Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 At The Clays'

Well, it’s been quite a year. If you would have asked me 6 months ago, I would have told you that 2013 was shaping up to be pretty craptastic. But thanks to all kinds of crazy acts of God, it turned out to be quite spectacular.

Let’s start at the beginning. January 1, 2013. Oh hey, I’m pregnant. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. Unexpected, but not bad. What was bad was the fact that I didn’t exactly have insurance. When I started working part time after Eliza was born, I had switched to a cheap private insurance plan since the family plan through Scott’s work was painfully expensive. Unfortunately, my cheapo private plan didn’t cover maternity insurance. Fabulous.

Thanks to a little grace from Scott’s employer, they allowed us to hop onto their family insurance a couple days late of their January 1 open enrollment deadline. This was great, except that we couldn’t exactly afford it. Nonetheless, we determined that paying extra for the insurance would still come out cheaper than paying hospital bills!

We went a few months like this--gradually dipping into our savings to pay for our crazy insurance, as I was working fewer and fewer hours at work. Then, not surprisingly, in March, I was informed that my current position at work was going to be phased out. But my employer graciously offered me a different job. Full time, with two days at home and three in the office.

At first I was reluctant to work full time, mostly because it meant I would have to find childcare for Eliza. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this job would solve multiple issues--it would mean extra money, cheaper insurance, and would give me a maternity leave that I wouldn’t have gotten if I was part time. And when my cousin told me she’d been praying for another kid to watch during the day, I figured God had it all worked out and I took the full time job.

Things went very well for about a month. I was happy to leave Eliza with my cousin. The only problem was that my cousin was going to be adopting her third child in May and wouldn’t be able to sit anymore. So I thought I better start looking into some other options.

As I looked more into childcare, I started feeling icky about it. The more I thought about it and planned for it, the stronger I felt that I was supposed to be home with my kids. I prayed for a solution, but I didn’t know what it could possibly be.

Then God revealed his genius plan. One morning--the morning I was planning (dreading) making calls to some childcare prospects--Scott told me he was laid off and was coming home. Problem solved!

While Scott getting laid off was upsetting, deep down inside, I was almost happy. Almost. First of all, it did solve the childcare problem. Secondly, his employer had been getting less and less work and felt generally unstable. The lay-off wasn’t exactly a shock, and I’d already been encouraging Scott to look for other jobs. I guess God agreed with me. Ha!
We were now exceedingly grateful for my full time job and my insurance which started on the exact day that Scott’s would end. Between my job, cheaper insurance, and Scott’s unemployment money we weren’t doing too bad, though occasionally still dipping into our savings.

In the midst of all that, we’d started a Bible study at church that focused on learning to know God’s will and trusting him to do things we see as impossible. As I went through the study and was encouraged to think about what I needed to trust God with, the thing that kept coming to mind was childcare. I felt a strong conviction that I should stay home with my kids, especially with another one on the way. It seemed impossible in our current situation, and even if Scott got a new job, it would likely not pay enough to allow me to stay home. But I felt God was telling me to trust him with this and so I decided I would. I just started to assume that God would work out a way for me to be at home once Scott went back to work, and it felt great to stop trying to figure it out myself and give it to God. If this was what he wanted, then he’d have to work it out. Good luck with that, God!

We cruised along through the summer months trying not to spend much too while Eliza and Scott got to spend some quality time together. Scott had an interview here and there, but nothing spectacular. The job prospects weren’t amazing.

Meanwhile, other depressing things were going on. In the spring, my mom’s cat, who we’d had since I was in high school, died. Then in July my grandma passed away. It was feeling like a year of loss, but we tried to focus on the excitement of our new baby in just a couple months.

The new baby thing was exciting, but also added extra pressure to Scott’s job situation. Yes, I had the occasional freak-out moment, but when I wasn’t freaking out, I was learning valuable lessons in trusting God and growing in my relationship with him. A real blessing!

Finally, just a couple weeks after my grandma died, a fresh batch of job openings came through and Scott sent out a number of resumes. There was one job I thought looked particularly appealing and I told Scott it was “the one.” The location was great and the work looked interesting. And when they called Scott in for an interview, I was totally sure that I was right about this one.

Scott felt pretty good about the interview and soon after they called to tell him they’d be sending him a job offer. Woo!! Job!! And at the company I’d determined was perfect for him. I’m such a genius!

Then God showed me who’s boss. About an hour after he got the phone call, another company called him. This job had been a little more of a mystery. The listed salary was a bit higher than we’d expected for Scott’s level, but the job description seemed well suited to him. It was also at a contractor firm instead of an architectural firm. Scott didn’t get his hopes up, figuring he may not be well suited to it, but he figured he better talk to them.

He set up a phone interview with Company #2 the day after receiving the offer from Company #1. The phone interview went surprisingly well. The job and company seemed pretty interesting and the fellow that he interviewed with turned out to be a Christian. They chatted about their involvement in church and found they had some interesting things in common. Now Scott was in a bit of a pickle. Company 2 wanted to do an in person interview the following week, but Company 1 was waiting for an answer to their job offer.

Scott tried to hold off Company 1 for a few days until his interview with Company 2. Interview day came and the job was looking even better. They were looking for specific skills that Scott enjoyed and was great at. It seemed to be the right job, but he still didn’t have an offer. We waited and prayed that things would work out. Company 2 told Scott they would call him shortly after his interview with as much info they could give him. They called a few hours later to tell him they would send him an offer the next morning. While he was on the phone with them, Company 1 called and left a message saying they were rescinding their offer since they hadn’t heard from him.

Things were down to the wire, and we prayed that Company 2 would come through with their offer since Company 1 was now out of the picture. Thankfully, the next morning, Scott received a very nice offer from Company 2. There was no doubt this was from God. The salary was quite a bit better than Company 1’s offer, and way better than what he was making at his old job. Better than we ever expected. He was also going to be able to do work that he really enjoyed and have more freedom to work and make decisions on his own. And the house that we had bought the year before was in a really nice location for this new job. We were very grateful that we didn’t base our house location on his old job!

Scott accepted the offer and was set to start on August 26th. Since this was getting close to Harrison’s due date (September 7th), I had a little chat with God about when the best time would be for Harrison to come. I’d decided that September 1 was best. Scott would have worked a full week before taking a few days off for baby, but we wouldn’t have too much trouble lining up child care for Eliza during Scott’s first week at work.

I thought that God and I were really on the same page with this. But then somewhere around 2am on August 25th my water broke. Later that afternoon we had our sweet baby boy! Scott’s new employer allowed him to just start a few days later and, though I hate to admit it, I suppose that was a better solution than my original plan. Whatever.

I enjoyed my maternity leave while Scott got settled into his new job, but next we had to decide what to do about my job. While Scott was making more money, it still wasn’t quite  enough for me to stay at home completely. And with the job being so new, I wasn’t ready to commit to a different job situation myself. But as time went on and Scott was happy with his new job, I decided it was time to figure this out. I didn’t want to put my kids in childcare, and it hardly would have been worth working just to pay for it anyway.

I talked to my boss about switching to part time. And maybe I could work from home too. Just a suggestion. My boss and I went over some options and came up with a great plan. We divided my job in two so I could work part time from home and they could hire someone to pick up the other half of my job.

They weren’t able to hire someone before my maternity leave ended, so I worked full time from home for a couple months. It was stressful at times, but it also provided some extra income and the chance to replenish the savings that we had used up over the last year. As usual, God worked it out better than we ever could have planned.

Now as I write this in December, I’m transitioned to part time at work, Scott’s job is going great, and we’ve received a number of unexpected financial blessings. Amazingly, we’re better off in every way than we were a year ago thanks to God’s amazing provision and clever plans. I’m beyond blessed to be able to be at home with my crazy kiddos. Whether or not they’re blessed to be at home with me all day is up for debate :)