It’s a beautiful day. Blue skies, the sun’s out in full force, and there’s a slight breeze. I’m standing outside in the back of Jeanna and Kat’s neighborhood clubhouse. I’m staring at the clear, glistening water in the large lake and pacing back and forth on the roomy deck connected to the clubhouse.
I’m on the phone; talking to Teri Cole. She is a friend and my former executive assistant. She lives closer to where we used to live, next to the employment services I’m using, and in the area where Amy would want to live. Somehow the conversation arrives at a point where she informs me of their spacious house with a nice, furnished guest room and bathroom. Her husband, A.K. knows about me, but doesn’t know me. She offers to help in any way she can and mentions the idea of me possibly being able to stay with them in their guest room.
She just needs to talk to A.K. about it. I honestly don’t think it’s a realistic possibility. Looking at it from A.K.’s perspective, I’m some strange dude who just got out of jail and a drug treatment center. I have no job, my wife has a restraining order against me and there’s no telling how long I’m going to need a place to stay. To me, at the moment, it seems the minimum is many months.
Not a whole lot going for me.
Nevertheless, Terri says she’ll call me back as soon as they get a chance to discuss it.
A few hours pass. My phone rings, and it’s Terri. Not only does A.K. agree to let me stay, but neither of them want me to worry about paying them any money for room, board or food until I’m able to secure income. Even then, they just ask that I help some with food.
I talk it over with Jeanna and Kat. They think it’s a good idea, mainly because of the location. I’ve already grown comfortable and close to Jeanna and her family so it’s kind of sad. I talk it over with Bishop Lund and he also thinks it’s a no-brainer.
Next thing I know my bags are packed, I’m saying my goodbye’s and thank you’s to everyone, and I’m driving down the road headed toward my new “home.”
Words cannot describe how grateful AND how incredibly displaced I feel. It is a horrible experience to feel there is no place in the entire world where you belong anymore. I am still in a perpetual state of shock. I am not even close to having made any progress on processing what’s happening. It is so surreal I seriously wonder at times if I’m actually dead and caught between 2 realms.
Dead or alive I arrive. I walk up and knock on their front door. After a minute or so A.K. answers and welcomes me in. If I remember correctly, he has a football game playing live on their large flat screen T.V. in the living room. I smile to myself, thinking, “we’re already off to a great start.”
Terri escorts me back to my room and gives me a quick tour. Everything is meticulously clean and organized. I feel welcomed, cared for, and accepted.
I think I make it through this next phase mainly because of Terri’s incredible cooking, almost daily movie nights with her and A.K., and regular football, basketball or golf with A.K. to fill in the gaps. Terri often shares with me the thought that kept going through her mind as they were deciding what to do, “What would the Lord want you to do?”
A.K., on the other hand, gives me the same advice over and over again! “You just need to get your sh** together.” haha. So simple on one hand and such sage wisdom on the other!
I can feel momentum building in the right direction.
It’s about 12:00am. I can’t sleep. I sit up in bed, reach over, and flip on the lamp. I grab my journal. I write how my mind is continually telling, no yelling, at me to quit. That it’s already over. There’s no point in trying to fight for my marriage or family. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I write myself to sleep.
I wake up, shower, and head to my daily morning meeting with a group of around 12 executive level candidates who are all unemployed. It’s only the 2nd day. We’re going around the room and sharing our background and experiences with each other.
I finish my story. A gentleman across the table speaks up. He asks me if I know someone by the name of Reece Bawden or Dave Jarvis? I don’t. He tells me to write their names down. He then proceeds to give me Reece’s cell number and encourages me to give him a call. He informs me he’s in the real estate investing business and would be a good person to network with. I thank him for the referral and things move forward from there.
My first impression is this doesn’t seem like a very promising lead, but the least I can do is give it a shot. It’s just that for the first time in my life I am really, REALLY unsure of myself. I have no clue how to explain my recent past.
It takes me a day and a half to finally make the call. I dial his number. It rings once and I hear, “Hello, this is Reece Bawden.”
“Reece, Hi. My name is Jeremy Bowman and I was given your name by [John Smith]. I met him at the LDS unemployment center. I have an extensive background in real estate investing and he suggested that I call you…that you would be a good person to possibly network with. I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with me for a few minutes.”
Then, “I would be happy to meet with you. Are you available on Monday at noon (I think it was a Thursday I called.)
He proceeds to give me the address of a house they are currently remodeling and says to meet him there and we’ll sit down and talk.
The call ends.
“Well that went better than I was expecting,” I think to myself.
It’s Monday and time to leave. I’ve been practicing non-stop how to explain my situation.
Scott Sessions, the manager at the LDS employment center I attend has now become a trusted friend and advisor. I am always taken back by how easily he brushes off my current state of things. He reminds me incessantly, with his big confident smile, what I’ve accomplished in my life and that the past couple of years in no way defines me. In fact, if anything, he says, it demonstrates my resolve, heart, resiliency and character.
I ask him what the best counsel he can give me is. His answer to that question is always the same. “Be yourself. Just let who you are shine through and they’ll WANT to hire you.”
The ease and certainty with which he always says that convinces me he actually believes it.
All I can see is “damaged goods.”
Regardless, it’s on the way to my appointment that I finally resolve to just be open, honest, and transparent.
I arrive. No one is there. I wait until 12:20pm. I start my car figuring he forgot. Right then, my cell phone rings.
Jeremy, hi it’s Reece Bawden. I’m really sorry. Our meeting with our accountant ran long and I sincerely apologize. I’m a few minutes away.
Awesome. I’m here. Are you still able to meet?
Yes, and looking forward to it.
Great, thank you.
When Reece arrives, he’s with another gentleman. He introduces himself and then introduces me to his partner, Dave Jarvis.
Immediately, I feel at ease in their presence. I would soon find out that Reece is a stake president in our church and a very well loved and respected man. Dave is no different.
They lead me to the guest house. It’s nicely furnished. They invite me to sit down in the most comfortable chair available. Then, both of them take a seat, Reece to the left of me and Dave to the right. They turn their cell phones on silent. Both look at me as if to let me know that I have their complete undivided attention. I feel comfortable, like I’m in a safe place.
Reece speaks first.
How can we help you?
I’m a little taken back by how much I already feel their genuine care and concern for me.
I proceed. I start off with the hardest part. “About 5 months ago, I went to jail…”
I share my story with them in a very open and plain way, including the journey that has led me to my present status…homeless, and estranged from my family. The more I talk the more I feel and see in their eyes compassion. I finish leaving everything open ended.
There’s a semi-long pause. Reece looks at Dave, then back at me.
It may not come as a surprise to you that typically I’m a bit too open and reveal more about myself than necessary in these types of situations. At least that’s what people tell me. I figure I’ve probably blown their mind and scared them off at the same time.
Reece takes the lead again.
Jeremy, thank you for sharing your story with us. I think I can speak for Dave and myself in that we appreciate your openness, sincerity, and honesty. I think I have a pretty good feeling of the kind of person you are, and I also think WE would be interested in you working for US.
Before I can respond, Dave confirms Reece’s assessment and informs me he feels exactly as Reece does about me. They proceed to share some ideas of what they have in mind. Everything sounds right up my alley.
Reece then asks me how much I need to make to get my family back. It’s as if everything goes silent. It’s the most healing question I’ve been asked in a long time. I share with him there is no guarantee of it working out.
He acknowledges that he understands that without retracting the question.
I cringe as I present to him a range.
He says OK and conveys to me that they have someone they’d like to get some input from and afterward they would call me.
And that’s how the meeting ends.
I just can’t imagine them sharing my story with someone who hasn’t met me and that person feeling good about them hiring me. I don’t know how to feel. I wonder if I’ll ever hear from them again.
It’s about 9am the next morning. My phone rings.
Jeremy, this is Reece Bawden. Can you meet with me, Dave, and one other person today at noon?
Great. We’d like to talk to you about an offer.
I don’t know what to write at this point. My first instinct is to call Amy since that’s what I usually do in situations like this. I then remember I can’t. So, I call Bishop Lund. I know he’ll answer. During the conversation, he tells me something I will never forget. He says,
“Jeremy, you have no idea what a joy it is for me to sit back and just watch you work miracles.”
As much effort as I’m putting forth, I can’t help but recognize how similar my feelings are to his. I feel like a bystander, someone sitting back, detached from my situation, and just watching miracles unfold right before my eyes.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We still haven’t had the meeting and nothing is in stone.
It’s noon. I arrive at the predetermined location and walk in. Reece, Dave and another gentleman are seated around a round table. I’m introduced to Michael Ludlow for the first time. I’m about to learn that he REALLY has a gift of filleting someone quickly with sharp, cutting questions. He’s a bit more suspicious and skeptical, mainly of why I would want to work for them when I’ve already proven I can do it myself.
About an hour later somehow I have in my hands a signed contract to work for both Reece and Dave’s investing company as well as Michael Ludlow’s. My pay? Suffice it to say that I’m guaranteed enough to immediately provide for my entire family. They offer me the highest number in the range I gave them, plus a generous amount on top of that to cover the cost of health insurance for my family.
If that isn’t enough, as I’m getting up to leave, Reece proposes one last thing. That they cut me a check for $3500 on the spot to ensure I stop looking for employment elsewhere. After some discussion amongst themselves, everyone agrees. Michael Ludlow cuts me the check.
I walk out, get into my car, and begin my drive back to Terri and A.K.’s house.
It NEVER ceases to amaze me what God can cause to happen if we never quit on him. How he can somehow orchestrate and organize all these random moving parts and people to come together and align themselves at the precise time and in the exact manner that produces the outcome He wants, when He wants it, well, it just proves he’s pretty capable of doing ANYTHING.
Yes, it requires sustained faith in him, even in the face of unrelenting pressure to give up and especially when all external evidence and many times people are screaming at you that you’re a fool. Yes it requires His grace, most of the time given to us through the strength of others, to even be able to keep the faith. But after faith, after the fiery trial of it, and in ways impossible to have ever foreseen, the miracle ALWAYS comes…ALWAYS. And thank goodness it doesn’t come according to my will, my way or my timing. His is always so much better. His is ALWAYS worth waiting for.
For now, in one moment, one meeting, the unrelenting voices in my head preaching to me how stupid I am for continuing to fight and believe are silenced and proven wrong again. They’re always wrong.
Oh, they’ll be back. But for now, of course, I call Bishop Lund…and we just marvel together as we both understand that God is fighting for me and our family. I realize as long as I continue to yoke myself to Him, it’s not me that will be proven, it’s Him.
What are the odds? On my own, no chance. With God, the outcome is certain. Everything ultimately will give me experience and will work together for my good and advantage.
This is only a small taste of what’s to come. The unforeseen blessings are far from over. Neither are the crushing and painful set backs.
There’s a price I suppose one has to pay to obtain anything worth while in this life or the next. Somewhere in the midst of my collective life experiences I must have paid whatever price required to obtain the certain knowledge that…
With God NOTHING is impossible! NOTHING.
Because at some point I become aware that all doubt had been removed in me about this one fundamental, absolute truth.
Next step? Get Amy money as fast as I can. An awesome surprise is also right around the corner.