Monday, May 14, 2007

Winds of change

Today was Darren's first day at his new job, one which we feel is, truly, the answer to our unwavering prayers.

Having spent a year after high school working with no particular drive or direction, he joined the Army in 1986, and ultimately came to be stationed at nearby White Sands Missile Range. He left after seven years of service to pursue other dreams: namely, a college education. Majoring first in Geological Engineering, then switching to Geology, he finally settled on History, an area of study with which he is positively enthralled, and was admitted to the History program in the fall of 1996. Such was his progress when we met that semester on campus, and while I knew from what he told me that his academic career prior to our meeting was, shall we say, less than stellar, I saw how he excelled in this subject he found so fascinating. He received his Bachelor's degree the weekend before we were married, in December 1998. With certainty and confidence we excitedly submitted applications and resumes to various agencies and returned from our honeymoon eager to find gainful employment for him in his favored field. Our hopes, soaring high on faith and optimism, slowly deflated as more and more time passed without success. After several months of futile searching, we decided that Darren should go back to school to obtain a Master's degree, and so, in the summer of 1999, he returned to the History program as a graduate student and, by pure chance, was granted a graduate assistantship at the Graduate School, which, after months of just barely getting by, was such a tremendous blessing. The substantial increase in our monthly income was almost unbelievable; though we were still, by all standards, "poor college students", we felt incredibly rich and couldn't believe our good fortune at the opportunity that, quite literally, seemed to come at the exact moment we needed it most. He continued working while pursuing his degree and then, just before we found I was expecting Dylan, he was offered a permanent position at the Graduate School which would provide not only another increase in pay, but also health insurance, a benefit which we had not previously enjoyed during any point of our marriage. We were thrilled! And even more so when we realized what perfect timing it was--again, a fabulous opportunity which presented itself precisely when we needed it.

When he finally graduated with his Master's degree in December 2003, we thought that this time he would most surely find a relevant job and searched every possible avenue we could think of. In the meantime, he remained at the Graduate School, where in that span of four years he had continued to be promoted through just about every position the department had to offer. Rather unintentionally, he had become quite proficient in the field of educational administration, and so, as one door after another closed on our quest for a position in his field, we came to the realization that this just might become his life's work. And he was good at it. He really enjoyed working with students and faculty and offered much in the way of implementing innovative ideas at the Graduate School. But we had never stopped looking, or hoping, for that perfect job to come along.

As university politics have become increasingly volatile in recent months, however, we've been feeling an unease and restlessness like never before and committed ourselves to finding a new job for Darren. With complete confidence, he told me at the beginning of the year, "I WILL have a new job before June." I admired his determination but, as the months trudged on, my own resolve began to waver. Finally, in March, we decided that serious action was needed and so we began a novena to St. Joseph, trusting implicitly that through the intercession of the good and faithful foster father of our Lord our prayers would undoubtedly be heard and answered. Upon the conclusion of our novena, however, I joked to Darren that I was worried our intentions may have been misunderstood, because on two consecutive days I received two separate, unsolicited job offers from different nursing agencies! We waited though, with trusting hearts and open minds. When we learned of one potentially promising opportunity at a nearby university, we thought that maybe we had found our answer, so to finally hear after several expectant weeks that Darren was not accepted for that particular job was dismally discouraging. That same day, however, we again searched a favorite federal job site we've frequently browsed in the past, grasping for anything remotely possible. And there we found, much to our great surprise, a job listing and description that seemed tailor made for Darren: an opening at the White Sands Missile Range Museum. We looked at each other with wide eyes and tingles down our spines; we just knew that this would be the one! Quickly modifying the resume he already had saved in their database, we submitted an online application and then patiently waited for the closing date to pass. I secretly hoped that we'd hear the good news on May 1st, the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. It would be another day, however, before Darren received the call: they were, indeed, interested in hiring him! It was almost surreal, too good to be true. After so many years of hoping, and praying, and searching for a job in the field of history, it was finally within the realm of possibility that he would not only be working as a historian, but at the same location that brought him to New Mexico so many years ago, at a place he loved then and so often expressed a desire to return to! The dream became a reality when, on Friday, May 4th, he officially accepted their offer of employment as assistant director and head archivist of the museum, and, excluding the devastating conclusion to that day, our jubilation would have been complete.

We are, really, so humbled to see how blessed we are. I know that it is through faith alone that we have been granted this unbelievable opportunity. Darren said that he grinned during the entire drive to work this morning, his spirit light and mind free from the many burdens of his former job. While change is always, for me, somewhat scary, I know that this career change could not have come at a better time for Darren and we are both just so very thrilled as we embark on this new and exciting chapter of our lives. As we drove out of town Sunday morning on our way to White Sands, I snapped a few pictures from the highway of the Missile Range where he is now employed, and it appears as such a tranquil desert oasis at the foot of our majestic Organ Mountains. I pray that here, Darren will find peace and satisfaction in a job long sought and well deserved.


Blair said...

Wow! Congratulations, Darren! That's so encouraging to hear for those of us still in the early chapters of career plans...

mom-in-training said...

Congratulations to Darren and to your whole family on what sounds like an amazing opportunity! It's not always easy to find that perfect job, but it sounds like Darren found it. Thanks for sharing the great news and congratulations!!!

Mom to Four said...

We are so happy for Darren and for your whole family. I pray that this job will always be the answer to your prayers - even if it didn't bring you to Houston! :)))