Tag Archives: The Plan

Retirement Day

Friday March 4 is here and that means I am officially retired.  That does not mean I am no longer working. It means after 15 years I am shifting gears. In my previous post I described an emotional journey that led to my decision to announce my retirement.  While this was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make, I am excited about the opportunities I will face.

Fifteen years ago I was unemployed and not sure what I was going to do next. I did a lot of soul searching and praying asking God to speak to me in a clear and precise voice.  He did that through a book I bought because I liked the title.  The book? What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles.  This book is a practical guide for finding meaningful work and more importantly how to find your passion.  The appendix of the book put a spiritual spin on the process.  This is where God spoke to me loud and clear. Below are the words Robert Bolles wrote.

  1. Your first Mission here on Earth is one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and it is to seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived. The Missioner before the Mission, is the rule. In religious language, your Mission here is: to know God, and enjoy Him forever, and to see His hand in all His works.
  2. Second, once you have begun doing that in an earnest way, your second Mission on Earth is also one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is share: and that is, to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.
  3. Third, once you have begun doing that in a serious way, your third Mission here on Earth is one that is uniquely yours, and that is:
    • To exercise the Talent that you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use,
    • In the place(s) or setting(s) that God caused to appeal to you the most,
    • And for those purposes that God most needs to have done in the world.

Once God spoke, and I acknowledge His message, I found a job listing in the local newspaper advertising for a computer trainer.  I submitted my resume believing I could do the job even though I had no experience as a  computer trainer.  In fact, I had no experience as an educator other than teaching Bible study lessons to adults in my church. I got the job teaching computer classes at Driscoll Children’s Hospital and the rest, as they say, was history.

For the past 15 years, my Modus Operandi has been a paraphrase of Mr. Bolle’s words above.

  1. Glorify God in all you do, think, and say (1 Cor 10:31)
  2. Pay attention to your shadow for this is what follows you, it is what you leave behind; hopefully God’s goodness and love. (Ps 23)
  3. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)
While I am sad to leave many wonderful and dear friends, I am excited about retirement. I am more certain today that this is all in God’s plan for me. Monday, March 6th begins a new adventure.
I leave you with the following quote from the Charles M. Schultz.
“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”
Perhaps it time for some of you to learn to shift gears.
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Emotional Journey

My wife and I decided to spend New Year’s weekend with her family in San Antonio. During the weekend, I took a look at my year end retirement plan. I was pleased to see that my 403b had done better than expected. So much better that I thought I would surprise my family with an announcement. Sitting out on the deck with the cold north wind blowing down on us, I announced that I feel confident that I can move my planned retirement date from 2012 to mid 2011. This, of course, was met with excitement from Carol and others. Little did I know that this would also be the start of an emotional journey none like I’ve ever experienced. You see, God also heard my announcement so he began speaking a little stronger to me.

Monday Jan 3

I read a devotional email from John Eldridge ministries. I felt the title “An Adventure Begins” was a message to me directly from God. The article said, “An adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose. He’s right about that, you admit. Alice wasn’t looking for Wonderland when she fell through the looking glass. Come to think of it, the four children just stumbled into Narnia through the back of the wardrobe.” This goes along with the main premise of Rick Warrens Purpose Driven ministry; God made me for a purpose, God made me for His purpose.
That evening, I read an entry from an RV dreamer (Terry Miller from Oklahoma) on RV-Dreams Forum . He announced that he had started a blog on Jan 1. So I went to his blog Ingoring The Barking Dogs to take a look. On the opening page of his blog, he wrote, “It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn’t see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives. “ God spoke to me and said very clearly, “Jerry, I have given you a pioneering spirit, a dream and a passion. I cannot guide you on the journey unless you are willing to take the first step.

Tuesday Jan 4

Tuesday’s devotional from John Eldridge, “A Passionate Voice Within”, said “Some years into our spiritual journey, after the waves of anticipation that mark the beginning of any pilgrimage have begun to ebb into life’s middle years of service and busyness, a voice speaks to us in the midst of all we are doing. There is something missing in all of this, it suggests. There is something more. “
The devotional ended with, “Sometime later, the voice in our heart dares to speak to us again, more insistently this time. Listen to me-there is something missing in all this. You long to be in a love affair, an adventure. You were made for something more. You know it.“

Wednesday Jan 5

Wednesday’s devotional from John Eldridge, “A Distant Whisper”, discussed that most Christians do not have the advantage of a mentor like Samuel had in Eli. We may hear the voice of God early in the morning but by the time we start our day, the screaming activities of our daily grind silence the voice – and we miss God’s message. We need to be like Samuel and heed the message. Yes, Lord, I know.

Monday Jan 10

I took Monday off because I had several personal appointments that needed tending. I enjoyed the relaxing day and got everything done. I jokingly called it a day to practice retirement.

Wednesday Jan 12

After I got to my office on Wednesday, I felt like God had spoken to me in clear messages daily only I was not listening to His message. When one of my dear friends came into my office, I felt a need to explain all that had happened since the beginning of the year. My friend listened with a sincere and understanding heart. After a long chat, I had a clear vision of what I had to do. I ended our conversation saying, “I know what I need to do.” That afternoon, I read a blog from another friend Alene Snodgrass from Corpus Christi. Her blog title “Don’t Miss the Miracles” was a complete message in itself. I knew without questions that God is up to something and I am part of that something.
Wednesday evening after dinner, I shared this emotional journey with my wife and daughter. There were tears of joy as I shared how God had been speaking to me by various means. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Monday Jan 17

When I got to my office on Monday, I wrote a memo to my boss that simply said I had decided to retire from Driscoll Children’s Hospital effective March 4, 2011. Just like that, in a simple message, I announced that it was time to close one chapter and begin a new one. The Prince of Peace brought me comfort. I felt Him touch my heart and say, “Now I can do in you what I’ve planned from the beginning.”

Next Puzzle Piece

DW has announced her retirement date 12/30/10. Yikes! That is just 38 days away. That we are one step closer to achieving our dream of traveling this great country. So what is she going to do while waiting for me? Well for starters, she will be in charge of our downsizing project. We have “stuff” that we will no longer need once we hit the road. I am certain that she will be an expert on using Craig’s List.

While that is exciting news, it finally hit me that our income is going to drop. Then in less 12 additional months it will drop again when I retire. Somewhere in all of this we have a house to sell along with a Mustang convertible and Suburban, plus a lot of stuff to dump.  Then we have to purchase a truck and 5th wheel RV to live in and still end up debt free.  That is a tall order. So I did what I normally do, I got nervous.

I accidentally stumbled on to a cool RV Blog http://www.rvthereyet.org/. As I started reading this blog I discovered that Gary and Stephanie have been traveling with SOWERS (Servant On Wheels Ever Ready). I had considered this group but just was not sure how this would work out.  So I sent Stephanie a comment on the blog inquiring about their experience with this group.  A few days later I read her response just before I left my office. I was overcome with such a deep since of a God’s presence that had a simple message for me. God spoke is a small voice that said “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jer 29.11). Tears welled up in my eyes. How could I possible be nervous about embarking on a journey that God has prepared for me?

All I can say is, “Thank you Stephanie, for being a vessel that God would use to speak to me. I look forward to meeting you and Gary as we travel that road.”.  For the rest of you, I encourage you to read about Gary and Stephanie on their blog. They have been doing this for 6 years now and have a fantastic story to tell.

The Missing Link

God wants us to initiate His actions. Really? Yep, really. Read on.

God spoke to Joshua about crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 1). Not asking God how this will happen Joshua focused on the task at hand and led the priests and people to do exactly what God required. There were no discussions about how this was going to happen; only a statement that this is what we are going to do. Joshua did not question God, he encourage the priest and people. Joshua 3:14-16 tells the rest of the story. The waters of the Jordon River parted when the soles of the priest’s feet touched the water. God facilitated the action but not until Joshua took action first.

God had been speaking to me about retirement for some time now. I may not have been as eager or quick to respond as Joshua did; but I finally agreed with God and on May 15th I set a date.;(You can read about that here – Date Is Set In Jello). I had many questions but I was trusting God to provide answers. On July 9th, I received an email from the coordinator of customized training at Del Mar College. He asked if I would be interested in teaching a year long fundamental electronics course to a group of ATT employees. The modules include Math for Electronics, DC and AC Electronics, Solid State and Digital Fundamentals, Computer and Telecommunications. WOW, that’s interesting. How could I possible teach all of that? You would think a teacher should know something about the subjects they’re teaching.

This 330 hour course is based on my entire working career. At age 19, I joined the Army unsure of what I wanted to do in my life.  After 3 years I completed a year long telecommunication course (very similar to what I will be teaching) and spent the next 6 years in telephone communication maintenance and operations. After the military, I spent 7 years in electronic technical support and completed my college degree. After college, I spent 13 years in software engineering. Then a major shift in careers led me into corporate education where I’ve spent the last 14 years as a professional educator. God has done an amazing thing here. He has qualified me for this teaching assignment by giving me 44 years of training and experience. Pretty cool!

So what is the missing link? Well, the big question on my retirement decision has always been, how can I do this? How can I afford to transition? This adjunct position answers that question. God is good!

The Date

Back in May, I announced the date was set in jello. April 15th 2012 seems like a long way off. So, we’ve been thinking, maybe that is too far away. Why not move it up by 12 months or so? Why not set the date for April 15th 2011?

We have a pretty full job list of things we want to do around the house to make it more sellable in this dismal market. You know, things like update the kitchen, add curb appeal, refinish the authentic wood floor (no laminate in my house) and of course paint. I don’t know how we can get all that done between now and 2012. Most of our energy is spent on day jobs. If we retire 12 month earlier, we can get everything done and hit the road earlier. Seems to make sense to me.

So, can we afford to retire? A better question would be why can’t we afford to retire? This reminds me of a conversation my DW and I had in 1969. Then we asked, “Can we afford to have children?” We were told by some dear friends, if we waited until we could afford to have children, we never would. We now have two grown children and two grandchildren. So I am rethink the strategy on retirement. It is time to figure out how to make it work so we can retire early in 2011.

I’ll keep you posted.