I have a beautiful life, a challenging and sometimes difficult life, but a blessed one for sure. We are a family of 4 kids, one daughter-in-law and a precious grand-daughter. My husband, Jaret, has a great career and provided us with our “dream” house and property. We finally had the space for our horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and koi fish. Not to mention the grapefruit, orange,lemon, lime, pomegranate, peach, fig, and pecan trees. Along with grape vines and a huge garden, I knew we could be quarantined here for months and not starve. 😊 So, why then was I finding myself often in despair? It would come on, uninvited, like waves of smothering heaviness. I called out to God over and over again to deliver me through this desert of dark emotions. I stood on the promise that “Joy comes in the morning.”
We could also see the toll that my husband’s career was taking on him. As a power plant manager, he was always on call. As if his 3 a.m. alarm clock wasn’t enough, his phone would go off at any time. No time was safe from the calls coming in; church, vacations, Bible studies, even hospital stays, the phone was never turned off. Jaret was 41 when he had his first heart attack. Hereditary heart disease the Dr says. Too much friggin’ stress I say. The final straw was the 8 weeks of an outage that did not allow him one single day off. He was working too many hours to even count. We didn’t know if Daddy was coming home tonight or not. He looked like death and I knew he was going to either have another heart attack or die from falling asleep at the wheel driving home. This was the defining moment in our lives. I looked around at everything we had and said, “What is this all worth?” The next day I told him that if he was to die, I would sell everything and live simply, just me and the girls. So, I asked him why are we living like this now? This was the first conversation about getting rid of everything this “dream” life held and starting to really live life! But that kind of change is just a fantasy, right? No one would really give up everything we had……would they?
I began to discover the idea of minimalism. Little things at a time. An interesting documentary on Netflix caught my attention. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, is definitely worth the watch. These guys really looked happy. It’s a story of “successful” people who realize one day that the life of working yourself to death just to get ahead, to get more and better stuff, isn’t really a life at all. I found it very intriguing. I also remembered reading a book from Francis Chan years ago called, Crazy Love, and another book from David Platt titled, Radical. These books were also about the idea of what successful living and the American Dream looks like in the church today. They talk about what living life would look like if we were living it for a God that relentlessly loves us. I remember reading them years ago and thinking, “That’s a great idea, but what does that even look like?” We had too much holding us down to the dream we’ve been building for 20 plus years. But now in our 40’s the weight of the dream was beginning to be too much to bear. How many times did I say, “There has to be more to life than this!”
In January of this year I began to get things in order. I looked at our finances and said things had to change. We agreed on making a tight budget and working toward the goal of getting out of debt. Big things had to change. Last year we bought a brand new Ford F-150, after all I needed a brand new truck to care for my animals, right? It was one of the first things to go. We traded, Betty White, in for a sensible Hyundai Santa Fe, Silver Vixen. (Everything around here needs a name.) We took the girls out of their expensive classes and therapies. We re-financed our home. We sold things and poured whatever money we had into paying off credit cards. We believe mightily in prayer, and boy did God show up in this one! In less than 6 months, we paid off over $30,000 in credit cards! Impossible, I’d thought.
I started to hate clutter more than before. It took me all day to clean up crap from everyone, just to do it again the next day. I reached out to places that were looking for donations, like the abused women’s shelters. I explained to my girls that there were children in hard situations that didn’t have anything and this stuff we had could be a blessing to someone else. They were reluctantly on board! Side note: our two youngest are adopted from trauma and have a hard time with change. They hold on to every little thing, gum wrappers included if someone they loved touched it, looked at it, or it came from a trip we once took together as a family. So, this giving our stuff away isn’t an easy thing for them. It has to be done gently and with care and understanding of their hearts. Some days I deserve a gold star for my therapeutic ways of dealing with their loss, and others I deserve a kick in the pants for telling them to suck it up and throw away that stupid broken pencil with no eraser and no lead. I mean, please, how many stuffed animals that look like they came from a 90’s Happy Meal do children really need??? We were making progress at having less and it was feeling good. A small walk to the dumpster to throw more stuff away made me smile. I wanted the things we had to be important and to have meaning. We were on our way to living simpler.
Then it happened…… it was 7:30 in the morning, I was having my coffee in my mug that says, “Running on Coffee and Jesus” and I hear my husband’s car pull up. What in the world? He’s only been gone for a few hours. He comes in holding an envelope and says we need to talk in the other room. Has anything good ever come out of an introduction like that? Well, being in the place we now are, this WAS the beginning of our good thing. He begins to tell me how after walking into his office he is asked to the conference room and given this envelope with his termination letter. Just like that…..after years of giving the plant his all, they downsized management. Thank you for your service, good day. We are unemployed in the middle of this pandemic, just like so many others. The breath was taken out of us that day. The choice had been made for us, we couldn’t stay in the place we were in. Everything was about to change and it was about to get REAL……
Hello. My name is Jenny Sullivan. I am a 40-something mother to 4 kiddos (Our oldest 2 are homegrown and our youngest 2 daughters are adopted from Ethiopia and China). I enjoy horses, gardening, and writing. I love to laugh and I hope I can add humor into your day by reading my blogs. I believe God loves to see His children smile. My life is not an easy one, we face challenges of all sorts daily. I hope by blogging, I can share these experiences with you and take you along on this Perfect Adventure with me!