March Madness

This is part of a series on our current situation with unemployment and March 2013 generally being kind of rough. To read the whole thing, check out March Madness 2013.

Here’s how March has gone so far:

3/5: I found out I didn’t get a job teaching at a local university. I was a “very very very close second,” but try taking that to the bank.

3/6: A winter storm brought down one of our pear trees.

3/8: Ran out of propane, woke up to a freezing cold house.

3/11: Silas had his first serious stomach bug.

3/12: JC was laid off from his job at Rosetta Stone, where he’s been for six years.

3/14: Check engine light on the car came on…sure hope that’s nothing expensive. (Ed: It is.)

3/14, cont: Silas has stomach bug.

3/15: Petra has stomach bug. šŸ™

3/16: I have stomach bug.

3/17: JC has stomach bug.

3/25: Our water well pump stops working (but is fixed in under 24 hours, thank you Jason!)

Most of these things would not be a big deal. The kids get sick and the car freaks out, and we’re all fine. But in the context of my near-miss and JC’s lay off, it’s all a bit much. Even those two events would not be a huge deal, without each other. When the check engine light came on as I was driving to campus last night, I kind of lost it. The confluence of all these events feels significant, although I know that’s a superstitious way of looking at it.

People keep telling me it will be okay, and I’m sure they are right. My sister wrote, “It will work out and years from now you’ll wonder why it seemed so scary at the time.  That’s the beauty of change, it becomes old hat soon enough.” I know this. I recently was re-reading some of my journals from 2005-06, the last really scary part of my life, and some of the things I was obsessing about are literally things I can’t remember now.

A friend recommended Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, which I happened to have around, and I’ve been re-reading it. In one place, Palmer describes how people who have reached their places of success are very rarely “willing to talk about the darkness; most of them pretend that success was all they had ever known.” He argues that we do each other a disservice by allowing ourselves to forget our times of struggle and fear. I had debated whether to express what we are going through in a public space like this, but I will, because it will help me to remember and to be a help to others.

At church on Sunday, the speaker began and ended his remarks with, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is on a hard journey.” I keep thinking of that. Our journey right now feels hard, but we are at least educated, with a decent emergency fund, a supportive community, and a sense of adventure. I cannot imagine how hard this would be for someone who did not have all those things.

In the next few days, I will be posting examinations of each of the facets of this hard time, from the agoraphobic realization that the whole world is open to us, to the love of friends that sustains us from one minute to the next.

The short version, though, is this. We oscillate between total freaked-out shut-down and an odd sense of liberation, of the first day of the rest of our lives. We are grateful for and blessed by the love our friends provide. We are trying to be faithful, to listen for God’s call in all of this. His voice isn’t particularly loud today, but his hands are everywhere.

I leave you with a thought from Kirsten, who came over with a homemade strawberry shortcake the night JC was laid off, and explained this impulse as follows: “Mennonite women: responding to injustice with butter since the 16th century!” It was a perfect Julia Kasdorf thought, and would make a good bumper sticker.

Well, we’ve got butter.


Aili Written by:


  1. Brittany Jackson
    March 15, 2013


  2. Christine Parker
    March 15, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your eloquent and moving thoughts. Believe it or not, it gives me hope in times that are likewise difficult for me.

    I’ve got butter. (((Hugs)))

  3. Andrea
    March 15, 2013

    Bless your heart. What a week! Thank you for these thoughts though. I’ve been struggling with overwhelm in my own issues (none exactly life changing like a forced change of professions), and this really brings a good perspective on things. I wish you and your family the best and I hope you find some good answers soon.

  4. March 15, 2013

    This is a gorgeous response to your circumstances just now. Yay, Kirsten, for responding so appropriately as well. I’m proud of you, and believe in you.

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