January 21, 2018

More News

It is a blessed Sunday here in cool and clear, Phoenix. The storms from yesterday moved out over night, and as a result of the nice steady rains, the air has that wonderfully fresh scent. The ground has been washed clean. I love that look, the look of being made clean, and I am thankful for the washing of the rain as it moved through our area yesterday!

I am sitting here at my computer, paitently waiting for my church service to begin streaming. I love my church, and I am content to attend online until the Lord moves me to a new place, and settles me in a new home church. For now, this practice, temporary, works well for me. I am able to enjoy the blessing of attending this wonderful church, receive deep teaching, and still feel like I am a part of a larger group.

Though I am not actively serving on campus during this season of my life, I am serving God in other ways. I was thinking about this fact the other day, and it dawned on me that my sacrifice and service to my parents during this time of their life is a ministry outlet. I live with my parents, care for them, do their shopping, and most days plan and prepare their meals. My Mom is still able to do some housekeeping and cooking, but she is slowing down and is not able to do this work without help. My role has been to support my parents, and in that, I am faithfully obeying God's word to me regarding my service. I guess it is because I served in outward ways, through Awana and children's ministry for over 30 years, that I was thinking the only way I could be "active" in church was to serve in some campus-based ministry. Now, though, I see that my ministry is here at home, and for this season in my life, it is what God has asked me to do.

More so, as I attend church online, I realize that I could physically drive to campus (25 minutes one way), sit in the auditorium, and then drive home after the service. This would be what most people think of "faithful" attendance. But, I am faithfully attending via the Internet, and while I am not sitting next to a person for an hour, I am still engaged in worship and in listening/learning from the Pastor's message. I believe what God desires more than our physical attendance is our relationships with others within the family of God.  At this point in time, I have no "small group" to attend. I hope that some day soon, the Lord will bring me a group of friends with whom I can "do life," as they say. But until that time, I will patiently wait for the Lord to provide for me, to meet my relationship need in other ways. I am content. I am happy. I am settled, and for the time being, I am good. I am so very good.
News and More News

I am sitting here this afternoon thinking more about the plans the Lord has for me. As of right now, I am in this very good place. I mean, I have enough work to satisfy my needs, and I am not overly loaded as I was last fall when I was teaching on campus and online. I am still waiting to hear back from Liberty University,  but until I do, I am choosing to be content with the provision the Lord has already given to me. I mean, do I really need more work? I don't think so. I have enough to keep me busy each day, to pay my bills, and while I would like to have more income (steady, I mean), I am very content with the amount of time that my work requires of me.

For example, yesterday, I spent about two hours online (total). I worked very hard during the week to catch up on grading, and as a result, my weekend has been free. I checked on my students today, after church, and again, I have very little work to do. This means that I can spend my afternoon and evening enjoying my family and resting, really resting. I like the fact that my days are turning out this way. During the week, I am finding that I spend most of my time, from about 9-5, online. I do a round-robin approach and cycle through my classes, first checking in on ASU, then on Grantham, and finally on Regent University. It works well for me, and while I do have some work to do after dinner, I am able to finish up everything by 7-8 p.m. My evenings from 8-11 are free! This means that I can enjoy NetFlix, Amazon Instant Video or even reading a good book in the peace and quiet of a "no computer" zone. I am starting to see that the Lord's plan for me to have my evenings and weekends free is coming to pass. I am blessed, so very blessed, and I thank Him for His gracious help in managing my time and my teaching contracts!

So, while I don't have the work I thought I would (with Liberty, I mean), I do have enough to keep me busy, but not too busy. I like the freedom I have to rest, and I am enjoying my life, my daily and weekly schedule more and more with each passing day.

In other news, I am thinking of starting a new business. I've been praying for opportunities to work from home, outside of teaching, and the Lord has not permitted me to do anything more than what I already do. But, with my current lull in work, I feel that I could potentially handle work that might earn some extra income for me. I am not sure what I will do just yet, but part of me thinks it will be non-computer related. I am thinking that perhaps I might create a traditional business, like some company whereby I am owner. I am not sure yet, but the Lord seems to be opening a door for me, providing some light on the matter, and well, I am game if He wants this for me.

Mostly, I feel like I want to be active in my community. I want to have a reason for the work I do, and while I love teaching and it gives me great satisfaction, I also have this very strong desire to help people in need. I am thinking about ways I can help people in my community with housing or other real needs. I am thinking of the Lord's command to care for the fatherless and the widow, and as I think more and more about this command, I realize that very few Christian people realize that there is great blessing when we focus on the poor, the orphan, and the widow. In doing so, my prayer is that I could use my abilities, my time and my talents, to create some program whereby I could assist people with real needs. I am reminded again of Scripture where the Lord said that we must give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and water to the thirsty. I do give as I can, but I am not consistent in my approach. Instead, lately the Lord has placed this desire on my heart to ministry directly to the people who need help most. I realize that there are social services out there, and I am not thinking of competing with them. I am thinking more of ways that I could be a benefactor and help people in need have tangible things that would improve their quality and comfort in life.

For now, I am just thinking about what the Lord might want me to do. I feel that this business is something that I would do after I am settled, after I am living in the place of His choosing, and after I am in a position to do so. Until then, I am praying over this opportunity, asking for His blessing and prosperity so I can do this work, and then choosing to place any work like this at His feet so that I am not attempting to do anything outside His will or without His absolute permission and provision.
In Closing

Today is a blessed Sunday, and I am glad to be at home resting. I feel good about the plans the Lord has for my life, and I feel confident that whatever He wants to do through me, will come to pass soon. I must be patient. I must wait. I must look to His hand of blessing, and in the end, I must trust that He will do what He desires in and through me for His praise and honor. It is all about His praise and His honor, so I thank Him this day for the thoughts, the feelings, and the motivation to want to do some work like this in His name. May the Lord do what He desires this good day, and may I be the recipient of His good favor and blessing as a result.

January 20, 2018

The Day of the Lord

It is a good Saturday is cloudy and cool, Phoenix. The skies are gray, and the clouds appear to have rain in them. I am not sure if we will actually see rain where I am, but the cloud cover has that hopeful look to it. Perhaps we will get some rain today?

I woke up this morning thinking that my life is about to take a hard turn. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I feel as if my life, the plans I have, are about to be upended by some life event. I am hopeful that whatever change comes, it will be for my good. I believe the plans the Lord has for my life are good, and that the path I am on is heading in the right direction. I believe that I am on my way home, walking steadily, and with hope and faith, toward my eternal destination. I have long felt that the path I am on is a good one, a safe and secure one, and a path that will lead me right to where the Lord wants me to be. Of course, along the way, the path has diverted, and there have been byways and highways that have taken me on side trails. These side trails have not always been in my best interest, but as God's word says, He used both the good and the bad, to help create and shape my character. Thus, I can say that the path, my continual path, has been one that has produced good results in and through my life.

 Taking New Ground

Now, as I begin this new phase of life, I am ready to take new ground, so to speak. I am ready to see all that the Lord desires for me to see. I realize that this turn that is coming will separate me from my parents and that it will create new vistas that only I can survey. I am excited on the one hand but saddened on the other. I long to have a solution that factors in my parent's needs as well as the plans the Lord has for my life, in specific. But, the Lord is calling me away, calling me to leave this place (Phoenix), and move to a new place, my "Canaan" as it would be, where I will find His best "next" step for my life. Therefore, I must step out in faith over the next months, and I must look to His hand of reward as I faithfully steward the gifts He has given to me. In truth, I am ready. I have been ready for the past several years, but I was unwilling to go for many reasons. I didn't want to leave my family, and I was hesitant to trust the Lord completely for every need (mostly financial). I looked to the support of a job for a long time, and while I do not have a "job" that will take me to the place of His choosing, I do have good practical work that is "portable."

In this way, I am free to go and live where He chooses because my work is not location bound. It is a good thing, really a very good thing. My heart is ready now, more so than ever, and as the pieces of the puzzle of my life are put into place, I am beginning to see more clearly that the Lord desires that I go and live in a quiet place, a safe place, and place where my work becomes the focus of my days. I know that sounds awful like all I will do is work, but sadly, this is the call on my life. I am to work all my days, and whether that work is teaching students how to write essays or creating communications curriculum to teach people how to share their faith more easily, this is my work. It is the work He has assigned to me, and my life is all about this work. I am not to be confused, constrained or committed elsewhere. My life's focus is my work now, and while this doesn't mean I will be a hermit, living alone on top of a mountain, it does mean that my days are to be filled with His work as their core focus. I will engage with others, have relationships, and live communally where He plants me, but my life is just narrowly determined. It is what suits me, as He likes to tell me. I am suited to hard work, volumes of hard work, and tasks that are challenging and difficult and time-consuming. This is what drives me, motivates me, challenges me, and really creates a deep sense of achievement within me. I love the work I do, and I engage in it daily with a constitutional effort that makes it clear that I am a "worker bee." This is my calling. It is my mandate. It is the life He has created for me.

As a worker bee in His marvelous hive, my routine and my regulation are simple: do the work He has assigned to me. I am not to focus on the tasks of the pollen gatherers or the food hunters, but I am building my little part of His honeycomb. I am to do the tasks He has given to me, and I am to do them well. Other bees will be assigned different work, and together we will all work to produce His beautiful hive of glory. I know that I am using an analogy here, but I think you can see what I mean. As part of God's kingdom, not all are called the same way. Paul discusses this at length, and as such, it is important to understand that God calls and equips as He determines. Therefore, in my case, I am called to work. Others may be called to preach, to teach, to help, or to administrate. But my calling is as a worker, and this is what I enjoy doing. I get up every single morning with one thing on my mind: the work I need to do. I think about my work as I lay in bed. I muse over my work throughout the day, and in the end, I do not close my eyes until my work is done. I guess in many ways, this is part of my farming heritage. My Dad was a farmer. His dad, his granddad, and all the rest of his line were farmers. The work ethic runs strong in my family (akin to Ben Kenobi's words to Luke Skywalker). My life goal now is to do His work without ceasing. I am endeavoring to be faithful, obedient, and stalwart. I do not want to slack off, give in or up. I want to be pleasing to Him, and one of the ways I am to do this is through my dedication to His work. I am to be single-mindedly focused on His work.

My heart today is glad. I feel good. I have His plan of action in my hand, and I am ready to be released to go and settle in this new land. I cannot wait for it to come to pass, and today more than any other day, I am convinced that I am moving quickly to the place of His choosing. I must admit that I was surprised to consider such a place because it didn't fit the profile I had in mind, it didn't seem to match what he was saying to me. But, the more I rested, the more I thought about it, it just started to make sense to me. I am to go to a place that is foreign, like a foreign country, though it is not outside the USA. I am to settle into a home that is modest, rather old, and well, in need of some TLC. I am to live very modestly, without fanfare, and I am to do His work incognito, like undercover. There will be no banners, no shouts of praise, and no honors. I will simply be a faithful servant, a "worker bee" in His Hive, and I will work for one praise alone: His. I will work to hear Him tell me that I am a good servant, a good follower and that I am faithful, obedient and steadfast. This is what He desires for me, nothing else. He has asked me to be faithful to Him, to His word, to His call. He has asked me to obey His commands and statutes, and He has asked me to be steadfast, unmovable, resilient and stalwart (loyal, reliable, and hardworking).

My professional colleagues will be promoted, honored, and given awards, but I will not. They will be offered contracts and tenure, but I will remain an adjunct. They will travel and present at conferences, but I will work from home, puttering away at my papers and books, without any notice. Why? Because I asked Him to take all the glory from my life and to be glorified through my meager work. I said I wanted nothing but for Him to be praised, and the Lord delighted in it and agreed that this was His way for me. I guess you could say that I agreed with Him more than the other way around. I agreed that this way was best, that it would keep me from being prideful, and that it would produce the character trait He desires most: humility.

Now, I must ready myself for the day's work. I have already attended to my Bible reading (I am on a three-month plan), and I have taken care of my daily routine needs (the cats, breakfast, etc.). I am ready now to tackle my teaching assignments, and then I will enjoy the blessed peace of resting and relaxing. I may even bake something good (so far I have made oatmeal cookies and brownies, both of which were quickly devoured). My life is beginning to wind down, and for that I am thankful. My work hasn't ceased, but my life, the ups, and downs of it, are beginning to settle down, and I am starting to see the value in this way of life. It is a hard way, a sure way, and a meager way, but it is good. I am content, I am satisfied, and I am agreeable to it. He is good to me. He will provide for me. He has a great plan -- of this, I am assured.

In Closing

Today, I rest. I let go, and I embrace what He offers to me which is a quiet farm life situated in a green place whereby I will enjoy the bounty of garden harvest, solitude, and the gentle life that I have longed for since I was a child. This is my life, and I intend to live it to the fullest -- thanks and praise to God!

January 19, 2018

Planning Today and Service Appointments

It is a good day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. I woke up early, around 8 a.m. I didn't sleep very well, mostly because I had a series of dreams, and I knew I had to be up early to take our Kia over to the dealer for required service. I was up and ready to leave the house around 9:30, and by the time I made it over to the dealer, it was close on to 10:30, my schedule appointment time. I am sitting here in the service center, using their WIFI, and musing about my thankfulness for the blessing of having this car and a wonderful service contract. The Lord provided the BEST car for my son's needs, and while I admit that the Sorrento is really too big for me to drive, I enjoyed the speed and comfort of driving it over to the dealer in Scottsdale.

I am sitting here now, scheduled to wait about 2 hours, and well, taking care of some business thanks to my second blessing, my MacBook Air laptop. The Lord provided this laptop to me last year, right around this time, so that I would have a better laptop to use for my dissertation defense. Since that time, I have used this laptop every single day. I mean, EVERY SINGLE DAY! I love it, and because it is so light and easy to carry around, I am really comfortable bringing it with me when I need to be out of the office for any length of time.

As I think about everything -- all the blessings and favor bestowed on me -- I cannot respond in any other way than to lift up praises to God for His goodness. I am blessed, highly favored, and in a place of complete care and protection. I have come to see His hand upon my life in new ways, and as such, I have come to see His glory as His presence communicates His love, His mercy, and His grace daily. I mean it -- God's glory is in His goodness -- and when we focus on the goodness of God, we can experience His presence in exciting and wonderful ways. Let His glory fall afresh on you this day, and may you be changed by the experience as you come to see Him and His love for you as a gift from everlasting to everlasting!
Making A Way

The Lord has made a way for me. I was thinking about this on the drive over from Phoenix to south Scottsdale. The drive itself is pleasant, but the traffic was heavy due to the Barrett Jackson auction. The scenery on the way over was desert landscape, and despite the fact that I always say that I don't like living in the desert, there is something lovely about the wilderness aspect of Phoenix and Scottsdale.

My thoughts this morning ran to His presence in my life, and the more I thought about His character and His abilities, the better I felt about my life, in general. You see, I am still struggling with doubt, and I am worried about details that are no longer under my control. I need not worry, yet I do. I don't need to doubt or be afraid, yet I am constantly thinking fearful thoughts. I realized this yesterday as I spent most of the day consumed by a fear of failure. I think it is really funny that my pastor spoke on the fear of failure last Sunday, and this entire week, I felt the panic of failing to meet the standard I have for myself. Pastor Jamie said that one of the ways we can undermine our sense of valuation and worth is when we measure ourselves against some standard other than God's word (my paraphrase). What he meant to say is that we measure ourself against standards all the time. Whether it is a relational standard or a work performance standard, we attempt to set a bar for our beliefs, values, and feelings, and often we miss the mark. We fail to live up to the standards we set or that other people set for us. But, if we use one standard only, God's standard, we can set ourselves free from the need to be something we are not. In short, we will always fail human standards, and of course, we have already missed the mark of God's standard, but we have a Savior, and we have been grafted into His marvelous will. Thus, by His grace and mercy, we are stamped approved even though we have and can never meet His glorious mark of approval on our own.

The problem as I said is that we fail most often when we cannot keep up to expectations set by our own beliefs or values or those of another (a spouse, coworker or boss). We fail, and we often judge ourselves harshly as a result. In my case, I have this standard of performance, and I worry incessantly that I am failing my students, my colleagues, my contracts when my actual performance is consistently rated as above average or even excellent. I worry about not meeting a false standard of perfection in my work, and as such, I panic over every small mistake I make.

This week, those feelings of failure intensified, and I ended up spending so many hours feeling crushed and as if I was not doing a good job. More so, as my contracts (all of them) kicked in, I was panicked about the workload, as if working from home was harder than what I did last semester (campus and online). In the end, I think I wasted good time, God-given time, as I focused on my weaknesses and not on His strength. I remember His word where Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Yes, His strength is always perfect, but it is when we are weak that we realize just how very strong He is, and how capable He is at handling our needs.

I came to this conclusion last night after I had worked very hard all day to grade three schools' and some 150 students and their work. I busted my bum, so to speak, but by the end of the evening, I had completed all the work needed to be done for the day. But, and here is the kicker, I did it in my strength, through my own reasoning, and as a result, I was worn out, plum tuckered as they say by the time I quit for the night.

It was in the middle of the night, during the dreams I had that were so weird, when the Lord appeared to me as He often does. He called me to walk with Him along a stretch of beach, and as we stood together, He asked me this question: Who am I?

I pondered it for a moment before I replied: The GREAT I AM!

It didn't take long before I was singing praises to Him, calling Him all manner of names from Scripture that give attribute to His goodness, His character, and His abilities (Great Physician, Healer, Provider, Most High, and LORD).

In my heart, I realized that if the One I worship is the Most High, than is He not able to help me when I need His help most? Is He not able to care for me, provide for me, guide me, as I need Him to do so? In truth, the answer is moot. YES! HE IS!

I realized that my hard work this week, fueled by panic and doubt, was simply a misguided sense of my attempt to meet a standard that is impossible for me to meet. I cannot do the work He has assigned to me. I cannot go where He is sending me in my own strength. I cannot live as He desires without His help. I cannot be the person He wants and needs me to be without His constant daily presence in my life. In short, I am unable to do anything to meet His standard -- not to save my self -- nor to do the work He has assigned me to do.

I can stress. I can fear. I can worry. I can be consumed and try very hard to do it, but in the end, I will fail miserably. Instead, I can let it go, as I said yesterday, and let God do this work in His way and in His time. I can simply rest in Him, and in doing so, I trust Him to lead, to guide, and to provide for me. My heart was encouraged, my burden lifted, and this morning, I woke up thinking I can either work harder or smarter, and if I am to do the latter, than smarter means to let Him do this work through me. I am choosing today to let the Lord work through me in the way He desires. I am choosing to pursue Him with a passionate intensity, and by placing Him as my soul's and sole focus, then I will meet His mark of approval. I will be marked approved as I continually bow before Him, humble myself and submit to His power and authority in and over and through my life. Selah!
Recovering My Peace and Joy

So, today, I recover my peace and my joy. I choose JOY. I choose to enjoy my everyday life, and that means that the peace I experience comes from His abiding presence in my life. I am not working to anyone's timeline or schedule. I am not trying to be something I am not. I am choosing to be His servant, that it all, and with His guidance, I am choosing to listen and to obey His voice. I go where He sends me. I do the work He prepares for me to do. I live as He directs, and in this way, my life is balanced, complete, and no longer lacking in any good thing.

This is a good day, thus, to spend the quiet time sitting here in Kia, pondering the mercies of God, which as the prophet says are new every day:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23 ESV)

My heart is cheered today. I feel good. I have a restored sense of confidence as I think about the wonders of the Lord. I mean, who am I but His maidservant. I am His to do with as He pleases, and I am in this marvelous space where I feel comforted, completely protected, and protected.

My joy is made complete this day. Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NIV). It has taken me many years as a Christ follower to come to this place of understanding. Our joy rests in One person only, and that is Christ the Lord. There is no other place to find joy but in Jesus. It is simple really, very simple. So simple, a child can grasp it, but the mystery of the word is hidden and only revealed once we enter into a trust relationship with the Lord, Himself. You see, if you seek joy in any other thing, and there are many good things to be joyed over such as love, spouses, children, and even good work; but, there is no joy like the joy that comes from knowing, really knowing Jesus, and being known by Him. There is this amazing discovery that takes place when you come into the knowledge that your Savior, your King, and your God, knows you so well, and He loves you without question. There is this special connection, a grand A-HA moment, and in that moment, you realize that God has a plan for your life, and part of that plan includes knowing Him intimately. There is no other relationship like the relationship between God and man, and yet, we often set this high relationship on a sidebar along with all other human/fleshly relationships. We put God right alongside of our kids, our spouse, our mortgage, and so forth. Yet, the God of the Universe is far superior to any human relationship, and no matter how wonderful, special, unique, and blessed those human relationships are or can be, the friendship that exists between God and His child cannot be numbered. It is impossible to describe the measure of friendship that can exist, if only we would allow it to exist, and if we would simply come into His presence with awe and wonder. In truth, when the Bible says that we are to come to the Father like a little child, the idea is that we are to trust the Lord, God Almighty, just as we would trust a beloved parent. There is grace, there is hope, and there is freedom to rush into His arms and cry out, "Abba, Father!" Yet, few do what is rightly theirs to do.

Today, my prayer is that as I sit here and contemplate the glory of God, His goodness, and His marvelous grace, I would be the one to rush into His presence and run to Him in order to receive His blessed hug, a hug so complete, so tight, and so filled with love, that I would desire to never leave His side. May my prayer today be answered as I sit here, and as I seek His face, to know Him and to be known by Him in ever greater and far more intimate ways. Selah!

God is love. He loves us so much, and He longs to spend eternity with us. Ponder that thought, just for a minute as you check your email, social media, or chat with a friend about mundane details and unimportant topics of conversation. He is worth our time, so very worth every moment of our time.

At night my soul longs for You, 
Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; 
For when the earth experiences Your judgments 
The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9 NASB)

January 18, 2018

Leaning on the Lord

It is a good Thursday, and I am sitting here at home enjoying my cup of coffee and thinking about the plans for the day ahead. I am still feeling a bit panicked about my schedule, and I still have this nagging sensation that I am forgetting to do something really important! Sigh! I cannot think what it might be, so I am "letting it go" as the Frozen song says to do, and resting in the fact that if there is something important to do, the Lord will bring it to my memory so I can do it! Selah!

Speaking of "Frozen," my thoughts go out the good folks in the deep South -- suffering through another round of chilly and freezing weather this week. My good friend in Alabama told me the other day that she and her family had snow! And, quite a bit of it. Snow, sigh! I miss snow! I know my friend and her family had a lot of fun, and since she has small kiddos, snow and sledding and snowman making -- well -- her day seemed like UBER FUN! (Ps. I am not sure she would agree, but I think it sounds like so much fun!!)

The cold weather didn't spare anyone in the South. My colleague was saying that at her home near Orlando, the temperature dropped 12 degrees in 20 minutes! WOW! I checked my phone this morning and there is another arctic blast coming in off the Pacific, and it is supposed to bring heavy snows to California and the Intermountain region. The Pacific Northwest, Nevada (where my brother lives), and upwards toward Montana, are expecting really strong winds and cold temperatures. In all, the wicked weather seems to be affecting everyone in the US -- except for us! Yes, it is true. As I sit here now, staring out my office window (my bedroom window), I see sunny skies. My phone app tells me that it is 65 outside right now (at 10:50 a.m.). The high today is expected to hit 74, which is within our normal winter temperature range. As most places in the US are being hit with cold and below freezing temperatures, terrible winter weather (snow, ice, rain), down in the desert Southwest where I live, it is pretty much business as usual. Sigh!

This unusual weather notwithstanding, I am thankful today for my life, I should say, and for the home where I live here in Phoenix. I am thankful that the Lord has graciously provided a good life for me, blessed me with opportunities to do the work I love to do, and prosperity to live comfortably (modestly) and be in good health. I am thankful that He has provided plenty of work, a warm home, and a good car for me to drive -- all the necessities of life -- so that I could do His work, in specific, as well as this practical work (teaching) that He has called me to do. In short, I am thankful today for the many blessings and the special favor of God, and in this state of thankfulness, I am grateful for the path the Lord has chosen for me as well as the tasks He has assigned to me this good, good day. I am thankful, yes! I am grateful, always! But mostly, I am in awe of His majesty and His good will because without His awesome character and His commitment to my life, I would be still living in the pit of slavery, still lost in deadness, and still wandering around aimlessly without purpose or plan. He saved me. He rescued me. He restored my soul, and in His marvelous restoration plan, He offered to me a new way to go, a new path to follow. I am walking after Him, seeking His face continuously, and with my heart and my head firmly focused on His work and will, I am seeing that my life is turning out much differently than I had hoped or planned. Yes, my life is turning into something unique and wonderfully special, and I can only give thanks to my Father in Heaven for His good, good desire and will for my life. He has made this happen, and today, I give Him my wholehearted and sincere thanks! He is good to me! He is so very good to me! Selah!
Loss of Control

I spent most of yesterday trying hard to regain some control in my life. I don't mean to say that "things" are out of control because they are not. My finances are in order, my work plans are in process, and my home life is balanced. But, I have this weird feeling like my January-February are headed for change, and that change has me feeling off-kilter some. I am not sure why, though. I would say that up until last weekend, I had this really solid feeling, a confirmation of sorts, that I was right where God wanted me to be. More so, I had this sense that I was moving in the right direction. My life seemed to be flowing effortlessly within the river of His will quite nicely. Then the weekend came, and BASH! I am not really sure what happened, but I ended up feeling really unwell. I had this horrible backache in the middle of the night, so much so that I had to get an ice pack and lay on it to try to reduce the constant pain. I thought I was having a heart attack, but after some time on the ice pack, the pain went away. Later, I thought I must have pulled a muscle under my ribcage because the pain was radiating toward my back. After a day or so of rest, the pain has completely dissapated, and I slept well as well as started to feel better. Now, I am wondering about it all, wondering what I have done or why I feel so out of control today. Let me explain...

Really, I have had this progressive feeling that I was no longer in control of the plans, any and all plans, for my life. It started last week, toward the end of the week, when I felt the Lord say to me that He was preparing me to go, to begin His work, to move to a new place and that for a time, I would feel off-balance. I did sense being a bit out of sorts, but after an hour or so, everything seemed to return to normal. Later in the weekend, though, my thoughts, my feelings, and even my approach to work (how I do my work) all seemed to hit a brick wall of sorts. I just felt like I hit a roadblock. Then came the painful episode, which now I attribute to my cat, Winston, pressing really, really hard on my ribs while I was laying on the bed. Still, I was miserable for two days afterwards, and even today, I have this feeling like I am off track, off the mark. I don't know.

I prayed this morning, asking the Lord for His clarification so I would know what I had done (if it was me). I want to get back to where I belong, to where He wants me to be, and I want to make sure I haven't committed any sin or disobeyed His word. I am reckoning, confessing, and generally, attending to Him so that I can figured out what I've done, and what, if anything, I need to do to get back to where He wants me to be.

Right now, the only thing I can think of is that what I am experiencing is simply change as the Lord clearly stated. I am experiencing change, and as this change occurs in my life, I always feel a loss of control. I feel like I am skidding sideways, but as I slide, I remember that my hands are not on the wheel of my life, so to speak. He is my Driver, and as such, He has my life firmly in His hand. I don't have to worry, to doubt, or to fear this temporary change because what the Lord is doing in and through me is to produce confidence and a sense of assurance -- not in the car -- but in the Driver of the car.  In short, He is asking me to trust Him completely as I said I would, and now He is telling me to relax and to rest in His knowledge, ability, and provision. He has me well covered. I am not to panic or to dread what is to come, rather I am to remember that my King has me under His mighty shield and He stands at the ready to defend me. I am safe and secure in His marvelous hands! Selah!
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I remember that my King, my Shepherd has me well-covered. I am good, I am safe, and I am soundly kept. I don't have to be afraid because He has promised to never leave me nor to forsake or abandon me. He has made a way for me to go, and while I feel off in a matter of sense, I am still holding onto His mighty hand, and with His comfort and protection, I can face whatever I must face in the coming days, weeks, and months. He is with me, and for that mercy, I am truly thankful!

January 17, 2018

Ready and Waiting

Happy Wednesday! It is a beautiful day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The skies are clear, but the air temperature is crisp and cool. In many ways, it is a perfect mild winter day in the desert Southwest. I am enjoying the sunshine today, and I am looking forward to many more days of blissful and peaceful weather. I do miss a good storm, however, and my colleagues back at Regent University are gearing up for another winter pounding! I just saw the winter advisory from campus police, and it appears the campus is expecting more snow! I know my friends that live in the area are not happy about that fact as Virginia Beach rarely gets snow, and if they do receive some accumulation, this will mark two times in one year that the campus has been bathed in snowy winter white.

So as I sit here blissfully enjoying the cool weather, I do think to myself that it would be wonderful to "visit" the snow again. I am not sure I am ready to live there full-time, but I do enjoy the snow, especially when viewing it from inside a warm and toasty building (LOL!)
Plans for The Day

My plans for the day are pretty low-key. In fact, I am having slight panic attacks now that I have all my courses in process. I am trying to handle the workload, planning my time, scheduling my days, and well, I just feel like I am falling a step behind each day that passes. I know everything is fine. I know it, I mean that I really know everything is just fine. But, my mind is panicking as if I am forgetting something really important, sigh!

I know part of the problem is that as of yesterday, all my online contracts have started for Spring 2018. My Regent class, ENG 205 - Survey of Western Literature, began on Tuesday, and my ASU course, ENG 101 - English Composition 1, started last week. My five (yes, count them, FIVE!) courses at Grantham have been in process since the beginning of December, and now most of these courses are winding down (four will end in 1-2 weeks). One is new (started in January), but still, I have 7 online courses in total, to attend to each day. I am feeling oddly out of sorts, and as weird as it sounds, I am missing my anchor courses at GCU (ENG 105/106). Yes, I miss teaching at GCU!

In truth, I really think I am missing my regular schedule of MWF, 12:30-4:30, teaching on campus this semester. I am not missing the workload at all, but I am missing the schedule, you know, the routine of getting up, leaving the house, driving to campus, teaching, and then coming home. I am missing the social interaction as well, and part of me feels as if I am forgetting to do something almost daily. It has been more difficult to transition to teaching online that I had thought previously, and even though I have been teaching online for almost two years now, I only did it part of the time. I had my campus work to ground me and my online work was just an extra bonus and an extra way to earn income. Now that I am teaching full-time online, it has been difficult to make the mindset change, to switch my perspective from traditional to online, and to create a good working routine whereby I feel in control and able to handle the tasks associated with online work.

So despite the fact that I am slightly panicked at the thought of forgetting an important detail, I know that this season of my life is situated to teaching at home. Not a day has passed that I have forgotten to thank the Lord for His goodness and provision of enough contracts to provide for me. I know that I am meant to be at home, this semester I mean, as I need to help care for my parents more on a regular basis. But, there is something about a regular routine that is comforting, and well, my routine has been really upended with my transition to full-time teaching online (and from home).

I know the answer to solve the problem of feeling out of sorts is to create a new routine, a new way of living, doing, being, that factors in my work from home situation. I started thinking about this fact the other day, how I spent my vacation days (through New Years) really doing nothing much at all. I had Grantham courses, but with three in the process, the workload was so very light. I just didn't worry about much of anything at all. I lazed in bed, I played online, and I did whatever I felt like doing. I went to bed when I wanted and I woke up without any fuss, whether it was 6 a.m. or 11 a.m. I simply relaxed, rested, and spent the time rejuvenating as a means of decompressing from my very long, very hard, and very packed fall semester.

But, after school began last week at ASU, I started to feel this pressure, this panic, and well, it really hasn't subsided at all. I think this is where the routine of my past five years served me well. I always knew that I would be out of the house for three of five days, and on those days, I would be on campus teaching. I built my entire schedule on my three days of campus work. Everything I did was ordered around GCU, and as such, I simply created a full, yet balanced schedule.

With GCU out of the mix this semester, I am left with online courses only, and my anchor has been moved. This is why I feel like I am drifting some, and well, I realized that the only way to feel more grounded was to create a pseudo-routine that filled GCU's place. I still don't have a routine setup yet, but I am moving in that direction. One of the things I am attempting to do is to set a regular bedtime, and then creating a regular wake up schedule to suit.

In order to get myself ground again, today, for example, I made myself get up by 8:30 a.m. I am feeling much better overall and I naturally woke up around 8. I laid in bed for a short while, but after reading my emails (quickly scanning them for issues), I decided to roll out of bed and get my day started. Normally, I would linger, rest and relax, and before I would know it, the time would slip by me.

Yesterday, however, I decided to make the most of my day, and really, I do enjoy my morning hours. For example, it is 11:00 right now, and I have already posted all my Grantham announcements and worked one-on-one with a student. I have also checked in on both ASU and Regent and even worked with a student via email. I took care of some college business (sending a syllabus), and had my breakfast.

In short, my morning has been pretty accomplished, and it is not even noon yet. More so, I made my bed (hoorah), and I am thinking of jumping in the shower now (before my son gets in) so that I can be dressed and ready to record some videos for my courses. My day has been very productive, and while I will have more grading to do later this afternoon, I have already taken care of a lot of the busy work that goes along with facilitating multiple online courses. I am blessed. I am good. God has miraculously enabled this life, this kind of life, and I am indebted to Him for His gracious provision! He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

I think with some more time, and a better daily routine, I will become comfortable teaching from home. The key in all this transition is the fact that I had asked for this open door, and the Lord graciously provided a way for me to do this work. I wanted to stay at home so I could be more helpful to my parents, and I am so thankful for what He has provided to me. More so, I am making decent money, praise to God, and I am comfortable with the whole online school process. So despite the fact that I still worry that I am not grading properly, that I am not helping my students develop their skills, or that I am going to mess and be fired (I know, silly mind!); I know that in time, and with God's help, I will relax and let the entire online experience wash over me. Soon, I will sit back and enjoy the blessed opportunity as God has provided it to me. It is His will, I am sure of it, and with His help and guidance, I will enjoy the blessed fruit of His Almighty and Merciful hand!
To God Be The Glory

As I sit here today, I am in awe of the Lord's blessed provision. I am in awe of His works, and I am in awe of the fact that He cares for me so deeply, so completely, and so well. I mean it, I really mean it, He has done this for me, He has made this way possible, and today, I would be remiss to not bow before Him and give Him the thanks due His holy, precious, and amazingly wonderful name! He is good to me, so very good to me!

My closing sentiment today is simply this statement of fact. God loves me. He has made a life for me that was born out of the ashes, and in many ways, I have been raised to a new way of life. My old life has passed away, and my new life is brimming with hope, possibility, and with His blessing. I am favored, of course, and I am receiving the blessing of His gracious hand. Yet, I still do not trust Him completely. I still do not rely on Him solely, and I still allow the fears of the unknown, the worry of not measuring up, and the concern over my performance keep me from enjoying my everyday life. I waste so much time being worried, consumed with doubt, and plagued by fear. I don't want to live this way! I don't want to miss His goodness because I am stuck staring at my feet! I lift my head up, and I turn my eyes toward heaven. From whence does my help come (as the Psalmist said)? My help comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and as such, I look up to Him, to God alone, for my every need, wish, want or desire. He alone is my soul's satisfaction, and this day, this good, good day, I am choosing to think "possibilities" rather than "obstacles." I am choosing to see opportunities through the marvelous lens of my Heavenly Father's goodness.

January 14, 2018

Sunday Musings

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air is mild, yet warm. It really is a lovely day.

I am a little late on my blog post today (normally, I write first thing in the morning). I got sidetracked earlier, and then I spent the majority of the morning enjoying church. After the service, I jumped right into my online courses in order to check on my students, and before I realized it, the time had just slipped away. I am just now eating lunch (at 1:50), but praise to God, I am feeling settled, nonetheless.

I am feeling much better, thanks to several days this week of rest, and I actually slept really soundly last night. I had no dreams, and I don't think I even woke up at all during the night. I felt refreshed this morning, and the stomach upset I had all week long seems to have finally passed. So with the good night's rest, I feel good, sort of good, all over. I guess you could say that today has been a blessing (so far) all around! Selah!
Life Lesson Learned

As I mentioned above, today has been a good day. I mean, so far. It is only 2:00, but I can say that "so far" this day has proved to be a good lesson in life. Let me explain...

I struggled some this morning, when I first got up, mostly with the BIG DEBATE over whether or not I should attend church in person. Yes, silly as it seems, I struggle with the decision to attend church in person (as I have since I moved here) or attend online (as I have for the past year).  I have been a "regular attendee" at my church, Scottsdale Bible Church, off and on since November of 1996. For a time, when my son was in middle school, we attended my parent's church, Paradise Valley Community Church, since they had a much smaller youth group, and we knew the youth leader. But once my son returned to SBC to play in the worship band and then work on campus, I returned as well. This was in 2012. Since that time, I have managed to attend almost every Sunday, unless sick or out of town. But, in 2016, toward the end of the year, I needed to use my Sunday's for research, so I began watching the streaming live service on the computer. During the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, I was a "regular" LIVE attendee. My plan was to return to campus as soon as school ended and I had graduated with my Ph.D.

Summer 2017 brought new challenges (vacation and other commitments) and before I knew it, I was still taking in church online. Fall came, and well, you know the story with my fall schedule (10 classes), and I simply slipped back into the online experience. My new "goal" was to begin in January, and to return to campus, find a group to belong to, and well, just pick up where I had left off many years ago. Yes, the best-laid plans...

I made up my mind that I should return to campus today because there is no reason to keep me home anymore. But, after I got up, started into my morning routine, well, I just started to feel ill again like something was wrong, and like I was being condemned for my "failure" to attend church like a "good Christian" should. Yes, the enemy had his way, and before long, I had this knot in the pit of my stomach, and I was absolutely miserable -- wringing my hands over my decision and in the end feeling so lousy to boot.

Church Was Great!

You know that saying, "Failure is not an option?" Well, today at church, we learned that failure is guaranteed in this life, but that our response to failure is determined by our perspective, and mainly it is derived by our values, beliefs, and goals. I had forgotten that our pastor was preaching four Sundays on Fear (General, Failure, Death, and Unknown) and that today was "Fear of Failure" Sunday. I tuned in at the regular time, and I am so glad I did. In truth, I needed to hear this message, and I needed to realize that my fear of failure was a response to my own "missed" goals and not some judgment from God about my behavior or lack of church attendance. You see, what I learned was simply this: Failure is guaranteed. We all fail, and most of the time, how we evaluate our failure is based on our goals and ambitions or our lens, the perspective with which we choose to classify failure. It is sort of like this: one person's failure is another person's success. Failure is personal. It is unique, and while we all suffer through failed opportunities or chances, often we recover based on our lens, or the perspective we use to judge our life.

In my case, as a Christian, my failure is tied to one of two things: God's Word and my own flawed value system that is based on His word. You see, if we fail because of God's Word, well we know what to do about it. We confess our sin, God forgives us, cleanses us, and we move on. We pick up our cross and we carry on. We remain faithful, we try again, we try, try, try, again. But, when we fail and we use our own measuring system (my values based on God's word), then I tend to punish myself far more harshly than God's Word demands (I have already paid that price, and it wasn't my blood, but Christ's, that purchased my freedom and God's forgiveness). So, often when I fail, and I fail often, I simply don't let myself off the hook, so to speak. I punish myself, I regale, and I end up feeling miserable simply because my standards shout that I have missed the bar.

I do this so often, and in doing so, I end up making myself miserable simply because I am unwilling to accept His perfect peace and perfect justification as a result of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. I am not a failure. I am not wicked. I am saved, sanctified, and on my way to being glorified in Christ Jesus.

But, why do I do this? Why do I punish myself so readily for each failing mark? And, as a result, why do I strive so hard to overcome failure or to avoid it? The truth is this: I fail because my flesh is flawed, and in my weakness, I make mistakes. The mistakes I make are not life-shattering, but if I fail to learn from them, to let my errors serve as markers to show me a better way, then in truth, I am a failure because I refuse to listen and to learn.

Today, in church, I realized that my hangup over church attendance was just that -- my hangup. I know that the Lord prefers me to attend in person because He is a God that delights in relationships. My online attendance doesn't permit me to engage in relationships, but it wasn't until I sat down and took inventory that I realized that my physical presence on campus isn't that great either. With the exception of saying hello to people I do not know, there is absolutely no difference between the two forms of worship. I sing and I pray in groups, and I listen with great attention to the message. I can give online, and I can participate in online activities. In short, it is like with my classes. There is no difference between online and on-campus courses -- with the exception of face-to-face encounters. Relationships can be formed in many ways, and yes, it is good to be in person, to touch and to hold, but frankly, what is more important is the inward attitude and heart connection. The physical connection is a good thing, but without the right inward motivation, the outward movement is just that, it is outward movement.

I think what I learned most today was simply that I tend to judge myself harshly when I shouldn't. I am doing my best, giving God my whole heart, and while I have some hangups, I am no different than anyone else. My heart needs to be bent toward His will, in every single area of my life, and my inward self-needs to be moved toward His work with sincere desire and sincere effort.

It is All About Obedience

So with that said, what my grand takeaway from today is that God's word is given to us for one reason, and that reason is to clearly show us how to live our lives in a way that pleases Him. We are to love God and love His Word, and in doing so, we are to obey His commands and statutes because they are given to us for our good, for our welfare, for our best in His kingdom and in His will and purpose for our life.

My life is no longer my own, and thanks to God, what He has redeemed, He has made perfect. While that perfection is to come to me down the road, on the other side of eternity, my life now is about learning how to apply the lessons and then grow as a result of the experience. Today's lesson in failure was simply a reminder that the Lord has me well covered and that my sins are washed away and buried so deep that they cannot be dug up. I need to let go, to let my past hurts and hangups go. I need to walk away with a clear conscience, and with a heart motivated toward doing His work, in His way, and by His will so that whatever I do accomplish will be to bring Him praise, honor, and glory.

I give up today, but not as in quitting; no. I give up my need to punish myself for my mistakes, and as I walk on with my head held high, I realize that I am forgiven, set free, and failure, while inevitable, is simply an opportunity to learn a new way of doing things, seeing things, and believing things.

In closing, I think the lesson today has been learned well. I feel free. I feel good, and I feel as if I am in this very good place right now. I thank God for His gracious teaching, and for the foundational preaching of my church, my pastor, and of course, the Holy Spirit, as He leads, guides, and provides for me. God is good, so very good to me! I give Him praise, adoration, and all glory this good, good day! Selah!

January 13, 2018

First Student Payment

Happy Saturday! It is a lovely day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air is warm, but not too hot. Our expected high today is 75, which compared to most of the middle and eastern sections of the country, is not too bad, not too bad at all.

I am finally moving, I mean, as in "up and about." I woke up at 5 a.m. when my Dad made noise as he was leaving to attend a local HAMFEST. My Mom got up as well, and with their typical clanging and banging noises, I was stirred awake. I did go back to sleep shortly after, and then I slept rockily until about 7:30. I had such a weird dream, something about a hotel room, and not being able to locate the floor it was on. Yikes! I drifted back for another hour or so before finally waking fully. I've been puttering for a couple hours at the computer, shopping online (well, window shopping), and I am now dressed and ready to "start the day." Yes, it is 12:45, and I am finally ready to begin my Saturday! LOL!
Plans for the Day

The good news is that I have a very low-key, low-stress plan for today. My classes are all in good form. My Grantham students normally turn in their first discussion post by tomorrow, and their weekly assignment isn't due until Tuesday. Saturdays are very light for me, but I will check in and respond as I need to do so. My Regent classes begin on Monday, and I have already been welcoming the "early birds," those that log into the system as soon as they have access. My ASU class started on last Tuesday, and I am not assigned a group until Wednesday, so my work this first week is really nothing more than saying hello and answering questions. In all, I am in good shape and form today.

I was pleased to receive my paycheck yesterday from Grantham. As I have mentioned before, I always have a hard time figuring out how much I will be paid and when. Thankfully, the school moved from weekly starts to monthly starts, so now, I am paid every two weeks similar to most working people. I don't get a paycheck every payday, but I know that my pay period always falls on a Friday. More so, now that I know my calculated check is determined by the third week of class, this means that my effort to retain students through week 3 is really to my benefit. Furthermore, since I am paid by the student headcount, I can easily figure out how much I should see on my check come payday. What this means is that now I can better figure out my income on a regular basis. I can plan more carefully, and I can know when to expect a check and how much to see deposited in my bank.

I am thankful today for little mercies. I am thankful for my paycheck, and I am thankful for the schools the Lord has chosen for me to work at regularly. I am content with the work I do, and I make a good living now (praise to God). Also, today, I paid my first student loan payment, and well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I made the payment online, and while I am so hopeful to be able to pay the entire debt soon, for now, I am on a scheduled payment plan that works well for my income. God is really good to me. He provided a reduced payment plan this year so that I could get my finances and work situation in order. Next year, I hope to have reduced my debt to zero, and in this way, I am looking toward becoming debt free in a very short amount of time.

Until that time, however, I will be faithful to make the payments as scheduled, and as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me, I will do my very best to keep my promise to Him. I will submit and yield as He determines our course of action. Whatever He chooses, I will say "Yes, Lord." I am committed 100% to following after Him, to seeking His wisdom and guidance, and to becoming all that He has in mind for me. I want to do what is best according to His word, and I want to make sure that every day I am seeking His face, trusting Him completely, and loving His path, His plan, and His purpose for me. I want to be grateful, content, blissful, and at rest, and no matter what comes my way, to maintain my peace -- always my peace.

Today is a good day, therefore, to give thanks to God for His grace and mercy. He is good. He is so very good to us!
Thinking About My Purpose

Today, as I mentioned, I had this really weird dream. In fact, I had two dreams. One ended shortly before I woke up around 5 this morning. The second one lasted until I woke up at 8:45. Both dreams were odd, just funky and weird. However, I think both dreams were significant in the sense that they foretold or described some situation that I am facing currently in my life. Let me explain...

The first dream occurred prior to when I was roused awake by my Dad's movement this 5 a.m. morning. I guess we do dream during that stage when we are half-awake and half-asleep; I digress. This dream took place at my Aunt's home in Wadsworth, Ohio. I should say, their old home. My Aunt and Uncle had this wonderful home out in the country back in the 1970s, and I spent many wonderful summers with them during my childhood and early teen years. In my dream this morning, I was in their home, just as I remembered it. The weather outside was stormy, and as such, there was a tornado warning that sent me down to the basement to wait until the weather disturbance passed.

In my dream, I was an adult and not a child. I did have a child with me, a small girl, and we headed into the crawl space that was located under my Aunt's tri-level home (a space right behind the laundry room). As an aside, I remember once having to go down there with my Aunt. It was a tiny space, filled with storage items, and it had a chicken wire door on it (I think to keep their dogs and cats out). The crawl space looked just like it did when I was young, but something was different about it.

As I made my way into this tiny space, I recall that there with this child with me. I didn't recognize her at all, but I would say she was a child of about 9-10 years of age. She was upset about the cats and how they were not following us into space. In my dream, I did my best to corral the cats and get them to come with us into the safe space. However, as I moved toward the far wall, I looked to the left and noticed that there was a door leading to a sub-basement under the main part of the house. I don't think my Aunt's house had a sub-basement, but this one in my dream did. I was curious about this space, so I walked into it and noticed that it was unfinished.

This space was clean and empty. I walked toward the back corner, and I noticed a ledge that overlooked an even deeper basement that ran the length of the house. This deeper basement was clean and dry too. It had concrete walls and floors, but at the far end, there was a series of shelves, almost like what you might see in a church where a big pipe organ would sit. On the walls, there were multiple instruments, drums, guitars, strings, horns, etc. This is the funny/odd part, as I moved into this space, my son was with me. I was telling him about these instruments, and how odd this was, and how I never knew that my Uncle had built such a place under his house. Then, all of a sudden, the lights came on and the room was filled with hundreds of people.

My son and I walked around this space, we noticed all sorts of shops or small display kiosks in the middle of the basement. The little girl who was with me at the beginning was standing with us now. But, she was grown up, a teenager or young adult. She said she wanted to look at some colored crystals (I thought they looked like the kind in the old Superman movie, the one with Christopher Reeve). I said that was fine, and as I turned around, the wall in front of me was replaced with glass panels, and outside the wall was a beautiful mountain vista. The mountains were covered with snow, and the sky was this beautiful blue color. My son and I walked toward the window, and we saw a doorway leading outside. We walked through the doorway, and up a series of steps to the ground level. Then, I woke up.

My second dream occurred once I had fallen back to sleep. It was a similar dream in that it took place somewhere cold, with snow. In this dream, I was outside a set of shops (like a market town), and it was Christmas time. I remember all the people who were milling about. Everyone was bustling, shopping, eating and drinking, and simply enjoying the place where we were gathered. I remember seeing the snow around the edges of the roadway. It wasn't cold, but people had coats and hats on. I thought it was decorated, the place I mean, nice with all the fir trees, wreaths, and red bows. I remember having a key in my hand, and I made my way up a set of steps, through a mass of people to a hotel or motel where I was staying. I walked up a couple flights of stairs and moved toward my room -- or the room -- where I thought I was staying. When I got there, I noticed that every room had someone's name on it. The room I thought was mine said, "Mrs. Moriarty" (no jokes about Sherlock Holmes, please). The paper next to the door was a Christmas motif, and so I thought I was in the wrong place or at the least the wrong floor. I turned around to check the other doors, and I couldn't find my name listed on any of them. Then, I remembered that I didn't know my room number. I made my way back to the concierge, and when I got there, a woman asked me if she could help me. I told her I forgot my room number. She asked my name, and I said "Hepburn," and she said my room was 215. I left her, relieved to have my room number, and I walked back up to the second floor. But, when I arrived, I only saw room numbers between 450-499. I walked all the way around and the numbers changed to 500 and up. I thought I was on the wrong floor, but when I looked over the balcony rail, I saw the first floor only. I continued to walk back to the other side of the hotel, and when I got there, I saw the side of a mountain and another hotel pressed up against this one. I saw a series of stairs, and I walked up to find the third floor. I walked back down, around the outside of the hotel, and the numbers were in the 100s. By this time, I was exhausted. I didn't know where to look, and I thought I must be in the wrong place, the wrong hotel. Then, I woke up.

My Interpretation

So what do our dreams mean? I often will blog about my dreams, and I do my best to use level-headed rationale to interpret what my dreams could mean. Of course, often our dreams are just snippets of data left over from a long day's work. More so, not everyone dreams vividly and remembers the content of their dreams. Some do; I am one of those people.

Dream 1: In dream 1, I think the meaning of this dream is pretty simple. I am somewhere familiar, and I am doing something that is fairly natural and common. I don't recognize the young girl, but I seem to know her. I think the young girl represents me (as a child and teenager). My son is himself, and I am myself as an adult. So this memory has something to do with my childhood, and it collides with my adulthood today. Why my Aunt's house was in my dream is clear -- this was a place of many happy memories as a child. My dream as a child was to someday have a house like this, in a country place, with the type of design style, etc.

Basements to mean can mean many things, but since this basement had two levels, one for safety and one for exploration, I believe the dream was telling me that my life has many different layers. As probe deeper, explore the inner recesses of my memories, I will find many stories, many things that have been buried for a long time. I think the fact that the basement in this house had extra levels just tells me that things are not always as they seem on their face.

The kiosks, music instruments, and glass panels are simply things that seem to show me that within my experience, there are so many untapped and wonderful areas for exploration. For example, as I walked around this basement space, I noticed that people were busy doing trade, buying, and selling. More so, as I moved toward the window, I could see many people outside walking, hiking, and even skiing near the mountains. I felt like I was at some resort, and the magnitude of the beauty overwhelmed me. I wanted to go outside to see what was there. I felt like I was exploring uncharted space. It was exciting to me.

In sum, I think this dream simply was a reminder that while I have strong childhood memories, happy reflections of my childhood and teenage years, I have an adult life waiting to be explored. Things are not always as they seem, and I must pursue opportunities in order to experience them. I cannot live in the past, so I have to trust the Lord, and go outside and see the world.

Dream 2: In dream 2, I was cleary at a resort or some type of town whereby Christmas was a big draw for people to come and shop. I am not sure where this place was located, but I am thinking New England or someplace similar. It was quaint as I recall. The fact that I couldn't find my room tells me a couple things: first, it tells me that the timing is not right. The funny thing is that when I asked for my room number, the woman that helped me found my name. So this says that I was registered, but since the floor could not be found, I have to assume that I will go there someday, but in my dream, the day was not right, if that makes sense.

So what is the grand takeaway from these two dreams? Well, I just think that I am coming to see that my childhood memories, while sweet and wonderful, are simply what they are: memories. The Lord wants me to experience new things, new vistas, and to do that, I have to be willing to trust Him, to let go of the past, and to explore new places with interest and enthusiasm. Moreover, the time for my visit is not just yet. I will go someplace soon, but not just yet. My name is registered, but there is no room for me at this time. Thus, I have to be patient and I have to wait for His timing, His perfect timing.
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post for today, I realize that I am still in this temporary place. No matter how much I want to go and visit, go and see, and eventually, go and move -- I have to wait for the Lord's perfect timing. I must be patient and wait for Him to move me when He is ready to do so. My dreams today simply were a reminder to be patient, to wait, and to rest while waiting as the Lord prepares my next step, my next phase, my next destination.