What would it take to get your attention? A burning bush with green leaves? An appearance of an angel? Does God still give you and me signs like He did with Moses, Joseph, or Paul? I guess the only way to know is to pay attention. To pay attention requires awareness and alertness. It requires us attending to the activities of our brain. Dr. Curt Thompson, author of Anatomy of the Soul, says, “God speaks to us using signposts mediated by the activity of our brains. If we are not paying attention to these functions of the brain, we will not be able to attend to what God is trying to tell us.”

How God gets my attention

How interesting and fun I find it to be when “signs” appear before me in everyday life that I can piece together like a puzzle! I believe it’s one of the ways that God speaks directly to me; it’s like an amusing spiritual “sign language” of sorts. Those who know me well understand that I am absolutely delighted by this type of “language” and, therefore, consider it one of my joys in life.

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My latest “adventure” with this sort of “communication” took place on Friday, September 4th in a hallway at the Palatka Campus of St. Johns River State College (SJR State). As I was exiting the building after a second interview for an ‘adventurous’ Communications Specialist position with the College’s Public Relations Department, I stopped by this exhibit…

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…and “met” Mr. Albert Williams…

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…who had been the president of Collier-Blocker Junior College that existed in the 60’s to educate “African-American students from Clay, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties” in Florida. Collier-Blocker Junior College eventually merged with St. Johns River Junior College, now called SJR State College.

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Sign #1: Something begins deeply stirring in me upon noticing that Collier-Blocker Junior College operated during a time period when I was just entering the world in 1965. During this time, Collier-Blocker Junior College also “moved its classes to St. Johns River Junior College Campus after SJRJC absorbed its operations the year before.”

Turns out, this was my first “puzzle piece” along this wall of college history.

Sign/Puzzle Piece #2: The 2012 Collier-Blocker Junior College Exhibit and Scholarship Dedication Ceremony took place ON the month AND day I was born, December 5.

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Sign/Puzzle Piece #3: I move along the wall to the Collier-Blocker College President Albert Williams Memorial Building, and how interesting to see precisely what I studied in graduate school and earned my master’s degree in… From Old Dominion University, I had received a master’s degree in Humanities with a focus in Journalism and a graduate certificate in Professional Writing.

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Sign/Puzzle Piece #4: The last name “Jenkins” jumps out at me in the picture below. That’s the last name of one of my very best and most supportive friends who, like me, loves all things education and history. Therefore, this friend had strongly been on my mind while spending time at this display. Her name is Teeshalavone, and I call her “Tee.” However, it’s not until this very moment — at the time of writing this — I see and connect with the letter “T” on the building above. See it? 🙂 Put that “T” with the last name “Jenkins” below, and that’s the writing on the wall that Tee’s supportive friendship is always with me, even when I’m on the Palatka Campus of SJR State. 🙂

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Sign/Puzzle Piece #5: Talking about names, I “travel” to the other end of the wall and notice that my first name, Penny, is the last name of one of the recipients of the Collier-Blocker In-District Minority Scholarship. (See third name from top!)

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If nothing else, God well knows I enjoy being amused this way, and I was definitely being amused with all sorts of signs/connections via this history lesson on the wall. Although I had seen this exhibit the previous times I visited SJR State’s Palatka Campus (once for an interview to teach my wellness stretching class and the other for my first interview for the Communications Specialist position), it was not until my third time in the building (for the second Communications Specialist interview) that I noticed all that I’ve shared here.

Was God using my experience with this exhibit to confirm to me what was to be the next chapter of my journey of service to my community? The discovery of each new puzzle piece highlighted above certainly felt that way.

Then, not long hour after returning home from my interview and experience above — and at a time I least expected — I received a call from SJR State College — offering me the position!! 😉

“We were going to wait until next Tuesday to let you know,” said Ginger Stokes, director of Human Resources at SJR State, “but since it’s a long weekend (Labor Day) and we knew we wanted to offer you the position, we figured why wait!”

What a way to begin a Labor Day weekend!

So, let’s interpret this “sign language” I speak of! Let’s put these puzzle pieces together! Just what was God revealing to me through my findings on that SJR State wall?

What I pay attention to affects my life

Perhaps, He was was telling me:

You were BORN for such a time as this! Your natural interest in education and your heart for community that I have placed in you — along with your studies in humanities and communications and the love and support of family and friends — have prepared you for this type of service. Passionately help to continue this valuable mission that was well in motion at the time of your birth. Pull from the vision and strength of historical leaders, such as President Albert Williams, who labored to provide educational opportunities for African-Americans. Stand on the shoulders of those such as President Williams and his team as you work with the current SJR State team to honor the College’s mission. But, first and foremost, always remember to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10), just as you did when you paused and took time to be with Me at this wall (even though your feet were tired of standing in those interview heels by then). 🙂

I also felt I was receiving a message to play my part with keeping the memory of this educational history alive in my community.

Happy Labor Day, one and all. May we take time to reflect on and connect with the journey of those, such as President Albert Williams, who have paved the way for educational-related careers. If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy that feeling of connecting the past with the present and using it as “fuel”…as inspiration…for your life’s work.

May we labor well, “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24