Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Failure is Part of the Plan

Emotions can be tricky things. I've learned to refrain from depending on them, to choose to base my life and actions on what I believe to be the truth. Even so, I'm still affected by emotions.

A couple of years ago I was fired from a job after working for a company for 7 years straight, and then on and off (as they called me to come help them out in situations) for another 3 years. The termination was really about politics; some regional consultants has changed and those new to position people did things differently than I. I do not know another way to describe these folks than to say that many people would consider them low class - extremely crude and foul mouthed (I'm not talking about the occasional cuss word here, I'm referring to explicit sexual talk and intense swearing), and into drama, gossip, and vendettas. Unfortunately, I got on the wrong side of them and a couple of them basically set out to get rid of me. Since I was the one who lost her job, it could look like they were successful.

But I knew that I was in the palm of God's hand and nothing happened in my life that He did not allow. I chose to trust Him.

Initially I was bewildered, hurting, and devastated. Then I got past all of that and was hopeful; I believed that God would bring me another, better, job. Then after completing countless job applications, going to many job interviews, and dealing with rejection upon rejection, I finally had an interview with some people who I really liked. They offered me a job, but it was doing something I'm overqualified for; it's something I did for another company 16 years ago, pays 57% less than I'd been making, and did not allow me to utilize the skills I'd worked so hard to acquire. After much prayer I decided to take the job until I could get a better job.

Through all of this God has been faithful and we have always had all our needs met, although I have had to utilize a large chunk of my savings. I started this other job with high spirits, still believing God would bring something better my way.

It's been 8 months now and I'm still at that job. They're super happy with me and I enjoy the day to day work and people. But I still long for more, and continue to apply and interview for other work. I've even studied and added a certification onto my credentials during this time.

Lately I find myself struggling with discontentment, feeling disconnected and sad. It's not because I've stopped loving or trusting God (I mean, God could never allow me to get another job and I'd still choose to love Him and believe that He's got my best in His plan), and I'm still actively involved in service to others. It's just that my emotions have been having a hard time lately.

It is in the midst of this situation that I came across these words from Micah 7:7-8 during my devotions this morning:

As for me, I will look to the Lord for his help. I wait confidently for God to save me and my God shall certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord himself will be my light.

So today I've been thinking about how failure shouldn't be a surprise in life; it should be, in a certain way, expected. Expected in terms of the fact that if you try challenging things, failure is a definite possibility. Logically, if you try often enough, the probability of failure increases. I'm thinking that somehow failure needs to be part of the plan, looked at as a step in route to achievement.

I know that I've learned a lot from my failures in life. Failures in marriage, with my children, in jobs, in interviews - in every situation when I have not seen the goal met, I've learned in the process. This doesn't negate the fact that failure is painful, just accepts the truth that it is inevitable. I adore the simplicity of that line in Micah: "though I fall, I will rise again".

I'm also thinking today about how failure does not have to equal defeat. God is not just the God of second chances, he's the God of countless new beginnings! That both my own mistakes and misdeeds, as well as that of others, will not keep me from His plan.

What about you, how does failure figure into your plans?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vent, Grumble, and Ramble

So I'm here ranting about interviewing again today. As mentioned previously, writing helps me process my thoughts and feelings.

In a prior post I talked about the first two interviews for this job. Since then I had an approximately 20 minute phone interview with the boss of the lady who would be my boss; his name is Kevin and her's is Sheila. Kevin scheduled me for another interview in person with himself, Sheila, their corporate HR person, and the DON at the facility where I would be working should I get the job. Near the end of that interview this past Wednesday, Kevin mentioned that he may ask me to come down to their corporate offices in downtown LA on Friday. After 5PM yesterday (Thursday) Sheila called me and left a message about going to LA on Friday; when I called her back she sounded in a hurry but she did tell me the address in LA and that I'd be meeting with the CEO, Mr. F.

My experience in LA today has left a bad taste in my mouth.

It all started out fine, I made the long trek into downtown LA, found parking, and made it into the company's building. But then when I told the receptionist that I was there for an 11:30 apt with Mr. F., he said there were 3 Mr. F.s (why didn't Sheila mention which one?) The receptionist proved competent and called around and found out who I should meet with, but told me that they were in with another applicant and could I please wait. I waited close to 20 minutes. Then the receptionist got a call to send me down and I walked to the next floor down, located the suite, and was met by a young woman who led me into an office. To my surprise Kevin was sitting at the desk in the office, but then I noticed another man who was standing to the side and wearing a yamaka. Apparently he'd politely stood up when I entered the office; Kevin introduced him as Mr. F.

We all sat down and then Kevin began to ask me the same questions that he and I had already discussed. Since I assumed he was asking these questions for Mr. F. I mostly directed my responses to him. I made lots of eye contact and, although the man did not seem the type to ever be rude, he also did NOT engage with me. He looked totally uninterested. He honestly did not strike me as actively disliking me, just as not wanting to be there. After perhaps 15 minutes, when I looked at Kevin because he was speaking, Mr. F. stood up, politely told me that he had a meeting he needed to be at, and left. I was flabbergasted; I came at 11:30AM as scheduled, Mr. F. had been told where I lived (about a 2 hour drive away) and that I had come expressly to meet with him, and then got up and left during the meeting.

As soon as the door closed behind Mr. F. Kevin told me that now he could stop asking these questions, since he already knew the answers himself. I asked where Kevin and this Mr. F. fit into the company set up. Kevin explained that the company was family owned and run by three Mr. F.s; the 86 yr old father who was the CEO, and then the son I'd met who ran the 33 SNF and sub-acute facilities, and his brother who ran the assisted living and hospice facilities. Kevin said there were also two brother-in-laws employed in the business. (I was guessing that these were the 4 other men I'd observed as I waited who were wearing yamakas.) Kevin went on to say that the orignal plan was that, since they always had this meeting every Friday (apparently the one our Mr. F. had so abruptly rushed off to), each of the two final canidates for this position were to have gone to that meeting to meet with the 3 Mr. F.s and himself. But that the 86 year old Mr. F. didn't seem so well today, and was falling asleep during the meeting, so they changed the plan to Kevin and our Mr F. doing the interviewing in Kevin's office.

Kevin couldn't help but see how wrong this was of Mr. F. to have left as he did and so he told me that you know it was Friday, Sabbath would be starting soon (my understanding was that it didn't start until 6PM, but I kept quiet), Mr. F. was probably tired, and they always left early on Fridays so he most likely just wanted to get to that meeting and finish it and go home. He also commented on how people asked him why he'd work for a family run business instead of running his own but that he really did run the operations. Then, perhaps because he was feeling bad for me, or maybe because he just has inappropriate boundaries, Kevin told me that it was down to myself and another candidate and that the Mr. F. I'd just met always gets the last say. Especially since he wanted me for the job and Sheila wanted the other candidate. He went on to explain that typically Mr. F. would go with whatever he says but that it's up to him and he could surprise Kevin.

The whole series of events had me off balance. I felt uncomfortable with this revelation as well; I mean, if I got the job, Sheila would be my boss and how would I feel knowing I was not her favorite candidate. Also, even though I felt like Kevin and I clicked and he'd said some really nice things to me during our phone interview, I was thinking that his primary reasons for wanting me were that this facility is not too far from my home and he noticed that I worked for 10 years for my last company (in a field where lots of administrators stay 18 months at each job). So I think he correctly judged me to be a stable person in a world of flakes. Then there's the rude way Mr. F. just walked out on me; did I judge wrong and he really didn't like me, was he concerned over his father, is he a drone? I mean, what's going on?

Anyway, is it just me or does this situation with how Mr. F. walked out on me, and Kevin told me about he and Sheila's disagreement over myself, seem like a crummy way to do business? Am I being overly sensitive, or am I justified in feeling disgruntled? Should I even want to work for them after that? Granted, even if I get offered the job and take it, I'll most likely never see the Mr. F.s again. I'll probably only see Kevin once a month at a regional meeting and Sheila twice a month at most. That's part of why I understand them wanting so many interviews in different settings; because if they hire me I'll be on my own running their business for them in that location. What do you think?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is there a "Kindness Balance"?

I've been thinking about this for a while.

Inge's post Cruel to be Kind got my thoughts going in this direction. Then yesterday I read the following words from Ogilvie:

"Kindness is the steadfast love of the Lord in action toward those who fail".

What a powerful statement! I can't even begin to express my gratitude for God's kindness toward me; I've failed miserably and repeatedly (and in things that matter).

But even as I read those words yesterday morning during my quiet time with God, I had in the back of my mind a problem situation with 3 employees, two of which I feel are trying to play me. One of which I'm beginning to think has been leaving work while still on the clock. This is a huge problem for more than the obvious reasons. I run small homes in the community where severely disabled adults live and we only staff 2 or 3 employees with the 6 individuals who reside in the home. So one staff less can mean safety issues (not to mention the fact that we have a regulatory requirement of 1 staff for every three individuals). Plus, due to the nature of the situation, I really have to be able to trust the staff. It's my responsibility to make sure the individuals who live in our homes are well cared for and enjoy a good environment.

So I found myself asking that age old question - how can I be kind, yet still hold people accountable for their actions and implement consequences?

I don't know a single parent who hasn't struggled with this same issue at some point or another. It's the idea of always wanting to be kind, yet needing to be effective. I frequently find that balance a challenge to achieve. I've always tried to establish a system for both employees and my sons where the boundaries are clear. The boundaries in terms of expectations as well as what is unacceptable. Then have consequences to unacceptable choices clearly delineated from the start.

But life just isn't always so cut and dried. In fact, I've always been annoyed by those "perfect parents" who seem to claim that it is. Life is full of gray.

Guess that's where my need of Christ and His discernment comes in. Repeatedly I have to call out to Him for wisdom in how to handle specific situations.

What about you, do you ever struggle with implementing the balance between kindness and justice?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gratitude Changed Me

All week over at Kingdom Bloggers we're talking about Gratitude. Today I'm posting about how Gratitude changed me.

What about you, what's your experience been with gratitude?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The agony of Interviewing

Before you read another word you need to know that this is a post for me to process. I'll most likely ramble and vent.

I'm tired of interviewing for jobs!

Interviewing sucks!

I've never been much of a self salesperson. I basically try to just give the interviewer and accurate picture of who I am, strengths and weaknesses. I figure that then they know exactly who they will be getting if they hire me, and they will never be disappointed.

I will grudgingly admit that I learn something from each interview. So in that sense I was OK with yesterday's interview; I didn't feel like I did anything wrong. But the set up had me off balance; it was my second interview for this job and it was with the boss of the first interviewer, who was the director of operations. I didn't really catch her boss' name or position. The interview was in a coffee house and between the music being piped in over head (I think it was right above my chair) and the noise of the place, it was a bit difficult for me to hear clearly and to fully focus.

He was on the phone when I came in because, apparently my predecessor had a short interview so he'd made some calls while waiting for me. He caught my attention, I wasn't looking at him since I didn't want to seem like I was listening in, and made an apologetic gesture to which I made the oh-it's-all-right sign back (although this was not any where close to the location I was applying for and a long drive for me to get there and find the place. But that's what you get with these management companies that manage facilities in the greater, and I mean much greater, LA area). My problem is that, although I have the required state license to be a nursing home administrator, I've only ever ran psychiatric facilities, so I'm really weak on the AR side. He started out the interview by bringing this up and I didn't try to tell him any different. By the end of the interview he told me that it was obvious I could do the job, that he just needed to figure out if I was their best applicant for the position.

My friend told me when I talked with her about the interview as I drove home (a long drive home) that perhaps that was my opportunity to state why I'm the best. But I didn't, I basically just made some sort of gesture that indicated that yep that's what he needed to do. I'm just not gonna try to sell me; I'm really good at what I do, I'm conscientious and hardworking, have integrity, and am all heart for the patients, staff, and families. I figure that either he picks up on that through our conversation or he doesn't, it's really not something you can tell someone.

Today I'm just mulling over how difficult and intrinsically disgruntling the whole interviewing process can be. I mean, I am happy at my current job because I enjoy the clients, super like my boss and her boss, and like the people with whom I work. I'm trying to keep it positive there and do my very best. Yet...the bottom line is that I'm over qualified, can do more, and it pays really low compared to what I've made for the past ten years. Interviewing makes it difficult to stay focused where I'm at and to consistently choose to dwell on the good things about the job and be creative and do more where I'm at. Yet if I don't keep trying for a better job I feel like I'm not being true to myself.

OK, so I'm being a whiner. I know it. I don't like to whine in my daily life so I'm here doing it.

This isn't a terrible interview story but I've certainly got some from this past year. What about you, do you have any awful interview stories?
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