The last five years have gone by in a blur. Each year, as Christmas approached – a relatively simple event in our lives – I had great intentions of creating a Christmas letter for friends and family, but never got to it. So, here I am, the day before Christmas, sitting down to write a few words.
In the last five years Christmas letters have mostly become passé. Given the ubiquitous nature of Facebook and Twitter updates, it is really unnecessary for me to fill you in on the details of our lives. Anyone that cares to, is able to take a cursory look at my tweets and/or status updates and know what’s been going on. Then there is my blog, Flickr photos, and various other online social media.
However, with that said, I do want to take a moment to express our love and gratitude to our friends and family who have stuck with us during the past tumultuous years. If we had acquired cancer, a debilitating accident, or some other horrible event, I believe most people would be more understanding of our struggles. But psycho/social/spiritual events are more easily ignored.
In the last five years Christmas letters have mostly become passé.
For those of you just joining the story, let me give you a brief recap of the past five years:
- Our family was on the front lines of spiritual and cultural revolution as church planters and community builders in Colorado Springs. While we had some amazing successes, it was also very difficult and we made several mistakes in the process. As we approached the end of our time there, we offended some very dear friends and we were burned out.
- Needing to keep a steady income on the cusp of the economic downturn, we transferred to Oregon six-weeks after our Smiling Son was born. Not only did we end up at a church that couldn’t accept what we had to offer, but moving to the gray of Oregon in the Fall proved to be especially trying on our family – especially with a newborn in the house.
- Within months of taking on the pastorate, it became apparent that the status quo was not happy with my leadership. Things grew increasingly stressful over the next year. Again I made several mistakes dealing with the struggles – but also there were some battles that needed to be fought.
- As of August of 2009, we found ourselves unemployed. For the next nine months we survived by the grace of God, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Medicaid health insurance. We were unable to make mortgage payments for about five months and our bank began foreclosure proceedings.
- During this time, we looked for ways to re-enter the workforce. The Wife sought work as an RN, but we soon discovered that due to the economic crash, there was no longer a nursing shortage. I spent the next nine months reacquiring my paramedic certifications. The week I was certified, I became employed – which was just a few days before the deadline the bank set to foreclosure on our house.
- Possibly the hardest part about this struggle, especially for my family, was the ostracizing we received from our church family. We’ve yet to find a church family that shares our vision and values, but we remain committed to a solid relationship with our God. We know he will open doors in the future.
- For the past six months I’ve been working as a paramedic for a private, transporting agency. It was my dream job back in the 70s and I’m having fun serving my community again. I’m doing the work we were doing as a part of our church in Colorado – and having a good time doing it! Plus, our budget is once again balanced!
Despite months of unemployment, we were able to remain debt free.
It truly has been an amazing five years. Despite the mistakes, in spite of those who sought to shut us down and silence our calling, and regardless of the struggles – we remain committed to the calling and service to others.
Despite 10 months of unemployment, we were able to remain debt free. This is an amazing miracle to me. There were several people who helped us financially – and to whom we are extremely grateful. We are also seriously blessed to live in a country that has social service organizations that allowed us to eat, live, and seek medical attention for our kids. Oregon is truly a great place to live!
Most of all, we are extremely thankful for the friends and family who stuck with us over the past several years. I know we weren’t always easy to be around (especially me!), but you understood the struggles and you remained our friends – thank you.
We didn’t acquire cancer; we don’t have leprosy; nor do we have some horrible malady that would make us debilitated and dying. However, burnout, depression, and political oppression are just as deadly and disheartening. We have lost some dear friends, something I still mourn (especially since my attitude is mostly to blame), but we are making new friends and God continues to increase our joy.
Our children are healthy, happy, and very loved – we praise God for them every day! My wife too has been an amazing strength through all of this. I praise God for the strength He has provided through her and to her. We are actually very thrilled to be out of paid ministry and we’re enjoying the freedom of our newly restored lives.
We hope you have a very merry Christmas with your family, friends, or exotic vacation spots!
Please continue to keep in touch! We love you all and pray for you often!