Leap of faith, part two

*Today is the second part of “Leap of Faith” by my friend LaTresha Woodruff-Johnson about her God-led journey. Check out this piece about LaTresha which appeared recently in Sync magazine. LaTresha celebrates her three-year anniversary with the Conway Police Department on January 31.*

LaTresha at work

LaTresha at work

I committed a leap of faith when I left my television news reporter job, the only job I had ever known and loved.  I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do from there; I just knew God had a plan for my career and my life.  After all of the job opportunities I had been chasing got caught by someone else (my way of saying I did not get the job), I devised a plan.  I got up each morning, spent time in the presence of my heavenly father through meditation, prayer and studying His Word, and then I searched the internet for jobs for a couple of hours.  When that was complete I called somebody, heck anybody, who could spare a little time for a housewife, to meet for lunch.  I also volunteered and dabbled in cooking just a little, enough to satisfy my husband. 

My days of worrying about what God’s next step would be were over; I made the conscious decision to bask in the fact that, “He could do anything but fail” and that God was simply preparing me for what he had in store. He was about to enlarge my territory both spiritually and in my career.  I wore this new attitude well.  Even my husband noticed a change in me, and he liked it!  We all know a “happy wife means a happy life.”   Men, if you don’t know that, I have just solved all of your problems. 

In November of 2010 my wonderful husband read an article in the local newspaper announcing a job fair at a local college.  I reluctantly went thinking, “You don’t get the kind of job I am looking for at a college job fair.”  I got to campus, and I could not find a parking spot and annoyingly stated out loud that I was going home NOW!  Well that didn’t work, because I could hear the still quiet voice in my head saying, “I am in control of all things,” and suddenly a spot became open.  Once over that hurdle along came another.  It was pouring rain, and my umbrella was nearly taken away by the wind. I started to turn back, but the voice of God wouldn’t let me. 

I forged on, and when I reached the building, I was drenched, but I put on my face on and went inside thinking I will just pick up items to prove to my husband I had in fact gone to the job fair.   I went in, stopped at the first table and got stuff so my job there was done, so I thought.   Besides the trinkets like pens and stress balls, I had really nothing to show for my little visit.  Then I saw a familiar face, a police officer I had worked with for several years.  He was the Public Information officer for the police department, and I interviewed him often about cases being interviewed by the department.  He informed me that he had gotten a promotion.  I congratulated him, and the light bulb went off in my head. 

Before I knew it, I asked, “So who is going to be the public information officer now?”  He said he wasn’t sure, but he believed they were considering a particular officer.  I then proceeded to tell him that I would be their next PIO, to which he replied that they do not hire civilians; their PIOs have always been police officers.  I thought well, that may be, but it’s about to change.   We took a picture, hugged and I set about my mission to be the Public Information Officer/Spokesperson for the police Department.  I got into my car and called a Lieutenant at the PD and told him when he had coffee with the Chief the next morning to tell him he needed to hire LaTresha as the PIO.  He seemed to like the idea and agreed to do so.  Meanwhile I went to a friend’s house and told her I would no longer be a housewife and that I was about to start working as the PIO/Spokesperson for the police department.  She was excited and said I never mentioned that I had an interview and I informed her that I had not had an interview, but I knew this was what the Lord had for me.  She gave me a strange look,  but God would not be denied. While I was there I got a call back from the Lieutenant saying he tried to sit still and wait until tomorrow, but he decided to go ahead and talk to the Chief, and he felt the Chief would call me next week. (This is where I will start to insert the phrase “But God.”) 

I was super excited; this was shaping up to be the best Wednesday EVER!  I didn’t think it could get any better, but it did, “But God.”   While I was still at my friend’s house, I got a call from the Police Chief himself!  I said to him, “So you got my message,” his reply was, “Yes along with emails, phone calls and a picture.”   We set a meeting for Friday. He wanted Thursday, but remember I got rained on, and my hair was a dreadful mess so I needed to get myself to a salon so I could pull it all together.

That Friday meeting changed my life and probably the Police Chief’s life.  I went to meet him full of confidence and ideas.  We shook hands, and I proceeded to talk for probably the next 45 minutes about how I could do a more effective job than a police officer because I was the media, and I knew how to deal with the media.  I know what they need before they get there and can move the process along faster.  I truly believed that Officers were trained to serve and protect and that while the previous PIO’s did a great job, they were better at being police officers. 

So I implored him to allow them to do what they were trained to do and bring me on to do what I was trained to do.  Because I knew lots of people from my reporting days and people knew and liked me, I felt I could launch outreach programs to help really endear the police department more to the community.  By the end of my speech I asked him, “Do you have any questions?”  He seemed stunned, I didn’t know if he was stunned by how much I talked or stunned by my knowledge and confidence  (I later learned it was all three).  The Chief admitted he had had reservations about changing the position but added after listening to me he believed it was a great idea and wanted to see it happen. It did after all the red tape of city government.  I started working as the Public Information Officer/Spokesperson on January 31, 2011.  

I am a testimony to the fact that you should never give up on God because He will not give up on you.  Just when you think you have no options, like He did for Abraham in the book of Genesis Chapter 22, the Lord will provide a ram in the bush!

13Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”…

In those times when the battle made me weary, and I felt I couldn’t hear God, I stopped and listened for his voice.  (Psalm 46:10)

Be still, and know that I am God:

When I look back over this experience I realize that when we are still, and we listen to God and really live out His will for our lives, it works out just as he planned.  You see if I had left my reporting job in 2008, if I had moved on my own and not waited for my answer for from the Lord, I am confident that I would not be where I am today.  This job was not open in 2008 when I wanted to leave the news business.  God was creating this opportunity just for me.  If I had moved on my own, who knows where I would be.  “But God”   Because I waited on the Lord I am in a wonderful place spiritually, personally and professionally.  I love my job, I am not micromanaged, my boss trusts my judgment, I am allowed to be my creative self, and I have the respect of my colleagues and my community.  And they all know I love the Lord and am driven by the fact that I am His child and that He wants the best for me. 

I encourage you to pray about whatever situation you are facing and be ready to listen for God’s voice and to follow His will for your life.  My Leap of Faith not only allowed me to land in a great place to work, but I am also always resting comfortably in the arms of my Lord and Savior!   

 

New names

*Thanks to Amy Driskill for pitching in as today’s guest contributor. Happy spring time, everybody!*

009Spring time is a time of growth and renewal.  I look around me now, and I see wildflowers popping up all over my yard.   As I sit here, I think about how God has changed me.  It made me curious about how God changes people.  In particular, I became curious about name changes.  Every year for the past four years I’ve volunteered at Royal Family Kids Camp.  We have a song that sticks with me throughout the year.  The words are:

 

I will change your name.  You shall no longer be called wounded, outcast, lonely, or afraid.

I will change your name.  Your new name shall be confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one.

Faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks My face.

 

This song resonates with me because I was so wounded lonely and afraid.  I was all of those things.  I was all too familiar with the hurt look in the eyes of the children at camp.  I had been where they are.  I spent years in that dark lonely place.  It took the light of God and the renewing power of His grace that transformed me into one who is confident and joyful.

In the Bible, God changed Abram into the faithful servant Abraham and Sarai into Sarah, which means princess.  It is fitting considering that she would be the mother of the tribes of Israel.  Paul had a significant change in his life as he walked down the road.  Saul was a man whose goal in life was to kill Jews, but after an encounter with God he was a changed man.  He became the great apostle Paul bringing many into the family of God.

You see, he doesn’t just change our names.  He adopts us into his family and makes us new.   That which was lost and broken was brought into his presence and was not only restored, but we are made into a new beautiful creation as a child of God.