Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's All About Love!

I am posting this story below from our church website (edited to protect anonymity). Will and I have long been members of the West class mentioned in the story and were honored to know and love this couple (and learn a little about God's love in the process). I love that they are willing to share their story and I know that God has great things in store for their family.

From "had it all" to "lost it all"—one couple's journey to freedom

Once upon a time, there was a lovely young couple who lived in sunny Florida and had “it all.” Homes, cars, boats, art, vacations—they enjoyed lots of leisure time, entertaining and all the trappings of success. Then the real estate crash of 2007 happened, and they lost “it all.”

That’s where their “Journey to Freedom” begins…

Even as the trappings were sold off or repossessed, Patrick and Beth still felt no freedom but it had already begun. They were mired in debt and possessed by regret. They grew apart and wondered if they’d lost even more than “it all.” There seemed to be nothing left.

“This is when the phone calls and the mail were filled with people looking for money we owed them,” Beth said. “We had our SUV repossessed and we could no longer pay for our own home. We were selling off all of our just keep afloat. Patrick began drinking daily and using sleeping pills to get him out of reality.”

In January 2009, Patrick, bankrupt and dejected, moved to Tennessee alone to start a new job and, hopefully, start over. Beth, his wife of nearly 10 years, stayed behind in Florida to manage the sales of their failed retail store’s inventory and the contents of the home they’d acquired during the market boom of the early 2000s.

Though the tasks each carried justified physical separation, both knew the arrangement was a thin veil over a marriage cracking at the foundation. In the process of losing material possessions, Patrick and Beth started losing each other as well.

“I relied on the gym and my girlfriends to avoid going home to face reality and avoid phone calls,” Beth said. “Patrick lost over twenty pounds during his depression.”

New to Tennessee, Patrick joined the local YMCA in effort to gain back some bulk and get healthy again. There, he saw a posted invitation to join a group called, “Journey to Freedom.”

“Had he known it was religious-based, he would’ve never gone,” Beth said. “After the first meeting, it became clear that it was a class strongly based on faith. He figured that it must be something he needed, so he continued to go. This introduction to God was no accident.”

Meanwhile—750 miles away in Florida—Beth met Christ for the first time and became a believer at the same time her husband did. Unknowingly, she and Patrick each began individual “journeys to freedom,” in perfect step, though on parallel paths that God clearly intended to converge once again.

The couple reunited in Tennessee and, renewed as man and wife, soon learned they were expecting.

“We started the search for a church,” Beth said. “Also important to Pat was to find a good group of guys to do general outdoors stuff with. We started going to different churches and knew we would know when we hit the right church. The first time at B. Baptist, we knew this was the one. We can’t explain it—we simply looked at each other and knew.”

Patrick soon connected with “Men in Action,” a men’s Bible study group filled with fellow outdoorsmen, led by Mike C.

So fledgling as Christians, Patrick and Beth asked Mike to meet them at the church bookstore one Sunday morning to help them buy a Bible. In all their years of purchasing so many things, this was one item they’d never bought before.

After the stop by the bookstore, Mike and his wife Darlene introduced Patrick and Beth to the West Sunday School class. This was another God-anointed fit for the Patick and Beth. They found true friends and a supportive community at every turn at B. Baptist—so vital in nurturing the root system of their newly professed faith.

Living in Tennessee made it tougher to financially do life. At one point, Patrick even delivered pizzas at night just to make enough. As a result, Beth’s mom offered Patrick, Beth, and their newborn son Gavin a chance to move to Wisconsin and live in her basement while they got back on their feet.

They decided it was their only option and left mid-January of this year to begin a new chapter of life.

“The West class at B. Baptist had a goodbye party for us, and…they raised over $2,500 for us,” Patrick said. “This was very hard for both of us. For one, we never thought, in a million years, we would be that needy family. Second, we had only known our friends in the West class for a short time.”

Before they left, Patrick began sending resumes out both here and in Wisconsin. He said, “After a long talk with God one evening, the next day I was offered several positions in the industry I was once in.”

Today, their journey continues in Madison, Wisconsin. They’re still in touch with their B. Baptist friends from the West class and “Men in Action,” though they’re now sharing their testimony with friends at their new church.

They’re also sharing that testimony every day as they raise Gavin. Patrick and Beth welcomed their new son into a family in which Christ is the center, having “it all” means nothing at all, and the Journey to Freedom is led by God’s hand.

“So you see—God really has been a part of our lives,” Beth said. “It simply took us losing everything to realize what’s important.”

1 comment:

emilyosburne said...

What an awesome story! Thank you for sharing their testimony - it's an amazing reminder that God is alive in the details of our lives.