The Interview

Kansas City was a season of God withholding what my heart desired and granting what my heart needed. It was a season of intense struggle for me but was a season of intense glory to Him when He led me out of the valley. This is the story of climbing up to the next rise to see a glimpse of His promised land.

My job had been deteriorating for a year, or maybe even two. I was traveling almost continuously to Baton Rouge Louisiana or Freeport/Houston Texas and the people I was working with and for were becoming less and less appropriate. The gore-y details don’t add enough to this story so I’m not going to share them here but by the time I left, 4 hours didn’t pass at work without someone cussing me out or telling me I wasn’t good enough (as a person, as a female, as someone who is under 30 years old, as an engineer) to be in the position I was in or getting blamed for something I didn’t do.

God provided me a new job. He orchestrated long ago, for my Dad to be in the same industry as me, and for him to have mentors and friends. Those mentors and friends caught wind of my situation and offered an interview.

The night before my interview, I was driving around Baton Rouge trying to figure out a part of town that I could see myself living in if I liked the job the next day. I was balling – tears streaming down my face – as I cried out to God that I didn’t have any friends in Baton Rouge and I have wonderful community (finally!) in Kansas City so why would I want to leave? And why don’t I quit construction all together because I didn’t believe that men in construction could be inclusive of a woman like me.

Fast forward to a breakfast meeting that lasted almost 6 hours where I struggled to comprehend that men in power in the construction industry were patiently listening to my opinion on the current state of affairs in our business. They wanted to know what I thought about how to run a project, how to leverage technology to produce faster results, how I could teach others my leadership skills, if I would be alright moving across the country for a job in a different culture, if they would be able to afford my salary to even hire me in the first place.

Lunchtime meant introducing me to another female engineer – the lead process engineer on the largest company project, also under 30 years old, and from Texas with a family full of Aggies (she’s a LSU grad but I won’t hold that against her). She and I were able to talk like we’d been friends for years. God was showing me to trust Him and He will provide me with new community.

I wanted to work for a company affiliated with CII (construction industry institute) because I hold a couple of leadership positions within this volunteer organization to help further the construction industry and didn’t want to walk away quite yet. I also felt obligated to finish the project I was currently working on at my old job regardless of how I was being treated, I was speaking at a national convention on behalf of my previous company, and one of my best friends was getting married in Jamaica in August so I needed a little time to finish everything up from Kansas City. In His generosity, God provided a slow down in the project at the new company so my timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was able to “finish” everything prior to turning in my two weeks notice.

Months later – I look back at my time in Kansas City and I still miss my community and church family. I wish it was colder here in Baton Rouge. but my job has already afforded me tremendous opportunity both for my career and for space in my personal life. I am still excited to see what God is doing with me here.

Advertisements

Trade Offs

I owe you some updates but I’m going to push those off for a few more days…right now I want to talk about trade offs.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what my life would be like if I had made one (or two) decisions differently in my past. About the time I start second guessing, God provides me a really clear understanding that my life is His plan and has His timing. Sometimes these trade offs are obvious and instant and sometimes they are not.

I don’t often get homesick – I don’t really have a home, per say – but sometimes I am pretty bummed about having to miss things going on wherever I’m living because of work.

This week God has blessed me to show me both with one simple meeting.

I’m leaving on Wednesday for San Diego to see my best friend (she’s from SD, came to KC for grad school, graduated in May, and moved back to start working). On Sunday I fly from San Diego to Indianapolis for a week long conference for work. Last Thursday, during my last minute trip to Houston for the day, we set up time to have another meeting in Houston on Tuesday. This means flying to Houston tomorrow morning, staying with another good friend of mine, and then flying directly to San Diego a few hours earlier on Wednesday. Not a bad plan. Lots of packing but lots of fun as well.

Came into work this morning and found that my meeting had been pushed to Thursday instead of Tuesday. This means another refund to my credit card and more canceled plans with friends in Houston.

In reflecting on this change of events, I started listed off reasons I’m thankful to be staying in KC:

  • 1 more nights rest in my own bed
  • 2 more crossfit workouts at my home box
  • not having to haul steel toed boots and hardhat for 2 weeks
  • 30 hours less clothing to pack
  • not having to file another expense report this month
  • picking up my own farmers market box
  • finishing my golf class I’m taking with a friend
  • listening to the presentation at lunch at work I’m interested in
  • enjoying 70 degree weather in KC in July
  • picking up all my home-finishing fedex packages
  • getting my eyebrows waxed before I leave
  • not having to cancel my massage appointment
  • not having to rush through neighborhood night tonight

I’m still bummed about not getting to go to dinner with a friend and stay with another (and I have to call into a meeting while on vacation in California) but I am happy to be hanging around KC for another day which is something I didn’t think my heart would ever want.

I guess this place is growing on me…

Back Home…

I went to Haiti last week. I got back Monday night – late. I haven’t made it physically into my office yet and it’s Thursday morning. It’s a problem. I want to be back in Haiti. So instead of embracing my life in Kansas City, I’m wallowing. I’m wallowing around a half packed house (I’m moving into a studio apartment July 1st) cleaning out my DVR and working remotely. I’m not sure what to do now. God is doing some pretty amazing changes in my heart with this trip and I’m having a hard time responding to them.

I miss salty kisses.

Stealing sunglasses.

Fried plantains.

Broken Creole.

Smiles as wide as an ocean.

Sticky hot air.

Colorful vehicles.

Cactus fences.

Concrete buildings.

Futbol.

Hair braiding.

Hand washing laundry.

Hugs that never let you go.

I miss the community I feel when I’m in Haiti. I have a life in KC and have some pretty incredible people that care immensely about me here but it’s not quite the same. It’s not the same as feeling people praying for me, supporting me, loving what God is doing in my life and the country of Haiti. Thank you for being part of that for me the past couple weeks. Please keep praying for Haiti, my team, and myself.

Lines.

Lines.

I grew up in Texas, mostly. My family is from Georgia and Alabama with a little Mississippi thrown in. I’ve lived in 9 states. I understand state lines. I understand borders. The Alabama part means I understand football rivalries. I went to Texas A&M. I get pride. I get yelling and thinking you’re better than someone else. I get it.

There is a cast system in the southeast part of the United States that is alive and well. Just ask the frat brothers at Ole Miss. Go to any of the small towns in Georgia and look at the neighborhoods on either side of the railroad tracks. There’s the wealthy, the social elite, the upper middle class, then the working class, and then the poor. Everyone beats on the poor. Racism is alive and well. Progress has be minimal since the 1960’s.

When I moved to Kansas City two and half years ago, I was initially impressed with the “forward progress” the city seemed to have in regards to treating people equally. The last 30 months have slowly whittled away this progress. Kansas City is great at the appearance of progress but it is divided at every turn. Kansas vs Missouri. Black vs White. Downtown vs Suburb. Rich vs Poor. Christian vs Non Christian. White Collar vs Blue Collar. The list goes on and on. The tricky part about dividing lines within Kansas City is they are passive aggressive. At least in Georgia, or Mississippi, they put in on their flag and not try to hide it.

I am not condoning treating any one differently based on appearance, skin color, gender, etc. I am condoning being honest and forward thinking.

Tuesday, Redeemer Fellowship, the church I am a member of in KC, hosted an event that promoted, and delivered, honest conversations and opinions about race issues in town. This (hopefully initial) meeting wasn’t about solving The problem. It wasn’t about simplifying issues. It was about being honest about the angst on both sides, where some of these issues come from, and what baby steps we can all take towards a unified Kansas City. It was about hope that God will continue to redeem His people, His people who call Kansas City and the surrounding areas home.

The biggest take away for me was about living in community with others, spending money in your own backyard, and voting for people who have unity as a core belief.

I live west of the plaza. Right now I can’t change that. But I can continue to be in community with people from other parts of Kansas City. Redeemer Fellowship makes that pretty easy. Different people come to services each week and I love playing boardgames on Monday nights with our neighbors living at 39ths and Baltimore. (Come out the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month to experience these amazing people and get beat at spades!). Being a minority in my high school in Austin Texas means I love different backgrounds and food. I aim to treat everyone compassionately regardless of background.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

So what can I change? I can buy gas at the QT gas station on Westport road close to my house even though it costs $0.15-0.35 more per gallon than the QT by my office so that the money and buying market stays in my neighborhood and not down in the suburbs. I can continue to buy food at the local farmer’s markets (already one of my personal soap boxes). I can continue to be active in service projects in my community. I can also take a look at who is running for public office and make sure I’m voting for people based on their committment to unifying Kansas City.

What can you do?

Pray. Pray for the people of Kansas City to love each other and to seek out relationships with each other. Buy local. Help your neighbor.