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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Big New Job

One more year of college for son Ben. His girlfriend has already graduated and gotten her first job. Son Chris has one more year of classwork in his Ph.D. program. After that he prepares for his comps and outlines his dissertation. So next summer will be a time fraught with life-changing decisions and commitments for those 3 young adults. It reminds me a little of my own story when I was in Kentucky sometime in late 1980.

I had a wonderful job as a Geologic Draftsperson for the Kentucky Geological Survey, located on the U.K. campus in Lexington, KY. I loved what I did, where I worked, and who I worked with. The problem was that I was listed as a Teacher's Aid and I made the same salary. I was grindingly poor. Life was like quick sand. Pull one foot out and the other sinks. I lived with a cat named Mugsy in a small trailer in a trailer park. The park had its own ambiance which wasn't entirely unpleasant, but I could barely afford to feed the two of us and keep the trailer is basic repair. Someone once asked me why I had so many problems if I was the Christian and God was supposed to be helping me. I had no answer, but privately, as I considered it, my foundational problem was poverty. And I was really tired of it.

One day the pastor of our small Assembly of God Church decided to have a talk about tithing, after which he called people up to testify. I did so, because I had never ceased to tithe. I guess that's why the editor at work once said to me, "God just keeps your nose above water." After I spoke, the pastor said, "When you get that big new job, you come and tell us about it." I answered, "Oh, I love my job! I'm not planning to apply anywhere. I just wish I could earn a living wage." He said, "Well, I think God has a big new job for you, and when it comes, you come back here and tell us."

Not too long after that a flyer came from the California Division of Mines and Geology in San Francisco. The beginning pay for exactly what I was doing in Kentucky was the same as the Assistant Geologists were making. I didn't have to think twice. I applied for the job and was granted an interview. My mother bought me an airplane ticket. I was quickly hired and had very little time to pack everything in Kentucky that my car could carry and hit the road to California. Events developed so quickly that I never got back to the church to tell them about the big new job. It was located in the Ferry Building, across from a BART station and right beside the Oakland Bay Bridge. I had a nice little apartment in Fremont. A fluffy little stray kitten adopted me right away. I still wasn't rich. When my car engine froze, I couldn't afford to replace it. I allowed the car be repossessed. Rain or shine, I rode a squeaky old bike that I bought for $15. But I kept tithing and calling out to God for some further progress.

After a couple of years, a very nice young geologist announced that his wife had left him. He and I began to date. We had an idyllic courtship as we explored SF restaurants or rode around the Bay Area on his motorcycle. We were married about three and a half years after I began work there. In spite of the fact that I was 39 years old, I quickly became pregnant and had a perfect baby boy. The rest is history.

Transition times are the most difficult eras of our lives. We moms can barely hold back the tears when our first one goes off to kindergarten. When kids go off to college or the military, there is angst both with child and parent. When they marry and move away, a parent's heart has to stiffen against the bittersweet parting. When a spouse dies, the living mourn and rearrange their lives. But when we serve Christ, we know that God always has a plan... a good one... and we are never going through those unfamiliar pathways alone.