Rebuttal to “10 Things HR Won’t Tell You About Your Resume”

A few days ago AOL posted an article entitled “10 Things HR Won’t Tell You about Your Resume.”  The article was condensed from a Reader’s Digest article (April 2011).  In it the following quote was attributed to former HR executive Cynthia Shapiro, “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.”  http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/04/05/10-things-hr-wont-tell-you-about-your-resume/

As the spouse of one of the 6.5 million long-term unemployed persons in America today, I was appalled.  Our nation is in the midst of one of the worst recessions we have ever faced.  Employment figures for March showed that 13.5 million Americans, or 8.8% of the work force, are currently unemployed.   They comprise individuals from all age groups, races, and socioeconomic classes. 

I would wager that most of these 13.5 million individuals are jobless through no fault of their own.  Many, like my husband, are highly educated.  Others got their training on the job.  Most of them worked hard and did their jobs well until the economy collapsed.  Some of them may have been passed over by potential employers, but many haven’t gotten jobs because there simply aren’t jobs in their fields at the moment.

 Haven’t Reader’s Digest and AOL heard that you don’t hit a man when he’s down?  13.5 million Americans are down on their luck now.  They don’t need HR experts to make them feel worse than they already do.  How about giving them a bit of encouragement?  Tips on how to stay busy and feel relevant while unemployed would have been much more helpful.

 I’m not an HR expert, but I have some tips that I’d like to share.

  1. Volunteer.  Volunteering will get you out of the house and interacting with people. You’ll be helping others and, in return, your self-esteem will get a boost. 
  2. Take a class.  Keep up with the latest advances in your field.
  3. Indulge your passion.  Most of us have leisure time activities we haven’t indulged in years because we’ve been too busy with work and life.  Unemployment has given you free time—take advantage of it to have some fun.
  4. Keep up with the news.  You need to stay in touch with what’s happening in our nation and the world.
  5. Get active in politics. Research political candidates whose ideas align with your own and support them, particularly those who might have good ideas for improving the economy and ending the recession.  If you can’t give financially, you can help out in many other ways.
  6. Catch up with family and old friends.  Write letters, email, or call.  You can’t use the excuse that you don’t have the time. 
  7. Cross some projects off your honey-do list.  We all have tasks we’ve been meaning to do sometime.  You’ve got the time; you might as well get busy.
  8. Experiment with new recipes.  One of the true blessings of having my husband out-of-work is that dinner is ready when I come home.

I’m praying that the economy improves soon and that Americans who want to work will find jobs.  In the meantime, I hope these tips help those of you who are out of work tostay busy and feel appreciated.

Do you have tips would you like to share?

You’re Blessed!

The Beatitudes from Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only than can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full,” you’ll find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world–your mind and heart–put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to god provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Not only that–count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens–give a cheer, even!–for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:3 – 12 (The Message)

May your life be truly blessed this week in all the ways that matter.  May you feel God’s presence in your moments of grief, disappointment, and weaknesses. May you know that God loves you far more than you can comprehend and that He will never leave or forsake you.  May you bask in His presence as you read His word and spend time with Him in prayer.

The world offers no peace, no contentment, no satisfaction compared to what God has offered mankind through His son Jesus.  If you haven’t taken the time to know Jesus and to make Him your Lord and Savior, please consider doing so today. Only when you do so will you be truly blessed.

Chasing the Ice Cream Truck

You know spring has arrived when the ice cream truck begins making its rounds.  One made its first appearance of the year in our neighborhood last Saturday.  We let it pass our house without stopping but several of our neighbors flagged the driver down to purchase his sugary confections.  Apparently, the warm, sunny day brought ice cream trucks out in full force across our community.  Our pastor noticed one in his neighborhood and made mention of it in his Sunday sermon.

The coming of the ice cream truck stirs excitement in the hearts of children and adults alike.  We hear the truck long before we see it.  The familiar music wafts through the air, and we run outside to see if the truck is headed towards us or if it is passing us by.  When I was a kid, we used to send one sibling outside to signal the driver to stop while the rest of us looked for change with which to make our purchases.  It didn’t matter that our freezer was always stocked with ice cream and probably a couple of boxes of frozen treats.  The coming of the ice cream man was an event no one wanted to miss.

We introduced our oldest son to the ice cream truck the summer he turned two. Chris was a bit scared by the loud music, but he was thrilled with the treat the ice cream man gave him.  We probably only made a couple of purchases from the ice cream truck that summer and fall, but it was enough to make an impression on our son.  At that time we lived in north central Florida where the ice cream season is quite long.  Yet, at least four or five months passed between the ice cream truck’s last appearance in the fall and its re-emergence in the spring.

I’ll never forgot the day in early March when we heard the sounds of the ice cream truck coming down the street.  Chris knew exactly what the music signaled, and he was determined to buy ice cream.  The twins were nearly a year old.  I had just settled them into their high chairs and given them teething biscuits to chew on.  This was the first time I had put them in their chairs without another adult being present.  I explained to Chris that we would not be able to buy ice cream this time, as I couldn’t leave the babies alone while I looked for money and went outside.  Chris seemed to understand and ran off to play in his room.  Or so I thought.

A strange noise coming from his room alerted me that all was not as it should be.  I ran down the hall in time to see him escape out his bedroom window.  Fortunately, the window was very low to the ground.  I ran back down the hall to the kitchen to check on the babies before dashing out the front door to find my two-year old chasing after the ice cream truck.  I caught him in the next door neighbor’s yard and carried him home as he kicked and cried.  All the while I was praying that nothing bad had happened to the twins.  I found them just as I had left them, happily chewing on their cookies and making as big a mess as possible.

As the lure of the ice cream man was more than my two-year old could resist and I didn’t want a repeat of the day’s events, I developed strategies to cope with the ice cream truck.  I tried to learn the ice cream man’s routine and timed errands to coincide with his visits to our neighborhood.  For those times when we would be home, I kept a bowl of change by the front door to simplify the ice cream buying process.  If the twins were awake, I would put them in the playpen while I went out with Chris to buy ice cream. On the occasions when they were in their high chairs, I positioned myself at the front door where I could keep one eye on the twins in the kitchen and the other on Chris as he ordered a “fudgy cicle” or whatever treat he wanted that day. The ice cream man usually managed to decipher Chris’ order, but on occasion I had to yell it out from my post at the front door. 

We managed to get through the summer with no more escapes out the bedroom window.  By the next summer, all three little boys anxiously watched for the ice cream truck out the front window as they stood on the back of the couch.  They would climb down and run to the front door as soon as they heard its familiar music.  The bowl of change was always close at hand. Those are memories I will cherish all my life.

What are your favorite memories of chasing the ice cream truck?

Daylight Savings Time, Spring, and My Top Ten Vacation Dreams

Daylight savings time arrived Sunday morning, bringing with it the promise of spring, longer days, and thoughts of vacation.  For many years I lived hundreds of miles from my family, and my greatest wish for a vacation was to come back to beautiful Virginia and visit my family.  I looked forward to spending time with my parents, my seven siblings, and my many nieces and nephews. 

Ten years ago we moved back to Virginia.  I get to see my parents every Sunday at church and often once or twice during the week.  Our children are grown and live nearby, and most of my siblings are within easy driving distance of us. I am so blessed to be able to see many of my siblings several times a year.  I love getting to watch their children grow up and participating in major events in their lives.

Another advantage of seeing family regularly is that vacation has now become an opportunity for Steve and I to go away by ourselves and experience new places.  We love the beach and warm weather.  Consequently, most of our vacations have been Caribbean cruises. This year, however, we will head in the opposite direction when we visit Alaska.  For many years, it has been my desire to see America’s wilderness frontier state, so this trip will be a dream come true.  We will definitely head for a warmer climate next year.

We are finding that our vacation appetite outweighs our vacation budget—monetarily and time wise.  We will never make it to all the great vacation places that we have read about.  So, I’ve decided to make a bucket list of the ten places I most want to visit.

1)      The Florida Keys—I can’t believe that we lived in Florida for twenty years and never visited the Keys.  It’s probably because Gainesville is 350 miles from Key West, and my heart was always longing for Virginia.

2)      The Grand Canyon—It would be a shame to live in America and never see one of God’s greatest creations.

3)      New England in the fall—We have close friends in Connecticut that we should visit.  I do believe we will get there in the not too distant future.

4)      Hawaii—Doesn’t everyone want to visit Hawaii?  When I was nine and my father was serving our nation in Vietnam, my parents considered having the rest of the family meet him in Hawaii when he took his R&R.  They decided against it, and Dad went to Sydney, Australia.  It would have been a great trip, but I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it like I would now.

5)      Sydney—I guess I’ve wanted to go Sydney ever since my father told us about his trip there.

6)      Jamaica—Jamaica was a port of call on our second cruise.  We had a wonderful time, and we’ve longed to go back and spend a week on this beautiful island.

7)      Seattle—I’ve had a warm spot in my heart for this city since I watched “Sleepless in Seattle.”  It’s still one of my favorite movies. 

8)      England—I think England is the ideal spot for one’s first visit to Europe. We speak their language, more or less, and many of Steve’s ancestors were British.  Until my father’s recent DNA test, I thought my ancestry was also British.  We haven’t discovered any British ancestors yet, but I still feel a bond to the nation that settled Virginia and most of the original colonies.

9)  St. Thomas—We have been there twice on cruises.  It is absolutely lovely. I would really enjoy spending a week on their many beautiful beaches.

10)  Alberta, Canada—I think my desire to visit Alberta stems from my I love of Neil Young’s version the song “Four Strong Winds.”  Alberta seems to embody the Canadian spirit, and I would love to see the Canadian Rockies.

So, that’s my top ten places I’d like to visit.  We may not get to all of them, but we’ll have a lot of fun trying.

 What are the places you would most like to visit?

There’s Nothing Shallow About Having Standards

I just read Kat Richter’s blog “Are Standards Shallow?”  (After I Quit My Day Job) She was responding to being accused of “getting shallow” for refusing to date any man who is not taller than she is when she’s wearing heels.  Kat will probably miss out on dating some pretty terrific guys because of her preference for tall men.  That’s her loss, and it’s her choice.

Having standards is not shallow.  Physical attributes are not standards, however. They are merely preferences.  Any woman seeking a date or a husband needs to have standards.  When I was dating I had absolute standards—my line in the sand that I would not cross.  In my thirty-plus years of ministering to teen-age girls I have encouraged them to decide what their standards are before they begin dating.

For me the absolute most important standard was to date only godly Christian men.  Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” It was important that my future husband share my Christian beliefs and values.  I was not willing to risk falling in love with the wrong man, so I avoided dating non-believers.  I met my future husband in high school. I knew he was nice, but I didn’t know if he was a Christian until I saw him at my church one Sunday.  Of course, church attendance doesn’t equate to salvation, but seeing him at church gave me an opening to ask him about his beliefs.  My interest increased greatly as I realized how similar his beliefs were to my own.

Family values were next in importance.  I love children, and I wanted a man who also loves children.  As the second of nine children, my youngest siblings are considerably younger than me.  I was able to witness how a potential future husband would treat and respond to children simply by taking him home to meet my family.  From his first visit, Steve was comfortable with my younger siblings.  He spent many a Saturday afternoon taking them fishing in the summer and building snowmen in the winter. During our senior year of college, Steve and I took my four youngest siblings to a movie. They kids ranged from 10 to 18 years younger than us.  The next day one of his professors asked him about his children.  I guess he thought we got a very early start on our family.

Another standard was that a future husband prioritize family over income.  I can still vividly remember sitting in traffic on the Falmouth Bridge and Steve telling me that he wanted his future wife to stay home and raise their children. Those words were music to my ears.  Although I was in college and planned to continue my education afterward, I still desired greatly to be home with my children when they were young.  Steve added that being home when they were in high school was even more important. 

We were fortunate to be able to make that happen.  Steve worked hard, and I got to stay home. When the boys went to school, I went with them.  For the next thirteen years, they were either enrolled in a Christian school where I taught or I was home schooling them.  I cried on the twins’ last day of school (as seniors they finished up a few weeks earlier than the rest of the students) wondering how I would be able to come to school without them the next day.  I am so thankful for the time I had with my boys.

Beyond those three standards, everything else was icing on the cake. It didn’t hurt that Steve is tall—a full 9 inches taller than me—and very handsome.  But, I would have loved him no matter what he looked like. 

I maintained my standards and married the love of my life.  And there’s nothing shallow about that.

DNA Test: $400; Discovering Your True Heritage: Priceless

I never had any doubts about my heritage growing up.  My mother’s German lineage was well documented.  Her family came to America in the 1600’s and settled in Pennsylvania. My grandmother lived in Souderton and her twin sister in Sellersville.  Their father was a Souder and their mother a Seller, both direct descendents of the towns’ founders.

We didn’t have any information about my father’s lineage, although with Whitman as our last name, we were clearly of English descent.  This belief was reinforced when Dad purchased a Whitman family crest.  The documentation informed us that Whitman is an old Anglo Saxon name meaning “white man” and that the first Whitmans to come to America arrived in New England in 1635. 

I always thought that Whitman was a pretty cool last name.  “Whitman.  Like the candy,” I used to tell people when they asked how to spell it.  My siblings and I felt a special pride in buying Whitman samplers for our mother on her birthday and Christmas.  Perhaps we were distantly related to the makers of our favorite candy.  In school, I studied the poetry of Walt Whitman and read about Marcus and Priscilla Whitman, pioneer missionaries to Oregon who were killed in the “Whitman Massacre” in 1847. 

Last fall my brother Andy suggested the siblings all chip in to pay for a DNA test on our father.  Andy has been researching our Whitman family genealogy for several years.  We had grown up with the impression that we were part Native American, and we were excited when Andy discovered that one of our great-grandmothers was a Saponi woman named Red Fern. 

Andy had connected with some distant cousins, also descendents of Red Fern, who knew of other Native American ancestors in their lineage.  Wanting to know if we had other Native American ancestors led Andy to suggest the DNA test.  He researched the various tests and decided upon the saliva method.  We all contributed and the test kit was ordered.  The results arrived shortly before Christmas.

We were surprised that it detected no Native American DNA, since Andy had confirmed Red Fern as a direct ancestor.  Andy explained that the test can only go back five generations, and Red Fern was born seven generations before our father.  We were even more surprised to learn that the test identified our father as being of Jewish descent.  Andy did some more research and discovered that the first “Whitman” in our lineage was actually Peter Weideman who immigrated to America in the early 1800’s.  Although he came here from Sweden, he was most likely German.  Upon arrival his name was Anglicized to Whitman.  So much for one day inheriting the Whitman Candies Company. 

It’s been said that America is a great melting pot where many different cultures merged.  My family is more a part of that tradition that we thought.  We now know that our ancestors included Germans, Jews, and a least one Native American. Ironically, we haven’t identified any ancestors of English descent. 

It’s a bit disconcerting to find out that you are not who you thought your were.  Of course, in all the ways that really matter, nothing has changed. I’m still a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and grandmother to some of the most wonderful people in the world. I do, however, feel more of a connection to the Israelites I read about in the Bible knowing that some of them are my distant ancestors. 

So, what’s in your DNA?  It might surprise you.

A Prayer for the Twenty-first Century Proverbs 31 Woman

Heavenly Father, I thank you for preserving me as a virtuous woman for my husband.  I ask that your hand would be with me today, helping me to live virtuously and honorably before you.  I thank you for the trust and respect my husband has in me.  May I honor and bless him through my words and actions each day.

As I go through my day, help me to do good to my husband.  Bring to my mind each day ways to lighten his load and make our home a true haven of rest for him.   Help me to remember the small “touches” that let him feel cherished and appreciated.

Please be with me as I work to make my home more comfortable.   Give me creative and economical ideas and help me to incorporate these ideas into my home.  Help me to stretch our financial resources to meet the needs of my family; let me not bring stress to my family by living beyond our means.

I ask for guidance as I plan meals and shop for food for my family.  Let me make meals that are nutritious, economical, and delicious.  Help me to view cooking as a creative challenge and a way to show love to my family, and not as one of many mundane chores.  This also applies to laundry, dishes, and house cleaning—let me view them not as labor, but as labors of love.

Father, help me to rise early and spend some time with you and my husband before we start our busy days.  Please help me to rest well each night and get up feeling refreshed so that I can be a pleasant companion in the morning.  It is important for my husband and I to share some time and eat breakfast together before we leave the refuge of our home for our work places.

As I work, inside or outside of my home, help me to work enthusiastically and energetically.  My family and my boss deserve my best each day.  Help me to make wise decisions that will benefit my employer at work and my family at home.

I know, Father, that I need to take care of myself each day—making time for daily devotions, exercise, and a little pampering—so that I may be strengthened and renewed to care for my family.  Help me to make these activities priorities and to incorporate them into my daily schedule.

Help me, Lord, to be aware of the needs of each member of my family and to work to meet those needs—whether it is a need of new clothing, help with school work, individual attention from Mom, or discipline and instruction.

Help me to use my time wisely each day, while still allowing time for fun.  Help me to limit time spent in activities that are not productive or that bring no real pleasure, such as watching television shows I’m not really interested in or playing computer games.   Help me to redeem this time to talk, read, or play games with my family. 

Father, your Word tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but good deeds done in your name will last through eternity.  Let me be particularly in tune to your voice encouraging me to write a letter, make a phone call, or say a kind word.  Help me to be generous to the poor and needy, to those who are lonely and need a friend, to a stranger who needs a smile and a kind word, and to friends who need encouragement. 

May I look to you each day, Lord, for wisdom to guide me through the day, and for the strength to be the woman you want me to be, so that my husband and children will feel loved and blessed.  Thank you, Father.