October 27, 2012

End of the Month!

I cannot believe that it is almost November! My goodness, how this month has flown by. So much has changed, and I have been very busy -- so busy -- that I haven't had time to Blog. I guess that is a really good thing, right? It is good to be busy, and to have your days zoom by (versus slow draggy days where all you do is watch the clock.)

I feel like I finally know what I am doing at work. I don't know every answer, and I don't know how to do every task assigned to me, but I have a good "general" understanding of my job. I have taken on more work the past week, and now have a pretty full plate. My boss seems to like the fact that I can take on jobs that others are not able to do, and she seems to like that she can ask me to do something and I pretty much can figure it out, or at least attempt to do it. I need to manage my time well, but with the Lord's provision, I feel confident that I can do what has been assigned to me to do.

I am supposed to work this weekend, but I am being a little bull-headed (well, I am actually a "BULL" as in surname, you know!) I asked my boss if I could work from home this weekend, and she said "no." Then our Director sent out an email saying that she had no parameters on how we completed the extra work, just so long as it was done by EOD on Monday. Ok, taking liberty with that "just so long" bit, I decided to bring my laptop home and do my work from home. Even if I have some small work leftover on Monday, I would rather be home today than in the office. I may still go in later on, just to rearrange my office cube. We'll see how I am feeling around 11 a.m. (grin!)

I have to say that I love my new job. My Mom reminds me that I said that about UOPX too. Yes, Mom -- you are right. However, the "love" part is not a total "I love everything about my job" and I think that is where the confusion comes into play. I did like my job at UOPX, really I did. For the first three months, I actually liked it. I didn't like all the aspects of the job: making cold calls, keeping a daily log of how many dials you made, checking in with your manager who would remind you of how many dials you made, etc. Generally, though, I liked my manager and my team. I liked the fun we had and the opportunity for growth, graduate school, etc. I liked ALOT of aspects of working at UOPX, just not everything about the job.

I would say that the same is true for CVS. I like my job a lot, I like the tasks and the kind of work. This work suits me, and is a better fit than what I was doing at UOPX. I like my group, though I don't think I will form the same kind of friendships -- I had a lot in common with the people at UOPX. School was a priority for them, and education was of high value. I felt validated by my peers, and I haven't felt that way at CVS yet.

I see things that I don't particularly like, but they are individual and not global. I see how individuals handle the pressure, and I see how management reacts to fires. I don't see a slow steady hand, a calm leader, and a focused director. I see very nice people, fun -- who tend to run around a put out fires. That is OK, but I would prefer the slow, steady leader who is focused and strong. You know -- there are times when you have to do the work, and you just do it. I get it. I understand, and if I were in that position, it would be less frantic, and more calm. Just do it, just do it, just do it (thanks, Wayne McLaws, former UOPX manager for that ditty!)

I think I get it now, I think I understand "jobs" better than before. I mean, I worked for myself for so long, and now I have been employed by two major corporations. I remember what it is like to work for the big company, and I have seen that management directives are very scattered, and often reactive. The Lord has consistently told me not to get hung up on the "job." I was unemployed for so long that it was difficult not to hope for a job -- to solve all my worries and fears and to relieve the stress and pressure I was under. He reminded me that there was only one job -- His JOB, His WORK, and that any other work I performed was to provide income to take care of me and my son. I nodded and I said I understood. I did, of course, I did really get it. I just didn't grasp how significant this truth was to me. I now see things better, more clearly, and I realize that there is a big difference in the kinds of work you can do. There are varying shades of grey, to borrow a popular phrase, and different types of work and tasks. I understand that the best work is His work. The most satisfying work is His work. All other jobs are just income-makers to help pay the bills, and do the business of daily living.

God's work is always number one, and will always bring the most joy, the most satisfaction, and the most fulfillment. Other work can be, and may be good -- but God's work is best.

Today's Bible verse (KLOVE) was from Psalm 138:8 NLT:

The LORD will work out his plans for my life--for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever.

The Lord is working out the plans He has for my life. I know this is true. I see it every day, and I marvel at what He has already done for me. I thank Him for His Faithful Love, and I wait with eager anticipation for what will be next. I am like the batter in the on deck circle. I am waiting to go up to the plate, to take my turn, and I practice swinging, getting loose, getting ready to go. As soon as the Umpire yells, "Batter up!" I will walk to the plate and take my place, ready to connect with whatever kind of ball (or opportunity) the Lord pitches my way. For now, I look on, I wait anxiously (the good kind), and I watch the game. I see where the players are out on the field, and I know the plans for the game (the strategy, the goals, and the strengths and weaknesses of the other players). I survey everything while I swing my bat, practicing my stance, and preparing to do my job. God knows the plans He has for me, and He is preparing me for great things.

Until He reveals that next pitch, I wait for Him. I look, and I wait. I stay alert, and I practice. I am ready, Lord, I am ready. Put me in the game, call me up to the plate, for I am ready, Oh Lord!

October 21, 2012

It's Saturday!

What a great day today! I feel good, PTL! I am ready for a restful, yet productive weekend. I am having breakfast with a friend from my old company, and then later tonight, taking my parents to dinner to celebrate my birthday (and my Dad's). Overall, my weekend plans are GREAT!

My week started off well, even though I had a difficult client situation to deal with Monday-Thursday. I got in a lot of practice, and I was able to handle my own area well. In all -- I am pleased with how well things are going for me at my job.

On Thursday (my birthday), my new team decorated my cubical at work, and they ordered in a lunch from Quiznos. I took a couple shots of my office area -- not sure if that was OK -- but oh well. My colleagues are into decorating (as am I), and this was so nice of them to make me feel warm and welcome!

Thursday evening, we had a strings only practice. I am so thankful for these kinds of practice sessions. I love having my son play piano, but truthfully, we (the strings ensemble) need to work on our parts without the piano.

Friday was a slow day at work, but it was good to have the extra time to catch up on emails from earlier in the week. Later, I had my cello lesson. I am learning to play Holtz' Jupiter Chorale for our winter recital. My teacher would like me to learn a Concerto by Vivaldi, but I am not certain whether I can play it well enough by December.

Saturday, I had bagels and coffee with a friend from UOPX. Later, I did some shopping and came home with a new printer from Target. In the evening, me and my son, my nephew Jay, took my parents to dinner at Black Angus to celebrate the October Birthdays (me, Dad and Jay). I snapped this picture of my parents after we got back to my house for pie/coffee.

Mom and Dad look good! I surprised my dad with a new router, knowing that it would solve their Netflix streaming issues. I have gotten them hooked on Netflix, and lately their blue-ray player has been freezing up during the video stream. Dad already got a new modem from Cox, so the only other thing they needed was a new router (faster downloads, and built for streaming video). Mom called this morning to say that the router worked perfectly, and that it not only fixed the freezing problem, but it also made the application load faster, look better (not too sure on that one -- but perhaps the faster download does help with the video appearance). Anyway, they are happy campers now, and I am glad that I was able to bless them with a new router (God is so very good to me!)

October 17, 2012

Embracing Me

Today was a GREAT day! I am feeling really good about my new job, and what I am learning to do as an Analyst with CVS Caremark. I am also feeling really content with some new training -- some new behavioral/personality type learning that I am completing at work.

I guess the truth be told, I wasn't too happy about spending 8 hours learning about my personality, and how it plays into the whole scheme of teamwork and communication. I am already self-aware, so for me, spending this much time to hash over what I already know, is a waste of time. However, today's seminar on personality was really good, and in the end, I found the four hours to be a good use of my time.

In short, I realized that I am hardwired to be a certain way. In that hardwiring, there are aspects of my personality that are coded to my DNA. I am the way I am because God created me to be this way. I am the product of my parent's genetic coding as well, and my environment did factor in, but generally speaking, most of my personality stems from the way I was made by my Creator. I believe that God creates us to be uniquely usable in His Kingdom. He calls us to fulfill certain roles, and to be responsible for certain aspects of His work. Our personalities are key, are central to our abilities, and often are indicative of the kind of role God has created us to fill. Now, not all of our personality traits are God-honoring, and with the fall, often we bring along negative behaviors that stem from thinking patterns instilled in childhood or confirmed through life experience. However, in God's plan for each one of us, He has personality shaping top on His "must do" list. In fact, we are called to exhibit Christ-like behavior and thinking, and to do this, we must be "conformed' to His Image -- His Way or His Personality.

In the Bible, personality is synonymous with our soul or our inner being. Thus, our personhood, our unique personality is what defines us as individual souls. We are all unique, we are all serving a purpose in God's Kingdom, and our personhood reflects our unique calling and position in Christ. It is God's will for us to be like Jesus, to act and to do what He did. Unfortunately, with the fall, came sin, and with sin, came the desire to be god-like and to do and say whatever we desire to do and say -- without penalty.

Our roles as Christians therefore are to be Christ-like, and our personhood, our very personalities are to be shaped and contoured by the Power of the Holy Spirit to reflect Christ-like thinking and behaviors. We are all a work in progress, we are all on our path towards Glory. For some, this means that we are actively participating with the Holy Spirit to be changed; while for some, this means the opposite -- we are unwilling to cooperate, and are striving against Him as He works in and through us.

In today's seminar, the most enlightening moment came for me when I realized that my personality is Dominate/Formal, or more easily characterized by being Controlling. I admit that I have control issues, and that I do not like to be out of control. In fact, I will do almost anything to keep from losing control. I struggle to maintain discipline, to be focused and on task, and to keep my word (my integrity). These are all characteristics of a controlling personality.

Now, as a child, I was raised to believe that controlling people were bad, that they were aggressive and that these kinds of behaviors were unwanted socially and religiously. I was encouraged to be submissive, supportive, and to remain in a purely helper type role. My dominance came out, of course, and my need to control, became a challenge for me. I hid behind my dominance, and I wore a mask that said "I am a helper. I am a supporter. I am open, and welcoming." I pretended to be this kind of person because I believed that being controlling and dominate in society was not something I should desire.

It wasn't until I went through marital separation that my personality issues came to the forefront. I spent nearly 25 years trying to be the very opposite of what I was created to be. I tried to be the encourager, the supporter, and the submissive wife. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe completely in Biblical Headship, authority, and the integrity of the husband-wife relationship. However, and with a big caveat, I realized that the person I had tried to become was not who God created me to be. As a result of suppressing my personality, I developed all sorts of nasty behaviors, and I suffered greatly with anxiety, depression, and anger.

Once that lid was lifted, and the mask removed, I became more aware of my own personhood. I also became confident in my abilities and in my understanding of who I am and what I am to do. My confidence zoomed, and I began to take control of my life. I made changes to it, many through tears and heartache, and many long overdue. Many changes were the result of years of hiding behind a mask -- many changes should have been made years ago. In hindsight, I learned that hiding from the truth didn't diminish the truth, it simply covered it up. The truth was still true 25 years later.

Now, I am a different person, a completely different person. I don't wear a mask anymore. I live freely, and I do what I want to do. I am content, I am happy, and I am free to be me.

I learned something new today (even when I thought I knew everything there was to know about myself and my personality.) Today, I learned that my controlling and dominate personality is a gift from God, and that I was designed to fulfill a very specific role in His Kingdom. God made me this way, and He expects me to use all that I am to serve Him and to serve His Kingdom. I came undone today, I shook off all the remnants of who I once was, and I embraced the very person God has called me to be.

Yes, I am controlling, but not in areas that He has not given me to control. Yes, I am authoritative, but not in an overweening over-lording way. I am decisive, I am quick, and I am confident. I am able to handle difficult tasks, and I am able to focus when others are falling apart. I am a leader, natural and gifted. I prefer not to lead, but when called to do so, I will do my very best. I am honest, I am strong, and I like end-results. I am a winner. I am an achiever. I am driven, and I desire to be first, to be the very best I can be. I am happy in who I am, and in what I can do. I can do better, of course, and while I want to be first, I am not upset with being second (only with my own performance issues). I don't blame others, and I stand up for what is right, what is good, and what is honorable. I am willing to be wrong, but I will do everything in my power to seek what is right. I am created to be a leader, to be in charge, and to get things done. I don't laze about. I don't whine, and I don't give in. I stick with it, and I do the job until the job is done.

All of this describes me, and while I am not perfect, and I still make mistakes, and have rough edges to my personality (like being quick-witted and outspoken), I am learning key lessons in teamwork, cooperation, and how to be a member of God's Kingdom and Family. It is not always easy for me to fit in, and I often walk alone. I am Ok with that, and I am Ok with being on the outside looking in. I don't have issues with fitting in, and I don't desire it. I am happy to work hard, to play hard, and to rest, rest, rest. God is so very good to me -- He knows me so well.

So today, I asked the Lord to help me identify areas where I need to remain in control, so that I will feel better. These are the areas/tasks that I feel God has given me control over:

  • Cello study -- learning to play well, practice often, and make good progress
  • School -- to do the homework, papers, discussion, etc. with being a graduate student
  • Work -- to plan and organize and strategize my job duties so I can be efficient, effective, and a productive worker
God has authority over me, and He is ultimately responsible for the results -- but He has graciously allowed me to be responsible for daily tasks, and in these areas, I am to be thorough and diligent to do the best work I can do. He will take the Glory, and He will provide the progress, but I am able to be a taskmaster and work towards progressing through His gifts and His gracious blessings.

What Does This Mean for Me?

I think that this means that once for all, I can let go of the past "me." I am in control, and I am loving the responsibility that God has given to me. I love my life, every single part of it, and I love what we are doing together (me and God). I see great things on the horizon, and I know that what He has in mind will take me to the farthest reaches and the highest heights. I cannot wait for tomorrow, and for want God has in mind for me.

Praise Him, Praise Him -- Give Him all Glory, Praise and Honor! He is so very Good to me!!

October 13, 2012

Reflecting on the Past Couple Weeks

It is October 13th, and it has been four weeks since I started in my new position as an Analyst at CVS Caremark. I feel confident that I am in a very good position, and that the next year will prove to be a good start for my new career in Strategic Communications. My hope is to continue in my position through the next year, and then move into a role that will suit my higher education and my goals for my career (retirement mostly).

As I consider the past couple weeks, one thing stands out, and that is God's faithful and attentive presence in my life. He has made sure that I had everything I needed, that I was confident in my choice of company, and that I had enough positive feedback to help me see that this job is a good fit for my skills and abilities.

Yes, I got frustrated early on. I was frustrated over the training, and the inconsistent work load. I understand, however, that this is the beginning of the busy season in my company, and as such, my teammates are starting to get overwhelmed with work. They don't always have the time to go to meetings, help with training, etc. My team has been fantastic, and very supportive -- so while I was a little frustrated over the slowness -- I was pleased with their generosity and willingness to help train me.

Now that I am beginning to catch on to the actual details of my job, I see that I can make what I want from this position. For example, I am able to do the basic details, the daily tasks and go home each night with the feeling of accomplishing all my work. Or, I can go a little further, build relationships, and reach across the aisles to help other people in other groups. In doing so, I will form friendships, and then be able to utilize those relationships to move my career forward. This requires strategic agility -- something I have a gift for, so I have already started doing that and working on building bridges.

With a little more effort than what is expected, I can excel in my position and I can move myself into a role that will offer me more challenge, more excitement and more growth opportunity. I am excited to think where I might be in a year or two. God is so very good to me.

Now that I feel settled in my job, I am ready to start planning some new purchases. I am not sure of the Lord's timing on them, but I feel good about planning them out. First off, I need to get a newer car. I am currently looking at new/used Kia Souls. I like these cars, and I have been really pleased with my Kia Rio. I need to stay within 15K, and I do plan to finance the car purchase, so my monthly pay can only be about $250.

Secondly, at some point, I am going to have to purchase a second vehicle (one for me and one for my son). I am thinking of getting a Kia Sorento, which is a bigger SUV. It still gets good cash mileage, and the price (used) is within my budget.

My goal is to have a new car by the end of the year. My little Kia Rio has almost 100K miles, and it is starting to really show it's wear and tear. I am taking it in for a checkup this morning, and hopefully, will come home with new brakes, and topped off fluids. I am so praying that there is nothing major wrong with the car (I just don't have the cash to pay for expensive repairs). I am planning on trading it in, but I have to be in a good position financially to do that with confidence. My timeline on a purchase is November-December (Lord willing, and Lord providing of course). God is so very good -- and He knows my needs. I am trusting Him to provide a newer car to me, and to take care of this so vital need.

Lastly, I am in the process of preparing for my GRE test. I bit the bullet and registered for the GRE on November 10th. I need to do some prepping, especially in Math, but again, I am confident that this will not be a big issue for me. I need to write a short (750 word) essay on communication, and then submit my scores to Regent. After that, it will be up to the Lord to open that door, and to provide acceptance to school, and a scholarship to attend graduate studies. God is so very good to me.

October 5, 2012

It's Friday!

I made it through to payday -- HOORAY! Oh, has it been a stressful week for me. I have worried and fretted unneccessarily, and made myself almost sick over the fact that I had rent and other bills coming due the first week of the month. I am normally short during this first week, but that just means I may be down to a couple hundred dollars in checking -- not down to less than $100! I don't like to run short, and since most of my first of the month bills are automatically debited from my account -- I freak at the thought of them hitting my account, and then being overdrawn.

I double-checked the actual post dates from the past month, and I knew that most would not really hit my account until tomorrow or even Monday. Still, the fear just consumed me, and I allowed it to control my thoughts and feelings. I ended up being miserable the entire week. NOTE TO SELF: DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!

On another note, I had a really good week at work. I am counting today in as well because I think it is going to be a good day too. I liked the new system training (yesterday), and I think it is going to be really easy to use and more productive than the last system. I just got the hang of the old way, and will be starting "practice" on the new way next week. Still it seems more efficient, just in how to use the system (less up/down, back/forth and more next, next, next on screens). It also looks like everything is better organized, and the creation of the materials (in my case cards and kits) is going to be done online through the online editor (sweet!) Overall, I liked the system, and I think it will make this part of my job easier.

Switching gears....my son is going to attempt his road test today. After two failed attempts to get his license (due to system being down and the camera down), he is ready to try to take his test (3rd time, right?) He already passed his road test through the driving school, but the state has said that driving school road tests don't count anymore, so he has to retake it through the official office. He has been practicing with my Mom and Dad, and will take the test on their Honda. I am praying he passes -- please Lord, let him pass today?

Passing means a couple things to me -- one, I will have to add him to my insurance soon. He is covered on my car, but since he will be driving more than occasionally, I need to have him added as a part-time driver. Two, it also means that I need to get my brakes fixed, and that is a money-issue right now. My car needs new brakes, and the rotors need to be resurfaced. I may need two new tires too. And, of course, I will probably need to have my fluids checked, etc. I want to make sure that the car is safe for him to drive to school at night, and to get him to worship practice at church. He can do it, I know it -- I just want the car to be safe.

Lastly, and then I need to get ready for work today -- I am ready to let go of everything (yet again) so that the Lord can perform His work through me. I have been hanging on, fearing the worst, and gritting my teeth while enduring these little battles. I know that if I let go, and I let the Lord work through me, then I can be at rest WHILE I am enduring and patiently waiting. However, I prefer to do the "grab the handlebar and grit my teeth" approach (like on a roller coaster or other amusement park ride). I hold on until the ride comes to a full stop! If I just let go, resting in the sufficiency of my God and rely on His Performance and not my own, then I can take that ride with my hands up high, and enjoy the process along with Him. I don't do it enough, often enough, and the result is that I do survive the ride, but with knots in my stomach, and a feeling of tension. It is better to let go, and enjoy the ride...when will I ever learn?

October 3, 2012

I think I Can Finally See the Way Out

It is Wednesday, good ol' humpday. I wish I could say that the past two weeks have been super awesome and spectacular? But...in truth, that would be a lie. The past two weeks, three really, since I started my new job as an Analyst at CVS Caremark, have been rough. It wasn't so much the job itself, no -- I think it was more about me decompressing from the previous fifteen months at University of Phoenix -- and -- learning a new job, new field, new industry, etc. The combination about did me in. I am happy to report that today was good, and that today I had a small breakthrough of sorts! In short -- I finally see the way through this transition and see the "end" of the upheaval right through the last bit of twisty and turvey terrain.

Yes! I am praising God for His Goodness, and for His Faithfulness to me. I haven't been very faithful to Him, and yes, I have been rather grumpy and whiny the last couple weeks. It was mostly FEAR speaking loudly -- really -- when it came down to it. I was afraid of the new job working out. I was afraid of the lag in pay. I was afraid of everything crashing down on me, and of me having taking on a job that SEEMED too big for me to handle.

In reality, everything has been just fine. Yes, there has been plenty of training. The training has been difficult -- not as neat and organized or as thorough as what I experienced at UOPX. I did a lot of guessing, and a lot of just "hoping I would get it right in the end" type of learning. It worked out OK, and now I feel more confident that I can actually do this job. I think the fear of doing a good job was also at issue with me. I was worried about the process, and I was worried about not really knowing the job well enough to handle the "Welcome Season" (open enrollment for employer's to offer benefits to their members). I felt sure I would be overwhelmed, and the thought of not being able to keep up, to do a good job, etc., weighed down on me.

Today was not the best day overall. I didn't feel well, and my monthly cycle really kicked into high gear. I was miserable all day, but through the miserableness -- something happened to me. I realized that I could do this job. I realized that now that I understand the process a little better, I can see how to do this job. Before today, it was this mysterious process, and I was only being shown little bits and pieces. I couldn't see how the entire puzzle fit together. Today, however, after spending time with my training/Mentor working on several cases (similar), the pieces seemed to fit together. I don't have everything yet, but I feel that at least I get this part of the process. At least I can see how it works, and I know that this part is integral to the whole.

In thinking this through, I understand now that my job has two parts, well -- three -- if you count what I was doing today. I will be handling new client implementations (set for starting January 1). This is the big part of my job, and the part that will consume most of my time from now through January 15. I will also be researching problems and resolving print issues (ex. a member didn't get their card, even after it was ordered). This is what I did today, and it was pretty easy to do. Last, I will be working with existing clients on updates to their plans, and then providing new materials to them. For now, my role will consist of the first two since I don't have any existing clients.

I get the job better now, and it makes sense to me. I am also learning how to use the various systems to input data, submit data, send items to the print vendor, etc. This has been the "slow" part of training. I have spent a lot of time updating data, but not really doing anything with it. Now, I see how that part works as well, and I am feeling ready to tackle bigger projects.

Tomorrow, I have formal training with one of the system vendors. This training will help me do my job, and hopefully, will enable me to start working with new clients. I am excited to finally be in training!!

Next week, I will have additional training on the new print vendor software. Once I feel comfortable with their server system, then I should be able to do my job on my own.

I have decided that I need to create a manual on how to do my job. I wasn't given a manual, and I am a manual user. I also need to document steps for each of the aspects of my job: New Implementations, Existing Clients, and ID Card Inquiries. I also need to create some template emails like what I used at UOPX. They were standard thank you emails, but I could reuse the verbiage over and over again and feel comfortable with what I was saying to students. I will do the same with my new job, so that my internal emails follow a nice scripted "thank you message."

So that is my update for today. I am glad to be mid-week and surviving this new job. I am happy to think that Friday is my first pay-day, and that once I get that check, my money worries will be set aside. I am really low on funds this week, and with my rent check pending, it leaves little extra should anything come up. Once I can deposit my check, then I will sigh a sigh of relief, and know that I am OK, and set as far as income/pay. God is so very good to provide steady income to me. He knows me so well, and He knows that I freak out whenever my bank account gets really low. He has me covered -- I can rest in His sufficiency. I am trusting in Him, and I am glad that He is my FINANCIAL MANAGER!