Tag Archives: jobs

Hitting the Water

Today is July 21, 2011.  It is Nicholas’s seventh birthday. And as much as we are thrilled for our little boy and his seven candles, it was what happened yesterday that has us truly rejoicing.

Orlando was hired to teach in Lincoln. Finally.

Okay, so it took a bit longer than we expected, but he was offered two jobs and took the one at the school that he really, really wanted to be part of this entire time. The school he had worked for previously in Nebraska. A school that had just one job opening this year. A position they were happy to give him and he was honored to accept.  God truly had his hand in this because believe it or not, the timing was just about perfect.  I think our entire family heaved a collective sigh of relief upon hearing the news.

Through the whole adventure I’ll admit not allowing myself the luxury of considering a Plan B. I didn’t want to even begin to think of how we would restore the  life in Pennsylvania we so neatly dismantled to come here. But when the word finally came and the reality of our move was finalized, I had to take a moment to catch my breath. Wow, I thought, we’re really not going back. And for just a second I was struck with all those mixed feelings of loss and joy that have so marked the journey here. It felt like we jumped to take the plunge so long ago, but even after the long way down, the shock of hitting the water was still, well, a shock.

So here we are. Residents of Milford, Nebraska. Population 2052. So on our first day of being real residents, the boys and I went to town and did the right thing: we applied for a library card. And tomorrow, the search for an internet connection on the farm begins. Can’t do the blog from the library forever!

And tomorrow we figure out how to get our stuff from there to here in the next week. Orlando begins his new job on August 2!

More later friends. Thanks for your patience with the sporatic blogging. I promise to catch you when I’m connected.

Already Gone

The computer drought has ended at the Roth house. I am writing this post from our new laptop, updated with new antivirus stuff, out of our new computer bag,  Unfortunately, I’m still sitting in my old house. I’m so ready to take the next step.

The biggest question out there, the one we hear from everyone we run into, is “Have you heard anything yet?” And of course the answer is an exasperated “No!” The LPS school district is recovering from the loss of their offices, but just now restored email at the end of this week. They had a Facebook post up asking those who were looking for jobs to give them a bit of time to get it together so we have tried to do that. I think Orlando patience is about over, however, and I suspect he will send them an email before this Sunday evening is out. He just can’t stand the wait. I’ll admit I think it would be nice to hear something from them myself after all this time and I’m not the one waiting to be hired.

In the meantime, our house is slowly being emptied out. We’re stilling living amongst the furniture, but most of the cabinets and chests and drawers are now empty. The “new and improved” plan is that as we box things up, Orlando is moving them to one of our two rented storage units here in town. One is almost totally full.  Within two weeks, we want everything we own stored in those units (well, except the piano and the freezer) and then we’re going to jump on the interstate and head to Nebraska, taking only what our vans can carry and our faith that we are going with God’s wind at our backs.  The house will go up for sale empty. And when Orlando nails down this job and our house is sold, we’ll come back and get the rest of the stuff. It’s not like we’ll need it immediately anyway.

The boys are down to sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor (which they LOVE by the way) and they have their little backpacks all set with only the most indispensable toys and gadgets. I’ve held out just one set of sheets for our bed,  bought a boatload of paper plates and bowls so I can pack away my everyday plates, and next on my program is figuring out what to do with the clothes in the closets. If I were moving across town, I would just throw them all in the backseat with the hangers on, but moving 1200 miles away makes it a bit more complicated. Just how many pairs of shoes, I wonder, will I need between now and September? Will the boys need jeans in the 100 degree Nebraska summer? Will Orlando need more than one shirt and tie to interview in? Such inane, yet fairly critical decisions. I’m sure we’re going to get there and I’m going to be kicking myself for what I do or don’t have on board.

Truthfully, I’m finding all the packing harder than ever. I feel like I simply can’t sort out one more thing. Either it’s trash or I’m moving it. I refuse to take the time to find another home for another stray object. “Don’t know what to do with that dryer we don’t need, honey? Let’s just throw it out.” I think there is only so much the human brain can take before everything starts looking like junk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chided myself recently for buying some silly thing that, at the time, I just “had to have.” Want to cure your materialism? Move across the country! I miss the days where all my clothes could fit in my army duffle bag and all my furniture could fit in my junky, old Renault Alliance.

Forgive my crankiness. I just want to get out of here and the remaining piles in our house are the proverbial ball and chain.

Of course, I see a bright side to all of this. (The optimist always wins.) The time this is taking has me so ready to leave, the thought is no longer torturous. I’ve seen almost everybody. Said thousands of goodbyes. Doffed my hat to all my old haunts. Let go of just about everything I need to let go of. As a matter of fact, I might even feel a little bit like Marley’s ghost. You know what I mean–a disconnected spirit who hasn’t yet “passed over.” All of a sudden people seem surprised to see me, like they thought we’d be on our way by now. And you know what? In my heart, I’m already gone.

Can’t believe it, but it’s true.

Basil Rathbone as Marley's Ghost. basilrathbone.net

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!

It’s June–finally. The month the Lincoln Public School District promised to call Orlando for an interview. So of course he’s been staring at the phone. Wondering, waiting, holding his breath.

On Tuesday, he tried to log on to their website to see if they had posted any jobs, but the website was down. This worried him a bit. He tried to get on many times in the next few days but to no avail. Should he call, he wondered?  Should he wait it out? And then tonight, not ten minutes ago, he finally got onto the website. The site was still down, but there was a message. “We’re still trying to recover from the fire of May 31. Please log onto our Twitter or Facebook account.”

I’m sorry. FIRE?

And so we quickly logged onto the local media page and saw a tremendous video of the entire district office burning to the ground. The office that employed 250 people–one of whom is supposed to call this week and hire my husband this month. They are working on finding places for these people to return to work. They are working on recovering their data which, thankfully, was backed up off site. But their computers are gone, bulldozed under. And if Orlando had a paper file anywhere in that building, if they jotted down a note on a sticky reminding themselves to call him,  it’s toast. Literally.

I must admit, my first reaction to hearing all this was to laugh. It’s a funny thing sometimes, this faith business. Our lives are in His hands, but how easy is it for us to trust in things other than Him. Things like numbers and odds, computers, sticky notes, and even people. Sometimes it takes a fire to remind us who’s in charge. Sometimes it takes a “You’ve got to be kidding me!” moment to bring us back to a place of trust in the right One.

So here we go. Trusting in the fiery furnace.

The Closed Door

Well the day came at last. I cleaned out my files, emptied out the drawers, collected my books, organized my scads of  mechanical pencils and paper clips,  put my tinker toys away in boxes, and hauled it all to the van. I officially moved out of the children’s pastor office. A chapter ended.

It wasn’t totally horrible. The worst part was in the morning when I was stuck in the office for hours going through pile after pile, notebook after notebook, file after file. You’d think I would have dealt with some of those piles and files along the way, but never really felt I had the time to be that thorough. And truthfully even if I had the time, I would have found more interesting things to do with it. But today it sort of afforded me a look back. I forgot how much time I spent researching and collecting ministry ideas until faced with dumping the contents of all the research files. I forgot how many drafts of the mission and vision we came up with before we nailed it down. I forgot how many versions of the ministry logo there were before we got it just right. I forgot that I taught on the attributes of God in children’s church using Nerf balls and dissolving paper, and that I sent out a feedback survey to all the kids’  workers after my first year asking them what they thought about it all. It was kind of strange. When you spend your whole life asking the question “what’s next?”, it makes it kind of easy for you to forget all the things that were on the path to “next.” There’s never any time to savor the moment because the moment is going to be gone any second and you have to be ready to take the next step.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m definitely a “what’s next” kind of lady. I’m just saying I’m developing a love for remembering.

I will admit to getting a bit weepy at times during the clean out. The “what’s next”  for me equals not being here with these dear people. It’s been such an exhausting emotional journey these past few days, and goodbyes make me crazy anyway. I can sit here in the comfort of my own kitchen saying everything I want to say just the way I want to say it, but when I’m saying goodbye I just choke up and only squeaky sounds come out. I can never say all the words that fill my head, especially to those I really want to say them to. It’s a dastardly problem.

I was rescued from the choking up by my friend Kristen who came to the staff lunch party they were throwing for me. She showed up at my office and her presence diffused some of my melancholy. I know that Kristen will be my friend forever, even if I am living 1400 miles away. And then suddenly Orlando stood in my doorway. He escaped from school to come be with me at this lunch, and just seeing his face gave me courage.  I was so thankful to not have to do this goodbye lunch without him. My dear friend Tee, who was in charge of the food, had Kung Po Chicken, Green Beans Caesar, and banana cream pie waiting for me when I arrived. All favorites of mine that she learned by scoping out the blog post from May 4. Sneaky girl. Of course the choking started up again as my friends began to share stories and remembrances of my time with them. Encouraging, uplifting words that I will treasure in my heart. I tried to tell them what they’ve meant to me, but all I really did was squeak.

And then I went back to finish the office. And when I did, I walked across the hallway and gave Pastor Ken my office key. I had to make a quick exit before the squeaking began again. Then I went to see our assistant Becky, and told her this was the last opportunity to come down to my office and tell me things looked better. She did, just like always. And I would have told her how meaningful her friendship has been to me, helping me navigate the waters of Petra and listening to all my ideas and giving me honest appraisals. I would have told her I’ve loved getting to know her, that I think she’s one of the brightest, most accepting people I know. But of course, all I got out was “It was fun” before the lump started in my throat and the squeak began.

So then we stood in the doorway, I said “goodbye office” and I closed the door, officially locking myself out. I gave some quick hugs and walked out the door. It was over, almost as suddenly as it seemed to begin.  So I got in the van, turned on the engine, and asked the Lord the one question you knew I would ask.

“Okay, God,” I asked Him, “What’s next?”

A Little More Faith Than We Thought

Just when we thought things were going nowhere, they went nowhere further.

For those of you who follow along with this blog, you know that Orlando was expecting a phone call from the school system in Nebraska during the month of April. A phone call offering him an interview for the teaching job that he has to land  before we can call our move official. Well, it’s May 2 and still no phone call. So this weekend, Orlando and I started talking. What do we do? Should he send yet another email to the human resources director, a very nice lady he actually knows? Or should he call? Or should we just wait it out and see? And then the dreaded, “Do we have a Plan B?”

Ugh. I hate Plan B’s. They are my personal definition of The Worst.  I’m definitely a Plan A kind of gal.

So he came home from work today, and after a quick chat in the kitchen about the details he should ask about on the phone, he made the call. And miraculously, the woman was actually still in her office at 5pm central time. About 20 minutes later he returns to the kitchen. Quietly. With a strange look on his face. “Well?” I ask.

“Well, there’s good news and bad news. I’m going to tell you the bad news first.”

“Okay.” I brace myself for the absolute worst. Thinking things like: there are no positions available in a district that hired 350 people last year. They’ve decided to not hire teachers with as much experience as Orlando. They’re furloughing teachers left and right like they are here.

“She says it could be June until she can interview anybody.”

“Really.” is all I say. “Why?”

“Something about the union not liking it if she hires new people until the existing teachers have completely shifted around. And since the schools just found out last week how many teachers they can have based on the census, the existing teachers are still shifting.”

“Okay,” I say. “What’s the good news?”

“The good news is that 138 teachers are retiring. They’re still going to hire about 200-250  teachers this year, and that I have a good chance because I worked for them before. And that I have a better chance because my principal there really liked me.” And then the final, “And oh, she said she had been looking at my file five minutes before I called.”

“That is good news.” I say. “You’re on her radar. But wow, June. What about selling our house? What about packing for the move? We can’t wait until June to figure all that stuff out.”

“I know.” Is all he said.

And for a brief moment, I was tempted to enter the land of Limbo. That tragic place where one really doesn’t know what’s going on and you’re simply driven and tossed around by the howling wind. And then I remembered. Hey, God told us to do this. We need to press on. So I turned to Orlando and declared, “It’s just going to take a little more faith than we thought, that’s all.”

Oh how easy it can be to say words like that. The challenge comes in living it. We’ve staked our lives, our kids’ lives on the reality of this move happening. I have quit my beloved job, we’ve withdrawn our boys from school, we’ve packed a hundred boxes, we’re ready to sell our house. All of this hinging on this job and all of it needing to be done sooner rather than later. Oh no! Plan B here we come!

Or maybe not. When it comes right down to it, why can’t we stay right on Plan A?  Every other piece is in place. Why wait to act on what we believe is God’s will for our lives? I still have no doubt Orlando will get his job. Why do we need some person out there to verify what we believe God has already said? Maybe we need that much faith. Maybe that much faith is a requirement.

So I suggest this to Orlando. Let’s just pack up the house. Let’s just move out. We’ll take the stuff off the walls, forget about “staging” our home and what needs to be here to make that happen. We’ll just empty the place of everything except furniture, put it all in our storage unit right here in town. We head out to Nebraska in June, right when we planned, taking the stuff we need for the summer and fall. Then when the hiring comes, and it will come, we put our house on the market. When it sells, we come back to sign the papers, collect our furniture, and empty the storage unit. End of story. The worst that could happen is that we’d have a few boxes to move back in if the whole thing falls through. Which, of course, it won’t.

He warms to the idea. Then he called his parents.  And his conservative, careful mother had this to say:  “Just sell the house.” she says. “The worst that could happen is that you’d have to rent until you find a new one.”

Wow,  trumped in faith by my mother-in-law. Wouldn’t be the first time.

So we’ve got a lot to think about tonight. A lot of decisions to make. But one thing is certain:  we’re  going to keep our eyes on the ball. I have ten days left to serve in a job I’ve laid down on the altar of His will. We have a house to pack and a massive yard sale to organize. We have a new life to plan. We just can’t sit around waiting for all the messy details to come into line to move forward. June will be here before we know it, and the job will come. So until then, we believe what we do not see. We hope in Him to finish what He started. And we seek His will in how to best please Him in the journey. Pray for us as we try to stay strong.

Like I said, it’s just going to take a little more faith than we thought.

The Nebraska Sky

There is No Terror in the Bang

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
Alfred Hitchcock

Today is April 6, 2011, and Orlando and I are holding our breath.  We have been officially preparing for our move for about four months, although we’ve been thinking about it for a lot longer. We’ve withdrawn the boys from school, met with a realtor, sold off hundreds of books, sorted through a mountain of boxes. I’ve resigned from my pastor position and even started a blog about the move. But one piece is still missing. One tiny piece. A job for Orlando.

The problem? No job, no go.

For those of you who don’t know, Orlando is an elementary school teacher and he is a fabulous one. I’m fond of saying he is the modern day version of Mr. Rogers with a twist. He’s worked in Nebraska before—in the Lincoln Public School System—and they had only perfect things to say about him when he left. (His letter of recommendation from his principal began with the phrase “Orlando Roth is a master teacher.”) As a matter of fact, when we were visiting there last summer, we stopped in the district office so he could do a cursory investigation of the job market there and he encountered the woman who hired him back in the 90’s.  She looked at him and said, “Orlando Roth! I have a kindergarten position open right now. Can you be here in two weeks?”

So going into this, we’ve had a lot of confidence that Orlando would be rehired by his former employers. What we know is that they begin to interview in the month of April. First, the teachers who are already there dance around and move to different spots, and then it becomes clear what spots are left to be filled. So now it’s April, the teachers are dancing, and Orlando is staring at the phone.

Truth be told, I think one of the reasons God put Orlando and me together is so I could remind him on a daily basis how wonderful he really is. He would forget otherwise. And so last night, we were sending emails to his Lincoln Public School friends and he started thinking about interviews and the like. And then he started over-thinking. What if I don’t get hired? What if they decide they don’t want someone with my experience? It’s been so long since I’ve had to interview—what do I say? What if we don’t go? What would we do about school for the boys if we stay here? What about your job? What about our house? What about my parents?

An hour later, my head was on my pillow and I was falling asleep and he was still going. Finally he turned to me and said: “I’m not sure I can get my brain going in another direction—it’s been “moving to Nebraska” for too long. I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed.”

I was groggy, so I don’t remember exactly what I said and I’m sure it wasn’t too coherent. But I think I said something like, “You’re wonderful. They’d be crazy not to hire you.” And today, fully awake and in my right mind, I say it again. He’s a gifted teacher and they’d be insane not to hire him.

Alfred has it right. The terror is always in the wait. It’s in the anticipation of calamity. Always in what we can’t see. Always in our imaginations and in our uncertainties. Always in the shadows of what is reality. Always diminishing our confidence and challenging our truths.

But this I know, whether we blew it or made the right call, God has a plan for us. And the best we can do is trust Him.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.         Psalm 27:14