“He has come for us – this Jesus, He’s the hope for all mankind.”
We light the first advent candle. The flame flickers, catching the trimmed wick of the slender candle. A small glow, barely visible in the afternoon light, yet enough to brighten a small corner of the dining room.
“What does this first candle stand for?” Jason coaxes our children.
“Hope!” exclaims Adeline, our oldest. Jeremiah and Thaddaeus shout out right after in competition, “Hope!” They are all full of joy at the presentation of their knowledge. And they cannot help but be full of hope itself. Their expectant eyes, the way they dance in anticipation of just about anything gives away the stores of hope heaped up in their hearts.
“Hope,” repeats Jason, slowly exhaling. He catches my eye and I see the longing. I understand the desperation for this one word. How I ache to accept life as my children do.
In our recent life journey we have been buffeted by the winds of change. Following the birth of our third child (Thaddaeus Joseph) two and a half years ago, Jason decided to step out of the construction field. We were in a state of honest self-evaluation and openness to the Lord’s leading in our lives. During this season of desert wandering the Lord provided a job for Jason at a company called I 360 as a Life Development Coach for people with drug and alcohol addictions. We knew it was a temporary job, but we just didn’t know what was to come after it. So we waited. And we prayed. And we dreamed. And we experienced deep pain and bewilderment when the dreams we pursued were met with dead ends and the voice we were waiting to hear was silent. Hope would be strong one day, but would be almost nonexistent the next, fading along with our financial resources.
A year and a half ago, right after lent of 2010, Jason told me that he was considering becoming a firefighter. Being the supporting wife that I am, I laughed aloud. “What?” I said, incredulous. “That doesn’t make any sense!” I really thought God was leading us somewhere else. But God was leading my then, 36 year-old, husband into the new and strange world of the fire service. It didn’t take me too long to get on board, and soon the posture of our lives changed from the slow pace of waiting to the rapid pulse of activity. We had direction and so all this restless energy was now focused on preparation for the firefighting arena. This included fire academy and EMT basic training. Jason began his online studies in May of 2010 and finished in April of 2011.
And that year was probably the hardest of our lives. There is not room enough to describe it all, but here is a snapshot of it. Spiritual oppression, physical burnout, slow apathy, deep depression, recurring sickness, flailing faith, financial hardship… Sorry. I’m not painting a very pretty picture here. This is just where we were. And there was no guarantee that Jason would get a job as a firefighter. He was testing wherever he could (in Dallas and Houston) and that process was a rollercoaster of hope we couldn’t avoid. We were desperate. And we came to the place where we were putting our hope in a job instead of in the Lord. And that is never a good place to live.
But change came. Slowly. Ever so slowly, flickering hope began to seep back into our veins. I cannot explain exactly the way the Holy Spirit moves for He blows where and when He desires. But the beginning of May we experienced a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. Our faithful God brought us back to trust in Him again. He brought us to the place where He was enough. And this was before Jason was offered a position with the Woodlands Fire Department. They called him on June 23rd and he did not hesitate to accept the job. We were moving to Houston!
In a hurricane of a month’s time we had packed up our house and made the necessary updates the house needed. We showed up at Jason’s parents’ doorstep a few days before work officially began at the Woodlands. (We apologized in advance for what our boys would destroy during the time that they graciously opened their home to this homeless family of five.) And here we are. Grateful. Humbled. Healing.
Our God has been so faithful to us through these years. We were brought lower than ever before by financial hardship, but He always provided for us. We were beset by the continuous generosity of others. Friends stocking our cupboards, anonymous Walmart cards, a brand new bed, our car’s registration paid for, random checks, lemonade stands to raise money for us. And I could go on and on. It was such a time of humbling. A time of learning the discipline of receiving. And we are still in that place.
Jason is experiencing life as a rookie and was just accepted into the paramedic program at the Woodlands, which is a year-long course. We are currently living with his parents in Richmond, TX, just over an hour’s drive from the Woodlands. Obviously, we are still in transition, but have come upon a season of peaceful waiting. Adeline is in first grade and the boys are home with me. It is a simple life really. A time to breathe. A time to enjoy the closeness of family. A time to remember what the Lord has done for us throughout these years.
Dear friends and family, we thank you for bearing our burdens during this season. For your intercession on our behalf and your joyful generosity to us. We love you and rejoice in hope of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior.
Jason, Kristin, Adeline, Jeremiah and Thaddaeus