If you have read this blog for some time, you might remember the story I told about the time Bill and I scored free tickets to see the show “Greater Tuna” when we lived in Dallas. I love that story because it reminds me that God really does care about the trivial things and he delights in us. And I like to share it - you know, to give “testimony” about God’s goodness.
Today’s story is a little different. This time I was NOT pleased with what I saw as God’s indifference towards me. Thought he didn’t care. And as a result, I didn’t really care.
They say that some of the most stressful things in life are graduating from college (or in our case graduate school), starting a new job (Bill and I), moving to a new state, buying a new house…and last, but not least, having a baby. And from May of 1995 to March of 1996 we didn’t do just one or two of these stressful things…Bill and I did ALL of them.
And with school loans, a mortgage, a house that needed some fixing up and not much in the way of furniture, we had a lot of expenses. And towards the end of each month we had just about zero dollars and zero cents left over.
And we were about to have a baby.
And I told Bill not to worry. I’d go back to work until the school loans were paid off. I figured if we didn’t buy any furniture or do any home repairs, we could do it in about a year. That wasn’t too long.
And then we had Caroline. And they laid that 9 pound baby girl in my arms and I think my first thought was “I can never leave her.” I don’t remember having that thought before she was born. I was the director of training for a company and I thought it was a pretty good gig.
So I spent the next 8 weeks coming up with a way I could stay home with Caroline. Please know, I have no problem with working moms at all. I think whether you have to or choose to work, it’s your business. At that point in my life though, I wanted to be in the baby business.
I asked Bill, who truly does want to make me happy, and he said “no can do.” He reminded me of our school loan agreement, showed me the numbers (remember I am no good at those!) and that was that.
But I’ve never really taken no for an answer very well. I was determined I could fix it. I prayed about it and I came up with some plans. Read “my plans”.
First I called my boss and asked him if I could come back part time. This would take two years to pay the loans, but I figured 1/2 day would be fine.
He said “no”.
Undeterred, I asked him if I quit if he would hire me back as a contractor. I hired contractors in my position and knew we used them frequently.
He said “no”.
At this point I was getting desperate. Almost despondant. I had a colicky baby who cried all day and night it seemed and I felt like she needed me.
Still a no go.
NOTHING worked out. Nothing. And I was mad and I was hurt. And I didn’t understand. I was upset with Bill and I was upset with God.
I said some things I wish I wouldn’t have said.
A few days before I went back, my mom called. I told her how awful I felt and how nothing was working out. She said… “Darla, have you really prayed about it and given it over to the Lord?”
To which I responded…. “what good would that do?”
And I was serious.
In my opinion I had told God I wanted to stay home, I had given him multiple opportunities to work things out for me…I had tried to help HIM…and nothing had worked.
My mom reacted exactly the way I would have (and should have) expected her to react. She said… “Darla, I can’t believe you said that.” I figured she was disappointed that I would say something like that. Thankfully she didn’t say too much.
What she did say was… “let’s just see what happens.”
And I thought “yeah right.”
Monday morning came and I went to work. And it was awful. I was mad, I was hurt and I didn’t want to be going.
And then I said hello to my boss who was the Director of Human Resources. His first line was “I didn’t expect to see you here.” To which I answered, “well, I didn’t really want to come.”
And I meant it.
He suggested I come by his office and said… “let’s see if we can work something out.”
At this point I’m thinking…I have spent the last TWO months trying to work something out and now, NOW you want to talk!!"
And people…well, this is still just so hard to believe….but he had a plan that I couldn’t have even dreamed or imagined. And I think it’s because it was God’s plan and well…you know what they say… “His ways are higher than our ways”. His plans are MUCH, MUCH better than ours.
Here was the plan…basically my boss had been told he had to reduce the size of our office by 10%. He could cut whomever and where ever he needed to get to the correct size. He said he could lay me off. I’d receive unemployment, he could hire me for contract work, I’d get a severance…and people…he even threw in paying the nanny for two weeks to give her time to find another job.
And all that time I thought I had the best plan.
My boss said to call Bill and ask him what he thought and we could decide if that’s what we wanted to do.
And when I called Bill, without hesitation he said… “you have to take the package.”
And that was it.
That was the plan. The ONE plan I didn’t think of - couldn’t think of and yet the one plan that worked infinately better than all the others combined.
My mom gave me this verse: Ephesians 3:20…. “now He who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine…to Him be the glory forever and ever.”
The was in June of 1996. I went home and used up my severance, savings and some unemployment. Then in November of 1996, when Caroline was 8 months old, Bill sold all his stock options his company had given him. It was an option deal that could only be exercised at that time. And with that money we paid off ALL the school loans.
And, probably not coincidentally, the day we sold our shares the stock was just a little more than a dollar shy of being the highest his stock has ever been. What I’m saying is that in the last THIRTEEN years it has never again been at that price.
So this is what I learned. My plans aren’t always the best plans, God can work out things that we can’t even imagine…and last, but not least…that listening to my husband makes sense. Because if I had just quit and told him that it would work out, I would have missed all the blessings that followed.
And the funniest thing…I never worked another day until child number 4 went to preschool. And it was then that, out of the blue, Houston Baptist University called and said… “would you like to come and work part time?”
And it’s challenging and fun and the students are cool.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.
It was a good plan.
A very, very good plan.
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