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, May 27, 2017

Unexpected Prayers

I have a confession to make - typically I'm not very good at prayer, I tend to feel like I'm "not doing anything" when I'm praying. Of course I know with my head that this is not true, but it's still how I most frequently feel.  But lately I find myself drawn to prayer.  Prayers of gratitude and prayers for the ministry at CRC.  Specific young men periodically come to my mind and I find myself praying for them.

Picture from Streams of the river
Picture from Streams of the River

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rockcreek Again

Later in the day this past Tuesday I saw that Rockcreek was advertising to hire a QIDP/Administrator. I've been thinking and praying about if I want to go back to work there. I've never felt totally "finished" there.  I love that company and those people. So I went ahead and applied again.

Wednesday morning Kimberly, Rockcreek's executive director, called me.  She told me that they actually have 3 Q openings but are in the process of hiring 2 Qs.  She said that neither of them have been promised any exact location and I could have my pick of any of the 3 locations and "start tomorrow" if I wanted.  She told me that she had 2 current, somewhat stable, program managers right now but if one of those slots were to come open I could certainly have the position (Qs supervise 3 homes and program managers supervise 4 or 5 Qs). She was eager for me to work for them again.

I told her I was happy to be a Q.  I mentioned that what I love about being a Q is getting to be around the people who live in the homes, that many truly wonderful people work for Rockcreek, and that if I do my job well I can really make life better for the people who live in the homes. I didn't say it to Kimberly, but one of the other things I like about working at Rockcreek is that so many of the Qs, house managers, Kimberly, and the HR director are all people that I like on a personal level.  The kind of people who it's fun and easy to talk with - I just find them interesting.  The kind of people I'd actually like to even hang out with in my personal time.

I didn't need to mention to Kimberly what we both know are the downfalls of being a Q.  It pays poorly, it's always a challenge to keep staff, you're on call 24/7 and get called a lot when you're off work. If you really have staffing shortages, sometimes you even have to cover for an line staff and work the floor. It is due to the downfalls that I've left working for Rockcreek on 2 other occasions.  The first time I worked as a Q for a bit over 1 1/2 years and then left to go try being an HSA in an immigration detainment center.  About 2 1/2 years later I worked for them for a year as a program manager.  I left that time because Rhea offered me a position as a nursing home administrator. Rhea had worked for me as a nursing director back in 2004 - 2006. She'd become a clinical director for a company that owned a few nursing homes and needed an administrator in the area where I lived.

On the good side it feels great to be wanted and appreciated.  I'm grateful to get a job. I know that I can go in there and do a good job for them and make things better.  However, to be candid, I'm struggling with my ego. I'm the only person I know with a license to be a nursing home administrator that would work as a Q or program manager in this type of setting. The pay is less than half what I'd make as a nursing home administrator. It's much less prestigious.  But I don't actually need more money.  It's most likely good for me to work hard at a more humble position.  It affords me the opportunity to practice having a servant's heart and humble attitude.


Photo from Nelly Cherry
Sometimes there's a moment in time that becomes fixed in your mind.

There were a few such moments during our last class at CRC.

The men have a workbook through which we are working.  Each week they receive a chapter that they work through on their own prior to class. The class includes 35 men and is set up so that there's a general opening introduction regarding the chapter we're working on that week. Then we break up into 3 smaller groups to allow for more intimate discussion.

When part of the discussion involved stuff that happened during their childhoods, I was moved by how truly terrible things had been for some of these guys. One man talked about how, starting when he was 6 years old, he had to get the money he needed if he expected to eat that day.  Another mentioned how there'd never been any kind of routine in his house since life had revolved around his mom doing whatever it took for her to get drugs. As I listened to bits and pieces of the nightmare experiences that comprised many of these young men's childhoods, I couldn't help but think why would we be surprised these guys ended up involved in criminal activities?

Several guys really grabbed my heart with their comments during our discussion about long term goals. Here are some of those comments that got me:

* "I feel kind of funny saying this and you might think I'm weird, but one of my long term goals is to not have a kid with anyone unless I'm married to her.  I already have one child but I'm not going to have any more unless I'm married to the mother before we have children.  My dad must have something like 20 children wandering around with lots of different women, I don't want to be like that."

* "You know, my dad's been in and out of prison my whole life.  This last time he's been out the longest he's ever been out - two years.  Everyone says I'm just gonna be like my dad, but I'm not.  When I get out my goal is to never come back to prison. I want to be different."

* There was a very quiet young man who I had to encourage to speak. He tentatively said, "I'm not sure if this counts as a goal, but I want to get my GED." When he made this announcement a few of the other inmates made comments such as "that will only be the beginning. You can do that and then keep going", "way to go, good for you", and a few clapped for him.

I was hit again, as I was last week, with that pervasive feeling emanating from many of the young men in that room. It was Desire.  Desire to change.  Anxiety about if they would be able to.  A bit of puzzlement as to how to really do it.

It is so rare in life that I come across such sincerity of heart in people who want to become different, who want to be better. I can't express what a joy it is to get to teach people with this attitude.

I pray for each of these men and look forward to seeing how God's gonna work in them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lunch with Pam

I'm really rather selfish and tend to put myself in the middle of life, as if everything revolves around me.

Perhaps this is why I am so surprised that I enjoyed the three hours I spend with Pam today.  We went to this great fish taco place that has sort of a fast food place, but almost a restaurant, kind of set up.  We went after the lunch rush and there were lots of empty spots by the time we finished eating; so we sat drinking tea and talking for quite awhile. Then I took her with me to go buy some herbs for a hanging herb garden I'm setting up.  Pam used to have a huge herb garden when both my parents were alive and they had a ranch out in the country.  She's into herbs and knowledgeable regarding them.  It was a entirely pleasurable time.

Here I'm thinking I'm doing this thing for her, but it's me who ends up getting blessed.  Honestly didn't see that one coming.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

First time

Image result for prison ministry
Photo from ICIBC
Last night was my first night actually getting to go to the prison and volunteer with Prison Fellowship ministry. I found that these young men truly grabbed my heart. One of the things that kind of surprised me was how comfortable I was in that setting.

I'm volunteering with a youth offender program that pulls young men ages 18-24 out from the rest of the population.  They have a few older guys mixed in with these ones to provide leadership.   Maybe it's because I have 3 sons in their twenties, I don't know, but these guys just felt like kids to me.  My heart went out to them. They may look all "bad" and tatooed up, but they feel like people trying to figure out how to do life differently.

I want to be a part of helping them do that.

We just started a class about job seeking.  I recognize that this is a real issue for these guys and that it's gonna be hard for them to get jobs when they get out.  I'm already praying for them. I also pray that God would help me remember all of their names (there were 26 there last night and a few got turned away.  I emailed the other volunteer about wanting to set up more chairs for next time because the prison staff sponsor told me that we can have up to 35 and next week is their last chance to get into the class). I pray that I can be an example of God's love for them and that God'll work what He wants in these men's hearts through this class.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A more global perspective
Photo from North Central College
I try to live life daily with an attitude of gratitude, but sometimes I may not appreciate how good I have it.

There's nothing like gaining a more global perspective to bring my blessed state into a more clear perspective.

Here's a few facts that have hit me as I've been reading What can I do? by David Livermore:
  • 20% of the world's population owns 74% of the world's financial assets
  • If you earn $50,000 a year, you're among the top 1% of the richest people in our world
  • If you earn $20,000 a year, you're among the top 11% of the richest people in our world
  • Just under 1% of the world's population (WP) dies from hunger every year 
  • Half of the WP is malnourished
  • Around 1/3 of the WP doesn't have access to a safe water supply
  • Almost 1/3 of the WP has TB (BTW: In the U.S. TB is fairly easily treated by taking several drugs for 6 to 9 months).
  • Drug trafficking is the largest organized crime ring in the global community 
  • Second to drug trafficking is human trafficking
  • 10% of the WP controls enough explosive power in nuclear weapons that they could blow up the entire civilization many times over
  • The Christian faith is estimated to be growing at a rate of 6.9% a year.  The largest portion of this growth is occurring in Latin America, Southern Africa, and Southern Asia.
Sometimes this type of information can be overwhelming.

I was encouraged by Livermore's referring to some information found through Global Perspective Inventory research. Their research found that individuals who understand global issues and see themselves as global citizens most often feel a need to give back to society and work for the rights of others.

As I'm reading this book I pray that God will show me ways to integrate my life, work, and giftings with ways to address these global issues.
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