Three years ago Mark Lawson might as well have been standing on top of the world.


Coming off a successful Hesperia Chamber of Commerce presidency, the affable man with a gray, walrus mustache was reaping the fruit of success. A real estate agent for an Oak Hills realty company, home prices were shooting skyward - and people were buying, many with a sense of urgency.


"'03, '04 and '05 were killer years for me," Lawson said recently while sipping a fresh cup coffee at Blastoff Coffee House in the High Desert Primary Care Center.


But what goes up must come down, and in 2006 the real estate market began to sink lower, lower - and lower. While some in the real estate business were squirreling away a portion of their income for a rainy day, Lawson had been enjoying the money that came with success, and then some.


"Unfortunately, I didn't take my own advice," he said. "When I was making low six figures I was spending in the mid-six figures."


When real estate was slowing down he bought into XanGo, a multi-level market company that promotes a health drink supplement consisting of mangosteen and other ingredients. Lawson's new venture began to grow but not enough to offset the losses of his real estate business.


But Lawson, who is in his 50s, wasn't too worried. After all, he had a college degree from prestigious Pepperdine University.


"When the real estate market was tanking, I knew I had a college degree."


So he began sending out resumes. One after one they were sent out, mostly to companies via e-mail.


"I sent out 325 resumes."


Conventional marketing wisdom might suggest that about 10 percent, or over 30, of companies Lawson contacted might respond. But he had no such luck.


"I had a total of three telephone interviews," he said.


One day he was visiting business friends Steve and Gretchen Custer, who own a FISH Window Cleaning franchise.


"You know, we're looking for an outside sales person," the Custer's said.


With the real estate market falling into a deep sleep, Lawson began cobbling together a living with XanGo and FISH. Unfortunately, however, with people clinging tightly to their pocketbooks, Lawson didn't get as many window cleaning nibbles as he'd hoped. Adding to the Lawsons' challenges, the bookkeeping business of Lawson's wife wasn't flourishing as it had in the past. Like thousands of others in the Victor Valley, the likable Lawsons were hurting.


"I was thinking things are going to pick up. Things are going to pick up. But they didn't."


But Lawson didn't want to have anything to do with an understandably typical response.


"We've got choices," he said. "We can say, 'Woe is me.' We can say we were dumped on by the evil economy, or we can say life happens and go forward."


Several years ago, the family of Lawson's daughter moved to New Hampshire. The Lawson's employment and Chamber responsibilities and sheer distance kept them apart. But the High Desert region's economic decline prompted the Lawsons to consider new options. They decided it was time to move east. But without any funds, how would they move and set up a household 3,000 miles away?


A self-described "man of faith," Lawson began to look upward, toward a spiritual solution.


"We prayed, 'Lord, you're going to have to pave the way so we can moved,' and He did."


Out of the blue, they were contacted by the state controller's office that said the Lawsons were owed for "unclaimed property."


"So I called them."


It turns out we had $7,400 from an a retirement plan they thought they had already emptied.


"That basically paid for our move."


But that wasn't all. The Lawsons held a successful yard sale and sold other items. Then several people who owed money to the couple paid off their debts.


Last week, the Lawsons loaded up a moving truck and went east, to Somersworth, a picturesque city established in the early 1700s.


"I'm extremely interested in the foundational elements of the country," Lawson said before the move. "There's just a tremendous amount of things that happened during the inception of our country there."


The Lawsons home will be about less than a mile away from Bow Lake and five miles away from the Barrington home of their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, who they haven't seen in several years.


"They want to go fishing, and one grandson wants to raise sheep. So we'll be able to do that."


Not only has Lawson worked through the doubt and worry, he is greeting the new hopes and opportunities with excitement and open-mindedness.


"The employment possibilities seem good. The family's there. There's no reason to be bitter. It's kind of exciting. We're all set."


In fact, the time in the desert was testament to the importance of trusting that everything will work out.


"The Lord provided things we didn't expect," he said.