My Journey Pt 4 : Transitions

The transition from high-school to college was one of fear and excitement. You start college not knowing anything (about college I mean). You worry about how to get from class to class, about the kind of professors you’ll get, how hard the work will be, what you’ll do for fun, and how you’ll survive on your own. But by your senior year, you will have the system down pat, you know what professors to get, none of your classes start before ten, you begin to like learning new things, and you like the freedom college offers you. Basically you have become comfortable. It’s usually about this time that you graduate and begin a new chapter in your life. And that’s where we pick up my story.

I graduated in December of 2004 a full semester early. Considering that most people told me to expect a fifth year of college, that’s a fact I’m proud of. I don’t remember much from the ceremony itself, it was typical bland almost boring, I don’t know what I expected maybe trumpets blaring or something else spectacular. But that’s not how the real world operates I guess. What I do remember is how proud my parents were, how much I appreciated them being there, and how happy I was to celebrate with my friends. The ceremony wasn’t the only disappointment about graduation, the other was waking up the next morning. Again I don’t know what I expected, maybe that I would wake up more mature, maybe I’d wake up the wise college graduate. But none of those things happened I woke up the next morning the same as the day before, feeling insecure about my future, feeling like I was eighteen again, young and not mature enough to handle myself in a bigger pond. In a word I was afraid, but I hid it, covered it up like I think a lot of high school and college graduates do. And maybe that is the essence of being a worldly person, covering up your own fear and insecurities in anyway possible.

After graduation I moved back to my parents house, for what would normally have just been winter break. Of course many people congratulated me, and then would follow that up with the dreaded question of the hour, “So what are your plans now?”. Plans?!?! I had no plan. My plan was to enjoy my Christmas break the way I always had. My parents let me slide a little bit, they let me enjoy the Christmas season, and thankfully after that was over they got on my case about finding a job. At the time I wasn’t so happy they were constantly bugging/nagging me to get a resume’ together, and go out to apply for jobs. Yep I graduated college and hadn’t really focused on putting my resume’ together. At first I almost resented their constant “So what have you done today to find a job?” interrogations, but they only had the best in mind for me. They wanted to see me grow and spread my wings, they probably knew better than me that if they merely allowed me to continue on hiding from the world, I would not become the man I was supposed to be.

So I started working on it, I put together a resume’ and posted it on every job website known to man. And then I waited. And waited. I got a few nibbles. A few phone interviews, but nothing serious. One company asked me to take a test, but they never called back after I took it. So to say the least I became discouraged. It was about that time, my dad, who I know was constantly praying about my situation, stepped in and started making a few phone calls. He set up a few meetings with friends of his, but before those could bear fruit. On of my friends from school sent me an IM saying that one of my old professors was trying to get in touch with me. It turns out that he had heard of a job posting and had sent a letter of recommendation for me. I got in touch with the company emailing them my resume’, and thanks to God they called me back to set up a time to interview. My Mom and Dad were more excited than I was, I think, this was my first real face to face job interview. My mom took me out to buy a suit, and my dad brought out his shoe shine kit (something rarely seen except for the High Holidays). So early in the morning I got up, drove out Ripley, TN to interview at Marvin Windows and Doors of Tennessee. To make a long story short, after about four or so interviews, during which I was insanely nervous, and jabbered on like an idiot at times; I returned home to wait for the phone call. I waited and waited during that time I put in an app to be a dock worker at the Memphis airport. And then one morning, I got a phone call, Marvin wanted to hire me on as an Associate Programmer/Analyst for $35,000 a year. Wow! For a kid just out of college that was a lot of money. On March the twenty-first I started my first real job.

The commute for this job was an hour and half, both ways! I remember waking up at 5:30 (now that was a real change from college) getting dressed and grabbing a banana on my way out the door. The drive wasn’t horrible, for the most part I was going the opposite way that the traffic was going, plus it was so stinking early in the morning that I rarely had problems getting to work. But the drive did start to wear me out. I made quick friends with another young fella who worked in the IT department, Brad. Brad had started three months or so before I had, so we were both somewhat new to the job and even though he was a few years older than I was were both new to the IT world. I could write a whole post on my experiences working for Marvin, but first they would mostly be technical in nature (and that’s not my desire for this blog) and second it would probably be boring to most of you.

One of my fondest memories of working at Marvin, was the time my dad got to visit the plant. I had been there a year or so when my dad was going to visit someone near Ripley, so he arranged it so that he would be in town around lunch time. For lunch we went to the local steak house (I think the sight of the Chinese restaurant scared him 🙂 ). It was awesome sitting there taking a lunch break with my dad. It’s one of the few times I actually felt like a grown up. We talked for a little bit and then I got to take him back to Marvin and show him around the plant a little bit. He was so impressed and so proud of me. I don’t think he ever understood what it was that I did, he had a general idea don’t get me wrong, but how I did it wasn’t something that was easy to explain or understand. But he was proud of his son, and that made me so happy.

It wasn’t too much longer after that, that I moved out of the house, and started sharing a place with my good friend Brad. I moved out of the house in March of 2006 and began a whole new adventure.

Dream : Carrier

Like most people I occasionally have dreams that I remember when I wake up. Unlike most people I believe that my dreams are one of the ways God chooses to talk to his people. One of the reasons I created this blog was to record dreams, visions, or other things God is telling me, so that in the future I can be reminded of them.

This morning I had a dream, where I and several others (who they were I don’t know) were being chased around this maze like building. We would run down one hall, then another, and then another, well you get the idea lots of running away from something or someone that I never saw. The hallways were dark and grey no real color to them. It reminded me of one of the levels from Goldeneye, if you’ve ever played that game. And while we were running, I noticed we kept crossing the path of a particular spider (black with yellow spots) that was always carrying things that seemed way too big for a spider to be carrying. And every time we crossed its path I saw it carrying something different (I don’t remember what), but it was always the same spider. Eventually I called the spider Carrier, because I’m creative like that.

After running around for awhile I found myself on top of a building, I saw a friend sitting on the edge overlooking an alley between two buildings (again with the same grey non-descript theme). As I sat there on the edge I looked down and saw the same spider again, and it looked like i had sat down on the path he was going to take. I pointed the spider out to the person sitting next to me (who turned out to be my dad), and he remarked that he had already seen him and was calling the spider Carrier. I thought I was really cool that we had both come up with the same name. I didn’t think to much else about it till the spider crawled up my back, and started biting me. I tried swatting it away, but then my back became numb. I told my dad what was going on, and he seemed remarkably calm about the whole situation (I definitely wasn’t). My dad starts patching me up, he did something to the bite, then applied some ointment, and finally he put a band-aide over. Well I’m sitting here thinking that’s all well and good, but we haven’t dealt with the root cause yet. The spider is still out there somewhere, and he is going to try and bite me again. No sooner had I told my dad this then I felt another bite. This time I was quick and caught the spider on my finger tips. As I pull my hand around to take a look at my enemy the spider starts biting my hand. Not knowing what else to do, I crushed the spider, killing it and waking myself up out of the dream.

Weird eh? I’ll post back here when I get an interpertation of what that dream meant.

My Journey Pt 2 : Family

It’s funny how life changes. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my future family. I proposed to a wonderful woman, who is truly a gift from God. (She said yes, by the way.) Now I worry about how I’ll provide for my future bride and our children. I worry about how I’ll be able to raise Godly children, the same way I was raised. Will I raise my children in such a way that after I’m gone my children will find their strength in God and carry on in a Godly manner? I can only put my trust in God and know that His will, will be done. To find guidance and a path forward I look to my earthly family as well as my heavenly father. As I told you before, at only a few weeks old I was adopted into a family overflowing with love.

My father was a man who loved everyone he came into contact with; good or bad, he loved them just the same. There wasn’t a person he didn’t visit in the hospital or jail. There wasn’t a wedding he didn’t celebrate at or baby dedication he didn’t do. When I was young, my dad’s attention to the things going on in others’ lives was something that I resented. My head knew he was doing the right thing, but a lot of the time my heart wasn’t in sync. As I grew up, our relationship changed from one of just father and son to one more like friends. My best memories are from times when just he and I would do things together, whether it was sporting events, trips around the country, or congregational events. Every year I looked forward to the Passover season because it was a time when my dad would get invited out to churches around the city, and more often then not he would take me or one of my brothers along with him. At these Seders my dad would give his testimony and bring out the strong Messianic message hidden in the story of the exodus. The message was always the same, but it never got old to me. Every once and awhile my dad and I would take trips together. When I was young we went down to Orlando for a conference. It was just he and I in a car for hours. Years later we went to another conference together over in Virginia. This time around I did most of the driving and it was great to do that service for my father. It was during these trips that we had some of our best one-on-one conversations where I learned a lot about who my dad was and hopefully he learned about me. Many of the things I love (Israel, football, God, etc.) were imprinted on me from birth as gifts from my earthly father.

My dad passed away over seven months ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. In some ways it could have only happened yesterday. At first his passing didn’t seem real, like it was something happening in a movie, but over the course of time life without my dad has become my reality. I’m so happy that now my dad is whole again, he’s no longer in pain or suffering, but he’s rejoicing with God and my grandma. Trust me when I say that this realization didn’t come easy; God has done an amazing work to finally bring my head and heart into sync on this. When dad passed, a major force in my life was taken out of my life, an amazing amount of regret was left behind, things left unsaid and feelings unexpressed. We had a good relationship, but as with anything in this world it could have been so much better, it could have been so much deeper.

My mother was a woman always in the process of taking care of others, usually me and my brothers. When we were sick she was there, when we were celebrating she was there, when we were crying she was there, and when we were misbehaving she was there to chase us around the house with a large wooden spoon. I can think of thousands of meals we’ve eaten in her kitchen, and I can’t imagine the number of hours she spent working over a hot stove. While our house wasn’t huge, three young boys sure do make a mess, and some how she always managed to keep it clean. I can remember her staying up all night working on one project for school or another. And then for middle school she homeschooled us, and based on our college grades she did a wonderful job. I think between the three boys she’s learned more about football than she ever thought possible. You’d be so surprised or scared sitting next to her at one of our games. She is definitely one of our biggest cheerleaders. On my weekends home from college Mom would always fuss over me, feed me, and send me back with a bag of food. Nothing can make you feel worse than when you go to leave your mom gives you all the money she has in her purse. And she felt bad that it wasn’t more! I cried on quite a few trips back to school. She didn’t need to do that, but she loved me and wanted to bless me. My mom has taught me so many things, how to iron, how to sew, wash dishes, and how to was my clothes. All things my future wife will be pleased to find out. If my father lived out the love of Jesus for us then my mother lives out faithfulness.

I am a blessed man. This truth is worth repeating over and over again, because God has truly blessed me, and it is a theme that you will see through out my life. I’m blessed because I had a Godly Mother and Father to teach me and to raise me up. I could have been adopted by anyone, I could have been adopted into a life of abuse or neglect, but God blessed me with two loving parents, and two brothers who are as unique and diverse as possible. My family had a huge impact on my life and helped me to become the man I am today. I don’t know how to say thank you enough. I love you.

In retrospect, I don’t need to worry about these things. Throughout my life we have always been dependant on God to provide, and I never gone without something that I needed. And if I can follow the example of my earthly parents, I’m sure that my children will be raised to follow God. Don’t get me wrong, my folks were not perfect; my dad would be the first to tell you that. But where they failed, where they stumbled, God intervened, God covered them in His grace and it worked out for His glory. My hope, my faith, and my trust are in Him and through Him I can do all things!