Earlier this year, I was blessed to be able to join the Country Fried Creative family as a web designer. It is a job that allows me to do creative work and I truly love what I do. I also deeply appreciate having a boss and team-mates who care about our clients, the work we do, and each other. To me, it is an amazing example of what God can do in your life, if you just let Him. This job is an answer to prayer. (Many, many prayers, if I am honest.)
I have known for at least the last three months that this job has been a blessing, and today God sent me another huge reminder of this fact. And, it is something that I would like to share with all of you.
Today, my boss, and owner of Country Fried Creative, Joe Domaleski, made the following post on Facebook:
Hey y’all, it’s me again. So often we’re taught that you have to go out into life and get what you want by any means possible. What if I told you that sometimes you should just do the right thing without expecting a return? Two weeks ago I shared about an unprecedented act of kindness that really rocked my world and restored my faith in “sowing bountifully”. Another equally amazing thing recently happened and came to fruition yesterday. Yesterday, my SBA Paycheck Protection Program business loan was approved which is very nice, but that’s not the amazing part - how it came to pass is the real story.
Suffice it to say that these are difficult times for us all. If you’re an employee, then you’re worried about your job. If you’re an employer (particularly a small, local business like us), then you’re worried about your business and employees. I openly tell people I have a laser beam focus on two priorities right now: (1) Helping our customers, and (2) Protecting the payroll of my business family (employees). Customers trust us to help them. Employees trust me to lead the business. I trust my employees to take care of our customers.
When the government announced the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, it was designed to protect paychecks. It is not free money, it’s a loan (albeit with very favorable terms) that can only be used for one thing - making payroll. Our local business community worked through this together via workshops & webinars. The guidance given was to apply for the program through your business banker. I applied for the program on the very first day it was offered.
In a previous post I openly shared my frustration at how the first round of money was gobbled up by big “supposedly small” businesses. As was well reported in the news, that first round of money was not given to those with the greatest need or even in the order of application, but was awarded very arbitrarily based on very subjective factors. Banks were given wide latitude to loan the money (backed by all of us taxpayers) as they saw fit. Most of them gave the loans to their favorite customers. Despite having a longstanding banking relationship with a national bank for 15 years, apparently I didn’t make the cut as being a “favorite customer”. When I inquired about that, I was literally told that I didn’t have enough loan business with the bank!
A few weeks into the program, and I was notified that the SBA PPP program had run out of money - which was also widely reported in the news. The government passed a second round of funding and my bank said my application would remain on file to be considered for the second round. I heard nothing more from them.
Two weeks ago I received a text from a long-standing friend of mine who I’ve known for almost 15 years. He and I had developed a friendship through the Chamber. We got to know each other in the community, at special events, and even at the local gym. Over the years, I’ve watched his career grow in the banking business, and he’s now the President of a local bank. He has never pressured me to move my money to his bank. Quite the contrary, he’s been a steady low-maintenance friend. The text he sent me was simply “Call me when you get a chance.”
So I called my friend and after the obligatory “how’s it going” exchange, he stunned me with his next question, “Hey Joe, have you gotten approved for the PPP yet?” My heart froze and I didn’t know what to say. He went on, “If you haven’t gotten the loan yet, I would be happy to process it for you. You’ve been there for me all these years. I can do this for you.” I literally choked up... I mean, when has a banker ever gone out of their way to help? My friend is no ordinary banker. I meekly answered, “yes please help.” He went on to explain that he’s literally been working around the clock to get the PPP apps processed and that if I can turn around the paperwork quickly, he’d personally do all that he could to make it happen - and so he did. Over the past 10 days we’ve been handling paperwork and yesterday the funding arrived in my bank account. There were no strings attached to the loan, no conditions associated with his offer to help - he simply helped a friend in need.
It’s easy to get jaded in the business world. When you have something desirable (power, money, prestige) everyone wants to be your friend. When you need something (money, assistance, a favor) few are willing to help. It’s times like these you know who your true friends are. Like the previous act of kindness from my non-profit client, this one brought a tear to my eye too. I have goosebumps just sharing the story with you.
So who is this incredible banker that I’m telling you about? In due time, you’ll know who he is - some of you may already know. He has asked that I keep his identity secret for now because he’s literally overloaded with loan applications and doesn’t have the capacity to take on more. Keep the faith friends. Do the right thing. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)
On behalf of our entire CFC team, thank you.
God is alive and well, and He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. As Joe has pointed out, keep the faith and do the right thing. Joe also shares 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, which says this, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
The Bible teaches us that we should love God and love others. (See Mark 12:30-31) It is God's will for our lives is to reflect His love and share the good news about Him with everyone we meet. As God's children, we are to be His hands and feet. It is up to us to spread goodness and light in this dark world. We should be as loving, kind, generous, and helpful to other people as we can be. When we do these things, we are showing others who God is. This is how we tell others about God without ever opening our mouths or saying a word.
When we sow bountifully, we will in-turn, reap bountifully. We should become givers; not because of any monetary or earthly possession we will gain, but because of how it will make us feel on the inside. This is how we become happy, fulfilled people. This is how we become cheerful. And this my friends, is how we become cheerful givers.
Being a giver is good for your heart and your soul. And, during this COVID-19 crisis, we need as much good as we can get. (Oh, and did you know that giving is also good for your health? To learn more, read this great article.)
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.