August 30, 2015

Ready to Go...Again!

It is Sunday, and I am sitting here at my home computer blogging. Yes, I should be working on power points for the week, reading for my Theology class, and writing discussion board posts/responses. Instead, I am sitting here thinking about my life, reflecting on my week (last), and enjoying the blessed rest the Lord has given to me this good Sunday afternoon. In truth, I want to rest. I want to use today for rest -- like in the biblical way -- as a Sabbath rest. I want to spend this entire day doing nothing, but resting, restoring my strength, and renewing my commitment to following the Lord. Yes, I want this day to be a good day of rest, with no real worries, because as the Word says, ""So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Matthew 6:34 NLT).

On this good Sunday, I am seeking peace from the ravages of the world, but mostly from the daily grind that shouts "YOU MUST DO THIS NOW!" I am so tired, so weary, and so ready to check out -- simply due to my work schedule and my coursework at Regent. It all seems so impossible right now -- you know -- making it through to the end of December. I know I can do it, but not in my own strength. I am resting in His strength, and I am trusting Him to see me through to the very end. I think the grind has caught up with me, and I know that if the way I feel today is indicative of my semester, well then, I am sunk. I do not have the strength, the resolve, or the fortitude to see this semester through, yet I know that I must see it through to the end because this is what the Lord has called me to do. And while I am ready to do His work, and I am ready to go where He is sending me -- still -- I stress and I strive to make sense of it all. I am trying to figure it all out so that I can be "ready" to go when He says to me, "Carol, it is time to go!"

Ready to Go

This past week was good. I mean, I survived my first week of classes, and I made it through in one piece. Like I said, I am really tired, but generally, I feel good -- upbeat, optimistic, and hopeful -- that the semester is going to end well.

I like my classes, and I am enjoying the readings in my Theology course at Regent. In all, I am in a good place -- ready, willing and able -- to take the next step as soon as the Lord calls me to it. I am waiting for His provision of a full-time position, and once that comes to pass, then I will move. Right now, that appears to be June or July 2016. I don't see how the Lord will keep me in Phoenix for another year. I had thought that my dissertation would take me to May 2017, and that would require another year of school and financial aid. Instead, I am now on a shortened timeline so if all goes as planned, I will graduate from Regent with my PhD in hand sometime around the first of September 2016. I will start applying again (for full-time) come October/November. This is the normal time frame when schools begin filling positions for the following year. Some wait until January/February, and some fill all through the year. I will begin looking though soon, once school is into full swing. I will find clarification on the place at that time too. Right now, I have been looking in several locations, but none have "felt" right. In fact, I would say that for the most part all the schools I have previewed have seemed closed to me. This is not to say that a door won't open for me later in the year, it is just that I have had the feeling that the Lord was not intending to send me to these places. Instead, He was allowing me to check them out, to get a feel for them, while I finished my courses and prepped for exams. I didn't know then (last year) that I would be finished early, but I had a feeling that the Lord would move me in time for a fall start date in 2016. I felt confident that this was His timing on the matter. I just didn't know where it would be, as in location or state.

It is really funny, I mean funny, how everything works out according to His will. For the past 10 years I have felt this pull toward the SE USA. I assumed it meant that I was to move to the SE at some point in time. Yet, no matter how I tried to figure it out, to determine where I would go, what I would do, etc., I ended up with this general sense that the SE was important to me. I focused on three places in specific: TN, GA and NC. These were the places where I felt a connection, an affinity, and a desire toward moving or, at the least, toward living there. Still, nothing materialized, and I remained in AZ. The Lord continued to prepare me, train me, equip me, and educate me right here in Phoenix. I was content to remain here, but the pull to move was so strong that I believed (and I still do) that the Lord intends for me to move elsewhere within the year.

Other places I have looked at moving to -- seriously moving -- have been IL, IN, and OH. Odd as that may seem, these are the places where the Lord has asked me to consider for relocation. I have been hesitant to embrace them, simply because of the cold weather, yet the Lord has had me check them out on more than one occasion over the last 5-6 years. For a long while, I believed that the reason why I felt the pull toward these states was simply because of childhood memories. I grew up in IL, but my cousins were from IN and OH, so I spent many happy vacations visiting family. I assumed that this might be more memory related than actual prompting by the Lord so often I just pushed the feelings aside.

Now, I am not so sure. I blogged about how I have come to terms with my job, my career as an educator, and how I am no longer worried about the "place" -- as in where I will end up. I realized this week that no matter where I go, I will go with the Lord, and the work I will do will be whatever He asks me to do. So whether I am sent north or south, it is up to the Lord. I will go wherever He sends me, for sure.

I think part of my struggle with place has been my recent relationship with my good friend who lives in the SE. At first, I thought that this must be the reason why I felt this strong pull toward the SE USA. However, I couldn't quite figure out how it could be since the place he is from is not one of the places the Lord has placed on my heart to relocate. How could the Lord provide a wonderful man to me and then not choose to move me to be near him? This doesn't seem fair in my view. I have struggled with this idea -- what if we never get together? I mean, what if the Lord moves me north and keeps him south? How can that be?

The more I tried to wrestle with this thought, the more distraught I became. I mean -- what if, what if we never get together (permanently)? How would I feel about that? Well, I can tell you that I would be miserable, for sure. Furthermore, I honestly do not see how that can be because our relationship has grown very strong -- and not diminished in any way -- over the past 14-15 months. This seems to say to me that our relationship is good, solid, and deepening regardless of the fact that we are separated by many states.

This past week, I started to let go of my desire for "place," meaning that I let go of my desire to live in a certain place. Instead, I embraced the idea that no matter where I go, the Lord will be with me. Furthermore, I accepted that if I was meant to be with my love, then the Lord would do something to bring us together -- even asking us both to move some place else than our current home states. Perhaps this is the Lord's will. I don't know, I don't know. I just know that He is Sovereign and that my trust exceeds my need to "know." I can go wherever He sends me, and I know I will be provided for and happy (content and filled with joy). I can live here or there, and as long as I am doing His work, in His way, and through His will -- then I am good, so very good. God is good, so very good to me.

Taking The Next Step

I am ready to begin the next phase of the Lord's plan for my life. I feel it, I sense it, and I think He is getting ready to do something amazing. I hope that He will provide some clarification to me, but until that happens, I will rest and I will trust in Him, and in Him alone. I feel good about moving forward, and I feel this settled peace right now, peace that says to me "you are well, you are doing well, and you are heading in the correct direction." I feel that I am going to find out soon, and once I know where I am to go, then everything will start to fall into place. More so, I believe that if the Lord desires for me to remarry, then He will put this same idea, sense, and feeling into my love so that He knows too what the plans are for his life as well as my life. I want us to walk forward together, not separately, and I want to spend the rest of my days working alongside this wonderful and Godly man. I believe that the Lord has put us together, and I see testimony to that fact every day. It is just a matter of how the plans work out, how everything works out right now. I can only trust and rest in the Lord -- for He knows best -- for my life and for his life. I rest, I rest, I rest.

The more I consider this thought, these feelings, the more I wonder how the Lord intends to take two people who live in very different places and put them together in one place so that they can live their lives together to His glory. I know the Lord is able to do this, and I am sure He will reveal His will to us in His perfect timing. Still, it does seem weird in a way. I mean, I am here in Phoenix, but I don't want to remain here. I have longed to move away from Phoenix for now on 15 years. In fact, I never wanted to come here in the first place. I have always wanted to live some place else. My son feels the same way, though I think he has finally come to terms with the fact that we are here for a short time only. My timeline for moving has always been 2017, at the latest. I have known this since 2010, and I have accepted that this is the deadline -- I will be out, gone, and some place else -- by 2017. I assumed that this coincided with my graduation from Regent. However, it wasn't until just recently when I remembered that my original time line for doctoral studies was 2016 and not 2017. I changed the date when I didn't start at Regent in 2012. Yep, once I knew that I couldn't start in 2012, I assumed that my graduation date was bumped out to 2017. The funny thing is that Regent has always maintained that their COM PhD program was a 3-year program, 3 years. So even though I assumed the date was moved, the truth was that the Lord had intended me to graduate and relocate in 2016 -- 3 years after I started my studies.

So 2016 is my move date. I feel it, I am confident of it. I tried to move earlier last year, to attempt to move this summer, but that wasn't in the cards. No, for whatever reason, I am to remain here in Phoenix until May 2016. After that, I will go wherever the Lord leads me to go.

My son and my parents have caused me concern, of course. My son will not graduate from ACU until 2017, and that means he would have a year here in Phoenix without me living near by. Still, I know that the Lord has him covered, and that he could live on campus for a year, should that be in the Lord's plans for him. My parents are another story, but as my Mom's condition deteriorates, one thing is certain -- we cannot continue to live in this house -- forever. My parents don't want to move from this house, but I cannot remain here, and they cannot live on their own. This means that they will need to move, to move some place else so they can live out their remaining days. I believe that the Lord will care for them, provide a place for them, and for now, we are together because it suits the Lord for us to be together. However, my Mom will need assistive care sometime soon, perhaps by next year. My Dad cannot care for her full-time so they will need to move to assisted living at some point soon. Assisted living in AZ is atrociously expensive. I believe that if the Lord moves me, He will move me to a place where assisted living is reasonably priced, where my parents could go so that we live near one another, but not together in the same home. I know that this is not my parents first choice. They want to live with me, but with Mom's memory care issues, I cannot see that happening at all. I think this means that the place I go will be one where we can all live reasonably well, near one another, but not sharing the same home. At least, this is what I think. I will wait to know what the Lord decides is best.

In the End

I will go where the Lord sends me. I am confident of this, that the Lord has a good job in mind for me, and I will go and live some place where this work will provide a good quality of life for me. I am trusting the Lord for His provision, shelter and care -- not just for me -- but for my parents and my son. God is good, so very good -- and He has a great and wonderful plan for each of our lives. He is good, so very good.

August 29, 2015

Things Are Good

Happy Saturday! Yes, it is a good and blessed Saturday, and I am feeling well, well in my soul and body. I survived Week One at college (hooray!), and I am looking forward to two days off to rest, recuperate, and renew my strength. The Lord is good to  me, so very good to me. He has provided a good schedule, a blessed schedule, and I am seeing the wisdom of His way. The Lord knows me well, and while I am certain He knows that I don't like to "do early," He has chosen a way for me that provides enough time during the week (day) to complete my Regent studies. I admit that this week, I felt overwhelmed with the early routine, but by yesterday, I was feeling the "groove" of it all. I was able to accomplish most of everything for my week -- and that -- is a huge accomplishment. I can see now where I will be able to use this built-in free time to help me stay on track and complete all the tasks assigned to me this semester. He is good, so very good to me!

Rejoice in the Lord

I am rejoicing in the Lord today. Philippians 4:4 NLT says, "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!" The dictionary defines the word, "rejoice" as meaning to "feel or show great joy or delight" in something or someone. Merriam-Webster says it this way, to rejoice means "to feel or show that you are very happy about something." I love this definition best because it really does seem to represent the way I feel. I am very happy about my relationship with the Lord, my life as it presently stands, and the future hope I hold onto that is securing my eternity. I know that I am in a very good place today, and that while everything isn't 100% clear to me, I feel as though I "know enough" to be settled, to feel content, and to be assured that the path I am on is a good one. Let me explain...

I cannot really put my finger on how it is that I came to feel settled, but I want to say it happened, being settled I mean, sometime earlier in the week. I blogged about how I figured out or 'came to know' my calling (teaching and mentoring) and how that calling was not tied to a specific place (like in a city or state). I realized that my life, from the earliest memories of childhood through to young adulthood and married life was marked by periods of either the desire to teach or the physical outwork of teaching itself. I also noted that while my desire to move, to relocate to different places, seemed to coincide with difficulties in my life (mostly my dissatisfaction with life), I came to understand that the underlying desire was not for a physical home on earth, but for my eternal home waiting for me on the other side. I recalled how often I longed to "go home," and for many years, I thought that meant going back to San Jose or Illinois -- back to where I lived as a child -- but it wasn't until I sat and really thought about it -- that I realized that my desire to go home was predicated on a deep longing, a yearning, a desire to be with my Lord and Savior. C.S. Lewis once said that we all have deep-seated yearnings and longings that point to a relationship with our creator, and I agree. In my heart, I confused the need to go home, to be safe and secure, with my need to a deeper, stronger, and more intimate relationship with God.

As I processed all this information, the memories, the desires, the yearnings, I came round to this truth: I am right where I belong because this is where the Lord intends me to be. You see, where I am, there He is. The Word says it this way in Psalm 139:7-12,

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

The Spirit of the Lord is all around us (Ps. 34:7), therefore, we cannot run from His presence. Moreover, because the Holy Spirit makes His home in us, we are filled with His power, which enables us to know the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the Word of God (2 Tim. 1:14).

I sit here today, and I give thanks to the Lord for helping me to understand, to be clear on many, many points in my life. I live in a time of uncertainty, where so much is unknown (as to my days and the contents of them). Still, I can rest in the knowledge that the Lord knows my days well. He has them appointed and He knows what each one will bring. I can rest in this knowledge, and I can take heart to know that wherever I am and whatever I am doing, the Lord is with me. He is guiding my steps, directing my path, and leading me onward toward my final destination, my forever home. 

I rejoice today because He is, He exists, and He lives! Amen, so be it, selah!

Making Plans and What Not

So much of blog is about planning and organization. I know that this might be boring to many readers, but the truth of the matter is that organization and administration happens to be one of my spiritual gifts. The Lord has given to me the ability to process details in a very orderly fashion. I am gifted in administration, and thus, I find it a joy to be organized. Many people struggle with organization -- in the home, at the office, in their daily lives. I am not uber-organized by any means. In fact, I live in a bit of a disarray at times. I struggle with "stuff" like the rest of humanity -- too much stuff and too little space to contain it. Still, it is the process of being ordered that seems to be my friend. I think logically, and I tend to plan, to make plans that factor in details. I guess you could say that I am very or highly detailed organized. Yes, I think in small details. 

The funny thing is that often detailed-oriented individuals are regarded as being obsessively minded about the small stuff (anal retentive). This is not really the case, and thanks to Freud, that term has been associated with anyone who pays close attention to details. I am detailed oriented, and as a result, I tend to notice things that seem out of place or not right. I notice patterns, and I pay attention to body language. I also see what is missing when the big picture gets discussed (like a puzzle with missing pieces -- I can see what we are overlooking). I guess being a detailed-oriented person can be a blessing and a curse at times, but generally speaking, I am glad that my brain is wired this way. My logical and analytical side benefits because I seek to "know" even the smallest detail -- all of that data is important to me -- no matter how inconsequential it might be or seem. Yes, I welcome details, all details no matter their size or shape or history. 

My desire to plan is fueled by my data collection mentality. I collect data, I sort through it, I categorize it, and then I use it to make plans. It is all very orderly, very productive, and very efficient. In the end, I produce results in the form of a long-range goal sheet. I don't always meet or exceed these goals, but I use them as a check sheet to ensure that I am moving in the right direction, that I am going where I think the Lord is leading me. It is very analytical and processed, and I think that is why I tend to focus so much on reflection, especially on this blog. I reflect on my experiences a lot. Reflection allows me to sort through old details, old data to see if there is any relevance to current issues. In some ways, I research my past, my history, looking for fragments of unnamed, mis-categorized data that might help or be useful to my current situation. This process of researching through the past benefits me because it helps me fill in the gaps of knowledge I have about my life -- the people, the places, and the pursuits I attended to when I was 12, 22, 32, and so on. In many ways, it is simply a method I have devised that allows me to build the puzzle of my life, slowly and methodically sorting and searching through past memories to see where they might "fit" in the big picture of my life. It is kind of neat when you think about it that way. 

Today is a good day for me because of where I am at in this process called "life." Yes, I am still putting the puzzle together, but I feel more and more confident that as the picture is filled out, the end result will be spectacular. I am excited to rest now, to rely on the Lord for my every need and provision, and to be able to let go of so much of the past -- so much of the past -- in favor of being ready to receive all the good marked for me in the present and in the future. The Lord is good, so very good, and the plans He has for my life are good as well. I love the Lord so much, and I love my life -- all of it -- even the gritty parts. God has provided me with sufficient challenge to keep me engaged, and He has given me good practical work to do that is enjoyable and easy (in some ways). I love that I get to spend my days on a college campus, that I get to work with young people, invest in their lives, and help them find their way. I love that I am able to do this, and I love that my life is all about making young people's lives better. My job is a good one, and while I may not make a huge salary, what I do each day is worth far more, far more than anything I could imagine or ask for. God has provided me with a rich and varied life, and the details while sometimes difficult to process, are always for my good. I look up today, and I look to see His hand upon my life. I know that I am well loved, well cared for, and that the outcome of my life will be good. It will be good.

God is good all the time, and all the time He is good!

August 27, 2015

Understanding My "Place"

It is a rainy Thursday here in Phoenix. Yes, you read that correctly -- it is raining! Well, it was just a few minutes ago, and we had some lightning and thunder too. I just checked the radar and it looks like we are set for more scattered showers tonight, and the temperature has dropped about 15 degrees from our high of 105. Oh, it is so pleasant right now.

As I sit here in my home office, I have been struggling today to get myself together. I mean, I have been trying to get organized, and to make progress on some of my school assignments. I have been frustrated with my computer (my Mac) so I spent most of last week working with my PC. I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to 10, and so far, I like the new software. I also upgraded my laptop, and it seems to be running faster and smoother. However, I have found that while I like my PC (when it doesn't fuss at me), I really am not as comfortable working on it as I am on the Mac. I don't know why this is the case because my Mac generally runs slower than my PC. It takes a while to boot up, and the applications seem slower to load. Still, I find that I am more comfortable with the Mac OS, and in that, I seem to be more productive. Go figure.

With that in mind, suffice it to say that I didn't get as much done today as I would have preferred. I did make some "thinking progress," but that is not going to help me on my discussion boards, my critical reviews or my teaching prep. No, I am behind, and for what it is worth, I am feeling the sting of guilt. It is no one's fault but my own. Sigh.

Making New Discoveries

Today has been an interesting day for sure. It started out sluggish, and it seemed like nothing was going to go my way. I woke up tired, and I dragged myself out of the house and over to ACU for my morning class. In truth, I so wanted to call in sick today, to stay at home. I prayed on the way over, and I remember saying to the Lord, "why did I take this contract, Lord?" I needed the money, that was why, and I took it because the Chair needed me to teach this class. I took it because I wanted to make more money, and I thought it would be a good idea. I don't mind the course really, but I am feeling the pinch of time or lack of time, thereof, and here I am at the start of the semester whining about why I am so tired. Sigh!

After class ended (which was good, BTW), I drove home. I was praying in my spirit and I started to ask the Lord about doing His work. I am not sure why I asked Him about this, but I did. I started to say something along the lines of where I will go or end up to do "this work." I have always been under the impression that the Lord intended me to move, to go someplace to do His work. I have known that I wouldn't remain here in Phoenix, but I have not really known where I will end up. I have considered a number of places, and with the Lord's permission, I have learned as much about them as possible. Still, I remained in Phoenix, and my desire to move some place else simply simmered on the back burner while I attended to everything here and now.

As I prayed, I started to thank the Lord for helping me to figure out my calling. I thanked Him for showing me that teaching is a way for me to fulfill my calling. I recalled my discovery from the other day when I finally realized that the job I did for daily provision was simply good work. The ministry work, the "thing" I am called to do was different. It just so happened that teaching (that practical good work) also fulfilled God's design for ministry. This revelation was eye-opening for me because it helped me to finally accept the path I am on, which is teaching full-time, being a professor, and working at a college or university until I retire.

I have been so confused for such a long time. I kept wanting to "do something" and that something seemed so elusive to me. I wanted to "be" someone, some one who has a good job, a career, a purpose. I embraced my calling and purpose as God-ordained, but I couldn't quite figure it out. I mean, how would I do the thing the Lord wanted me to do. Where would I do it, and when would I start to do it. Until some future date, I presumed, I would just "keep on keeping on" -- doing whatever I could, whenever I could do it, and I would pray, trust, and hope for further clarification from the Lord. I knew that my schooling figured prominently, and that my PhD in specific was part of His will, but I couldn't accept that my life was already in motion, that the plan He had for me was already in place. I was already doing the "thing" He called me to do. I just didn't know it.

Once I accepted that I am called to teach, that my ministry is to reach students for Christ, and to mentor them and build them up so that they develop strong roots that go down deeply into the foundation of God's Word, everything seemed to fall into its rightful place. I knew that my job was to teach practical skill (writing and communication), but really I was affirming and encouraging them in God's call on their life. I was to be the person who would confirm their call, who would direct them, help them find that path, and then motivate them to seek Him with their whole heart. Yes, my job is to motivate, to mentor, and to minister to young people so that they will come to know the Lord, to know Him better, and to trust their life into His hands. My work, therefore, is to do this ministry one-on-one as the Lord leads me. I do it through college/university classes, and I do it without shame because it is what the Lord intends for me to do. He equips me, He empowers me, and He enables me to do this work.

With all that figured out, one piece of the big puzzle remained and that was where I was to do this work. I am adjunct right now, and while I am thankful for that part-time work, I know that I need full-time work to sustain my life. I also believe that the Lord does plan to move me, but I have been tossed about as to where that place would be. This part of the unknown future has troubled me, and especially in light of my parents situation, I feel compelled to "know" what the Lord intends to do. Hence, I pray about it all the time. Without ceasing, really. I am constantly asking the Lord where He intends to send me and when.

Today -- just like every other day -- I asked the Lord where He intended to send me. The difference today was that rather than hearing Him say for me to rest, I started to think more clearly about my purpose, my work, and His plan for my life. This was when...it just clicked...all the unknown seemed to become clear to me. Let me explain...

Wanting to Find that Place of Happiness

In the middle of my prayers today, I figured out that my "place" or where I live in this life is inconsequential to my happiness. Yep, it was quite a startling revelation that I had today, and I think it tagged itself onto my discovery of my calling, something I blogged about the other day. You see, the Lord has been working in my life to get me to "see" or to understand that where I live, the work I do, etc. has nothing at all to do with my being happy or content in life. I know, grand truth, isn't it! The problem is that for most of my life, I have always wanted to be some place different. I mean, as a child, I wanted to live in a different time (era). As a young teenager, I wanted to live in a different state. As a young adult, I wanted to move to the mountains, to the country or to some place -- really -- anyplace other than where I was currently at. Once I was married, I thought "marriage" would make me happy. Yes, I did think that as a young newly married girl (I was 22 after all). I knew that marriage would be hard work, and that it would take commitment, but I thought it would also provide happiness to me. In fact, over the course of the past thirty some years I would admit that the majority of my life was spent thinking that I would be happiest IF I could move or live someplace different. I know it sounds silly, juvenile, and immature, but I really did think that moving away from my family and leaving San Jose to come here to Phoenix would make me happy. Unfortunately, I traded my unhappiness in San Jose for my unhappiness in Phoenix. Different place but same problem.

For most of my adult life I have believed that if I lived in the "right place," and had the "right job" then I would be happy, that I would be content and satisfied in life. My faith in Jesus Christ sustained me, and even with the blessing of His relationship and reconciliation, I still longed for "some place," some place that wasn't available to me. What I didn't understand was that the place I was seeking all this time was my heavenly home and not some place on earth. Yes, I longed for a place where I would find happiness, where I would be content and filled with peace and joy. It wasn't until I thought about it today that this "new understanding" seemed to click for me. I found myself saying to the Lord this morning "it doesn't matter where I live because as long as you are there, I am content." The words seemed to pop out of my mouth on their own, and once they had been articulated, I understood the content of their full meaning. I have been looking all my life for a place to belong, a place where I would be safe and secure, and where I would be content. I thought it was to be found in this life, but it wasn't until I came to this point today that I realized that what I want is not here, but it is there --> over there --> waiting for me in the distance. The Lord is calling me home, and I realize that this is where I want to be. I long to be there with Him, to sit with Him, and to listen to Him in the quiet solitude of unending days. I am not there yet, and my life has many more days before I will slip away and be with Him. Until then, there is much work to be done, and that work needs to be done here and now. It is not about going this place or that or living here or there. It is about letting the Lord of Lords and King of Kings live through me right now, right here where I am, and in this way, His will is accomplished today, tomorrow, and every day following. I finally get it, and I know that I no longer have to go anywhere to find what I am missing, longing for, and desiring. The Lord is my everything, as I always say, but still my heart wanted to believe that this wasn't enough, that He wasn't enough.

Today, I marvel at the simplicity of this notion, that the God of the Universe is not enough for me. I know that He most certainly is, and that it is through His mercy and grace that I live, I breathe, and I function today. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me -- and today while I am tired, overwhelmed, and burdened -- I rest in the knowledge that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am living where He wants me to live, and I am doing the work He has prepared for me to do. I don't have to do anything more, and I don't have to go anywhere else. I simply must live as He calls me to live today, and I must trust that He is always enough for me. I need nothing more save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

August 26, 2015

Ready to Get Moving

It is Wednesday, and I am sitting in the coffee shop/lounge at GCU. Yeah, there is something wonderful about hanging out on a college campus. It is funny, but when I think about the times in my life when I felt my best, I would have to say that one of them was during my Junior-Senior year in college. I attended San Jose State University as a transfer student, and the 2.5 years I spent on campus was among my best memories. I was blessed to attend school with my best friend, Martha, who was enrolled in the same degree program. We had an identical schedule, which meant that with the exception of a few classes, we went to school together all 2.5 years. She was my study-buddy, and helped to make the entire experience something wonderful. We grew very close during those years, and we enjoyed all our courses -- mostly laughing, joking, and making fun of the stodgy old Profs we had. We also talked about our dreams and desires, our longings, and our hopes for our future.

Back then, I was married, and I was attending college on a "wish and a dream." My ex-husband wasn't supportive of my schooling, and he felt that it wasn't necessary for me to finish college. He never finished, and as he would say it, "college didn't help him get a job in sales." I desired to finish school because it was something I had promised to my parents. I had dropped out to get married, and to assuage their disappointment, I promised I would return to school and get my BA degree. In hindsight, I know now that this was a gift of the Lord. I wouldn't be where I am today -- completing my PhD had He not provided a way for me to go to school to finish my first degree program. God had a plan for my life, and even though I was walking in my own way back then, I was fulfilling the overall plan He had for me. I didn't know it, of course, other than the fact that I had this deep need to go to school, and then go on to graduate school. I also had this feeling that I was meant to teach college, and that I was supposed to go to graduate school. I didn't do that right away because my ex-husband wasn't interested in allowing me to continue on through school. He didn't want to pay for it, and he didn't want me to take any student loans. I gave up that "feeling" and I put it on the back burner of my life. The funny thing is that while I submitted to my husband's wishes, I never felt the desire to complete graduate study or to become a teacher wane. No, not in 17 years, did this desire fade. It simmered. It slowly remained warm until a time in the future when my life changed, I changed, and my focus on doing the Lord's work and His will changed. Yes, my life changed the day I chose to make His work my work, His will my will, and His way my way.

Ready to Get Moving

So today I sit here at GCU -- yes -- I sit here as a Professor of English and Communication. And even though I don't wear the title of Doctor, yet, I am a teacher at a major Christian university. It only took 20 years to get to where I was supposed to be, but here I am, and I made it. Yes, I made it. Now, I look to the future, to the next step in the process, to moving to where the Lord has a job for me. I am content with the teaching contracts I have here in Phoenix, but I know that this is not His final destination for me. He has a plan, and that plan includes a full-time teaching position. I am excited to see what He will do in the next 3-6-9 months, and to see how He intends to move me from where I am now to where He wants me to be. I am excited, and I am ready to get moving.

As I consider the path that I am on right now, one thing comes to mind, and that is that this journey has been difficult, has been a struggle, and has proven challenging. It is true -- I haven't had an easy life -- yet compared to others, I know that my life has been blessed. I mean, I did have almost 30 years of marriage, and I did have the pleasure and privilege of giving birth to a beautiful son. More so, I have been active in church ministry, and I have had the blessing of working with children and young people for nearly all that time. In short, my life, while challenging and at times very difficult, bore fruit. It wasn't dead, even though my life wasn't the best it could be. I did have a life that was not fraught with wars or famine or even terror, like many in this world. My life was not perfect, not painless, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I had the Lord, and because of my relationship with Him, albeit somewhat legalistic, I was under His banner of mercy and grace. And because of His grace, my life was protected in many ways from the evils of this world. It was sheltered, and I was kept safe. I still suffered, but that suffering was tempered by His great love. In essence, even though my life didn't turn out has I had hoped it would, it turned out far better than I could have ever expected. Let me explain...

In my Theology class this week, I was asked if my beliefs influenced my lifestyle. I shared that my beliefs did influence my lifestyle, The fact is that because of the transformative love of my Savior, my life resembles His life. I know that may seem arrogant in that my life is surely not sinless. What I mean is that as I am created in His image, my character is being conformed to be more life Him as I walk this path of life. Yes, the more time I spend with my Lord and Savior, the more I come to know Him, and as a result, I become like Him. This is my prayer, my hope, my praise -- that my life would be a reflection of His love and mercy. I want to be His hands and feet, and that means that I want to live my life in such a way that I am bringing honor and glory to His majestic name. He is worthy, so worthy to be praised.

August 25, 2015

Blessed Rather than Stressed

It is a good Tuesday and I am sitting here at home after a morning of teaching at ACU. I am tired, so very tired, and my legs are sore from walking a mile or more back and forth on the campus at Grand Canyon yesterday. The first day back to GCU is always a bit stressful. The campus is so large, with almost 15,000 students this year, so parking and manuevering is always a challenge on the first day. Furthermore, the building projects are in full-swing so there are workmen digging, pounding, and generally making noise throughout the day. Still, my first full-day of teaching went well, and my week is now off to a good start. I am blessed, so very blessed.

I woke up thinking about being blessed today. I don't know why but I think it has to do with the fact that I have been struggling lately to process all the details of my life, put everything in order, and generally, map out a plan that aligns with what I believe the Lord is calling me to do. Yesterday was such a challenge for me. I was up at the crack of dawn, over at campus before 7 a.m., and ran non-stop until I left to come home around 3:15. I was tired, hot and sticky, and very sore. Yet, I had this great sense of peace about my day. I was less stressed than ever before, and I felt completely at ease as I moved from class to class. I encountered a number of issues -- from AC not working well to lights flickering off/on -- along with the usual frantic pleas from lost freshman to avoiding all the wild skateboarders on campus. The day was full, to say the least, and I came home and promptly passed out (yes, I did!)

In all the details of the day, I couldn't help but feel as though I was blessed to be a part of GCU. I was blessed to be there, to be at school, and to be teaching. This morning as I struggled to get out of bed and dressed, I thought (for a short minute) that it would be so good to be off to a day in the office rather than driving over to teach at another school. Yes, I thought how nice it would be to go sit all day long. As I said, it was a short minute, because after those thoughts percolated around my mind for a bit, I said to the Lord, "No, Lord, I am thankful that I have my T-Th's partially off, that I have these days to rest in between my long, hard days at GCU." In truth, I am thankful for teaching, for this kind of schedule, and for the fact that I get to do this kind of work. I mean, I get to hang out with young people all day long, and I get to run the "show" so to speak in my classes. I have total control, total freedom, and blessing upon blessing, I get to make my own semester schedule. God is good, so very good.

Yes, I know now that every job has ups and downs, good and bad, and that no job is perfect. Teaching is no exception. I am tired, I am weary, and the semester has just begun. I am feeling the burn of my legs as I hustle across campus in order to not be late to class. I stress over the details often, and I do feel at times like I am not the best teacher. But, whenever I do feel that way, the Lord brings me sweet testimony to change my mind. Yesterday, while I was reading my book for COM 709, one of my former students came up to me to say hi. He was a joy to have in class last semester, and I strongly encouraged him in his pursuit of evangelism. He is former Army, a young married man with two small children. He is trying very hard to do the right thing by his family and his wife. I could tell that about him right away -- he was a new Christian -- though he said he was raised in church, but had fallen away for a time. He was actively pursuing ministry, and he had this intensity about his desire to serve the Lord. I liked him a lot, and I wanted to encourage him in his ministry pursuits.  After we chatted, he told me how important my class was to him, and how it was his favorite class at GCU. He said I was an awesome, wonderful teacher, and how much he learned from me.

I was humbled, and I was blessed. I may not reach every student, but every now and then, I reach one or two for Christ's sake, and well, things just happen like that. It is so encouraging to me to hear feedback, to know that my students are being fed by whatever I say to them, and that they are finding my classes and my approach meaningful to them. I have said it before that I am not a great teacher, but that I am good (pretty good). I would like to be better, but there is part of me that realizes that for me, being better is not really my end game. I used to think it was, but now I think I am more interested in investing in the lives of these young people, in reaching them for Christ, than in becoming a better teacher. I mean, yes, I need to be a good teacher and all. But in truth, in the light of eternity, what matters is their relationship with the Lord, their love of God and others, and their understanding that God has a plan and purpose for their lives. I love these young people, all of them, and I desire to know them and to help them in whatever way I can. It is not about teaching for me, and I guess that is the nub of the point. It is about my life being emptied out and filled with His life so that the work I do is all about Jesus, all about my Lord and Savior. I want my life to filled to the full with His work so that everything I do, every day I spend, is blessed by His presence, blessed by His infilling of the Holy Spirit, and blessed by His influence over my words, my ways, and my walk. May everything I do be about Him and not me. May my life be a reflection of His character, may my testimony bear resemblance to a life lived in submission and holy pursuit, and may my days be filled with good things, good noble and perfect things. I ask this in His name because I believe it is His will for me. I believe that I am to teach professionally, but mentor spiritually. I believe that teaching is the forum He intends to use to reach these young people. I believe that my role is to facilitate relationship building between my students and Jesus Christ. I believe that my responsibility is to handle the Word accurately, and to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in me, the hope of a future eternity with my Lord. Yes, this is my work. This is my ministry, and this is my calling. I see it now, I get it. For a long time, I believed that my ministry was something different, something way off in the future, something necessary but not aligned with the actual work (or job) I would do.

I have come to learn that the work I do is two-fold. There is practical good work (job), and then there is spiritual work (ministry). I am blessed to be able to do both at the same time, to work to earn a living, and to work to minister to students. It gives me the opportunity to be about His business on a daily basis. I love this fact, and I love the results I see. I see faces of students, and I realize that each day I can reach them, teach them, and help them understand what they need to know. My hope is that I can encourage them to find the Lord's will for their life, and help them on that path through my mentorship. I pray for my students, and I pray for their academic studies. I pray for their testimony and witness, their relationship with the Lord, as well as their relationship with their friends. In all, my prayer is for these young people to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and then learn to walk in His way according to His will and His word. This is my ministry and it is my calling. I get it, I see it, I accept it.

Lord, may I live out my calling in complete surrender to your will. May I go where you send me, and do the work you have prepared for me to do. I trust you now to do your blessed work in me and through me -- for your name sake! Amen!

August 22, 2015

T-Minus Two Days and Counting

Today is Saturday, my last full day off before school begins Monday. I am rested, but a little bit apprehensive about what will happen over the next 16 weeks. I know the Lord has me so well covered, and I am blessed, thoroughly and completely blessed. My whole thought process now is to focus on completing my courses at Regent, studying for and passing my qualification exams, and THEN resting, really resting. I am so tired, so very tired.

The past five years, from 2010 onward, have been difficult, not just in completing my schooling, but in the fact that my marriage crashed and burned, and I was forced to learn to live on my own as a single adult. So many changes have taken place -- I've moved twice -- and now I am contemplating another move next year. I have gone from being married to divorced, and I am hoping to go back to being married some day soon. I left my home that I shared with my husband, and now I live in a home I share with my parents and son. I've bought two cars after having no car for many, many years. I've worked at home as a website designer, before moving into retail at Macy's while I finished my Master of Arts degree. My first "real" full-time position since I left Share Base Corporation in 1990 was as a student advisor at the University of Phoenix. After that position I worked as a Communications analyst at CVS Health, and now I am an adjunct instructor at two Christian Universities.

Be Bold

My life since 2010 has been marked by a series of progressive changes as I transitioned from one thing on into the next. In all these changes, my Rock and my Redeemer has been faithful. He has steadied me, kept my "ship afloat," and provided for me financially. I am still not where I think I should be -- financially, professionally, materially -- but I know that where I am today is right where He wants me to be. He has given me confidence to know that I am on this path for a reason, and that the plans He has for my life are good. I am excited about my future, especially the thought of moving to be near my love, and hopefully (Lord willing) come to find that it is His will for us to be married. I am so looking forward to starting that relationship over, to be able to be intentional and purposed, and to make it work, really work. Yes, I pray that the Lord will grant me permission to be married again some day, and I trust that His timing is perfect. He knows me well, and His plans are good -- for my life and for my love's life. It is all good, and all the time, it is good! Selah!

Joshua 1:9 says, "This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." These past years have taught me the lesson of being bold, being courageous, and being strong -- in the Lord -- and not in my own strength. Yes, the Lord has placed me in positions where I have had to learn how to rely on Him, to trust Him, and to stand in faith in order to see His blessing and provision come to pass. I have often faltered, shirked back in fear, and even refused to step forward as the Lord was calling me to follow after Him. Yes, I wasn't always, every single time, faithful. The goodness of the Lord prevailed, however, and even though I wasn't faithful to Him, He was faithful to me. He kept His promise and His word to me. I received the blessing, albeit delayed at times, because of His gentle care and compassion that saw me through each event, each hurdle, and each new change that He allowed in my life.

As I consider my life today, I am confident of one thing: the Lord loves me, and He is guiding my steps, helping me to make wise choices, and leading me onward one step at a time until I reach my final destination. I may not know where I am headed, but I am certain that I am following after the One who does. God is good like that and He always makes it possible for us to see some part of His handiwork as a testimony to us. We are able to see His hand prints and with that, we can know for sure that we are on the right track, walking according to His way, and following in obedience as He shepherds us home.

Today is a good day. I rest in the security of knowledge that says to me that the Lord is in control. He knows what He is doing, and He knows me so very well. He knows what I can and cannot do, He knows my limits, and He presses me hard, but He doesn't break me. He knows what the outcome will be, and He knows how much I must give up or in to accomplish His will for my life. Yes, we do wrestle at times, and even when we tussle a bit, I know that He gently waits for me to come around to His way of thinking, of knowing, and of accepting. It is important to state right up front that this is not about me getting my way, but rather it is about me letting go of my way -- freely, sacrificially, and without bearing a grudge. I am not giving in out of frustration, but I am coming to understand why I must let go, why it is best for me to stop striving, and why I am better off by aligning to His way in every area of my life. It is not easy at times, and often, His way doesn't make sense to me initially. I often feel that His way is harder, more challenging, and more obscure than the path that I see before me. Yet, He knows that while His way is obscured, it is also a better way to go in the long-run. It will see me best, which means that it will provide for me in the very best way possible. It is for my good, always for my good.

Thus, as I scan the horizon I see so many possible paths. I see this way and that way, and frankly, they all look really good to me. They seem nice, easy to walk, pretty on the outside and outset. Yet, I don't know what lays around the bend or if there is steep drop off behind that crag. No, I cannot see but a couple steps in front of me, and that is why I must rely on the Lord for His Sovereign rule, His grace, and His ability to help me navigate this course I call "my life."

As I think about all of this today, as I ponder it, I marvel at the goodness of the Lord, at His grace toward me. I deserve nothing but His wrath, and yet, He has graced me with mercy, with forgiveness, and with a blessed plan for my life. He has given me the very best, the very best of everything, and I know that without His power, His presence, and His provision, I would be so worse off. Yes, I would be utterly miserable -- not to mention -- utterly lost. The Lord has been so good to me, He has taken me by the hand and allowed me to walk with Him through some very difficult transitions in my life. And, while some of these transitions were costly, like the failure of my marriage, I know that what happened back then was the result of many, many things, and while I am not to blame for 100% of the failure, I am complicit in some ways. I accept my responsibility, my role, and my response (often it was my response that lacked) to many of the events and circumstances that took place. I know that, in hindsight, I could have stopped much of the problems at the get-go, but I didn't do that, and I let them "ride," so to speak. In the end, they turned into a disaster, and as we all know from experience, disasters are crises in chaos -- often unpredictable and difficult to overcome. Yes, I am well aware that the choices I made early on in my marriage could have prevented the heart ache, the pain, and the sorrow. Of course, my choices were my responsibility just as my ex-husband's choices were his responsibility. I believe that we allowed much of our life to slip by, not really taking control and authority, and not being intentional with one another. I should have stepped in and said "enough" early on -- and meant it -- before things escalated and then deteriorated to the point of divorce. I accept that I stuck my head in the sand far too many times, and that I allowed my hurt feelings to simmer. I should have spoken up, stood up, and said "no more" when I first discovered things that ultimately led to our downfall. I didn't do that, and I am ashamed to admit that my lack of response predicated my ex's rationale for his behavior.

Yet, notwithstanding, I am here today as a living testimony to life after divorce. I don't take pride in the fact that I am divorced. No, in truth, I really do not like to bear this label. I would much rather be seen as never married or married. However, this is what my life is today, and I cannot run from the truth of my past. "I am what I am" to quote Popeye, and that folks, is the whole story. The Lord is gracious, and He forgives our iniquities. He is good to those who love Him and who seek His face. I long for the day when I will be able to go into His presence with joy and thanksgiving, and to be able to sit at His feet and worship Him. He alone is worthy of my praise, my honor, and my worship. I know that He has redeemed my life from the pit of sin and selfishness. He has given me a new way to walk, a new way to think, and a new way to live. I long to spend my days with Him in eternity, but until I go home to be with Him or He returns to take me, I am content to remain where I am, to serve Him as I am able to do, and to live my life wholly and fully devoted to His cause. He is good, always so very good to me! Selah!

Boldness in the Face of Uncertainty

It is vital to remember that boldness can be fleeting especially when we are faced with uncertainty. It is difficult to remain strong, to not give in to fear and to doubt, and to remember that if God is for us, then no one can stand against us. I long to be bold, to be strong, to remain courageous even in the face of danger, difficulty, and disaster. God is with me, He goes before me, and He protects me. I know this is true, thus I walk on with courage, in faith, and until He calls me home, I wait patiently for His timing, His grand reveal. He is good, He is God, and I worship and adore Him.

I am looking forward now, and trying very hard to no longer look to my past. I have spent the previous ten years reflecting on my life, especially my childhood experiences because they were the foundation to my eventual adult outcome. I mean, I am who I am in part because of my childhood, my family, and my upbringing. I cannot divorce myself from these early experiences, but I can embrace them and allow them to have their place in the sum total that is my life. At some point, though, it is time to move on, and I sense that the time has come for me. I have reflected and spent a great deal of time processing the pain of those early experiences, so much so, that at times I have felt constrained by my past. Yet, I know that this process was necessary as it helped me see myself wholly and completely as I am. I am no longer ashamed of my background, my past or the choices I made when I was a child, a teen, and a young adult. I may have messed up royally, and I did, but I am alive today and I am living to please the Lord. Therefore, my sins are washed away, and I stand forgiven before His presence. I am cleaned, washed white as snow, and I am free to walk on in perfect grace. Truly, His grace is sufficient to meet every need. I am living testimony of His marvelous grace, and I thank God for His mercy toward me. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

So I let go of the past, the hold it has had on my life, and I embrace the future and all the uncertainty it contains. I can do this today because my Savior, my King is with me, holding me and beckoning me to "walk on" with Him. He is calling me forward, and as I step out in faith, I remember that He has never let go of me, He has never left me behind or allowed me to go on ahead of Him. No, we walk together, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that He and I go together, we remain together as friends who walk side-by-side. The Lord is at my side, and I love the fact that He is next to me. I am not alone in this journey, I am not trying to make it all happen in my own strength. I am trusting in His advice, His guidance, and in His approval as I consider every option, every turn in the path, and every new way to go. I go where He goes and in that way I am sure I will always be safe, always be secure, and always be surrounded by His presence. He is good, He is God, and I adore Him! Selah!

Next Steps and More Transition

Yes, I can say for certain that my time spent in good old "transition land" is not over yet. I doubt that I will be settled any time soon, but I hope that at the least I will be further down the line. I would like to finish my studies, be graduated, and be settled in a full-time job soon. I also would like to be moved to the place of His choosing, to be settled in that place, and to be at ease (ready to live and no longer waiting for His will to pass in regard to moving, jobs, etc.). I know that my future is good. I feel confident that in a year or two my life will look vastly different. 

For starters, I will be finished with my schooling (hooray!), and I will be working as a professor at some other school. I also believe that I will be settled, meaning that I will have a home somewhere, and I will be self-supporting (earning income and living off my own two hands). I know that many things must take place before this comes to fruition, but I still am looking, no, longing for this next step. I am so ready to be done, to be through with all the struggle, the strain, and the stress related to doctoral studies. Yes, I want to me finished. 

I also know that there are many uncertainties right now with regard to my parents care and well-being and my son's education. Still, the Lord knows this well, and I am letting this go so that I can focus on what He has assigned to me. I cannot be responsible for tasks and roles that are outside of His plan for my life. He has given me plenty to keep me occupied, and I don't need to be taking on other people's "business" just so that I can feel the "burn," so to speak. I used to do this all the time, you know, always be the "go to person" who never said "no." I learned that magic word five years ago and since then I am pretty good at saying it (nicely -- as in -- no thank you!) I am content with the lot I have been given, and I will do my best to be faithful to the Lord's leading. I will wait upon the Lord, for sure, and I will be patient and endure while He prepares the next steps He has in mind for me. I am OK with waiting, with being patient, and with enduring -- staying strong -- for I know that this is His will and it is for my good. I will wait. I will wait.

Heavenly Father,

I confess to you that I have been impatient, far to impatient for far too long now. I am ready to let all this go, to embrace the life you have given to me, and to begin living in the now, the here and now. I ask in Your son's name that you take care of everything that concerns me this day, and that you complete your will, your precious will, so that I can rest and live as you call me to live. I am ready to begin this work, to do my studies and finish strong. I ask for grace and mercy as I manage my life, my studies, and my work. Prepare me and build me up so that I can live according to your will, your way and your word. I ask all of this in the mighty, merciful and majestic name of Jesus. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

August 21, 2015

Looking Toward Home

Today is a good day. Yes, it is a very good day. I am giving praise to God for my Mom's care during this difficult time as she deals with the after effects of breast cancer. Thankfully, the surgeon was able to remove all the affected tissue, and now she only requires radiation treatment to ensure that no stray cells are left that could migrate into other parts of her body. The radiation itself is the least problematic of all the treatments doctors can prescribe, but still it is taking a toll on her physically. She is very tired. Her breast is swollen and sore. She doesn't feel well. We are thankful that she isn't suffering with chemotherapy as well. I don't think she could handle the effects at all, and in truth, with her frail condition due to her Leukemia, I just don't think she could deal with the other physical side effects (like nausea, hair loss, etc.).  Furthermore, without outside help, I don't think my Dad could deal with her care either. He is already struggling -- I can see it -- and I can hear it in his voice (being short-tempered and disagreeable most days). The grind of driving my Mom over to the care facility for 17 days in a row is growing thin on him. We are blessed that she only has to go this many times, and not the 30 they originally wanted her to come. Still, it is the whole grind, the process of going and coming, and then dealing with the aftermath (excessive fatigue on top of what she already has with her CLL). Then there is her memory as it seems to fail more and more each day. I hate to say this, but I do not think we will be in this position come next year. Truthfully, I cannot see how we can remain where we are, living in this lovely home, and being able to have a routine life (like we do now). No, I really think that her condition will deteriorate, and my Dad's health along with it. I simply see the end, and in some ways, that comforts me. Yes, I think we are all looking toward home.

Planning in the Midst of Unknown Circumstances

It is difficult to make plans when you are in the midst of unknown circumstances. I am a planner by nature, and often I blog about the plans I make. I plan, plan, and plan again, simply to help bring order to what feels like chaos in my mind. I know that my life is very ordered and structured, and in general, everything is well in hand. Yet, there is a part of me that feels the sway of circumstances, and my brain starts to think "Uh oh! Time to check the plans because this movement was not expected!" I know that seems silly especially if you are not a Type-A controller like I am. Your life might be swell, just living with the give and take, the ebb and flow as events unfold. But for those of us who are controllers (of events, not of people, I should say), then any movement, any change, or any possible alteration to the plan causes us to feel unwell. This unwellness surges in us and we feel the need to get out the map and check our course. I liken it to what a course navigator does when the Captain calls out to have the coordinates checked. In my case, the Lord is my Captain, and the Holy Spirit is the Navigator. Instead of trusting these two to lead me through the deepest and most difficult paths, I feel the need to recheck the coordinates, to double-check the route, and question if we are moving in the "best" possible way. I know, sad to say it is so.

The Lord is my guide, and He directs my steps (Is. 58:11). He is the One who makes the plans for my life (Ps. 37:23), and it is He who takes delight in them. I forfeited my right to make my own plans the day I knelt at the Cross. Although I didn't relinquish my control right away, I did come to learn the way through trial and circumstance. As I have walked on this faith journey, I have come to learn that I make less judgment errors when I submit and yield to the Lord's plans as well as acknowledge that He is the One who is directing (guiding and leading) my steps. Yes, I have found that life runs smoother, has less bumps, and accomplishes more when I allow Him His rightful position as Lord over my life. Still, in my flesh, I strive to figure it all out, to be part of the leadership team, and whenever I do this, I feel the chaos, the confusion, as I try to take on roles and responsibilities that are not mine.

I know my place, surely I do. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This means that I live in submission to His will, His way, and His word. I am not a leader of Jesus Christ, as many Christians attempt to be. No, I follow where He leads. This means that wherever He chooses for me to go, I go. I pick up my cross and I follow Him. I pack my bags, and I walk on, I walk on.

Faith Makes it Possible to Walk On

Today is a good day, a very good day. My circumstances are settled for the most part, but there is still much that is "unknown" in my life. For example, I have no real knowledge of what will come December. I will finish teaching at GCU and ACU, but I will not have any real knowledge of what I will do once January 2016 arrives. I have some plans set down such as sitting my exams here in Phoenix (in February 2016), travelling to Regent for my qualification oral defense (in March 2016), and the expectation of adjunct contracts at GCU. Other than these items, my life is an open book. I have been praying for a full-time job, knowing that in the Lord's time, He would provide one to me. It looks like now I may end up graduating almost 8 months earlier than expected, and that means that I will be in good shape for securing a full-time teaching position. When I think about doing this, I get that panicked feeling inside of me. I think about my life here in Phoenix, and I wonder if I will have the guts to move some place else. Frankly, I have only had two times in my life that I screwed up my will and moved away from home. The first was when I got married, and I moved out of my parent's home; and the second, was when we left San Jose to move to Phoenix. Both times, I went against the Lord's will for my life, and both times, I knew it -- deep down inside -- I knew it. I felt the conviction, I felt the pressure to relent, to let go, to turn around. Still, I convinced myself that I was doing the "right thing" (in man's eyes) and that it was noble to sacrifice my life in such a way. Yes, I consider these choices as self-sacrifice, but not as in Romans 12, but as in a sacrifice made in order to please someone else -- not necessarily the Lord.

I don't worry about making these same mistakes, but I do worry about the whole process. I worry if I will be able to handle what the future holds for me. I am content to remain where I am, and I have always had the security of my parents to back me up. My parents have always been there for me. They have provided material needs when I couldn't provide for myself. When I was in a bind, they stepped in and helped me out. They have always been there to catch me when I would fall. I know, you would think that at some point, they wouldn't have to do this for me, but I needed them to be there, and they did it. I am almost 53 and I should be able to stand on my own two feet, yet I feel afraid to do so. I mean, I can do it so long as I am near my parents. This has always been the case. It is like that moment when you teach your child to ride a bike for the first time. You hold on to the back of the seat and help them steady their balance. At some point, you let go and you watch them soar. You stand by and you watch. You remain close by in case you are needed, but you take comfort in their ability to navigate life on their own.My parents have always stood beside their children. They have always been there for us, and they have always been available when we needed them. Sure, there were times when they took more of a parent role then they should have, but generally, they have let us live our lives in our own way. They have remained close to us, and they have been rock solid.

It is sad for me to think that this is the way their lives will end. You never want to see your parents grow old and become frail. My folks are still in relatively good shape, as Mom likes to say to her well-wishers who call to check on her condition. They are both fairly well, all things considered. Still, their various infirmities are taking a toll on their lives, and it is just a matter of time when they will not be able to care for themselves. It is a burden I gladly bear, as do my brothers, though the ramifications of the care are significant. I mean, the cost of long-term care is exorbitant these days. Nursing and skill cared is out of reach for most Americans and that means that most older folks will need to live with their children during their last years. I am okay with this, I mean, I live with my parents now (well, we live together). How much longer, though, can we remain together in this home? This is the big question on my mind. Just yesterday, my Dad cut himself. He said he reached into a bush, but I think he tripped outside and fell into it. He won't admit it, but he has fallen twice recently, and while he wasn't injured severely, he knows that he is losing strength. In his condition (post-polio), he must conserve his strength. Polio victims suffer in a way that means that they cannot rebuild muscle strength. They simply expend what strength they have. Once it is gone, it is gone. I think this is why my Dad is so disagreeable today. He knows that he cannot physically care for my Mom, and that he needs me to do it for him. What is more is the fact that I think part of why he is unhappy is that I told him that I would be graduating earlier than expected. I wanted to share my excitement, so I shared it with him yesterday. Since then, he has been sullen and distant. I know that he is happy for me, but I know also that he is thinking that this means that I will want to move away next year rather than in 2017.

This has always been my plan. 2017 was my target date for moving from Phoenix. I remember when I first returned to graduate school in 2010, I made a plan to graduate with my Masters degree in May 2012, and then begin my PhD in September 2012. My graduation date back then was May 2016. I believed it was doable to complete my Masters in two years, and my PhD in four. I didn't expect hiccups along the way, the registrar not processing my paper work so that my graduation was delayed by a semester. This little "oops" ended up setting me a year behind my start at Regent. Instead of starting in May 2012 (summer start), I ended up starting my program the following year. In truth, this was clearly the Lord's plan because my colleagues in my cohort are my rock. I love them dearly, and I cannot imagine what my program would have been like had I entered the year previously. Granted, I know some of the folks from that cohort and they are lovely -- it is just that I have bonded with my group, and I love all them.

When I spoke with my professor on Wednesday, I really wasn't expecting him to tell me that I should plan on a September 2016 graduation date. I just didn't think it was possible. He is confident that it is, and I trust his opinion. This means that I will be finished, finished with graduate school in Fall 2016. I will be able to say finally "Carol Hepburn, PhD!" I know that seems lame or arrogant, but let me say that I plan to wear that title proudly because I have worked beyond my means to accomplish it. I cannot even tell you how difficult my path has been, how hard the coursework, the research, etc. There is no way that I will treat this achievement lightly. No, I am privileged to wear the doctor rank. The Lord provided it, He saw me through it, and I give all glory, praise and honor to Him alone. He alone is worthy of all praise, all praise, all praise!

Trusting the Lord for this Last Year

I think it really comes down to trusting the Lord. What else is there? What more can there be than to trust the Lord with your whole heart? Proverbs 3:5-6 says it this way,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Today, I may feel overwhelmed, worried a bit, and thinking that my ship is swaying a bit too much, but I rest and I rely on the Lord. He is my Captain, and He has firm control of this ship. I know that the plans He has for my life are good (Jer. 29:11), and I know that He delights in my way. He leads me, guides me, plans and purposes the details of my life, and in and through it all, He is Author and Finisher of my faith. I walk on until He calls me home. I trust Him, I rely on Him, and I rest in Him. He is my Provision, my Security, and He is my Hope.  Selah!