Faith, Sacrifice and Making a Living


 

avjet_wwii_smallSeveral readers have asked me if I am still blogging. The answer is no, even though this is a new post. To me, blogging is writing often, like two or three times a week, and spending considerable thought and research on the subject. Active blogging also involves promotion in order to increase your readership. I did that for many years, but now I write just to share observations on occasion.

Something I have noticed over the past few years is how much sacrifice the Lord asks of us. He asks kindly, but can be rather insistent at times. Agency is honored, but if we think about what the Lord is trying to accomplish, He is more than willing to provide glimpses of what He has in mind. That’s a general rule I’ve noted. Sometimes, it’s a strong impression with no explanation.

May I share an example that may help? Even if everyone who reads this responds that what I have written is benign and obvious, I feel the need to share, to be sure I understand the trial through which I am passing. We all have trials, don’t we? I think I’ve shared in a previous post of the strong, very strong and unusual impression I received to resign from my employment early last year.

BTW, the picture above is where I have worked for the past twelve years. Obviously, the picture was taken during WWII. My office is in the front middle hangar. We have two server rooms, tied together with 10Gb fiber, with onsite and offsite redundant backup. It has been a wonderful place to work, but the daily commute is a killer.

The Cardinal Rule

servers1It’s been drilled into me all my life that the husband in a marriage has the responsibility to provide for his family, both temporarily and spiritually. I’ve had a good career, but to resign from a lucrative position after twelve years without any other prospect in sight is breaking a cardinal rule in the process. Men think mostly about their work. It’s always on our minds.

I enjoy my work. I’m a computer generalist, meaning I have a broad knowledge of a lot of things related to computers, networks and managing technical projects and people. But I’m also a bit of a specialist in many areas such as ensuring disaster recovery, removing viruses, blocking spam and administering networks, especially through VMWare and Microsoft Active Directory.

Enough of the boring stuff. The point of this post is you don’t break the cardinal rule when you feel the urge to change jobs. That is exactly what the Lord asked of me last year. My employer was bought out and I felt, through the process of prayer, that the Lord wanted me to leave that company, for reasons which I’ve explained in my last post. So I gave a good six month notice.

Assurance from the Lord

linkedin-timmalone1I hesitated several months after the company was sold before I gave my notice. I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I don’t have anything else lined up and I’m too young to retire.” But the Lord is insistent. The impression continued for months. Finally, to my wife’s dismay, I resigned and reported back to the Lord. His response? Wait. He asked me to wait until the end of the year.

Wait for what? I was to wait to begin my job search. Carol and I prayed every morning and night for the faith to be patient. We asked continually for the Lord to show us the path, prepare the way and open a door when the time came to begin the search in earnest. That day came just after Christmas last year. You can read about it in my last post. In the meantime I worked and prayed.

The day after I posted about Preserving the Fruit of the Restoration, which fruit I believe to be marriages, I received a text from a long-time reader indicating he felt impressed to contact me about an opportunity, which by the way, involved moving to a foreign country. At first I dismissed it, but each night in prayer the Lord asked if I had responded to this individual yet.

A Whirlwind Journey

passport1The Lord really is patient with us, but He can be very insistent. Finally I reached out to my reader and he began the process of sharing what he had in mind. I was very intrigued. I was invited to visit the company, which is not based in my home state of California, and spend some time in interviews and meetings. At the end of the week, I had an amazing offer in my hand.

I was invited back for a week of training, made travel arrangements, and waited. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the HR Manager five days before I was to begin my journey informing me the offer had been rescinded. The call came as Carol and I were in the car so she heard the entire conversation. Gratefully, she bit her tongue as I tried to salvage the deal.

Wow. What a shock. We had arrived at home and sat in the car numbed by what had just taken place. How could this happen? We had a written offer. I had given up a month of my search time in preparing for travel out of country – renewing my passport, starting the process of packing, and in general wrapping our heads around the idea of living in a completely foreign environment.

Consultation with the Lord

refinersfire1Our scripture reading and prayer that night were especially poignant. Tears flowed as we begged the Lord to help us deal with this turn of events. Truly, the Lord will wrench our very heart strings in testing us in the refiner’s fire. Yet, we know we are made perfect through sufferings. It has been a few days. I decided to take next week off to dedicate to connecting with my network.

I have one month of gainful employment remaining. Normally this close to the end of the job, I would have something new lined up. This is surely a test. I’ve been fired two or three times in my career, each time through no fault of my own, usually due to the completion of a project. The last time it took seven months to land a job. I think I’ve described that process in a blog post.

I’ve asked the Lord privately why this happened, what I should do and what lies before us. I can honestly say this is one of those times when I know we did everything the Lord asked of us and have every right to expect his blessings in answering our many months of prayer together. The only thing I hear from the Lord when I ask is,” Be faithful. Do your part. You are being tested.”

A Common Experience

georgewashington1Obviously we are not the only couple in the world to have gone through a challenge like this. The difference is that I would never quit a job without something else lined up. Yet, the Lord asked me to do so, to step out into the unknown, to see if I trusted Him enough to provide. In some ways, this is a double test, because I thought it was nailed down. Yet now we begin anew.

The last time I was let go at the end of a computer conversion project, I fasted and went to the temple every week. I intend to follow that same plan this time, only my temple will be on the mountain top each Saturday afternoon. I can’t think of any trial that can break up a marriage faster than unemployment. Yet our scripture reading and prayers remain sacred and sweet.

I am grateful. It is an opportunity to show the Lord I trust in Him no matter what. It is so easy to give in to fears and play “What are we going to do?” That’s exactly what Satan wants. That is not the Lord’s way to deal with a challenge like this. The Lord requires the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I feel both. I so appreciate having my sweetheart standing at my side.

One last note

christianreformation1I promised Denver I would mention the new website about the 500th anniversary of the history of the Christian Reformation. I have spent some time at the site, viewing the videos and reading the items under the tab entitled “Reformation.” It is well done, teaches truth, and makes some things so much clearer than the way I remember being taught growing up. It’s well worth your time.

www.christianreformation500years.info

…and…

www.youtube.com/channel/UC6cEtBt6U_A0oDKfQCGoCjA

God bless.

A Church Employment System miracle


Several years ago, my family and I faced a Christmas season accompanied with an ongoing period of unemployment. Through no fault of my own, I had been laid off six months earlier from a high-paying job that ended as a normal course of business. The manufacturing computing project I had been hired to support had been completed and my services were no longer needed.

I had been laid off before in my career and figured this job search would last about the same amount of time – three months. As a computing professional, I keep my resume up to date and am very familiar with the agencies that help people in my profession. I began right away to work the system and was having some success but no job offers. Then November arrived.

“Check back with us after the holidays,” is a common response about this time of year. Even advertised jobs seem to be put on hold until January or February. I can’t imagine what it must be like today when so many are being laid off due to the state of the economy. I hope people aren’t hearing, “Check back with us after the recession is over.” That would be most disheartening.

The daily job search

So six months later, I was still in my job search. Every day I would get up, study the scriptures, pray and ask Heavenly Father for help in knowing where to search to find employment so I could provide for my family. At first, I was not concerned. After all, I had a nice severance package and Carol was still working. But now things had slowed down and I was beginning to worry.

I had made it a habit to fast and attend the temple once a week as part of my efforts to be in tune with the inspiration that I was praying for in my job search. Just before I had been laid off, I had been released from the Bishopric and set apart as the High Priest group leader in the ward. The Stake President had promised in the blessing that I would be able to provide for my family.

Coincidentally, the last time I had been laid off was when I was first called into a Bishopric. Is there something about becoming unemployed that makes a man humble and ready to take on new priesthood responsibilities? I later served on the High Council and was assigned to be the coordinator to work with the Church Employment Services in our area of Southern California.

Professional Placement Program

I planned my weekly trip to the temple to coincide with the regular meeting of the Professional Placement Program at the Welfare Employment Resource Center for my area. This program is designed for people like me who usually have extended job searches because of the level we are at in our careers. In other words, it takes time to find a job that pays as much as we are used to.

I will be forever grateful to Rich Vunder, who ran the Sylmar center back when I was conducting my job search. He has since moved back to Utah and works in the Ogden center but at the time, he led our weekly meetings and provided both instruction and encouragement in our efforts. It was a real help to discuss the job search and network with professional individuals like myself.

One of the best things that Rich did for us, and something that I think helped me the most, was to video record mock interviews which he would conduct and then play back for group critique. A good resume can get you interviews but unless you can convince the prospective employer in the interview that you are the right person for the job, then you are just wasting each other’s time.

Christmas without a job

I specifically credit this interviewing practice with getting me the job that finally came my way. One of the first people I contacted after I was laid off was the head of an agency that had helped me in my previous job search. He asked for an updated resume and said he would keep me in mind. I didn’t hear from him for the next six months and had been working with other agencies.

Christmas was upon us and looking very bleak. We did not anticipate even getting a tree or buying presents for each other. Our bishop was very discreet in keeping tabs on my progress and our financial situation. One night, a knock came at the door. When we responded, there was nobody there, but there was a basket with several hundred dollars worth of gift certificates.

We knew it was someone from the ward and expressed thanks on behalf of our family in fast and testimony meeting the following month. I did not yet have good news to report but we felt loved and supported by our ward family. Truly, we are blessed when we magnify our callings. I know we were discussed in the welfare committee and am grateful to somebody for their generosity.

The interview opportunity

My severance pay had long since run out. The Lord had blessed Carol with additional sales so she earned extra commissions that helped us, but still, we were hurting financially. I confess that against our better judgment, we were using credit cards for basic living expenses. We did not get food from the Bishop’s storehouse because Carol was working, but that might have been helpful.

One day in early February I received a call from the president of the agency that I had contacted when I had been first laid off. He said he had the perfect opportunity for me and wanted to know if I was still looking for employment. He did not know that we were down to our last few dollars in the bank and were seriously talking about moving out to go live with family to save money.

The resume was forwarded, the phone interview was conducted and then came the request for the onsite interview. The prospective employer wanted to meet on a Sunday to avoid suspicion with the existing IT Manager who was about to lose his job. Ordinarily to me that would be breaking the Sabbath, but I felt very strongly impressed that this was an answer to prayer and fasting.

The interview and job offer

We attended our morning meetings and then I left immediately from church for the interview at the airport, about an hour’s drive. I got there early, drove around a bit and then arrived just a few minutes before the appointed time. I felt an unusual sense of calmness and peace as I met with the Operations Manager and the Chief Financial Officer who both supervised the IT Manager.

Now here’s where the miracle takes place that provided for me a sure knowledge that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. While I was interviewing with my two prospective supervisors, I became aware that they were asking the exact same questions that Rich Vunder had asked me in the mock interviews a few months earlier. I knew just what to say in response to each question.

I could sense that the interview was going well. In fact, it was going so well that I knew I would get an offer. As my friend had said, the job was perfect for me and was an exact match for my experience and qualifications. They asked if I could come back the next day and have the final interview with the CEO. I did and the job was offered the same day – on Carol’s birthday!

Summary and conclusion

You may say that this was all a coincidence or just the natural result of my preparations and hard work in being diligent in my job search. I feel otherwise. What prompted the search agency to call me just at the time when we were about to give up hope of being able to stay in this area? He had met the CEO of my company at a soccer game the previous week and got to talking.

When the CEO learned that my friend ran a search agency, he asked if he knew of anyone who could run his IT department – someone with multi-location network experience. My friend Chris later said he felt inspired to think of me and say, “Yes, I have just the right person for you – let me see if he is available.” He and I had not talked in six months. That was no coincidence.

God knows what we need. He is aware of what will work in our lives when we aren’t even aware of it ourselves. I received three offers the same day I got the offer from my present employer. I knew which one the Lord wanted me to have and have been blessed because of it. To me, it was a miracle that I had been so well prepared for the job. But God knew all along.

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