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Archive for July, 2016

Last night I clocked out of pharmacy for the last time. Surrounded by friends, we made our way to my car and loaded up treats and flowers, cards – even a beta fish in a fishbowl. : ) A small group of us lingered in the parking lot, just talking as the sunset painted the sky above us. I know I will still see these friends (who have been co-workers for so long), but it was still hard to get in my car and drive away.

Monday morning I start a new adventure. I’ll be working at the regional food bank here in town. The food bank is a distribution site (a warehouse, much like Costco). They collect food from grocery stores, food drives, local farms, and partnerships with various statewide organizations. That food is sorted & distributed – as it’s needed – to partner agencies (food pantries and hot meal sites) in the community. I’ll be working with these partner agencies.

So, this is the turn of the page. It’s an opportunity I believe was birthed in years of prayers, and I’m excited for the adventure… but the beginning of one chapter means the ending of the previous one. And that grieves my heart.

Oh life… you are bittersweet today!

…Below is the story of how I ended up taking a job that I wasn’t even looking for. Like a good tiramisu, this story is made up of layers..

LAYER ONE: SETTING THE STAGE

Last summer a friend of mine asked me if I’d help coordinate food for a local race. Sure, why not? We met up for coffee, talked through our bananas-and-bagels plan, and still had a good half cup left. So we started to catch up on life. I began telling her about an organization in Portland I was intrigued by, and my desire to someday do something more to help people in crisis situations.

“Have you ever thought about the [local] food bank? There’s a bunch of great people there, and they’re doing some amazing stuff.”

…uh, NOPE! Images of my elementary school 4-H days immediately came to mind: wiping down shelves of dented canned beans in a dingy room back in my home town. “No thanks, I don’t think that’d be a good fit for me…” She smiled and asked if it’d be okay if she sent my contact info over to her friend who worked there anyway. I said sure, why not? It’s fun to meet new people and learn about what’s happening in the community. Little did I know it had just begun…

Awhile later an email appeared in my inbox, a follow up from my friend’s contact at the food bank. We exchanged pleasantries and decided to meet up in the fall, after the craziness of summer had settled down. But fall came, and went. Small groups were kicking off at church, Josh and I were meeting new couples, and life was full. I completely forgot about the email buried in my inbox.

 

LAYER TWO: THE TOUR/INTERVIEW

Sometime in February the food bank popped back into my head. Perhaps it was in the introspection and goal setting that often accompanies a new year for me. Honestly, I don’t remember. But I Googled… and I was taken aback by the content and presentation I found on their website. I sent an email to my friend’s contact: could we meet, I’d like to learn more (if the offer was still available).

We found a time to meet up in mid-March. I showed up expecting to tour around briefly and explore volunteering there on my day off. Maybe 15 minutes? I stayed almost an hour. I met the Executive Director and Director of Operations both that day. Casual conversation meandered its way into a sort of informal interview… it just so happened that they were in the final stages of interviewing for a position very similar to what I did right after college (and had really, really enjoyed!). The more we talked the more it seemed that I would be a really good fit not only in the organization as a whole, but in this particular role. The timing was uncanny. They asked if I could come back the next morning with my resume and cover letter for a second interview. Sure… why not?

Again, the conversation was so easy, it didn’t even feel like an interview. Every once in awhile someone would make a comment like, “Oh yeah, I should probably ask you one of these [formal interview] questions.” I really liked them, and they really liked me, and less than two days after I heard about this job they offered it to me.

 

LAYER THREE: I’M A WIMP ABOUT CHANGE

…WHOA.

I’d looked for jobs like this in the past, but the doors I’d knocked on had remained closed. After years of prayers, tears, and dreams I’d sort of made my peace. I finally realized my value as a person is tied to my identity in Jesus, and not with the title on my name badge at work. I was good at what I did, I made good money doing it, I had plenty of free time (working part-time), and I really liked the people I worked with. Life wasn’t bad at all.

I wasn’t sure I was ready to change…

This food bank job was a great fit for the way I was wired and my gifting, it had a creative element, it helped people in crisis right here in my backyard, my work schedule would coincide with Josh’s and we’d have evenings off together. …But, nothing is perfect. The full-time nature of the job would mean much less free time to cook, clean, and meet up with friends. And the shift from the corporate world into the non-profit sphere meant an adjustment in pay.

I waffled.

Miraculously, the food bank floated an alternate offer. Come work part-time for a couple of months and test it out. Come to staff meetings, dive into the job, visit the pantries, and ask questions; we’ll work around your current pharmacy schedule. The plan was a God-send. For a couple of months that’s exactly what I did.

 

LAYER FOUR: TIME TO LEAP

In late June the food bank re-offered the full-time job. After much prayer and consideration, I accepted! I gave plenty of notice to pharmacy and started to say my goodbyes. I will truly miss the people I’ve worked with here.

This is indeed a bittersweet time for me as I close one chapter in life and –with a leap of faith- begin another.

For years I have been passionate about helping people who are in crisis. From post-disaster relief work, to spending time with sexually trafficked women in India, or lending a shoulder to a suffering friend, I’ve loved encouraging people in need. The idea of working with a food bank had never crossed my mind before, but ironically there I will be helping people in crisis – those who don’t have enough to eat. God works in incredible ways, doesn’t he?!

The layers of this story, its perfect timing, and many graces just amaze me. God is SO GOOD! I feel like God has not only heard my prayers, but has answered them… and in a way that I could never take credit for the result on my own. I know some of you will wonder about the risk, about the money, about the… whatever. Know that I don’t have all the answers, but I have great peace and I know I am loved.

Let the new journey begin! : )

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