When the Dream Is Not Behaving

Broken Success Glass           Did you ever have a dream come true – but not the way you thought? It didn’t happen the way you thought it would happen, it didn’t look the way you thought it would look, and it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would turn out. But still, your dream came true . . .

            Or did it?

            When I began teaching 17 years ago, it was after I’d been out of school for many years and teaching didn’t look at all like I thought it would look. Not that God hadn’t called me to it; He most clearly had in ways that were undeniable. But teaching looked and felt so different than what I had expected that many times I would’ve quit – had God not made His call so clear.

            But still, when I began teaching high school English and found that 10th and 11th grade students couldn’t tell a noun from a verb from an adjective – nor did they care to – I was upset. But, I thought, just hold on till next year. It’ll be better then. But it wasn’t. By the third year of “I don’t know, don’t care, and don’t care to know,” I had a moment of truth: it was always going to be this way.

           Livin’ the dream.

           Of course (some would argue), if a teacher is a good one, she’ll make kids want to learn. However, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him write an essay. (Or something like that.)  Nevertheless, they might be right. Back in the day when I was in school, teachers made us want to work. I think their paddles might have had something to do with that.

            Today I guess I’m reflecting on all of this because four things happened last week to make the point. Not, unfortunately, that last week was all that unusual.

            Monday I noticed a student crying. She wouldn’t say why but another student told me that there’d been a suicide in her (extended) family. What do you say to that? I told her how sorry I was and tried to coax her to talk to me, to somebody, but she wouldn’t. I didn’t ask her to do any work but I had to wonder why she’d come to school. Maybe it was just better than being at home . . .

          Tuesday I went to a house to tutor a student who, by the way, doesn’t do any work. And he’ll tell you that. He told me that – twelve times. And he’s been not working for several months while being home-tutored, but next year he’ll be in the next grade anyway. Why? Because in this country, we have this wonderful thing called “social promotion” (which I could write a whole post on); this means that students are promoted through school based on age and facial hair – no lie – and not on mastery of skills. Of course, mastery is such a ridiculously archaic idea. Ever wonder why the United States ranks behind a hundred other countries in education? That’s why.

           Wednesday I had a kid arguing and yelling that he would most certainly not put his cell phone on my desk, and when I suggested he then go to the office and explain it to them, he declined that offer, too – only louder – in case I didn’t hear him the first time. Of course, I insisted (how mean of me) but still, he didn’t see my point of view. And from there it went. Eventually, he left but informed me on the way out the door that he would not, despite my recommendation, leave his phone in his locker next time.

           Sigh.

           Thursday, a girl in study hall had a major meltdown because another teacher had given her a lower grade on a project than she thought she deserved. There was much yelling and the throwing of books and threats of bodily harm to the teacher. Attempts on my part to do negotiations failed miserably. Oh, well. She’ll probably end up with the completely effective deterrent of home-bound tutoring where she’ll be forced to sleep in and play video games all day except for the two hours she’d be rudely interrupted to be tutored one-on-one. So sad.

           Why am I venting like this? To make a point: there will be days when “the dream” is just not behaving itself. There will be disappointments, perhaps tears, maybe even a failure here and there. You might even hear yourself saying some version of, “Why did I ever want to do this???”  But then, right when you’re ready to get the eraser and re-write the dream, you feel a little nudge and hear a quiet whisper, “You know why . . .”

            And you do.

 

 

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Resumé Killers

     Job Search        The “Job Hunt”.  Many would consider it easier to hunt a wounded lion with a bow and one broken arrow than to have to hit the pavement and hunt for employment. And if that’s you, fear not. All you have to do to bag your dream job is to get yourself well-equipped for the quest. Here are some things to pay attention to as you navigate the jungle . . .

            First things first:  Are you “interview-challenged”?  That is, are you concerned about landing interviews for your dream job?  That’s not unusual given the competition in today’s job market. Granted, if you’re, say, a nurse or engineer, pick a job – it’s yours. But if your dream job happens to be in business, advertising/promotions, retail, office administration, some medical positions, social services, education at any level or many service-related jobs, you could be in for a long, job-hunting haul. In teaching, for example, many posted positions reel in hundreds of resumés per job. No lie.  And how do you compete with that?

           Here’s how: Get the interview! You can’t land any position without first getting in the door and meeting the peeps in charge. But, with hundreds in competition, how do you do that?  Get yourself noticed! Or, I should say, get your resumé noticed. That’s the first step. However, it’s often the end of the road for many applicants. Why?  Because their resumés are just so bad! I know; I’ve seen them. I’ve been on interview committees and I’ve done (or re-done) dozens of resumés. Here are some of your most common resumé problems:

            Thing Number One: Mistakes! Grammar, spelling and punctuation errors quickly make your resumé trash-can fodder. Not only do such errors tell a perspective employer that you don’t have a grasp on the English language – and they’d really like you to have that – but, right or wrong, it speaks to the kind of employee you might be: careless. Now keep in mind that potential employers don’t know you (unless they do) so they can only judge by the resumé you present to them. You might not be a careless person but if you present a resumé without at least having proofread it, then that doesn’t speak well of you. “But,” you object, “I’m a great salesperson! I’m just not a great writer!” Maybe. But then have someone else do your resumé and cover letter; if you can’t find someone to help you compose it, at least have someone else proofread it.  

Keep in mind that the average time an employer or HR professional spends looking at a resumé is thirteen seconds.

            I once almost didn’t get an interview because I left out an apostrophe in my cover letter. True story. I was trying to express how many “years’ experience” I had and I forgot the apostrophe on “years”.  And the owner of the company let me know about it as soon as I walked in the door. She told me that the only reason I did get an interview was because the other candidate they were interested in also had one error in her letter. I tell my high school students this story to make the point that details matter. Unfortunately, they don’t always believe me. (Btw – I got the job.)

            Thing Number Two: Poor formatting. This is a serious problem because poor layout will (not “can”) make your resumé look cluttered, messy and hard to read. Keep in mind that the average time an employer spends looking at a resumé is thirteen seconds. Then it either ends up in the “warrants closer inspection” file or the circular file (a.k.a. – trash).

            The biggest formatting mistake I see on resumés is TMI: too much information. Remember – the purpose of a resumé is to give enough info to get employers interested in learning more about you. It is not to document every little thing you’ve ever done.

            Attached is an example of a classic clutter resumé. The sad part is that the poor, unsuspecting job seeker to whom it belongs was actually told to format it this way by some college advisor. About the only thing the advisor got right was that the resumé should be type-written.

Sharon Old Resume

           

            The resume is not crystal clear because, of course, I couldn’t get it fully sized in this post space but it should be apparent that, in its paragraph format, it’s difficult to read. I won’t go into detail regarding all of the errors here except to say the person’s relevant skills and experience are so often repeated in run-on sentences that they’re virtually buried “in there somewhere”. And that’s too bad because the experience is impressive. I reformatted this resumé and doing so felt much like untangling a plate of spaghetti. Long story short: no employer is going to take the time to wade through that

           Thing Number Three: Wrong information. No employer is interested in seeing a separate section listing the skills you say you have. Anyone can say they have “computer coding skills”.  What employers really want to see are skills paired with specific job titles to prove that you’re not fudging your skill sets. (Of course, who would do that . . . ?) The only exception to this rule might be those entering the job market for the first time who haven’t yet had a chance to acquire experience; if so, list your skills. And remember that volunteer positions count as well; volunteering helps you to acquire valuable skills and it also says something about you as a person.

            Also – a little advice: do not include a “Job Objective” at the top of your resumé stating that you’re looking for a position in, say, social services and then send it to a dog groomer. That never works.

           Thing Number Four: Boring presentation. I don’t think I’ve ever sent a resumé on a plain white piece of paper, no matter how expensive. Even for very conservative fields, use color: pale blue or gray – something to make your resumé stand out in the endless pile of white. However, use the sense God gave you: no neon colors.

           Here is the same resumé after we reformatted it; it’s cleaner, less cluttered, and much easier to scan in thirteen seconds.  (We even added initials for the little “something extra”.)

 

Sharon Anon Resume PNG

Next time I’ll give you some tips on how to present that resume – tips that will get your resumé noticed and your name remembered – no matter how many competitors you’re facing.

            In the meantime, good luck in the hunt.           

What’s In Your Hand?

Candle in Hand“What’s in your hand?”

This is one of the most important questions we can ask . What do we already have that we can use, develop, share, multiply, or work with?  It’s a question we must ask ourselves, and it’s often the question God will ask us.

What do we have that we are responsible to use?  What strength, talent, resource, gifting, insight, or ability do we have to help people, provide for needs, solve a problem, earn a living – or whatever else the current dilemma may be?

Here’s the issue: we are so used to looking outside of ourselves for help or provision that we forget to do what God often wants us to do: to start with whatever we might have – no matter how small or seemingly insufficient – and trust Him to make it all we need.

Take David, for example.  What did David have that he committed to God to use?  A slingshot and a stone.  Even when King Saul offered to David his royal armor and sword (which is a very big deal for a king), David turned them down and chose instead to use what God had put into his hand and not what man wanted to put there.  And we all know how that turned out.

Another example is when the disciples came to Jesus, requesting that He provide for 5000 hungry men and their families.  Jesus’ response?

“What do you have?”

The disciples – very often like us – were baffled by His question.  Their panicked response was that they had only five loaves and two fish.  In other words, “We got nothin’.”

But to Jesus, it wasn’t “nothing.”  It was what was in their hands.

Can God make something out of nothing?  Of course.  When He made the universe, he didn’t even have any stardust.  And sometimes, when we truly have nothing, God works with that.  But because God is as interested in growing our faith as in solving our problems, He requires us to step up and be involved.  And we do that by offering what we have and then letting Him multiply it.

The Bible is full of this principle.  In I Kings, Elijah asked a widow for some water and bread.  When she answered that she had only “a little oil” to mix with enough grain for one last meal, the prophet told her not to be afraid and to bake him a small loaf of bread. Then he took what she had and multiplied her oil so that she and her son never went hungry again.  That wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t given what she had.

Another example is the woman who broke the alabaster jar of perfume over Jesus’ feet. In her defense (because, of course, someone had to criticize her for it), Jesus’ response was,  ” ‘She has done what she could do’ ” (Mk. 14:8).

Isn’t that all any of us can do?

 Even when all we have is very little – as was the case with the widow who had only two pennies to put into the offering at the Temple – to God it’s enough.  Jesus pointed out that widow and told His disciples, ” ‘She has given everything she has.’ “

She gave what was in her hand.

Who else?

Noah gave his time and energy to build an ark and, as a result, God saved the lives of Noah and his family.  Hannah pledged her only son to the Lord – and God gave her several more children.  Joseph gave his protection and provision to Mary and Jesus (when he could’ve walked away), and God gave him the reputation of being one of the greatest fathers in history.  Esther offered to God her influence with the king in order to try to save her people – even at the risk of her own life – and God saved everyone’s life and blessed Esther  as well.  Mary, herself, when asked by the angel Gabriel if she would consent to being the mother of the Messiah (because she could’ve said no, too) she risked everything – her reputation, her future security, her very life – with her response:  ” ‘I am the handmaiden of the Lord.  May it be done unto me as you have said.’ ”  She gave what was in her power to give – and trusted God with it.

What has God put into our hands?  It may be a resource – money or possessions; it may be a talent or ability; it may be an act of obedience.  Whatever “it” is, it’s never too small or insignificant a thing to offer to God.

The Lord has put a pen into my hand – and so, in an effort to be faithful to what He has given to me, this site, “DestinyHighway.com,” was born. My goal with it is to help you to take what you’ve been given and – make your destiny happen!

What’s in your hand?

 

“The Cracked Pot”

Cracked PotThis story is an old one but it makes a beautiful point. No matter what our perceived “flaws,” we are perfectly made to accomplish the purpose which God created us to accomplish. Be encouraged.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.   One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.  But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.  After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer.  “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house.  Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.  But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side?  That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it.  I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table.  Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws.   We’re all cracked pots.  But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table.

In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste.  So as we seek ways to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks He has appointed for you, don’t be afraid of your flaws.   Acknowledge them, and allow Him to take advantage of them, and you, too, can be the cause of beauty in His pathway.

— Author Unknown

Fear Not. Dream.

If Your Dreams Don't Scare You . . .    

      Recently, I had a conversation with some friends and we discussed our dreams: What were the things that we hoped and dreamed we’d accomplish some day?  What did we really believe we were called to do? What were our secret hearts’ desires?

     As we chatted, it became clear that every one of us- and there were about a dozen – had a dream.  And they varied.  Some were as big as to start a company which would assist churches in starting their own businesses in order to become financially independent to another who wanted to produce a worship and CD to another whose heart’s desire was to become a wife and mother. Others included a woman who dreamed of building a house that could be used as a retreat center for others and a man who wanted to return to school and become a minister. My dream? To write thriller-type novels with spiritual warfare and political themes.

     Despite our dreams, however, there was one common thread – well, two, actually: doubt and fear.

     Now we all know that we’re not supposed to have any of that.  And sometimes we talk a good game.  But the fact of the matter is that doubt and fear come in all shapes and sizes:  “What if I can’t get the education I need to become __________ ?” (Fill in the blank.)  “What if people laugh when I try to  ___________?”  “What if I don’t have the money I need to accomplish ___________?”  “What if I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, influential enough, talented enough????”  What if?  WHAT IF??  WHAAAAAT IFFFFFF????

     “What if I try – and fail . . . ?” Continue reading Fear Not. Dream.

So DONE!

Man in DespairHave you ever been so desperate to hear from God or to have Him move on your behalf that, having tried everything else, you finally just pitch a fit.

Have you ever been angry at God?

Maybe you feel you’ve been tried beyond your limits: a person in your life who – for days, months, years – has tested your patience and love beyond bearing? A job which – while you’re grateful to have one – you dread going to each and every day? Or you need a job, any job? Perhaps you’ve been waiting a long time for the desire of your heart – a husband or wife? A dream you believe you’ve been called to? A child?

Maybe you’ve been praying for the salvation of a loved one for half a lifetime – and they seem to be getting further away from the Lord, not closer. Perhaps you’re desperate to be healed or to see a loved one healed – and pain is all you know in the meantime. Maybe you’re enduring a heartbreaking marriage – and despite all of your pleading and prayers, the dream just isn’t happening.

Maybe you have financial problems: bills you can’t pay or college or retirement you can’t afford? Or just when you begin to get on your feet, something else breaks down, wears out, needs repairs or someone gets sick? What if your heart’s been broken just one too many times and you just can’t bear one more minute of pain?

What then?

What if, in the midst of any or all of those trials, heartaches, persecutions, and crisises, you’ve said every prayer you can think of or you’ve put on the game face and willed yourself to worship one more time or you’ve fasted till you’re skin and bones or you’ve declared every promise in the Bible? What if you’ve tithed every penny you’ve ever earned and forgiven till you’re blue in the face and haven’t missed church in seven years? What if you’ve read the Bible through three times in a year, pray two hours a day (on your knees), and clean toilets every week at church.

What if all of that – and you still just can’t seem to get God’s attention.


     Have you ever been there?  So worn out from waiting, crying, pleading, dealing, declaring, and waiting some more that you finally decide God needs a little drama?


Sometimes, in the midst of desperate circumstances over a long period of time, when everything we know to do has failed to move God’s hand – we take circumstances into our own hands. Continue reading So DONE!

DRIVE YOUR VISION.