Over the course of my life, I’ve come to learn and understand, through many experiences, that life is often unpredictable. While we may plan out every aspect – from kids to career to where we’ll live – often times, we actually aren’t in control of how things pan out. While we hope and pray for the best, sometimes, pain, loss and disappointment are unavoidable. We don’t plan to have a sick child, we don’t prepare for an abrupt end to a career, we don’t expect the loss of a house in a fire or flood…but these things happen, to people all around the world, every single day.
And it happened, yet again, to us.
Unexpectedly, out of the blue, when we were least expecting it.
Just over one month ago, Chris went to work on a regular Wednesday morning, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, and by the end of the day, he returned home, jobless. It was so unexpected that just that morning before he went to work, we had been talking and planning on taking our family to a dear friends wedding in Dominican Republic to celebrate with them this summer. We were working out how many holidays he still had left, I was checking the airlines to price out five tickets from Toronto to DR and I had even contacted some other friends we had living in the Dominican to see if we could spend some time with them as well.
But everything changed that day and once again, our lives were thrown into uncertainty.
Not by our choice, but by someone else’s.
Unfortunately for us, this is a road that’s become all too familiar over the last six years. First for me when we were living in Sudbury, then again for Chris just over two years after moving our family to Toronto for a job and now again.
Because we have become familiar with this road of rejection, we were somewhat unfazed by it all. You know the feeling when you’ve been punched one too many times, the next set of punches don’t seem to hurt as much.
The truth of the matter is, while it still took us both by surprise, it wasn’t a huge shock to either of us. We knew that his place of employment had been struggling financially as budgets were being cut and shifted in order to ease the financial burden. But there was never a talk about staff restructuring, at least not to Chris’ knowledge.
But years ago, a previous employer had once said to us after we resigned from a place that we loved, “Looking back on the last six months, you will see that God was slowly pulling the tent pegs on your time here. Even though it took you by surprise, He was preparing your hearts for this move.”
And to be honest, that’s exactly how we would describe the last six to twelve months of our lives. There had been a growing unrest in both of us with how things were not only at his job, but in our family life. If I’m being totally truthful, our marriage took quite the hit these last twelve months, to the point where we had to seek counselling to help us navigate the way stress, anxiety and depression, from all sources, were affecting us.
I was having increasing panic attacks and struggling to maintain composure both publicly and privately. Chris was struggling with a growing restlessness in both his job and his personal life, feeling unfulfilled and quite frankly, burnt out.
Everyday was starting to feel like a struggle.
If you look back on this blog, you can likely even tell. I had stopped sharing a lot of personal stuff and was only really blogging when I had sponsored campaigns or a home makeover to share. We got really good at compartmentalizing our lives…and that wasn’t a good thing.
We were both struggling yet we didn’t really realize the source of that struggle.
While the last four weeks have completely thrown our lives into uncertainty, they’ve also brought a sense of peace, relief and calm back into it. Let me explain.
When Chris and I first met at Bible College almost 18 years ago, we hit it off immediately as friends. We spent those first few weeks hanging out every single day, going to the movies, going cliff jumping and just generally enjoying each other’s company.
It wasn’t until one night, when we were talking alone in the dormitory hallway, where we both shared our dreams and passion for life, that things shifted for both of us. We had talked about the plans we felt God had for both of our lives and the callings we felt. We talked about our desires for helping people, both locally and abroad. We talked about our desire to see people transformed through the grace of an all-loving God.
And that night, we both walked away thinking something differently towards each other. It was the conversation that changed the trajectory of our friendship – we saw each other in a completely different light and started to consider that perhaps, we could be life partners.
Conversations turned rather serious very quickly and before long, we were officially a couple. That was almost 18 years ago.
Four years later, we were married and started our life together in a small church, in the southernmost part of Canada – together. And for the next nine years, we would continue to work on various church staffs TOGETHER, living out that dream and life calling that had initially brought us together.
But for the last six years, due to various circumstances, we haven’t worked together. I started having babies – three in four years to be exact – and that became my full-time job. After I was let go in Sudbury from my job, I decided to stay home and focus on motherhood. That was all great until I fell into deep postpartum depression, which I’ve shared about before.
After seeking help with that, and realizing we could barely make ends meet on one (small) salary, I knew I needed an outlet that could connect me to other moms and hopefully bring in some income.
That’s when Amidst the Chaos was born.
This blog has grown SO much in the last four and a half years – more so than I could have EVER imagined. I’ve been featured in magazines, I’ve gone on television, I’ve had brands fly me all over the world and I’ve gotten to a point where there is enough work and income to justify hiring someone.
In fact, I had interviewed a couple of people just this winter to start the process of building a team for ATC.
And while we had officially brought Chris on last year to be part of the brand, he still very much had a full time job and was working hard trying to manage both. He would work his 9-5, come home, usually cook dinner (because let’s just be honest, he’s WAY better at it than me), we’d put the kids to bed and then it was hours of editing videos and helping with renovations which would often times extend into the wee hours of the morning, meaning very little sleep and getting up the next morning to start the process all over again.
It was growing tiresome.
In fact, Chris had floated the idea early on in 2019 that he come and work full time for Amidst the Chaos, to which I said “NO WAY!!! You need the stable income and benefits!”
But like our previous boss had once said – the tent pegs were starting to be pulled up and we didn’t even realize it was happening.
Through therapy over the last few months, one of the biggest issues we’ve realized that’s come between Chris and I is lack of working together. That was literally how our relationship started – the idea of being PARTNERS together and something we were fortunate enough to do for almost 10 years together.
While it’s been amazing to see the blog grow, and while Chris has played a support role behind the scenes, we weren’t really doing it together. He had his focus on his work and I was focused on mine.
So with all that said, it’s both an exciting and somewhat scary time as we now will be bringing on Chris full time with Amidst the Chaos! We are finally back working, full-time, TOGETHER.
We are taking some time off of traditional church ministry to heal. We’ve found an amazing community where we feel we can be a part of – where they accept our family just as we are and where we can grown again. We aren’t closing the door entirely on church ministry, but we are taking a break after six crazy years of a lot of heartbreak and loss and close to 15 years of doing it full time.
We know that life is full of uncertainties and that often times, we aren’t in control of what comes our way. People lose their jobs everyday, so Chris is no exception to that. But now looking back on the last number of years, we can clearly see God’s hand, writing a crazy story and setting us up for THIS VERY MOMENT. He knew what was coming…this wasn’t a surprise to him. And he was slowly preparing our hearts for this change.
And so while there’s still lots of uncertainty ahead, including a time of healing that needs to happen, there’s also a lot of excitement too. We get to be partners in crime again. We’ve talked more over the last four weeks than we honestly have in the last twelve months. We’ve been forced to hash things out more quickly than ever before. We’ve had to realize once again that we ARE actually on the SAME team, not against each other.
It’s weird how loss and rejection works. Often times we think that it’s moments of great success and victories that shape us, but I’ve come to discover it’s actually the exact opposite. It’s moments of great sorrow, uncertainty, disappointment, failure, heartbreak and rejection that have the potential to shape who you are the most. If you allow it, those hard times can be some of the most defining times of your life. It’s all in how you face it.
So while this new reality will take us a few months to process, there’s also a new story to be written for us as a couple and for our family that we are really excited about. I’m sure there will be more twists and turns along the way, in fact I’m almost certain there will be. But if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last six years, it’s that God’s hand has never left us. He’s been guiding us and writing a story unique to us that we could have never imagined on our own.
And so, we’re buckling up and holding on for the ride.
Thank you for journeying with us. We couldn’t have this platform if it weren’t for you guys! We love you all so much!
Love & Blessings,
Christine and Chris