Jason and Michelle’s Voyage Home

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Philippians 1:6 NKJV

I was happy at the fitness company. One thing I had learned, though, as a result of my being hired there, was to not discount God’s plan. As recruiters contacted me, occasionally, I would speak with them. I really didn’t think I’d get anything better, but I knew God’s plans were better than my own. While Michelle and I had struggles in various areas, and we weren’t walking where we should, we still trusted in the Lord. I thanked Him for everything He had done. Even though Michelle was still having health issues, I thanked Him for His provision. That the biggest health struggles were in the past. So, if the Lord had something else in mind, I would not get in His way.

This was how, after two years at the fitness company, I returned to working consulting and working from home again. It was a decent pay increase, that was unable to be matched by the fitness company, and did allow me to work from home. This job, though, was a nightmare from day one. I didn’t know who my manager was. I never had a person I could talk to. I was stuck “on the bench” with no idea how to get seen to be added to projects. The company was more concerned with “acquiring companies” than they were with the employees they already had. I heard of people getting laid off, and the fact that I wasn’t getting utilized increased my risk there as well. Why would God move me from a good company to something so chaotic? He had to have a reason, so I trusted in that reason.

The first reason soon became apparent. The house Michelle and I were renting was put up for sale a couple months after I accepted the new job. This meant we had to move. If I was still working for the fitness company, I’d need to find something close, but everything that was available was a lot more expensive than the house we were renting. Working remote, I was able to look beyond the immediate area. Ultimately, this search brought us back to the area we moved away from fifteen years prior. The townhouse we found to rent was in an apartment community just five miles from where I grew up, where my parents still lived. We were ten miles from Michelle’s sister and a couple miles from her best friend. The Lord had brought us home again, something that was made possible due to the fact that I was working remotely.

After we got settled from the move, we found a new church, Calvary Chapel Eastvale. That became our new home and we were happy to be there. I felt more at home there than I ever did at Calvary Chapel Vista. I can’t say why that is, but the Lord made it clear that was where we needed to be. At the same time, I joined my father for a Wednesday night men’s Bible Study. Michelle joined a Women’s Study at Crosspoint Christian Reformed Church with my mother. That was the same church my mother had gone to Bible Study for years and where she took me for Vacation Bible School when I was in grade school. Things were starting to look up again.

The company I was working for did get me onto a project, but it was still incredibly unreliable. As a result, when the recruiters started contacting me, I responded. Normally, I would have waited a year at least, but I didn’t know how long it would be before I was swept up in the layoffs simply due to the fact that I had no manager to talk to and no way that I knew of to get assigned to projects. So, when I was interviewed to become the Lead CRM Developer at an IT company for a business to business reseller, it looked like a good opportunity. They were based in Boston, but I insisted that if I took the job, I wasn’t going to move. They agreed to it, with a stipulation that I did go to Boston for onboarding and would go out for major releases. I had no problem agreeing to those stipulations, as I expected them anyway. This new company was great. I liked the people and I was going to be able to do more in the architecture side, which is what I wanted. Unfortunately, though, I never would be able to find out just how far I would have been able to go with this new company. Just three months after I was hired, the entire world was locked down with COVID. My position, unfortunately, was one that entered into a furloughed state. I was still employed but I was no longer getting paid.

The whole world was turned upside down, and I didn’t know what this meant for me. Up until that point, I was constantly being courted by recruiters. Now, those calls had slowed down considerably. My in-demand role was no longer in-demand. Yes, I was still employed, but who knows if or when I’d be able to return to work. Starting the new jobs and moving had allowed me to build up a small portion of savings, which I was quickly cutting into. I did sign up to receive unemployment, but like so many in California, I was getting nowhere. My parents were able to offer some financial assistance, and some bills were able to be deferred or lessened. When the lockdown started lessening, our church had set up an outdoor service. We went to that, but unfortunately, no one there wore masks, and they still wanted to hug and greet. There was no thought to those who wanted to stay safe. COVID could kill Michelle if she were to get it, so we took extra care to stay safe. So, unfortunately, we stopped going to church completely.

Living in isolation is not easy to do, but it became a necessary way of life. I was out of work, but God was still providing. I was able to still buy food and pay bills that couldn’t be postponed. My parents were able to offer assistance when needed. I was still talking to recruiters, but they didn’t have any job options for me. It was the middle of summer when I was contacted by a recruiter for a large consulting company that sounded promising. Unfortunately, the process with them moved painfully slow. Or at least it seemed to be painfully slow from my perspective, due to the shrinking bank accounts. I was juggling in my mind if I would take this new job or if I would still hold out for the company that furloughed me. The Lord, again, proved to be faithful. Like all the previous jobs, I went to Him and asked for His guidance. Michelle and I prayed about it. My parents prayed. Our Bible Studies prayed. When the offer did come, it was better than what I was getting at the furloughed company. God had answered once again and given me a clear indication that this was where He wanted me to go.

I was hired right as I used the last of the money in our bank accounts. I’d have to borrow some from my parents to make it through to my first paycheck, but the Lord carried us through, even without the state unemployment that was due to me. I praised the Lord for His provision, and believed that things would go uphill from there. That was up until I had a stroke on the third day on the job.

Michelle was the one with the health issues. I was the strong one. A little over a year earlier, I had been to the doctor and got a clean bill of health. I hadn’t been back, though, as COVID got in the way of that. The stroke landed me in the hospital for a little over a week, then another couple weeks at my parent’s house learning to walk again. My stroke was cerebellar, which was in the balance center of the brain. I also had a secondary minor stroke that affected the vision center. I had done laser eye surgery a couple years prior, but the stroke brought the glasses back.

I didn’t complain. I wasn’t upset. I just focused on recovery. I trusted in the Lord’s healing hand. According to my physical therapist, I recovered quickly. The Lord had just given me a new job, so I knew He was not done with me yet. He was the one who healed me. He was the one who made my recovery swift. My new employer was understanding of the situation and I started working as if nothing had happened. I had been out of work for almost a month, but when I returned, I had a project already lined up for me. Things at this company were, and still are, completely opposite what my experience was when I left the fitness company. This is, by far, the best company I’ve ever worked for, and an amazing team to work with.

As things started opening up more and the vaccinations started to become more available, we were able to get out a little more, but I was still discouraged by the fact that so many refused to get vaccinated and refused to wear masks. We were able to return to our respective Bible Study groups, but we didn’t return to our church. I loved the verse-by-verse teaching of Calvary Chapel, but the fact that I felt they weren’t taking our health into consideration, I didn’t want to return. That is not where God wanted us to be. I still hadn’t stopped trusting the Lord, but I just didn’t know where to go. I knew we needed to go somewhere, but where, and when?

We were still dealing with Michelle’s health issues. On top of that, we now had to consider my own health issues. I did everything I could to protect us, and thanks to the protection of the Lord, neither of us have had COVID yet. We are both vaccinated and we both still wear our masks when we go out. We don’t with my family, as they are all vaccinated, nor do we do it at our Bible Studies. Still, though, we take care to continue to wear our masks just to avoid complications for either of us. My job has been great. The first project I was put on was a nightmare, and frequently caused long hours. I have been moved to a new project, one that has been moving a lot better. I’m very happy here and have no desire or intention of leaving. I see plenty of room for growth and opportunities here, that could last me through the end of my career, whenever that may be.

Leaving the fitness company, which at first glance seemed like a mistake, has become more clearly now. That first company allowed us to move back close to family. The second company, while short lived, allowed me to start building up some additional money in savings that took us through my five months without income during COVID. My current employer has allowed me to grow my skills even more along with my income. For the first time, we are almost completely debt free and my credit is back in a good state. We’re still paying old medical bills, but that should be paid off in about a year or less. We still deal with my wife’s medical issues in addition to my own, but we’re able to stay on top of it. For the first time, we are getting ahead, and that’s all thanks to the Lord and His provision.

This past Easter, we returned to church, after COVID had kept us away. We didn’t go back to Calvary Chapel Eastvale. Instead, we went to Crosspoint Christian Reformed Church. They have an area for those who choose to wear masks and seem to be a lot more caring and understanding of the bigger picture. Now, one month later, we are officially members of that church. We’re both happy here and feel like that’s where God wants us to be. It’s amazing to me and to others in the church, that I have, in a small way, been affiliated with that church since my youth. I went there to Vacation Bible School in grade school. I attended a Men’s Bible Study there in my early 20’s. My mother has been part of the Women’s Study since I was in grade school. The women’s group has been praying for Michelle and I for years. Now we are members of the church body that has been there for us, even when we didn’t realize it.

I don’t know what our future holds, but I do know Who holds our future. God has promised to give us a future and a hope, and He has shown that to be true in our lives countless times. Some might write this all off as coincidence, luck, or even my own perseverance. The fact that I barely graduated high school, have no college degree, and my wife has survived countless surgeries and cancer isn’t just luck, this is a testament to the power of God in our lives. There are still areas that Michelle and I struggle in our marriage and in our walks with Christ, but even despite those struggles, we continue to walk with Christ and trust in Him. The evidence is just too overwhelming to do otherwise.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21 NKJV

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