Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whatever it takes

Monday: the summit…

On Monday, a book manuscript on which I had worked long and hard (twice) was officially accepted for hardcover publication in 2010.

In 2004, I conceived the idea of a multiple-author daily devotional book, wrote author guidelines, solicited articles from about 50 authors, wrote more than 90 of the 365 articles myself, rewrote many pieces, and edited all of them. It was laid out for publication and printed at a Los Angeles vendor, formatted for the company website, and we sold several thousand of the 4-volume sets for $15 during the 2005 calendar year. All of the writing and most of the editorial work was done at home on my ice-age Mac with dial-up internet.

As an appreciation gift for helping with several other projects of mine, I sent the set to the book acquisitions editor at Review & Herald Publishing Association, who liked it so much that she and the Book Committee decided to knock someone else’s manuscript out of the six-year waiting list, and put ours in instead.

This year, the acquisitions editor, now assistant vice president in the books division, called to update me on the new editing and formatting to their specifications, and to set deadlines for submission of the manuscript and other pieces they need to publish and market the book. So, again at home on nights and weekends, I set about replacing weaker articles, finding new Bible texts and translations to fit every day’s entry, and format the manuscript to size, font, and space requirements. I finished one week before deadline and emailed it to the publisher.

The vice president’s reaction was extremely complimentary, and on June 8, she notified me of the official decision of the Book Committee to accept the manuscript for publication.

Thursday: the valley…

Meanwhile, at my workplace, people were tense, and tempers were short. Most people didn’t know why this was going on, just that everything was on edge. I loved what I did, but not some of the practices at the workplace. Behind our backs, daggers were being thrown. Accusations. Threats. Criticisms. I knew what was happening because I’d seen and heard budget discussions at committee meetings. This was the end of the second quarter of the fiscal year.

But though the workplace and its events consume much of our waking hours, we all have lives to live. Families to attend to and enjoy, chores to do, recreation and spiritual times, friendships to establish, relationships to cultivate. Heart things. Life and death things. My aunt and uncle both have cancer, and uncle Ted, a kind and gentle Lutheran minister, and deep thinker whom I loved to talk with for hours, passed away one day before his eightieth birthday.

All this and more – even wonderful, positive things – had built and built to a fever pitch in my life. My shoulders, back, and chest muscles ached, I only slept three to four hours a night, and despite the usual dieting and exercising, I rapidly gained a lot of water weight and kept it on for weeks. Cortisol, the best friend of stress, fright, and flight, is a mother bear. The health insurance benefits just aren’t enough compensation for the destruction going on inside me.

After consultation with several Christian friends, I decided to add another element to my daily devotion: a radical prayer. So on Thursday morning, I said, “Lord, to accomplish these specific things, to fulfill your promises, and advance your plan for me, do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. I accept that it could be painful for a time, maybe even excruciating. I’m already at my breaking point. But I also trust that you will heal me again as you have before, and I’ll be blessed more greatly. So just do it. Whatever it takes.”

During the morning, I had a heavy, oppressive feeling, and my body ached. My head hurt. My stomach was a hard knot. Physical symptoms I’d suffered many times over the months. At noon, the ministry officers called a staff meeting for employees. At 1:30, the explanations about budgets and realities were given, and I was convinced that I was one of the people who’d be laid off later in the day. At 5:40 pm, the CEO and my supervisor came in to my office, and I was told that I was one of the people to be let go, along with a third of the staff. The survivors get a 10 percent pay cut (erasing all gains of the last 10 years), and have to pick up the duties of the dismissed. “It’s not personal, it’s only about the budget,” I was told again and again.

Still, I’m a 50 year-old woman with no other means of support, no family members to help financially, in one of the worst economic and highest-unemployment regions of the entire country. I have a mortgage to maintain. It’s hard not to take it personally, especially when I know the rancor going on over our heads and behind our backs. Our corporate culture is not the sweetest. Two of us had been led to this ministry by God some years ago (seven for me, fourteen for him). And for several years, we’ve prayed to be led back out! But where God places you, you must stay until He moves you on. We don’t abandon our posts because of discomfort. We stick through until relieved of duty or posted elsewhere.

The walk out of the valley…

But within an hour of the exit interview, I remembered what I’d prayed in the morning. “Whatever it takes.” So, like any other Thursday evening, I took my niece, staying with me for a few weeks, to the city’s street fair and farmer’s market for a few hours. We listened to the bands, petted the Humane Society puppies, bought some pizza slices and cold drinks, and strolled through the crowds.

At home, there were 38 messages on Facebook, and my cell phone and land line rang simultaneously with friends calling to give support and love. I now have a paycheck that includes 176 hours of unused vacation I’d earned, plus severance and a two-week in-lieu-of-notice salary. My insurance will be paid through end of July. I’ve applied for several positions already. I’ve filed for unemployment checks, too. (Should get them if California doesn't go bankrupt.) And I have very carefully saved a small emergency fund over the years. This is not the end of the world, but neither is it a three-week vacation to England from which I’d return to the job I love. (Sigh… maybe I can go back to England after a year or two in the new job.)

This separation from my job is not the only answer to the radical prayer. I asked the Lord for some significant and specific changes (which I’ll not share here until they happen). This layoff is combined with a deep peace and contentment that God is leading me to a huge miracle. Epic!

I’m expanding my job search from this area of southern California to my native city of Phoenix, where I have lots of lifetime friends, and my brother’s family. Moving back “home” would not be a traumatic event!

Goodbye, cortisol. That weight gain? I’ve lost six pounds in six days. After the first night, with only three hours of sleep, I’ve slept about six or seven hours. Working out. Loving on the pets. I’m giving myself the “spa” treatment and my face already looks younger.

So I very much appreciate your prayers for my future in career, lifestyle, and relationships (not necessarily in that order). But don’t worry about my spirits or that I’ll go postal. For me, this is a God-thing. This is wonderful. The dread is gone. I’m out of the “valley of the shadow of death, and I fear no evil,” for the Lord my Shepherd is guiding me, doing whatever it takes.


  1. Facebook friends who “liked” this article:
    Stephanie, Kathryn, Gwynn, Gayle, Bob G, Debra V, Vicky


    Colleen: "...whatever it takes". I keep hearing that.

    Vicky: You are an inspiration, Christy. I'm so glad you've made it past the storm and on to the rainbow. I'll be praying that your 'huge miracle' becomes a reality very soon. Hugs...

    Lora: I could not of said it any better. Your thoughts and prayers were mine when I was laid off from my job about a year ago. God will provide, it did for me, and you will survive. Your miracle is in God's hand. Love, Lora

    Lynetta: 2010 is a ways off, but I'm sure that will help! Maybe you could self-publish a book in the meantime.

    Kristen: I'm so excited to see what the Lord has in store for you, my friend!!! ♥

    Randy: When we first made our Facebook introductions, and share a bit about our journeys, you said, you were there until God told you something different.
    Sometimes, that still small voice seems like a whack on the head.
    I am so glad you have seen this as an opportunity to explore all your options. Often, it is times like this, where the fork in the road, can lead to something more fulfilling and life sustaining...

    Bob G: What a week you had! Thank you for sharing such a personal account of your story with your friends. I think your attitude is laudable and inspiring -- Go Christy!!!

    Dene’: God is Faithful. You said, "whatever it takes." You have so much talent and plenty of gifts so have no fear you gonna have a great year! You can't grow and expand until u r "pushed" out of your comfort zone. U will thank them later.

    Ken: Psalm 50:15 to you. A three-parter. You're doing Part I. God is doing Part II. When the time comes, do Part III and tell us how it all came out.

    Andrea: Blessings for you, Christy. God turns everything to good, and your faith will be rewarded. I know He has an amazing plan for you.

    Lynetta: Oh my! I didn't see your entire post earlier - only just now via my mobile access. Very strange. I have a feeling you will be one of those whose story will turn out to be better then before, just as you indicate. God will enjoy the sweet incense of your praise & faith! I will be praying for you & keep my ears out for anything that might be the possibility of a job!

    Debra T: Deeply moved my friend. I love it when God shuts the window and opens up the doors. So glad you listened to your body.

    Judi: You, my friend, are awesome when you're basking in God's uncountable goodnesses... and equally awesome when dealing with His "whatever it takes"! As my friends say, "Give me some of THAT!"

    Bobby: Hey I love you and Judi Wright. WE can and WILL whip the world together :)

    Sharon: "Whatever it takes" shows a total submission to God and that is what He requires of us so that He can be allowed to work in us. I am excited to see where God will lead you!
    Hugs= Sharon :)

    Cate: You have the heart of a warrior, the mind of a true intellectual and the courage I can only admire.

  2. Jonathan: But of course!

    Pamela: You are an inspiration. I have no doubt you'll find fulfillment in another setting.

    Stephen L: Luke 11:9

    Christy: So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. Luke 11:9 amplified
    I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work. Isaiah 62:6,7 NLT
    Thank you, friends, for your continued prayers. Thank you for being my "watchmen."

    Darryl: Thanks for sharing your story. Inspiring! Now, take a deep breath, and get ready to step into a better land. You'll see.

    Stephanie: and watchwomen! :D Christy, you are a priceless, beautiful daughter of a King which makes you a Princess. With that knowledge trickles down to He is going to bestow much riches and blessings upon his faithful daughter who is praising and fully basking in in her daddy's presence. Soak it up, feeling fully embraced and safe in His arms while He strokes and caresses and loves His beautiful, dutiful treasured sweet girl. For this is the longing of the heart and makes you totally secured in all ways, shapes and forms. Now that is the best investment one can make for it pays off BIG dividends and long term kick back (CD) Christy Dear! :D ♥ ya

    Frances: You have been in my prayers since the day I first heard that the TQH was history. My Prayer circle is praying for you also. God has another plan for you --a place that will appreciate your awesome talents--you have an amazing spirit and even in this dark time I can feel you keeping OUR hope up! If YOU are no longer with TQH-- writing your 'pithy' essays-- the whole thing will soon go BUST!

    Vernon: Good Morning Christy: I heard there are changes taking place in TQH and you fell casualty. Is this good or bad for you? Kind of a stupid question, but perhaps it is good. It starts clearing up some of my questions of why so quiet from the quiet hour! LOL! Blessings! I read your blog and then asked Kathy to come hear it. What a beautiful spirit! God does answer our prayers, sometimes not as we would choose or expect, but none the less for our good. He knows our need and has a solution before we knew we needed one. Glad to hear your book has been accepted too! Your friend, Buz

    Phil: Always remember how wonderfully talented you are and believe....

    Mailen: So sorry to hear about the events of Thursday. I know your working conditions weren't always the best, but at least it was a job doing things you liked most of the time! Having been without a paycheck for a year, I can sympathize a little at least. I'll be praying that you find something rewarding that will put your many talents to good use!

  3. Janet wrote: Your faith is beautiful and isn't it an amazing blessing that you have a publishing before this lay off?! Nevertheless you are a published author!!!! Your faith and attitude is beautiful, dear Christy, and never has God not awarded you for such- so with anticipation we shall all await the good news. Your faith as before will likely be tested ...but not to fear. Yes, I will pray for you to find the perfect position and in Phoenix - and/or AZ! It will be good to have you home!!

  4. GOD does take care of us and in HIS own way which will never fail. I think it's kind of fun and certainly thrilling to me when I can see GOD's handiwork in "my life". I know I could NOT have made it these past few years without HIM.

    So remain faithful and you'll survive. Keep looking up. Love you. And I'd love it if you moved back to PHX area again.


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