This is a major announcement for our family

Disclaimer: This is a relatively long post. And it’s not unlike a winding stream with other tributaries adding to it. But I feel like it’s important to give you the backstory to this announcement. If you can’t stand it and really just want to see what the major announcement is, just skip down to the “tl;dr” statement at the bottom.

Man Praying in Church
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A career shift?

I was in high school. We were wrapping up our home Bible study with some prayer requests. A good friend of mine shared with our group that his dad had just lost his job. They were concerned. We all were.

I don’t know his whole work history, but I do remember that he’d taken on a few different careers during his life. He had training as an engineer and had graduated from one of the top engineering schools in the country. He’d had some jobs in that field. But I also remember that he ran a print shop at one point in his life.

Not long after my friend shared this important prayer concern, his dad was hired by our church. He had already been handling many of the organization’s administrative duties on a volunteer basis. Why not go ahead and start paying him? Made perfect sense.

He served on the church staff for more than twenty years. And now he’s enjoying his retirement.

I don’t know if he felt a wandering in his soul. I never asked him. Maybe I should. But I do know that my friend’s dad eventually found the perfect “fit” for himself. And it seems like all of his previous professional and volunteer experiences prepared him for his administrative role with my home church.

It started this past January. I started to get the sense that I was on the brink of a major career change. Maybe my career was about to make a major shift, not unlike my friend’s dad. I told my brother as much while we were driving home from Mr. Gerhart’s funeral. I could tell that things were about to change. And maybe I’d find that perfect fit that aligns my skills, experiences, education, and passion into one dream job.

That was just the beginning of this journey.

So, what makes me tick?

I’ve come to realize that I am not happy unless I’m working to serve other people. It’s my passion. My heartbeat. It’s what makes me tick. When I worked at Slingshot SEO/digitalrelevance, I was drawn to the nonprofit clients who were spending a considerable amount of energy and effort to help others. As I continued down that digital marketing road, I began to dream: “What if I could take these skills that I’ve honed and the knowledge that I’ve gained and used it to help smaller organizations who are helping other people?”

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It was a wonderful idea. But it wasn’t one I could execute anytime soon. I needed something to pay the bills. So I cobbled together a couple of jobs. You might remember that I thought it was a little too…cliché…and predictable. Even after leaving the school to stay home with my son, I still wound up finding myself back in another Special Needs classroom less than a year later.

After looking back at my work history over the past decade or so, it’s become pretty clear that helping people and serving others. It was also clear that I wasn’t going to be able to retire at either the Christian retail store* or as an Instructional Assistant at a school. So I started looking for positions that would give me the opportunity to help people.

I had  a few interviews. Several, in fact. There was a local organization who brought me in for two separate interviews last Summer. I never heard from them again, even though they promised to keep me updated. I had another promising interview not too long after that. It went well. I thought it. Never heard from them again.

A brief aside:  How hard is it to send a simple rejection email after you’ve met with a candidate? If you can’t be courteous enough to let me know that you chose the other person, perhaps I don’t want to work for you. Or partner with you. Or support you. If you can’t handle the little things like a simple rejection email, what does that say about how you handle the big things?

But I digress…

It was just a dream

A few months, a friend of mine told me about a position with a local organization that I might be interested in. She sent me the job description. At first glance, I didn’t think I was the kind of person they were looking for. But I believed this was the type of job I was looking for. And it really didn’t hurt anything to send them my resume. So I shot them an email. I didn’t really have my hopes up. I’d gotten my hopes up for other positions that I thought were a “perfect fit.” So I just went about my business, just doing what I do.

They called me in for an interview. Things went really well. Then they asked me back for another interview with the whole team. Things went really well. And in the midst of discussions with this organization, we moved out of one house and into another. And we were gearing up for the final push towards the end of the school year at my school.

Transitions!

Transitions everywhere!

Then, these dreams started popping up…

It has happened at least three times during the past two months. And each dream has pretty much followed the same storyline. For some reason, I’m back at the church where I preached for several years. Things are arranged differently. And a lot of people have passed away. You know how dreams go: It feels different. It feels the same. I know exactly where I am and I have no idea where I am, all at the same time.

All of a sudden, I’m expected to preach. I’m woefully unprepared as I try to piece something together last-minute. As I step on stage to deliver a cobbled together sermon, I wake up.

I think I know why I keep having this dream

It’s because of the transitions. When things get unsettled, I wind up having dreams that are similar to this. The dream keeps happening at this small church because of the interviews I’ve had recently. During my conversations with potential employers, I’ve discussed my experience in this small country church – both positive and negative.

Believe me, I’m long past having any hard feelings about what transpired. God made sure of that when He kicked me in the teeth a few years back. But I’m convinced that all of the discussions about my preaching experience, coupled with all of the life transitions that are going on, I kind of had to emotionally and mentally work through the direction my life is taking. And that has happened through this dream.

I believe I’m ready to announce the new direction for our family. No, we’re not adopting again. No, I’m not returning to the pulpit. And we’re certainly not moving again anytime soon. I have accepted a position with a local organization. I will be serving as an Employment Advisor, helping adults with Special Needs find jobs and thrive at their jobs. That’s right. I’m going to be a job coach.

And get this: I’ll also be taking over their digital promotions. So I’ll be overhauling their website and coordinating their social media efforts. How cool is that? I get to help people and take what I’ve learned about digital marketing to help a small, local nonprofit improve their digital footprint!

The streams, they have converged.

Of course, this isn’t anywhere close to anything that was on my radar six months ago. There’s a lot I need to learn. I realize that. That’s probably why I kept showing up unprepared in my dreams. But I know that whatever I don’t know, I’ll be able to learn. I’ll be part of a great team and I’m sure they’ll help me as I try to help them. Am I a little nervous? Sure. But I’m also excited beyond words.

Will I retire with this organization? I don’t know. I certainly hope so. There’s definitely opportunity for professional growth. And a few of my teammates have been with the organization for several years. There’s some staying power here.

tl;dr – I’ve accepted a position as an Employment Coach, helping people find and thrive in their jobs.

While I’m sad to leave my teammates and students in our Essential Skills classroom, I know they are going to have an amazing year next school year.  I’m very excited to kick off this next chapter in my life. And I’m looking forward to what will unfold over the next few years.

 

* Family Christian Stores recently ended its 85 year run and closed all 240 stores. Even if I’d stayed with them, it’s a sure bet I would not have retired as an FCS team member.

 

Dreams, hard work, and achievement

"Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete" - Waite Phillips

Is there really anything else that needs to be said about this quote from Waite Phillips?

“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete”

Waite Phillips should know. The oil tycoon turned philanthropist is the benefactor of Philmont Scout Ranch and his generosity has impacted millions of young men and women around the world. And I’m one of them. I learned a lot about life, leadership, and perseverance during my Philmont experiences. These lessons set a foundation for the rest of my life.

Thanks to the generosity of Waite Phillips, I have several dreams. And I’m not going to give up pursuing those dreams – even when it seems impossible. Because sometimes things are supposed to be hard. Life is hard. Obstacles can be difficult. That’s what makes them worth pursuing. And that’s what makes the achievement even more rewarding. Right?

I’ve got this. We’ve got this.

What are you dreaming about? Do you have any big, hairy, audacious goals?

Feel free to share your dreams and goals in the comments below. Let’sl work together to encourage, challenge, and support each other as we pursue our dreams. Because the dreams might be yours, and they might seem impossible, but you know what they say…

teamwork makes the dream work.

We’ve got this. No dream is too big. No dream is too silly, either. Let’s work together to accomplish our dreams. That’s how we’re going to make the world a better place. And it’s through this process that we discover what we were made to do, what we were made to be. And when we’ve discovered that, it’s when we truly start living.

So no more excuses. No more delay. It doesn’t matter how difficult things are. Let’s start working together to see our dreams become a reality.

25 Years Ago Today


I shared a link to this speech earlier on my facebook profile, but I cannot allow today to pass without mentioning it here on my blog, as well. I remember watching President Reagan as he shared these thoughtful words that memorable day. I felt like he was speaking directly to me through that television. And I still mouth the words whenever I hear the conclusion to this speech. They’re cemented in my memory, along with the image of the booster rockets flying out of control.

My memory of that fateful day is well-documented on my blog. I’ve decided to highlight some of them here:

What about you, O Reader? What do you remember about the day the Challenger blew up and everything changed?

Return of the Strange Dreams

The strange dreams are back. And they have a consistent theme this time.

This past Saturday, Steve, a colleague of mine, and I tag-teamed in officiating a funeral for a woman I’d only met twice. But from everything I heard, she was a wonderful woman. The two nights leading up to the service, I had very concerning dreams that I was stepping up to a podium at a funeral home. I realized as I was walking up the steps that I did not prepare a message. And I’d forgotten to bring the obituary to read. I’ve had dreams like this before, usually a night or two before a funeral. But never two nights in a row like this.

Then, last night, I had a dream that I was returning to Philmont Scout Ranch to hike with a crew as an Advisor again. It was a last-minute decision and I was completely unprepared. I didn’t even have a flashlight with me. We didn’t have an itinerary picked before we arrived and I found out that we were assigned the most difficult trek imaginable, which included hiking up Baldy Mountain two separate times.  And I hadn’t done any physical preparation so as I took my first step on the trek, I suddenly had this fear that I wasn’t in the shape I should be for such a journey. So I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it up Baldy. In fact, I thought I was going to die there.

I’m guessing I’m feeling unprepared for things? Maybe under-equipped? I’m not sure. What do you think?

Strange Dreams

I woke up sometime after midnight last night and swore I heard an owl outside our bedroom window. It would hoot every few minutes or so. And its hoot was always the same.

In hindsight, I’m wondering if I was really asleep and merely had a dream that I was awake in my bed. It’s happened before. Just not recently.

And then there was the dream that invovled sliced sweet potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember being concerned about how well they were turning out.

So I woke up this morning and asked Christy how the sweet potatoes were doing. It was dark, but I’m sure she looked at me like I was crazy.

Maybe it was something I ate.

Yet Another Strange Dream

I dozed off on the couch this morning while I was watching a show on the History Channel called Exodus Decoded. I guess I wasn’t completely asleep because the voice of the narrator was also narrating the dream I was having.

He was telling the story of Moses leading the people through the wilderness and to Mt. Sinai. As I heard these words,

[info]kmtodd23

 and I were acting out the narration. Except – we were on an isolated, rocky beach. And we had a bucket, a beach umbrella, and some kind of fusion between a Big Wheel and a wheelchair. We saw a pillar of white smoke a good distance away. So we decided to walk to it.

But we had to carry the Ark of the Covenant (I know…they didn’t have it until they arrived at Sinai…it’s a dream, remember?), which was a wicker basket shaped like a big trunk. Somehow, the two of us were carrying all of this stuff, riding in our Big Wheel wheelchairs when necessary. And then we started to doubt whether the white pillar was really what we were supposed to be following.

And, like a movie, the perspective changed and I was looking down on a series of clouds that looked like this. Yeah – mushroom clouds.

I don’t remember anything else. Maybe we were vaporized, I don’t know. It was all so strange, so I figured I should record it for posterity. 

Dreams – it’s a matter of interpretation

You know the stereotype. People talk about weird dreams and you always hear about the dream where someone’s standing in front of their classroom with no clothes on. Yeah, yeah. We get it.

I’ve had my share of crazy dreams…

  • When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I dreamed I was in a Transformers episode. I’m running away from the Decepticons when Laserbeak shoots me in the back.  The next day, my back hurt like it hadn’t hurt before.
  • I used to dream that my alarm clock went off.  At 3 in the morning, I’d get up, turn off my alarm, and go take a shower.  It was always dark when I got up for school, so the lack of sunlight wouldn’t faze me.  Sometimes, I’d even go downstairs and pour myself a bowl of cereal.  Mom would come down and tell me to look at the clock.
  • Apparently, I had some pretty vivid dreams in college, too.  One time, I sat up in the middle of the night and said to my roommate, “Matt, where’s the Blackberry Road?”  I stared at him for a minute and then put my head back on my pillow and went to sleep.
  • When Christy was pregnant, I always had dreams that she was falling.  I’d reach out to grab her and save her.  I didn’t do this just in my dreams, though.  I would actually grab her and hold on for dear life.  There were several times that she’d wake me up screaming because I had scared the living daylights out of her.

Yeah, I’ve had some pretty vivid dreams.  Last night, I had a modification of the old stereotype, though.  In my dream, Christy and I were standing at a busy intersection across the street from our house.  We were in a hurry to get into our house while remaining as invisible as possible.  That’s a pretty difficult thing to do when you’re standing on the corner naked as jaybirds.

What’s up with that?

I Had a Dream

So, a few weeks ago I had a dream that I received a letter from the Academic Dean. In it, he says that he’s on his knees begging me to prayerfully reconsider my decision to take Hebrew this Spring.

Although in real life I had already decided not to take Hebrew this Spring, this dream still haunted me for a few days. It was really eerie when I would pass him in the hallway.

I hate having dreams with people I know in them. It just freaks me out.