss. She made everything perfect for us, even brought us a housewarming gift, though we were only renters. Life was sweet. Ashley was 4 and Tyler was 18 months. Our needs were met with a little left over...not so much.
Terry was at the job only weeks when the bill collector calls started coming, not to us but to his office. It seems the sweet little company wasn't paying their bills. Payday rolled around and the paycheck bounced. (It might not have been the first paycheck, but it was one of the first.) We had to borrow money from my parents to pay the rent while the company got the money together for payroll. Until that day, I didn't even know that a paycheck could bounce. Several paychecks bounced and then they stopped coming all together. Terry was in a position of having to decide who to pay at the company when money did come in. He rightly paid those who were supporting a family on the no paycheck they got. Most of the workers were minimum wage workers with no other options. We had options, a little savings and generous family so we were the bottom of the pile. (Seeing his heart for those poor workers made me love him more.) As the weeks wore on and he came to understand the true scope of the financial issues, we realized we were in trouble. We were getting no income, yet he was working and we still had bills.
Add to this the fact that we were hated in McAllen. This was during the beginning of NAFTA and white people in McAllen were assumed to be working in Mexico taking a high paying job from a Mexican worker. As a matter of fact, that was true much of the time. Terry didn't work in Mexico, but no one would talk to me to know that. My neighbors would slam the door in my face and I couldn't get waited on in stores. Nobody wanted my dollars, only pesos. I have never been so lonely. I need an audience, as you know.
Christmas rolled around and we had no money. We sent the kid's Christmas list to my sister like we always do and she decided to buy our gifts for us, and we would pay her a bit at a time. This would become the year the "Santa Thief" saved Christmas. She went out and bought every single thing on the list! (I had included their birthdays in the list I sent, so I wouldn't have to send more than one list.) She bought Tyler's new "big boy" bed that was to be for his birthday. She even bought things we would never buy like an electric JEEP for the kiddos. She was worried and that's how she felt she could help. She payed and was told to pull around to the side to get her truck loaded up. While she waited, she realized she never got her credit card back, so she went back in to the store. The cashier was gone. The manager said he must be on a break and made her wait. Poor guy. He didn't know who he was dealing with. A phone call to the credit card company showed $500 in new electronic equipment had already been bought from the store next door, while she was waiting and the manager wouldn't call the police. Huge fit later, everything was free!! Also, the "Santa Thief" got to have a lovely Christmas meal down at County. (Don't mess with my sister, Buddy. You're lucky the police got to you first.) I always say that "God will use a donkey if donkey's what He's got." That guy was the donkey. (OK, don't write me, I know he wasn't used in a Ba lam's ass sort of way, but he was the donkey none the less.) God provided for us beyond what we even imagined! Now, not everyone in financial straits gets an electric Jeep, but it can happen.
Eventually Terry began having chest pains from the stress and we said, "Enough." No one is allowed to harm his health, so we made the decision he would have to quit. He had never left a job with no new job on the horizon. We were 3 months into a 6 month lease. We had never broken a lease, this seemed unforgivable. We were all alone in a strange land with no place to go and no way to go there. I called the leasing agent the day after Christmas and she told us to "GO." She actually apologized and told us no rent would be due for January and we were free to leave as soon as possible. She said that they were not in the business of holding people hostage in a lease that was harmful. She said it wouldn't be godly and her boss would not hold us. I didn't know what to say. Within the next 2 weeks they had mailed our entire deposit back to us (even the non-refundable part) and along with 401k money that came from Terry's accounting job in Abq, we were suddenly able to afford to live. We stayed with my parents while he looked for a job in Texas. How did that happen? (Someday, I might tell you the story of how we got the company in McAllen to pay all the wages they owed us, plus a tip. It's a good one if I do say so myself.) Terry eventually took a job in Dallas and we moved to Mesquite...right in the perfect time.
Here are just a few of God's blessings that we got to partake of because we were obedient:
1) While we were staying with my parents, my Daddy had a heart attack. Had I been still in Albuquerque, I wouldn't have been able to afford to get home to him. I'm the one who is the caretaker in my family and God knew he would need me. He placed me in his HOUSE right when he needed me. How cool is that? I got to take care of my Daddy.
2)Shortly after we moved to Mesquite, my Granny was diagnosed with breast cancer, again. She was my very best friend and I was heartbroken, not for her but for me. This time she wasn't going to beat it. Because I was close, I was able to be her caretaker for the last few weeks of her life. This stands as one of the biggest privileges of my life. It is a beautiful thing when a saint goes to heaven. I wouldn't have missed it for the world and I was there because of all that happened in McAllen.
3) Somehow, we ended up with enough money to buy a house after all that foolishness. Months of frugal living and getting Terry's back salary, plus a few other things and all of a sudden we went from no home no job to great home and great job. So much more than we imagined.
These are, of course, but a few of the ways God took care of us. We were never forsaken and our children never begged for bread. (Psalm 37:25) I used to think that Terry losing his job was the worst thing that could ever happen, but I was so wrong. We discovered that we are so loved, by our families, by friends who were constantly trying to find us jobs, and by our Heavenly Father. So I have lowered my standards. If the paycheck clears, I'm happy. I don't worry about the future so much. I let tomorrow worry about itself. I don't get too attached to stuff...except my A/C. I miss my stolen purse, but I've been just fine without it. I would be sad to lose my home and my stuff, but I know that I have already gained that which I can't lose.
And by the way, the realtor in McAllen? I've googled her several times over the years trying to find an address so I could tell her how much their actions meant to us and say "thanks" one more time. I can't find a trace of her and she's a realtor. Make of it what you will.