Friday, June 25, 2010

876 Days of Hope

….or, 125.14 weeks
….or, 31.29 months
….or, 2.40 years
….or, 2 years, 4 months and 20 days

But who’s counting?

Without question, Edward and I are filled with joy to be putting this agonizingly long chapter of our lives behind us, but there are parts of it that I walk away knowing they were some of the best years of our family’s history and growth.

If God had given us a sneak preview and told us that Edward would be without work for nearly 2 ½ years, I’m quite sure I would have experienced some severe anxiety and been tempted to doubt that God knew what He was doing.

But because God only lights our path one step at a time, it actually made it easier, not harder, to put our hope in Him each day – having ultimate confidence that He would keep His promise and take care of us and reward us for our faithfulness and trust.

And He did! It’s still remarkable to me that we were able to stretch my single income and our savings this long, all while faithfully tithing to our church and giving to other charities, and we’ve never missed a household payment. Sure, there are many things we’ve done without and our family savings account is way behind where it could have/should have been by now, but some of life’s best lessons came from this chapter, many I hope to carry into the next.

I learned that God has always got my back. God has a plan and it's always better than mine. And God's timing is perfect! People can say those things, and they can’t believe they mean it, but not until it’s really tested with life’s trials can you really know you meant it.

I learned there’s a lot I can live without. God knows, we didn’t live a lavish lifestyle before, but even things like going to the movies every Saturday. For four people it’s almost $80 dollars a trip, over $4000 a year. Although my teenagers may disagree, cutting back and only going to the movies once every few months didn’t cause any lasting psychological damage and it made the trip to the theatre that much more special.

I learned celebrations are richer without the presents. I suppose as adults, we all actually “know” that, but when we reinforce the opposite message with our actions, it’s hard to sell that message to our kids. Christmas and birthdays especially had probably gotten excessive, especially for the kids. But establishing a “one-gift” expectation really made you appreciate the value of that one gift and drew the focus back to the purpose of the celebration.

I learned that we have really good kids. Well, of course I already knew that, but they have been real troopers with all the things that we’ve had to cut back on and are more appreciative of the things we are still able to do and get. Today we took the kids to the movies for the first time in months and I think they thanked us four or five different times. They’ve grown a lot through this chapter, in more ways than one.

Edward and I were also very humbled by how incredible, generous, caring and thoughtful our family, friends and especially our Fair Oaks Church family are. Not that there was ever a doubt that those characteristics applied, but more, perhaps, that we were deserving recipients of the friendships, prayers and generosities extended. Edward and I are both introverts and pretty quiet people and I think we were a bit surprised that with all the many people who might need support (whether it be a well timed prayer or the delivery of a home cooked meal) that we would be on anyone's radar.

One of the things that I things that meant the most to me during this chapter, and that I will actually miss, was the low-hanging-fruit opportunities to witness to people asking how I could be so positive and full of joy and hope while watching my financial security and life savings evaporate before my eyes and not knowing when or if things would ever turn around. Talking about my security being in God’s sovereign will for my life and knowing that things would turn around just in time – God’s time – and how much God was blessing our lives in other ways, were a great window of opportunity.

Now, as we anticipate what the next chapter holds for the Yost family, I am grateful for the lessons learned over the last 2 ½ years and can’t wait to see how God is going to use us and what He is going to teach us next.

Thank you, again, for all the prayers and encouragement we were so blessed by.





Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daddy Guy

My dad lives out in Prescott Arizona with stepmom Sandy so we don’t get to see them very often. As this Father’s Day was approaching, I started to think about some of my favorite moments with my Dad and thought I’d share some of them here.

When I was little, I called my dad “Daddy Guy.” I don’t why … and I don’t know if I actually remember that or if I just remember being told that, but darn cute just the same, right?

My earliest and most enduring memory of my dad was of him playing the guitar. One of my favorite pictures of my dad and me was of me at about 8-months old sitting on his lap between him and his guitar, me peaking over the top to watch his fingers. The photo, unfortunately, was lost in hurricane Katrina (but that’s another story).

There was always music in the house growing up. Sometimes we would just sit around in the living room with one of Dad’s favorite song books and sing. A great memory. Dad’s electric (a vintage Supro that he still has and I covet) was very cool, but the one he played the most (and the guitar from the lost picture) was the Giannini classical acoustic which was made in Brazil. I have that one now and it’s the one I started teaching my son Derek on years ago.

When I was in the first grade, I had Pneumonia and was home sick for several weeks. I remember one day after my dad got home from work, he sat down on the couch to watch TV and I came out and sat with him to watch a bit. I snuggled up next to him and put his arm around me and I promptly started vomiting all over him. My dad swiftly scooped me up in his arms and started running my down the hall to the bathroom, me vomiting the whole way, with my mom chasing after us yelling “Stoooooooop!!! I rather clean one spot than three rooms!A classic memory.

A true testament to my geek-dom, one of my favorite memories of my dad is when I was in the 2nd grade (or so) and he helped me with my math homework. It was dividing single and double digit numbers onto three and four digit numbers and I was struggling with all the steps to remember in the long division. My dad (an engineer) looked at it, somewhat dismissed the need to learn that stupid-long-division crap, showed me the short way (which – light bulb - made total sense to me) and I walked away thinking my dad was a genius. He had taught me some "secret trick" that my dumb old teacher probably didn’t even know (I thought). I looked at my dad very differently after that. It may have been the first time I realized he was a person outside of being my dad in our house, and that I really had no idea who that was. A transformative memory.

A couple of years later, my dad came to my class for career day and demonstrated a safety restraint that he had designed for General Motors (a seatbelt to all the other 4th graders) but I remember thinking how cool it was that my dad invented that. I actually blogged about that and Dad’s patent back in April (Embrace Life).

My Father and Bride dance at my wedding was one of my favorite moments with dad. It’s one of those things that I’d always wanted to do as a part of a girl’s “dream wedding.” It wasn’t something that we got to rehearse so I was surprised how perfect it was and discovered that my dad is a really good dancer. So good he made me look good, like we’d been dancing together for years. He made that moment perfect for my wedding day. A precious memory.

When the boys were just 1 and 2-years old, my life took a hard left for the surreal and my young family ended up moving in with my dad and Sandy for 6 months. What could have easily felt like a major life setback ended up being such a blessing… especially for the boys. At just a few years old, the boys got to experience a concentrate of their grandparents just before they moved out to Arizona which created a lasting bond and memories that might have otherwise been a void. Of course, I have a lot of fond memories of my own during that 6 months as well. As a young adult and early in my professional career, I was able to have conversations with my dad on a level we’d really never experienced before together. It was cool and I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything. A personal growth memory.

So here were are, Father’s Day, and the last time I actually saw my dad was for a Father’s Day trip he made out to the DC area in 2006. Edward and I took him and my stepmom out to Gettysburg for a horseback ride through the battlefield. I wish we could afford to see each other more often (trips out West are way overpriced) so for now, this trip down memory lane is the closest thing to a visit we can afford.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!