Monday, January 27, 2014

Windows of Heaven Unlocked

For those that know my story, I've been consulting for an agency over the last nearly two years. I was courted away from GameStop where I had a successful management run in Project Management and came back into the IT as a contributor. I've worked for a client that is close to home, stable and all around provides an excellent work environment. The pay has been excessive yet it balances out against the health insurance premiums we're paying out the nose and the coverage which has been burying us. The plan from the beginning was to convert over as a full time employee with the client. Unfortunately, what wasn't disclosed in my interviews is headcount change is a rare occurrence and unless someone retires, dies or completely screws up in a legal sense and is fired, the chances of converting are slim to none.

For two years we've waited, prayed and put our trust in the Lord that this venture would lead to employment that would benefit our family. Along the way I've worked through bouts of boredom, peaks of exhilarating and time sensitive projects, role changes, and team interactions that have strengthened my position internally. We've felt blessed in the journey but dissatisfied with the state of employment, particularly around health care.

Last summer, the client was "designated a Systematically Important Financial Market Utility (SIFMU) by the Financial Stability Oversight Council as part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law." One impact of the designation has been additional audit controls, necessary remediations and causatively increased head count across the company. The internal rumor was a significant increase and the department I was working in would receive additional numbers. I had been told by management that I was high on the conversion list with only one or two more capable consultants ahead of me, one of which has no interest in converting. I held onto the hope of a sure conversion for 2014.

While my hopes for a conversion were growing, my dear wife helped on two fronts: praying with the family for a conversion and applying loving pressure that if no opportunities presented themselves that alternate employment would be sought come Feb 2014. I notified my consulting engagement manager of my conundrum and helped them to understand the financial burden consulting was placing upon my family to which they acknowledged, expressed appreciation for my transparency and committed to helping me on the journey either internally or externally. And so we waited, prayed, hoped and put our faith on God that our prayers would be heard.

Two weeks ago I received an e-mail from a manager with the client to whom I was previously reporting. He had just been given approval for an additional head for his team, after petitioning for one for five years. He wanted me back. And this time, as a full time head. While the type of work he was offering was not something I was particularly trained in, he knows my skills, my work ethic and ability to perform and he wanted me for the position. I met with him later that day and talked through the details, including an estimated salary and felt conflicted by the end of the day. I submitted my application the next morning, not knowing exactly what the offer would come in as but reported my low end expectation. The base salary would become our biggest hang up.

The rest of the application process was smooth, accepted, prompted two additional interviews with HR and a senior VP, which all yielded positive results. I was given an offer, and as expected, while generous, the base salary came in significantly lower than we were seeking. In my years as a professional, I've been blessed to not have to step backwards in my salary yet I always knew the time would come. With this offer, I expected a drop from the consulting pay as it's bloated to account for self insurance. Yet, I was hoping for a happy medium that would meet the needs of my family. When the offer came in under, I requested the weekend to review our options, look over our budget and see whether the loss was something we could absorb. The reality is, we felt trapped and not sure of how we could make our minimum obligations on the offered salary.

I received two phone calls that were needed eye openers. The first call was from the main engagement manager with the consulting firm (we have 3 for this client - kinda weird but the contract necessitates it). I was informed that I was listed on the "ramp down" list as my project work was completing and my services would no longer be necessary come March. I was shocked, disappointed and feeling even more trapped. All along I was being told that my longevity, even as a consultant, was secure yet here I was being told the end was coming, sooner than expected. At first I was skeptical as to whether I was being played but I was reassured that wasn't the case. The second call was from the consulting agency account recruiter who knows my hourly rate but not the offer. She suggested that my rate would make placing me at a similar rate in the Fort Worth area impossible and that I should accept the loss and take the conversion.

In this state of feeling trapped, I felt oddly at peace with the decision to move forward. We had prayed for a conversion, petitioned the Lord who knows our needs more than we do and sees the eternal perspective, not just the next 6 months, and I felt confident He would help us through the challenge of a decrease in pay. I just couldn't see it with my mortal eyes. We accepted the offer, knowing our finances would be in disarray, any hopes of extra fun would be nullified, even our food consumption habits would likely have to change. We knew it would require saying "no" more often to our children's wants than we already do. We also knew that it would directly affect our goals of paying for our son's college expenses for the first year and that, above all of the other concerns, was the biggest loss for me. But we also knew that our health coverage would be drastically improved and with children that tend to provide us with larger than normal deductions on our taxes just from medical expenses we would certainly be blessed. There are other huge dividends that are to be expected with the conversion as well but it's dependent upon us surviving the first year.

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Then, as promised in the Lord's merciful blessing in Malachi 3:10, our eyes were made to see. No sooner had we accepted the offer than my wife's employer made mention of her increased salary for next year, equating to more than three times her current salary and more than making up for our loss in my salary. While it will require her to work more and the whole family to pick up a lot of slack in her daily efforts in the home, a path was opened and revealed once we proved the Lord. Our tithing, as always, remained consistent as has our employment and He has always provided a way, despite our personal failings. I believe the windows were opened to us because of our faith that Heavenly Father would bless us, care for us and wants for our success. I also believe showing forth faith and paying our tithing, despite financially being tight, has been a constant source of blessings. Upon these principles, the windows of heaven were first unlatched on our side and He generously opened and has poured out His blessings from heaven upon us.

So what have I learned through this experience? Well, nothing particularly new. Just a reaffirmation of truths I've already known and applied yet again to another real life situation. Gratefully, God is still consistent (as if that was in doubt) in His great and eternal blessings and His windows of mercy and plenty continue to be poured out upon our family. Through obedience to His laws, he blesses us. Faith in Christ is the foundation upon which we choose to build our lives and He never fails us. Prayers are answered, mostly in ways we don't expect and in time frames we can't control. The prayers of others are greatly appreciated as they lift us, give us confidence in our own petitions and draw us closer as God's children. A leap of faith has yet (nor will it) to dash me upon the rocks of despair and anguish and has only lighted me upon the gentle winds of spiritual success, leading me to joy everlasting.Tithing is both a temporal and spiritual blessing (all things are spiritual first) and obedience to this law brings about blessings of plenty.

What windows of heaven have been opened to you recently and what did it take for you to unlock them?
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