A whirlwind of a month

In my last blog, I mentioned the agreement I had made with God. We had been at an impasse job-search wise, and it seemed like God was leading me to work for the airlines, so I told Him that if He wanted me in the airlines, He would have to work out all my Sabbath conflicts. There were three weekends in a row on my schedule where I was scheduled into Sabbath hour both Friday night and Sabbath, and the time was coming up quickly when He would have to act. And He did.

That was Monday. By Thursday night, I had exhausted all my options. The only trade that anyone was willing to make got blocked for other reasons, and I had nowhere else to go. Surprisingly though, I wasn’t worked up in the frenzy I typically get in when something isn’t going right. I was sure God was going to come through. Friday, on the other hand, had me getting nervous. What was I going to say if the simulator didn’t break down? How would I get out of it?

Needless to say, it was a time of fervent prayer. When everything started out normal with the briefing, I tried to ignore the sense of impending doom. “Focus on what he’s saying,” I would say to myself. “Don’t worry, God has it.”

Two hours of briefing down, and we were set to begin our four hours in the sim. It was 3 hours before sunset. I arranged my stuff before we started, ready to walk out if need be.

2 hours passed. One remained. We stopped for a break.

At that point, I knew what I had to do. I put my jacket on, gathered my things, and started out. I stopped to chat some with my sim instructor, delaying the inevitable hammer I was about to drop that I was walking out, not only on my session that night, but also most probably on my job with the company too. After a couple minutes of small talk, I saw an opportunity.

“Where are you from?” I had asked him.

“Southern California.”

“Where specifically? I have lots of family down in that area.”

“I grew up right outside of Redlands in a town called Loma Linda.”

“Oh really?! I know lots of people that are there, or just graduated from the medical school there. You’re not Adventist, are you?” (He had made several comments during the ground briefing that made it seem quite obvious to me that he was Mormon, so I was surprised)

“No, I am Mormon,” he said, “But I have a lot of friends who are Adventists. How do you know about them?”

“I am an Adventist!” I exclaimed. “That actually brings up something that’s been weighing on me recently. I tried to trade schedules, but nobody was willing. You know about the Adventist beliefs about the Sabbath?”

“Yes I do,” he said. “You will have a tough time in this industry. Nobody cares what your beliefs are, as long as you show up for work when you’re assigned. But to get Saturdays off, that’s going to be a real challenge. There really aren’t a lot of ways around it. I understand where you’re coming from though, and I applaud you for it, but you have to realize what you’re getting yourself into.”

“Yeah.” That pretty much summed up all my concerns about trying to go work for the airlines in the first place. “The trouble is, Sabbath starts in an hour, but we have two hours of sim training left. I’m going to have to leave early.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. You’re a good pilot, and you’ve got everything you need to become a very successful airline pilot. Just these past two hours have shown me that. You’re not flying perfectly, but you pick up on things quick. You’re holding your sim partner accountable when he starts adjusting stuff that you should be adjusting. It’ll be a real shame to lose you.”

“I’m sorry too. I want to make it work, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my beliefs for a job.”

He called over to somebody else who was in the room, saying I should probably have a talk with him. As we went down to his office, I found out he was one of the assistant training managers for the company. Once we sat down, I explained the situation to him all over again.

“I can empathize with you,” he said, “I don’t like to work on Sunday either. But you also have to take care of your family. That’s your first priority.”

“Well, shouldn’t my first priority be staying faithful to God?” I replied, amused at how easy it is to get that mixed up sometimes. “I could work at Taco Bell and still make a living. It isn’t as much money as here, but they would still be taken care of. There are plenty of other jobs I could work to provide for my family that don’t require me to work on Sabbath.”

“I suppose that’s true, and I admire you for standing up for your beliefs like this. I don’t suppose you’re going to come in for your scheduled sim session tomorrow then, will you?”

“No, I won’t.”

“Well then, enjoy your Sabbath. I’ll have my boss give you a call on Monday, and we’ll see what he thinks we can work out for you.”

So I left. And I did have a very nice Sabbath. After church, I went with some friends up into the mountains to have lunch with more friends. We then went back to church to go caroling with a youth leader who was very excited about it. It was a blessedly restful day.

While we were out caroling I got a voicemail from the boss, saying I needed to call him ASAP. I headed back to the church to talk with him while the rest of them finished up singing to the rest of the block.

As we talked, it was a very similar conversation to the one I had had the night before. It ended, however with this:

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you to trade sim schedules with someone else. But unfortunately, you were assigned a work schedule and you failed to show up. We have zero tolerance for that. I’m going to have to terminate your employment.”

I saw that one coming from a thousand miles away.

That evening I didn’t sleep very much. Not because I was upset. But because I was writing a letter to explain where I was coming from, to remind them that they were legally bound to make reasonable accommodation for my religious beliefs (which they hadn’t), and that I would like to appeal the decision to “terminate my employment.” I would be ready to present it to him that Monday when we had arranged to meet.

That night, I also texted a friend who had let me know about a job opening up at Andrews University as the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor. Were they still looking for someone? He said they were, and that I should call the Chief in the morning to let him know I may be interested.

The next morning I was still getting through my morning routine when I got a phone call from the 269 area code I knew so well from my time at Andrews.

“Hello?”

“Hi, David? This is Darryl Penney at Andrews, how are you? I heard you might be interested in the Assistant Chief job here.”

“Kind of,” I replied.

I explained the situation to him, that I was waiting to see what would happen the next day at my meeting, but if they weren’t willing to give me my job back, I would definitely be in need of a job.

“I see,” he said. “Well, I hope it works out for you there. But if it doesn’t, we would like to have you come interview for the spot. You’ll of course have to talk to the department chair Duane, but I can chat with him first and let him know you might be interested.”

“Yeah, that would be fine. I’ll try to give him a call today once I’m up and going.”

“Great. Well let us know how things fall together. We’ll look forward to hearing from you.”

I went back to getting my breakfast ready when I got a call from Duane.

“Hi David! I just got off the phone with Darryl Penney. He mentioned you are looking into possibly coming here to Andrews.”

I gave a hesitant answer before laying out the situation to him as well. He followed up with the same invitation to keep them in the loop, and that they would love to interview me for the spot if things didn’t work out.

Through this entire situation, I had been unnaturally calm. I wasn’t worried about it, because somehow I knew God was in control. That calm continued Monday morning as I met with the training manager. We had a very nice discussion, and again I just kept hearing positive things about Adventists.

“We’ve had several Adventists come through who have stood up for their beliefs like you have. I really respect that. Every time one of you come through, actually, it makes me wonder if I’m living by my own beliefs as fervently as you live by yours. And you Adventists have always come through with such a great attitude. Even though things don’t work out, you are still wanting to work with us to try to open up possibilities for others after you.”

“Yeah, there are several of us who aren’t interested in flying for the airlines because of the Sabbath issue. If there were a way to work those things out, word would spread quickly through the SDA community, and there would be dozens of other Adventist pilots who would come to work here too.”

“That would be great. You’re just the type of people that our company wants. It would be nice to have some way to help you guys into the system.” (Currently, seniority rules at the airlines, which is an exception to the Civil Rights Act, because it would take a complete re-working of the entire scheduling system to make accommodation, and any accommodation that bypasses that is unfair for all the other employees).

“Well, I have an idea of something that may help start the process, at least,” I started. “I’ve already been in touch with my alma mater, which is an Adventist school, and I’m quite confident that I’ll be offered the Assistant Chief spot there if I leave. I’ve already talked to the department chair and the Chief, and they are both on board with the idea of pursuing a partnership which will allow Adventists the opportunity to go through training on a Sabbath-free schedule, which can be accommodated, and give them every opportunity to get into the system right now, when seniority is jumping up really quickly.” I outlined the details of my plan to him.

“That may be something that we would be interested in,” he agreed. “Here’s my card, please get in touch with us if you end up getting the job, and we can start looking into it.”

At that point, we both knew that I was gone from the airlines. But we hadn’t actually breached the subject of my request for reinstatement. He brought it up now.

“So what do you want to do? I am willing to reinstate you, and try to fit you back into my schedule. The trouble I’m seeing, though, is even if I squeeze you back into the system, the only time slots available are still going to fall on your Sabbath hours. You’re probably not going to want to show up for those either, will you?”

“No, I won’t,” I agreed. “Would you be willing, however, to reinstate me with that schedule, and give me the opportunity to withdraw from the course?”

“Sure, I would be happy to do that,” he concluded. “I’ll even make sure you are marked as having left favorably, so that you’ll be eligible for rehire some point down the road. Please let me know when you are settled, and we’ll see what we can do to start working with you Adventists.”

The days and weeks following that have been a blur. That same Monday I flew to Denver, where I had a car I needed to pick up. I drove Tuesday and Wednesday to Andrews, where I interviewed Thursday morning, and was offered the job on the spot. I finished up the day driving back to New York. We spent the weekend with both sides of Sarah’s family celebrating Christmas, then scrambled to get everything packed and ready to move to Michigan before the New Year. We arrived New Year’s Eve evening, took a day to get settled and check out a few houses in the area, and I started work the day after.

Only now, almost 3 full weeks after, have I had enough of my head above water that I can update you on what’s going on. Today marks exactly a month since I left my work at the airlines. And I’m not looking back. Andrews has everything we were looking for: decent pay, a fulfilling job that will offer stability, living in the country, I’ll be home every night, and Sabbaths are guaranteed off. I wouldn’t have picked it, but it was clear that God was bringing us here. And we know He has plans for what He can do through it.

As we get settled here, please pray that God establishes us. We have been wandering for so long – so much so that not moving again for a while has ceased to become an ideal, it is a need. Our kids need a stable home and a place to grow up. And please pray that God works out the details so the way may be laid for other Adventist pilots to pursue their passion in the airlines.

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The conflicts

What do you do when work conflicts with your personal life? Say you have something scheduled for a day, then you end up getting scheduled to work that day. For most of us, you have to make the decision whether your personal plans are important enough to potentially get in trouble and/or lose your job over. For instance for me (David), I know that with time I will have to decide between work or celebrating Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve or Day. Now in this case, for us as a family, we don’t put a whole lot of importance on the actual day, as long as we are indeed able to celebrate together. So the decision becomes easier: Find an alternate day to celebrate with family.

What if there is a hard-set day though, one that will not be compromised. Say you have a vacation planned with your family. You have purchased your tickets, reserved your hotels, cleared your kids missing school, your spouse got the time off work, everything is set. Your family is excited, it’s your first family vacation in 3 years. However there’s a crunch at work, and your boss apologizes profusely, but says he has to have you that week, or you run the risk of losing your job. Would you do it? The conflict becomes a little more challenging to resolve, doesn’t it?

Finally, let’s say this event were a weekly thing. You and your wife go bowling together every Tuesday night. You tend to work later in the evenings, but can always get away early on Tuesday for your date. You love that time so much! It is the only time you really have to bond with one another during the week. Normally, you’re busy at work, you come home, make dinner, play with the kids a bit, then it’s time for bed. But Tuesday night, that’s your special time that you don’t get any other time of the week. What if your boss asks you to work late that night? It’s not a, “you’ll lose your job” moment, but it’s just necessary one time to push through a bid a big contract that Wednesday. Do you skip your date night then? Let’s say you do, just this once. Your wife understands and is cool with it.

But what happens next? If you agree to stay late this once, maybe you’ll be willing to stay late again, the next time there’s a push at work. Or you have a big project over the course of several weeks you have to work through. Or any number of things comes up. What then? What’s the point where you decide to stop and say, “Enough is enough! I’m taking my Tuesday back!” Or, what will more likely become the answer, “Well, we used to go bowling Tuesday nights, but I’ve just been so busy at work we don’t do that anymore. Even when I do get off early, we aren’t in the league anymore, so now it has become just another evening at home.”

So what has happened? You’ve lost it! You lost that special time with your spouse! And for what? A few extra bucks? Showing devotion to your work, when some bean-counter in Chicago can discover the company can save $500/year without you, and get you laid off (because we know most of corporate America doesn’t care how long you have been with the company, it’s all about the money, and how much they can make because of you)? So you’ve lost your date night, you’ve lost your job, and because of the stress you and your wife start arguing, and you end up getting a divorce. Now how valuable would it have been to guard that Tuesday right from the very beginning?

I understand, and fully admit that this is taking the more extreme results of what can happen, and oftentimes it doesn’t play out like this in real life. So please understand, I’m using hyperbole. But it does happen. And I think it happens more often than we realize or care to admit.

So what’s the solution? How can you protect that special time that you have? You have to guard it. You have to protect it. Or else, you may lose it, and everything else attached thereto.

And what if conflicts come that you can’t work around? Where you have no other choice? That decision is up to you.

Before I took my job with the airlines, I made an agreement with God. I value my special time with Him from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. But I know it’s very hard to keep that special in my business. Some would say it’s next to impossible. So I told Him, if He wanted me in the airlines, He would have to work out all my Sabbath conflicts. So far, He has. Now I’ve been hit with 3 Saturday schedules in a row, both Friday night into the evening, and Saturday right at noon. Time is very quickly winding down until they become an issue.

I’ve talked with scheduling, and they say if I can find someone who wants to trade, we can. I just need to know by Wednesday at the latest to get schedules switched around. There are several people with Sabbath-free schedules I’ve reached out to several days ago, but to date no response. So now I’m waiting. Waiting to see how God will act. Waiting to see what He will do. Because my God, He has influence over those above me. He can soften the heart of one of my fellow students. Or He can break the simulator so we cannot use it on Sabbath. Or any other number of things. I’m just waiting for Him to act.

And I’m claiming His promises:

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

“Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land.”

Will you please join with me in praying that a solution be found?

May the Lord give glory and honor to His name, and deliver me from these conflicts to our cherished special time together.

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When they call

I was running super late. The night before heading to the start of my airline training, I hadn’t planned ahead sufficiently, and I realized I didn’t have my logbooks on hand. I didn’t even know where they were after moving everything from Phoenix. I asked Sarah, and she didn’t know where they were either. As I was on the edge of panic, the kids were exhausted from Arianna’s first birthday party, and Joel especially was difficult to get down. Sarah laid in bed with Joel, and was praying for help finding the logbooks the whole time as he was slowly winding down to sleep. It suddenly dawned on her that the missing folder containing my logbooks were in the Eggo box, which was somewhere in the storage unit we have while looking for a place of our own. We didn’t have time to go down and look then, it was too late, but with Sarah’s confidence that it was surely there, I resolved to leave a half hour early, then we’d be on time to leave for the 1.5 hour drive to the airport.

We ended up leaving 10 minutes early, not 30, so when the box was not immediately evident in storage, I was about ready to get really worried. Just then, I got a text from United saying: “Your 1035am United flight to Chicago is delayed due to awaiting aircraft. UA4540 now departs Rochester 1117am and arrives 1215pm.” Well that’s great, I realized. Now I have an extra 45 minutes. Calm again, we started digging to find that elusive box. Sarah climbed up on top of boxes and furniture to the very back and, holding herself up on the storage shed’s main skeleton, finally found it buried way in the back, under several other items. She was able to reach down and pull out the folder, and we smoothly put everything back in its place and started for the airport.

En route, we smiled and talked to each other as our kids sang to themselves in the back. When they fell asleep, we listened to James Harriet’s description of Callum Buchanon. I had no stress or concern for the flight, because we were well on the way to make it with plenty of my built-in wiggle-room. After a prolonged period of goodbyes for my long period gone, I saw what I suspected was the late aircraft arriving, so I wrapped the goodbyes up. I casually made my way to the check in counter, weighed my bag in at a perfect 49.5 lbs, and got smoothly through security.

As I arrived at my gate, however, I was surprised to find a line of people ready to get on board. It was 10:18. As I got closer it was evident that they were already a fair ways into the boarding process. Our flight was leaving on time! In fact, we pushed back almost 5 minutes early. I asked my seat mate, and he said they also had seen the flight was delayed, but then the gate agent took it back almost immediately, claiming it was an error in the system. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had not built that margin into my time, but this thing I know: God must have arranged for that error to be made so that we would be able to fully enjoy our final moments together without our having to worry about being late, and the stress associated with it.

I think back on those final moments. Sarah leaning against my shoulder as I drive through the countryside. Arianna’s bright, adoring eyes shining at me as she looked back at me getting my bags from the trunk, then getting even more resplendent as I kissed her goodbye. Joel’s gentle “Love you, Daddy” as he waved me goodbye. I had prayed that God give us pleasant and sweet goodbyes without panic and worry. Surely He had answered. Just as He always has.

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Another Step.

When Sarah and I were about to leave for Chad, everybody told us we needed a blog.  So we thought, why not?  It’ll keep people somewhat up-to-date with us without our having to update everybody individually.  But what to name it?  Well I don’t remember all the names that we debated, but many of them had something about “Chad”, “Africa”, or “Aviation” in the title.  And why not?  It was what we were doing at the time.  Yet somehow we ended up deciding to go with “Going Where He Sends Us.” Why?  Honestly, I’m not sure, but we thought it was fitting because if God called us somewhere else after some time, then, had we named it “Chadian Aviation and Dietitian Services” we would have had to change our blog name.

Well as most of you know, God did bring us back from Chad after 2 1/2 years, rather than the 6-7 years that we were expecting. He sent us to Phoenix, where we have been for this past year.  It was a nice time to kind of unwind and get re-established into American life. And in fact, our time in Phoenix was the longest we’ve ever been in the same abode in our married lives. But our time in Phoenix has come to an end, and I have a new job with the airlines.

I didn’t want to go to the airlines.  Actually, it was kind of my last choice.  But when God calls, it’s our duty to follow.  And we are convinced He has brought me to work for the airlines. For now. Here’s how it happened:

I was looking for a different job for about 6 months.  Not that we disliked Phoenix, we just knew that it was a temporary stop in our life.  Joel is a typical 2-year old, so full of energy and wanting to explore everything, and we know Arianna is just a short ways behind him. So looking at that, we wanted a place where the kids could play outside (without having to worry about getting heatstroke).  We wanted to live close to one of our families (either in Denver [greater Denver metro area] or western New York).  We also wanted a place that was more in the country, and away from the constant noise and distraction of city life.

Looking, we found several job possibilities that satisfied our desires.  One, a buddy of mine was setting it up that would have put us outside of Syracuse NY, flying for the owner of a business based there.  The schedule sounded ideal as I’d be home almost every night, and have most of the winter/early spring off, but it ended up falling through.  Then I applied for several other jobs that met our requirements, but nothing seemed to be going forward.  Either I didn’t have enough experience, or the applications fell through on the employers side of things, and I never got a call-back.  Or one job actually did offer me a position “once a spot opened up”, but to date a spot still hasn’t opened up.

In the meantime, my current work in Phoenix had a perk where they were offering the two instructors I was working with and myself a free trip to airline headquarters to take a $5,000 course that I’ll need for most any future job. In the end, somehow, the two instructors got to go, but I didn’t. Naturally, my sense of justice got in the way, and I started to try to make them aware that I had been left out.  They said they’d be more willing to arrange it for me if I showed more interest in possibly working for the airline, so I signed the little “intent to join” sheets and got set up, knowing I wasn’t committing to anything substantial. The airline brought me to their headquarters, and I spent a day getting a tour and intro to the company, yet they still didn’t offer me that training.  I kept working at it, and they asked me for a little more commitment.  In the end, they never did give me that training while I was with my other job, but it kind of got me in the door.

I never wanted to go to the airlines.  I knew I would be out of town a lot and miss seeing my kids grow up.  It’d be hard on our marriage, and the schedule, simply put, seemed very difficult to keep the Sabbath.  As I have been getting more exposed to this life, I am seeing that there are ways to possibly work my schedule around to get Sabbaths off – though none of them are guarantees.

After several months of looking and looking for jobs, however, everything seemed to align: I found a perfect job that would be a great schedule where I could be home every day, with amazing pay and great quality of life.  As I interviewed for it, though, I didn’t do as well as I was expecting, and they were hesitant to bring me on in the position I applied for.  They ended up offering me a different job, but simply put, we didn’t want to move to another temporary stop for another year where they would have put me.  There was an option to commute, but if I commuted, we figured I may as well just go to the airlines, since I’d be home probably the same amount of time, and the airlines offered a better experience level which would help me more in the future.

I ended up saying no to that “ideal job”-turned counter offer.  By that point, we were frustrated that nothing was working out.  Then we remembered a prayer we had prayed months before, early on in the job search. We had prayed,

“Lord, we want to be where You guide us.  So please open doors where You want us, and close them where You don’t want us.”

We decided we shouldn’t get upset that God had answered our prayers, but that we should try to listen and see what doors were opening.  We also prayed for God’s peace, regardless of what He was doing. That’s when we came to realize that the doors had been wide open towards the airlines, even though I had put up our own barriers in front of that open door.

So we looked more into it, and I arranged an interview with the airline I was already set up with. It was the most incredible thing. As soon as we started moving towards this idea we had long resisted, suddenly, all the little blocks and obstacles, those which we ran into with all the other job possibilities, they all disappeared like they had been vacuumed up to a cosmic bin of forgotten worries. There were too many tiny little signs, most too minuscule to even remember, some too detailed to explain in this already-too-long blog post, but for us, it all spelled one thing: C-O-N-F-I-R-M-A-T-I-O-N. This was where God wanted us.

Actually, even during the interview, the recruiter asked me “why do you want to fly with us? We’ve interacted before, and you were always resistant.” I explained to him, knowing he is a man of faith, that we had tried other jobs, but it seemed that God was bringing us to this point. We ended up spending a fair amount of time discussing how by faith God seems to guide us in our decision-making processes. Before moving on to the interview content, of course. Afterward, he wrapped up the interview saying, “Here, we care more of the quality of our team’s character than their technical skills [obviously, this statement is not to take away from the very high technical demands of the job]. I’ve been watching you for the past year, and the humble way you approach people and the gentle spirit you seem to carry with you. I can’t officially offer you a job, but know you will have my recommendation.” So by the time I was offered the job as a first officer, we already had the answer: Yes. His words have been a great affirmation to me though, and a testament of the changes God has wrought in me over the years.

So here we are. Sarah and I have moved all our affairs out to New York with her parents, and we hope to find a place of our own very soon. I have spent the past week and a half in training, and will be another 2 days before I get to see my family again. Then after a weekend home with them, I’ll be training for the next 6 weeks.

It’s God’s strength alone that will get us through this. Even though it is going to be difficult, we are comforted again in the knowledge that we are in the center of God’s will for our lives, and that He will bring us through. I hope to write more of the insights God opens to me while I’m living out of a suitcase the next year (at a minimum). And who knows. Maybe I’ll become a little bit of a gardener.

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Joy is in the Journey

As I sit leaning against our couch in our own apartment, I am overwhelmed again by the goodness of God, and the compassion that He has shown towards us.

I could reflect on His abundance in providing an awesome job in a great location, with fantastic bosses, but that happened a long time ago.

I could reflect on His blessing me with a beautiful baby girl, her loving older brother, and the world’s greatest mother as a wife, but that was so two weeks ago!

I could reflect on His greatness in providing us time with family, with my mom who arrived hours before we went to the hospital, with Sarah’s parents visiting us for a week, and getting the chance to talk to my younger (taller) brother during the drive from the airport during a lightning-fast trip to Denver.

But the blessings that have overwhelmed me tonight lie neither in the occupational, material, nor even the relational blessings God has given us (though they are great). Throughout today I have just been reveling in the greatness of His peace, and the joy that comes from a simple life.

I have been working hard since Arianna was born. My work was very flexible to allow me to take four days off for her birth and getting her settled back at home, but after that I launched back in, picking up an extra day to make up some of the difference. Then last week I worked Sunday-Thursday while Sarah’s parents were visiting, then flew up to Denver to drive the 13 hours back to Phoenix with our new/old car (my beloved PT) on Friday. Sunday, I was back at work again, until today I finally (and accidentally) got some rest.

I didn’t realize how much I needed a break. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.

Today, I spent time with my man Giolo. We wrestled and ate and did man stuff.

Today, I spent time with my lady Ari. I held her and tickled her and tried to coax a smile from her beautiful face.

Today, I spent time with my gorgeous princess of a wife. We shopped and talked and lived life together.

This is what it should be about. This is what we have been missing. It’s so easy to get bogged down by work and politics and the things of everyday life that we miss the joy of the journey. I know I do. But today has been a reminder to me that there is more to life than advancing professionally, than earning beaucoup bucks, than being up to date on the latest gizmos. It’s a life of simplicity that I yearn for.

Lord, thank You for Your rest. Lord, thank You for Your peace. Lord, thank You for Your Spirit in our lives. May all who read this thirst for and know the eternal goodness of the joy You have given us through Your name. Amen.

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Second Coming!

For those of you who don’t know, October 22 is a significant date for us Seventh-Day Adventists.  Back in 1844, there was a group of people who, through careful study of the Bible, concluded that Jesus must be returning on that date, because it marked the end of the 2,300-day time prophecy in Daniel 8.  When He didn’t come, it became known as the Great Disappointment.  That event, however, was the seed that eventually led to the creation of the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

And while Jesus didn’t come that day as expected, we know He will come very soon.  It’s clear as day.  Like the pains of a woman in labor, our world is obviously starting to accelerate into the sorrows we know must take place before He comes.

This date, however, has gained a greater significance for us as a family this year.  Just as careful study led people to prepare for Jesus’ arrival at the end of a period of time, scientific evidence has led us to prepare for a certain date at the end of a fixed time. Like many who were excited for that day, we also are excited.  And while we don’t know the exact moment, we see signs that convince us this event is right around the corner!  There will probably be some labor pains that one of us will have to deal with too…

Have you guessed it yet?  That’s right!  We have our own little second coming this October 22!

fullsizerender

Little sister, on the way!

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Before they call…

“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  Isaiah 65:24

I cruise along the freeway, taking in New Mexico’s wonderful sunset. Soft blues and brilliant pinks shared space with small dark pockets of thunderstorms, like God was using flint in a vain attempt to relight the sky. I set aside my phone and turn off my audiobook playing in the background, and take a couple moments to reflect on God’s goodness over this trek across the length and breadth of America.

It has been a long couple of days, complete with over 1,800 miles of driving and several signs of God’s protection. An almost-accident just before crossing the Mississippi. A couple would-be tickets. He kept me from slamming our roof-mounted bike into the concrete barrier of a low clearance had I continued forward like I normally would have. He made me see a man peek through a car’s window before jumping into his own, inspiring me to tuck our bike and stroller into the hotel room with me rather than leaving them in their vulnerable travel positions atop the car. Yes, God has been guiding and protecting me.

The latest is most impressive yet, and had happened only a moment before. A storm was bristling right before me, daring me to enter its depths. The road seemed to be leading straight into the darkest section, while not 20 miles to either side the playful tints of sunset were tickling the tempest’s edge. But the storm looked deep.

“Oh Lord,” I cried out, “I am on pace to get to Albuquerque by 9pm already. If I have to power through, I may not arrive until 10 or later! I don’t think I have the strength in me for an extra hour, particularly after battling such a storm.” I inch closer and closer to the storm, still appreciating New Mexico’s 75mph speed limit despite the extra haste into the impending doom.

“But You have been with me. I was looking forward to the easy drive tomorrow, only 6 hours instead of 14! But if you want me to stop in Tucumcari for the night, I’ll accept the extra 2.5 hours tomorrow.”

Just then the road turned about 45 degrees right. Then another right turn. Before I knew it, the road had taken a route just skirting the edges of the storm, and I raced around it, receiving only a couple of sprinkles on my windshield. I couldn’t believe it!

“Before they call, I will answer.”

Sure enough! God had answered my prayer 40 or more years before, when he guided the builders of the road to make a bend at just that moment, and take a new route! Hahaha!  Is there anything our God can’t do?!

I continued to reflect, and God opened to my eyes wonderful things, very simple and straightforward, to understand His plan for our lives.

Pulling into my hotel for the night in Albuquerque, I was greeted by a nice gentle Irish accent, and a surprisingly reasonable room rate. Yes, God has been good to me. On this trip, and through all my life. He is my God, and I find rest in Him.

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Employed!

Well, the sweepstakes are over, and the results are in. After fully or partially completing 20 applications, 4 phone interviews, 5 full interviews, a turned-down job, and a final little push, we have accepted an offer of employment.

We are going to Phoenix, Arizona.

I’ll be a flight instructor for TransPac Aviation Academy at Deer Valley Municipal Airport (north of downtown Phoenix). I didn’t really want to go back to flight instruction, but I guess God knows best. They actually offered a pretty decent payscale and benefits package, considering many entry-level flying jobs really seem to be geared towards kids still living with their parents with no financial responsibility.

The deciding factor of this job, though, is that they were willing to give me Sabbaths off, guaranteed. Plus I’ll be home every night, which was important to us since we still need time to reset and reestablish who we are as a family here in the U.S.

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and especially a very special thank you to our friends who gave us the ability to get my CFI back. You know who you are!

We’ll be packing this week, and next week I start the long drive from New York to Phoenix so that I’ll be ready to start training September 19. The company will lodge us for 5 weeks in a furnished apartment while we find a place of our own. Any contacts who might be able to help us with this are appreciated!

 

 

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Stand Still…

Here’s just a little update since our post last week:

Praise God, I (David) was able to make it out to Southern California for my grandpa’s memorial service. It was a good time for catching up with family, and celebrating the life of another man who I take after. I’ll be posting a little of his story in another post soon. Hearing his story helped me understand myself a little bit better as well. But that’s for next time.

Concerning Cape Air, I had to turn down the job. As I had mentioned, I had some questions still, questions concerning working on Sabbath hours. I asked if I could have any assurance that the company would even be willing to put any effort into helping me keep Sabbath, since I’d be signing what would be at least a 15-month contract with steep penalties for backing out mid-contract; they were unwilling. So as much as I would love to work for them, I would rather walk in God’s way, even if it takes the sacrifice.

Just a couple days ago I shared this with a friend, just while we were catching up on life. This friend turned and handed me a wad of cash, saying, “Go get your flight instructor’s license back. I believe God will honor you because you are honoring Him by standing firm on the Sabbath, and I want to help.” Wow! I thanked them profusely, and am amazed at God and how He provides in all situations! And God will bless these friends even more, I know.

The amazingness didn’t stop there. With the cash as the catalyst, I messaged an old friend of mine in Dayton who could get me reinstated. I saw him today. He gave me his time for free! And I got my CFI back! Amazing how God continues to work.

While I was chatting with him after the paperwork had all been completed, I mentioned that I was still looking for a job, and that the biggest thing that’s kept me from getting one till now has been my commitment to keep the Sabbath as a day without work.

That opened a door, and he started asking questions.

“Why are you so firm on keeping Saturday? What difference does it make?”

“Well, it’s to remember that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day he rested.”

He shared his beliefs on the subject, and that he didn’t think the Bible had much merit or reliability to it (even though he says he’s a Methodist), and truth can come from any number of areas.

“True,” I said, “But remember that Jesus Himself prayed that God sanctify believers ‘by [His] truth; [His] Word is truth.’ If we can’t believe what the Bible says, what else is there to believe in?”

I left it at that, not wanting to push him more. We talked a little more, then, hoping for a mite of hope from someone who’s spent his entire life in the aviation world, I asked, “Is there any pilot job you can think of that would be willing to work with me on getting Saturdays off? I’ve only ever heard of one, but it’s in Alaska [and we’d rather be closer to family; I’ve applied, and haven’t heard back from Alaska anyways].”

“Not really,” he replied. “You’d be better off just changing your religion.”

How easy it must be to give up something you don’t believe in. Fortunately, I believe in the power and truth we find in God’s word.

All seems to be lost, there seems to be nothing available that will satisfy my occupational desires while still meeting my spiritual, familial, and financial needs. I’m burned out by searching page after page of job postings. I have nowhere else to turn.

Praise God!

When we have nowhere to turn, but we know God has led us to where we are, that’s where God parts the waters. That’s where God turns the enemy one on another. There is nothing impossible with Him. The binds that have kept many faithful Adventist pilots in the smaller quadrants of aviation because of the unavailability of Sabbath respecting jobs will not hold sway, because God will provide an answer. He has not led me to this point for me to be another statistic of Adventist aviators with broken dreams. But it won’t be because of anything I have done, but it will be God’s power in action. And those who don’t believe will see it and know God’s power to save.

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you.” (If you need help finding where that quote’s from, ask me).

By this you will know God has pleaded my case, if I get a job that will:

  • Guarantee cooperation in giving me Sabbaths off
  • Bring me home most every night
  • Be financially sufficient for our family
  • Be flying passengers to various points throughout the U.S. and the world

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”

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God always provides!

Today we have been shown greatly the goodness and provision of God.

Over the past month and a half, I (David) have been looking for a job to provide for us now that God is bringing us back to the US. I’ve been knocking on all sorts of doors waiting to see what will open. 15 applications, to be exact. Of those, 10 have replied, 5 have done at least a preliminary interview by phone or one in person, and had 2 full interviews, one about three weeks ago in Connecticut, the other this past Wednesday in Boston.

It has been a very informative search; I can’t imagine what kind of difficulties other pilots go through, particularly those with less time than my over 1,000 hours. On top of all that, we’ve been trying to prioritize towards jobs that would allow me to be home more often than not, which is hard to find among most pilot jobs.

Finally, this afternoon, I got a phone call from the pilot recruiter for Cape Air, the company I interviewed with last week. Within a matter of seconds, our hopes for a job went from hopeful to ecstatic. They’ve offered me a job! Of the group of 10 that I interviewed with, 5 of us will be hired. To top it off, we had been shown the spaces left available for the next several training classes. I was offered the soonest class, starting September 7, which will affect my seniority within the company once we get going, and which also gives me more options for where to base compared to my fellow interviewees. It’s the best situation I could possibly get right now for this position with Cape Air. One last verification of some questions with the chief pilots, and I hope to move forward with the job!

Unless we miraculously get a job offer from Corning, Inc. just down the road from us here in NY within the next couple days. That would be an absolute miracle considering we’re currently at the step of “friends within the company are looking into it and asking around,” but I suppose anything can happen with God.

The other providence of God today has come in the form of a specific answered prayer. A couple weeks ago, my mom’s father passed away at 93 ½, just 10 weeks after my grandpa on my dad’s side passed away. The memorial service for Grandpa Goude is this week, and I really wanted to make it to CA for it, but we didn’t have the money for me to make the trip. At all. But I prayed about it, and I let God know that I’d really like to be there, but I refuse to buy on credit to get there.

Also happened today, my mom called to say a friend had saved up money for us, and wanted to help me get to the service. Not knowing our needs, she gave almost exactly the amount we needed for me to get to SoCal in time, and I quickly bought the ticket.

God is so good, and His mercy endures forever!

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