Mar 5, 2012

The Times They are a Changin'

By Tracy Astle

For a large majority of the thirty years I've been married my husband has been self-employed. Self-employment is not for the faint of heart, but owning his own construction company is one of two things my husband has dreamed of doing since he was little.

It's been more of a financial roller coaster than most people care to stomach and through the years there have been many times when we were ready to call it quits. Getting a job working for someone else and letting them deal with all the details and stress of running the business sounded so much easier. The allure of simply going to work, doing the job and collecting a paycheck was very strong. He even applied for several jobs throughout the years, but even though he was well qualified for them, he was never hired.

For so many years we couldn't understand why. Why was this righteous desire of supporting the family with so many fewer hours and so much less stress not being granted?

In this area of our lives this has been our big "WHY?"

In order for our stories to be compelling, our characters must have a big "WHY?" What is that for them?

Recently, my husband and I have begun to understand at least part of the answer. As we all know, in the last few years the economy has been tough on pretty much every industry, with the housing and construction industries high on the list of most impacted. It's why after being blessed to be able to stay home with our children and work for our business from there, I've had to go to work for someone else three years ago just as my youngest child started high school.

But as I've watched so many people I know lose their jobs, many of our ANWA sisters included, I learned this: my husband still has his job. As long as he's willing to work no'one can let him go. He may have to work even harder than he has before to get those contracts signed, but he'll always have his job. Since we have always sought God's will in our lives, if God had intended a different path for us, we would have been on it.

Our stories have to have this moment, too. The "AHA" of understanding. Ususally there are many smaller "ahas" that lead to the big one at the end. The circumstances in which we place our characters and the choices they make because of their circumstances and experiences are what drives them toward their "AHA."

I'm probably not saying anything we don't all know. So why am I saying it? I would like to invite us all to take the time to look at some of our own experiences, examine them, recall the feelings and situations that moved us forward to our own aha moments. When we do we can make our characters so much richer, so much more relatable. Because no matter what the circumstance, whether our main character is struggling with not fitting in and has to end up in Japan becoming a famous sumo wrestler, or has to find out there's a person on her flight who looks almost exactly like her but leads a very different life from her, in order to come to their "AHA,"  so many of the feelings are still the same as the ones we have in our much more mundane lives.


  1. When I was thirteen my dad was "let go" from his accounting job because (he was told) he didn't have his degree. He'd been an accountant for the past twenty years, and had worked happily for that particular company for several years. In the past, he'd had to quit jobs because of their lack of honesty--when the bosses wanted him to fiddle with the books, and he refused to do so. But when he thought he found the perfect place for him, a place where integrity mattered, his lack of formal education bit him in the rear-end.

    Instead of trying to find another job with a company who might turn out to be as dishonest as several other's in his past work history, my dad did a courageous thing: he went to college while supporting four children, 15, 13, 11, 9, and a wife sick with cancer while starting his own bookkeeping business.

    Looking back on it now (I've breached that 50-year mark) I can tell you without hesitation, those 5 years it took my dad to graduate with his bachelor's degree were the happiest of my childhood. My dad's contentment not working for another disagreeable boss (for he was the boss) carried over at home.

    It may have taken me quite a few years to have my "AHA" moment, but when I did, the tears came. My dad may not know it, but he has been the emotional blueprint for many scenes in my stories--good and bad. God's path for our family had been a winding one, for sure. I've learned so many lessons from it.

  2. I love this!

    I am in the area of making a living at a start-up business and keep thinking O should go back to a paycheck job. Yet, the pull to be home when my kids get off the bus is stronger than the money.

  3. Gotta love those moments of clear understanding and gratitude! Thanks for the great post! hugs~

  4. I hope I can look back on my getting laid off and see it as an AHA moment. Right now, I struggle between anger and fear.


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