Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The story of Hope

I talk with people every day who are jobless. Some old, some young; some depressed, some optimistic; some who'll do any type of work to make ends meet, some who refuse work just to stay on unemployment. I've been there myself (">you can read about that in this older post).

I'm a planner. A type-A personality who is used to going after what I want and succeeding. Since I was very young, I wanted to be a TV news reporter. I love writing, I love asking people questions, I love the minute just before you go on air and you get that buzz, that "good pressure." The plan was to go to college, meet the perfect guy, get married right after graduation, get the TV job, then start having babies. Wellllll...I still wonder who I'll marry, obviously don't have any youngins' (other than my fur-baby), and I was laid off from the "dream" job.

For almost two years after being laid off, I worked different odd jobs (that I enjoyed and really was grateful for), but felt like I was NEVER going to find a "career" job. I would try to imagine myself in all different types of jobs and just couldn't picture anything that felt right. I would literally beg God, cry out to him, get mad at him and tell him about it, feeling like I would never be happy in a job again.

Then one day Debbie Turner called me. About a job I didn't even know existed. A job I didn't apply for. A job in Greenwood, SC...where I never thought I'd settle down. "Lindsay, I have a position open that's going to be a mix of payroll/administrative assistant/account executive at my staffing agency and I'd like for you to come interview with me." So, what's a praying, job-seeking girl to do? Turn it down. Duh. Having nothing to lose, I boldly told her, "I don't want to be an administrative assistant and you don't want me anywhere near your payroll." She convinced me to come meet with her anyway. Telling you, she's persistent, that Debbie Turner! I met with her and immediately felt a kinship. But, I still wanted nothing to do with the front desk or the payroll, though I told her if it was strictly an account executive position, I'd love it. We ended our interview with a prayer and decided to meet again the following week.

I left there with a scary, sinking feeling that I'd be walking out that door a lot in the days to come. God, this was NOT part of the plan! Greenwood?! Payroll/admin asst?! But, the more I prayed that week, the more I knew...her calling me was no coincidence.

When we met the second time, Debbie offered me an account executive position...no payroll, no administrative duties, just account executive! The one thing I told God I wanted! Then, through both of our tears (this was no typical job interview), she told me that she'd somehow found my facebook page (we are not friends on facebook and my page is private) and that the Holy Spirit kept telling her, "This is the one. You should hire her." Of course, she told God how crazy he was being, that she didn't even know me, and that I probably wasn't even looking for work. Then, a couple of weeks later, someone I've never even met forwarded her my resume...she pulled up facebook to make sure there was nothing racy of me on there...and imagine her surprise when she saw the same girl she'd "stumbled upon" before!! This was just confirmation to me that I was indeed supposed to be there.

Apprehension and nervousness filled the days before my first day at StaffSource. Would I like it? Did I just get myself into something that I'm not going to be good at? What about my co-workers, would we get along? Would I really be using the gifts God gave me on this job?

YES, YES AND MORE YES! I LOVE my job! Seriously, if it wasn't sucking up, I'd probably thank my boss every day for persisting in hiring me. I still get to write, I interview lots of people every day, I help people find work, I help clients find good workers. I work in a Christian company and get to live that on the job without fear. My co-workers? I feel like I just got a whole bunch of new friends! If this is sounding too good to be true...well, I've been trying not to let myself worry that it'll be taken from me, because it is SO wonderful! If you could meet the precious people I work with/for, see the way work is handled, or sit behind my desk and see the joy someone has when they get a job, you'd understand why it is worth the wait. That year and a half of worrying about never finding the right job...it was hard. Some days it was impossible to have hope. I would recite Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 to myself, but sometimes I just couldn't take them personally, couldn't believe they would apply to me.

There were so many times I heard that I was "overqualified," "not experienced enough," or didn't even hear back at all from jobs I applied for. There were a couple of times I actually turned down jobs that seemed right but when I prayed I knew they weren't. It was all really tough. But, seeing how God brought me to this job that I love has given me hope. Though I'm disappointed in myself for losing hope and allowing my circumstances to to weigh me down, I now have this great perspective to share with the people I interview daily. Old or young, depressed or optimistic, I know that I have something they need. The story of hope.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

FAT Tuesday

Is. it. ever!!

Eggs and canadian bacon. Handful of Cheez-Its. Marshmallow puff. Fried chicken sandwich and french fries (dipped, OF COURSE, in rotating cups of honey mustard, ranch, and ketchup). Caramel Cadbury egg. Teriyaki chicken sub.

Whew!

You thought it was New Orleans, but FAT Tuesday is really celebrated in Abbeville, SC! What they forgot to mention about this horribly fun little holiday is what comes after...the self-loathing and guilt. WHY did I eat that?!

Ironically...At work we've started having a 15-minute Bible study every Monday morning before the business opens. We're doing fruits of the spirit and I was asked to lead our first devotion. Naturally, I chose the one I struggle with the most: self-control.

Let me back up a few years and paint you a full picture of my WAR little problem with this little fruit. About 15 Christmases ago, my grandma baked a pan of caramel swirl brownies I can STILL smell them for the family. While everyone else was unwrapping presents, I snuck into the kitchen and ATE THE ENTIRE PAN. Crunchy corner brownie, gooey middle brownie, big chunks still-stuck-to-the-pan brownie...the ENTIRE pan! I remember thinking, "this is SO GOOD. Just ONE more, and then I'll stop." But, I didn't. I couldn't. And then I felt it. The nausea. I got sick and felt awful for the rest of the night. But, I could. not. stop. And this is one reason you will never see me drinking or smoking...this teensy little problem I have with self-control and knowing when to stop with "too much of a good thing."

I grew up in a non-denominational church. I'd never heard of lent. In a crowded elevator at USC, I (embarassed for her) told a girl, "Umm, you have a little black smudge on your forehead." And (embarassed for me) she said, "Yeah, I know," and rolled her eyes. My friend elbowed me and made a mortified face and informed me when we got off the elevator that it was part of her religious celebration of Ash Wednesday. This was my introduction to all things Lent.

Fast forward to last week's devotion on self-control, and I readily confess that after "preaching" on this subject...I struggled mightily with it all week! Funny how that happens! Some of my co-workers celebrate lent and as they've talked about it, I really felt convicted that I should fast something this year, too. I think this will be a good time to give something up for God, not just for me and because "it's bad for me." <--- That argument obviously does no good with my feeble stubborn brain. If I'm going to do it, I have to know I'm doing it for Him, or I'll fall flat on my face. Again. So, on this FAT TUESDAY, I'm promising God (and you) that I will not eat any sweets (fruits don't count) for the next 40 days. If you see me, feel free to ask me if I've had anything sweet to eat. If I snap your head off, you'll know that I'm going through withdrawals and the answer is no! Hopefully, I won't have anymore FAT Tuesdays for awhile!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Turn Off the News"

When people find out I was a news reporter, inevitably they will say, 'Oh, I don't watch the news, it's too depressing. They only put the bad stuff on there.' And I totally agree. It is depressing and if you work in news you know, 'if it bleeds it leads.' Sad, I know.

For awhile I subscribed to that same theory. After I was laid off from the tv station and didn't have to cover the news everyday, I didn't watch the news for a few months! It felt so good to not hear about all the horrible things around me. Working in news made me paranoid, it made me more cynical, jaded. I'd always looked at people and thought they were mostly good; the more news I covered the faster my opinion ran in the opposite direction.

At my current job (have I told you how much I LOVE my job and how thankful I am for it? Cause I am.) we keep the tv in the lobby on FOX news all day. I literally almost started crying at my desk today after hearing all the death and destruction headlines. I was overwhelmed with how dark our world is.

In the past few months God has been dealing with me and my 'turn off the news' attitude. Turning off the news doesn't make the bad stuff go away. Ignoring it doesn't help. If I turn off the news and turn on some mindless, happy show...how is that a better use of my time, really? I'm not here in this world for my comfort, I'm here to glorify Him and show Him to others. Who needs him more than the hurt and the lost? If I was in Egypt, if I was in China, if I was in Haiti...would I want people to turn my news off simply because 'it's depressing to hear about?' No! Of course it's depressing to hear about...but can you imagine living it??

As Americans, we are so spoiled that we take for granted the freedoms and safety we have. If you've never been to a third world country, if you've never seen a hungry orphan drink water from a dirty storm drain, if you've never seen people scared to death of being beaten/killed by crooked police officers, if you've never seen a pregnant woman hide for fear the government will find her and kill her baby...go. Go to the hard places. You'll be a better person because of it. That is the reality millions face every day. And we - myself included - complain because we have to HEAR about it!

I truly believe that we, as Americans and as part of the 'modernized' western world, will not be apart from this harsh reality forever. It's coming our way. We are not immune to the world's problems. So maybe it's time we start listening to them. Maybe it's time we watch the news and take even five minutes to pray for what breaks our hearts. Think about what a difference it could make! Next time you think about 'turning off the news,' don't. Stop. Pray. Ask God to break your heart for what breaks His. Ask Him to show you how to pray for what you see. Ask God to show you how to help. Wouldn't you want someone to do that for you?

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." Helen Keller


PS God likes to pop this verse in my head in those times when I know I should watch, I know I should pray, and I just don't feel like it:

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't Read Hungry...

Consider yourself warned...don't read this if you're the least bit hungry!

Today at work this evil nice lady brought us some hot, fresh, chocolate chip scones. The smell took me right back to the days of living in the sorority house when the biggest worry we had was whether to have the raspberry white chocolate scone or the blueberry. Tough times! But, today, the worry was...can I have just ONE bite? ;)

And the delicious temptations reminded me that I have yet to blog about one of my most favorite meals of 2010. This is pretty late, but I promised I would so here goes...

Introducing...FRIED COOKIE DOUGH! The State Fair meal of champions! It sounds weird, but these little fried balls are so good they make ya wanna slap yo momma! (Which is probably not a good idea cause you may want her to drive you to the hospital when your arteries clog.)



Seriously, folks...it is ALLLL it is cracked up to be! And cookie dough isn't the only thing you can deep fry. Uh uh, here in the South, we get creative about the important things in life. You can try deep fried oreos like my friend, Tori...



You can even have fried butter or fried Pepsi!



Fried Snickers was okay, fried milky way pretty good, I LOVE a fried pickle, but only fried cookie dough will leave me licking my fingers!



No judging, folks. Save that for the man I saw wolfing down the Krispy Kreme donut cheeseburger. I mean, onions, ketchup, and beef in the middle of two glazed donuts? Now that is something I can't bring myself to try!

Oh, and after you've stuffed yourself with 10,000 calories, make sure you go hang out with Boyz II Men!



It makes for a really FULL day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I just don't have time

I haven't blogged in awhile. I've thought about it, and have even thought of several blogs that need to be written. They'll pop in my head, and I'll start writing (still in my head) them and then I'll think, "I'll never remember just how to write this if I actually pull up my computer and then it won't be as good," so then I just don't do it. And I've been busy. If you asked me about it, I'd probably tell you, "I just don't have time."

There are a lot of things "I just don't have time" for:

-cleaning my room (oh darn)
-cooking healthy meals and taking the left overs to work for lunch the next day like a good little dieter (eating out is much more fun!)
-lifting those lil 5lb weights that have been sitting by my bed for a year now
-taking Lou for long walks (he likes the cold)
-calling my friends more often
-taking more than 30 secs to throw on clothes and makeup when I leave the house (sorry to Abbeville and the surrounding area for my scary appearance as of late!)
-having the hard conversations that need to be had
-reading my Bible every morning

And the list goes on. But, something I heard tonight really resonated with me: God always gives you enough time in the day to do His will. Let that sink in. Each day has a mission, a purpose, a plan. Each choice follows the path or veers from it. Each waking moment is a chance or a missed opportunity.

Jesus had only 1,000 days to make the biggest impact any man has ever made on this earth! He didn't waste even a SECOND. This doesn't mean we should run around with no sleep - rest is an investment, too! But, it means to make the most of our time, to fulfill our purposes and not waste our lives, we have to prioritize.

When we say, "I don't have time," what we are really saying is, "I'm not making time for that b/c it's not as important to me." It doesn't sound nearly as pretty, but it's so true. When I lay in bed and talk to God at the end of an exhausting day and I say, "God, I'm sorry I didn't read your word today, but you understand, right? I just didn't have time, I really didn't," what I am really saying is, "I chose ________ over you." And, yes, that happens, and yes, God has grace for that, but no, it is not living in His will!

The most important thing in a Christian's life should be his/her relationship with the Creator. Period. End of story. Having some distraction-free quiet time with God every day is a must. It should be numero uno, priority one. It's what sets our lives on course and brings us into a more intimate knowledge of Him. We have time, we just have to choose it. I'm choosing to maximize my time here and have the least regrets...that starts by getting on my knees before my Lord in the morning. No more snoozing and rolling over, I "just don't have time" for that anymore!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Tis the Season for...

Tis the season for greediness giving. I really am happy for retailers that they make good money during this time of year, but I despise how wrapped up in STUFF we get and how "I gotta have ____!" I've been guilty of it, too. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Some kids/people get nothing, not even a meal, not even a warm place to sleep. But, it doesn't have to be that way. We can help! We can make this a time of true giving and not just for the people we are closest to.

This Christmas, join me in giving something to those who otherwise might not get anything at all. If you're in Abbeville: call the schools and find out if any of their students need clothes, shoes, jackets and donate your hand-me-downs. Call local churches to find out if they're serving meals or having a clothing drive. Ask around - it won't be hard to find someone who's been laid off and needs help giving their family gifts. Call DSS and donate old toys kids who aren't in their parents custody.

If you're in Greenwood: Grace Community Church has an Angel Tree with families you can sponsor (due Wednesday), work with the Salvation Army, or help with the soup kitchen at the First Presbyterian Church.

In Columbia: help the Nehemiah Project deliver hot meals to families next Saturday (comment below for details on this); donate food/money/clothes to the homeless shelter on Two Notch or to the womens' shelter on North Main St; find a boys and girls home nearest you and make their Christmas brighter!

No matter where you live, there IS something you can do to help others. If you're like me and have way more than you need, tell someone to donate something in your honor instead of giving you a present this year! If you can't spare much in the way of money this year, you can still invest in others simply by giving them time - volunteer at a shelter/soup kitchen, or even volunteer for Big Brother/Big Sister! Wouldn't you want someone to do that for you, if you needed it?

Maybe you're like me and have this strong desire to help those who need it most? And if you're like me, it's easy to get discouraged just thinking about all the millions of people out there who need so much. It's overwhelming - like using a medicine dropper to empty the ocean! But, helping them one by one is better than not at all! So this year, if you can...give back (the more medicine droppers we use, the faster that ocean empties)! And remember that prayer is not the 'least' we can do, it's better than any sweater or hot meal! So, if you want to give to those who need it most this year, pick someone or a family and pray for that person/people in 2011. Let's make this the season of giving to others!