Becoming “Stay at Beach Mom” (Part 1)

I’ve been wanting to write about what brought us to Charleston and how I became “Stay at Beach Mom,” but haven’t been able to figure out where to start. Like anything in life, there are so many little things that have brought us to where we are now. I haven’t known what to include or how to tell the story in a linear way.  But, then I realized, I never tell a story in a linear way in real life. I ramble and ramble and tell 30 side stories for every 1 main story.  So, why not do that on my blog, right?

The best place to start is probably January 6, 2010 in Williamsburg, VA when I got home from work.  I had been out tutoring and my mom was at my house watching Beach Girl, who was 3 months old at the time. As I pulled up to our house, my heart skipped a beat. Beach Dad’s car was there! It was our 3 year anniversary and we’d celebrated a couple days before because he had to work that night. But I thought, maybe, just maybe, he had come home early to surprise me and celebrate together a bit more!

becoming stay at beach mom

I walked up the stairs into our quiet house and as I turned the corner, I saw him walking toward me and realized he was not home for our anniversary. Something was seriously wrong.

“I got fired.”

My jaw dropped and my heart sank.  He’d been working as our church’s youth minister for almost 5 years. We’d poured our hearts and souls into the teenagers at our church and I thought he was awesome at his job.  We had just decided the week before that we wanted to stick around for another school year before moving on. We loved those kids.  He got fired?

Well, as we talked, I found out he didn’t really get fired as much as “laid off.” He hadn’t done a specific thing wrong like the word “fired” implies. And, they didn’t walk him out then and there, as if he had truly been “fired.”  The church leadership had just decided to go a different direction with the youth group and wanted him to move on at the end of the school year.. without any warning to us before making their decision.  They graciously gave him until June to find another job.

We sat on the couch and cried. I felt angry and betrayed, but mostly, I felt scared. We had a 3 month old and I was worried we were going to end up on the streets come June. What if he couldn’t find another job right away? Where would we live? How would we eat?

That night, as I read to Beach Girl in her Jesus Storybook Bible, tears streamed down my face.  The random page I opened up to was a paraphrase of Psalm 23, filled with exactly the words I needed to hear…

God is my Shepherd
And I am his little lamb.

He feeds me
He guides me
He looks after me.
I have everything I need.

Inside, my heart is very quiet.
As quiet as lying still in soft green grass
In a meadow
By a little stream.

Even when I walk through
the dark, scary, lonely places
I won’t be afraid
Because my Shepherd knows where I am.

He is here with me
He keeps me safe
He rescues me.

He makes me strong
And brave.

He is getting wonderful things ready for me
Especially for me
Everything I ever dreamed of!

He fills my heart so full of happiness
I can’t hold it all inside.

Wherever I go I know
God’s Never Stopping
Never Giving Up
Unbreaking
Always and Forever
Love will go, too!

As much as I loved Beach Girl and wanted to take care of her, God loved me even more.  He would take care of us. We weren’t going into all this alone.

Those next few months were… how do I put this?… absolutely terrible.  We had a few close friends at the church who we were able to talk with, but for the most part, we had to stay at the church, pretending that everything was fine and continuing to love on and serve the teenagers, their families, the church leadership, and church as a whole… as if nothing had happened.

Inside, though, I continued to feel angry and betrayed. I’ve talked before about how being a ministry wife was hard for me and this was the epitome of it. How could these people not appreciate my husband? How could they just throw us out like that? In addition to the struggles of facing potential unemployment and having to move, it felt like our family had just given us the boot. Like the people we had trusted and sacrificed for had thrown it all back into our faces.

At that point, Beach Dad’s job options were another youth ministry job, seminary, or taking a break from ministry to do IT work (Beach Dad has a degree in Electrical Engineering, but had never used it). When we first got married, our counselor advised us to consider taking a break from ministry to see what life is like not in ministry. To give our marriage a break to focus on sort of ministering to ourselves, instead of to other people, so that later on, we’d be in a better place to minister to other people.

But, we really loved teenagers and couldn’t imagine life without ministering to them as Beach Dad’s full-time job.  Not sure what to do, we just decided to be open to whatever and let God decide.  Beach Dad applied for every type of job he could find – ministry and non-ministry – and we figured that when he found a job that worked for our family, he’d take that and that would be the sign that we should either stay in ministry or take a break from it.

Okay, this is getting too long. You’ll have to check back Monday for the rest of the story :).

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