“Can you help?”

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Several weeks ago a woman looking to move to my city with her young girls while she goes to school emailed my church looking for a host family. She’s only here temporarily and wanted to be connected with Christian friends and have someone to watch her youngest during the day while she is at school.

The announcement was made to over 200 women at our Bible study so over 200 families were represented there. Surely one of them had an extra room in their home and the ability to stay home and watch a young child. Since this particular study is during the day it makes sense that almost everyone there was either retired, a stay at home mom/wife or worked from home (like myself.) There must be someone who could do it.

No one said they would help. NO ONE.

Why am I so frustrated about it?

Reason #1  I am frustrated: Because I think it very clearly points out the problems we have as a society.

All over the world families share spaces. But here we tend to be very selfish. Everyone here’s got these honkin’ huge homes and they keep it all to themselves. Everyone “needs” their own home with their own room chock full of their own VAT of stuff.  Everyone “needs” a cellphone. Everyone “needs” their own car. Everyone “needs” electricity 24 hours a day. These “needs”… *shakes head*

Gotta a puddle to bathe in? Then be happy about it!

Gotta a puddle to bathe in? Then be happy about it!

Now, I do happen to know many people who don’t fit this selfish description. In fact I think it’s due to these people that I’m so frustrated right now. Two of them emailed me just this morning. These people are good, close friends that I love dearly and they do EVERYTHING.

One family is in southern Asia right now pouring their heart and souls into young adults. Some of the young adults they’re trying to help are being married off (read “sold off”) at 16. Many of them have nothing and don’t know how to script their newly adult lives. This family I know welcomes ANYONE into their home (including my family a few times) and doesn’t think of their own “needs” except to implore to their Father in heaven for support. (Seriously, when we went to visit it was like pulling teeth to find out what we could bring for them. They don’t want and realize they don’t need anything stuff-wise.)

The other couple that emailed this morning is currently in Central-Eastern Africa pouring all of their earthly resources (including their own health) into the street children there. They bandage feet broken by a lack of shoes and souls broken by desperate situations. They often don’t have electricity and live in such extreme heat that no one here would think it livable to not have the air-conditioning running 24/7. They too never consider using their talents and abilities to land them a nice kooshy job to buy a nice house here with tasty water out of the tap. Instead they email us asking us how our family is doing (even including the dog!) and to thank us for a tiny service I was able to do for them. Seriously. You can’t get any more opposite of selfish with these folks.

I LOVE these people. So many people here LOVE these people and it breaks our hearts that they are so far away and yet they can’t do anything but continue to follow where God has led them and help others. They have so little themselves and then they share it with everyone around them. They don’t just say “yes” once in awhile. It’s their way of life to say “yes” all the time.

Even without the Christian call to help others, many millions of people find themselves sharing their resources, even if just out of necessity. It doesn’t hurt to live without everything you think you “need.” Why do we think we can’t share?

Gotta bowl full of rice and a little extra to share? Be happy about it and DO IT!

Gotta bowl full of rice and a little extra to share? Be happy about it and DO IT!

Reason #2 I am frustrated: Because we are missing out!

Don’t think that my friends are really just suffering. There are many benefits.

Can you imagine all of the adventure they are experiencing?! Nothing get’s the adrenaline running like turning the corner to find a pack of wild dogs (I know, I’ve done it!) No need to book a trip to Spain to run with the bulls. And no need to watch those reality shows. Just walk into any restaurant and point to a random menu item and you’ve got yourself a challenge! Anytime you allow yourself to be put out of your comfort zone you’ve got yourself an adventure!

Careening through the mountains while crammed into a truck with a bunch of people? Safe? no. Adventurous? Definitely. If you ever get a chance DO IT.

Careening through the mountains while crammed into a truck with a bunch of people? Safe? No. Adventurous? Definitely. If you ever get a chance DO IT.

Can you imagine all of the things they are learning?!  The problems you face give you an extraordinarily effective crash course in life. The best way to learn is hands-on. The day I was left alone in a pizzeria was the quickest I had ever learned a new job! And there is SO much to learn out there in the world.

Life lessons. Our eldest had never ridden the subway before. Nothing like a crash course in a foreign country to bring him up to speed!

Life lessons. Our eldest had never ridden the subway before. Nothing like a crash course in a foreign country to bring him up to speed!

Can you imagine how much they are growing and developing as people to have these experiences?! You’ve got to know that adversity builds character. Heck, it’s in the Bible! Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Just think of the character of the people who are the most generous are. Are you thinking kind? Happy? Loving? I know that many of them I know are real characters… if you catch my drift. Ah, they’re great. Characters with character.

This is the most beautiful little girl-- usually.

This is the most beautiful little girl… On the outside– usually. On the inside– always SO beautiful.

Can you imagine the friends/support system they have? Everyone loves them because everyone is drawn to unselfish people. The more you don’t seek it (whatever it is), the more it finds you. I know that the most unselfish people I know are the ones I would most likely give my eyeballs to at the first hint that they need glasses. The more you give without expecting anything in return, the more you will be given. I may have not given away my eyeballs yet but I’ve done things like hauled Dr. Pepper to the other end of the earth and I’ve torn through my own closets looking for anything I could give that could be used.

You know what I mean. I’m not just tooting my own horn here. Think about the most unselfish person you know. Now picture them on the other side of a parking lot from you and picture them dropping something while they carry a load. You’re picturing yourself sprinting over there to pick it up for them, aren’t you? I know you are. You want to help them and you’re almost happy for the opportunity to do so.

Friends are important

Friends are important and you WANT to support them just as they support you.

Can you imagine the memories that they will carry with them forever? How about a little kid’s smile when you pretend to take off your thumb or of all the weddings of young adults making lifelong commitments based on values you helped instill in them?

How can you not love looking at those faces!

How can you not love remembering these faces!

This little girl was a result of a marriage that I was able to attend. Two years later we returned and I got to hold this brand new blessing. Ah, memories. So sweet.

This little girl was a result of a marriage that I was able to attend. Two years later we returned and I got to hold this brand new blessing. Ah, memories. So sweet.

It’s amazing how many tears of love and joy you can cry over just the memories. I really think my joyful tears in my short life have surpassed the tears I’ve cried from pain or sorrow. Because I am willing to put myself into situation that may seem uncomfortable to others.

 Because uncomfortable-unshomfortable!

Who cares about comfort?! What mom says she’s rather not have her kids than have to go through the labor? What athlete would rather turn in their medals, trophies, rings, belts, etc. for a life of comfort? What doctor would prefer to go back and not study all those hours and just be a waiter? The memories of attaining that degree, status, etc. are like icing on the cake. They’re something to be proud of. Not to avoid.

These are things that we would miss out on if we say “no” to giving to others and no degree of cell phone, SUV, or nice perfectly clean guest bedroom that is only used a few times a year will ever come close to filling the gap.

Reason #3 I am frustrated: Because the EARTH, that’s why!

It’s like carpooling. Why, oh why, are we using more resources than we really need? A lot of times we are so incredibly inefficient. My friends don’t travel to Africa, see patients for a day and then fly back. What a waste that would be! Why would this mom need to have her own place and then shuttle her daughter to and from daycare?

With a minimalistic mindset everything you own should do double duty (at least.) Your kitchen towels double as oven mitts and your mugs work for both coffee and soup. Why not have a house that does double duty too? The gas is already keeping all that air warm, the electricity is already providing you with light, and the refrigerator is already working to chill all that space– shouldn’t someone else enjoy it too? Let’s do all we can to not be wasteful.

Mr. WW went a little wild in the forest.

The forests are good. Mr. WW went a little wild there.

Reason #4 I am frustrated: Because there are even selfish reasons we’re missing out on!

My example friends above may not have a lot of selfish rewards for their adventure, but this lady is offering to pay for someone to have the privilege to have the adventure, life lessons, memories, etc. The amount she’s willing to pay would have paid my mortgage (back when we had a mortgage) more than twice over! That’s a good little side-hustle, my friends! Wanna kill some debt or build a savings? Bingo! Help and BE helped.

Or how about just having the selfish benefit of having another adult around to make dinner once in awhile? There are even selfish reasons to take up such an offer!

What if she's great at carpentry and can help you update your mud room?

What if she’s great at carpentry and can help you update your mud room?

Why won’t anyone say yes? It’s so frustrating. I wish I could. I really do. That’s a fine adventure right there. Just laying there waiting to be picked up and lived.

Is there the possibility for disaster? Sure. (Especially if you think of disaster in first-world country terms.) But even if disaster happens you still show you can fly in the face of adversity, you still get the adventure, memories, life lessons, etc.

Sometimes you'll face adversity like grass taller than your mower once you leave for awhile to experience life. Sure it's hard work to take care of it but it's still just another experience to learn and grow from!

Sometimes you’ll face adversity like grass taller than your mower once you leave for awhile to experience life. Sure it’s hard work to take care of it but it’s still just another experience to learn and grow from!

C’mon people! If you can all just be a smidge as awesome, inspiring, unselfish and giving as my friends I mentioned above, the world would be a much better place and YOU would be a better person for it too.

Please say YES to whatever adventure life throw your way!


 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/50188265@N00/183344129″>Help</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/72309532@N08/6522362311″>Autumn</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Is Generosity Ever Wrong?

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giving change

How would you react if you offered to be generous to someone in need, only to find out that they weren’t really in need at all?

I ask because this happened to me recently. Someone offered to buy my kids some hot chocolate.

Oh, were you thinking that I was the generous one? Well, I do try to be a generous person; but more and more I run into instances where someone is trying to be generous to me.

And I don’t like it.

No that sounds terrible, I really do really love it, but I hate how it makes me feel. Wait… what? I’m making no sense.

Example time.

I was biking the kids to school one morning and a lady came running out of a gas station at us to offer to buy us bus passes. It was an extremely sweet and generous offer. And not only was she willing to shell out the cash– she was willing to leave her warm post and hunt us down to offer it!

For half a second I thought about what it would be like to accept just so she can be happy about her kindness.

But I feel terrible because I had to tell her no because I would be a terrible person if I accepted her offer. You see, she thought we were needy. She thought that we biked past her place of employment every day because we had no choice because, really, who would willingly bike in the snow?

But I had to tell her the truth and ruin her good deed. I somehow had to tell her that we had access to, not one, but THREE working vehicles. I had to tell her that we have plenty of money, both in cash and credit, to purchase bus passes easily if we need them. I somehow had to convey in one short sentence that our biking is not due to need—at least monetary need. That what we are in need of is: Exercise. Together time. Personal discipline. A simpler life. Self-reliance. A healthier planet. Contentment. Etc.

Would you be surprised to learn that this family is actually worth billions of dollars?! Hey, maybe. I just found the pic on the internet. : P

Would you be surprised to learn that this family is actually worth billions of dollars?! Hey, maybe. I just found the pic on the internet. I do know they look pretty cool, both figuratively and literally. : P

And somehow I had to tell her all this. Here’s one sentence that would encapsulate it all: “Sorry lady, I’m actually quite rich compared to the rest of the world and we do this because this is the best way to do it; so it looks like you have it all wrong, especially if you don’t bike yourself.”

I’m a jerk.

But I’m NOT a jerk, really. I really do love the offer. I love the kindness of strangers. In fact, one of the reasons I love to bike is that I feel more connected to the community. There’s less metal and glass blocking me off from everyone else. I make MUCH more eye contact with people when I’m biking. When I drive, they’re cars. When I bike, they’re people.

So, Dear lady, I am happy to meet you. I am beyond touched at the sweetness of your offer to us total strangers. You don’t know us and yet you care enough about us to want to help us. I appreciate that so much. Please don’t take my rejection of your offer as a rejection of you. Please understand that your offer, though well thought out, does not really apply in my situation once you know the whole truth. I hope you can realize with what joy we bike (although when we meet you we are just finishing coming to the top of a long hill and are a little sweaty and winded); and I hope you can also find joy in realizing that we share this little part of the planet. Be sure to wave when you see us bike by tomorrow, I’ll be watching for you. That is what I would like to say.

Here’s what I did say:
*big over zealous smile to try and portray my delight but probably came off more creepy clown-like*

“Oh, thank you so much but we bike for fun, right guys?”

*Kids pant out a tired “yeah” after coming up the hill.*

 I have not done this lady’s generosity justice.

But this is the time of year where we are reminded more and more about giving and generosity. We give piles of gifts; and, if you can’t afford them, numerous organizations have been collecting like mad to give you piles of gifts free of charge so you’re not left out of the gifting process.

But it’s hard to receive sometimes, isn’t it?

Either we don’t feel worthy (my problem) or we don’t feel understood (also my problem.)

So here’s my open letter to EVERYONE. I am not worthy and it’s okay if you don’t understand me. I am letting you all know right now so you’re not put off by my weird, off the cuff reaction. I just don’t want you to feel tricked. I’m not trying to trick you. I don’t live by normal social rules for other reasons. Not to make you feel bad for me so I can get a free meal and then laugh manically later when I put the money I saved on lunch into my huge vault of gold bars. “Ha, ha, ha, got another free lunch. What a stooge. More now for me!”

So, should we be more cautious in our giving to stay away from the character I just described? I keep thinking about the Bible verse, let’s see (internet to the rescue)… Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

No, I am not saying that I’m an angel. I am saying that we are supposed to be kind to strangers and they may even not really have any need at all. You see, it’s the GIVING that’s on you. Just the act of giving. What is done after it’s received is all on the recipient.

I promise to do my best not to intentionally dupe you and I also understand what a great thing it is to be on the giving end. I don’t want to take that from you. So give. Please give. Willingly and freely give.  Just understand, you might find that the person you’ve given to is actually not as needy as you might think. That’s okay. In this world you’ll have plenty of opportunities to give and still 99.9% of the time whomever is on the receiving end will be blessed by it—even if it’s not really what they need.

So what about you? Have you ever found yourself as an unwitting target of charity? How do you feel? How do you respond?


photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/2079071542/”>Leo Reynolds</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/calgarycyclechic/10525864054/”>Calgary Cycle Chic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

How did we get here? Part 1b

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It may surprise some people to know that we were NOT sitting so pretty a decade ago.

Our introductory post lists some things that make us wondrously weird; but those things were not just handed to us. We have some built in characteristics that have helped us. We have had some desires and thoughts that have worked for us. We’ve kept a Biblical view of our lives which has helped us a lot. We still had to go through a lot to get here.

Ten years ago we were two years into our marriage and still working out the kinks. We did know that we wanted to follow Biblical principals; and that meant that the responsibility for the family fell to Mr. Wondrously Weird and that the support of Mr. Wondrously Weird fell to Mrs. Wondrously Weird… me.

The Woman

I was 22 at the time and doing my best to be a supportive wife. I cleaned the house and did the laundry and made sure the house was stocked with edible things (even if I didn’t cook very well that that point.) Our budget had gotten pretty fancy. I had really learned to love Excel and had a spreadsheet that doubled as both registers for the accounts as well as a budget.

While Mr. WW worked second shift at a factory, I worked at the Credit Union helping others to dig out of debt by providing more debt. We rarely saw each other. I would sleep on the couch until Mr. WW got home from work but then we’d head to bed and I be up and gone in the morning before he ever woke up. But things wouldn’t be lasting that way for long.

Once you’ve been together two years, there’s lots of pressure from all around to have kids. And everyone knows the traditional family way: once you have kids the mom stays at home with them.

So I was working at socking away as much money as I could, while I could.

The situation

We had decided that we would try to have kids three years in. We had it carefully planned. At two years and 11 months my body had its own plan and got pregnant early. I got to tell Mr. WW that I was expecting the very day he had been rehearsing at work what to say to me to convince me that we should wait longer.

Those next few years were some of the craziest.

Mr. WW decided to start a huge remodeling project (since apparently a three bedroom home wasn’t big enough to house three people.)

He also, in an amazing feat of trust and perseverance, changed jobs to one that was more sustainable for raising a family. (If you haven’t read How did we get here Part 1—the first version—you really must. It’s Mr. WW’s version of events. It’s amazing.)

And I just practiced my “yes, dear”’s. Nothing made sense while we were going through it but I knew that my job was to be supportive and to grow a baby. So that’s what I did.

Don't I look SOOO happy?! Nothing says confidence like posting bad pictures of yourself on your blog for the whole world to see.

Don’t I look SOOO happy?! Nothing says confidence like posting bad pictures of yourself on your blog for the whole world to see.

The truth

I was getting ready to adjust to being a mother and a stay at home one at that. I don’t think I fully realized how hard things would be.

Sure, I knew that taking care of the baby would be hard work but I had no clue how hard it would be to be at home all day and not have the purpose that paid work gives you. No challenging mental tasks. No paycheck. No friends. No anywhere else but home.

Mr. WW was often working 16 hour days. I was home with the baby and (supposed to be) loving it.

You and me both brother, I mean, son.

You and me both brother, I mean, son.

But the baby had colic and on top of it he didn’t even like to be held. He screamed and screamed and I felt like a total failure. Mr. WW had seemed to figure out the path that he was supposed to be on and was making great strides and I was treading water like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic.

Let that sink in. (Bah-dum-bum. Wow, am I hilarious.)

So I took on a job. It wasn’t much, just a few nights a week I made pizzas and subs at the local deli.

It was quite opposite of my husband. I wasn’t driven. I was just bored and did what I was told. My truth was not so amazing as having a drive and a passion. I found purpose in faithfulness and reliability.

You see, I remained faithful and reliable to Mr. WW and his purpose. I did my best to not complain about his schedule. I asked him nightly about work and was genuinely interested in his stories.

I remained faithful and reliable to our son. If he needed something, I was there. I learned how to wait out the crying spells. I learned how to rock him while touching him as little as possible. Sure he smiled and laughed at the dog and at his toys, but not at me; but no matter how discouraging things were, I was there.

06-8-19Andrew and Spike cropped

I did the same at work. Was it a huge job? No. But I did it. I always made sure I went to work when scheduled and always went in if they were short when I could. And I didn’t do it for the paycheck. I didn’t do it because I was afraid that I’d lose my job if I didn’t. I just did it and did it as well as I could because I said I would.

It’s not all that sexy, does not seem all that amazing, but there are benefits. Let me tell you. Those benefits came in handy soon enough.

The change

Two years in Mr. WW discovered that his plant was closing. It was a huge problem and change for us (seriously, if you haven’t read the first part yet, you really should.)

All of the sudden it looked like I would be providing the sole income for the family. It’s not possible to support a family on a deli girl’s 2 day a week paycheck.

But don’t forget: we skipped two years there.

You see, after the first year of simply being faithful reliable I was asked if I could manage the deli. Then, after the second year I was asked if I could manage the finances of both the deli and the convenience store.

When the time came, I could easily work full time hours. In fact, my hours had already been bumped up with hours from work that I brought home.

I brought my work home because I did not stop doing everything I could to be reliable and faithful to our son. I was home as often as I could be even though I had a son that clearly was not all that interested in me anyway.

This picture was taken in front of my workplace. A huge group of riders was passing through and I was able to take our son to enjoy the horses.

This picture was taken in front of my workplace. A huge group of riders was passing through and I was able to take our son to enjoy the horses.

But I so clearly remember the day it happened. He was about 18 months old and we were building with blocks. I had been used to giving him space. I stayed on the outside and built towers on my own that he would come and knock down when he was ready. I was stacking blocks when all the sudden he came up behind me and gave me a hug.

It was quick. It returned to normal in a flash. But I will never forget the day my eldest finally decided to trust me with his love.

07-6-21 Mom and Andrew at home

And here was Mr. WW in a time of major transition. He had learned what it was like to use drive and passion to move forward but now there was nowhere forward to move on the current track. It had run out. The brakes had to be thrown and it was time to re-evaluate.

So I did what I always did. I supported him faithfully and reliably. I would not freak out. I would not demand that he go out there and do anything he wasn’t ready to do. So I sat and trusted him to make the right decision all the while letting him know in all the little ways I could that I would be behind the decision faithfully.

Was a scared? (Of course.) Did I think that it was possible that Mr. WW could make the wrong decision with what was really best for our lives? (It was 80% likely he’d make the wrong decision.) But no matter my feelings, I used my learned truth and just supported. He could do whatever he felt we needed to do and I would faithfully and reliably raise our son, work, and squeeze every last penny out of our budget with no complaints.

When it looked like college would be our only option (it takes out the possibility of making the wrong decision if there is only one option) I reassured him. I’d help. He would be fine and I would help him in any way I could.

We had both learned a lot along the way to get here and we were ready; but it looked like the next few years were going to be the scariest ones yet.

To be continued…

And it was continued here.

*Let it be known that our eldest son is now THE MOST touchy-feely “let-it-be-known,-I-love-you” boy I have ever known. He tells me he loves me at least twice a day. I know if he comes into the room because when he does he is rubbing my back. I have no clue what happened but that boy shows love, let me tell you. Interestingly he does not like anyone else to touch him (even a hand on a shoulder from a teacher is weird for him) but with me he no longer shies away from affection. In fact I have to bump up my natural affection levels just to keep up with him!

How did we get here? Part 1

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I may surprise some people to know that we were NOT sitting so pretty a decade ago.

Our introductory post lists some things that make us wondrously weird; but those things were not just handed to us. We have some built in characteristics that have helped us. We have had some desires and thoughts that have worked for us. We’ve kept a Biblical view of our lives which has helped us a lot. We still had to go through a lot to get here.

Ten years ago we were two years into our marriage and still working out the kinks. We did know that we wanted to follow Biblical principals; and that meant that the responsibility for the family fell to Mr. Wondrously Weird.

The man

Mr. WW is a super handsome man with a beautiful tone deaf voice*, a confident presence, and a crazy amazing work ethic like no other… if I do say so myself. ; )

Bending over

He knows how to work!

*I found out later that as Mr. WW was reading this portion of my post he was singing along to my guitar playing. He got a little self-conscious… and then moved on thank goodness! I love when he sings!

Mr. WW worked second shift at a factory doing boring physical labor. (While I worked at the Credit Union helping others to dig out of debt by providing more debt. *sigh*) We rarely saw each other and, being together two years, we were getting the pressure from all around to have kids.

The situation

We had decided that we would try to have kids three years in. We had it carefully planned. At two years and 11 months my body had its own plan and got pregnant early. I got to tell Mr. WW that I was expecting the very day he had been rehearsing at work what to say to me to convince me that we should wait longer.

Those next nine months were some of the craziest months because it brought a few things to light.

Mr. WW decided that a three bedroom home wasn’t big enough to house three people. He tore apart the front of the house to make for ourselves another bedroom.

Demolishing the porch 6-15-04

This was obviously a testosterone driven desire to adequately house the family; but there was also the manly desire to adequately provide everything else for the family. It’s a good thing, but in our situation it left Mr. WW reeling.

You see, his job was one of the best paid jobs he could ever hope to have—and it was killing his body. The repetition of the job that he was doing wears out the wrists. It had gotten to the point where it hurt for him to drive his stick shift car (in his early twenties!) Whenever he used his hands to work on the house his wrists screamed in pain. A scream that said, “this is not a sustainable way of life.”

And we had a baby on the way.

I begged him to quit and get a job in fast food if that was what it would take. We’d live on love or some such nonsense. Let me tell you again: Mr. WW is one of the most devoted and hard-working men you will ever meet. He does NOT let up. When he is struggling to tie his shoes without crying in pain, you will say anything to make it stop.

So, in the midst of a tumultuous time of life, Mr. WW did the unthinkable. He applied for any job that he could that met two criteria, #1 It didn’t hurt his wrists, #2 It paid at least as much as what he was already making.

Why is this unthinkable? I already told you. He was already making as much as he could ever hope to make.

You see, Mr. WW didn’t even graduate high school. He had a homeschooling diploma but he had never done any schoolwork that surpassed about 7th grade. Also working against him was the fact that he could not spell. He could read adequately enough but if he ever had to put anything on paper it would immediately give away his lack of education. And we could not afford for him to go back to school for however long to get him caught up. We needed an income.

So in this situation it seemed that he was eternally destined to work a job that caused debilitating pain.

But he applied. He applied for jobs that required more seniority (Remember: small town. Most all of the jobs that paid anything decent where tied up in the area factory.) He applied for jobs that required college degrees. He applied for jobs that were way beyond what he was doing. And we prayed.

A job in maintenance, his best shot, was given to someone with less seniority than he had. Another job didn’t even bother calling Mr. WW for an interview. The job in CNC programming that was most unlikely because it required an associate’s degree and more seniority, led to an interview with a guy with one raised eyebrow. Later, we were to find out that that guy conducting the interview said that he put his job on the line in order to hire Mr. WW. But he did hire Mr. WW, with a short leash, and we were ecstatic and terrified at this opportunity.

It was then that our eyes were opened to an open but somehow hidden truth: Your life is not dependent on your circumstances. It is dependent on your drive and passion.

The truth

That situation revealed it for us. Suddenly NOTHING was out of reach. Mr. WW had that drive and passion. He struggled and worried the first few weeks. He would come home not knowing if he could ever adequately do the job but he’d go back to work the next day and try some more. Day after day. Push forward after push forward.

Then one day it didn’t seem so hard anymore. But is that the end of the story? NO! Because Mr. WW had learned that truth and he still had more drive and passion. He started learning about the next machine. Not because his boss said to. Not because it got him more money at the end of the week. He just had the drive and passion to do better.

And it didn’t stop with just work things either. There was a man who worked at this shop that was deaf. The people who worked with him naturally kept interactions with him to a minimal because it was difficult to communicate. Not Mr. WW.

I still can’t figure out to this day how that friendship worked. Mr. WW couldn’t sign and this man couldn’t speak or read lips– and neither man could spell!

But they became good friends with their odd form of charades and slips of paper not decipherable by any other human being. Although I knew some sign language and could spell, if this man ever came to the house I was dependent on Mr. WW to translate for me. Odd stuff right there.

This friendship led to Mr. WW as the obvious choice to learn his friend’s machine and be back-up for vacations and sick days. One after the other Mr. WW worked his way around the shop learning anything he could learn in the CNC business.

The next obvious choice should not have been a surprise but it was to us. The plant manager came up to him with a wink and a smile, “Keep an eye on the job posting board and apply for whatever you see there.”

In a few days a posting appeared looking for a floor supervisor. We were excited. This position came with a pay raise and was a perfect fit.

Mr. WW brought a copy of the posting home so I could help him put together a good resume and cover letter. Imagine his surprise when he went back to work to find the posting removed when all job postings were to be up for 7 days.

He went to the plant manager. “Sorry, no job openings right now. I can’t talk about it.”

We waited. No job postings. We waited some more. There was one posting: Mandatory plant-wide meeting.

The change

Mr. WW purposefully positioned himself in the back of the room during that meeting. He looked over the faces of his co-workers. Grown men were crying. This job was more than they could ask for too. But when a plant closes too many people are unemployed to have much hope. Plus, where else was there to go anyway in this small town?

All middle management positions were immediately done. (For example, if someone was the floor supervisor, he would no longer have a job.) The rest of the positions would work for about a year and then the doors would close for good.

There were so many emotions for the WW household. We were scared. We were confused. We were okay. It had been less than 2 years since our lesson. We hadn’t forgotten. Our life was not dependent on these circumstances, no matter how grim. We’d be fine. We had no idea what we’d do, but we’d be fine.

There were options.

  • #1 Go back to original plant that killed the wrists (um, no.)
  • #2 Take another different job in town (most likely would pay much less and I couldn’t stay home with our son.)
  • #3 Be picked by corporate to move downstate and work at the company’s main plant. (It meant moving but was a good job and Mr. WW was told by several people in management that when they were asked who should be taken, Mr. WW was high on the recommendation list.)
  • #4 Find a job elsewhere (also required moving as well as a whole new company.)
  • #5 Use the period of unemployment to go to college (um, have you been following along? How would college work if you’ve never been to high school?)

We prayed hard. Mr. WW prayed that God would shut the doors that He didn’t want us to pursue. That’s when things got even scarier. Opportunities seemed to evaporate before our eyes. Promising interviews called to cancel. No one from the corporate office ever even bothered to take a second look at Mr. WW. No matter the recommendations, they simply took the handful of people with the most seniority.

As the time eked closer and closer to the spigot being turned off for good with were left with one option—college.

A government program allowed those affected by the plant closing to get a two year degree with extended unemployment benefits. If no jobs became available, it appeared that we would be led down this very new and terrifyingly foreign option.

To be continued…

…And continued it was! Find my version of the above story here and the next part of Mr. WW’s story here.

Why Wondrously Weird?

Standard

So, why Wondrously Weird? Well, because this way I will finally force myself to spell weird correctly every time.

Or maybe a better answer is…

When I was young, I got a ride home from a friend I hadn’t seen since we were kids. I invited him in to show him my apartment and we caught up for awhile. When he went to leave he told me it was nice to talk and then… “You’re weird.” To which I replied, “You’re weird too.” We’ve now been married almost a dozen years.

And we are still weird. Of course we’re normal in a lot of ways. I get too frustrated with my kids too often, we always seem to have a ridiculous amount of unmatched socks, we love tacos, but we’ve found that we’re weird in other ways:

  • We are weird because we’ve never had installment loan debt, credit card debt, school loan debt and by 33 we own 3 houses free and clear (with thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, mediocre paychecks.) We are financially funky.
  • We are weird because I can count on one hand how many temper tantrums our oldest kid ever had. We have some kooky kids.
  • We are weird because we try to base our life on the Bible alone. We love and learn from lots of Christian teachers but we refuse to follow anything just because anyone else is doing it. In fact, we’ve made the decision for our family that we don’t celebrate Christmas anymore. We’re spiritually set apart.
  • We are weird because our marriage comes even before our kids. Because we thoroughly enjoy each other and have stuck it out even when times were very, very hard. We’re still growing and changing every day, learning along the way. We have an eccentric espousal.

Oftentimes people have commented on our everyday weirdness. We do things like:

Bicycle for commuting purposes (snow and ice doesn’t even slow us down.)

Plan dinner menus for a month at a time

Attempt to repair or remodel anything, even if we have no clue how to do it when we start out

Garden and can the produce

Not use a dryer

…and none of us has any desire to ever go to Disney Land.

Those things seem odd in today’s day and age but nothing is crazy or hard. In fact we’d choose to do it no other way. These things just make up who we are. Hopefully I can share with you a little of my weird way of thinking and you can be inspired because I truly believe that those little, everyday weird actions are what have produced the big results listed above. We have nothing spectacular. No special or secret trick. We are simple and basic and average. We just use the little we have to be wondrously weird.