Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Calming A Fearful Heart; August 30, 2016

As a requirement for one of Waverly's classes this fall, it was recommended that she join a Christian educator's professional organization.

From that membership, she receives a periodic publication.

It came in the mail this past week here at the house in Spring.

It is the organization's "Back to School" issue and its cover topic is "Fearless."

Thumbing through it, I presume that there might be a regular column called "The Heart Dimension".

The writer's heading is "A Fearful Heart".

I'm no Elijah.  That's for sure.  Whether it be by comparison of Elijah's walk with Christ to mine or what all he suffered.

The writer, Vernard T. Gant, wrote that Elijah "went from talking about God on a mountain top to hiding in a cave."

Gant wrote that God didn't give up on Elijah and that He "gently whispered encouragement in the middle of that cave."

He said that it "allowed Elijah to overcome his fear" and regain "his passion for God's purposes."

The author uses Psalm 46:10 to illustrate that we should "be still, and know that I am God."

And then he follows with Isaiah 30:21, "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."

Mid-day, I had a call from the recruiter that is working with the company that is looking at flying me out the week after next to interview with them.

There was something that he needed for me to do, but I interpret this all as God showing me a potential way to go.

Again, as I shared earlier, we have to be willing to move and take action, ask God to lead us and trust that leading.

Tomorrow is the last day at the client that I've been at since July 2012.

I got a couple of items updated today, had another training session with somebody that would be doing some data analysis that I've done weekly for them since January 2015 and prepared for Wednesday.

There's some sadness there because I've had the opportunity to work in a world-class institution that has its challenges, but also has some very talented people.

And while there's nervousness because I don't know what completely lies ahead from the company that I'm currently employed by, I have things revealed to me that calms my fearful heart.

Like the Ryan Stevenson song, "Eye of The Storm", says, "I did my best ... My only hope is to trust You, I trust you Lord."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Vermont Road Trip Report; August 28, 2016

Delayed flight out of IAH (which is becoming quite common, by the way, for United) and traffic coming through the Ted Williams Tunnel (down to one lane) put me at the Hampton Inn in Greenfield, Massachusetts at about 12:20 a.m. this morning.

I still got a solid night's sleep after getting a little shut-eye on the plane ride into Boston.

Out the door a little behind schedule and on the road by 7:50 a.m. to be able to drive into Vermont and make it to the race site - Whitingham, Vermont (the birthplace of Brigham Young) - by about 8:30 a.m.

As I made the drive off the road to the dam, you would have thought that they might have had to pump sunlight back in there.  :-)

Interestingly, the Harriman Dam, which we ran over and back at the beginning and the end of the race, was the largest earthen dam in the world at the completion of its construction in 1923.  The adjacent Glory Hole, which water runs down inside of to generate electricity, was not part of the course (but I parked right above it along the road and could see right down in it.)

The Best Dam Run and Walk in Vermont was produced by The Deerfield Valley Community Cares fund, which helps people with their heating expenses.  (I can only imagine what the winters are like up here.)

Volunteers with the local Deerfield Valley Rotary Club were very friendly.

I had bib #51 and I'm not sure that there were any more runners than that.

The description of the out-and-back race course was pretty spot on:  "The trail through the woods is well marked and relatively flat, so it is suitable to all types of runners and walkers."

But for Vermonters, it is relatively flat.

For flatlander Houstonians, it had a little character, especially in the middle, and some rocky spots.

And for the most part, it was really shaded, even though it got a little warm at the end (what else is new though after running for more than two hours in a summer month).

I was hoping for two hours, 30 minutes since I hadn't run 13 miles since mid-June in Michigan and not a lick since I left Lynchburg after Waverly and I ran a 10K one day and then 40 minutes the next.

My watch shows 2:46:20.  It is another state, though.

I talked to a couple of people while running the course.  One of them was an emergency medicine doctor who was pregnant.  Ran with her for most of the first four miles and she was right there with me at the turnaround as well as another woman who I found out later was doing her first half.

I have two more half marathons in (Pocatello) Idaho and (Ventura) California the next two weeks to get ready for the Virginia Ten Miler, which will be two weeks after that.

Mile 1 - 11:39.44
Mile 2 - 11:22.40
Mile 3 - 12:23.68
Mile 4 - 15:17.53 (where most of the character of the course was seen)
Mile 5 - 12:14.71
Mile 6 - 12:08.57
Mile 6-6.55 - 5:24.67 (not sure if this was right given how I had been running)
Mile 6.55-9 - 31:46.51 (which would have been 37:11.18 for three miles.)
Mile 10 - 14:34.67 (more of the character and a water stop)
Mile 11 - 14:03.37 (some cramping in the calves)
Mile 12 - 12:59.15
Last 1.1 - 12:25.61

It was a beautiful day.  The people that I spoke to were super friendly.  You couldn't have asked for a better race environment at a small race.

I drove over to Brattleboro and up Interstates 91 and 89 to beyond Montpelier and Barre to go north here to Stowe, Vermont for tomorrow's race up to the highest spot in Vermont.

Should be fun.  :-)

When I travel, I usually stay at either a Marriott or Hilton property.  Hotels in these parts during the summer are a little pricey – as I learned that Stowe has become as popular of a summer location as it is for its skiing in the winter time -- and I wanted to be able to clean up immediately after the race before I started the jaunt back to Logan Airport in Boston.

I stayed at a place called the Stowe Motel & Snowdrift.  It was two different properties that came together awhile back under one owner.  These were almost like small apartments as opposed to hotel rooms.  My unit was clean, comfortable, had air conditioning and hot water.  Pretty much meets my minimum qualifications.

After getting a really good bite to eat at this place called Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge, instead of putzing around the small town, I got to bed early – like at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

I needed it.  I got up at 6 a.m., but didn’t get out of the hotel until about 7:30 a.m.

I had scoped out the distance to the race site was about 10 minutes up Mountain Road, but the one thing that I didn’t gauge real well is that like where we live where there’s a convenience store every place you look – the one that there was – a family location – didn’t appear to be open.

I had grabbed a roll at the continental breakfast – and am glad that I had something in me, but I didn’t get a chance to eat it until about 8:30 a.m. before a 9:00 a.m. start.

The parking lot was “roughly ¼ mile” the directions said from the start and where packet pickup was.

Roughly, meaning that it was likely more than that.  I’d gather closer to a half mile and it was a long, steady incline along the road.  So up it twice and down once before the start.

The bib numbers went up to 500, I saw, and there was a mountain bike race that started at 10 a.m.

It was 4.3 miles to the top of Mount Mansfield and you had to get yourself back down – on foot.

I was thinking – and hoping – that it would take me a little more than an hour, but as we got into it – and it started to warm up, I realized that that projection was going to go by the wayside.

I think if I didn’t have to worry about getting back to Logan that evening and back here to Houston that I would have stayed and made it to the top; however, I was really fatigued.

I was never short of breath, but I stopped a number of times to just bend over, put my hands on my knees and breathe.

Mile 1 – 17:46.59
Mile 2 – 18:58.09
Mile 3 – 23:39.42 (this included stopping short, going down a little bit and then coming back to get to the marker and then calling it a day.)

Had I gone on, I would have been rushing everything the rest of the day.  The stress from all of that just wasn’t worth it.  I made my way back down the three miles.

People were very forgiving.  One guy said that it was six more miles of work than a lot of people would do that day.  But, honestly, I could really care less about what other people think.

I like to think I can do anything, whether or not I’m prepared for it.

I think that comes out of doing some of the other crazy stuff that I’ve done, including the Leadville Heavy Half, which was about the same gain in elevation but starting at 10,200 feet above sea level.  The bending over there was from the altitude.

I just thought it would be cool to do.  And it still was a good idea.

The drive back was fairly uneventful.  Although you get a little nervous when traffic backs up 40 miles out from the airport, which is just outside of downtown Boston, despite being in that spot four hours before your flight leaves.

Not sure how people live up there.  It just seems so much denser than even here in Houston with all the growth the past 15 years.

Once at the airport, the best part of anything:  my weekly Sunday call with Waverly.

She shared with me the highlights and the challenges of the week.  I’m so proud of her and excited for her and all she gets to experience.  I do my best to encourage her to do as much as she can handle.  I also know that she’s my very best supporter.  Our relationship is truly unique.  She still seeks my guidance as her earthly father, but we’re very good friends too.

So in closing the recap of the weekend, I’m writing here at home (and I won’t be able to post this until I get to the office in the morning), but the two devotionals that I’m in talk about the following:

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.” – Job 22:23.

John Hillman, a longtime friend of mine, wrote, “God assures us, too, that if we do wrong we can return to Him.  If we repent, ask His forgiveness, and concentrate on following His word, we will be restored.”

In some parts of my life, I’m doing that so it was an encouragement to read late Sunday evening as I get ready to go to bed.  We all learn this as young children in Sunday School, but we’re discouraged from the rough times in life where we try to go it on our own that it really isn’t real.

I know when I sin I fear being separated from God forever.

The other devotional is Tony Dungy’s “Uncommon Life” and for August 28, his verse selected was:

“Choose today whom you will serve … As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15.

Two really good paragraphs follow that speak a lot of truth to my situation currently.  Dungy wrote:

“Simply put, when times are good, when we’re flush with cash, or when our careers are going well, it’s easy to realize and embrace the truth that we are called to serve God and not things.  But what about when times are tight?  Who gets top priority then?”

“What about when you’ve just lost your job and you don’t know which way to turn, and when you’re sitting down to update your resume, your younger daughter asks for help with some homework?  What’s more important?  How about when you’ve been offered the opportunity you’ve been waiting for – a job with a big advancement and a larger salary – but it requires moving to another state just as your son begins his senior year in high school?  Not an easy call.  “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord?”  Right?  Easy?”

There’s been a lot of focus lately.  Trying to discern God and what my next steps should be.

I’m sorrowful to an extent that I haven’t done it more fully in my life and I want to strive to do it continually from here on out, not knowing how much longer God will allow me to live.

It wasn’t like I was intense or anything, but there was one time while running back from the turnaround to the finish on Saturday that I literally reached up to make sure my glasses were still on because it was as if I couldn’t feel them on my face.  I’ve never felt anything like that before, but it was a feeling of transcendence.

While I currently don’t want to disappoint God, I also want to be honorable to all of those who are praying for me in this time period of my life.  Why ask for people’s help and be unwilling to do your part as part of the entire process?  That’s being lazy and unthankful.

So I’ll try to do continue to do my best as well as I can each day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

On The Way To Vermont; August 26, 2016

I'm headed to Boston this afternoon.  There's two races that I'll be running this weekend in Vermont.

The first on Saturday will be a half marathon in my 44th state and a race in my 49th state.  Rhode Island is left there.

This is one of four trips that I had planned before I received word of a potential separation from my current employer.

Even though I've paid for these (meaning airfare and race entries went on a credit card and that amount immediately went off of my card), I considered not going to all but the last one - which is a trip to Lynchburg to run and see Waverly - to be fiscally prudent.

However, I countered that I need to go to maintain the proper emotional balance in this season of change.

These two paragraphs were part of Max Lucado's daily e-mail today titled, "Your Sermon":

If Jesus heals you instantly, praise him. If you are still waiting for healing, trust him. Your suffering is your sermon.

God will use your struggle to change others. God can use your suffering as your sermon!

Let's be real.  The things that I'm dealing with isn't suffering by any means, but can be considered a trial.

While I'm nervous (and in some cases, scared), I just have to keep coming back over and over and trust God in all of this.

On Wednesday, I received word that my application to make another attempt to pursue my Bachelor's at a school was denied.

In that e-mail, though, there was an instruction of what may cause that university to reconsider their decision.

I talked to Waverly that night.  We had a great conversation like we usually do.  And she has shared with me that she and her leadership team at school are praying for me through this.  (I know others are too; therefore, I don't want to let anybody out as I'm mindful to give credit.)

We talked that while we trust God to lead and guide us we still have to be willing to move.  Not relocating, mind you, but to take action while we're waiting and to trust him.

That evening I wrote a letter to request readmission to the last school that I was at and since time was an issue with the plan that I was pursuing, I hand-delivered it the next morning to the Dean's office of the college of that university that I was in 23 years ago.

I then sent a letter of appeal to the denying university.

And at that point, it is completely out of my hands.  I can't do anything more, but let processes take their course.

Today was the last full week at the customer site.  I was in early so that I could get my 40 billable hours in for the week and to be able to leave in time to execute my weekend plan.

While looking at patient accounts, I prayed simply for God to continue to help me as I wait for feedback from multiple entities.

Within a half hour, I had an appointment request from somebody at my customer site to talk with them as they promised they would.  That's now set for Monday.

The recruiter that I'm working with on one position e-mailed me and said that the one company wants to fly me in the week of September 12 to interview with the team that I would be potentially joining.

And upon sharing that information with my Dad (and copying Waverly), she relayed me some information from the university that explained the processes that took place relating to the denial.

Now don't just think that God always just answers when we need Him to, but to me I took it as a sign to say, "Keep trusting Me."

Also in this same time frame, I received word that another recruiter that I was talking to said that one hospital that they pitched me to wouldn't budge on their degree requirement.

They felt that I was a perfect fit for the position, but I get it.  It’s that hospital's loss.

I’ll just keep applying until somebody accepts me, right?  :-)

As I was writing this in the airport, a long-time friend – like close to 35 years kind of friend from where many of us went to church together – walked by the gate (C33) that I was working at.

But you know how those things go, you weren’t really sure if it was them or not.

I had Facebook opened up.  She had in the last six months friended me.  Maybe even shorter than that.  I asked her if she was in the airport – she’s a flight attendant – and if she had just come in through C29-C33.  She said, “Yes.”

She came back to the gate that I was at and we enjoyed a good 15-20 minute conversation.

She and her sister have been very good friends with me and my late sister.  I think that her sister and I and she and my sister were the ones that were closer to one another given our age differences.

My sister and I were a little more than five years apart and she and her sister I think were closer in age – maybe only three years apart.

Nonetheless, it was really good to see and talk with her.  I hadn’t seen her since my sister’s memorial service.  We really appreciated her family all being there to support ours.

In closing, as we approach Boston as I think that we’re about 45-60 minutes from landing, we’re being treated to a beautiful sunset back over our left shoulder.

It looks like we’re flying just south of the Great Lakes as I can’t think of another large body of water that we’d be going by to the north of us as we’re going west to east.

Maybe somebody will enlighten me of another possibility.  :-)

Again, to those reading and praying, thank you.  And have a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Trust and Be Thankful; August 23, 2016

This season of life is a challenge to stay positive, but it takes a lot of reminding myself that I've been in it a few times and have come through it OK.

I have a couple of devotionals that I'm doing my best to invest some time in on a regular basis and even that has been tought to focus on sticking with.

Not that I'm discouraged.  It is just tough to stay patient when you feel as if you have a clock ticking down against you.

From Tony Dungy's "Uncommon Life" devotional today, it says the following:

"Proverbs 23:7 says, "As [a man] thinketh, so is he" (KJV).  That Scripture is true in so many ways and settings.  The glass is half empty or the glass is half full.  In any given set of circumstances we face, our own view of them will determine and direct our response.   Our thinking will illuminate what we feel inside -- worry and despair or confidence and hope."

He finishes the entry up with an UNCOMMON KEY > "Thoughts lead to values of the heart, which lead to character and hope.  Guard your thoughts."

The only thing that I know to do with the project that I'm on, which wraps up next Wednesday, is to finish it out strong.

When I was willfully changing jobs in the late 1990s, I was in the second week of a two-week notice and I think I traveled to six or seven hospitals in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the Beaumont area and Corpus Christi.  The last stop was Corpus and I remember staying in the office late and getting home close to midnight.

It is what my Dad taught me about being professional.

I'm doing my best to put my trust in God through this job situation.  Some moments, it wavers and of course, that is when I worry.

To maintain excellent mental health, I have to stay focused on God.

The bottom line, though, is that I need something to do.

I know that the online university acknowledged today that they now have all of my transcripts and are finally evaluating.  Perhaps I can get some classes started this fall and that will take up a lot of my focus outside of work.

The one individual that I was supposed to talk to on Monday saw me today and apologized for being busy and assured me that we would speak this week.

I told them, "I trust you."  And I do.

And if it didn't happen, without me trying to push my way in, I would realize that they didn't think that I was a fit (as I don't want a courtesy interview).  If you don't think that I have the skills to do the job, tell me and I can live with that.

I've had two organizations reach out at the end of the week before last and for various reasons, I haven't heard back from them.  One I had a phone conversation with and the other was a recruiter that I played phone tag with.

The one seems to have discounted me because I was having some technical issues with my laptop and the other because they called when I wasn't at my phone twice.  (I returned those calls, left messages and haven't heard from him.)

In both cases, maybe they aren't individuals that I need to be doing business with.

As believers, we understand that we're going to go through trials and tribulations.  It doesn't mean that they're going to be easy ones either, but I believe that God wants to see how we handle them - by continuing to trust in Him - to ensure that He can trust us with what He gives us (and ministry to do).

Dungy in the desk calendar from the same material that sits on my desk for today writes, "A Super Bowl win with the Bucs would have been wonderful.  I could have used that platform in a tremendous way.  But I think my getting fired had an even greater impact.  It's easy to be gracious when you're getting carried of the field in celebration.  It's more difficult when you're asked to pack up your desk."

For my current customer, I'll do that on Wednesday - not that I have anything there - but that is simply because my contract with them is up.

For my current employer, I don't know when and if a separation will come.  I know I received a calendar invite for monthly meetings Friday or yesterday, but that could be just my Partner getting organized and prepared.

I'm ready for whatever comes my way and I've had three weeks to make some things happen.

There's good that has taken place and my prayer is for something good to come out of all of this.  If not for me, for anybody who might be watching.

I have so much and at times I'm probably not as thankful as I can be.  But I really, really am.

Millions on this Earth have never had any of even the littlest things that I've had.  It is something that we should all keep in mind.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wrapping It Up For The Week; August 19, 2016

I posted the following on Facebook today:

I'm convinced that the best thing we can do for others is to encourage and love them as a friend publicly and pray for them privately.

This was after arriving back to my house before going to work this morning -- and after I picked up my transcript from another university that I attended.

That transcript wasn't any better than the last one that I picked up.

However, I came away knowing why it had taken me so long to face those "failures", if you will.

Understand that I admit that I didn't finish the things well that I had started, but if I had been deeply loved and encouraged I believe that I might have succeeded instead of feeling condemned.

I think today that I realized that I hadn't wanted to go back and face that pain that I had from not having anyone firmly in my corner.

I experience some of that today, to some extent; however, I better manage how to deal with it than I did then.

I have an expansive number of friends that I can lean on now if I need to and I certainly appreciate those who have shared their confidence in me.

That's where the post came from today.

My daughter shared with me something from her last year at college that I think has some parallels to me.

She was in a regularly scheduled meeting of fellow resident advisers where she goes to college and she shared some things that she was going through.

She shared with me that some of them were shocked with her admission because they thought she was "all put together".

I think people think that of me too.

And this is something that I've shared with my daughter often.  If you see me out and about, I probably come across as very confident and appearing to be on top of things.

If so, it is a result of me just trying to do my best at whatever I'm doing.

I'm not putting anything on or trying to impress anyone, but in reality I might be struggling and hurting.  However, I would never want to burden anyone, even though it is contrary to what we're to believe from the Bible.

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
The big verse in the middle there from Galatians 6 is to bear ye another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

A good commentary on it all is here.

It states, "If a Christian brother or sister is weighed down or menaced by some burden or threat, be alert to that and quickly do something to help. Don't let them be crushed. Don't let them be destroyed."

It goes on and says, "Don't increase burdens. Make them lighter for people. Some of you wonder what you are supposed to do with your life. Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter."

And that's what my post was about:  we should encourage and love people publicly, especially if we can spot that they might be heavy-hearted or sad, and then pray for them privately.

On the job front, I spoke with a recruiter about a healthcare consulting opportunity with one of the local systems of hospitals here.  I'm supposed to have a follow-up with her peer.  The pay is about 75% of what I make now, but I would be able to stay local.

It is a far way from anything happening, but I'm appreciative of the opportunity to share what I know.

I also had an interview with another area at the customer site that I'm at.

It was scheduled for 30 minutes and it ended up going 50 minutes.

There's some things that would be very new for me, but I feel like I can be successful in that role.   And it would give me a very broad exposure to a number of different areas in the facilities as well as a number of different applications of a large, nationally-known healthcare information system.

This is something that my one advocate has sold this other area on me.

Again, I'm eternally grateful that I have people who have these confidences in me.

I think I can too, don't get me wrong, but we seem to always have doubts and have to sell others on ourselves it seems.

I'm reading a few different daily devotionals to be closer to God not just through this rough patch, but where I should have been all along.

Two are sports-minded.  Well, everything is actually.  It is how I relate, right? :-)

They are books written by John and Kathy Hillman from Waco.

The other materials are those from Tony Dungy that I've referenced before here.

Today's note for August 19 says, "Be patient ...  Keep doing the ordinary things better than anyone else.  Be uncommon.  Do what we do."

I 've said it many times:  I don't need to get the glory.  Obviously, God deserves it for what He's provided and given to us.

Rather, I get satisfaction knowing that I've helped somebody else succeed.

That's what drives me.  What drives you?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Holding Steadfast; August 18, 2016

One of the things that I was excited about when my daughter chose to go to Liberty University was that she would attend Convocation three times a week.

Liberty states, "Convocation is North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, and each year it plays host to more than 80 guest speakers of national significance from every sphere of society. It is held within the Vines Center at Liberty University during each semester at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unless otherwise noted."

She usually has to miss one session a week as she has to do cleanliness checks in the dorms as a resident advisor, but the lineup of speakers that she has heard and will hear in her last year in Lynchburg (short of student teaching in the fall of 2017) is simply phenomenal.

I'm hoping that all will continue to lineup to allow for me to be in attendance on Friday, September 23.

When I attend Convocation last year, the experience brought me to tears in seeing 10,000 young Christian men and women worship Christ together, even though it is simply an academic component to every student's education at Liberty.

While it looks like Tim Tebow will make a return appearance as well as her favorite author, Karen Kingsbury, I'm so excited for her to be able to hear Dr. James Dobson, the founder of "Focus on the Family".

The entire schedule for the semester was released today and I was simply excited to share.

I don't know how God does what He does, but I know when He is present.

I'm in a meeting today training two employees who will be taking over next month a function that I do weekly for my customer.

We're in a conference room and I see an e-mail notification on the display screen from a contact about a possible position with another organization, but at the same customer site.

And this is something that I pursued on my own, so it isn't a conflict of interest of my customer or any organization as if they were recruiting me,

But basically I'll have an interview with this company for a position to be staffed on a team at the customer site that desires a unique skill set that I possess.

I also had applied for a position through a recruiter that is for a hospital here in the greater Houston area.   The job posting at the hospital site states that you had to have a Bachelor's degree, no exceptions.  However, I'm thinking that they're having so much trouble finding people that they're engaging every recruiter they know.

Now, that could spell trouble or opportunity.

I'll speak with the recruiter on Friday and find out more, but it was a blessing to at least have somebody interested and having confirmation that I met the skill set of the position that they're hiring for.

I received some wise advise from a family CFO friend more than 20 years ago.  He said to bury the degree information down on the resume and that by the time they saw what all you were capable of that some, not all, would forget what piece of paper you had or didn't.

And, finally, a recruiter that brought me to the table of a company that I had a good call with on Tuesday is having me speak to another member of their team with another customer/partner of theirs on Monday of next week.

I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to talk about my experience and how I might be able to help an organization.

I scanned my transcript from the one university and e-mailed that to the university that I'm seeking to do online education with today.

In the morning, I'm driving to another university close by to get that transcript.

One person that I don't think that I know commented on my Facebook post relating to facing that failure at the one university stated, "The fact that you took the time to order the transcript tells you there's a part of you that wants to finish. That's likely the runner in you. Good luck if you decide to go back. You'll never regret it if you do."

They're right and the fact is that I'm more accountable today to others and have a much better support system than what I did 20-plus years ago.

Not sure what I'm going to do this weekend other than get my phone repaired hopefully and announce a race on Saturday evening, if it is held.  It is a trail race and I haven't heard how much the rain in our area has affected the park that is run in.

A good friend is going for the Guinness World Record in the farthest distance run in 12 hours on a treadmill on Saturday morning in The Woodlands.  I'll definitely make it up there to get a few pictures and be an encouragement to him.

So while I felt some stress while going to the office today, I know that God is still working and I just have to continue to put my trust in Him and be patient with the process about where my next employment step and situation is going to be.

Thanks again for all of your interest, love and support of me and my family.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

At Least Three Times; August 17, 2016

Do you ever reflect at the end of the day and realize the times that you know as a believer that God was there and actively involved in your activities?

That was definitely me today.  I believe that there were three specific instances where I realized this.

After getting fingerprinted in case I want to pursue some substitute teaching in a time of transition, I went to one of the local universities that I didn't succeed in doing well in getting my Bachelor's degree completed some 26-27 years ago.

I needed to request an official transcript to be sent to another university and their online program so that they could evaluate what might transfer.

I knew that the transcript wasn't pretty and actually I thought I might have had a hold on the account from an on campus parking ticket.

The latter didn't end up existing and I was surprised that I had completed more hours than I thought.

The question now will be how many of them will I be able to bring over and what will I have left to finally get that Bachelor's degree that I need.

But the important thing is that I believe that God gave me the courage to be able to finally face that fear of not being able to do anything about all of that.

At least in the communication with this other university, I have some hope.

(And even though a very involved alum offered their assistance at this local university, I don't think I can get past the academic suspension that I left the university from some 26 years ago.)

Later at work, I was in a monthly meeting to discuss the opportunities and challenges in working the accounts receivable of a health care organization that I've been assigned to for the last four and a quarter years.

I have expressed interest in a few permanent positions there.

One of them is for an executive director who hasn't come to that meeting in quite some time, but she was there today.

I had reached out to her two weeks ago after I got word of what might be coming soon and she responded Friday while I was in Virginia with my daughter.

We had a good dialogue and conversation today and are looking to get together on Monday to discuss the opportunities in her area.  Whether anything comes out of it or not, the fact that she was in that meeting today - for the first time in as long as she's been gone from it - was more than just coincidence.

It was a signal to me that God is saying, "Trust me."  Doesn't mean that He's going to give me that job, but rather that I should trust His process in it all.

The third and final thing was later this evening.

After receiving help from T-Mobile in getting an iPhone back and active after Saturday's crazy telephonic adventures, I came home, changed clothes and went to get a bite to eat.

I was really hungry for a Pollo Mexicano at Jason's Deli in The Woodlands.

I wasn't necessarily impatient, but when I walked in and went to the regular register, not the take out one, the young man there motioned for some help.

With a couple of employees on their phones (yes, they could have been on their break) and not providing the normal level of customer service there, and in being told that I needed to go over to that line, I just decided to leave and go eat something some place else.

Rather than be angry and upset, it was the best option.  (And, oh, it wasn't about waiting in line - as I had already waited, but rather it was just the approach of the employees that didn't strike me well.)

So I went down the road, close to where I live, and went in Freddy's Hamburgers and the College and Career class from where I go to church was there.

So what did God have to do with this?

Well, my long-time friend - and now Associate Pastor of our church - was there and I had a chance to share with him what was going on with my job situation.  (He understanding and empathetic as he works in the IT industry and has had to do what may happen to me in a couple of weeks.)

But the bottom line is that I know that he and his wife will pray for me and that again God was revealing to me that He's there - even though I may feel distant and am anxious of what may or may not happen.

That's my share and takeaway from the day.

The last page of the book that I just finished reading, "Crazy Busy" by Kevin DeYoung said the following:  "We won't say no to more craziness until we can say yes to more Jesus.  We will keep choosing dinner rolls over the bread of life.  We will choose the fanfare of the world over the feet of Jesus.  We will choose busyness over blessing."

So I'm trying to make time to read a couple of devotionals and pray and get and stay close to Jesus better than I ever have.

It doesn't mean that there won't be times that I won't be anxious, nervous or unsure, but there should be more times of peace and comfort - even in the middle of a storm of life - by slowing down and staying close to God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Buckling In; August 16, 2016

What an emotional roller coaster ride this is.  Wow.

For the most part, all is positive and optimistic as I'm engaging with as many people as I can.  I'm very fortunate that I have somebody at the customer site who is being an advocate for me here.

And, then, there are times where a wave of fear comes crashing over me.

Some of which has been exacerbated by just leaving my daughter in Virginia for her senior year of college, which includes a whole different set of emotions for and from her.

I'm exploring the possibility of going back to school to finish up a Bachelor's degree that I initially didn't succeed at.  I've applied at a very reputable online university.  (Hint:  Some of my money goes there already.)

They're going to be able to get one transcript to evaluate.

I just ordered the electronic transcript from where I got my Associate's degree at and I'm going to have to go to the University to request the transcript since it was before 2000.

And if the absolute worst happens and something doesn't happen right away, I have applied with one of the area school districts (and maybe one or two more) to substitute teach while I was doing course work towards getting that Bachelor's degree.

I guess I'm fortunate enough from my current employer to at least have four weeks' warning as opposed to none once my work at this customer site is complete on August 31.

Still it is a little unnerving.

I have a few trips planned at the end of the month and the start of next month.

I've hesitated taking them, but it may be best to go ahead and enjoy them while trying to keep other expenses at a minimum while doing so.

Thank you again for all of you who have prayed, are praying or will pray for me in the days, weeks and months ahead.

While all of our efforts are to be done as a light to others and in service to Him, I don't want to waste your time, effort and energy either in your support of me.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Off The Beaten Path; August 12, 2016

We're in Roanoke tonight as we get ready to go into Lynchburg tomorrow.

For the fourth - and maybe final (just depending where she does her student teaching in the fall of 2017) - time, we'll leave Waverly at Liberty University on Sunday as she begins her senior year.

She's a very grounded young woman, despite being very admired by so many.  And just as beautiful inside as she is outside.

Given the events that have transpired last week as it relates to my livelihood, we thought about not running the race that we have planned in the morning.

However, I had been reimbursed well for some work - outside of my professional career - that I had done in the past; therefore, I decided it would be one of two more times to run together before I come back home Sunday.

There's a 5K and a 10K so we'll chew off the longer distance to kick-start her training for the Virginia 10 Miler at the end of next month.

We'll run on campus early Sunday morning, something I love to get to do whenever I make a trip up here.

I'm a little concerned that my late September trip - to run the 10-Miler - may be in jeopardy, but I'll just have to see how things play out.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, taken my resume and connected with others on my behalf.

There are others, specifically the Sizemore family in Georgia, who need prayers more than me, but again, I'm thankful.

I've asked God to show me exactly where I my next steps need to be and I'm doing my best to completely trust Him with where I can best serve others through my job.

I've been very fortunate that I've been able to be home since July 2012 while working for a consulting firm.  That's certainly unusual; however, it speaks to the work that I've done for the client that has repeatedly asked for my services.

I've given them my best every day I walk in the door.  They pay a lot of money to the company that I'm employed by and they shouldn't get anything less than that.

The last couple of days, in an effort to not be too tossed in the midst of the storm, I've been trying to get back to some basic roots.

Before going to bed, I'm taking some time to read a little bit and pray.

Especially the latter, as many of us often don't take the time that we know to do so.  It has helped bring peace - and comfort - to my world.

The book that I started to read is called "Crazy Busy:  A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem" by Kevin DeYoung.

One of the preview quotes is, "If you are someone who checks your email before going to bed and as soon as you wake up, DeYoung has your number, and this is your book."

As I read it, I measure up OK, even though I've been guilty much on the item just stated.

I believe people think that I'm busier than I am, but I have room to work with.

Yet, I have room to improve, especially disconnecting from social media.  Something we all can probably benefit a little bit from.

There's another book of his that I want to read titled, "Just Do Something:  A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will".

In that "slowing down", I made a conscious decision today to take the road less travelled.

We all should when we can as we never know how much time we're given to enjoy the incredible Earth that we call home.

I flew into Charlotte, drove north on Interstate 77, but didn't go all the way to Interstate 81 before heading north.

I got off on Highway 221 near Hillsville.  It featured some of the prettiest stretches of Virginia that I've seen and there's certainly a lot in this beautiful state.

Lots of opportunity ahead.  Just want to be wise enough to make the right decisions.

Thanks again for all of your love and support.