by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2014
I turned in my keys this past week at the financial advisory firm where I have been employed part-time since January 2013. It was somewhat sad for me, because I enjoyed working with and supporting such good people and God had so divinely orchestrated how I had come to have the job in the first place. And yet, I also had felt led to pray for months that God would send the right person to take my place, because even before the cancer, I knew eventually I would be leaving. The financial advisor for whom I worked, Rob, and I had even discussed where he would look to find another assistant when it was time for me to go.
He had made a few contacts, but they had not panned out. When I originally had contacted him and his wife, Carolyn, in December 2012 in response to their ad which the Lord had brought to my attention, he had been searching for a while for the right assistant with almost no viable (qualified) candidates amongst the plethora of ad responses. He really needed someone with industry experience (which would include understanding of the terminology and systems) and a heart for his particular practice style (with strong ethics and personalized customer care) in a quiet office environment.
On Tuesday, September 16th following the ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist initial appointment and 2nd post operation appointment with the surgeon I forwarded Rob and Carolyn a detailed update which explained why I still could not come back to work. In it I also felt led very specifically to release them to find someone else if they did not want to wait. I knew Rob’s business. I knew how essential it was to have an assistant if he was going to get his job done as a financial advisor! So I wrote the following at the end of my report:
“If you and Carolyn decide it is no longer workable for you to wait for what now looks like could be as long as mid to late October and that you need to implement other sales support, I understand that as well. It is troubling to me, to have left the two of you unexpectedly in the lurch like this.”
When I had left the office at end of day August 11th after my final day of work before the August 13th surgery, I had had only one fleeting inkling I would not be returning to work there—ever. As I was packing up to go that Monday afternoon, the Lord whispered “take the mug with you”. On the office desk I shared with Rob’s wife, Carolyn, I kept a mug for periodic cups of tea. The mug had been a birthday gift one year from my friend, Lori Duffy. However, the thought to take the mug with me had been so fleeting, I had neglected to grab hold of it and had walked out the door forgetting to take the mug with me.
I fully expected to be back at work by the beginning of September. At my pre-op appointment, I had asked the surgeon precisely this question. How long would recovery be—until one could resume normal activity? He had told me 2 weeks. Okay then. This seemed short, but he must know. So that is what I had arranged with Rob and Carolyn. Then at the first post-op appointment the recovery time had expanded to four to six weeks for the body to recover. Yes, in two weeks one was no longer as couch-bound, but recovery was indeed longer (which only made sense).
However, in all the pre-op preparations, though there had been mention of the risk of losing the ability to sing or speak completely, no mention was made of the potential lengthier recovery period for vocal ability. First, when I saw the ENT specialist and had my second post-op appointments back to back in mid-September, had both surgeon and ENT finally confirmed it was normal to still have pain when speaking at this point and that vocal recovery could take any number of months. Each person was different. This was in addition to the pending at-some-soon-to-come-but-as-yet-undefined point there would need to be time set aside for the radioactive iodine treatment(s) to be completed to kill any residual cancer cells in the thyroid area of the neck.
The indeterminate length of time for vocal recovery added onto the still pending further cancer treatment changed everything and caused the Lord’s word to me from late May or early June that there was something coming which would cause me to be unable to work full-time for a while, to be more clear. Right after diagnosis my dear friend, Amy Knight, had given me a word from the Lord, that this was to be a special season where instead of forging ahead step by step as the Lord instructed, walking with Him by my side, I was to be at rest with my head on His shoulder, not forging ahead, but letting Him go ahead and do the work while I simply remained at rest in Him. As the surgery approached already in my heart I felt the confirmation that the Lord through this was giving me a divine pause. This would be for His purposes. He would take me during the quiet without so much of the everyday rushing around into a deeper understanding of Him and He would give me time to write more of Him for others, so that more would come to know Him as God (Savior and Lord of all).
After the first 2 weeks of recovery, when the surgeon’s initial answer to my question meant I should have been ready to return to work, I was neither ready physically, vocally or emotionally. I was just beginning to be upright almost all day and able to amble around. It didn’t feel as if the season of “divine pause” was supposed to be over yet. The surgery was over but it did not feel as if there had been enough time for it to be used yet in the way He had laid on my heart.
Indeed I still had to remain removed from most activities including work. And now He began to do the things in my heart and through enabling more writing which I had sensed were the purposes of this season beyond eradicating cancer. His peace overcame me. He was orchestrating the recovery. He was even delaying vocal improvement and removal of pain in order to slow me down. He wanted this time with me. I wanted it with Him and He had ordained it.
Our Lord was doing a bit of re-arranging. It was the time for new seasons for a few of us.
Rob responded to my September 16th email the following day. It was just as the Lord had been impressing upon me. Rob embraced the confirmation he might need to find someone new, because he needed the support. A financial advisor cannot study client finances and make good, clear recommendations nor monitor economic and client conditions for updates when time is consumed with office administrative functions. However, when there is no administrative support, the advisor must cover these activities first (which eliminates the advisor’s ability to do the actual advisory job). He asked me to stay in touch. This blessed me because I have enjoyed my affiliation with the practice and the friendship with Rob and Carolyn. I would miss being a part of the practice and each other’s lives.
I received Rob’s September 17th response while at our El Dorado County home where there is as yet no internet. Thus all email communication must be typed into my cell phone which can be time-consuming and cumbersome—two fingers at a time, with a well-intended auto-correct function which continually corrects the words I type on purpose to other words which can completely change the meaning of that which is being communicated. For these reasons though I wanted to send Rob a prompt response re-iterating I understood and wishing him all the best, I delayed. The plan was to send an email reply when I returned to where I had internet availability and could reply via laptop. However, I kept getting distracted from writing and by Saturday or Sunday, the Lord was letting me know that instead of just an email He wanted me to send a dish filled with little plants which would not die immediately, but continue to grow along with a card of well-wishes for my response. I knew exactly which florist business I was to patronize and looked for opportunities all weekend to drop by. I wanted the delivery for Monday! I wanted Rob to know I appreciated his email and understood and supported his decision to look for other help.
However, it was very late Tuesday morning, September 23rd before I realized I could order the planter online from this florist because dropping by was not working. I was quite disappointed to see that the earliest possible delivery was Wednesday. This meant almost a week from the date of his email until Rob had my response. This seemed horribly unprofessional and rude. Oh well, this was what the Lord was leading me to do at the florist business with whom He had led me to place the order. So many times in the past there had always been a reason (and a good one) for His timing. Invariably I wanted things done faster than He enabled, and yet, as God (duh!) His timing was always perfect. I placed the order and requested a card be sent. I asked the Lord what to request written on the card. The following is how I felt led. It was concise enough to fit and seemed to say it all.
Rob & Carolyn, thank you for the privilege of being part of your God-ordained practice. I am praying for the Lord’s just-right person to assist further. God bless you! Elizabeth
I had no idea that in that week while I was silent, Rob and Carolyn had already begun their search for a new assistant. To both their surprise, Carolyn had run across a resume for a woman with 10 years’ experience supporting an independent financial advisor in a similar office set up. She was even familiar with the same software Rob used in his practice. Contact was made and an interview scheduled. When Monica came in Carolyn interviewed her at length and then Rob interviewed her too. She had been working for an advisor who had sold his business. The advisor who took over ran it in a different style which was causing clients to leave, resulting in an income cut. She also found the style difference so great that she was not comfortable working with the new advisor. She was searching for a new, “safe” place (with a style match in how the advisor worked with his or her clients) where she could put her skills to work and truly make a difference caring for clients and providing critical administrative support to an advisor as she was accustomed (and trained!) to do.
This is exactly what Rob needed! Both he and Carolyn sensed Monica might be who God wanted. In fact she seemed almost as if sent by God because she seemed such an unbelievably perfect fit. Initially, they had planned to go through quite a screening process to make sure they had the right person. However, they both had God’s peace that she was the one, so Rob called Monica on Wednesday, September 24th and made her an offer to work full-time at the practice. This was a big commitment. I had been part-time. But Rob and Carolyn were stepping out in faith in the way they truly believed God was leading. Monica accepted the offer and Rob hung up the phone.
Within seconds (not even one minute had passed) there was a florist standing in the foyer of the practice with a planter to deliver. No one had ever sent Rob anything before, so he thought the delivery must be for one of the other businesses in the building. Nope. Carolyn told him the delivery was for him. Rob couldn’t imagine who it could be from. He opened and read the card. It was the planter I had sent. The following words on the card jumped out at him, “I am praying for the Lord’s just-right person to assist further.” He was stunned and overcome. Both he and Carolyn were. God had timed the arrival of the planter with the message for which He had given me the words, to be at the precise moment He knew would confirm and make clear that hiring Monica had been the right thing to do because it was indeed His plan. It was His perfect will for all of us, for through it He also confirmed for me, that my season working there was truly done.
What blessing! What care from our Lord, that He would delay the sending of the planter with the message, so that He could orchestrate its perfect arrival. Yes, our Lord is in what we define as big, but He is also in what we misinterpret as small. He cares about it all because He always cares for all of us. Amen? Amen!
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email email@example.com or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org