Monday, October 23, 2017

Foreclosure, Futility and Faith: The Rest of the Story

March 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, Testimonies

Editor’s Note: One of JournEzine’s most popular stories has been “Foreclosure, Futility and Faith: A Family’s Journey With God,” published in February 2013. So many people found themselves or family or knew friends facing foreclosure as the United States’ economy faltered, beginning in 2008.  Now, author Amy Wenger updates readers with how God brought her family through crisis after crisis while teaching them to step out in faith and up to His higher ground.

Original story link: http://www.journezine.com/foreclosure-futility-and-faith-a-familys-journey-with-god/

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by Amy Wenger

I used to tell folks that we were “livin’ like we’re leavin’.”          

And although those words might sound like the lyrics to an insipid country ballad, they became something of a mantra for me when our family moved into a tiny rented mobile home four years ago.  We’d become unlikely and unhappy casualties of the tumultuous economic maelstrom that had already swallowed my husband’s job, our first house, our sense of well being, and moreover, our jubilance for life.       

At the time, I gathered up my best shroud of defense, as I always do when faced with a crisis I’m not equipped or willing to handle – I turned to humor to navigate us through the blackness and bleakness of our situation.  “We won’t be here long,” I would typically declare, more to reassure myself than those surrounding me.  “This is just temporary, so for now, we’re livin’ like we’re leavin’!”

In those final waning days when we had to leave our house behind, there simply weren’t enough hours in a day, not for the maddening task of packing belongings for a family of five, and not for the flurry of tidying a small home that had been closed up for far too long, steeped in the stifling Indiana humidity.  I tried to bide my time accordingly as the sun rose each day, helping our three children round up their precious items before grabbing a bucket of cleaning supplies and driving the few blocks to our future residence.  How much longer that drive seemed back then.     

Sometimes, I actually did clean.  Yet there were many times when I would just sit on the floor, struggling for breath amidst the cloying, clammy air that felt oppressive and heavy, to both body and soul.  A portable radio provided background noise, a lemon infused candle, with its pungently pure scent, gave the environs a hint of lilting sweetness that I welcomed.        

Oh, how I prayed.  Meanwhile, rivulets of sweat would trail down my face.  Or perhaps they were tears.  I couldn’t tell the difference anyway and quite truthfully, I didn’t care anymore.  

It was August of 2009, and my husband had been laid off from a promising position at a local business one year earlier.  It didn’t occur to us that we should be worried.  After all, a qualified, skilled, talented electrician shouldn’t have difficulty landing another job, right?  Or so we thought.  Days snaked into weeks, weeks pooled into months.   A year later, our home was cruelly snatched from us, while my husband’s sense of self-worth was slowly eroding away, fading into the sultry summer sunlight.  I wasn’t sure which was more harrowing to witness.    

I was growing angry.  Angry from the bitter unfairness of the circumstances, angry with those who insinuated that somehow, Larry was less of a provider because his job search was proving so tedious, and yes…angry with God.

“What can I do?”  I asked God urgently, incessantly.  “I don’t know how to help my family.”  How to reassure my children that life would someday be better, feel better than this.  How to tell my husband that I loved him endlessly, that I would never abandon him, and that he was still, in every way, the husband, the father, the man that we cherish.        

HOW TO SURVIVE?

“Wait on me…” was always God’s reply.  “Be still and know that I am near…”    

These were absolutely not the words I wanted to hear.  Each time, I would slap my hands over my ears and squint my eyes shut tightly, as if these thoroughly human gestures would serve to barricade the truth of God’s wisdom.  I needed a sense of closure, a beacon of optimism, something tangible to anchor my hope to.

Meanwhile, we lingered and languished without the certainty of resolution we so desperately sought, reluctant pawns caught in a waiting game where we only ever wanted to blaze across the finish line, which seemed to be drifting further away across the horizon.        

“Wait on me…” we heard all the while.

THE DETOUR & THE DOUBT

In the summer of 2010, nearly two years after Larry’s crushing job loss, our patience was rewarded with the discovery that a fledgling alternative energy company was extremely eager to harness Larry’s expertise and knowledge in the growth of their business.  To say that we were overjoyed does not even begin to summon the depth of our elation.

One year after my husband’s hiring, we were asked to consider relocating to Michigan, where Larry’s classification as a master electrician would serve more advantageous for the company as they planned to broaden their scope of projects.  While this wasn’t quite the scenario we’d envisioned for our family’s future, we were wise to the notion that it was in the best interest of Larry’s career trajectory to pursue the move.

So we enlisted the assistance of a Realtor to help us scope out housing possibilities in St. Joseph County, Mich., a prospect which warranted many consultations, long drives, and home tours.  Our agent became a trusted Christian friend and confidante – a woman of honor, kindness, and admirable ethics, and whom the children began to refer to as “Aunt Robin.”

By July of 2012, we had finally found a house we loved, located in a historic district of Sturgis, Mich.  The seller was, of all things, an integral employee of a prestigious financial institution, and very willing to negotiate unique mortgage terms with us.  Events thereafter transpired in rapid succession, such as bidding emotional goodbyes to family, friends, and schoolmates, ever faithful followers along our mercurial ride.  We spent countless daylight hours packing up boxes, sweltering through a scorching heat wave unlike any that had preceded for more than 20 years.  We were set to finalize the deal and begin moving in on July 23, 2012.

Five days prior to closing, the phone rang.

It was Robin, calling to deliver unsettling news in her best professional manner, but there was a very obvious catch in her voice.    

The sellers were rescinding their offer.

Exactly what words she spoke, I don’t recall.  I most certainly remember her attempts to be reassuring, details coming forth from the receiver in hushed, soothing nuances.     

And I was having none of it. 

I sank to the bathroom floor, curled myself up into a fetal position, and began silently weeping.  My body convulsed from the effort of trying to conceal my wailing, and a sickening, searing spasm of nausea collapsed me further into a quivering, pitiful mess.       

“Amy…Amy, are you there…?” I heard Robin pleading.  I grasped the phone, now leaden in my sweaty hand. All I could summon myself to reply was, “First we lost one house…now we’ve lost another…”       

We hung up, and I was left alone, still reeling from the revelation, railing against the injustice and revolted by it all.  

After a few minutes, Larry knocked softly, and I slowly rose from the floor and opened the door, my tear-streaked gaze meeting his worried eyes.  He had been listening from just beyond the other side of the door.       

“I can’t do this anymore,” I said in a voice I scarcely recognized as my own.        

He reached for my hand.  “Then don’t.”        

Blinking back my surprise as well as a fresh wave of tears, we sat wearily on our bed.  “You have to let it go,” Larry said quietly.  

Let it go … the need to be the strong one … to be always in motion looking after and over everyone and everything … to constantly seek answers to questions we can’t predict, change, or comprehend.

“God has a plan for us,” Larry said.  “We just have to trust that He will take care of us.  He knows what’s ahead…we’ve come this far, and we will get there someday.  All we can do is pray and follow His lead.”

I nodded dutifully, albeit sadly.  I felt defeated somehow.

Yet when I looked into Larry’s eyes, I saw what I’d been searching for all along, ever since that first heartbreaking day when he’d lost his job.I saw acceptance.  I saw gratitude.  And I saw peace.   

Larry bowed his head, covered my hands with his own, and began to pray, for continued protection, thankfulness for keeping our family safe, and for the courage to surrender to God’s will.     

If ever there was a time for us to embrace the philosophy of “let go and let God,” this was it. In those moments, I was swept by the image of myself on my knees, literally removing the yoke of burdens and laying it at God’s feet.

“Yes,” I whispered.  “I will wait on You.”

ANOTHER LOSS, ANOTHER LIGHT

The path to enlightened complacency did not exactly reveal itself to me in majestic splendor that dreadful evening.  But my heart felt lighter, and with each passing day, the road became easier to traverse.  What once felt like encumbrances and shackles around my soul began to transform into swaths of spiritual armor.  In this newfound assurance that God would provide for our family, we would not allow ourselves to be broken in such a way ever again.

That sense of resolve served us well in shoring up our powers of faith when Larry’s work schedule, typically well over 40 hours weekly, began dwindling to barely 30, then even less, until eventually, none at all. 

For the second time in four years, another job was lost to us.          

But this time, we were ready.  The harbingers of trouble were not merely etchings on the wall, but as prominent as writings strewn across the sky.  So we were prepared. We scoured classified ads, we networked relentlessly, and we sent Larry’s resume far and wide, well before we knew his job had officially slipped away.       

Less than one week after Larry received word of his layoff, another career opportunity reached out to him, this time with an established, reputable company in our own community, one that just happened to begin searching for an electrician on the same day that Larry’s credentials landed on their office desk.

After some time had passed, when Larry was settled into his job, we began to realize what God had orchestrated for us.  At last, the time had come for us to begin searching for a house, to finally establish ourselves in the community that had taught us immeasurably what generosity and compassion truly meant.  

We shared this news with our children, as we believed wholeheartedly that the house hunting mission should fully involve them as well.  It dawned on us that our young son would not remember his first home, the one where he spent his earliest two years of life.  So we asked him, “Josiah, what kind of house should we buy?”       

“Stairs,” he said with determination.  “I want a house with stairs!”       

While running errands one afternoon, a house caught my attention, listed as “For Sale By Owner,” in one of our town’s oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods.  I drove by several times that day, before jotting down the number to call for more information.           

We visited the place often, always with our children in tow.  With every return, we found ourselves becoming more and more enchanted with the ambiance and historic influences of the 120-year-old homestead.  Josiah, of course, remarked, “I love the stairs!”        

We went through the somewhat laborious process of applying for a loan, then waited breathlessly for word on our approval.  We could feel the prayers of the entire town surrounding and embracing us.

And everyone celebrated with us when, on December 12, 2013, we became the owners of our new home.  On the same evening when we were handed the keys, we drove our children to their homecoming, where they joyfully canvassed the corridors and peeked behind doors, marveling at the abundance of space.  Our space.  Without question, this would be a Christmas we would never forget.           1- Christmas, 2013!“Welcome home,” I said to Larry.  He swept me into his arms for a hug, while I smiled broadly over the lump in my throat.  “We did it, my love…”        

More than five years after that terrible autumn afternoon when our entire world was shattered beyond anything we could’ve ever mended on our own, we had come full circle, back to the beloved hometown where our story began and where it continues to this moment.

We still can’t quite believe that this magnificent house belongs to us.  I’ve been known to roam about in the darkest part of the night, with the moonlight as my guide, feeling the sensation of the weathered hardwood floors beneath my feet.

A foundation that is equal parts old yet new.  Larry will occasionally gaze around a room and say with amazement, “So we live here now, huh?” followed by that mischievous half smile that still melts my heart.  And our daughters have been having a grand time decorating their rooms and offering invitations for friends to drop by.

Our son is still mesmerized by the stairs, of course.

And we’ve come to view those steps as a symbolic and sentimental reminder of our journey, for as we’ve discovered, there are but many ways to ascend to that wondrous higher ground.

 Amy Wenger profile 

   Amy Wenger has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she served as a student reporter for her hometown newspaper.  Over the last 28 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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