2 posts in the space of 15 minutes!
Can you even believe this?
A little background. Cathy is Michael's older sister. She is pretty much an Amazon woman like all the women in Michael's family. Anywho, she wrote this email to the fam in response to a group chain that got started a few weeks back. I was amazed after reading it and you will be too when you're done. And just so you aren't confused, Jon is her current husband but she was also married to a John Gardner whom she talks about at the beginning.
Thanks for asking us to do this. I think needed this personally more than anything I can share with you. I keep a very sporadic journal. Some of it's on my computer and some of it's hand written. Anyways, I was looking through my computer for some ideas of things to send you and found a file that I had completely forgotten about. It's a series of about a dozen journal entries all written during the 3 months right before Heavenly Father delivered us from our last financial crisis when Jon was out of steady work for 18 months and ended up working at DirectTV, which was COMPLETE MISERY and not enough $ to support us. It was so interesting reading and seeing how similar the emotions and struggles are to what we're going through now.
It made me reflect overall on my life. I have faced many stressful times in my life, times when I really felt like my life was over (in the sense that what I had dreamed of and hoped for for my life were now impossible), times when I literally couldn't get out of bed in the morning or eat or sleep, times when I seemed surrounded by darkness. And yet, every, single time the Lord has, in the end, delivered me. Not on my time table or in the ways that I expected or asked for, but He has sent a miracle, a life-changing event that makes life good and worth living until the next big trial.
Just off the top of my head:
1. When John Gardner went to jail I spent a year of my life as a first-time, single, unemployed mother of a young infant (Braden was 2 months - 14 months old during that time period) who was also homeless (I bounced around living with relatives that year) and penniless. I truly believed my life was over at the tender age of 24. I didn't believe it was possible for me to ever be in a healthy marriage, to have a family or to be happy again. I had become too jaded, too bitter, and I had WAY too much baggage (not to mention a kid - although wonderful and who I wouldn't trade for the world, but what good guy was going to want to take that on?). Shortly before John's death, I asked dad for a father's blessing and in it I was promised that I would have "everything I had dreamed of and more". It was a short 8 months later than Jon and I reunited and I knew immediately that it was the fulfilling of that blessing. There are sooooooo many miraculous and sweet stories associated with all of the details, but the gist of it was that the Lord delivered me from a situation that I couldn't have resolved myself.
2. After a brief period of wedded bliss, our 2nd baby, sweet Caleb, was on the way. Jon had a good job, but was only making about $23,000/year. He was working full time and going to school full time. I was teaching piano lessons to help supplement our income a little, but it wasn't much. As the time for Caleb to be born grew near, I was panicking. Despite living very frugally, I just didn't see how we could provide for Caleb. I remember it was only a couple of weeks until he would be born and I hadn't even bought any diapers because we just couldn't afford them. One night our doorbell rang, and when I came to the door no one was there, but there were about 300 diapers wrapped in bows. I remember falling to my knees and crying, I was so relieved. Anyway, we always have a lot of little help along the way, but after he was born we were sooooooo cramped in our little 800 square foot house. Caleb was sleeping out in the living room and Caleb and Braden were constantly waking each other up and it was just hard. I could not see any way to work harder or improve our situation. Out of the blue I get a call from John Gardner's lawyer and our case, which had been going on for 2 years, had suddenly settled. The settlement allowed us to pay off student loans and get into a bigger house. Once again, we were delivered.
3. About a year later, Jon found a job opportunity with a start-up company that had a lot more potential. It was risky, but we felt certain he could always turn around and get another $10 or $11 an hour job again. They were a dime a dozen. Well, the company failed after only a few months and it was right during these few months that the collapse of the economy began. Despite his best efforts, Jon couldn't find a job at all. I was pregnant with Cameron at the time and it was super stressful. After 6 months of working odd jobs and just trying to keep it together, Jon took the job with DirectTV. It was terrible and didn't even come close to paying the bills. He was miserable and depressed and could hardly even function at the end of each day. He was at that job for 6 months. Just when I thought we couldn't take it anymore, he was offered the job at Steven's Henager. $40,000/year was a dream come true!!! He loved his job and it gave him a chance to get his MBA for free. It was such a miracle!
4. Now here we are again. After 7 1/2 years of hard work we've found ourselves stuck in a difficult place. Despite living very frugally and saving like crazy, we have lost so much. We lost almost $60,000 in the real estate market. Our $20,000 savings that we worked so hard to build so we could get a slightly bigger house for our family is nearly gone. And after 9 months of constant searching, praying, fasting and pleading, there is nothing even hopeful on the horizon. To top it off, we were sent a surprise pregnancy. There is no way to pay for prenatal care, but we don't qualify for pregnancy medicaid because thanks to our years of hard work and saving (rather than frivolous spending) we don't qualify for any help. The situation seems very hopeless. And yet, we have received several priesthood blessings in which we were promised that Jon would find a job "that would exceed our expectations" and that the Lord would bless us with work that would not only provide for our family, but that "would bring us closer to each other and closer to Him than we have ever experienced before". Some days I really feel like we've already used up all of our miracles. But I have to believe it's still coming and that, like the rest of my life, it will be worth the wait.
I had an experience during that first major trial that was very enlightening to me. Shortly after Jon went to jail, I went to Florida to live with Papa Seibert. The day that I was flying to Florida we had really bad weather. It was January in Utah and there was a big storm. After getting through security with a 5-month-old baby alone, I was literally sweating, exhausted and on the verge of tears. Braden was crying and wouldn't be calmed. To top it off, because of the storm we were delayed on the tarmac. I was in a window seat holding this crying baby and I looked out the window. Despite being near noon, it was pitch black outside. As far as I could see (which wasn't very far) it was gloom and doom. The winds howled, the rain/snow poured from the sky, and the dark seemed to press in from all sides. I remember thinking that it was very much a reflection of my own life right then. But just as that thought took hold, the plane began to move, Braden quieted and fell asleep, and we quickly lifted off the ground. Within moments, we burst through those low lying clouds. I was blinded by brilliant light. The clouds from this view were puffy and white and looked good enough to eat. The view was absolutely breathtaking, and the Spirit whispered to me in that moment that this is what my life was like. In that moment of my life, I was stuck in the storm and that was all that I could see. But literally, before I could even imagine it, it would all change, and the view would be glorious and hopeful. I have found that to be true over and over again.
I'm trying to convince her to write a book. I was so touched by her experiences that I just had to share them (with her permission of course:). Don't be jealous that I have people like this in my family. jk. but seriously she's amazing right?!