After 7 years of marriage, Nate and I can recount so many ways in which we see God at work. To show how God has paved the way for us to get where we are now, I’m sharing the Cliff Notes versions of some of the times that he’s worked things together for our good.
After two years of attending “Bedside Baptist Church,” we made a New Year’s Resolution to find a church. We hopped from church to church at the beginning of our marriage but never found one that fit. Tired of being new, we gave up. Right after the New Year, an old friend from college posted about the church where he was a youth pastor, about 30 minutes from our apartment. That first Sunday, Nate had a headache so another week of not attending church slipped by. The following week I put my foot down and off to church we went. The pastor spoke on spiritual apathy and Nate and I cried throughout the entire message. We knew God brought us back to church for this very message. We immediately joined a small group and got connected with other young married couples.
After getting my first teaching job, I realized that my salary wasn’t paying the bills as the primary breadwinner while Nate finished college. I worked for a charter school and made significantly less than the average teacher in our area. Over winter break, I looked into applying to a different, well-known charter in the area. Around February, we found out that our school was merging with that very same charter. I had to reapply and interview for the job I already had. While I embarrassingly cried in the interview because I was so overwhelmed at the prospect of losing my job, I was thankfully able to keep my position and was given a raise that was a huge answer to prayer.
After one year of teaching in the new charter school, I received another raise and was promoted twice. I walked out of the very same office where I originally received my job and called Nate crying again. “Nate, we’re buying a house!”
Our house hunt began and we realized with our budget in the expensive suburbs of Philly we could afford a 900 square foot house with 1.5 bathrooms–the half bathroom being a toilet sitting in the middle of an unfinished basement. On our way home from a disappointing day of showings, I pointed out a modest home through the car window that I thought we should be able to buy. Nate explained firmly (for the millionth time) that we can’t afford a house like that and I needed to change my expectations.
Surprisingly that Sunday, a home exactly like the one I pointed out dropped in price to just within our budget. This house was 5 minutes away from our new church and the community of married friends we were becoming a part of. We went to a showing on Monday, put in an offer on Wednesday and it was accepted by Friday.
While things at work were falling into place for me, Nate’s career path was unclear. He aspired to go to law school. He had taken his LSAT’s, had a respectable score and sent off his applications to several nearby schools. Slowly, the rejections rolled in.
Nate wasn’t ready to give up on this dream just yet. We enrolled him in an expensive LSAT prep class, bought the required textbooks and he buckled down. He had class several times a week and then studied and completed practice tests on his off days. His hard work paid off as his second test score was incredible! Like Ivy-League good. He sent out his applications again, but this time to top ranking schools. He applied to two safety schools nearby, but we were already imagining a move to one of his top schools in Massachusetts or California. Again, the rejections rolled in but this time we were positively dumbfounded. We had no explanation as to why he was not accepted.
His part-time job as a paralegal seemed pointless to him now. It wasn’t adding to his resume and preparing him for his future in law. He was miserable at work, so much so that it was necessary for him to quit immediately. He gave his notice without another job lined up.
As this was happening, Nate’s dad went on a bike ride hours away from our house. He randomly met an older gentleman with whom he realized he had mutual connections. Realizing the man ran a Christian non-profit, Nate’s dad plugged his now out of work son. They traded information and Nate set up a time to meet with him. After this serendipitous meeting, Nate began working for his non-profit just a few weeks later. In total, we missed one paycheck. Just one.
After two or so years, it was time for Nate to move on from the nonprofit. He tendered his resignation, again with no job lined up. He sent out emails to a few connections in the area of his old nonprofit and set up a meeting with the president of Lancaster Bible College. This was three years ago at the time. They asked Nate in that meeting what his goal was and he shared that he wanted a job that would allow me to be a stay at home mom. By the time Nate starting working for LBC, we had missed one paycheck. Just one.
I continued to work at my charter school in Philadelphia. While they were paramount to my development as a teacher, I was growing tired of commuting for almost 3 hours a day for the last five years. Nate and I knew we wanted to start a family and there was no way I wanted to waste so much time in the car when I could be home with my future child. I updated my resume and began applying to schools and other careers closer to our home. On the last day of school, I drove home crying. I was done with the high stress of working in the city and heartbroken that I didn’t want to teach anymore because I was so worn out. I just wanted to be done. While driving (and crying), I got a call from a principal saying she wanted to interview me for a position.
I accepted a position teaching Kindergarten at a school 15 minutes from my house. That year was the sweetest, most refreshing year of my teaching career. I’ll treasure the time with my Kindergarteners and the kind community of teachers I met there forever. That year, I became pregnant with Everly and she was born May 20, 2016.
Due to financial reasons, I was planning on going back to teach in September. Before going out on maternity leave, I had my lesson plans completed for the first week of school, activities created for orientation and back to school night materials were prepared. After a few weeks with our girl, Nate and I knew I wouldn’t be ready to go back to work in September.
Remember Nate’s goal from a few years earlier? He told his work that he wanted to be able to fulfill my dream of staying home with our family. Two days before Nate was scheduled to go back to work after Everly was born, we were sitting in our living room talking. Nate looked at me and asked if I thought I could go back to work. We both agreed that we weren’t ready for that to happen and cried as we didn’t have anything else lined up. When Nate returned to work, his boss pulled him aside and asked if I wanted to go back to teaching. They had a job for me if I wanted it. Although I wasn’t specifically qualified, the college was willing to train me to be a researcher for Nate’s department. I was hired to work from home as a prospect researcher. This job didn’t even exist before Everly was born.
In just seven years of marriage, we’ve seen God’s hand working. There’s been beauty–jobs provided, the birth of our daughter, the blessing of our home. There’s been brokenness- unrealized dreams, unsatisfying jobs, difficult bosses, risking financial security. But we’ve seen God’s work in it all. It doesn’t always make sense at the time, but when we look back at the path our life has taken, we praise God for how he has protected us. How the doors that have closed or opened has been for our good, even if it hurt at the time.
If there hadn’t been a hiring freeze in Philadelphia, I would have never worked at my charter school. If I never worked at this charter school, I wouldn’t have received the raise that allowed us to buy our first house. If Nate had gotten into law school, he would never have found his current job. If Nate wasn’t at his current job, I wouldn’t be able to work from home. If I hadn’t seen my friend’s Facebook post, we would have never ended up at our church. If we hadn’t attended our church for the last five years, we would never have heard the preaching that has shaped the direction of the next chapter of our family’s life…
Whenever a big decision in life comes our way, and one of us is feeling anxious about our future, we refer to God’s track record. He doesn’t have to, but he’s already proven his faithfulness. We need to be faithful to him and follow where we feel him leading us.
That’s where we’re at now. We’re feeling slightly anxious because some change is coming our way, but we’re resting in God’s track record. God has been and always will be faithful.