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!   

 

Day 25: Dear Need

Day 25 in the Dear Gratitude project is submitted by yours truly :).

Dear Need,

I first remember meeting you, Need, when my father fell from his heroic platform in my mind. Grappling with drug addiction, he stood in our living room in Augusta, Kansas, in 1984, and admitted that he had fallen for Caroline. I remember my mom crying, scorching, angry tears spilling over, commanding him to explain himself to his four daughters. He tried to. And then he left.

And I didn’t shed a tear, although I was surrounded by four emotionally distraught females.

My dad, circa 1984, who I've grown to love again

My dad, circa 1984, who I’ve grown to love again

I didn’t know then how much I needed a daddy and how much the lack of having one would alter my path in life. I didn’t know that, as Naomi Shihab Nye claims in her poem The Traveling Onion, “It is right that tears fall for something small and forgotten.” I didn’t know these things, but I would learn them later. Because of you, Need, I spent years trying to replace my dad with insufficient substitutes. I can’t say that I’m proud of that, but I know that you, Need, are often something I can’t even detect in myself—but God can. Thanks to you, Need, I eventually found a Father. Thank you, Need, for leading me to create a path of destruction uglier and more harmful than the mess left behind in Wichita after a tornado. Seeing myself realistically finally led me to accept and love my dad again.

Need, you became a part of our daily family life. We needed food, clothing, and shelter, our little family of five, a single mom with four daughters under the age of seven. You, Need, introduced us to welfare. You acquainted us with embarrassment and shame. You moved us into a trailer park. You are the reason I cried for an entire afternoon because I did not have a denim skirt to wear to my friend’s birthday party, and you are the reason my mom could not purchase one, even though she wanted to.

But you, Need, are also the reason that my mom went back to college and pursued a career in dental hygiene, something she is still passionate about. You are part of the reason that I studied so hard to try to obtain a scholarship myself. You are the one to thank for the circumstances that led to my mom becoming best friends with Kay Egan, a woman with a gigantic golden heart. You’re to thank for the chance to grow up with near-cousins and to be loved by near-grandparents, for the chance to climb trees, explore barns, and ride tractors. You, Need, are who taught me that I’m no better than anyone else. That people in poverty aren’t always stuck in the mud as a result of poor choices. Thank you for making it impossible for my mom to take care of us on her own. If she’d been able to, I wouldn’t have received countless gifts of kindness and selflessness, like my Sunday School teacher in first grade who offered to pay for me to learn gymnastics, which is still my favorite sport.

Kay and John Egan, 2000

Kay and John Egan, 2000

Need, I could choose to hate you. But I don’t. I’m thankful for your place in my life, even today. I’m thankful for the irritability and negativity that rises up in me when I don’t focus on the Solution. That need prompts me to change. I’m thankful for the times when I have to spend less and save more. This keeps me humble and dependent on the Giver. I’m thankful for the times when I can’t make my daughter feel better and for the times when I can’t figure out how to get her to eat more, nurse less, or go to sleep. It keeps me from attaining parental perfection, and that leads me to accept help and input from my Wise Dad who knows my child better than I do. I’m thankful for my own powerlessness and lack of ability to manage every situation solely.  This keeps my egotistical, self-righteous self from bragging and annoying everyone I meet, and it keeps me coming back for help from the Ultimate Guru.

I need you, Need, to get me to gratitude.

I need Need to get me to God.