The Story of Dan’s New Job

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A few week ago, Dan started a new job. I wanted to share this as a testimony of God’s provision and answers to our prayers concerning Dan’s work over the years we have been married so far. I believe this is only the beginning…

When Dan and I got married, we were both finishing college. Dan was working part time as a math tutor on campus with only foggy ideas about his career. He had considered ministry, but more recently, and after prayer, felt God wanted him to pursue a Master’s degree. So, Dan finished up his last semester and started a Master’s degree in math just as Lydia was born and spent her time in the NICU.

As a Master’s student, Dan was able to teach some classes and continued tutoring until summer. That summer, hours were low and we were preparing to live on our lowest budget yet, when Dan was offered an internship at a small engineering company in Ann Arbor. So, God provided the first real job of our married life.

Dan’s internship turned into a full-time job, but during that time Dan’s aspirations changed. He came home one night and said to me, “I think I want to start a business”.

I was doubtful but didn’t say much and just listened as he explained further. Over the next several months I came around and together we brainstormed countless business ideas. (My favorite was to publish a book entitled: 100 Businesses I Didn’t Start but You Should) Investing all of our future hopes into starting a business, while working in someone else’s business turns out to be quite challenging, and trying on the whole family. When Dan’s job ran out of work for him at the beginning of the year, it was a bittersweet transition.

Should he start a business now?

Should he try to change to a different field?

Should he get a PhD (this has been constantly under consideration over the past few years)?

What next???

We prayed and prayed and Dan applied and applied. He was eventually offered a job as a software engineer at a young, but growing, company in Ann Arbor. The day he accepted the job I was devastated, convinced that he would be stuck programming for the rest of his life dreaming of businesses that he would never start.

Through it all, we continued to pray. We prayed for wisdom and guidance, and we prayed that God would provide a more fitting, enjoyable job for Dan.

The software job wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t nearly as mathy or intellectual as Dan would have preferred, but the company invested in a ping pong table and the ping pong seemed to make everything a little better. Eventually I stopped asking Dan, “How was work?” and started asking, “How did ping pong go?”

We kept praying.

Then one day, so gradually and unexpectedly that I can hardly remember it, a small start-up contacted Dan on linked-in. While he was interested in their offer, he didn’t think he stood a chance at landing the job, so he didn’t even mention the upcoming interview with me until it came up during a Skype chat with his mom.

During the interview, Lydia and I prayed. We prayed mostly that, if this was a job God wanted for Dan, that he would land it whether he was qualified or not.

Dan came home that evening and told me they wanted a second interview.

The scene repeated itself. I don’t remember how many interviews Dan had, but it felt like a lot. Each time he would come home surprised and tell me they wanted to talk to him again. Each time he would insist he didn’t think he stood a chance at landing the job. Each time I became more and more convinced that maybe this really was a job God wanted Dan to take.

The day came for the final interview, but they didn’t get back to him right away. They didn’t get back to him the next day either. The next day, during the afternoon, I felt a strong urge to go and pray about the job. I spent a few minutes praying for the company, praying that Dan would be on their minds all day, praying that he would be the right match, praying that they would choose him. And when Dan came home that night he told me that they had.

We were in the middle of buying a house and skeptical about starting a new job. We didn’t want to do anything to slow down the housing process, but closing was almost a month away and the new company wanted Dan to start immediately. We talked it over with our mortgage lender and eventually decided Dan should start…that Monday. And he did.

This is the first time Dan has to check the clock to make sure he leaves work on time. It’s the first time he is invested and interested in the product. We love it. Protean is a small start-up, so they can’t offer all of the benefits of an established company, but they can offer other fun perks like generous vacation time and free lunches every day.

So now, Dan is a data analyst for the company called Protean. Their product, which they hope to launch later this year, is basically an all-in-one credit card that works with an iPhone app to hold all of your credit and store loyalty cards (anything you swipe, really). Dan’s job is to sort through all sorts of data and make meaningful graphs to display that data and help the company make good decisions.

Sometimes, when I need the car, we drop Dan off at work in the morning and pick him up at the end of the day. The girls and I have gotten to meet a lot of his coworkers and we’ve spent a little time lounging in the work area while we wait for Dan to finish. Lydia is already making friends for herself.

We don’t know if this job will last for one year or twenty, and we don’t know where God will lead us next. But after about three years of praying and waiting and wondering, we have seen God answer this prayer for a good (enjoyable) job for Dan, and we want to give Him the credit and the praise. (Even if there’s no ping pong 🙂 )

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

How Trials Have Changed Me

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During the four years that Dan and I have been married, we have gone through more trials than I ever would have imagined. I used to look up to people who went through hard times, thinking that the hard times would somehow instantly make them into patient, gentle, and incredibly godly people. I also used to rank “trials” by my understanding of their difficulty. I’ve learned, in the past years, that everyone goes through trials, and all trials are hard. It’s not up to me (or anyone else) to rank someone’s level of trials, but rather, to encourage and pray each other through them. And just because you are going through something hard doesn’t instantly make you a more godly person, although God can and often does use trials to sanctify us.

This past year has been especially full of various trials for us. As we have made our way through them I have often been discouraged by how ungodly my response has been. Patient? Gentle? Try angry and frustrated. I would desperately pray that God would use the situations for some good, because I certainly couldn’t see the good happening in my life.

I have been sick with about three viruses back-to-back during the past few weeks and have often found myself lying helplessly in bed while others take care of the dishes, laundry, and my girls. During one of those helpless moments, I started to reflect on how I have changed during the past six months, and I was blessed to see that God was indeed using the trials to teach me some good things, and to change me in some good ways.

I’m sure there are some out there reading this who are going through their own difficulties. I hope that you may be encouraged by my sharing some of the ways God has used trials to change me this year.

I have been humbled.

Before Dan and I got married I was convinced that I was better. I was a better wife. I was a better mom. All of these moms that were overwhelmed or frustrated, I would not be one of those. After Lydia was born I started a schedule. I kept things clean and got things done. And I stubbornly held on to my expectation that I would always be in control.

Once Abby was born, all of that fell apart. I have learned that I don’t need to be the best. In fact, it is far better to be humbled because then you can ask others for help, encouragement, advice, and prayer. This summer I have gone to moms asking their advice or just asking for prayer (or a hug!) more often then ever before. There is no reward for those who have it together. Those who are broken and humble will be blessed.

I am at a point now where I try, but know I can’t do it all. I can’t be a perfect wife or mom. I can’t do everything I want to do. I have to sacrifice and prioritize and ask God and Dan what things to let go. Then I have to be ok with messes, ok with unfinished projects, and ok if I never learn to do all the things I want to. And I am at a point where I have no idea how other moms do it with more than two kids! But I’m also at a point where I am open to learn willing to make mistakes as long as I am doing my best to fulfill God’s calling on my life.

I have cried out to God.

I have cried out to God many times in my life, but never quite like I have in the past year. I specifically remember one evening when Abby was still in the hospital. It was dark and raining and we were riding in the car. No one was talking. I was crying, feeling completely hopeless. All I could pray was, “God, help me.” over and over again. I didn’t even know what I needed or how God could help, and I didn’t have the strength to think of anything else to pray. And it seemed like no answer came.

Sometimes in moments like that, things have felt so dark, God has felt so far away, that I haven’t wanted to tell anyone about it. It felt like God was failing. It felt like I had to make God look better than I thought He really was.

Sometimes people have commented on God’s faithfulness or answered prayers with Abby in the hospital and I have smiled and nodded and thought, “I don’t see it.” I would pray, “God, people are watching. Show Yourself strong!”, but He wouldn’t answer, wouldn’t show up in any way that I could see.

So why do I share all of this now? It turns out that I’m not the first person in history to struggle in times of trial. (Read Psalms) By faith, I know that God heard my prayers and was even carrying us along, though I couldn’t see it at the time. But, through it all, through the darkest moments, I have cried out to God. Even when I thought it was hopeless and He wasn’t listening, I cried out to Him because He was all I had to cling to.

And when all hope did seem lost and I felt I was just getting depressed and angry, I would pray, “God, keep me close to You whatever it takes. Even if You have to drag me kicking and screaming, keep me close to You. And make me more like Jesus.”

And do you know what? Through it all, He has.

I have learned to cling to scripture.

There have been plenty of times when doubts and lies have filled my mind.

“I’m suffering and no good is coming from it.”

“This is all ruining our family and making me a worse person.”

During those times I have stubbornly read and re-read various verses and clung to them desperately.

“tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I would cling to those scriptures and others and declare to myself, “It’s true. It says that. It must be true!” And I would declare to God, “You said it God, I’m going to believe it!”

I long for heaven.

A month or so ago I memorized Revelation 21. When I was stuck in bed sick I would find my mind wandering to heaven. I would imagine the wedding banquet. I would imagine a heavenly choir welcoming the saints in with celestial music. I would imagine what the holy city would really look like. I would think about eating the fruit from the tree of life while walking on the new earth and talking to Jesus face-to-face. I know my imagination falls far short of the glory and reality of heaven, but the point is, I actually think about it now.

I actually look forward to heaven. I look forward to an end to sin and suffering. I look forward to when God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying and no more pain.

(And as a small bonus, there will be no more night. This can only lead a sleepy mommy to assume that there will be no more tiredness because there will be no more need for sleep.)

What is coming next?

Sometimes there is a cynical part of me that wonders, “What’s next?”. We are planning to close on our new house in six days and move in shortly after. Then what? What trials will God bring next? I try to correct myself and remember that God works things together for good. He’s not out to get us and make our lives miserable. And even when trial after trial comes our way, God still offers joy for His children. He is good, isn’t He?

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Christ will bring me sweeter rest.
O ’tis not in grief to harm me,
While Thy love is left to me;
O ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

(From the hymn: Jesus I My Cross Have Taken)

Our One Year Old

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Last Thursday, we celebrated Abby’s very first birthday. Dan brought her home some miniature roses which she was thrilled with (mostly because she wanted to eat them). She’s at that age when everything goes into her mouth.

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After dinner…presents! For someone who has never had a birthday before, she seemed pretty excited. Lydia must have given her a heads up.

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In the end, Dan had to help her out a little.

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The jumbo knob puzzles may or may not have been a hit. Mostly, she just wanted to put the puzzle pieces in her mouth. Lydia, on the other hand, was happy to play with the puzzles.

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In lieu of a birthday cake for our not-really-one-year-old-yet preemies, we’ve made a family tradition of giving the birthday girls watermelon instead. Abby loved her birthday watermelon and successfully at her whole piece minus the last bite, which fell on the floor.

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So what’s the little one-year-old up to these days?

Well, she’s officially a big kid. Sometime in the past weeks we caved and started buying jarred baby food. It was just too much work to make our own while we’re living in transition. Since then, Abby eats like a pro, averaging two jars per meal or snack. She’ll eat anything, but has lately shown a little less favor toward the spinach potato combination.

Abby chatters away during the day and at meal times and is (still) always smiling. While we were visiting Rob and Crystal a couple of weeks ago, she figured out how to “crawl”. It’s an interesting version of crawling, but it gets her where she wants to go. She keeps up with her big sister pretty well now, and keeps us busier than ever.