Today, Denise will continue with her story as part of the Operation Restoration: Life Edition portion of this restoration project. If you missed what the heck this is all about read Operation Restoration: Home Edition to catch up. If you missed Denise’s intro post you can read that here as well.
Well, it sure didn’t take long for our world to start shaking. First, our friend totaled our car in an accident. Thankfully everyone walked away with just a few bumps and bruises. Then a series of events started to happen at the mission that led to financial disaster. Little did we know the mission was already in financial trouble but everything was going to come to light which started the next chain of events.
The bottom was starting to feel like it was falling out from under us. We were feeling stressed and scared but we continued to lean into each other. I felt like we were communicating well and on the same page. Because the mission was totally relying on the goodness of churches and individuals alone, they were literally waiting for the mail daily to see how God would provide each day. It was scary. I wish I could say I was strong through it all and never doubted or questioned why we even took such a ministry on, but I did. I loved being there, but the fear was starting to outweigh the feeling that this what where we were meant to be. Oh, I forgot to mention, both of our paychecks were coming from the mission now. After school began a teacher had to leave due to illness, so I replaced her in the classroom.
Five short months after being at the mission a major board meeting ended in a lot of job shifting. My husband’s roll drastically changed. He went from being a human resource guy/campus minister to the Executive Director of the mission. Umm…yes that meant he was in charge of everything. WHAT??? I was very concerned about this. Me being the cautious one, I was afraid of all the business mumbo jumbo that went into running the place. He had never had done anything on that level before. He, being the adventurous one was up for the challenge, whatever it looked like.
The financial mess wasn’t going to be fixed anytime soon. So Patrick (oh yeah, that’s my husband) started doing some traveling to share the sad state of affairs with the supporters. He was doing great building relationships and drumming up more support, but in turn, he had many sleepless nights and countless stress headaches to deal with. I actually got to go with him to California for a five day trip. We had never been away from the kids for a night, much less 5 days since we’d been married (13 years at the time). In between meetings, we found time to walk on the beach, sit in the hot tub and just be together. Even though it was a business trip, which came with stresses of its own, it felt like a mini vacation to us. We had been on such a roller coaster of emotions for months. The change of scenery served us well.
Meanwhile, back at the mission, we continued to live day by day. Our needs were being taken care of, but most of the time is was right down to the wire. However, I had fallen head over heels in love with the students in my class. They taught me a lot about, well, absolutely everything.
At this point I was really starting to miss things about Indiana; my family, green grass, being a part of a church family. Do you ever love where you are but miss things about where you’ve been? I still loved the mountain life, my students and serving the families, but the fears and uncertainty of so many things weighed so heavily on us. Truly we had no idea if we were going to have jobs for another week, month or year. We had made a major move and uprooted our children. Had we made the right decision? I wanted so badly to think we had, but our circumstances caused me to ask myself many questions.
It had been almost a year of hopping around every Sunday morning looking for a church that fit our family. For us, church was a huge part of our lives and to not have that weekly connection with people we knew and loved was very difficult. Finally one Saturday night we walked across a Harley lined parking lot of a church and found the biggest hodge podge of people who greeted these newbies with smiles and handshakes. They directed us to the coffee bar where I met people with tattoos and piercings. Patrick and I both are inked and my nose is pierced. Not a big deal to us, but some church people frown upon such things. I liked that you could find any kind of attire there. I knew immediately I liked this place. I loved the come as you are feel. I loved the warmth and kindness. I loved the message of grace I heard. I knew my search was over. Thankfully the rest of my family felt the exact same way.
I wish I could wrap it up here and say and we lived happily ever after, the end…but I can’t. All the trials we’d been through since getting there were merely preparing me for what was yet to come. I thought my world was shaken because our car was totaled, our paychecks came two weeks late, or I didn’t have a place to call my church home but now I know those were only cracks in the floor, the bottom hadn’t even fallen out yet.