The new job Joe had just wasn't doing it for our family. It was no one's fault. They couldn't pay him what he had been making and the commissions were taking way too long to come in. I could see his frustration every day when he would get home from work. I prayed. What else could I do? I had cut our budget to the core.
One day he calls me from work to tell me that he was approached by a company, let's call them Company W, to interview for a position. I encourage him to go for it, so Joe starts the interview process. Several days later, he gets a call from Company L, asking him to interview for a job at their company. We can see God's hand in all this, so he goes for both W and L jobs. He has a series of 3 meetings with W and then we wait. In the meantime, he has a phone interview with L and then they call him and ask him to write a proposal of what he would do should he get the job. Perfect timing. The kids and I had planned to go back to IL to visit during the week Joe had to do the writing, so he would have peace and quiet to concentrate on writing.
When we are in IL, I have the chance to visit a wonderful priest; let's call him Fr. Skinny. Fr. Skinny is one of those priests who totally understands that as Christ's representative here on earth, he should minister to more than just the people who show up at his church on Sundays. He tells me to come out and he will do a Mass just for us. Charlie and I make the drive to his church. He just remodeled it and he shows us around. It is absolutely breathtaking. When you walk in, you are definitely aware that you are in the presence of God. We assist at Mass. After Mass Fr. S anoints me with holy oil and prays over me that Joe and I will prosper and be fruitful. "I am your spiritual father," he says, "and I impart upon you my fatherly blessing on your marriage, family and finances." I start to cry because I know that God is working through him and these blessings come straight from heaven. He prays for any healing that may be needed for those on my family tree and then he anoints and blesses Charlie. After all that, we go to lunch. "It's on me!" he proclaims. I protest. "Am I your spiritual father?" he asks. "Yes," I say, reluctantly, because I can see the trick he is using. "Then I bind you to obedience. I'm paying and that is that," he says, with an impish grin.
When we get back to my parent's where we were staying, they get a call that they have a showing the next day. They have been trying to sell their house for quite some time and are feeling rather frustrated. We all clear out the next morning and give the realtor time to do his thing. When we come back the get a call from their agent that the people loved it and will be making an offer. My parents are ecstatic. Quietly I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving. Fr. S's blessings were meant for my whole family, after all. The next day we go look at a townhome my parents have had their eye on. They make an offer and it is accepted. Everyone is happy.
The kids and I head back to IL and a couple of weeks go by with no word from either company on the jobs. Joe calls company L, his preferred choice, and asks them what is up. They get back to him right away and set up a phone interview with one of the owners. I e-mail everyone we know and ask for prayers. The interview went well. We continue to wait.
In the meantime, I ask everyone at church to keep praying. One woman, Terry, who I barely know, approached me each week after Mass to let me know she is still praying. Our pastor even checks in on how things are going. The church secretary, all the Knights and women from the ladies' auxilliary are praying for us as well.
One day, a letter arrives from Company W. Uh oh. Letters aren't good. I call Joe and he tells me to open it and read it to him. It is a rejection letter. Well, he tried his best and that is all I could possibly have asked of him. As I am reading the letter all of a sudden I am infused with peace. In my heart I can hear a voice whispering, "He didn't get this job because I have something so much better in store for you." There it is, my favorite bible verse from Jeremiah 29:11-14, happening right here, right now. God is so good.
We pray, we wait...
One day I get a call from the Ladies' Auxilliary to sub at Bunco. A night out for me? I am SO there! During the day I say my usual prayers for Joe to get a better job. "If he is going to get this job with L, please give me a sign; let me win the big prize at Bunco." Then I feel guilty. Did I just test God? I don't know. So I apologize to Him and go put my lipstick on and flat iron my hair, so the other Bunco women don't run away screaming when I show up.
I thought Bunco started at 6. It was 6:30, so I steal away into the church sanctuary to spend some time with Jesus. I am so tired of praying for the job that I just bask in His presence and remain silent. Then, I go play Bunco. I wound up losing half and winning half the games. I did get 3 Buncos, though. I had no idea if this was good or bad, being a newbie. When it comes time to award the prizes, they ask if anyone has gotten more than 5 Bunco's. Silence. Four? More silence. "Three?" they ask. I put my hand up. "I got three." They all shout, "You are the big winner of the night!" I won $33. But, more than that, I had God's assurance that all would be well.
Joe gets a call from L. They are flying him to L.A., to their corporate headquarters, where he will be expected to do a presentation for 6 of the top honchos. Oh, my... Joe spends hours working on the presentation, perfecting it. Everyone keeps praying. The kids and I are going to daily Mass and offering it up for Joe. Friends of ours in IL have been going to daily Mass at 6:30 a.m. for our intention as well. I feel like the world is storming heaven for us. I pull out the big guns; I ask my grandmother and my Great Aunt Lena to pray as well.**
The big day comes and Joe goes to L.A. The kids and I pray all day. He calls late in the afternoon. "They can't make a decision today. One of the people who was supposed to be at the interview couldn't make it, but they will let me know this week." The waiting is just excruciating...
The next day he gets a call from HR at L. They want to set up a phone interview with the founder of the company. He calls and talks to Joe for about 10 minutes. Joe calls me and tells me he seems like a real nice guy. I almost can't hear him, I am so weary. I pray more and berate myself for not trusting as much as I should. The reading at Mass recently was about how Lot's wife looked back. I feel like Lot's wife. "Just look forward," I remind myself. Joe calls again. They want him to stop by the KC office that afternoon to meet the person who has the job temporarily. "OK," I say, "and then they want you to meet the owner's Aunt Cloris, with the mustache, who has a Yorkshire terrier named after her late husband, Fred. After that you need to meet Keith, the kid who bullied him in the 3rd grade and then Stella, his nanny, who made him eat every vegetable on his plate or no dessert." We both laugh, glad to break the tension for a few seconds.
I had to drive to Kansas that day and there was a detour on the way home that took me right past Company W. "Don't look back," I hear a small voice whisper in my heart. I think of Lot's wife and I resolve to quit worrying. I decide to just pray in thanksgiving for the new job, even though we haven't heard yet.
The next day is a long day. I keep calling Joe. "Anything?" "Not yet," he answers patiently. Finally, that afternoon, he calls and says he got a verbal job offer from company L, contingent upon verifying his past employment. The company pays 100% of all benefits and they have a bonus program. Actually, every small complaint he had about any other company he has ever worked for is non-existent in company L.
That night, we go out to eat (something we haven't done for over a year), on the advice of a good friend. "Kill the fatted calf, baby!" she urges. She is right. This has been such a long and painful journey, full of uncertainty. We have been uprooted from our home, we have suffered financial blows, but God has remedied all of this.
It was seven weeks from the time company L first called to the day they offered Joe the job. 49 days. I think of 40 days in the desert and how Jesus fasted the whole time. This is what my family and I have been through. Only I haven't handled it so well. I need to trust more, which is why God probably keeps putting me in these situations. Someday I will learn that lesson...
At Mass the next Sunday our pastor congratulates Joe on the job. I look for Terry and tell her the good news. She bursts out crying. "Oh, God is so good!" she proclaims.
Yes, He is.
** For those of you who are freaking out at the thought of asking a dead person to pray, here is what I have to say on that: They are not dead! They are alive in Christ and are closer to Him than we are here on earth. For those of you who balk at asking someone to pray rather than going straight to Jesus: do you ask your mother to pray for you? Do you pray for others when they ask you to? Well, you better stop all that, because that is not going directly to God, is it? Look, in the bible Jesus takes the advice of His mother (wedding at Cana, remember?). Why would He give this example for nothing? No one is more powerful than God, but it doesn't hurt to have your friends (in heaven and on earth) asking Him for help, either. Squeaky wheel gets the oil, after all...