I'm happy to report that yesterday was Bill's first day on his new job! Yay! It was pitiful, really. He had to attend an out-of-town orientation and emailed us all homesick from the airport. No, not the Philadelphia airport-- THE COLUMBIA METROPOLITAN AIRPORT! He emailed us before he even boarded his plane, lamenting how lonely it was to be apart from us.
Don't get me wrong, he is obviously delighted to be employed, as this was a trial we'd never experienced before. Even in our most difficult financial history, we'd never missed a mortgage payment. A long seven months indeed.
For me, while still grieving the loss of Webb, it was mostly just an inconvenience trying to manage without money. I figured, if we lose the house, we lose the house, big deal, it's just a house. Well bully for me. The responsibility of providing for this assemblage isn't on my shoulders. I'm sure the pressure on me was nothing compared to that of Bill. In fact, I overheard Bill answer a telephone solicitation from a local charity while putting on his garden work boots just outside the carport door. I peeped out the window and watched his shoulders slump as he quipped, "Sorry, but I've been unemployed for half a year. We've resorted to digging change out of the sofa. I can't be your huckleberry at this time." He hung up and stared at the phone, probably wondering when he'd ever be anybody's huckleberry again, or at least wondering how long before the ringing phone would cease producing a dread.
Fact is, we really did dig money out of the sofa... and the chairs... and every other possible hiding place for cash. A toilet pipe, which couldn't be dripped or turned off without shutting down the well, burst in the workshop during a cold snap. We literally had no money to pay the bill, but the plumber graciously held the check a few days. We all rallied and dug through sofas, old pocketbooks, junk drawers, etc., and before Bill got home that night, we had scrounged up the payment and then some, totaling over $130. I have the exact amount written down somewhere as I was so stunned when we kept hitting "the jackpot" in our search. That sorta thing went on for seven months.
Oh, I've tucked away in my heart plenty of amazing "saves" that seemingly came out of nowhere. And yet, this trial seemed so prolonged. I complained to the Lord that I thought I would get a little respite after last year. I, evidently, thought wrong. I know the trial of my faith is more precious than gold to the Lord, and I don't really want to escape it. When all is said and done, it yields such sweet, juicy fruit.
The children, on the other hand, never complained, even when we had to give up restaurants and Rhapsody and Dish Network and regular haircuts (hence, Sally's new pin curls) and Christmas presents and pretty much everything that costs money. They entertained themselves with reading and drawing and painting and playing piano and guitar and gardening and the great outdoors, and also reviving Milk and Honey Acres which pretty much went dormant while we were caring for Ma. The boys have kept themselves busy, hardly noticing our plight (or at least not dwelling on it), in a nonchalant "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" kinda way.
Admittedly, Sarah Grace and I daily scratched our heads wondering how to feed this posse, but fortunately we had buckets and bags and boxes of stored-up grain and beans and rice to use while we also depleted food we'd put up in our freezers. It came together, sometimes inexplicably, like in Signs, if you ever saw that film. Just last week Sarah managed to make eight meals for nine people out of two chickens! We kept finding food we didn't know we had! We also boiled carcasses to make delicious soups and stews to stretch what we had. I'll never forget eavesdropping on a conversation the boys were having about how good the food had been despite having to slash an already tight grocery budget. Glory to God! No, really, we aren't that ingenious.
Anyway, I don't want to belabor our ordeal lest I sound like I'm over-spiritualizing it all. I'm not, because it is a spiritual place to be fresh off adversity from the Lord. Besides, I said I would let y'all know when Bill was gainfully employed, and you know that couldn't happen without my commentary.
Thanks for your prayers. You know we covet them so.
Love to all,