Blog,  Family,  Vlog

Return to Apple Hill – A Look Back at the Last 12 Months.

**WARNING THIS POST IS LONG**

A few weeks ago Allison and I packed up the girls and met my parents out at Apple Hill near Placerville CA. It’s about 45 minutes outside of Sacramento and on the ride out there it got me thinking. 

Two days prior to this posting, Olivia turned 2 Years Old. Surprisingly it was a fantastic day (I’ll have more on that next Monday with the next Vlog). Eagle-eyed observers will notice I said, “surprisingly”, that’s what I was thinking about on the drive up to Apple Hill. For the last two years, September 28th has been a bittersweet day. September 28, 2017, we welcomed our adventurous, tenacious daughter Olivia, but went straight to the NICU and embarked on a difficult, trying journey to bring her home.

Then September 28, 2018, I was fired from a job I had just started and forced to go home with my little cardboard box and see the look on my wife’s face turn from excitement at seeing me home (thinking I had taken the day off after all) turn to concern as she saw the look on mine. For the second year in a row, I was experiencing a monstrous disappointment staring down the slope of a long valley.

On October 15th we published this video and little blog post.

What you probably don’t know is that we filmed that video on September 29th, 2018. The very next day. Watching it now, you can see a lot of things. 

  1. I’ve come a long way in the last year as a videographer. I mean that video is overexposed the entire way through. (I would have killed for an ND filter then!)
  2. I was apparently in love with slapping transitions onto my footage for no apparent reason.
  3. We hadn’t yet figured out how to tell a story with a vlog, I mean we’re still figuring it out now, but we have definitely come a long way.
  4. OJ has always been as cute as she is now.

But what I see is the terror and fear in my eyes. I see someone steamrolled by life. Not sure when, where, or even if, the next paycheck was going to come. I see someone with an idea and the desire to start a video production company, but without the skills to make it work, the gear to accomplish the vision, and no clue where to start. I see the uncertainty of losing health insurance two weeks before Meghan would be born. 

As we were driving down Highway 50, blasting One Republic I was just thinking, how long ago last year feels. It honestly feels like I experienced 30 years in 12 months.

I’ve wanted to write about this year but it’s never good to write about the valley for public consumption, while you’re still in the valley with your feet stuck in the mud. So I waited.

Well, I’m starting to see a glimpse of the sun up ahead, so I think I’ll talk about it now. Buckle up folks, this is going to be another Tolkienesque post.

Let’s time travel to May 27th, 2018. Allison and I had just finished dedicating Olivia to the Lord at Nations Church LA, performed a final check on all of our earthly possessions, and closed up the truck and hopped on the highway. We were leaving behind the family, friends, and life we had built together to go where God was calling us. Home.

Specifically Sacramento, in case you didn’t know, which if you didn’t, how did you get to this blog? It’s literally all over the blog that we live in Sacramento. ANYWAYS.

Only a few people knew that we were pregnant with Meghan, and like crazy people, we didn’t have jobs lined up for us in Sac. I did, however, have a few possibilities that showed promise. I had a job interview at a company for a Graphic Design position the Tuesday after we moved, a job interview at a Glazing company the day after, and a phone screen with this interesting company called Powerschool.

The day after we moved, I started to get ready for my upcoming interviews by getting a haircut. Not realizing it was memorial day, I went to the only open barbershop. This little hole in the wall called Ronnie Barber Shop (no that isn’t a typo, the owner’s name is Ronnie Barber), where I received the best haircut of my life. I woke up on Tuesday, and from my perspective, rocked the interview! I didn’t get that job. 

Then Wednesday came around and I got up and went to the glazing company interview. Rocked that one too! While I thought the people would be a good fit, I didn’t really want to still be in the glazing/construction/ CAD industry for my whole life, so I secretly hoped they wouldn’t pick me.

I then went on to the phone screen with Powerschool, I had taken a pretty rigorous skills and assessment test. I talked to the recruiter who seemed very enthusiastic as he laid out the duties of the Design Marketing Specialist. I was floored! This position would focus on video production, editing, and animation. Things that had long been my passion, and I had done for years for free.

Finally, an opportunity to get paid doing what I love!

Then I began to see the long application process in front of me. After the phone screen, I needed to retake the assessment test with the recruiter on a video call to verify that it was me, then I came in for an interview and received a tour, and then interviewed with my manager one-on-one. I left feeling hopeful and optimistic. The campus was beautiful with many of the awesome amenities that come with working for a very large company, i.e. a gym, free sodas, a grill, and access to a nearby lake. After this round of interviews, I went in for another round of interviews, this was weird to me, I met with about three different people back-to-back, one-on-one (side note to all companies out there, DON’T do this, it’s weird and job seekers hate it). One thing I asked everyone I met with was “Why do you like working here?” Their answer was always, “The people are so awesome, we have a really great team!” I liked that answer.

Then the process came down to one last interview, a one-on-one phone with the head of the marketing division I would work for. That call was on Friday, but two days before that, I had received a job offer from the glazing company. What to do, what to do!

Normally I would say “Pray about, duh!” But alas, I didn’t, I used my earthly wisdom and turned them down because it looked like Powerschool was going to end up hiring me (Spoiler alert, they did).

Looking back now, I didn’t even question it, I wanted to pursue the thing that had been my dream for years! So I politely declined their offer, without burning bridges or giving a bad impression, and accepted the offer from Powerschool.

Within about a month of working at Powerschool, I was getting the feeling that this might not be for me. The candy-coated veneer of niceness was starting to wear off and I could begin to see the cultural rot at the core of the department. This was big business, millions of dollars were on the line, we work like a machine, everyone doing their part. If you screw up just toss someone under the bus so they take the bricks and you can keep swimming. That’s great and all, but I couldn’t live like that, so I got smashed a few times. Near the end of August, I was feeling like every day might be my last. Eventually one day, that was true. You can read a little more about it here.

Then began the long night of unemployment, from October 2018 through July 2019 I didn’t have a job. I drove for Postmates, found a few video production clients, got a decent tax return, and several miracles from God bringing provision at the right time, and we somehow survived. 

This whole unemployment period I was asking God, where is the long term provision? When will this end? Then in the back of my mind, a voice. “Did I miss it?” Did I all those months ago miss the opportunity and provision God had prepared for me? I remembered once talking with my parents several years ago when they were going through a difficult season when they were presented with two opportunities and were praying and seeking wisdom from God as too which one they should take. They didn’t want to miss the opportunity God had for them, but they wanted to make sure they knew which one it was.

Did I miss it? Did I lead my family down a path that we weren’t supposed to go down? I felt like I might have. I mean there have been blessings during this time and I was able to lay some groundwork towards my dream, but that’s more of a testament to God’s faithfulness then evidence of my obedience to his plan for me.

My next thought was, is that other better path still open? I mean if you look at scripture, it should be, I mean even if you run like Jonah, you still have the opportunity to be used by God to bring a whole city to salvation, so maybe, just maybe, that opportunity was still an option for me.

So I swallowed my pride, thankful I hadn’t declined the previous offer rudely and contacted that glazing company. We met, and a week later, they offered me a job. This time I accepted, and even though I’m a little bummed it isn’t the next step to where I want to be, it is the next step for where I need to be.

So folks, if you’re going through some tough times and you feel like it was because of a decision you made, it might be worth it to look behind you and see if there was another door you could have taken and maybe give it a knock.

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