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March 4, 2009

A little over 10 years ago, I was driving on a Southern California freeway between job interviews.  I’d just been downsized from my previous job and I had two hot prospects.  My phone rang and I answered it.  I knew it was my parents number.  My Mom said, “Gary, your Dad just had a stroke and the paramedics are here now.  Would you like to talk with them?”

Since these are the guys I used to supervise, I certainly did want to talk with them.  My friend Pat told me how my Dad was and what had happened.  Needless to say, I was a little rattled at the next interview.  Turns out, I had no need to be concerned, for within the next month I had two full-time jobs.

My former employer, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, sent me an airline ticket.  They said I needed to be home taking care of my parents.  So I flew home.  I always hold this up as an example of how employers take care of their employees.  And a great organization, like TVFR, goes above and beyond the call of duty by even taking care of their former employees.

While in Portland, my Dad’s employer, the Raleigh Water District, hired me to fill in for my Dad until he was ready to come back to work.  Shortly after returning to Redlands California, I was hired to be the interim pastor/leader of Young & Restless Ministries (now CrossWalk).  So for the next couple of months, I managed two organizations – one a 500 member young adult church; the other, a 4500 customer water district.  Besides telecommuting, I also made regular flights between Portland and Redlands, CA.

This past week we encountered some unexpected personnel changes at our elementary school.  We hired a substitute teacher to teach the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade class and I was asked to fill in as the “acting” principal.  What!?  I continue to be amazed at the various roles God has thrown my way.  Backhoe operator? I understand that – I grew up running heavy equipment.  Paramedic?  I worked hard for that – as well as flight paramedic and operations manager.  Pastor?  Unbelievable!  Father?  Never saw that one coming!  Principal?  I’m still laughing!

It has really been a fun week!  The kids are great and I’m having a good time being at the school.  We have an awesome faculty and everyone has really stepped up to the plate.  Parents, volunteers, staff, and faculty have all chipped in to make this work.

Yesterday I attended a training session for a children’s program I’m involved in this Summer.  It was really great timing because it gave me some good stuff for working with the kids at the school.  But it couldn’t have come at a worse time – schedule wise.  While juggling phone calls, emails, training, and relationships – I suddenly had this flashback to the Winter of 1999.  When the phone rings, one never knows what the topic will be…

Is this water district related, church, school, family, or ?????  To top it all off, my Dad is moving into our house and my brother is moving into a new house in Clark County, Washington.  Of course I’m helping with that.

This time around, I have a family who needs me.  But also this time around, I’ve gained some maturity and perspective.  I’m less stressed and more able to live in the moment.  It is stressful, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not relying on some old habits and addictions to get me through.  I’m just on a journey and excited to see where we’re going.

Two jobs – no problem.  It seems I’ve always worked two jobs.  Whether as a full-time student and part-time employee; or as a firefighter and part-time ambulance paramedic; or as a firefighter/paramedic and part time flight paramedic – I guess I have trouble sitting still.  But this is different.  This reminds me of 1999 when I was on the phone or in the air.

I’ve not really taken on all the duties of the former principal.  My role is really to provide a stable environment during the transition.  I am here to provide a non-anxious presence.  I think it helps that I’m not feeling anxious about it!

My biggest goal is to not over-promise and under deliver.  To do that, I have to have realistic expectations and good balance.  My family still comes second (though, for this week, they haven’t seen me much), my work third.  My spirituality – my relationship with God – has to be first, always.

Though I’ve not seen my family much this week – and I haven’t gotten much sleep – I don’t feel stressed.  That, to me, is a huge victory.

  1. rog permalink
    March 4, 2009 8:09 pm

    While juggling life’s priorities, I’ve learned that some priorities are made of rubber and others are made of glass.

    Family is glass and does not bounce back.


  2. March 4, 2009 9:31 pm

    I’ve always found that the rough spots always tend to bring me closer to God and that he always leads me to a better place than before afterward. Somehow I think you’ll make it all work out and be better for it in the end. 😀


  3. March 4, 2009 10:50 pm

    @rog – that is a great line!

    @alsymer – you are so right. But I can tell this is taking a toll on my family – I’ve been thinking about the rubber and glass analogy all evening.


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