When Life Gives You Lemons – Our 2013 Year in Review

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the {glory} of his name!
Tell the world how {glorious} he is.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!”
Psalm 66:1-3

When life gives you lemons you …. make lemonade, right? 2013 has been a lemonade making kinda year for us!

The first half of the year was good! We were able to obtain legal guardianship of our daughter, Eloise, we enjoyed our last few months in Uganda, and we moved back to the States in late May where we were able to see friends and family we hadn’t seen in over a year.

Our transition back to the States went so smoothly! We spent our first few weeks in Florida visiting Drew’s friends and family and then made the drive up to Michigan to spend some time with my family. The kids adjusted well to life back in America and our plans seemed to be moving right along.

When we returned from Uganda we had plans for Drew to attend grad school at Harvard in Cambridge. He had job interviews lined up, he made a trip to Boston to go to interviews and check things out, we were looking at places to live, and he had already enrolled in classes. We were planning to move to the Boston area in August and things seemed to be going just as we had planned.

In late July life started to throw us some curve balls. We found out that because of the specific degree program that Drew was going into, he would be unable to take out loans for his first year of school. Having spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, we knew this meant that our income was going to have to fully cover the {high} cost of living in the Boston area as well as the {high} cost of attending Harvard! No matter which way we tried, we could not make things work out to do this. Finally, in August, just before school was to start, God firmly shut the door on that opportunity in our lives and started leading us in a different direction.

Now we were left wondering what in the world God had for us? Everything we had thought about, dreamt about and were looking forward to had been taken away and we had to find out what our next steps should be. We began to really struggle with believing that God’s hand was in this and that it would all work out for His glory.

Drew began to look for temporary work in Michigan while we tried to sort things out. He got a few minimum wage jobs while we continued to pray and see what God wanted for us.

In September, we made the decision to stay in Michigan and Drew began the process of being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He had been interested in this position for quite some time but kept putting it off because his desire was to return to school for his masters and this position with Edward Jones was a career position, not something he could do for a few years and then go back to school. However, it was a position he was highly interested in, as he was planning to go back to school for finance and business anyways. After much prayer, we felt like this was the direction God was leading us in.

Drew began completing each step of the Edward Jones hiring process… a lengthy process! In the mean time we lived on his minimum wage jobs and finances became extremely tight.

We struggled with God and wondered why He was bringing us through this. So much disappointment, unmet expectations, and discouraging things happened during this time. All of the plans {we} had for our life came crashing down and we both started to become bitter. We had just come out of an incredible year in Uganda where we both grew closer to each other and to God than we ever had before. We saw Him working in amazing and powerful ways. And now…. it seemed like He had abandoned us. We were walking in darkness and we couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

We began crying out to the Lord and asking Him to give us the faith to keep trusting in Him even when everything seemed to be going wrong. Drew kept advancing in the hiring process with Edward Jones but each step was so detailed and took so much time to complete and we began doubting that it would ever really happen.

In October we came to a breaking point. We were literally living dollar to dollar and one day a check we had written out to someone several months ago was finally cashed and we were left with very little money in our bank account. No cash, no savings, no stocks. We had spent most of our savings on Eloise’s adoption, supplementing our support while living in Uganda, and trying to live on the minimum wage job Drew currently had. We felt like we had reached the bottom.

The good thing about being at the bottom is that you have nowhere to go but {up}! God did not abandon us during this time and we had the support of friends and family who wrapped their arms around us and blessed us with their love and support. We began clinging to God’s word like never before.

Psalm 66 became one of our favorite chapters and these verses are seared in our hearts:

You have tested us, O God;
You have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
And laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
{We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.}
Psalm 66: 10-12

We knew that, just like the Israelites in Egypt, this was a time of great testing that God was bringing us through. We wanted to come out on the other side having grown stronger because of it. We began trying to focus on our blessings. We have a wonderful house to live in that is spacious and has cheap rent, we have a sweet new baby on the way, we were able to finalize Eloise’s adoption in October and she legally became our daughter, we have wonderful friends and family, and we have a great marriage that can weather any storm! We began to see how God was using these trials in our life to make us into better people and we refocused our attitudes. We also began to look forward to the “place of great abundance” God would bring us to, whether that be financially, physically, or spiritually. We began learning to trust Him with whatever would come our way.

On December 26th, Drew completed the final step in the hiring process with Edward Jones. After that was over, we breathed a sigh of relief that he had finished all of the steps and ….. we waited to hear if he would get hired on.

Five days (felt like five years!) later we heard back. Drew had passed! Just today, after three months in the hiring process, we learned that Drew is finally being hired on as a financial advisor with Edward Jones! We are so excited about where this will take our family and we look forward to seeing what God does in and through us as we serve Him with this next step in our lives.

Over these next few months, as Drew takes several exams, attends several training seminars, and begins building a client base, we will find out where this new job will move our family. Most likely we’ll still be in the West Michigan area but we’re not exactly sure where his office will be. We look forward to finding out and getting settled so that we can begin putting down roots. We are looking forward to having the income necessary to support our family and to bless others on top of that just as we have been blessed!

I started this blog a few months ago mainly for myself. I want to remember all that we have gone through and all that we will go through. I want to be able to look back and see how my kids have grown and remember the fun family memories we have made together. But most of all I want to be able to look back and see how God used {every} situation in our lives to work together for good to bring HIM {glory}! And while it’s mainly just for me, I hope that I can in some way encourage you as well.

So here’s to 2014! It may be another lemonade making kind of year, but that’s ok, because we’re making the best lemonade we can for God’s GLORY!

But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
Or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Psalm 66: 19-20

4 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons – Our 2013 Year in Review

  1. Hey Rebekah, I responded to you a few times yesterday but it was on my phone and I don't think it was going through! I was going to tell you that there is actually a really good possibility that we are going to be moving to the Fremont area!!!! Maybe not right in Fremont but somewhere nearby. We should find out in the next couple of weeks. I would love to be near you girls again!! =)

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