Another series of incidents led us to another priority purge—our eighth baby died in utero during an intra-uterine blood transfusion performed to try to save her life. In 1999, we had seven children, ages fifteen down to one. Ray's job as a plant manager in an automotive plant was becoming more and more unbearable as he worked sixty to seventy hours a week to keep everything running smoothly. Joshua and Kayla were fifteen and twelve years old and our simple, tidy schedule of Ray teaching the kids before work, doing devotions during a late night dinner, then spending little spurts of time with each child before bed was unraveling. It had worked okay for the previous fifteen years because I stayed home most of the time and picked up the slack--and the children were younger and were not as high need emotionally and spiritually. The few minutes before bed with Dad had been sufficient. Our Sundays together, and anytime we had at all, had been maximized and adequate.
However, we began to realize the needs of teens were drastically different than the needs of ten year olds and babies. They required much more time and energy in order to raise them the way we felt that God wanted us to. Basically, we wanted out of our demanding lifestyle, but felt helpless to do so with a high mortgage and comfortable lifestyle. How could Ray change jobs and take a forty percent (or more) pay cut with the bills and lifestyle we had acquired?
So we put it on the back burner--until the weekend our unborn baby died and my life was in jeopardy (from a ruptured uterus). When that weekend was over, everything looked different. We came out of that whole ordeal with even stronger, more narrowed priorities--God and family were all that mattered.
Ray left that job and took a “normal” job in a non-automotive plant. We sold or gave away half of everything we owned, moved to a little, old country house, and had a new life. Ray went from working a minimum of sixty (but often up to eighty) hours a week to working a normal forty hour a week job.
We had hours and hours each week to devote to our new priorities--reaching and keeping the hearts of our teens. We didn't have much money. We didn't have many things. But we had the greatest commodity of all: time.
Again, an outside influence took us through a priority purge that we could either recognize and utilize for our family's benefit or not. Nothing happens by accident. Watch for and learn from the priority purges God brings into your life.