Some anniversaries aren’t fun to remember

This past weekend we remembered an anniversary. It’s hard to say we “celebrated” because that certainly wasn’t the tone, but we definitely remembered. Some anniversaries are, after all, hard to enjoy.

The moment in recall was the day I lost my job, January 16th, 2015, and the day our family began a year like none other we’ve experienced. In the 12 months since the afternoon I took my last walk from the office to my house, we’ve experienced the life of faith like never before. Traci and I have felt the love of friends and family like at no other time in our marriage, and we’ve felt some of the highest highs and lowest lows. It has been a wild journey.

The first seven months after that departure were filled with many couch-surfing adventures (with our family of five!), thousands and thousands of miles on the road (two trips to the West Coast and back) and many tearful nights and tension filled days. We had to make tough never-been-here-before decisions, and trust in God’s hand to take care of us. We made some great memories along the way, including the time we spent on road visiting friends and family.


Lots of miles on the road in 2015, including 11,000 over six weeks of Summer.

I remember vividly, the August 5th morning that we were returning from our six week, 11,000 mile road trip to the West Coast. We were still uncertain about the details of the future, but confident that God wanted us to stay in Michigan. We were driving in from a couple night’s rest in Galena, Illinois, and we literally didn’t know where we were going to stay that night (or any night thereafter!).

Some dear friends texted with my wife asking about our living situation, and they assured us that their home would always be available to us, and for the next two nights we would rest in their hospitality. As Traci and I fell asleep in their camper (not even joking when I tell you that it was the absolute best night of sleep I had experienced in months!), I became profoundly aware of how much God had taken care of us. How much He had provided for us along the way.

By that night in August, I had lost track of the number of different beds we had fallen asleep in (well over 30!), and the number of times financial gifts came in to bless us at “just the right moment” of need. Two trips to the West Coast had gone off without a hitch, literally, without a single problem from our 280,000-mile-old vehicle. Hundreds and hundreds of emails, FB messages and posts, texts and phone calls had come our way from people who just wanted to encourage us along the journey. Truly, in the midst of being homeless and jobless, I had never had a more profound sense of God’s work in my life.

So this weekend, on the one year anniversary of watching God change things up as only He can do, I remember, somberly, that His ways are not mine. I remember that He holds the future in His hands — He already knows tomorrow better than I know yesterday! While I was experiencing (perceived) injustice, hurt, uncertainty and far more questions than answers, God already knew where the path was leading, and He was directing me — the whole family! — with the patience, grace and mercy of a loving father.

Ultimately, the goal of living the Overboard Life is that, through an active faith in God and His work in our lives, we are becoming more and more like His Son. That transformation is worth all the uncertainty, hardship and challenge that God directs our way and that this world throws at us. I am praying that 2016 is vastly different than the year we just put behind us, but even more, I am praying that the seeds of change God planted in our hearts and minds last January, take full root and began to blossom and produce fruit in this year.

When I think of the past year with that perspective, I have no choice but to celebrate this anniversary.

What about you? Do you have a painful anniversary that you need to see in a different light? It’s not easy, but it is freeing. After all, since becoming like Jesus is the goal, we must learn to embrace the process that gets us there.

Go ahead and take the plunge, life — even your painful past — is better on the water!

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7 Responses to Some anniversaries aren’t fun to remember

  1. Andy Hartfield says:

    Hey Joe,

    Again, I’m sorry for the hurt…and grateful for your perspective.

    As I read your email a couple of things jumped out at me:

    (1) The picture. When I first saw the image I thought it was pretty powerful. You’re driving away, but looking back. You have to look back. It’s part of driving (and living).

    (2) Then I noticed the warning on the bottom of the mirror, “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” It’s been a year, but any number of those “objects” can be brought up and relived like they just happened today. As you continue to process and re-live moments, I hope you find more and more healing into 2016.

    I came across this quote yesterday, and it ministered to my soul. I don’t know much about the author, but her words reminded me that in order to find healing I need to actively avoid “unsafe” places and push toward community that accepts me and encourages me to be who God created me to be. I hope it resonates in your soul:

    “There are some people you meet and within a very short period you realize that they will never see your light. You start to recognize how being around them makes you question your own radiance. You dim in their presence not because they are so brilliant or luminous. They rarely are. But because you have said yes to a space that is full of shadows and that does not know how to let in light. Then you begin to believe you are not enough light. To save yourself you have to run from such spaces. You have to believe that there is nothing at all in such spaces that is worth the dimming of your own light or worth falling for the lie that you are not radiant. If you don’t leave, you will adjust to the shadows and you will forget what it means to radiate like the sun. And that will be a kind of death for you.” -Enuma Okoro

    Happy Milking Day friend. I’ll raise a pint in your honor today!



    • joeacast says:

      I wish I had put that much thought into the picture, that was such a cool reflection. THANK YOU for your words, and for your friendship throughout this whole journey — you have shown me much in how you traveled this road before me!

  2. Kendra says:

    Love the beautiful reflection on a painful past. Love the beauty God has and continues to create through this hurt:) thx for sharing

  3. Joe, I had heard that you had lost your job. Just recently, the Lord brought you to mind and I wondered where you were and what you were doing. What wonderful grace fills your words about this past year. About five years ago I cam home to tell my wife that I had just lost my job. It hurt, but the Lord provided for our every need as those who let me go were also so very kind to us. We have been doing a rescue work for these last five years, endeavoring to restore this church to an active and effective ministry. Retirement is set for two years from now, which we hope will merely be a retreading into doing pulpit supply and interim pastoral work helping churches find just the right man to lead them on to new things.,,Love to hear from you. You are such a bright spot in our lives and the lives of our boys, who today are walking with the Lord.

  4. Vermilyea, Tim says:

    Thanks, Joe and Traci!! How amazing the way God uses the “bad” to accomplish His “good”! I am going to attach my notes from a devotional that I shared with our ABWE leadership team last Thursday. Some of it may be a bit choppy as I had the notes for ME! 🙂 But I love the poem “The Weaving”… the blog “Lord, make it count”… and the story behind Laura Story’s song, “Blessings”.

    Trusting God for your 2016… your updates are always a good prayer nudge!!

    On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 12:06 PM, The Overboard life wrote:

    > joeacast posted: “This past weekend we remembered an anniversary. It’s > hard to say we “celebrated” because that certainly wasn’t the tone, but we > definitely remembered. Some anniversaries are, after all, hard to enjoy. > The moment in recall was the day I lost my job, Janua” >

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