Friday, September 25, 2009

"How do you like your new job?"

This has been a common question lately, which is fare since I started my new job only about two months ago now (I can't believe it's already been two months this next week, wow). How do you normally answer that kind of question? Well, for me, it is not as easy to answer, confused? Let me explain.

You see, similar to my post earlier about the lyrics to the song "American Dream", most people in this world - especially here in America - think of success or happyness (misspelling intended) as one thing... a good job and good amounts of money to go along with it. I know that there are some that don't view it this way, but a LOT do. I can understand why so many view life this way, heck, your job does take up a majority of your life. But I guess with that reasoning, maybe we should all consider those who sleep the best to be the most successful, right? Ok, maybe not. Beyond this reasoning, I think a more realistic reason behind this world/life view is the fallen desire in all of us for selfish gain.

Is a good job or money inherently evil? No, I don't believe so. But I do believe that when we make those things our idol (or if we make anything our idol for that matter), when those things consume us, when we do all we can and dedicate our whole life to them, then yes - I do think that is far from where we find true success and happiness.

I, on the other hand, am one of those that don't view life this way - or at least try not to - which is why it is sometimes hard to answer this somewhat easy question of "How do you like your new job?" You see, usually when someone gets as great of a job as I just got, they leap out of their skin in joy. So when I don't give that reaction - even though I know I "should" - I know I basically come across as some ingrate that is never content with anything. I guess I need to learn how to share more of where my true joy comes from... God.

So, yes, my new job is going quite well. For a Project Manager job in the residential construction industry, you could NOT ask for a better place to be. The people I work with are great, the projects we work on are amazing... it is a good job. Above and beyond that, I am still amazed by God's timing on providing what our family needed. Not only did I get a job, but I did just in time before my unemployment ran out, and just before Michelle's company did pay cuts - both of which would have put us in a position that we probably would not of been able to afford our house... but now we will be fine as far as finances and be able to save some money again. Although we have learned to live with much less, which is definitely not a bad thing.

Ultimately though, I have a hard time explaining to just anyone that asks this question to me that the job is going like any good job should - there are good parts of it, there are parts (like with any job) that are not so enjoyable (sitting at a computer screen many hours a day for instance), but it is "just" a job. It has definitely been bitter sweet going back to work... mainly because over the past 11 months that I have been unemployed, 10 of which were spent being with my first child, now I am lucky to see my son 2 hours a day. I know this will change, but it is still an adjustment either way. I also really enjoyed how much growth I experienced with God over that time that He gave me, and I already now recognize the distraction that work requires of me from things that are so much more important in life. I know in time I can learn how to balance it all the best that I can, just like every person that works at a job for a living has to do.

I guess what I am continually learning more and more, is how much more important the real important things actually are compared to things that are just parts of life. Who knows what the future holds, Michelle and I were seriously considering ministry opportunities and that desire is not gone now that I have a job - so who knows if that will come about someday. Who knows if that does come about, if it will be more enjoyable than a secular job like I imagine it would be. I think of the idea of getting paid to focus on what my ultimate passion is: God, and that excites me. I have to bring my self back to reality though, which tells me I am still in this world, and nothing here will ever compare to what I really long for... to be in the complete presence of God... for now I just have to be content with the shadow of His glory that I get to experience here.

So what does this all mean now? Do I just mope and be depressed that "I'm not doing what I want to do"? NO! That is not what I want to do. My hope is that I will not let my circumstances control my life. My hope is that I can allow God to lead me no matter where I am in life. That I can allow Him to have complete control, even when I am doing "secular" work sitting at a computer screen having no interaction with people at all (I think that is the hardest area for me to see God move, but He's bigger than that!).

That was a longer thought process than I thought it would be... but if you have read any of my posts to date, you know I can be a bit wordy when I type on here. Funny I'm sure for those who know me in person as someone that doesn't talk much. Feel free to let me know what you think.

American Dream

Heard this song from Casting Crowns this morning when it came up in my mix on Pandora and thought it had an interesting point in the lyrics. What do you think?

“American Dream”

All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy
But all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul
But he's moving on full steam
He's chasing the American dream
And he's gonna give his family finer things

“Not this time son I've no time to waste
Maybe tomorrow we'll have time to play”
And then he slips into his new BMW
And drives farther and farther and farther away

Cause he works all day and tries to sleep at night
He says things will get better;
Better in time

So he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin' crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

Well his American Dream is beginning to seem
More and more like a nightmare
With every passing day
"Daddy, can you come to my game?"
"Oh Baby, please don't work late."
Another wasted weekend
And they are slipping away

'Cause he works all day and lies awake at night
He tells them things are getting better
Just take a little more time

So he works and he builds with his own two hands
And he pours all he has in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are comin' crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

He used to say, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"
But if he loses his soul, what has he gained in the end
I'll take a shack on the rock
Over a castle in the sand

Now he works all day and cries alone at night
It's not getting any better
Looks like he's running out of time

'Cause he worked and he built with his own two hands
And he poured all he had in a castle made with sand
But the wind and the rain are coming crashing in
Time will tell just how long his kingdom stands
His kingdom stands

All they really wanted was you
All they really wanted was you
All they really wanted was you

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One (half) week down...

Wow, what a week! Starting the previous Wednesday (July 29th), we had Michelle's Dad and Step-mom come to town to stay with us until Thursday the 6th... we have had a great time with them, lots of games (like Hand and Foot, Carcassonne, Cash Flow, Hearts, Nerts, etc...), they even blessed us with a date night out for Michelle and I (we went out to eat and went to see Harry Potters new movie). That all led up to the crazy week we just had.

Tuesday morning (Duane's, Michelle's dad, birthday), Samuel went in for his surgery. Man, was that a roller coaster of an emotional experience for Michelle and I. It was relatively minor surgery, but he did have to go under with anesthesia for what ended up being 3 hours, although they originally planned and scheduled it for 4 hours - glad it ended early! It looks like everything went as planned, so now we just hope and pray that he heals up well and that everything they did will allow him to have as normal a life as possible without any issues from the surgery.

Wednesday morning, I started my new job, hence the title of this post "One (half) week down..." The first three days progressively got "better", as in I started to slowly get back into work mode as well as get back into construction brain mode. It has been 11 months since I have really been in either of those modes, at an actual job at least, so it takes a little adjustment getting back in to the swing of things. It was an exhausting first week of work though, and I am sure the learning curve will continue. Not too many people have worked on multi-million dollar homes, so I guess I just need to be ok with the fact that it will be a learning curve. I normally like the fact that I learn things quickly, but I just have to accept the fact that some things take more time to learn. The company, especially the people I will be working with, are great so far... and I feel nothing but like a welcome addition to their team. I know I have a lot to prove though, I just pray my focus does not get turned from God and that I don't let the pressure change what I truly desire.

Thursday morning, Michelle left for her business trip, and her Dad went back home at the originally scheduled time they planned on leaving. Thankfully, Marie, Michelle's step-mom, decided to extend until today (Saturday) in order to watch Samuel for us on Thursday and Friday since I was at my new job and Michelle was out of town. That was such a blessing. We cannot thank her enough for doing that. She also seems like she enjoyed the added one-on-one time with her first grand-child though... so hopefully that made it a lot easier for her to stay.

Some other interesting things happened this week, that I might bring up later if anything comes of it... let's just say it added to the crazy week we had... and NO, we are not pregnant again - not yet anyway.

It has been tough to go back to work, knowing that I will only see Samuel for 2 good hours at the most every day... but I know it is what I have to do, and is what most father's do for most of their lives these days. I think it would not be so bad, if I knew Michelle could stay home and be with him... but unfortunately my new job won't allow for that yet. Hopefully soon enough though, that's my prayer anyway.

Well, I figured I should try to keep more up-to-date on this whole blog thing, and start sharing more things like this. Hope you enjoy, and hope I can keep up the bloggin in the future!

Until next time...

Friday, July 31, 2009

God's amazing timing and providence...

As most of you know, I lost my most recent job on the last day of August, 2008, and have been unemployed ever since. This happened to be just under 2 months before our first child was to be born. When I first got laid off, we didn't realize how bad the economy was quite yet. The bailout hadn't even happened yet, at least not for another month. And even when the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" - aka, bailout - was finally passed almost a month after I lost my job, us common people still didn't realize how bad the economy was and that it was getting worse quick. But it would soon become apparent just how bad things were getting.

I've lost count as to how many jobs I have applied for, or companies I have sent resumes to during these past eleven months. The first couple of months, I would actually find job postings on job websites and send my resume or application in to them, but soon most job listings (at least for my area of "expertise", construction) would soon all but disappear. I actually had an interview back in late October that went pretty well. But when I checked in with that company every week or two until I found out that they had to eliminate the position I had interviewed for, and that they were actually doing layoffs - one of the guys that interviewed me (there were two guys) was actually laid off. I soon began to realize why I was not getting responses from the numerous jobs I applied for and was very qualified for, it was mainly because the jobs didn't actually exist, or at least not anymore. I would start to go in to companies to submit a resume in response to a job they had posted, just to be told "we actually are on a hiring freeze, that job is no longer available". It has been crazy... and it has been hard to see the end when no end was in sight.

Ok, ok... so I am sure you are thinking by now "what the heck does any of this have to do with 'God's amazing timing and providence...'?" Well, I'm getting there, just keep reading, trust me it's worth it.

It has been amazing throughout my life, to see how God has always provided what I needed, and usually in just the right - or rather nick of time. This has especially been evident since I have been "on my own" outside of college, and especially since Michelle and I got married back in 2003. Here are some examples.

Michelle and I graduated from college in December of 2002, we applied for and got accepted to head down to Florida in January to take part in the Walt Disney World College Program. So right away out of college, we had a job. Of course, this job did not pay great, or even good, but it provided us with enough to meet our needs while down in Florida - barely. Once our contracted time was up in May, we made the long drive back home to Colorado. We got engaged while on our internship at Disney, and were planning our wedding for October. This meant that I had around 5 months to look for employment before being married. I searched, and searched, and searched during those months. Fortunately I was living at my mom and step-dad's house during that summer, and did not have to worry about many expenses at all (which I see as God providing for my needs at that time). But as the wedding date fast approached, Michelle and I needed to find a place for us to live after we were to be married. It was the end of July, we were planning to go on a vacation to Lake Powell with Michelle's mom and family, and I still had not found anything... But right before we left for Lake Powell, just in time, God provided. I actually found a job as a Structural Engineer (the field I was looking in), in Boulder, and it "just so happened" that of the three employees that worked at this company, one was a friend I had lost touch with from college. I got the job in August, we were married in October and the timing was perfect. Michelle also found a job that she started right when we got married as well, to definitely help our situation and provide us with health insurance which my job did not provide.

Time moved on, I finally decided that I would listen to the "ache" in my heart that said "engineering is not for me". I was fighting that feeling all through college, but fought it off thinking I would be ok once I worked in the field full time, without having school and homework to worry about. Unfortunately, I was wrong and engineering was just not the right place for me to be. So I decided to quit engineering, and try to pursue areas I had more interest in. I actually started looking for jobs in Project Management at this time, but had a very hard time finding anything. So I settled on a "backup" plan of trying to do my own video production business. I have continued to operate this business part time to this day, and it has been great. It never provided enough financially to warrant keeping at it full time, but it was enjoyable most of the time, and provided a little money here and there.

About a year into our marriage, I was technically self employed, but not really bringing in any "real" income, so we almost completely relied on Michelle's employment. Well, Michelle's job was fast approaching her one year anniversary of employment. It seemed as though things were going just fine. Then, on a Friday afternoon at about 5:00 PM, Michelle's boss came by her office to ask her to come in for a meeting. They terminated her on the spot, saying they did not want to renew her contract and were changing the position... we were definitely not expecting that because she had just had a review that said she was doing great. They ended up paying her through the end of that month (September), which also meant we still had insurance, etc. We were freaked out to say the least. Group insurance is a necessity for me, since I typically cannot get personal insurance due to "pre-existing" conditions of JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) as a child. So knowing that coming up on October 1st, we would either lose insurance, or pay COBRA prices with no real income to speak of between the two of us. We had just decided to move out of our "nicer" apartment and head over to the other side of town to an apartment that we paid about 60-70% of the rent compared to the previous apartment... This turned out to be a huge blessing. Michelle and I were frantically looking for jobs at this point. Then, the last week of October, Michelle was refereed to look into a job working for the American Cancer Society. They hired her, WITH BENEFITS (after the first month of course), starting the first week of November! We only had to get "catastrophic" insurance for the first month of her job, but God totally provided for the timing of all of it and we were just fine.

There are more, but I think you get the point. There has been many times where we did not know what to do, and honestly, we freaked out thinking things wouldn't work out on many occasions. But time and time again, God has demonstrated that he meant it when he spoke about not worrying like he did in Matthew 6:25-34... he specifically addresses our needs to not worry about, because God DOES provide for them when you are seeking Him - and sometimes even graciously when you aren't seeking Him.

Well, this time is no exception. We have been able to make it through these 11 or so months of unemployment just fine financially. Of course it has been VERY tight and we have had to cut out quite a bit, but some unemployment insurance benefits and a few side jobs here and there through my business has provided for everything we have needed. But lately we have started to wonder what next. My unemployment benefits will run up in the next month or so - and we won't have that extra $1000 or so a month to supplement Michelle's income...

So, back in late September, when I first was in my "hitting the pavement and looking hard for a job" mode I was referred by one of my good friends to talk to his brother-in-law about a company he used to be a Project Manager for (the exact position I am looking for jobs as). Through him I was put in touch with a company and submitted my resume. They actually had a job posted on their website at the time for a Project Manager, but when I went in to drop off my resume in person, they said that they were actually not hiring... just like I was hearing everywhere! Fast-forward to April, I was still applying for jobs, still doing a lot of the same old thing all while watching Samuel. This company got back in touch with me to ask me to resubmit a resume to them. So I did...

Even more time later, actually just at the beginning of July, I received another email saying that they wanted me to come in for an interview. After a second interview a week after that... I have officially been offered a job!

What amazing timing and providence! My unemployment benefits will be done here in the next month or so, and I needed to find something. So what came up, not a new company I was just applying for, but a company I applied for 9 months ago comes back to give me a job. And the job sounds great! It is with a great, I mean great company, that believes in integrity being the top priority. The company builds the nicest of nice homes in the Phoenix area... we're talking 10,000 to 45,000 square foot homes... that is HUGE! If you want to know more about the company, check out their website here:

Thank you everyone for all your support, prayers, and referrals/connections that you have sent my way during this time. Michelle and I (and Samuel) are SO grateful to you all. Most of all, we thank God. Not just for this new job, but all the amazing ways He has always provided for our needs, and then some. I am also especially thankful for how His timing has worked out. Yes, I have been unemployed for the first 9 months of my first child's life, but that has only been a blessing. Of course we haven't been able to save any money in that time or get "ahead" on life... but I have been able to invest some PRICELESS time into my first child, my first son! I have also had some amazing time with God, growing more with Him and getting to know Him better! Even if it was difficult at times, I would not trade it for anything.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Palm Pre

I don't know about anyone else... but being a Sprint customer for a long time (yes I like having their service, in fact I am considered a "white glove" customer, since I have been a upstanding customer for the 10 years I have been with them and now they give me monthly discounts on my plan for no reason except that they like me, cool I think!) I am excited to see a cool phone finally make it's way to Sprint. They have always seemed to lag in the "cool phone" department. The Palm Pre looks awesome to me though, especially being someone that recently jumped into the smartphone/pda phone craze a little over a year ago when I purchased a Palm Centro. The Centro has been a good introduction for me, but all that the Pre seems like it will offer (full touch screen AND a true QWERTY keyboard, AWESOME!) including the touchscreen and keyboard, as well as the WebOS which looks to be an awesome step in the right direction for Palm.

Anyway, I am definitely looking forward to this awesome phone

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

...what's next???

As any of you that read this blog know, I have been unemployed for starting my ninth month now... dang that is a long time when you say it out loud... I've applied for easily over 100 jobs in that time, plus dropped off, emailed or mailed resume's to numerous other companies both in my "line of work" and in other avenues I felt I was qualified to work in... All this to receive only 1 interview to date and one recent email from a company saying they just wanted to be back in touch with me. So needless to say I have had lot's of time on my hands for quite a while, and well, this is what's been happening:

Of course, a little over a month after losing my job, we welcomed our first child, Samuel Thomas Patrick into this world. We figured that I would surely find new employment before Michelle's maternaty leave ran up in early January - heck, that was 3 months! Once the first of the year came, still no job for me, and Michelle needed to head back to work. Since then, I have become a "stay at home dad", while continuing to look for employment and researching other possibilities. I also studied for and passed my LEED AP exam (if you are curious what that is, look here), hoping this gained accreditation would help my marketability, while also adding a tool to my toolbox that I was interested in having.

So, why have I still not found a job? Yes, the job market is bad - especially in construction, and especially in construction in Arizona. But surely something should have panned out, heck I did apply to jobs that were listed which should mean those companies were actually hiring, right? Well, this is what I have been thinking might be part of the reason for this extended length of time in unemployment...

When we moved to Arizona, it was an amazing site to see how everything just "happened to work out" for us to move here as smoothly as we were able to... I had been looking at going back into construction and trying to find Project Manager positions to get into after mainly focusing on running my small video production, etc. business for the previous 3 years before that summer of 2006. Well right about the time I started looking, I received a phone call from a high school friend back in Arizona that asked me what I was doing for work those days. I told him about how I just started looking for jobs actually, and was interested in doing construction Project Management. Funny thing, he said, cause I was calling to ask if you would be interested in just such a position with a company I work with here in Arizona. I flew out to Arizona within a month (if not sooner) "interviewed" with the company, they offered me the job and we moved to AZ within 3 weeks! We were able to find someone to not just sublet the apartment we had 6 months left on, but they actually took over our lease - releasing us from any of the legal ramifications of the lease we had signed... heck they even bought our washer and dryer that we could not take with us - and they just happened to be moving to Colorado from Phoenix! We were able to find an apartment for a good deal in that short amount of time, pack everything up (thanks to some help from some great friends) and be out here to AZ in the weekend before I was to start my job on Monday.

I tell this long story because it is a piece of how God worked to bring us out here... and Michelle and I agree that it was totally His doing. So as we have been here in Arizona, we have moved on with life, but God has still been moving. It has been amazing to see how God has used us here in Arizona - even though I had no idea He would use us the ways He has, and it has been amazing to see how He has used others as well as our current church home to speak so strongly to my life (and Michelle's).

So what does all this have to do with my job situation you might be thinking? Well, through these nine months (man, that does sound long!) God has really been working on my heart and my view on things in life. He has blessed me with some amazing bonding time with my first child, my first son... that is priceless! Through that He has shown me how very important my family is... and how strong my desire is to be there for my wife and kids as much as possible as we all "grow up" together.

More than that, and probably the strongest work of all, my desire for God has been growing exponentially over these nine months. As our pastor at our church put it, the "coins have dropped" for me. I have been given the time to think about what my passions are, and what my heart truly desires... and what I have "discovered" - or rather what God has revealed to me - is that He is my biggest desire of my heart. Currently going through the book of Acts with my Tuesday morning men's bible study group, God has revealed to me more about this incredible account of the early church than I had realized before. Specifically, just to see how these men of God truly did give up everything to follow Him and to spread the Good News that is the Gospel. It has me ask of myself, "have I given up much, let alone everything, to follow Him?" In our current times it is hard to know what exactly that means... BUT a door has been cracked open for me to look in and contemplate... something I never thought I would do... full time ministry. I will write more about this at a later time, but for now...
God please lead me and give me clear direction on how to lead my family. I desire to be close to you... I pray that whatever or wherever I am supposed to be next, that it would be somewhere doing something that I can become more alive; somewhere that I can best use my passions and gifts together to glorify you the best I can. Thank you for how You have been working in my life and for what You are about to do in my life. It is through your Son that I ask all these things. Amen
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (emphasis added :-))

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I'm baaaack!

It has been waaaaay toooo long... and it is time I start updating this blog thing again... hopefully I will do so soon. If anyone is listening, look for more to come sooooooon!!!!!