The Difference of a Year

Another new year. Another birthday.  Actually 5 other birthdays (kids count too). Another Easter. Another Christmas.  It’s been over a full year since my last post.  It’s been a whirlwind of a year and only now do I feel like I’ve taken a breath.

I’ve never been one to take the easy path — life is more interesting when it’s hard.

I’ve never been one to aimlessly wait for things to happen — success or failure, win or lose, I’m always moving towards some goal.

Life found a new level of consistency when we purchased a home in September of 2016, giving me the emotional and mental space to ponder and pursue career goals for the first time in what seems like forever.  While the Lord repeatedly closed doors to me as I sought employment at every level – from the profession I left 10+ years ago to cleaning bathrooms as a janitor at a town park to a UPS package handler – every attempt at finding work was met with a closed door.

Lord, can’t I even clean toilets to provide for my family?  (Not quite the career trajectory expected with my educational background)

Despite the numerous rejections and constant disappointments, I continued forward.  I began and completed an MBA course through Smart.ly.  I began getting interviews for white collared roles, but interviews never turned into job offers.

With every attempt at stepping back into a field even tangentially related to the one I left or the consulting experiences I’ve had over the last 10 years turning up empty, I decided it was time to rethink my plan.  Clearly, my current course was not working.

So if I can’t find just any job and I can’t step back into the jobs I’ve done in the past, maybe I ought to start looking at this as an opportunity to choose my path.  Choose my own adventure.  I stumbled into every job and role I’d had in the past.  None of it was particularly intentional.  Maybe now is the time and opportunity to be 100% intentional.  If I have to work, what kind of work do I want to do!?

It was this time last year I decided I would become a software developer.  I took AP Computer Science in High School and dove into an engineering class in college.  I loved it then, can I still love it now?  The logic. The problem-solving. The taking of complicated concepts and breaking them down into bite-sized parts and then implementing it all. As dorky as it may sound, it’s exhilarating.

I began looking into my options and starting consuming resources.  I went through all of the Computer Science curricula at Khan Academy.  I code into Codecademy.  I took Coursera courses. I started in on the famous Harvard CS50 class.  And while I made great strides and it once again wet my appetite for this kind of work, confirming that this would indeed be a good path for me, it also made me aware that if I was going to do this at a high level, I would need direct teaching.

So I began to look into bootcamp options.  An in-person school wasn’t really an option – I wasn’t about to leave my kids alone for 10 hours a day for 14 weeks. So whatever I choose would have to have a self-paced online option.  I found two that were interested and began the application process with one of those two.

Soon after I received my acceptance for the Flatiron School. Now for the tiny problem of how to pay for it. I delayed my start date for 3 months while I sought a solution.  This was around the time I was applying to UPS to be a morning packer.  Basically, that means be there at 4:30am to load boxes for 3-4 hours straight.  I even knew someone who worked there – surely that insider recommendation would secure a job.  I could work in the morning, be home before the children woke up and make just enough to cover the tuition cost for the school.

Months dragged on with no word.  I did everything humanly possible to follow-up, make it clear I wanted the job, make it clear I could do the job, yet the Lord kept saying “No.”

I researched numerous avenues for potential funds.  Are there scholarships available outside of the school, through other organizations?  Surely there has to be funding somewhere.  I already had a 1/2 scholarship through Flatiron, I just needed to cover the other half.  Was there a way to take two 1/2 scholarships and cover the entire tuition?  No, that’s not an option, I was told.

But every so often a group funds a full scholarship.  They are highly competitive, for obvious reasons, but you can apply for that.

Apply I did, and shriek I did when I listened to the voicemail saying they have selected me!

Lord, you are faithful.  My tuition is covered.

As if that isn’t enough kindness to pour on me, about 2 weeks before my official start date with Flatiron I get an email from the CEO at one of the companies I previously interviewed for – a company I was very interested in, a company whose goal aligns very much with my own.  They have a temporary, part-time project, am I interested?  It would be completely on my own schedule, as many hours as I can put towards it, but no minimum hour expectation.

So not only did the Lord provide fully for my tuition cost, but He has also provided exceedingly, abundantly beyond all I could ever have thought to ask.  From the comfort of my cozy bed, never having to brave the winter cold, I awake before the children, log a few hours for work making more in 2 days than I would have in a week with UPS before getting on with my day.

I’m not working for that company full time in a different capacity.  I have completed the Full-Stack-Developer course, and for the first time in 7 years not only am I fully standing on my own two feet financially, but I also have options.  Most importantly, the Lord’s faithfulness has once again proven true.

The conclusion to this story, while warm and fuzzy, did not come overnight. This isn’t a name-it-and-claim-it resolution where I spoke some words and created my future. It has been a seven-year slog. A seven-year test of faith as I chose over and over again to trust God despite circumstances. Seven years is a long time. It is far slower than I wanted, but it’s the perfect timing for God’s plans.

Your trial may last 7 months or 70 years.  Believers are not promised neatly packaged resolutions to life’s of lifes struggles. Believers are promised a faithful God who will never leave them or forsake them and who will strengthen them for the challenges they will face.

 

 

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