Climbing the ladder.
That is exactly where I was 30 years ago. I was working at Union Planters National Bank where I had been for 5 years. They had graciously paid my tuition to State Tech were I earned an Associate’s Degree in Banking and Finance. I had my life planned out. I was going to work my way up the ladder. But, for some reason, I kept finding myself hitting dead ends.
I was moved from department to department. I was promised one promotion after another. I even had a position created for me because they did not want to see me leave. I worked with the best people. I even worked with a man named Jerry Erwin. Yes, my future father-in-law (which I did not know at the time).
In the summer of 1988 at age 23, my mother said to me, if you do not stop living the way you are living, you will need to find another place to live. Well, talking about ruffling feathers. I wasn’t doing anything wrong except struggling to find my independence. A couple of days later, my mother said to me that she had prayed about it and told me that I could stay at home. I didn’t know what had changed. She just said she had prayed.
Gradually, Union Planters was finding less and less work for me to do. I was not happy in my job and my spiritual life was in the tank. My personal life wasn’t too bad because I was juggling three relationships – none of which were Jay. Until one day, my sister called me at work in late October 1988 and said that her friend had to quit her job at a law firm and she thought I would be perfect. It was a small office and only two attorneys. I jumped at the opportunity.
I must have wowed them with my long brown hair, black plaid suit with satin purple blouse, and black stilettos. I got the job immediately. November 1, 1988, I began my career in the legal field with Henrich and Jetton. Yes, 30 years go. Everything I had worked for, dreamed about, and gone to school for I threw out the window and pursued the legal field.
During my ten years at Henrich and Jetton, I received several certifications and I have a lengthy resume from serving on local and state legal association boards.
I don’t want to let it pass that my first date with Jay was December 10, 1988. In the early years, his dad and I had plenty to talk about when he would come on from work before he retired. But I knew I had done the right thing by leaving Union Planters and banking in the past.
On March 1, 1999, and very pregnant with Collin, Burch, Porter & Johnson hired me to continue to work in the estate planning and divorce field. I had many friends at Burch, Porter & Johnson at the time and the fit with Joe Duncan just seemed right. Even though I was told – “You better not work for him.” Almost 20 years later, I am so glad I didn’t listen to them! I work for a christian, compassionate, loving, praying man – and yes, he IS an attorney! He has mellowed, trust me. There are many jokes about THAT!
I have watched God move in the most amazing ways over the last 30 years. I have befriended many divorce clients and felt that God has used me to be their “light at the end of the tunnel” when they have felt they could not go on. Since I have experienced the deepest groanings with death, I have been able to share with my divorce clients that divorce does mimic death. There is grief. There is mourning. There is change.
This also applies to estate planning. When appropriate, many have such a hard time deciding life-ending decisions. I truly believe God opens the door for me to mention Trey and his peace at the end of his life. The client usually always know who Trey is and our story. God is so good to give me the prompting to share our story.
Listen to God. Be ready for change. You might have that piece of paper, but that might not be where God wants you. I never thought that I would be at this same desk 20 years later trying to keep the same man organized (and a few others – Charlie Newman and Scott Crosby – whom I love dearly). I never thought I would experience the loss of my first boss, Ernie Jetton, who taught me so much in 10 years. Then there is Ed Mullikin. We shared an office. “Ed, what’s a NTBF!” “ED! GREG COTTON CALLED YOU AGAIN!” And that’s where my journey began. November 1, 1988…30 years ago.
Always be ready for a journey. Your life is a journey.
(P.S. Can you tell I have a migraine in this picture? Ugh. – with Joe Duncan)