Leaving Railroad Life Behind {Finding Gratitude in 2020}

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The holidays have always been a joyful part of the year for me. I love celebrating with family and friends and getting to eat the best home cooked meals of the year with the people I love most. This year has been full of challenges for much of the population, but our family has been particularly grateful for changes in our own household. 

Our Old Life

It was just over a year ago when my husband, Zac, took a giant leap of faith to start a new career. He had been a railroad conductor/engineer for the whole time I had known him and it weighed heavily on our family in many ways. Zac was gone more than 100 hours a week and was almost always gone on the weekends. He had no set schedule and essentially was on call 24/7. Trying to make plans was almost impossible because guessing when he would be home or gone was just that, a complete guess. 

After six and a half years of this, and with two small children, we were both so drained of that lifestyle. We wanted and needed more of each other. We both started praying for a change that would allow him to be home nights and weekends for our family. Initially when I started praying I gave us a timeline of a year. I prayed that change would happen within that time and we would not have to wait longer than that. I had never prayed that intentionally for something, and I have always known to trust God’s timeline, but I needed some type of goal to shoot for since I felt so incredibly burdened by our lifestyle. 

Searching for Change

My husband worked extremely hard, both at his position at the railroad and in his job search. He applied for hundreds of jobs and we were only a couple of months into searching when he received a glimmer of hope. We were assigned a family deacon at our church that we joined a few months earlier. He was very friendly and though we could not set up a time to meet due to my husband’s schedule, he was genuinely interested in getting to know us more. After seeing us at church on a rare Sunday when Zac was home, he talked to us about what we were walking through and made it a priority of his to help us. He helped him get an interview where he worked, and less than a couple of weeks later my husband had accepted a new job at this company in a different industry.

We were elated knowing he would have only a couple of weeks left to work out his notice and start his new job. I can remember vividly the excitement of that day as it was also the day before we left to go to Walt Disney World for the first time as a family. It was a wonderful way to celebrate such a huge life transition and to remember God’s faithfulness in the process!

              My family at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World My family at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World

Newfound Gratitude

We recently celebrated my husband’s one-year anniversary with his company. The change in the quality of life for us has been almost indescribable. For months after the switch we noticed random, unexpected ways in which our lives were enriched by him being home every night, weekend, and holiday. Apart from actually meeting my husband, and the birth of our children, it was the biggest gift from God I had experienced. Even after a year of working and having this new schedule, we were still so thankful for all the big and little moments he has been able to be home for in our lives. There are no amount of “thank yous” that seem adequate for our family deacon and my husband’s boss who both took a chance on him to make this dream a reality for us. 

We have been able to experience gratitude like never before and I pray we never forget what things were like, so we never let go of the gratitude we have felt over this past year.  I am thankful for our past experience because it has led us to a greater appreciation of family time, holiday gatherings, and memory making which are truly priceless.

My family at the pumpkin patch

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Martin was born and raised in the Tuscaloosa area. She obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Alabama and moved to Birmingham to work in the financial industry shortly thereafter. She met her husband, Zac, while at a church small group and they both knew quickly that they had found their person. They got engaged after less than a month of dating, and they were married six months later. After having their son, Martin decided to stay at home, as her husband traveled a great deal for his job. Martin and her family made the move to Zac’s hometown, Chelsea, a few years ago and have settled into the area and now call it home. They added to their family by welcoming a little girl. Both children, now ages 5 and 2, are full of life and keep Martin on her toes. Martin and her family are active members of their local community church and they love participating and volunteering in various groups within the church. In her free time, Martin enjoys attending concerts and doing outdoor activities with her family.