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How to Help When Hard Times Hit

My husband being laid off has made me aware of so many things that had honestly never crossed my mind before.

For one thing, it is not as easy as I had previously thought to "just go get a job". Yes, Walmart may have "Now hiring" sign, but that doesn't mean they will hire a 47 year old man with a college degree and 17 years of experience in the golf industry. (Overqualified much?)

Secondly, friends and strangers from far and near have helped us in so many ways that I wouldn't have considered doing for others before now.

Here are a few things that have been helpful and encouraging to us that you may be able to do to help someone in your church or your neighborhood.

(Please, know I am not hinting that I want MORE of these things. We have a full pantry and freezer, thanks to the generosity of friends and the provision of God. Use this information to do good for others who need it, if you feel led.)

  • Garden fresh produce - Friends have blessed us with fruits and vegetables from their gardens. We have been able to use those things for many delicious meals that we haven't had to spend money on. (Remember, our goal is to keep paying our mortgage as long as we can.)
  • Groceries - We have a pantry full of rice, beans, pasta, canned vegetables, and more, thanks to many of you.
  • Milk, diapers, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, etc.  - These are things we use every day.
  • Walmart gift cards - We have used these to buy essentials, like toilet paper and light bulbs. If you don't know what items a family needs, this is a perfect contribution.
  • Ice cream sandwiches and Sonic/Starbucks gift cards- Since we are only buying absolute necessities, these little luxuries are so refreshing. We would never buy these during this time, so it is a nice treat that someone provided them for us!
  • Money - A few folks have given us money, which we have used to pay the electric bill, pay the mortgage, fill our cars up with gas, etc.
  • Invitations to swim - We have gotten invitations to swim at friends' pools and even received some city pool passes in the mail from an anonymous sender. Taking a cool dip in the pool makes the hot summer days a little more tolerable.
  • Help wanted notices - It has been encouraging when people pass along word that they know of a job opening, or clip help wanted ads out of the newspaper. Even if the job doesn't work out, it feels good knowing folks are rooting for us and keeping their eyes open for opportunities.
  • Coupons - It's nice to have extra coupons to look through to try to get the best possible deal on necessities. Every little bit adds up!

It is very humbling to accept these things from people, to not be able to get them for ourselves. But the fact is that we need this help right now, so we are laying down our pride and gratefully taking what is offered.

I used to think that I might offend someone if I offered them financial help or groceries, that they might think I was somehow looking down on them. I now know that there are plenty of people who would be thankful to have the things I mentioned above.

If you know a family going through a layoff or other financial difficulty, don't be afraid to offer help. It may be just what they need to get them through.

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Surviving LOTS of Quality Time

Hey, this just in: When your husband is laid off, he'll be home a LOT.

Remember when you were newly married and you were on your honeymoon and were together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when you went to sleep at night, you couldn't wait to wake up so you could spend some more quality time together and just be together talking and dreaming of all the talking and togetherness you would be doing for the rest of your life together?


Well, this is not at all like that.

Oh, wait. You came here for brutal honesty, right? 'Kay. Just checkin. Carry on.

This togetherness is more of a learning that, no, I do not need help boiling water for the spaghetti, for him, and that there is a nice way and a not so nice way to communicate that no, I do not need help boiling water for the spaghetti, for me.

And re-learning that.

Every day.

Because I am a slow learner.

And because every day there is someone in my kitchen who used to be somewhere else. Doing important things. And now he wants to do important things where he is. In my kitchen.

Honestly, it's not that I don't want him here or that he doesn't want to be here, it's just that if we were really honest, we both wish that he had an important place to be other than the kitchen, making important decisions other than how to help get lunch ready.

But he doesn't.

This layoff thing is draining in more ways than I first imagined it would be.

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Lessons Learned During a Layoff

Even though it has only been a little over 7 weeks since my husband has been laid off, we have learned a few lessons.

I admit I would rather have learned these lessons by reading about them on someone else's blog instead of living them out myself, but live them out we have.

Lessons Learned During a Layoff:

  • Getting a job is easier said than done. My husband has applied, inquired, emailed, personally visited, and called many businesses with no results.


  • It takes money to make money. My husband finally got his commercial driver's license in the hopes that he will be available for a wider range of jobs. In order to get the license, he had to pay fees at the driver's license office, have up to date auto insurance, and pay a trucking company for some behind the wheel training.


  • A bargain is not a bargain if you can't afford it. I used to read over the sale fliers for Bealls or Payless Shoes or Target to see what bargains I might pick up for a steal. I might even find a BOGO! (Buy one, get one free) Now, I throw those right in the trash. It doesn't matter if something is a great deal at 50% off if you can't afford the 50%.


  • We used to spend an awful lot of money just ambling down the aisles at Walmart. Now that we are on severe saving mode, we go directly to the aisle of the item we need, and make a bee line for the check out. I can't believe how much money we keep in our pockets this way!


  • Our children pick up on the tension and fear we think we are hiding. Whining and bickering in children seems to be directly proportional to worry and stress in parents. It seems they know something is wrong, even though the adults try to keep it under wraps. We recently had a tearful family meeting wherein a certain Smockity repented of her bad attitude and lack of faith.


  • I am much better at giving than receiving. I love to give. Giving makes me feel generous and helpful and happy. Receiving, though I am thankful for the many blessings we have received, makes me feel needy and burdensome and not in control.


  • I like to be in control. One of the most challenging parts of this whole ordeal is that I have absolutely no control over what is happening. I may be a knucklehead, but I'm pretty sure God is trying to teach me something with this one.


  • Our friends are awesome. We have been hugged, checked up on, called, written, texted, visited, and emailed. Basically God has blessed our britches off with some stupendous people in our lives!

I'm certain there are more lessons in store while we wait to see what the future holds. Only time will tell what those may be.

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God Provides For His People

If you have been reading here the past few weeks, you know that we are in bare bones expenditure mode because of my husband's sudden, unexpected layoff.

Even though we are only spending money on absolute necessities, we still could not survive this layoff without the help of our friends, and even strangers.

Just when I start to think (again, because I am a slow learner) "Why is this happening?!" I am reminded afresh that God is being glorified and our faith strengthened in our trials.

When I went to our mailbox last week, I found an envelope with no sender's address. I was completely overwhelmed to open it and find a cashier's check that was an amount sufficient enough to pay our electric bill and fill up our vehicles with gas.

There was no clue as to the identity of the sender, except that the check was enclosed in a paper titled, "God Provides For His People". The entire page was filled with one scripture after another reminding us that God will supply all of our needs and we are not to worry about how that will happen.

That paper is well worn because I have looked at it again and again.

So I can remember.

And that is not the only gift or encouragement we have received. Every single day, I receive an encouraging email or card in the mail, or fresh garden produce, or baby wipes, or a box of diapers, or other necessities, and on and on it goes.

Every day I am reminded that God provides for His people.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

   3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." John 9

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How to Get a Job After Being Laid Off

I have no idea because it isn't happening for us yet.

A friend recently commented that it isn't really a matter of going out to get a job, it is a matter of someone offering a job.  I don't know if you've noticed, but you can't just walk into Walmart and start stocking shelves. There first has to be an agreement that, yes, you may work here.

And so far that agreement hasn't been made.

So we wait.

In the meantime, here are the things Mr. Smockity has done to increase his odds of being offered a job:

  • Applied at a nuclear power plant in our area
  • Applied at an energy plant in our area
  • Applied at Tractor Supply
  • Applied at Home Depot
  • Applied at a local parts manufacturer
  • Contacted the newspaper delivery office
  • Spread the word at church that he is willing to do any work
  • Gotten his commercial drivers permit
  • Practiced driving a commercial truck

We are figuring the commercial driver's license will make him more marketable if a job opens up that requires that.

He does have a degree in education, but teachers in our state are being laid off, due to cutbacks, so that leaves little hope there.

And so we wait.

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On Living Without Air Conditioning – How to Survive a Layoff {Guest Post}

I am thrilled to have Dana, from Roscommon Acres, as my guest today.

When Smockity mentioned leaving off the AC to save a little in response to her husband's recent job loss, I thought, Hey, I have a little experience there. Because, you see, this house came with a heat pump that lasted all of one month after we bought the place. My husband had always wanted a heat pump until that February when he found out just how much they cost. We also learned just how much heat a house can generate because despite outside temperatures in the 20s, we were able to keep the house above 55 by leaving on all the lights and baking a few extra muffins.

That was nice in February, but I was already thinking about July because we couldn't really afford to get it replaced. I mean, we could have taken a loan out, but we didn't want to go into debt over what is really just a luxury. That and this northern girl does not tolerate heat well unless it is the kind you put on a taco. But this year, we're considering doing without again. Believe it or not, we actually could afford to put in a central air system, but there are other things we are thinking might be a little more important.

That is to say, you get used to it. So for anyone looking into doing without the comforts of modern technology this summer (or who might like to make their AC work a little less), a few tips from the trenches on getting through the heat of summer without the air conditioner.

1) Don't cook.

You won't really want to anyway, but just don't even go there. Even while planning groceries, rethink any meal that requires the oven or the stove. That thing puts out the heat. Remember, I baked muffins at midnight to keep out the February chill through the rest of the night. If you have to use the stove, try limiting it to the evening.

2) Consider an electric roaster.

It is like a mini-oven, but it uses far less electricity, puts out far less heat, and you can set it on the patio to keep even that heat outside. The crock pot is good, too, especially if you are thinking lots of rice and bean dishes. Except you won't really want either, unless maybe as a base for tacos.

3) Think salads.

This is great when you have a large garden. After about a week in the 90s, it is all that really sounds good, anyway. Salads, fruits, cold sandwiches. The only thing hot I ever wanted was brats on the grill. And you can grill up a batch of chicken at the beginning of the week to sprinkle on salads and tuck in sandwiches all week long.

4) Rest during the heat of the day.

Around 11, we'd go around and check all the animal's water and retire to the house. I'd fill the bath with cool water for the kids to play in, we'd watch a show, I'd make sure they drank. And drank. And drank. At 3, we'd check the animals again and the children were allowed back out to play. That whole siesta thing works wonders.

5) Push fluids.

We made lots of refrigerator tea. (I love ice tea, but it requires the stove.) And aguas frescas. Oh, how I love aguas frescas. There's even enough fruit pulp in it that it makes a light afternoon snack.(That recipe calls for straining the pulp, but I never do. Also, you can substitute any fruit that can be pureed in a blender.)

6) When it gets really hot, take a trip to the library. The mall. The grocery store. A friend's. Anywhere with air conditioning.

The only problem with that is that by the time the heat drives you to air conditioning, you will find the rest of the civilized world uncomfortably cool. Consider bringing a sweater.

7) And don't forget the bath.

Did I mention I was pregnant through all of this? The bath was my escape from the heat. When you are done, you can use it to water the garden.

8) Take advantage of the heat and make some homemade yogurt, no machine or electricty required, and oh so refreshing as a smoothie in the afternoon!

9) Keep the lights off and the shades drawn, especially on the south side of the house.

10) Keep the fans going and make sure you have one in the window set to exhaust to help push the extra heat generated out of the house.

And above all, try to keep it something positive -- a challenge, an adventure, an experience -- something that keeps you in control rather than a victim of circumstance. Because believe me, nothing brings out the crankiness in everyone quite like the unrelenting summer heat.

Dana Hanley writes about life more abundantly, from the joy of a baby's smile to the almost unbearable grief of losing a son and seeking each day to find beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3) at Roscommon Acres.

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