Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Journey Through God's Faithfulness

Do you have an area in your life where you've seen God faithfully provide time after time? An area where you are confident that he will always meet your needs? I have one of those areas that I want to share with you. That area is employment.

It seems kind of funny that I have full confidence in God's ability to provide me with a job as I've spent the past five years as a SAHM. Though, truthfully, being at home is the job I wanted when I became a parent and I haven't had to find additional employment, so I can confidently say that he is still providing what is needed for me and my family through my husband's job.
My sweet kiddos
My very first job I worked at a berry farm for a week one summer while visiting my relatives. Two cousins and I spent Monday-Friday picking raspberries and blueberries. We were paid by the amount of berries we picked. It was an interesting job. I was probably late elementary, maybe middle school. I made about $50 for my efforts and was ecstatic. It was the most money I'd seen to date.

The summer after eighth grade my mom helped me get hired on at the Bed and Breakfast she worked. I worked several days per week cleaning rooms, basically whenever they needed me. I continued to work there during the school year on weekends and then in the summers again all throughout high school. I actually enjoyed the work because it was fairly solitary and routine. My best friend was hired on at some point so some days we cleaned rooms together which was also fun. It was a very positive first long-term job experience.

I was fortunate enough to earn a full-ride scholarship in college so I didn't have to work to pay bills or tuition. Toward the end of my junior year of college I was interested in finding an internship of some sort for the summer. I was interested in ministry but didn't have a definite direction. The pastor from my high school church offered me a part-time position to come work for him in the church during the summer and I gladly accepted.
Mission Trip (I'm in the gray sweatshirt on the left)
Since it was my old home town I knew a lot of people there. My best friend's mom offered to let me live at their house for the summer (my parents had moved away) so I was blessed with free housing. She worked at the court house and said that they needed someone to work there part-time during the summer while one of the staff was out and asked if I was interested. That summer I ended up working two part-time jobs in the same city. I spent my mornings at church and my afternoons at the court house. I learned a lot from both roles and know that it was God's provision for the timing and opportunities.
Mrs. P, my second mom
I graduated from college in December and was debating whether or not to apply to graduate school. The idea of having a student loan terrified me but I thought I needed a master's to be able to do any relevant work with my Bachelor's in Psychology. Most programs didn't start until the fall so I thought it would be beneficial to find a job while preparing grad school applications and figuring out exactly what I wanted to do.

I started applying for some church ministry positions in January. I applied for a youth pastor position at a local church. (I have no idea why I thought that would be a good fit for me - probably because I enjoyed working with the other young women in my church ministry and had been a chaperone on three or four youth mission trips with my old church.) I was called for an interview and decided I should start visiting/attending the church to see if it was a good fit for me.

On my second Sunday at the church someone introduced himself to me and somehow we got on the topic of my job search. When he heard I had a Psychology degree he introduced me to the pastor's wife and we set up a brunch meeting (very weird to look back on - some would say a myriad of coincidences but I know it was God's provision). When the woman and I met she suggested I look into residential group home programs for troubled teens. She thought my degree would be useful. I ended up not being offered the youth pastor position but I did look into the group homes. I looked at several similar programs in NC and VA.

I interviewed for a program in VA that was a residential group home where the youth and counselors lived outdoors year-round. Very intriguing but I wasn't sure my cold-natured self could survive the colder months (I helped serve meals outside in downtown Raleigh in January and my toes were extremely numb and super cold to the touch when I arrived back home) and it required a two-year commitment. In February I received an offer for the outdoor counselor job but ended up turning it down (the biggest reason being I wouldn't have been able to attend church while holding that position and I thought regular church attendance was important for my faith). I remember thinking that my parents probably thought I was crazy for turning down a job when I didn't have one or any other definite prospects but I had prayed about it and was confident that it was not right for me so I continued to search and trust God.

I decided to also look for local part-time work while I searched for something full-time and filled out an application at Old Navy. I received a call to come in and interview. I apparently did well with the interview (though I'm sure they were wondering why someone with a newly minted college degree wanted a part-time job) and they offered me a job in logistics (sorting and putting out inventory). I really enjoyed the job. I like order and neatness and a minimum sales role and it met those criteria. I enjoyed the other people I worked with as well as the quiet, early morning hours. It was a fun experience.

While working at Old Navy I continued to seek full-time employment (by this time I had decided that maybe grad school was not right for me at this time). I found a group home program in my city called Methodist Home for Children and decided to apply for a Resident Counselor position. During the summer I received a call to come interview for the position. The interview was near Burlington, about 50 minutes from Raleigh. I went for the interview and felt like I did well.

Toward the end of summer I felt led to quit my job at Old Navy. I had been enjoying it and didn't have any other offers but I chose to trust God and put in my two weeks' notice. During my last two weeks I received an offer to work for MHC. They said they didn't know whether I would work at the Raleigh home or the Burlington home but they'd let me know at training (I was living in Raleigh). I accepted and looked forward to the training in a few weeks. At training I learned I would be based in Raleigh but I did end up working a few shifts in Burlington and one in Durham.

The turnover rate for a Resident Counselor was pretty high as it is a very emotionally and mentally stressful job. The average counselor lasted six months. When I started working I knew I could only work for about eleven months (I became engaged between accepting the offer and starting training), as I was getting married and moving at the end of July the following year, so it seemed like a challenge to beat the average.

They were not kidding about the stress and learning curve of the job. While working at MHC I became sick from mono for the second time in my life (they say you can only have it once, but I showed them!). I ended up working there until May (nine months). I enjoyed most of the people I worked with and learned a lot from the experience. I'm hoping it prepared me well for when I have my own teenagers living in the house.

I moved to Georgia in August after I got married and tried to settle in to married life, a new church and finding new friends. I spent a few months learning my way around and working on my culinary skills. In the fall I decided it was probably time to look for a job. I applied to a bunch of different job positions I found online. I visited a temp agency to try to find work that way. In December I had an interview with a local university to work in their department that contacts alumni about financial donations. The first interview went splendidly well and I was called for a second one. The next interview I felt like a deer in headlights. I was not prepared for being interviewed by six people and had not done my research on the department. I assume I didn't get the job as they never called me back to let me know either way.

In January I went to a luncheon for people interested in helping with the youth at church. I sat next to a woman and we somehow talked about my job search and what I was looking for. She told me to send me a resume because she was thinking about quitting her current job and thought I might be a good fit for a replacement. So I did. The program director called me to invite me to come in for an interview for the position. I used my experience from the last interview process to read up on the company and position and prepare myself. I felt pretty good after the interview process and was offered the job.
Some of my former co-workers
I started the job the same week we bought our first house (which would place me 30 minutes closer to my new job from the apartment we had been living in). I really enjoyed my new co-workers. I felt like the company and my role were beneficial to others. I worked as a Parent Counselor at a Child Care Resource & Referral Agency and spent my time helping parents find local quality child care that met their needs.

Toward the end of my second year at the company I was beginning to feel stressed about my job. The reporting requirements changed several times which was confusing and there was discussion of moving my position to downtown Atlanta. In my church small group one evening I shared my stress with work during prayer requests. Our group leader, who was also our church pastor, called me a couple of weeks later and asked if I might be interested in working part-time as the admin for the church. I was excited at the prospect but wanted to discuss it with my husband and pray.

We had begun the discussion of starting a family and the plan was for me to stay home with our children when that time came. I thought moving to part-time would help us to move toward the goal of living off of just my husband's income. Others suggested we just save all of my current paycheck but I knew a gradual step down would be more helpful for us and we could work on saving all of my new paycheck. So I accepted the offer and started working at the church.
A fun group to work with (and a complete opposite male/female balance from my previous job)
I loved working in the church office doing administrative things and whatever else was asked of me. I enjoyed spending time with the pastors and having opportunities to go to conferences like Catalyst. During my first year of working at the church I became pregnant. My boss mentioned to me that he wanted me to go to a conference at the end of April the following year and I said I didn't know if I could make it. He first thought I was quitting but was excited to learn it was just close to my due date.

My (wonderful and compassionate) pastor told me that I could bring my baby in to work with me in order to be able to keep working for the church. I decided to try it out. It worked okay for awhile but as my daughter grew, the work schedule began hindering her naps so I chose to quit and officially stay home full-time when she was seven months old. I was very sad to end that job as it had been my favorite work environment and experience to date.
My adorable office companion
Well, there's the majority of my work history (minus random odd jobs and babysitting). It is so amazing to see all of the ways God led and provided for me. The orchestrations of meeting specific people still blow my mind. Whenever I think about how trustworthy God has been in this area of my life, I am inspired and encouraged to trust him in all of the other areas.

So, now it's your turn. Where do you feel God has been most faithful and trustworthy in your life? I'd love to hear and be inspired by your story!

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