Category Archives: Career

Up Down

up-down-arrowsAs one chapter ends, another begins.

Life’s perpetual motion is cyclical, spinning and twisting oneself up and down, left and right, from valley to mountain, to mountain to valley.  Put it simply, life is seasonal.  Good seasons are great.  Bad seasons are of course bad.  But guess what?    It’s a pretty difficult task of embracing such negative seasons or down points in your life, but why not?  Why don’t we use these valleys in a more productive manner?  Instead of simply rolling over and asking, “why, why did this happen to me,” we need to pick ourselves up and know, this is only temporary.  This hard time, this stressing moment, this jobless, bankrupt period is only-short lived.  I need to endure, I must endure!

You may ask yourself, well about the times where people are going through permanent difficulties, such as divorce, cancer, disability, etc, etc?  Granted, from a human perspective, these are enduring concerns, but what will an individual do with such a difficulty?  We’re all familiar with the saying, “it happened for a reason,” I’ll give you one better, it happens for God’s reason.  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”-Romans 8:28.  What may look or seem like a downfall or weakness to some can be used to encourage and motivate people for God’s kingdom, it’s as simple as that.  The tools God has gifted us with, the hardships He takes us through have been orchestrated for a reason.   Where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you are going is exactly apart of His plan.

God didn’t create us to dwell and fall short when we’re in trouble.  We aren’t suppose to dig ourselves a hole and stick our heads into the ground.  We were all created for a purpose, even through the hard times.  We must embrace the fun and happy times, but we also must embrace and endure the hard times, and cling to His trust, that God and only Him will see you through.  No matter the sorrow, no matter the predicament, God is there for you, He’s just waiting for you to call out to Him, “I need you Father, I’m lost without you, I need you now in my life.”

In and out of season, we must turn to God.  If life is up or down, the season will end, and another will begin.  Look to Jesus next time your season goes down.


Summer 2012: Are You 27 Cents Worth? Part V

Now I’m located in the Southwest neighborhoods of Chicago, the family provided groceries, home-cooked meals, comfort, and simply friendships.  Basically, adopting me as a son, with the mom continually calling me her “foreign exchange student.”  I basically exchanged a sort of uncomfortable living situation with close proximity to the city for a comfortable living situation with far proximity; the opposite of everything.  As stated above, God began setting me up in situations to share His Word, which you will see soon.

The first involved Danny and I on the train back to the house.  It was a casual conversation about the recent news bulletin about Chik-fil-a comments on supporting same sex marriage; where the mayor of Chicago stated he wasn’t going to accept the chain into the city because of their anti-gay stance.  As this conversation began, I began to ponder and question about his opinion on the matter, leading to asking about his faith and what he believed.  Looking back, I felt as if I butchered the conversation, probably mistakenly citing wrong sources or scriptures while using the Bible as the ultimate source of information and truth.  At the time of our discussion, I was reading a book called ‘I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.’  If you haven’t read this book or are questioning your Faith and why you’re here on this Earth, you must read it as soon as possible!  It’s a must read!

It answers the infinite questions people may have on the credibility of the Bible and how people need to have science or literal credible facts to back the claims the Bible makes.  Not spilling all the beans here, you must read it for yourself to guard against the refuting arguments people may have against the Word of Christ.  Anyway, jumping forward to the day before I left Chicago for the summer, I felt obligated, confident God wanted me to give Danny this book and so I did; hopefully he has read the enlightening pages and is beginning to see the evidence of our born again Savior in his life.

The previous was one of the instances God began to lift the veil of uncomfortability between someone and myself.  Even as uncomfortable as we may seem or feel, as to our level of expertise with the Bible and citing His Word, God still knows our heart.  He expects us to share His Gospel even if we may feel ‘spiritually unequipped.’  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”-Matthew 28:19  “I will also speak of our testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.”-Psalm 119:46.  Basically, as much as we think we don’t know enough or think we’re ‘spiritually unequipped,’ we still shouldn’t be shy or ashamed to witness His great Love.  And this is where scripture memorization is important to witnessing, so that we may witness at a moments notice to the whole world or through random train ride conversations.

Towards the end of the summer, the hospital partnered with my department to host another Sports Day with the patients of the hospital, but instead of having it at our location, the event took place at a nearby park, alongside the beautiful lakefront of Lake Michigan.  Throughout the morning, we had several groups filtering in and out, introducing new patients to such sports like: boccia, track & field, cycling, and volleyball.  As we were helping and encouraging participants through teaching techniques and retrieving implements, one gentleman stood out.  He was highly encouraging, highly involved, not only in the sport itself, but very positive and praiseful to the other patients.  Basically, he was being a coach, a positive role model for them.  Once I got the chance, I ended up introducing myself to this gentleman and once again, God began to reveal the enormous sign above his head, “ask him, ask him, ask him if he is a believer.”  And after a ten-minute discussion, it was quickly evident he was and after my question, “are you a believer,” he was quickly unyielding in his response.  God was telling me, “be here for this man, serve him while he is here in Chicago.”  And that’s what I told him.  I’ll visit him as much as I could until he gets released, to share and speak about the Word of God.  As you are reading this, you may seem like this is an insignificant moment in the summer, but it was far from it!

This man seemed to have a direct connection with God.  He was so insightful, amazingly acute and his words are penetrating to this day.  From his daily departing prayers to his astonishing role model behavior for the other patients, the Lord directed him to come across my path and vice versa for him.  He/you may be reading this and he/you would agree!  It was purely a God-awakening moment of triumph, in the face of adversity and hardship; Christ is always good, even if we cannot see why He has let certain things happen to us in our lives.  He was not confined or defined by his situation.  But instead, defined by Jesus Christ and how he is the always providing, at our best and our worst.  He is constant.  He is only good.  He is sovereign.  He will never forsake us.  Even in the dark, even when it’s hard; this man, this unexpected relationship, conjured up by the One and Only showed me this side of our Faith.  I will never forget and will always be grateful for the days we worshipped our Lord and Savior in his/your room during the summer of 2012.

Final Intermission: Hey, how about that, you made it through three periods of tedious reading, on top of a thrilling OT, only to be continued into one more stanza. Once again, thank you for making it this far.  You have been great and it’s been simply amazing to reflect on some of the things I experienced.  And while we’re discussing this, the aforementioned details and stories are only a fraction of the memorable moments of the summer.  Unless you want me to continue writing an entire book, I won’t exhaust your time and trouble AND especially won’t subject you to anymore terrifying witticism, beyond this last manuscript, for tomorrow’s post.

See you tomorrow, thanks again!

FFe out

Summer 2012: Are You 27 Cents Worth? Part IV

So now that I had an “accountability partner” in Christ Jesus before Chicago, establishments of an interactive Bible study, exchanging scriptural text messages, Christian books, and so on kept me in line with Him.  Honestly, if I didn’t have this established Christ-centered friendship or FFe in the back of my mind, I would have strayed, I would have fallen into the same traps as I did a few years ago.  Accountability is crucial in your walk of Faith.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Similarly, James 5:16 states, “therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Traveling, working, experiencing new environments ALONE isn’t how He designed us to navigate His beautiful Earth.

Reflecting upon my job, my boss and I were in charge of the summer junior programs, which included working with kids from age 6 to 18 years old, in sports such as: softball, track & field, and basketball.  Even though that was our main focus, we were still highly involved with our adult programs, ranging from basketball, softball, and cycling to archery, powerlifting, and sled hockey, to name a few.  What became quickly obvious was the importance placed on our commitment and involvement with the kids.  Remember, this is Chicago.  Crime and poverty runs rampant.  I sadly saw this first hand.  These kids are basically not cared for.  We’re the only thing in their live that’s consistent and helpful.  We’re the only light in the extensive darkness they endure each day.

With one of our kids, we can no longer give him free stuff and merchandise because his family takes it and uses it themselves.  In other cases, kids are simply on their own, parents aren’t involved, parents are either drunk or high most of the time; basically, no parental involvement whatsoever.  This should be a significant statement and should elicit some emotional response.  Rethink all of this; inner city kids, in wheelchairs, in mainly non-supportive families, in poverty, no transportation, violent neighborhoods, etc, etc; basically the most difficult situation to be in.  And I’m not exaggerating with these living situations.  Another story, one of our boys lives with his grandparents.  When his grandparents were out of country for a week and a half, he simply didn’t shower, he didn’t take care of himself, no deodorant, nothing.  As much as these kids barely having anything, they’re still heavily reliant on caregivers.  Part of our job is to remove them from dependency because as one gets older, especially if you’re in a chair, the more you must rely on yourself to arrange transportation, schooling, and independent travel.  As these kids are getting spoon-fed and consistently reminded go to the restroom, our job was increasingly difficult and stressful because of the counterproductive difficult domestic circumstances.

Every week, we had softball practice in the West neighborhood of Chicago, near Wrigleyville.  For every practice, every week, we have to arrange transportation through a third party company, to pick the kids up for practice.  Because the kids are in chairs, specialty buses, equipped with wheelchair lifts must be used.  In that, time is projected to about two hours before and after practice, dedicated for pick up and drop off for our kids.  For my part, we have the responsibility to contact not only the bus company for scheduled pickup times for each kid, but also to contact each kid to notify them of their individual pickup times.  If this sounds confusing and frustrating, it was!  Remember, these kids, these families live in nearly inhospitable and government subsidized apartments, with economic resources very limited, so it wasn’t uncommon for telephone numbers to be disconnected, changed, or impossible to reach.  So for contacting 90% of our kids, we had no idea who or what would be at the end of the telephone line.  This was one of the many enduring weekly frustrations we had to deal with, not including weekend trips, tournaments, and outings.  Willingness to endure, the definition of patience was one of the many lessons I learned throughout the summer.

As the midway point of the summer approached seemingly instantaneous, I found myself letting go of my living circumstance.  Strictly speaking, letting God supervene, letting Him set the scene for where I’ll be living for the second half of the summer.  Remembering back to how worried, how concerned I was at the beginning of the summer, where I’d live, how much money I’d need to spend.  All these superficial needs, all these trivial concerns were completely absent at the midpoint in the summer because I knew all things, issues, emotional feelings were irrelevant and unimportant because God doesn’t want us to have a heart of concerns for ourselves, He doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow.  “Therefore do no worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough to of its own.”-Matthew 6:34.  So I gave it to Him.  I gave all my worries, all my concerns associated with where I’ll be living to Him.

Literally a few days before my friend and his girlfriend was moving out of their place; meaning, I had to be gone by then too, a co-intern at RIC offered me to stay with his family near Midway airport.  Whoa!  Just mentioning it to him once, back early in the summer, I wasn’t expecting the offer.  As much as the offer was enticing, I examined the commute comparison of Lake View to where I could be potentially living near Midway.  In Lake View, I literally had a two-minute walk to the bus stop, then a 15-minute bus ride downtown and that’s it.  Midway, I had to find someone to drive me 10 minutes to Midway airport, take the Orange Line (CTA subway) for 25 minutes, hop on another subway (Red Line) for another 20 minutes, and then walk 10 minutes to work; an hour long commute, on good days.  Hum.  This situation may be much different.  It doesn’t matter.  I have no other choice.  Plus, there’s a reason why God has opened this door, so I accepted.  I literally moved in the day after Danny, the offering intern, said I could stay with him for the rest of the summer.

After arriving at his house, I was quickly met by his mom and brother, offering to carry all my stuff into their house.  Being stubborn, I denied multiple times, saying I could do it all, but immediately realizing their Chicagoan temperament, it’s difficult to tell them no.  Expecting the “not so greatest living arrangement” or random corner bedroom, I was bewildered, they were basically giving me their entire basement; with a bathroom, television, comfortable couches, chairs; above and beyond my expectations of hospitality.  “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 4:19.  “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”-Matthew 6:31-33.  How true is this right now?  What you just heard, can we not say He provided for me?  How amazing His Almighty, for providing answers, for providing a loving, respectful, accommodating family, beyond my finite expectations and restricted possibilities of where I’d end up.

Overtime Intermission: Let’s do a quick reflection again.  Going into the city of Chicago, I had no idea where I’d end up and putting trust in God, He provided me a comfortable, “home away from home,” beyond my expectations of what was in store.  And we are not done!  You still there?  Hanging on, right?!  I hope you are enjoying my story because for the second half of the summer, God begins to position circumstances and people in my path for “Jesus Christ divergent opportunities.”  In other words, people and conversations began to spawn out of nowhere, designating these seemingly inconspicuous humanized construction signs that illuminated, “talk to them about me.”  Expressly, I began to see, I began to recognize opportunistic times to share the Gospel, share His name with people, which I’ve never experienced or seen before now, especially as consistently as they appeared.   Opps, forgot it was break time.  This time, go get some food or a healthy snack, like almonds, carrots, or celery to tide you over, plus some water; drink plenty of water throughout the day, 64 ounces or more!

Thanks for reading, we will see you tomorrow, have a wonderfully blessed day!

Summer 2012: Are You 27 Cents Worth? Part II

After I got the interview, ecstasy overcame me.  As quickly as the emotional suddenness resonated, a pragmatic thought interrupted the happiness; the thought of the unknown, doubt, and affliction was rendering me helpless.  Where am I going to stay?  Do I have the money to rent a Chicago apartment for three months, on top of my apartment now?  Will I have to commute?  HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?!  Using scrap paper, sticky notes, and dry erase boards for scratch notes to project operational and capital budgets for the summer, it didn’t take long to realize how expensive this unpaid internship would cost.  Having the reputation and presence the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has in the Midwest, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, right?!  All the while up until the interview, I prayed about the ‘tug of war’ I was having with myself.  And I’ll convict myself.  I didn’t wait long enough for Him to respond, to say, “it’s ok to take this; this is my plan for you.”  I didn’t let His beautiful voice overcome the restlessness I was experiencing. 

To my astonishment, the interview went well and after the interviewer walked with me to my car, he gave a proposition, “it’s yours if you can figure out your residence.”  So it was mine to lose.  No pressure at all.  Now what?  More worrying?  More trying to figure things out.  Telling him I needed more time to think about it and figure things out, I continued to pray and ask for His guidance and direction.   Once again, in my infinite, unmistakably, flawless demeanor, I accepted the position two days later.  And at this moment in the story, I had no place, no residence to stay.  As time went on, a buddy from grad school was living in Chicago, Lake View, to be precise.  Luckily, he accepted me to stay with him and his girlfriend for the summer.  But there was a catch.  Because their lease was up at the end of June, I HAD to find a place for the rest of the summer.  (Note: the internship was from the end of May to the end of August)

Finally, I had almost everything figured out.  Don’t you love how God opens and closes doors?  Well, if you don’t know what I mean, recollect on your life.  Think back on the times you could have traveled one way, and something came up to deter you.  “I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have no denied My name.”-Revelation 3:8 (NLT) These random detour moments are God’s work, they’re Him trying to tell you, “I have something better.”  Remember God’s three answers to your prayers: 1) yes 2) not yet 3) I have something better in mind.  Be patient.  Pray.  He will guide you in the right direction, even if you don’t have a plan or have any clue what’s in store.

Second Intermission: What are you thinking so far?  Take a break.  Reflect on the message.  Through my journey up until this point, do you see any parallels in your life?  Have you recognized the “fork in the road” moments, where you have two different paths to take and realize, you have taken the right or even wrong one?  What did you heart tell you in that circumstance?  What is your heart telling you right now?  If you didn’t get a coffee, iced tea, or water at the first intermission, please go get something now, we’re going to be here for a while!

Roller Coaster of Life

Life is a roller coaster.

There are ups and downs, twists and turns, helixes to spin you around, then spit you out, and so on.  Have you ever felt you’re just along for the ride, getting aimlessly and effortlessly tossed around, as though you were a rag doll?

As you’re climbing and climbing up the hill, one chain click at a time.  Click, click, click, click, clack, click, clack, click, click.  All the while, time is slowly going by, going higher and higher, farther and farther, after every inevitable click.  Once you finally get the courage to look at your surroundings, you realize, “wow, what am I doing?”  “Look where I’ve come.”  “Look how high I am.”

This isn’t about whether we are in control, but more so a life examination.  Sometimes, it’s hard for us to look out and take a measurement of where we’re at in life.  Either we’re scared of our past, don’t like where our lives are going, or we’re completely unsure of where we want to be.

But guess what?  You must find the courage to look because life is always moving.  Click, click, click, clack, click.  You’ll never get these moments back again.  Once the train reaches the apex of the hill, you soon realize, there’s no way, but down.  If you’ve questioned your life because you have no idea where you’re going or what you want to do, be patient and most importantly, pursue what you love!

Just remember, it takes a long time to travel up the hill.  Whether it’s through acquiring your education, knowledge, fitness achievements, weight loss goals, and so on, you must relax, put your trust in God, and enjoy the view.  On the way up your roller coaster of life, take these precious moments to reexamine where you’ve come because…