January 15th is my work anniversary date. So this week I celebrated my 29th anniversary with Hallmark Cards. It’s hard to believe that much time has gone by. Where did it all go?
As I reflected upon the past three decades (close enough) this week, I thought about my story and how I risked starting a new life in the Wild West of Kansas. It is a story of my Heavenly Father guiding me to a new land, my earthly father providing tough love, and a boy willing to go on an adventure to become the man he was intended to be.
Let me take you back to the fall of 1989. I was in my last semester at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It was a time of great expectations as I would soon be finishing school in December and looking forward to a new job somewhere close to home. Home was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had grown up there my entire life and had no reason to believe that my career would be somewhere else. I loved that city and still do to this day.
The story starts with a letter from the Career Placement Office at Miami University. Hallmark Cards was coming to Oxford in October and they wanted interview me and 13 other candidates. I showed the letter to my three other roommates at the time and we all laughed. I said to them “What do they think I am an artist?” How naïve of me at the time to think that Hallmark only employed creative talent.
As I looked over the letter, I noticed that the second interview was in Kansas City, Missouri. I had never been out of the Eastern Time Zone in my life, so why not take the chance and interview. I might get a trip out west with the cowboys and Indians (a common thought back east).
The interview date came and went and by the grace of God, I was selected for a second interview in Kansas City during November. The trip to KC was wonderful. I interviewed in both the manufacturing facilities in Kansas City and Leavenworth. The people were wonderful and the company had values that I could be proud of.
In November, I received a job offer from Hallmark, but my place of employment would be in Topeka, Kansas. I didn’t even interview in Topeka. That seemed strange, but it really didn’t matter anyway. It was a fun trip, but I was going to find a job in Pittsburgh.
I then came home over the Thanksgiving holiday. My father and I were sitting in our living room and he asked me about the job offer from Hallmark in which I needed to give them an answer in the next few days. I said to him, “They want me to work in Topeka. I didn’t even interview there. Besides, I wouldn’t know a single soul in an 800 mile radius. There’s no chance I’m taking that job.”
My Dad then said “So if you do not take this job with Hallmark, where will you be living when you graduate in December.” I responded in a matter of fact tone “Well, I’ll be living right here with you Dad, looking for a job in Pittsburgh.” Then there was silence for a couple of minutes, almost an uncomfortable silence. My dad then spoke to me the words that changed the trajectory of my life. He said “I am sorry. You do not have a place to stay here. You have a great opportunity to work for a company with a good reputation. If you don’t take this job with Hallmark, you will need to get your own apartment. I suggest going on an adventure out west. Meet new people and learn a new culture. SeYou can always come back home after two or three years and have it on your resume.”
Well, that was a shock. It almost felt at the time like a kick in the gut. My mother was completely appalled listening in the kitchen. Her son was being thrown to the street by mean ol’ Dad. That tough love, however, quickly gave me a new perspective. I immediately had a new attitude. Well, maybe I could make this happen and go on an adventure.
What my Dad was really saying was “I believe in you. You have what it takes to go on this adventure. You will make new friends. You will succeed. You are the man.” It was tough love, but better yet, it was the blessing from my father that I always needed to hear. My Heavenly Father was speaking through my earthly father. I now know that these words were directly from the Lord above.
To this day, my Dad feels guilty about the direction he provided me on this day. Let’s get this straight. There is absolutely no reason for him to feel badly about this. It was exactly what I needed. It was the best thing he could have ever done for me. I didn’t need to be coddled. I needed to be called up as a man, to be the man the Lord intended me to be. He believed in me. That’s exactly what I needed to go West with the cowboys and Indians.
So I packed up everything I owned in my Honda Hatchback wagon and followed the sun to Topeka. My father gave me one spoon, one fork, and one knife for my new adventure and sent me on my way. It was time to grow up and be a man. I thank God often that my earthly father loved me so much that he would call me up in this manner.
At the time, I couldn’t see that my Heavenly Father was directing this adventure for my life, but it is so clear now that he had a hand in all of this. God was calling me, like Abraham, out of the land of Ur to go on a great adventure with Him. I am so thankful that he did. My life has been forever changed based on His leading.
I believe the Lord has blessed me abundantly for taking this risk. As a result, He has given me a beautiful and Godly wife, six children, great friends and a long-term career at Hallmark Cards. All glory goes to my Father in Heaven. He has given me many other adventures in my new home, but those are stories for another time.
So here are a few things that I’ve learned based upon God leading me to my new Promised Land:
- Our Lord has a mission, plan and calling for every one of us.
- This mission is a great adventure with Him.
- We need to be faithful in what we cannot see and obedient in his direction for our lives.
- This means giving up control of our lives to Him. Total surrender.
- We need to pray for this mission on a daily basis. Ask Him to expand your impact, leadership, and ministry for His Kingdom.
- If you do so, He will answer your prayers and you will experience the Glory of God in your life.
- Your adventure with Him is not about you. It is about His Kingdom and bringing it forth to others.
Take the risk. Go on an adventure with God. He will not disappoint!