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the bread of life

it’s been a while since my last post. i’ve been so busy with work that at the end of most days, i am ready to just sit and do nothing. i am putting in hours at the office helping with payroll and filing and whatever project my boss would like me to help with. i love the projects….they usually involve research and i love researching. after the office stuff, i might get to go home for about an hour before i have to head back out the door to start picking up my clients.

lately, when i’m volunteering at the food shares with straight street orlando, i’ve been taking some of the leftover rolls and using them for making sandwiches for our church’s street ministry. on sunday after church, we feed the people we’ve picked up that morning a bagged lunch that will have a sandwich, some chips and cookies and something cold to drink. we have a group of women, myself included, that sign up to make 20 lunches each week (two volunteers per week). since i’ve only been back to work since late january, finances are still a bit tight so any resource i can get that will allow me to help others – i’ll take it.

there is a woman at work whose church has a group that now does food shares twice a month where i go on tuesdays and they had a lot of leftover bread – i asked if i could have some – i’d use it for sandwiches for my church’s street ministry as well as give it those that would want some. the bread i received was some good stuff – hearty white, rye, multi-grain as well as some large sandwich sized rolls – the kind you’d put a big burger on.

yesterday, i had the chance to be home by 8pm. when i took my last two clients home (who are brothers) i was talking to their father and learned that other than items in the freezer for dinners, they were lacking some of the staples – bread, eggs, milk, along with a few other things. he gets a check for disability – he’s a double amputee below the knee with a slew of other health problems. it’s a single parent household with no other sources of income. i care about these kids…..they managed to grow on me in a short amount of time despite my reluctance to work with them. so my first instinct – grab a piece of paper and ask for a list. the father is illiterate so he told me what he needed and i wrote it down. not a huge list. stuff to make lunches for the boys. some cereal and coffee. milk and eggs. and a little sugar-free ice cream. after piling the boys back into the car (the one is 13 and stands 6’2″) i called david and told him i’d be late and why. then off to walmart we went. went to the deli for lunch meat. grabbed enough eggs to last more than a couple of days. milk – check! coffee – check!  after a few minutes of hard searching, finally found the ice cream!! woot!! we returned back at the boys’ house and unloaded our packages. i also had this huge bag of bread in the trunk. i flung it over my shoulder and carried it into the house like i was santa 🙂 i started pulling different varieties of bread and was told which was good and which one was not wanted. when i was done, i was surprised – the dad reached out and gave me a hug as he thanked me. bigger surprise – the boys gave me hugs too!! the older one – the one who is 6’2″ – he said “miss lisa…it’s hard to hug you – you’re so little!” i laughed and stepped to the top of the ramp set up for his dad to get into the house on his power chair. i said “is this easier? i’m now up higher so you can hug me easier!” he laughed and gave me another hug. i told each of the boys to be good for their dad as i left.

later that night, i saw that the older boy sent me a message, “i forgot to say thank you”. i kept that message in my heart the rest of the night.

Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life….John 6:35

 
 

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where’s the money tree?

i am coming to a crossroad and i have a difficult decision to make soon. it unfortunately involves my current job.

i love what i do. i’m what’s referred to as a youth advocate. another word for a mentor. i work with the youth that are either in the mental health system, the juvenile justice system or both. my role is to help the youth gain a voice and advocate for themselves. i’m there to show them how to make positive choices that will make their future better. teach them how to make positive changes in their behavior so that they can strive to be a better person. encourage the baby steps they make toward those positive goals and when they take that backward step, show them that it’s ok to make a mistake once in a while. teach them how to learn from those mistakes so that they are much less inclined to head in that negative direction again. if school is part of the problem, work with them to change study habits and come up with education plans that will put them on the right track towards reaching their career goals that they’ve shared. there’s these things and so much more.

while working with the youth, i’m also working with the family. if the youth’s problems are affecting the family, then by making positive changes and positive choices, then at some point, the family begins to work more positively. sometimes there needs to be a little parental coaching. point out observations between the parent and child. suggest looking at things with a new perspective. remind them that behaviors and attitudes are in the progress of changing. remind them that positive reinforcement by the parent can make a big difference for their child. with praise and encouragement, cycles can be broken.

but there’s one big problem. it doesn’t pay enough. my position pays at different rates depending on what i am doing. if i’m with one client, i get one rate. if i am with more than one, i get another rate – per client. then there’s another rate if i am doing my paperwork, attending a training session, attending a staff meeting, or attending a live webinar. with gas prices as they are, what we are reimbursed for mileage doesn’t quite foot the bill. my clients live on the other side of the county i live in so my commute just to pick any of them up is 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. then you’ve got driving time to get to the various activities you take them to – whether it’s to the library for study time, the park for a little recreation or a workshop held at the office for our clients. for my one client, the closest thing we do is the library – it’s 2 miles from her home. but everything else is at least 25-30 minutes away. even having a little ford escort, i still burn gas.

my monthly expenses are rent, car insurance, renter’s insurance, electric bill and phone. add gas for my own personal errands and activities (are you kidding), and groceries for me and david and you wind up in a deficit before you even start.

there’s a position i’ve interviewed for within the same organization i work for now. it’s guaranteed 40 hours with the same pay rate across the board – no variances depending on what you do. there’s a bit of a difference in what i’d be doing, but i’d welcome the challenges that this new position would bring.

the problem i have is this…..how to tell my boss that while i love my job, i can’t afford to continue to do it. how to tell her that the position i’m being considered for would be very welcomed as the pay is (unfortunately) part of the attraction to it. how to tell her that i may have to start looking for something else. these decisions and more weigh so heavily on my mind.

oh to find a million dollars under a rock so that i can continue to do what i love. better yet, just plant a money tree outside of my patio door and i’ll be fine (as long as i don’t kill it).

 

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