June 18, 2010

New Ideas

Yesterday was a day of high expectations being fulfilled. I was so excited to finally hear back on my graduate school confirmation. I also applied to several more positions, all within higher education (one at our CC and one at our local State University). All of these positions would work well for me, and would put me in my desired career field (administration at a community or state college). I see this as the path the Lord has chosen for me. I have over twenty-five years of administrative type experience, and now with a Master's degree in progress, I should be well poised for this type of work. The key is getting into the interview (which is the toughest hurdle, by far), and then finding a job where I could settle in and stay awhile. I am seeking long-term employment, something with a good salary and benefits, a place where I could perhaps continue until I retire and have opportunity to grow and develop my people and work skills. Well, that is my plan (and I think the Lord's as well).

Today, I awoke feeling fine. My son is due back from camp later this afternoon (I sure have missed him), and I am anxious to hear about his week. We have no pictures to go by (the camp director always posts pictures so the family can see how their camper is doing during the week) -- due to iffy wi-fi connections in the nearby town. I have had no news, but am sure everything is fine and dandy. It will just be good to have him home again.

My kitten is doing better now that we know what he has (potentially). It looks like FHIV, which is the feline version of HIV. It is a Herpes virus that is often just called "cat flu." It is very contagious, but since my big boys have been vaccinated against it, it is just Ike who is sick. He probably got it from his mother or another sibling in the pack (before coming to us). It causes running noses, sneezing, eye and mouth sores, and general sickness. He has the "cat eye" which is a really red, goupy eye, that is sore looking. I have some medicine to try and ease the eye, and then an eye wash to keep it clean. He is on Clavamox for secondary infection, and is responding really well to it. He looks better today, is frisky as ever, so I am hopeful he will recover. This is one of those diseases that the cat normally recovers from, but will suffer throughout their life with every now and again. My old cat Zachary had it as well -- but it was never really severe like this -- just running nose, goupy eye (not red). It would come and go.

So I am on kitten nursing duty for the next ten days. It should be OK -- hopefully within the next few days, we will see major improvement.

New Ideas, New Ways

I have been thinking about my next few months, and am starting to chart out a plan of attack. I feel really empowered and am starting to think forward, rather than always backwards. I had started to do this back in January, but my situation was too new, too difficult, and too painful. Now, that I am well into the year, have settled myself on some points, and gotten confident in my own abilities again (Thank you, Lord Jesus!), I see the outcome as possible rather than destroyed.

It is a matter of how you look at things, really. Instead of seeing all the sadness and destruction, I instead see new life, new joy, and new hope. The Lord is the Giver of Life, and only He can bring life from what was dead. I am seeing this very thing happen within myself. I am a new person, a new creature (again) in Christ Jesus. My whole mind, attitude, and way of doing things has shifted and I am now pointed in a new direction. It is exciting to me just to think that the Lord of the Universe reached His Hand down and turned me around. He sheltered me when life was at it's worse, comforted me when I was desparate for comfort, and lovingly corrected me when I was wrong and feeling arrogant about being so right. He also continued to tell me to trust and rely on Him, to look for His Provision and Care.

As I did this, I began to see Him all around me, in places where before I only saw ends and bits and pieces. He has shown me that He can take the fragments of a person's life and rebuild it into something quite splendid and glorious. I can see His Hand on my life, and I can see how He has done this for me. From the beginning to the end (and where I am now -- some place in the middle), I have been cared for and comforted. I now have a purpose (defined), a plan (laid out), and a path (clearly marked). All I have to do is stay the course, stay on point, don't deviate. If I continue to trust in what He has told me, and in the plans He has impressed on my heart, then I will surely accomplish whatever He has desired for me in this life. It is all a matter of "due diligence" now. I have to "do the work" He has said to do. There is no waffaling, no here or there -- just steady on. I remember J.M. Barry's words from his book, "Peter Pan," where Peter says:

"second to the right and straight on to morning"

as he gives directions to finding Never-Land. This is exactly how I feel right now. I feel as if the Lord has pointed out the directions for my life and said to me, "Carol, follow the path I have laid out. Walk and do not become weary. Go, and you will find what I have in store for you." It is just like this too, it is what I feel deep in my heart. I am so confident that this is His will for me, that even though I do not have all the "ducks" in their little rows, and I don't know all the details of what will be, I know this is His will and that He has said "go."

I wish I could explain it better, and I know that so far my attempts as explaining it to family have fallen short. They either think I am crazy or weird or just off my rocker. I am reminded the missionary, Gladys Aylward, who didn't take "no" for an answer when she asked to be sent to China to work with the children there. The China Inland Mission felt she was unsuitable for the task, academically unprepared, and certainly could not go to China alone -- after all -- she was a single woman. However, in her heart she felt God calling her to this mission field, and she never gave up. God did indeed send her there, and we have her brave story recounting how she rescued 94 orphans from the invading Japanese army (in 1938).

God is always ahead of things, always leading us to pursue what He has in mind for us. Often we miss His leading, either because we are too far away from Him in our relationship OR because we do not believe that He does such things. There are many people, good people, who simply see God as personal, yet distant. He is there in Heaven, Sovereign and all, but He is not active in the dailiness of our lives. He listens to us when we pray, and may even grant a request or two, but generally He is there, and we are here. They understand that His Spirit is with us, but they consider His work to be one of conviction or comfort only -- there is no consideration of His leading or guiding us, even though the Word of God clearly tells us that this is one of His Jobs as well. Not only does the Holy Spirit convict and comfort, but He is also the one who educates us, trains us in understanding the Word, and in helping us to see our part in God's great plan of Salvation. Though we are not instrumental in our own Salvation, we do play a very important role in the Salvation of others. The Holy Spirit uses us in so many ways to help Him in His work. The more attentive we are to what He is doing in our lives, the more we can be used to help others. It is a cooperative effort, so to speak, and the more we are willing to be used in this way, the more He will use us.

Many people though are content to live their lives knowing that they have His comfort, but also feeling liberated from having to do "any real work." They want to do what they want to do, as little as possible, and then only when it suits them or is comfortable to them. However, the Holy Spirit needs us to be comfortable in all circumstances and will use our present situations to help us learn how to do that. He will enable us to become joyful during times when we are joyless. He will show us how to be compassionate when we feel the least bit of compassion ourselves. In short, He will help us stop thinking about US all the time, and start thinking about others, especially those who are lost and seeking some understanding of God.

Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit of God to use you as He determines? If so, then you are blessed. If not, consider this for a moment: if you desire a deeper relationship with God, if you wonder why your prayers are not being heard or answered, if you wonder why you feel so dry inside; consider whether or not your relationship with God is in full-check mode. If not, go and see Him today and get everything squared. I can tell you that the only way to live a life full of His Spirit and full of His Joy is to spend quality and quantity time with Him. The more intimate we become with the Lord, the more He will use us and bless us and allow us to bless others. It all begins with Him, and it will end with Him. When you stand before Him, dear friend, do not be ashamed of missed opportunities, or a lack of closeness. No, you have that time today. It is a precious gift given to you by the Father who loves you so dearly. Go and repair your relationship with the Lord this day, and experience true renewal and deeper friendship then ever imagined.

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