“He told them: ‘Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt”.

Luke 9: 3

When I was 21, my life was unfolding before me, day by day. I was knocking on doors, making cold calls as an agent with Met Life, thinking I could convince people twice my age to buy life insurance. I augmented my meager commissions by collecting insurance premium on existing policies, driving down long country roads and meeting wonderful folks who had been paying fifty cents a month to MetLife for decades. No one wanted to mail in their premiums. There was a set time I was to make my rounds. One nice older lady had peach cobbler waiting for me when I visited, and she thought she had to keep paying premiums even after her husband as the insured had passed away. She just enjoyed having the MetLife person coming by each month to visit with her and didn’t want that to change.  

For two years, I struggled to meet sales goals, and found myself out many evenings meeting with couples, encouraging them to buy mortgage life insurance, etc. Being a newly wed too, with little earnings and a wife at home during the evenings at our Berckman Village apartment, trying to be supportive, something had to give with me.  

My sister offered a solution. She had been working as a Pharmacist at University Hospital in Augusta and mentioned to me that there was a Pharmacy Technician position open.  If I was interested, she would put in a good word with the Chief Pharmacist.  Compared to MetLife, the hospital offered steady income and a daytime work schedule.  I was excited, having worked for years after school in retail drug stores in south Augusta.  Maybe I could train to be a registered Pharmacist?  Never mind that I had a degree in History from Augusta College and was just terrible with Math and Chemistry.  Pharmacy looked like my career path, and off I went!  By the way, Stephanie and I were expecting our first child, and found that this pre-existing condition was not covered under the health plan at University.  How would we pay for the delivery?  Did I mention that they only paid me minimum wage?  Still with MetLife, my Dad rightfully questioned my judgment, mostly disappointed that I left his “Mother Met”.  I wondered too, but forged ahead, not knowing what was to come, but not worrying much either. 

Guess you could say we were living by our wits, and not much else (except grace, but we didn’t comprehend such a thing back then) yet we had this irrational confidence that all would be okay.  I don’t recall losing sleep, and there were always opportunities to eat dinner at Stephanie’s parents’ home. Stephanie’s father worked as a manager at Big Star groceries, coming by with a loaf of bread, a bottle of ketchup, or something else we might need.  We were faithful parishioners at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church, where tuition support would come in later years for our large family.  

We brought very little along with us for the journey, other than unrealized potential, and some stubborn determination, approaching each day expecting that God would provide for us.  I thought that we only needed to be faithful to our work in raising up our family, which we have done. Today, we are so blessed to witness our own children doing the same with their families, glorifying God in their lives and our grandchildren’s lives as well!  More to come…

My mother always reminded me of this Scripture:

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and all His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

Matthew 6: 33

Mom was right!    

Have a Blessed Day! 

Joe

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