It all happened in one afternoon. Last Thursday to be precise. As the home/hospital teacher was leaving, the phone rang. It was the Human Resource Department. I’ve already spend many hours filling out forms and certifications to be able to use FMLA while Patrick is on a modified school schedule. The goal was a modified work schedule for me too. After updating my forms to reflect recent changes and jumping through all of the hoops, I was on a modified work schedule. I was also assured I had dotted all of my i’s and crossed all of my t’s. Until that phone call. It seems that as my paperwork was being reviewed, it was discovered there is some caveat law pertaining to FMLA and those in the educational setting. Seriously?? I’ve had change upon change-and I have a hard time with changes-I like some semblance of routine. Now I am being told that due to this law, I must use full day FMLA, no modified days. I have to present for at least 80% of the pay period or not at all. I was floored. Others suggested I challenge the ruling. I wanted to challenge the ruling. I called Larry at work to tell him.
Larry answered the phone. I quickly learned I wasn’t the only one being given an update on their job status. From out of no where, Larry was informed he could no longer be employed in his current position. It was a numbers game. They would try to find him another position within the company, but he had until February 3. By the way, they said he is free to look for something else in the meantime. One more thing-he is scheduled to have sinus surgery February 2, to resolve the infection he has had since June. YIKES! All of this in an hour. Kinda standard for around here. You would think I would just get used to it. So what do we do now? I prayed-the only thing I know to do. I knew I was vulnerable, weak, exhausted from all going on, and at the end of my rope. So I tied knot at the end of the rope, began to swing, and poured my heart out to God. I prayed for a focus beyond what I could see, a steadfastness to hold on tight, not give way to panic, and grace & mercy to care for those I have been blessed to take care of. A ” God let me know you are near” moment.
It took until Sunday to get out of my fog. I was thinking again. This thinking can be dangerous. I was going over all that had happened when I suddenly remembered-a few weeks ago, Larry received a phone call with a job offer from a company he used to work for. How often does one leave a company- by their own choice for another job-only to get called back two years later and offered another job. Do you follow that? A job that they thought would be a perfect fit. A job in DC. Eww….we’ve been down that road before. 16 hr work days, long train rides on trains that break down in the summer heat. Slave to the train schedule. A Dad who is hardly home during the work week. Then two days after this job offer call, comes a different company phone call. Two job prospects offered the two weeks leading up to all of these job status changes. And while all of this is processing in my brain, I remembered something else. I was the one standing in our bedroom a few weeks ago, thinking to myself “I need a break”. My job is intense and coming home to an intense family situation was already a tall bill to fill. I was afraid I would burn out. There is only so much of me to go around and my family is my priority. I knew I had been studying the school calendar since November- looking for those breaks to catch my breath. The breaks weren’t coming as fast or as long as I need them. Maybe this sudden change to full time FMLA was a gracious way to be able to take care of my family and myself without having to permanently leave. Maybe, in His mercy, there was a very good reason why. There usually is.
Monday, I sat out on the back porch. It was a dreary, cold, grey, foggy, damp day. I sat there just to get out of the house for a few minutes. My mind was running through all of these recent events again-I was thinking. Then, in that cold dreary surrounding, a bright red cardinal flew into the yard, and perched itself in a tree near me. I loved its beautiful red color. It just popped out amidst the greyness. A verse immediately came to mind:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a].
There was my simple treasure in the midst of such dreariness. A sweet, bright reminder of the good things in life. A sweet reminder that God knows really knows me. He knows I love Red, He knows I love the outdoors, and He knows that I love to be Awed by His creation. And there was my answered prayer-Let me know you are near.