The Lowdown

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We're still somewhat in a state of shock that this is all happening. For a number of days James kept texting me with variations of "I'VE GOT A NEW JOB!!".

Most people reading this are family that know what we've been living with the last 8 years. But, just for the odd person that perhaps stumbles upon this blog, or some friends from facebook that perhaps are taking a peek here, I'm going to talk a bit about it.

I say 'living with' like it's been some kind of horrendous ordeal. I wouldn't say that at all. People who have lost their jobs are in a horrendous ordeal. But, we have been putting up with a situation that a lot of people would have gotten themselves out of a LONG time ago.

When we moved back from Chicago, James left a good job in the AV department of Moody. Because of our decision to move back to Ontario, he also turned down what likely would have been a really excellent job with a recording studio in Wheaton. But, for many reasons we wanted to get back to Canada.

We had a detailed plan about how James was going to send out resumes all spring, schedule interviews for March Break when we were home for a week and come home the end of May with a job waiting. Now that we've lived in the real world for a few years, I can clearly see how deluded that was.

Things didn't work out too much worse than that however. While he didn't get any interviews during March Break, he did land a job at a local AV Production company within about 6 weeks of our move back home.

Unfortunately, that job was somewhat short lived, and about a year later he decided to go freelance. Freelance in Chicago had served him well. Freelance in Southern Ontario....slightly different dynamic. Things were pretty sketchy and when I got pregnant with Jairus, I started pushing James to find full time work. One of his freelance jobs was working with my uncles AV company in London and sometime around Jairus' birth, he was able to start working full time there. It was an hour and a half commute from our little house in Stoney Creek which James was quite willing to do if it meant a steady paycheque and some security.

After about a year though, with the boss suggesting we move closer, we decided to try a halfway point and considered Brantford. To make a long story short, we spent 4 years in Brantford. Honour and Verity were both born there. James' commute was still on the long side though.

In 2006 we moved back to Hamilton for a number of reasons, one being that James wanted to develop his recording business and felt that the closer to Toronto the better. And so the commute continued. James would leave the house about 6:45 and get home at 6pm, at the earliest. With three children that only periodically sleep all night without waking for some reason, and a fourth that regularly wakes numerous times in the night, it was no surprise that James called often during his drive home, needing my help to stay awake. Sometimes he'd arrive home late, or told me of getting to work late because of pulling over and dozing for 10 minutes. Sometimes the 10 turned into 20....30....45 minutes?!

Overtime was not unusual. James would get home closer to 6:30, 7 or even 8 or 9 o'clock at least once a week. Regularly there were installation jobs that took him away to a far off town or city for 2 or 3 days to a week a number of times a year.

It was those long days I would dread....days of being with 4 small children for 10+ hours on my own.

The company he worked for was small. A few years ago, my uncle sold it to a young guy with a good business head. Still, the employees could be counted on one hand. Up until a year and a half ago or so, we did not have any health benefits at all. We had looked into arranging our own insurance, but the cost was crazy. Finally, the new boss was able to put a plan in place.
After 8+ years of working for this company we really had to take a serious look at James' future there. Through a period of restructuring and the new boss coming on, James' responsibilities had gone from a simple install tech to a manager in charge of overseeing the jobs. Unfortunately, his pay had not seen the same increase, a situation I regularly groused about. What was more disturbing however, was that there didn't seem to be any potential to move into a position where an increase in salary was possible. The next rung on the ladder was the owner of the company. I was becoming increasingly concerned as I watched our kids grow out of clothes and shoes that the costs of raising four children was only going to get more expensive. Being a virtually single income family is incredibly difficult these days. Add homeschooling to the situation--the costs of which we saw approximately quadruple this year as Honour moved into Grade 1 work....well, I think you're getting the idea.

It was shortly after we moved back to Hamilton that I first started talking seriously to James---and God, about finding a new job. He agreed with me (James, that is), but I sensed a reluctance on some level. Perhaps it was just the immensity of it all. They do say that changing jobs is a stressor right up there with losing a loved one or divorcing.

Nevertheless he did start looking. He regularly searched a number of job sites online but was usually unsuccessful at even finding a job that interested him or that he qualified for. When this situation dragged on through months and into years, I became more frustrated. Every once in a while he would find a good listing and we would work on his resume and write a cover letter. Every time, he failed to even hear about an interview. We both became more and more discouraged. In the spring of 2008 I reached a point where I felt James needed to consider finding some help in this venture. I remember sitting down one Monday morning to my computer and doing a search for career coaches. Alan Kearnes of Careerjoy seemed to jump out at me and when I later that same day received a postcard from Fair Havens advertising a seminar with him as a keynote speaker, I was convinced it was a sign that James should make an appointment with him. His $1000.00 price tag later convinced me that it wasn't to be.

Fast forward to this fall. After a wonderful "Kent Summer of Fun" with our kids, James for a few reasons that will remain nameless became inspired to start looking again. Within four days, he found the McMaster listing and we were gripped with a hope that we hadn't felt for a long time. Of all the jobs he'd ever found online, this one seemed to fit him more perfectly than any other we'd looked at. It was in an area he had specific experience with. Not only had he worked in the same department at Moody, but he'd had a few installation jobs that had put him into close contact with some of the new technologies being used in education today ("Smart" classrooms). Making a move into the world of academia was appealing to James. Working for a huge institution with the security and weight behind it that a university can offer was inviting. The vastly shortened commute was simply inconceivable. At times, I was just plain scared to hope that this could happen for us. And I don't think I've prayed as hard as I have since I was carrying Afton.

Well, you know the rest of the story now. It's really going to happen. One week from Monday, James will start his new job at McMaster University. He is SO excited! We got his 'package' from Human Resources yesterday in the mail and he sat down and read through every word of it, and than got online to check out the sites he was directed to. There's still some loose ends to work through: this past week we've been debating what to do about a computer for him. The one he uses belongs to his current job. While usually I'd be the first to say that a computer isn't a "need", James had already taken on two recording jobs in the next 6 weeks and so a laptop is a necessity. His cell phone will also have to go back to the company. We're not sure if McMaster would supply such a thing, or perhaps they just use radios on campus, like James did at Moody.

Then there's been some concern about reconciling the vacation days he's already used, but now will not work the last 2 months of the year to earn. Something we never considered when this new job search was underway.

I'm not going to worry though, because, well to be honest, I'm still basking in the glow and certainty that God answers prayer. I know, that doesn't sound very faithful--that I'm feeling confident now, implying that other times I don't?


What can I's true. And I don't think I'm all that different from most other Christians. We're still just human after all, and our confidence wavers. Sometimes when the answer from God time and time again is "wait", your faith starts to flag. And than you have an amazing experience like this to renew your strength.

I'm also not worried because of another journey the Lord has been taking us through....stay tuned for my long overdue Dave Ramsey update!


J9 said...

Isn't it AMAZING when everything comes together like that?!

There are 2 quotes that come to mind. One is from Rick Warren: "God isn't concerned about our comfort, He's concerned about our character" - character we build while waiting for prayer to be answered.

The second is from an even better source: Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding"

Words I've learned to live by!

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