Cheerful "BAM"blings

Of What's-Her-Face

Archive for March, 2017

Seven Things I Learned Working at Christian Care Ministry

A few years ago when I quit McDonald’s, I wrote a blog about 5 things I learned while I was working there. So now that I’m no longer working at CCM, I figured it would be appropriate to do the same type of blog for that job!

To sum it up, CCM is a healthcare sharing ministry for Christians that has a large location in Melbourne, Florida, a smaller location in Illinois and recently opened up one in Colorado. Our Illinois department basically dealt with incoming bills by getting them to the right department and then processing them, which required a lot of focus with minimal distractions. Many employees of CCM are remote employees and work from their own homes.

I first started working at Christian Care as a temp in June 2014; I became the main mail sorter and worked at that for 9 months. In March of 2015, I got hired on full-time and started doing more computer work. In October of 2016 I transitioned to working from home, which I loved… but the work I knew how to do was growing scarce, and my attempt to learn one of the more complicated tasks proved to be much harder than I expected. So they switched me to a seasonal department in December, and when the work ran out in January I was let go.

So after my total of 2 years and 7 months working there, here are 8 things I learned in the office!

  1. The Importance of Community
    It was understood that having many remote employees meant that it was probably going to be harder for them to feel connected to the rest of the workers. Even our smaller office felt out of touch from the larger location at times. So the leaders tried to find ways for everyone to stay connected as a community in spite of the distance!

    – We gathered for chapel every Thursday and had devos every Tuesday
    – We had food and fellowship day once a month and all our remote area employees commuted in
    – There were email groups for prayers and praises
    – There were walking, baking and decorating contests throughout the year
    – Christmas brought Secret Santas and “Random Act of Kindness” challenges to get to know employees you didn’t know well
    – Skype, videos, pictures, conference calls and emails were utilized to bring everyone together at various times

    I loved the creativity that led my co-workers and I to make friends with each other and with those that we worked with on the other side of the country. Since the work was often very isolating, it was great to have so many technological and face-to-face outlets for making connections.

  1. How to Use the Right Hand Keypad
    One of the most practical things I learned while working at CCM was how to use the numeric keypad on the side of my keyboard. I had never had a need to type so many numbers before, and was not particularly fast at the keys on the top of the alphabet. So with the speedy data entry I needed to complete, I was forced to learn how to use the numbers on the side… and it wasn’t long before I was an expert at typing away with phone numbers, socials and certification numbers!

  1. Ask Questions
    My learning style is what I’m gonna call “instructional hands on with a guide”; I like being told what to do and then trying to do it while somebody watches me to make sure I’m doing it right. Attention to detail was very important in my work, so in order to learn exactly what I needed to do, it was important that I was able to ask questions.

    If you give me the ability to do written communication, I’ve realized that I can be a bit overwhelming with how long and rambly my emails/texts/Facebook messages are. I’m sure I annoyed my supervisors several times with how much I pestered them with questions until I learned how to condense and figure things out on my own. 🙂 But they were very patient, and the “make sure you know that you’re doing it right” mentality served me well. There were times when I had to figure things out based on my own expertise, but knowing when to ask questions and being willing to do the work to get the answers I needed saved me from a lot of mistakes.

  1. I Enjoy Simplistic Work
    As someone who has never had a dream job or a career plan, it’s nice to find something I like to do, and there were 3 distinct times where I had the kind of work that made me say “I enjoy doing this every day”.

    The first was the mail table. I liked physically handling the mail, I liked the organization of it, I liked having to rush to get it done and the satisfaction of getting through a Monday; I liked gaining enough of an expertise on it that I got to train the newbies; I liked knowing the answer to where a document went, and having a partner to sit next to and chat with.

    After that, I moved to the computer and became in charge of multiple tasks: indexing documents, sorting out the faxed documents, printing medical CDs, logging in received checks, and being the back-up mail person. Occasionally having so many responsibilities was a little stressful because I have a tendency to procrastinate, but I also loved the variety of jobs and the satisfaction of completing all of it.

    Lastly, I learned the task of “keying in RXs”, which was processing prescription costs. They were more complex than indexing, but their consistency made it easy to learn the ropes; they were interesting enough to not be monotonous, but routine enough that I could listen to music and still focus on them.

    Those 3 different phases of my work were times that I really enjoyed. I like the feeling of doing something that I know really way, and I like simplistic organizational tasks. So hopefully in the future I can find jobs that let me do the same kinds of things!

  1. My Handwriting Is Really Recognizable
    Since I did mail I had things that I wrote on, so people who did mail alongside me caught onto what my handwriting looks like. Which meant that, during our Secret Santa’s, I had to try and disguise my handwriting on cards and such by writing in different fonts or using my right hand.  But even when I did that, there were people who could always recognize that it was mine. So whether that means that they have good eyes for handwriting or that my writing is so distinctly “me” (and if it’s the former whether it’s a compliment or not), I am not sure. But I will have to come up with some new tricks in case this type of thing happens in the future. *starts collecting magazines and newspapers for cutting out words*

  1. Take The Initiative
    Being in the new job, it took me a while to feel the freedom to jump in with chitchat or share during devos without being specifically addressed. So when I started to feel myself getting closer with my co-workers and finding my place in the group settings, I wanted to get into the practice of taking the initiative.

    I’ve been working on improving my friendships the last few years, and “initiative” is one thing I’ve been focusing on. So I tried to send people emails to thank them if they said or did something encouraging. I tried to tell people what I appreciated about them when I thought of it. If I had an idea to make another person laugh, I tried to follow through on it. I am not always the best at conversing with people I don’t know super well, but remembering that I was half of the relationship helped my perspective. I made some great friends at CCM, mostly because they are super nice people and take the initiative themselves… but I am glad that I put the effort in that I did because I know we’ll still get together as friends even though we’re no longer co-workers.

  1. Stop Being Afraid
    Another thing I was focusing on the last few years was to not NOT do something because I was afraid. Not that I had to do everything that was scary, but if fear was the only thing holding me back, I had to find another reason or go through with it. I didn’t live by that entirely (there are lots of things I wish I had done or need to work on) but it did help me a couple of times. I had several opportunities to lead activities and teams during my time at CCM, and I enjoyed jumping into those even though it was a little intimidating.

    The thing I learn about not being afraid is that it doesn’t mean whatever I do is going to be perfect; being courageous doesn’t always pay off with a flawless performance or without being rejected. But taking that step and being willing to accept the outcome of the risk is something I can always learn to be better at. It’s something I’m going to keep in mind in the future, because even when I audition for plays or jump into a temporary job offered to me or initiate a conversation with someone who intimidates me, being willing to do it even if I make mistakes will help me become more courageous anyway. And that’s worth it.

The Story of Our Awesome House

One day as I was sitting at home in my kitchen in the year 2014, Elizabeth came up to me and said, “Hey you and I both have jobs, cars and are adults who are interested in independence… wanna buy a house together?” and I said, “Yes!”

I’m paraphrasing (obviously I don’t remember the exact conversation… it was over two years ago!) but that’s pretty much how this journey began. We both decided that we were ready to think about moving out… we knew that going in together would be cheaper, easier and less scary… and we had confidence that we could live in the same house without trying to kill each other! So thus began….

We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to get a house instead of an apartment. Neither of us liked the idea of spending several hundred dollars every month that never went towards anything. With a house we could do all of our own decorating and remodeling, we would be making an investment that would return our money in the long run, and if we got one that was big enough we could consider getting a roommate to help cover the costs. And since our parents let us continue living at home until things were settled, we had the time to save up for it.

Step 1.) We built up credit! We both got credit cards and made sure we paid off our car insurance and phone bills monthly. We needed at least a year’s worth of multiple payments for each of us in order to get a loan.

Step 2.) Save up for a deposit! I told my work friends that I wanted to save up $10,000 to cover deposits and immediate move-in expenses by the time we were ready to buy a house.

For almost two years we saved money, spent money, paid it off, and talked for many hours about all of our house plans. Finally, when Elizabeth was home from Haiti and we were all set financially, we jumped into…

In the spring of 2016, after getting an approval for a loan from the bank, we went to Re/Max Realty and met with Tim McCaslin to discuss our house-hunting plans.

We wanted a 3-bedroom house that was $85,000 or less; we wanted large living spaces that could comfortably seat a lot of people; we needed a long room that Elizabeth could use as a photography studio, and I needed a workspace as well; we also wanted two bathrooms, a garage, and a decent sized kitchen. We needed it to be fairly live-in ready, but we were okay with doing some cosmetic work (painting, flooring, that kind of thing).

Elizabeth, my mom, Tim and I looked at dozens of houses. We would give nicknames to each house that had potential, and list the pros and cons for each one. There were some houses that were instantly given a no, but we had a few favorites that we considered:

The Mexican House- A stucco house that kept getting cheaper but had a tiny kitchen and not quite the living room openness we hoped for.

The Kilgore House- A nice house in a good location that was right at the very top of our budget.

Elizabeth’s Favorite- Our favorite from our first round of online shopping that had large living rooms, but only one bathroom and tiny bedrooms.

The Metal House- This house was all metal on the upper level with a nice, hardwood basement; it was like living in a filing cabinet on top of a mahogany dresser. In another life we might’ve bought it and decked the top floor out in Star Trek and nerd décor, but the style was just a bit too bizarre for us.

The Auction House- This was a nice tri-level that we almost bought, but it was being auctioned off online and we couldn’t coordinate that with the bank.

We found a lot of “almost” and “if only” houses, but no “Yyyyes!” houses. But finally, one day, all that changed…

When we walked into the house owned by HUD for the first time, Elizabeth and I loved how large the living room was. The main floor had a large living space with a side nook, which connected to a long carpeted room with a fireplace, which connected to a long “conservatory” room with tall windows, which connected back to the living room! I literally ran in a circle around the whole area, falling in love with the unique but appealing setup. It also had 3 decent sized bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large back porch, a big kitchen, and a mostly finished basement that had a closed-in room that was just perfect for Elizabeth’s studio!

Walking out of this house, Elizabeth and I both knew that this was one that we could really see ourselves living in. This was the first one that I was emotionally excited about; we didn’t really even nickname the house, we just started calling it by its address.

Once we knew this was the one we wanted, we got a second opinion and figured out the estimated cost up front for necessary repairs. Knowing that we could make it work, we got ready to go in that Saturday and put a bid on it… but on Friday I got a text that somebody else had put in an offer, and the offer had been accepted.

We were disappointed, but Elizabeth and I decided to pray and wait for two weeks, waiting to see if maybe, maybe, the deal would fall through and the house would be up for sale again.

More than two weeks went by, and we looked at a few other homes, but this house still said “pending” online. So we kept waiting.

One day at my work we were having our Tuesday devotionals and the discussion was about miracles. During the whole discussion I was thinking about how THIS was the house we really wanted and I was silently praying that God would do a miracle and work it out. And when I got back to my desk, I had a text from Tim: “Guess what, the HUD house is back on the market; the buyer financing must have fallen through”.

I texted my sister and mom immediately! We raced to his office as soon as we were off of work and put our bid in. A second night of waiting and adjusting our bid, and two days later they had accepted our offer!

We then endured approximately a month of just waiting on paperwork to go back and forth… but finally, finally, FINALLY we got together with Tim and a representative of HUD on October 27th of 2016, signed a million papers, and OFFICIALLY BECAME HOME-OWNERS!

Elizabeth and I each excitedly posted a Facebook status at the same time with our great news, and we received our housekeys the next day. Immediately we started calling businesses for repairs and services that needed to be done in the house, and we went into full-blown remodeling mode.

We walked through the house and talked about what we wanted to paint, where we wanted to carpet, and what each room would be used for. Elizabeth, who has a great natural knack for style, came up with most of the ideas for how the rooms should look, and together we put our house together in our head.

Over the course of the next month we had three painting parties, took a trip out to IKEA for lamps and chairs, cleaned some carpets, replaced others, moved furniture from my old office that was closing down to our new house, had various plumbing and lighting appointments, bought a stove, and made CONSTANT lists. Well, at least I did; I actually had an official “New House Notebook” where I kept all the lists of our To-Dos, To-Buys, appointments and ideas.

On a fun side note, as we started to name the rooms we ended up with a Conservatory, a Study and a Lounge. Realizing that these are all rooms in the board game Clue, we tried to find ways to put the rest of the room names in our house: Kitchen, Dining Room, Billiard Room, Ballroom, Hall and Library. On top of that, we found a way to decoratively hide representations of each Clue weapon in our house: the Revolver, the Rope, the Lead Pipe, the Candlestick, the Knife and the Wrench. So if you ever visit our house, see if you can find all of them!

On Dec 3rd we had our super fun Housewarming Party, and on Dec 8th we officially moved into our home. We’ve been living here for almost 3 months now, and we love it. We’ve got several home renovation projects to look forward to this year, and we are anxious for the weather to get warm again so we can start working outside.

Late note added: about 2 months after we moved in, I got let go from my full-time job, and I have been hunting for another one ever since. I’ve had some moments of panic, yeah… but I saw God so clearly working with Elizabeth and me in this house-buying process that I know He’s going to take care of this financial aspect and provide the right job at the right time. This whole last year has been a good reminder of His faithfulness, so I continue to trust Him in my renewed season of job-hunting.

Thank you so much to everyone who was involved in this lengthily-blogged-about process! We look forward to hosting you in our home for years to come!