Thus, it is a good day today, and I am feeling especially hopeful, confident, and yes, excited about what is happening to me and around me. I am giving the Lord praise, and I am lifting His holy name to be worshiped this good, good day. He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), and He loves me so very deeply. I am in awe of His majesty, and I stand amazed at the way He leads, guides, and provides for me! Selah!
Change is in the Wind
I had a good weekend of rest! My classes at Regent ended the week before, so I am down to three online classes now (one at ASU and two at Grantham). The slowdown in coursework was a blessing, and I was able to really spend a good couple of days doing nothing but resting, chilling out, as they used to say. It was so nice, so refreshing, and I woke up this morning, feeling better than I have in many, many months.
I am feeling hopeful as I said above, and I am sensing that the Lord's will for my life is coming to pass. By this I mean, that I am seeing changes take place around me that is giving me confirmation that I am moving in the right direction, doing the right thing, and focused on the right path -- His path. For example, this past week, I paid a significant portion of my credit card debt off. I mentioned last week that I wanted to get my credit card debt down to about 20% of my income and that for best offers on mortgages, I really needed it to be around 10%. At the start of the summer, my credit score was hovering around 685 (due to my car purchase in February), and my debt ratio was near 40%. I knew that this scenario was temporary and that over the coming months and throughout the summer, I would apply much of my savings to reducing my debt, and as a result, both my score and debt ratio would come into alignment. I am not where I need to be yet, but I am really close, and that thought excites me to no end!
More so, this weekend, I ran some numbers using an online mortgage website. I thought I was just running their scenario program, but I have received calls from a mortgage broker "wanting to finish my application!" I laughed because I am so not ready to go. Soon, though, soon. The good news is that despite not really knowing my status financially, I actually received some news back providing another measure of confirmation to me. I can qualify for an FHA home loan with 10% down and a very reasonable monthly mortgage. I was a bit disappointed in the total cost I could borrow, though, as it is was lower than what I had planned ($300K), but I have since realized that with an improved credit score (currently at 717) and a slightly larger down payment ($30k), I can hit the $300k mark without causing my monthly payment to be difficult for me to pay.
The big takeaway from all this exploration has been confidence in my financial plans. The Lord has given me what I believe is a doable and reasonable plan to get out of debt and to purchase a forever home. I will still have my student loan debt, but that is on a different project plan for pay-off (by 2020). My general financial plan includes improving my credit score, paying off all credit cards and car loans so that I only carry a mortgage and my student loans into 2019. I would say that right now, I am on track to pay off my credit cards. I am not sure how I will tackle the car issue, but the Lord has that part under His control for sure. My prayer is to see my credit score move from where it is now to about 740 by the end of summer (August). Then, I should have my taxes paid by mid-October. I could potentially "move" to my own home by the end of the year. In all, the plan seems to be proceeding just as the Lord laid it on my heart. I am so excited, so very excited!
What is Next?
Now that I am moving forward in His plan for financial success, I am starting to see that He has made a way for me that is very realistic and very much aligned with the desires of my heart. I have blogged about this fact for 12 years now, how I claimed Psalm 37:4-5 as my life verse, and how this verse has drastically and completely changed the trajectory of my life. Yes, I have made it my "go to" verse and as such, I have seen how the promises contained in it really do hold power. If you are not familiar with this verse from the Psalms it goes like this (Amplified Version):
Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him also and He will do it.
I came across this verse during what was one of many readings of the Psalms back in 2007. I was on a regularly read-through-Bible plan (in a year), and as such, I read the Book of Psalms two times (well, really 2.5 times) in one year. I repeated this reading plan three times, so in three years of reading the Bible every day, I read the Psalms 7.5 times. I know, crazy, right? I spent from 2007-2010 reading my Bible, digging deeply into His Word, and as a result, I came to know both Psalms and Proverbs really well (I read the Book of Proverbs 36 times, or 12 times a year for three years in a row). Notwithstanding, I had these two books impressed into my mind, and since that time, I have found that the diligent study I engaged in has proved instrumental to my overall well-being and my health and welfare. In truth, I know that the Lord used this intensive plan of reading and study to prepare me for my future, a future that I had hoped would be filled with blessing and prosperity. I had no idea that it would also be filled with incredible heartache and destruction (my marriage, for example). Still, of all the verses I read, studied, and memorized, Psalm 37 has been the one hymn that has actually enabled me to find the "way" of life as I struggled to follow Him. Let me explain...
Prior to 2007, when I started my intensive reading/study plan, I was a SAHM, who worked 4/4 time in an online business (website design and hosting). My husband ran the business, and as such, he pretty much closed the contracts and then relied on me to "fulfill" them. I did the hard work, and I was paid fairly well. However, I never was paid for my work. All my income simply went into the business and my husband decided how best to spend it. In most cases, this is probably true for many married couples who own businesses. However, in my case, my husband was not a good money manager, and as such, he used my income to cover his own business expenses. In short, he didn't earn as much or regularly, but he lived and spent as if he did. I was left working 40-50 and at times 60 hours per week just to cover our mortgage and daily needs. I often was forced to feed my family of three on less than $30 per week, and toward the end of this time (2010), I had no vehicle to my name or did I have a bank account or my own income. Pretty much, I was a slave worker.
However, as 2007 dawned, several major things took place. One, my husband suffered a near-fatal heart attack. He recovered but ended up struggling with uncontrolled blood pressure (due to the medication), kidney stones, and a serious injury as a result of an exam for those stones. He was unable to work full-time for 6 months, and then as 2008 turned, he only worked 3/4 time for most of the year. Our house fell into disrepair and our mortgage was in jeopardy of being called (we financed through a private lender). I worked even more hours, and I was homeschooling as well as trying to lead in ministry at my church.
Our continued financial problems escalated toward the end of 2008, and then as 2009 arrived, another major medical setback occurred. My husband suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage that left him with a speech impediment and some neurological damage. As before, he recovered, but by this time, he had begun a series of affairs on the Internet and was engaging in practices in the home that was far from Biblical or Christ-like. I was overwrought and consumed with fear of losing my home and finding myself alone. Eventually, we lost our home to foreclosure, and I was homeless -- without a home -- in a sense. The Lord did provide a temporary home, a beautiful rental home for me and my son, but the home I loved, cherished, and worked so hard to make my own, was returned to the original owner, and the case was closed.
Sadly, as the year ended, I also found out that my husband was involved with his old college girlfriend, and that he was "in love" with her. He told me that he no longer wanted to be married to me. I struggled to comprehend this fact, and I did everything in my power to stop his affair and to get him to return to me and seek professional help. Nothing worked, and by the beginning of 2010, I found myself alone, all alone. I had no income, no job outside of working in his business, and no car. I had no future. I was wholly dependent on the Lord for His provision and His security. All my Bible study up to this point, I believe, was to prepare me for the new life the Lord had planned for me.
Psalm 37:4-5 became my life verse simply because it proved true. I made the Lord my delight (my everything) in 2007, and I asked Him to give me the "desires and secret petitions" in my heart. I committed my way to Him (to following Him, seeking Him, trusting in Him), and as a result, my life changed. First, it went from bad to really bad. Then, it went from really bad to better. Finally, it went from better to the very best, which is where I am now. I am doing, living, resting in the life predicated on my desires and secret petitions.
I didn't set out to become a professor, mind you. In fact, while this was a desire in my heart, I didn't say to the Lord, "Lord, make me a teacher," when I needed a job to pay for my living expenses. No, rather, I said, "Oh, Lord, please give me ANY JOB that will pay me a living wage." He answered my prayer, and as I have blogged, I worked retail for a year, as an enrollment advisor (sales) for 15 months, and as a communications analyst for a year UNTIL He opened a door for me to transition into adjunct teaching, which is where I have remained.
In fact, I didn't want to be a teacher for a number of years due mostly to fear and an unwillingness to be trained at low pay. But, thankfully, His will prevailed, and I listened to His voice. I followed His leading, and I trusted what He said to me, and well, here I am now. I am doing the JOB I love, and the work that gives me incredible satisfaction, and to boot, pays me a decent income! It took time, though, and the pathway was not easy. It was so very hard, so very, very hard. Yet, He gave me the "secret petition" of my heart, which was to be used in a job where I could help people, mentor them, and equip them. He set teaching on my heart as a child, and throughout my youth and early married years, regularly put teaching as an option for a career. I wanted to do it back then, but my husband was against it and wouldn't permit me to study education after we were married. I put the desire to be a teacher on hold, and as I have blogged, I waited 17 years before I was in a position to apply to graduate school (for a Masters degree). The Lord provided the funding for me to return to school, and as my marriage ended, crumbled before my eyes, He set me on a new path that included both a Masters degree in English and a Ph.D. in Communication.
Zoom forward to 2018. It has been 11 years since my life turned upside down and so much has changed for me. My entire being has been reinvented according to His will, and now I work for Him alone. He is my Manager, and as such, He provides income to me, tells me how to invest it, and shows me financially how to prepare for my future. I trust His voice, and I follow the guidance He provides to me. My secret petitions for a career as a professor have been granted to me. My deepest desires for a forever home in the country, on a small plot of land, are coming to pass. I have consistently cast off the idea of purchasing property, fearing the upkeep and the ruralness, for many years. The Lord has offered me land, time and time again, but I have been afraid to take it. I would say, "It is okay. Perhaps it is better to live nearer to things -- stores, Target, Kohls -- and to be closer to civilization." The Lord prevails. He shows me properties that are both close to "things" and far from "things." He knows me. He knows my desires and secret petitions are for a country cottage, a small farmhouse (the more antique, the better), and a place where there is no "road noise" or where there is no fear of crime. I desire to live the country life, to have a big garden, and to wake up to the sound of the birds, the breeze flowing through my opened window, and where I can sit on my porch and rest.
He knows me so well, and He is now offering me such a place. I have accepted His offer, and I have said that since He knows best, I am willing to trust Him to provide it to me. I believe He will honor the petition because my ultimate goal is not to simply satisfy my desires but to honor His name. I intend to do His work in this place, to work as a teacher but also as a writer, and in this way, to produce work that brings praise and honor to Him. This place, this forever home, is for His glory. I simply am caretaker of it, and as such, I hold it with such an empty hand, gently and with gratitude saying to Him that I am blessed because He has chosen to bless me. Selah!
For now, my heart's desires are all but fulfilled. I had thought at one point in time that I wanted to have a companion, someone who would walk with me, hold my hand, and share my life. But, I quickly came to see that I am not suited to this life anymore. My heart has been pricked so hard, that I cannot open it up again to anyone else. I will forever love my ex-husband, despite the fact that he is involved with another woman and is living with her due to his ongoing medical needs. I will always see him as my beloved, and yes, despite all his failure as a provider, and his unwillingness to be the husband and father I hoped he would be, I will love him because I saw in him something sweet and good, something pure, and that was the flicker of God's goodness, and the dim light of Christianity. Yes, my ex-husband professed a love for Jesus, and though he wandered far from the Father's home, like the true prodigal child, there is hope that someday he will return. Someday, he will return and His Father in heaven, will rejoice and throw him a stupendous party. Until that time, I am following the path the Lord has created for me to follow, and I go to a place that He has prepared for me. I go to this place alone, and I go there to do good practical work. I am blessed that my son wants to follow me and that he wants to go with me and live with me. However, my heart will always be sad to think that my family is broken, and that part of my family will remain here in Phoenix, while the other part goes and experiences the blessing, the prosperity, and the goodness of the Lord as He leads, guides, and provides for us. Selah!
As I close this blog post today, one thing is for certain: the Lord is moving in my life, and what appears to be happening is that He is granting to me another petition of my heart. He is showing me that I can receive this blessing, but to do so, I must be willing to go get it. It is not something that can come to me here in Phoenix. I have to relocate in order to possess the land He is offering to me. I must rest in His provision, and just like with graduate school, He will provide a way for me to purchase this property. He will take care of all the business, and He will help me to finance some land with a nice old home on it. He will bring me the vendors who will need to do some work (finishing and care) to bring this beautiful old home back to life. Then, I will go, with my son and my cats, and I will set down roots. I will build a forever home, a lovely old home with a deep foundation in this rural place. I will let the Lord use me however He wishes, and I will faithfully do His work -- teaching online, writing books and manuscripts -- and I will spend my days in the study of languages, music, art, and Bible as He desires me to do so. I will be faithful in this place, resting in Him, and carefully managing the property as His caretaker. In the end, I will lay my head down and as the Bible so lovingly says it, "will sleep with my Fathers." Yes, I intend to live in this place until I die, and the Lord welcomes me home with open arms. I am ready to go, but I know that for now, I must remain where I am, continue to faithfully do the work He has assigned to me, and that in time, in a short time, I will be permitted to visit this place, to see it in person, and then the Lord will open His vast storehouse and pour down His blessed provision. I will go, I will purchase, and I will live in the way He has called me, equipped me, trained me, and commissioned me to do so. Selah! It is done! So be it, Amen!