Sunday, June 25, 2017

Foreclosure, Futility and Faith: A Family’s Journey With God

February 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, Testimonies

 

by Amy Wenger

You know your life is about to become more complicated and your world far more complex, when your husband brings home a paycheck of $66.

For a week’s wages.  To provide for a family of five.

And that, my friends, was the moment that marked the beginning of our cataclysmic journey, oftentimes punctuated by days when thoughts of desperation and despondency threatened to envelop us.

It was the fall of 2008, and we were merely steps away from joining the legion of good folks who became just another sobering statistic among the ranks of America’s unemployed.

I am not, nor have I ever been, the sort of person who takes time to sit and really process a situation, perhaps for fear of allowing emotions to overcome me and cloud my sense of rationale.  So when my husband came home the day after Labor Day 2008 to tell me  he’d officially been laid off, I simply did what I always do in a period of crisis.

I flipped a switch situated far within my mind that tells me when to activate that inner motor which drives me with ferocious precision and clarity.  There were three young children who needed love, reassurance, and the promise better days would someday be within reach.  There was a defeated husband who needed me to take him by the heart and hand and show him the way, wherever our path might lead, and to remind him he was cherished and valued, far more in his worth through the eyes of the Lord than the rubble of the broken career that threatened to break his spirit.

My husband’s seemingly futile search for work stretched into weeks, then lingered beyond months.  The phone remained agonizingly silent, as we awaited calls that never came.

So we turned our backs on our pride and we stoically soldiered on.  We visited food banks, we filed for unemployment benefits, we applied for government assistance.  And we enlisted the help of our mortgage company to begin the process of a short sale on our home, knowing all too well  we would never be able to continue making timely payments with no job opportunities in sight.

Nearly one year after that fateful September afternoon, we received an envelope from our mortgage company, somberly brought to our doorstep via FedEx.  It was a tersely worded letter notifying us  all of our options had been exhausted and the company would be proceeding with a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure arrangement.

The letter also informed us that we had five days to vacate the premises.

My face flushed with alarm and the letter slipped from my fingertips.  Feeling completed overwhelmed and helpless, we began frantically calling relatives, clamoring for advice on what to do.

It was my mother-in-law who informed us a tiny mobile home was available for rent, right next door to her.

“Fine.  Great.  Let’s take it,”  I said, the very real specter of homelessness lingering ominously in my mental rear window.

In the hours that followed, every spare moment was devoted to packing and cleaning.  There was also the matter of preparing our daughters for the approaching start of another school year.  Time blazed along at a frighteningly fast pace.

On the morning of Aug. 19, 2009, I hugged and kissed our girls goodbye and walked them to the bus stop for their first day of school.  My husband took our 2-year-old son to his grandma’s place so he could take some of our furniture to his brother’s house for storage.  I shoved the last of our belongings into the back of our station wagon and smushed the trunk closed, five years of memories creeping over the tops of so many boxes.

I took one last look around our empty house, the first and only home we’d ever bought, the one it took us 11 years to save for.  I softly closed the front door behind me and walked slowly toward my car, stepping carefully around the beautiful chalk pictures my children had drawn on the sidewalk.

As I sat alone in the driver’s seat, the force of my tears finally broke free and my broken heart as well.

“Dear Lord,” I wailed, my head cradled in my hands.  “Why … WHY is this happening to us?”

There was silence, save for my halting, shallow breath.

It was then that I recalled this Biblical passage:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Then the slow strains of strumming guitars filtered into my head and an old song from the Christian band Petra came to mind.   “More power to ya, when you’re standing on His word, when you’re trusting with your whole heart in the message you have heard…

“More power to ya, when we’re all in one accord, they that wait upon the Lord, they shall renew, they shall renew their strength…”

Oh, such peace I felt at that moment.  Not only did the lyrics deliver upon me a profound realization God was with me, but they sent me back to a time when my husband and I were in a new relationship, with one another and with our Christian walk as well.  That song was one of the first that my husband played for me when we were dating.

The days that followed offered shining glimpses of the revelations God had laid before us … the kindness, generosity, benevolence, and grace of friends and family sustained us mightily.  Which is not to say we didn’t experience a few dips in the roadway. 

As a friend succinctly put it,  “Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have earned the right every now and then to say, ‘Yeah, this stinks.'” We didn’t allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity, for we knew we’d continue to rise spiritedly and move forward.  Admittedly, having a generous sense of humor helped, too.

Our family has learned much about compassion, enlightenment, empathy, and letting go of materialistic ideals.  My husband and I drew closer as friends and partners and our children were given new opportunities to spend limitless loving time with their father.  And perhaps most importantly, we realized we had to fully trust in God to provide for us and bring discoveries to light in accordance with His precious time, something that often transcends our human comprehension.

Nearly a year after that dreadful summer day when we lost our home, my husband finally landed a full-time job.  In October of 2012, he was laid off from that position, but this time, we were powerfully armed with tangible and spiritual resources which allowed him to secure a promising new job in just one week.

This coming spring will usher in a season of renewal, in so many wonderful ways.  Our beautiful children are now 13, 10, and 5, and they will surely walk alongside us while we begin searching for a new home.  And in just a few months, my husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

Every once in a while, certain songs still cross the airwaves that cause a lump to rise in my throat, as the power of the words and music still stirs me to the depths of my soul.  I believe it is a gentle nudge from God to remind me it’s OK to smile broadly while your eyes glisten with tears … it represents a soaring sensation of joy.

And it never fails to remind me we have survived, we will carry on, and we are forevermore blessed.  

 

 Amy WengerAmy Wenger has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she served as a student reporter for her hometown newspaper.  Over the last 27 years, her writings have appeared in publications spanning four northern Indiana counties.  She is also the author of three books focusing on regional history.  Wenger resides in Wakarusa, Ind. with her husband, Larry, and their three children, Hannah, Rebekah, and Josiah. 

 

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