Thursday, October 2, 2014

Prayers answered...from Craigslist?

The other night I was having a conversation with a dear friend and we both kind of realized, "wow, God always takes really good care of me." Like, really. I began to think back on instances when I have really felt God's presence, and even times that I haven't, and I can tell that he's been there, providing everything that I need. Or sometimes, and this is my favorite, He will lavish me with choice gifts I never even asked for. Let me explain...

Ever since moving to Iowa my heart has yearned for peace, and seemed to have found none. I specifically included it in my prayer intentions--that I might experience God's peace in my decision to move here, with my job, with my vocation, etc. I'll be honest: at first, it was a rocky start. Moving to a new town where all the people you know can be counted on one hand (and conveniently it's because it's your boyfriend and a few of his friends), was not easy for the sanguine in me. I'd see cute coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques and my initial thought was, "Oh, this would be a great place to take one of my girlfriends....wait. Or, Lee?" Of course it's not that I don't want to do all of these things with the man that I love, but there are just some things that girls get more excited about: namely, colorful and cute coffee shops downtown with organic coffee and homemade pastries. (If you're a girl and you live in Fargo I am willing to wager that if you've been to Nichole's just once, you love it.)

I had some time in town before leaving for a mission trip in July, so I used that time mainly to get settled, finish preparing for Mexico City, and of course look for jobs. I applied for many and was contacted by few. Even after doctoring up the ol' résumé with everything that I learned from my experience with FOCUS and beyond, apparently it's a little more difficult than I thought to find a job with the following titles to my name: "Catholic missionary and B.A. in International Studies." If I would've known that back in my days at the UW, I definitely would have studied a little more and gotten more specific with a degree path. Regardless, I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and in all reality I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was 20 years old... and 5 years later I still don't! Life decisions are tough, especially when your main goal is heaven, you'll do whatever it takes to get there (or at least I'd like to think so most days).

Our Mexico City mission trip group. I love them!
To fit with the theme of this post, God provided and the day I left town to go to WI before my mission trip, I was offered a position at a recently-opened Culver's restaurant nearby. For those of you who don't know me, I love Culver's and am extremely loyal to it, particularly the franchise in Sauk City, WI (the one that started it all for those of you unawares). In fact, I like Culver's so much that a friend of mine planned a surprise birthday party for me last year and wanted to take a group of us to yes you guessed it: Culver's (unfortunately my birthday is in January and there was a blizzard so our plans changed. Who knew, a blizzard in Fargo in January...).

You can probably imagine my excitement at being issued the "True Blue" hat, manager's tie, shirt and name tag on my first day. I started working and it was fun to talk to people, learn a new job, and of course, eat at Culver's almost every day (especially when there was pulled pork or chicken salad sandwiches, yum!). It certainly zoomed me right back to my days in the grocery store, which I remember very fondly. 
My first time wearing the True Blue uniform.
Excitement waned within a week when my pride really started kicking in and I began to see status updates of many fellow UW-grads who are out doing "big and exciting things" with their lives: graduating from PA school, starting their 4th year as a med student, moving to new countries, teaching, getting married and the list goes on. In a moment of weakness, I began to feel sorry for myself, "Oh Kelsey, you don't even know what you want to do with your life. You didn't even need a college degree for what you're doing now (although after working as a manager, I can definitely see where it was helpful!). Look at your peers and all of the amazing things they're doing with their lives, and here you're working in fast food." That was when I stopped liking my job. (Note to self: don't compare your life to others' lives through the social media lens, or at all. You'll likely end up highly dissatisfied, regardless of what you do.)

I began working at Culver's under the pretense that, "I'll do this until something better comes along." And that was when I realized that I don't actually know what I would think is "better." More money? Regular hours? A different working environment? (Being a FOCUS missionary?) It wasn't long that I figured out that as far as a career goes, I just don't know what I want. After all, I didn't move to Iowa for a career, I moved here for a relationship.

So I stopped looking. I stopped reading the daily emails of "New jobs in the area" and decided that I was happy enough, and who needs a new job anyway? At least I'm starting to learn the ropes, gain confidence, and get to know customers to the point of seeing a ticket for an order in the drive-thru and knowing exactly who it's for (hoping she brought her bichon!) without even taking the order.

And then a miracle happened--I started liking working at Culver's. I formed relationships with the other employees (inside jokes and all), found moments of sanctification in my work  and I began to feel like maybe, just maybe, I am making a difference. The 3-11pm shifts stopped being such a burden and I accepted my fate of working there for the time being. I also decided that I would start advertising a little more heavily for a roommate (because I also accepted the fact that if I don't split the rent my resources will soon diminish).

Not long after that God really surprised me with how much He cares for me. Lee and I went for a run one night and decided to go a new route, opposite of the direction we normally go. On the way, we passed the wife of who we'll call "Steve," a friend of Lee's we haven't seen since I've been in town, and later that night her husband texted Lee inviting us to a bonfire at their place. We ended up going, did a little "shooting the breeze" and I described my job at Culver's to them. Two days later, Lee forwarded me an email from Steve letting him know about a friend of his who works at a small engineering company and recently lost his receptionist (not tragically, she just quit). He told Lee that I should give the guy a call if I'm interested, so that is exactly what I did. I went in for an interview a few days later and was offered the job on the spot, and get this: there are regular hours, better pay, and a different working environment. 

But now that things were going well at Culver's, I felt a twinge of obligation and even sadness (yes, sadness!) at the thought of leaving. In all honesty, I am loyal to a fault and my commitment to the Culver's Restaurant chain runs much deeper than the month and a half experience of working there. I thought about staying part time and picking up shifts every once in a while on the weekends, but when I told my manager he said I should take some time to get settled at my new job and email him in a couple of weeks. So that is exactly what I did. And his response blew me away. I want to share part of it with you:
The very reason you stated of commitment is what i was hoping you would figure out. I did not want you to feel obligated as i could sense. Commitment and obligation have two different meanings. With commitment you have choices and create your own path.  With obligation we allow others in a sense to create or control our path. You are a special person that will touch many lives on your journey of life.
It was such a relief to me to know that I truly made the best decision for myself, and in doing so, for the other people in my life (i.e. coworkers, Lee). It's amazing how much freedom one can experience by making a decision like this for yourself, and not to please someone else.

Of course my prayers for peace continued, as I am starting something new (again) and transition, well, sometimes I just plain don't get along with it. I was starting to get good at my job, earn my employees' trust, and now I'm starting a new job where I know literally zero things, and I'm the only female (at least none of my coworkers will be throwing off my cycle, am I right? #silverlining).

In the same week that I was contacted about the new job, I was also contacted by someone that saw an ad on Craigslist (which I put up weeks prior) and wanted to know if I was still looking for a roommate. Oddly enough, I had just made up a flyer and was about to print out a couple copies to hang around UNI and some churches around town, but I decided to hold off until meeting her and talking with her a bit.

She came over one night and saw the place, we chatted a little, and she struck me as a really normal person (although honestly, what is normal?). I thought only creepy guys used Craigslist! Except for me. We decided it would be a good fit and she went to sign the lease later that week. She just moved in on Tuesday night and so far it's working out great. Not to mention the whole, paying half my normal rent deal.

Oh, you might be curious about her name?


It's no coincidence that these events all happened when they did. You outdid yourself this time, Daddy. I think I'm starting to feel like the princess I am.