September 29, 2010
The entire time I sat in the courtyard praying for him. I guess it is just a Mom thing, but I worried about how well he would do, if he would pass the Math test, etc. Silly me -- he basically is able to take Honors English and College Algebra. He also is exempted from the Critical Reading requirement. I guess that combo is what gets him free tuition.
I had to confess my pride and my unwillingness to trust the Lord today. Truthfully, I had a pitiful night, fretful and mournful. I lost my cool with my son yesterday because he is not doing his home schooling work. He is spending far too much time on the computer, playing the guitar and not doing those things he needs to do. Yes, I know...he is 17! AGH! Needless to say, this entire day was full of worry, of doubt, and of fear -- all of the unknown variety.
God is so Good, though. He knew just how well my son would do, and now I can rest a bit and believe what He has been telling me (that my son would get into a good college and do just fine there). It is a Mom-thing and I need to accept the fact that I tend to worry too much about such things!
September 27, 2010
I work a long shift tomorrow, but I don't start until 2:15 p.m. I guess that is a good thing, at the least it means I will have some of my morning off to do other things. I am going to a birthday luncheon (my 48th will be this month of October). My friend and former realtor hosts birthday luncheon's for her lady clients, and this is the September/October bunch. It should be a nice day.
On other subjects, I am praising God today for His Goodness to me. I cannot tell you how blessed I am right now. God has just pour out His blessings upon me -- literally, He has opened His storehouse and blessed me with every blessing imaginable. I am giving Him all the praise and Glory tonight. God is SO GOOD TO ME.
One thing I know for sure, this is the program for me. First of all, it is only 24 units beyond the MA degree. Secondly, two of my courses from Mercy will satisfy the core requirements at UTA (so now we are talking 18 units). Furthermore, the courses I will have to take, besides Supervised Teaching and Research Methods, are in a secondary field (Philosophy/Classics). Basically, what this means is that I can take 9 units of ancient philosophy along with 6 units of teaching instruction and research methods and then be ready to write my dissertation. This shortens the process by at least one year, if not more. I am so excited because this would allow me to teach college right away, and would also provide a way for me to get placed into another school or University as a Professor. It is like the "short track" to becoming a professor, and it is right in my field (Rhetoric). I am just in awe of God and in how He is moving things for me.
I want to start running out in faith, but I know that I still have 8 more classes to take at Mercy (24 units) and that I will need a couple more semesters before I can even think about UTA. Until that time, I am content to enjoy my courses at Mercy College.
I marvel at the change that has occurred within my heart and mind. I am such a different person now. I don't even identify myself with the past, though I can see it in my memory, but it is distant and faded now. Memories that once pricked at me, caused me to twinge, are still shots, only images from days past. Their power over me is gone, and now I simply can recall moments when I did this or that or went here or there. God has done this for me, and He has made it possible for me to take my past, the good and the bad of it, and simply wash it clean in my mind. I know the wrong I did, but the guilt is gone. I know the good I did, but there is no pride attached to it. Everything is as it should be, surrendered at His feet, and now made to be for His Glory only.
As I think about this today, I am excited to know that God is continually at work inside of us. He is changing us daily, if we allow Him to do so. God is moving us ever closer to His Perfect Ideal -- His Son Jesus. This is His Great Plan for our lives -- to not only save us, but to make us perfect and fit for His Heavenly Glory. What an Awesome God we serve -- Amen?
Transition thought...as I eat my chocolate mini donut and drink my coffee this morning. I am getting ready for my day at Macy's. It will be a long day, hard on my feet, so I am resting in Jesus and I am taking comfort to know that He has everything figured out on my behalf. Something really wonderful is happening in my life right now. I cannot put my finger on it exactly, but it APPEARS to be movement by God (hooray!) I have been stuck, as I have blogged now for many months (since at least March 2010). I simply have not been able to move forward, and I have lived with the "status quo" since then. I don't know why, though I readily admit to my failure to trust the Lord and walk in Faith as being a part of it. But, it was more than that, really it was God's timing, and His unwillingness to let me move UNTIL He was ready to do so. He had told me over and over again that I would not move until He had a job for me. Now, I have looked at many jobs, even gone on interviews for some -- but nothing has come of them. He kept saying to me, "I have a job for you, Carol," but apparently it wasn't any of the ones I was testing out. No, He said, "I will move you when I have everything in order, and until then you must just wait." Oh -- waiting is so hard, yet it does so much good for us. Waiting causes us to focus our attention on God and we learn patience in waiting for Him to do His stuff. Patience is a virtue and we need more of it, not just to keep us from doing what we shouldn't, but to help us rest in the security of God's Will -- it is Perfect after all -- and we need to rest and trust that nothing is lacking, nothing is incomplete -- it is everything it needs to be for our life and God's Glory.
So here I sit today, and something has changed. God told me it would be so -- He said, "change is taking place." I didn't recognize it at first, but I do see glimmerings of it. I see change now around me, in people I thought were hopelessly lost, and in people who were not supportive of me. I have seen some repentance from people who honestly were so lost in their own destructive behavior that I thought for sure they would never acknowledge what they were doing was wrong. I have also seen support from my family, support in the form of encouragement and the willingness to accept that I might move away from them. I cannot even begin to tell you what this means, and how BIG of a mind shift it is for these people. I have actually had someone close to me say, "You know, Carol -- when you graduate you might have to move away to teach?" Yes, I knew that. God knew it as well, but my family was adamantly telling me "don't move away." Now they are encouraging me -- and this is a God thing. God said that when the timing was right, He would send me off with fanfare (with my family's support). I see this happening now. I see this beginning to take place, and it is so encouraging to me.
God knows that what He says will come to pass. We are the ones who doubt His word to us, whether the written Word itself, or the prompting of His Blessed Holy Spirit who speaks to us in ways we cannot understand. We doubt Him, yet He is true to His Word. He always says what is what, yet we choose to believe what the world says first. Drats, why do we do this? Because we are human flesh, flawed and desparately self-seeking -- even blood bought, born again people like myself still do it. It is the Old Man creeping back in to say "Hey, I don't know if I believe that word."
As I finish this post and get ready for my day, this one thing I know for certain. God is orchestrating the change He has in mind for me personally. He is turning all the chess board pieces around so they face up properly, and the game is set. He is making everything ready to begin the plans He has for me, to move me into a career position of teaching in higher education. Furthermore, He is opening up doors to allow me to further my graduate study so that I can do this job. He has it all planned and purposed, and since it is for His Glory, it is done (in process and yet completed -- another marvelous fact of our Lord who spans all time). I sit and marvel at His work, and I fall at His feet to worship Him. I am not just thanking Him for the things He is moving around or for bringing me a good job -- no; I am thanking Him for the change He has made possible within me, to make me think like Him, to want to live my life in imitation of Him, and to want to serve Him by serving others in His Name. He is doing all of this for me, through me, and to accomplish His Purpose and Plan. It is always about Him -- though He takes thought of us -- and I am so thankful that He does.
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Psalm 8:4
September 26, 2010
After work, I came home and checked my school mail (so far so good). Then, I ordered us pizza from our local parlor, and made a nice green salad to go along with it. It was just the ticket, hit the spot, so to speak, and I am feeling good. I have my coffee pot perking right now, and I am getting primed up to watch the last episode of "Inspector Lewis" on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Good day, good night -- God is so Good to me!
In between all of this, I have been finalizing plans for my education. I am doing really well at Mercy College, so well (I think) that I am seriously considering trying to finish my degree earlier than planned. This would enable me to begin work and pursue my PhD more quickly. The Lord has placed Texas on my mind for a while now, and today we did another visit to the University of Texas website. I had settled on Philosophy because it was a joint program with their Classics department. It seemed to fit me well. Yesterday, however, the Lord started to lay a new direction on my heart, and today took me to their English department.
I wasn't too thrilled about a PhD in English simply because this is a difficult discipline for me. My strength is in writing, and that is what I love to do most -- so the Lord showed me that they have a PhD in Rhetoric (Writing)! Whoopee! Moreover, this program is only 24 units beyond the MA, and is something I could completed within 2 years. This cuts my time in school from 6 years down to 3.5 -- a huge savings financially and time-wise. I am in awe of Him.
Furthermore, this program is considered to be among the finest, if not the finest, in the nation when it comes to Rhetoric. They have a very strong track record for placing graduates in Universities and Colleges, and they offer oodles of teaching support. I am sold!
Now it is just a matter of getting in -- they have tough standards, mostly in language, and grade point averages. I don't think the latter is a problem as I tend to be an A-student. I am deficient in language though, so I hope to take 2 semesters of Accelerated Latin to cover that issue up for good. Anyhoo, I am thrilled with this plan, and I am trusting the Lord for His timing and provision.
September 25, 2010
Last night, I had three dreams, each with a little message tucked inside. It took a while to unpack them, but I did, and they made such sense to me. My dreams sometimes are this way. Sometimes they are just random thoughts or they are useful to help me realize that I need to relax and let go (and let God take over). Sometimes, though, they are like the dreams Joseph (OT) had -- not really prophectic (as in future) -- but definitely personal to me (helping me to understand something in my life). I guess I have that same spiritual gift, which I think is simply the Gift of Interpretation. I know that I have this gift when it comes to tongues. I experienced this many years ago when I was introduced to Charismatic preaching. I had only heard people speaking in tongues twice before, and both times, I didn't hear the "tongue." Instead, I heard just English -- my own language -- and the praises that the people were praying. I was told by other people that they were speaking "gibberish" but that is not how I heard it. A friend later told me that I had the Gift of Interpretation, whereby I am able to hear the tongue in my own language. God uses people like me to help a congregation or to interpret something for a congregation. If everyone just spoke in tongues, then no one would hear what the other people were saying. The Apostle Paul speaks of this and says that the church needs an interpreter so that the people will be edified (built up) by what is being shared. I guess I am that person, at the least, I have the ability to do that within a church or meeting group.
Anyway, I don't know if my dreams are interpreted the same way or if I am just a really good guesser at what they might mean! LOL! Actually, I think it is a combination of being intuitive (which I most certainly am -- in many ways I can see the bigger picture before most people), being sensitive to suggestion by the Holy Spirit (yes, I am this as well -- very easily touched by His word or movement in my life), and able to rightly distinquish between falsehood and truth (also called the Gift of Discernment -- which I have -- as do most Interpreters so that they can tell the difference between the spirits or between the truth of God's word and man's own imaginings). My dreams then tend to be little snapshots into my life, and I gain insight from them, often just a sense of peace or the confirmation that I am doing the right thing, on the right track, going in the right direction. They rarely are prophetic, as I mentioned; and rarely do I receive insight that says "Carol -- go here -->" N0pe, as much as I wish that would be true, it is not. I just think I get my dreams a whole lot better than most, and I thank God that He likes to teach me this way.
My primary dream last evening centered around my path or my journey in life. I knew this right off because I had said to God "Lord, am I on the right path, am I doing the right thing?" right before I went to bed last night. I was feeling down and overwhelmed by school. I had had a little comupance from God the other day when I attempted to take some of His Glory regarding my school work. I then spent a day doing my home work without any sense of annointing, and let me tell you, I felt so lost. It is not like I cannot do the work on my own, it is just that this level of study is incredibly difficult for me (and as the Lord likes to remind me: "Carol, if getting a PhD were easy, then everyone would get one!")
I am a Humanities major which just means that I studied history and literature in context. My courses were about the history of each period in our world, and the developments of man that sprang up as a result of the events or societal or political shifts occuring in them. They were not pure Literature, though I did take a minor in English. My English courses were hard on me, but I managed a 4.0 average in the 18 units I took as part of my degree. I am far better suited to philosophy than I am to literature, and my MA program is hard literature. I am given some leeway in philosophy and in history -- but the majority of the focus is on interpreting literature. I like it a lot, it is just that I am not the most quick witted. I am telling the truth. I think I am a great Philosopher, slow and thoughtful -- plodding almost, deep in thought most days. I am not a satirist, and often I miss the pun or intended joke. I am the last to get anything witty. I am just not quick on my feet, the last to give an answer, and most often the one who will mention something off-point (sometimes profound or illuminating -- but I never seem to be able to add directly to the conversation). I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, to live in my own mind, and to read and think deeply on spiritual or philosophical matters. Therefore, in Literature, I need all the annointing I can get -- especially at this level. The questions are so difficult to answer, and that is where I struggle most. I can handle the papers because I can take pages to explicate, to explain and then summarize -- but I struggle to write a short synopsis that answers a direct question. In fact, I am laughing right now, because at my interviews this shortness in my ability was quite pronounced. I was asked several times to be direct -- and I cannot do it. I want to spend the time to discuss the matter, and the interviewers give you 30 minutes and want a short answer. I stink at short answers -- I am far better suited to the long interpretation of things.
So the long and the short of it (ha!) is this: my primary dream centered on my path in this life, my journey, and my direction (home towards heaven). I saw myself in a car along side of my Dad. He was driving me down this lovely country road. It was paved, and winded through the trees. It reminded me of the long car drives my Dad and I took each Saturday when I was a child (he was taking flying lessons and I went with him to the air field out in the country). I loved looking out the window (I still do), and I felt very safe (it felt normal). Suddenly, the path turned sharply and changed from a smooth road to a dirt road filled with rocks, creeks, and strewn with down trees. We drove over on creek bed, and I commented to my Dad that the car we were in was good at manuevering through difficult terrain. Then all of a sudden, my dad was gone and a Lioness was in his place. I was startled at first, and then became increasingly fearful of this lion. The next thing I saw, we were in the middle of a creekbed, and the path was almost completely gone. The Lion got out of the car and was trying to corral a Calico cat (female). I thought she was trying to eat her, and out of fear for me and the cat, I tried to get us both back into the car. I got the cat into the car, but she peed on my jacket and seat. I tossed the cat out, and then locked the doors and started to drive away (leaving the cat and the lion behind). I then made a U-turn and found myself on a road again. I sat by the side of the road for a moment, and saw another car coming up behind me. It went past me, and then I looked forward and saw that I was on a well-travelled road again (with cars coming towards me).
As I pondered the meaning of my dream, this is what I interpreted it to mean. My Dad was my Dad, of course. He was my authority, and my protector as a child and young woman. He was driving me on my path, which is normal for Dad's to do until their daughters get married or are able to care for themselves. At some point, a Lioness (a strong female) took over from my dad, and began to take authority over me. This was my mother-in-law, no doubt about it. She is a strong authority figure, and has tried to control me for nearly 25 years. She is dominant in personality and tries to control everyone (it is well known, so I am not divulging secrets). Most people accept her authority, but most people aren't family so they can walk away when they have had enough of her way (said as nicely as I can). As family, I was stuck in this authoritarian relationship for a very long time. The small female cat was in heat, and I believe represents my husband's cousin. This is someone my MIL has tried to corral for years, to keep in check, and she has also tried to arrange a marriage between her and my husband (before we met). It was a well-known family secret that they were 'to be married." I guess it was arranged, and I mucked up the plans. Anyway, this same person is the one who intervened in my marriage last year, and basically had her way with my husband. Calicoes are always female -- so there was no mistaking the identity. Some four years ago, I made the decision to no longer allow my MIL to be in a position of authority over me. This coincided with my turn in faith, and my deepening walk with the Lord. It was a good thing, and there wasn't any fireworks or anything of that sort -- just me choosing to put God as my rightful Head.
My interpretation is just what I think it is: a comfirmation to me telling me that I made the right turn, and that I am now driving my own car (in charge of my destiny, so to speak). God is my only authority, and I am on the well-worn path again. It is smooth driving, clear travel, and I am to stay fixed on this path. The deviation off-road was an error on my part, and I suffered mightly for making that turn. But, I have righted myself, I am back to where I need to be, and God is in control.
Well, at the least...that is what I hope my dream means to me and to the eventual outcome of my life.
September 24, 2010
On another note, I am thanking God today for His Goodness. God is Good all the time (like the Don Moen song), and His Goodness stems from who He is -- Good. God is never anything BUT Good, and when we recognize that the Good we receive is from Him, then we have no other choice but to offer up a sacrifice of praise.
God is Good to me all the time. Today He provided a down day so that I could rest with my back and knee pain. He provided a convenient way out so that I didn't have to go to cello/chamber -- even though I really needed to do that, the very thought of sitting up straight and trying to play cello was too much for me. Moreover, He has given me rest today, and now I am more refreshed and able to read my journal articles for my Chaucer course.
As I contemplate my schooling, the one thing that stands out to me is how God is in the midst of everything I am doing. There was a time, not so long ago, when I believed that I was trying to do the Lord's will, and God was either in it or out of it. I have since come to understand that God is always in the midst of His will. You cannot even begin to do His will without Him. Furthermore, you cannot attempt any measure of His will without His annointing. You can try, but you will fail. You can think you are doing God's will, but it is just imperfect man's attempt to please a Perfect and Holy God. I spent years trying to please God, thinking that all my Bible reading, and keeping of His commands was doing the "trick." I thought if I kept His word, then He would bless me. I thought I had to do a "list" of things before He would even bother to be interested in me. Oh, how I was wrong!
I have done nothing over the last four years to earn God's approval. I have not even read my Bible, studied His word, or obeyed His commands (though I have done these things) -- none of these things made one iota of a difference to Him. He is impartial and has clearly told us that we cannot 'earn' anything from Him. He is a rewarder of the faithful, but it is not based on our doing things at all. It is God who choose to reward based on what He determines, and we are blessed to receive all that He gives to us. I kow that everything I have done has not been of my own strength or of my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Rather, I have received His reward and His blessing because I have chosen to sacrifice myself, my pride, and my time in thanksgiving, and in recognizing that He is God.
When I focus on Him alone, I am able to rightly discern my true place in this world. I understand who I am, and who I am not; and, I am able to rest in the security of God's Providence. I don't have to try and do anything for Him -- I do what He asks of me, and He imparts His will into my life to enable me to do it. He does it -- even the doing part of His will. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, and the Author and Finisher of our faith. God -- from start to finish-- does it all, and we are simply participants and observers who get to see His Glory as it passes by us (just like Moses in the rock). We see His Glory in others, in the work He does through others, and in His Spirit's outpouring of faith and new life. We see His Glory, and we give Him praise.
God is so Good to me.
One good thing about pain, if there is a good thing, is that often it helps to put everything into proper focus. I mean, you cannot really concentrate on much of anything else when you are in the throes of a pain attack. For me, it simply was a reminder that working at Macy's is just a PT, temporary thing. I know for certain that I cannot work in any capacity where I have to stand for long periods of time. I am planning on a career in education, but I can sit most of the time, which is now a key component of any job search.
And, as far as my job search is concerned, I am at the point where I am done seeking full-time employment. I have committed myself to follow what I believe are the Lord's plans for my life, and that means focusing on my education, and working (no pun here) towards the career of His choosing.
I am currently enrolled at Mercy College in NY (distance learning). I just started, but I hope to graduate in May of 2012. I have 10 courses to complete (2 in progress), and a thesis to write. I would like to take 3 classes next Spring 2011, followed by 4 in Fall 2011. That will leave me with my Masters Thesis course and my thesis work in Spring of 2012.
My goal now is to attend the University of Texas at Austin for a PhD in Philosophy. This is a recent development, more of a prompting by the Lord, and a definite redirection for me. I am finding that I enjoy philosophy and literature (combined) more than I do straight literature
studies. UTA has a very fine program, and it suits my interests well. It is a combined program, partly under their Classics Department and partly within their Philosophy program. This means that I can study Classical Philosophy, which is of interest to me rather than 19th century German Philosophy (which seems the more modern trend at most Universities).
Moreover, UTA offers language intensive study programs so I would be able to learn both Greek and Latin during condensed semesters. I know it sounds impossible, but this is how I was told to study these languages some 20 years ago. My professor then, a Greek studies teacher, told me to find a University that offered 10-12 week summer programs and to take my language requirements right when I was working on my PhD. At that time, the only schools that offered these summer sessions were far from where I was living (in CA).
The Lord directed me to Mercy College, and now He has directed me to UTA. He has made sure that each school offered to me exactly what I needed, and that my time in these programs would not be wasted. Graduate school is expensive, and every unnecessary class costs $2-3K. It is vitally important to be prepared as much as possible, and then to follow a very closely prescribed course of study so that you graduate on time. The Lord knows this, and He has thought of everything.
Furthermore, I had asked Him if I could teach after getting my Master's Degree. At first, I thought I would seek CC jobs, but He kept pointing me towards University jobs. I knew that most major Universities only hire PhD's, and that my only chance for teaching with a Master's was at the CC level. Well, lo and behold, UTA hires Assistant Instructors who posess a MA degree. WOW! And, to top it all off, the Lord assured me that next year, I would be able to be hired as a teaching assistant through Mercy College. I thought this would be great, but then I thought -- "How can this be since I am taking courses online?" The Lord seems content in this, so I am trusting Him to provide for me. One note, to be an Assistant Instructor at UTA, I need to be a TA for one semester. Something tells me that the Lord is doing this for me, and that while I cannot see it coming to pass right now, that simply doesn't mean it will not or cannot happen next year.
So what does this mean for me? Mostly, it just confirms to me that the Lord's plans are without any flaws. They are never incomplete. They are always full, and always consider every single need and option. I can rest in His plans knowing full-well that everything I need to be successful in this new career is in process, it is already planned, already purposed, and already coming to pass. God is So GOOD to me.
September 23, 2010
You know how they say "you can't see the forest through the trees?" Well, this is a true statement, and often it is when we are closest to the subject, that we cannot understand clearly. We need to step back and take in a bigger view, and then it seems like the parts that were out of place, magically fall right where they are supposed to be. This is how it has been with me today. I started my morning after a very rough night. I was in a funky mood, thinking that things were simply out of tune, out of place, mismarked. Instead, I came to realize that those things that seemed out of place were that way for a reason. God has shifted them to suit His purpose, and in doing so, they appeared out of focus to me. But, with His Grace, I was able to see why He had shifted them ever so slightly, and what was once off-kilter came in sharp focus. God is so Good in that He will often explain things to us, so long as we are willing to listen to Him. We have to be open to seeing things His way, because as my Pastor says "with God, things are not always as they seem." Yes, and Amen.
So this is my post for the day. I have finally understood why things are out of focus for me at this time in my life. Furthermore, I have also realized that just because something appears to be cloudy, doesn't mean it will always be that way. Timing -- it is all of God's timing.
I have come to terms with the so-called "terms" of my life. God and I have made a covenant, and I have promised to do certain things for Him. He has in returned promised to help me to do those things, to keep His word, to obey His commands, and to go where He sends me (equipped, prepared and ready to His work). My role in all of this is to keep my word, to do the work assigned, and to rest in His ability to do, well--the rest. God is a Keeper of His Word and He likes covenants or agreements. He has asked me several times to agree with Him, to consider and then come to terms (like in legal speak). I have said "yes," but often I didn't really understand the terms well enough. My heart was in it, but my mind lagged behind. Now, I am in agreement with the terms and conditions, and I am content to know that He is doing what He is doing for my Good and for His Good Pleasure. I am happy, and I am blessed, and I can finally rest!
Thank you for helping me see that everything in my life was happening for a reason. There was method in this madness, and once I looked and saw it clearly, I could relax and know that You had it all covered. I am so glad that you have me covered, and that I can relax and know everything is as it should be. Have your way in me Lord, and bring your will to pass. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
I had dreams again last night, well really, for the last two nights. Thankfully, they were just odd or strange dreams and nothing scary or icky. I just remember tossing and turning all night long, and then waking up thinking, "What was that all about?" I have blogged before about my dreams, and how they always do seem to have some purpose. I am able to gain some truth after spending time reflecting on them, and almost always they point to the chaos or the unknown parts of my mind -- something I am wrestling to try and understand. Dream specialists say that we frequently dream to help us understand the events in our life. Often, we are too busy during the day, or the event is simply too emotional for us to handle, so it gets suppressed and pushed away until a later day. At night, when our physical bodies relax, our subconscious is able to reconstruct those events or emotional feelings tied to events, and something just happens. Our memories engage and we dream -- we dream solutions or answers or even just comfort. If we can remember what we dream, and then ponder it with reflection, often we can come to terms with the event, even if this is just simply acknowledging it or saying to ourselves, "I cannot control this, so I will trust God to handle it."
Most of my dreams are this way, and I usually do learn that I simply have to "let go and let God" take over for me. Perhaps that is what is going on right now or perhaps I am really stuck and trying to figure out something that is important to me?
My dream contained several key elements: a house/home, my family (Mom, Dad and Son -- my husband was only spoken of by me and my Mom); some location that appeared unfamiliar to me, and family (children, husband, not of my own). I am guessing my dream had to do with the following concerns in my life right now:
- Home - my home is central to me, and is of great concern. I have blogged for eons now about whether I should stay or go; whether I could find FT work to support myself; and whether or not I was to physically move to another location. All scenarios involve me getting a new home (for rent or purchase). Home, therefore, is critical to me. As it is with most women, a home is the central core of a woman's life. Whether she is a homekeeper or single woman, God has created within us the need for a home, a safe place where we can build our lives. Our homes are important to us, and we take great pride in them.
- Family - my family is broken apart, yet within me there is a strong desire for family relationships. I am close to my parents, and my son, of course -- but am at present estranged from my husband. I am uncertain whether I want to be reunited with him at any stage, simply due to empirical data (his unwillingness to even try to reconcile or want to rebuild our home and family). I am alone, yet I am not alone because he is still here in my home.
- Relocation - I have looked carefully at a number of places, considering them as potential sites for relocation. Chicago has been my primary focus, simply because I believe this is where God has plans for me in ministry (down the road). I have also, more recently, received inspiration to consider Texas (once before, but in context of working for Apple). Texas, central Texas, seems to be finding it's way into my thoughts now.
So what is my status as of today:
- I am working PT at Macy's
- I am enrolled in two graduate courses in English Literature (my MA program)
- I am living in my present home with my son and my husband
- I have a car (hooray!)
- I am near my parents (close by)
- I have what I believe are the plans God has chosen for me to pursue (graduate study)
- I am learning to play the cello (God's Gracious gift to me)
Therefore, this is what am I missing:
- A permanent home for myself
- A life without my husband
- A career job (after graduating from school)
Now, how much time do I focus on the above three items? I would say 95% would be fairly accurate. I am doing what I think God wants for me, and I am being faithful to do the assigned work. However, my thoughts are on the above: a home for me (representing security, safety, and that center core of being home, being at home); a set life that has me as single person again; and a teaching position that would provide income/benefits and longevity for my life.
Why then do I dream about these very things if I spend 95% of my waking time thinking on them? Oh that is the big question, is it not? I think (Oh Lord, grant me clarification in this) that the reason I dream about these things, and think about them as well, is that I am not contented to allow God to determine the course of events in my life. I am content to let Him lead me through graduate study, to facilitate language study (for second tier school), and to annoint me so I can play the cello, graduate with honors, etc.; but, I am not content to let Him determine the steps to bring everything pass within the framework of His Marvelous time. I say that I am in agreement, but truthfully, I must be at odds with Him.
I do not wish for this to be the case, therefore, I lay my discontentment and my will at your feet. Only You Jesus know what must be for my life, and I am trusting You to bring about Your will for me. I know it is best, I know you love me, and I know that whatever comes will be of Your hand. I am trusting You today, I am believing in You, and I am resting/abiding in Your Spirit. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!
September 20, 2010
I spent the majority of my day alone, so that gave me plenty of time to be with the Lord (yes, even at Macy's I speak with Him -- I am sure folks think I am strange, but I don't care -- He is my Lord, and I needed Him today!! PTL!!) I am really struggling with this whole idea of how to work and go to school. I can handle my course load so long as I work no more than 20 hours each week. I cannot imagine working FT, though the Lord assures me I can do it. I am certain I can as well -- but do I really want to do that? Yes, that is the crux of the issue. I am being a bit whiney and I confessed this to the Lord today. You see, I really do not want to work at all; that is, no work unless it is my career work/job after I graduate. I am tired already, I am bone weary and I simply want this entire episode of my life over -- pronto! I don't want to drag things out more than necessary, and I don't want to go to more interviews. I am tired of interviewing and getting my hopes up -- just to find the process distasteful and disappointing. I am being grumpy, that is all; and I know better. God is so Good to me all the time, and He patiently endures while I whine and complain. I want His will, yes -- yes -- yes! But, I also want my way, and there you have it, the fine points of why I think I am in this foul mood, and why I am feeling so awful right now. I am tired of waiting, I am tired of bending, and I am tired of agreeing with Him -- even though I know He is right. I am just tired of the length of this ordeal, and I want the end to come now. Getting a good job would bring the end to hand. Finishing my schooling would as well. I can do neither right now, so I am left with more status quo. I am so very tired of the status quo, and I want things to be done, to be settled, to be over.
I don't know why I am still here, still here waiting for someone to solve my life's crisis. I don't know why I cannot seem to get a job. I don't even know why I am sitting here now, in my home, typing on my computer keyboard, with my life in shambles. Everyone I know asks me the same thing -- "why do you stay?" Why do you put up with it, Carol? I try and answer them with the following -- "I simply am unable to do anything different at this time." I don't have a job so I cannot move out. I don't have my school finished, so I cannot start looking for teaching positions. I simply am stuck, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I don't want to be stuck anymore, so how to I get myself "unstuck?" I just asked the Lord why I am stuck, and He said "write" so that means there must be some truth to be told through my angst and efforts at dumping on my blog (always, always truth comes when I write).
Why am I stuck, Lord? Why hasn't a job come to pass? Why am I still here in my home, sharing it with my husband who really doesn't want to leave, but has no interest in stopping the behavior that tore us apart initially?
I was in the bathroom at Macy's earlier today, asking the Lord this same question. His reply was simply this: it is my way of protecting you and preparing you to lead your own life. Yes, I can see that this is clearly the reason for the delay. I have never lived on my own, and at 48 years of age, have never had to be totally responsible for myself (paying bills, travelling, etc.) I have always had my Dad or my husband to take care of me.
Is that all there is to it? His answer is no. The short of it is this -- my life is in transition and I am in the midst of changing everything about myself. I am being reborn, like the Phoenix that rises up from the ashes of the fire, so too am I being remade and given new life. I have been a Christian for many years, and recently experienced what I consider a foundational rebirth of a spiritual sort. I have been changed dramatically and I am no longer the person I once was -- that is for certain. However, this is a physical and mental rebirth for me. This is a change of identity, a realignment of my physical well being and my mental state and my emotions to conform to His will and preferences for my life. I have not only changed spiritually, but my entire person, my personality, that part that is me, has been changed to suit His needs. He is not done with me yet, and I guess I am not done learning how to be the new me. So I wait. So I rest. So I sit awhile longer at this depot on the great railway journey called life. I sit here until the Lord finishes making me into the person of His choosing, until I am ready to do everything He has planned and prepared for me to do before the foundation of the world.
Ok, Lord -- you win. I will sit and wait until You -- the Master Sculptor are ready to unveil your living creation and masterpiece. I will wait until You say "it is done;" and then I know this time, this delay, this waiting period will make more sense to me. I will wait upon the Lord for He is so Good to me.
Actually, I love my studies, it is just the rest of my life that is causing me to be downcast. At church yesterday, our Pastor taught on God's love. This is our new series on spiritual formation, and the next three weeks focus on God's love for us, our love for God, and our love for others. I found his message to be encouraging, and can give first hand testimony on the power of God's love. Without His love for me over the course of this last year, I can tell you that I probably wouldn't be here nor would I be contemplating school of any kind (let alone be enrolled and doing well in it).
I am struggling with one thing, really, and that is whether or not I should pursue full-time study (12 units) or stick with part-time (6 units). The difference is one year less of school (the cost is the same) or one and half years rather than two and a half. I think I was set on the idea yesterday, UNTIL the Holy Spirit suggested a possible job opportunity in a state and at a school not of my liking. It wasn't that I didn't like either, really -- it was just the venue, the religious preference, the difficult environment that caused me to scratch my head and say -- "Uh, I don't think so." Yes, God the Holy Spirit was offering a suggested course of action, and I turned my nose up at His plan. I don't want to do this, but clearly this choice was outside my comfort zone. I can be pressed hard at times, and still feel OK; but sometimes, I can be shoved a wee harder into that nether world of really not understanding/not knowing and bam! I am knocked completely off-kilter. This was how it was yesterday. I got a good shove and guess what? I fell down in a heap of uncertainty and bewilderment.
I know the plans the Lord has for me, and I know what I am to do. But this suggestion was so off-base that it took me completely by surprize. It wasn't palatable, it wasn't good, it wasn't what I wanted, and I just shut down on Him.
I am not really surprized by my behavior; no, not at all. I have been pressed, and pushed, and prodded now for a while, and this time -- well -- it was clearly a shove, a good hard thunk to move me one way only. I don't remember Him giving me a good thunk before, so now I have to wonder "what gives?" I mean, why would He push me so hard when I have been trying to agree with Him all along? I have been willing, I have been agreeable, and I have been open to this entire process, so why now am I getting the 'heave-ho?'
I don't know, I just don't know. Unless, it is to remind me that I promised to go where He sent me. Unless it is to tell me, "Hey, you and I made a deal, and that deal was that you would trust me, and follow after me -- even when I choose to send you someplace outside your comfort zone." Yes, this is it, I am sure of it. I did both of these things. I have promised God that I would go where He sends me, live where He tells me to live, and do the work He assigns to me to do. I have agreed with His will, and chosen to accept it as is -- regardless of the outcome, regardless of where it might lead me. I have said this to Him a hundred times, and I have for the most part done what I have said I would do. Now, He is telling me to get ready, to be prepared because He just may have an open door that would benefit me; but, it would require a bit of a mind shift, and a change on my part to handle it.
Yes, I think this is so. I think God is saying to me, "You are willing to go to the places you like; but not to those you don't. I need you to go where I send you, and you have said you would do this. Choose this day -- will you go where I send you or will you prefer to linger behind and wait for something better, something more to your liking?" Oh yes, Lord -- you are correct, you are indeed correct. I have done this very thing, and I apologize for it. I will go where you send me, and I will go when you determine it is best to do so. Until then, I ask forgiveness for my stubborn willfulness, and ask for the Grace to accept all opportunities in Your Name and for Your Praise. Amen.
September 19, 2010
I have looked over my proposed schedule, and I am now wondering if there is anyway for me to take four courses in the Spring and Fall 2011, and graduate early. Apparently, this is possible (according to Mercy's website). If I can do this, then I would cut one whole year off my study time. The bonus of graduating early is that I could pursue teaching positions rather than interim jobs, like I have been doing the past year.
I have had three interviews, the last being what I considered most successful. I don't feel confident about any of them, and I know for certain, that I am no longer being considered for Apple Retail. Moreover, the Rio Salado position was to be filled last week, and I haven't received any call backs, so I doubt that will come to pass. That leaves me with the position at Phoenix College, and while I do believe I gave a good showing, I don't think I am the right person for that job. Therefore, I am stuck with Macy's for now. I don't mind, really. I am getting used to working there, and the pay is nice (even if it only works out to be $7.50 hour net). I cannot sustain a living on it, but for extra income and groceries, it works.
If I were able to go to school full-time (12 units), then I would start looking at jobs that require a Masters degree instead of just a Bachelors. I tried to apply to some with the statement that "I was pursuing a MA;" but I think most HR people want to know you are close to graduation or graduated. My goal is to teach college English, and there are some positions open. Will they be open next year? Probably, so working to get through my study will only benefit me.
How to do that, how to go about not working and only doing school -- well -- that is the $64 million dollar question. I am already receiving financial aid, so taking out another loan scares me. Though I have no debt to speak of (only $700 on my credit card); and, if I did take a personal loan, then I would graduate with the average debt of a college student today. I would have to make payments once I graduate, but with a good job, this should be within feasibility. I do plan on continuing my education once I have my Master's degree. I have decided to go to Regent University (always the plan), but recently shifted my degree focus. I was seeking a degree in Communication (digital media studies), and then looked seriously at Leadership and Education. Now, I am settled on Divinity. I want to study Church History, especially Medieval Church History. This is my bailey-wick, so to speak, right up my alley. I have a deep interest in mind study or the study of the human mind; not from the psychological or scientific, but from the philosophical. I am keenly interested in how we learn, how we process change, speciically how our minds are renewed in the context of Christian thought. My only avenue after this degree is teaching, and since that is what I want to do -- it really is a good fit.
I am stepping out in faith on this one, and will only go where the Lord leads me. If He chooses this path for me, then He will provide the funding to enable me to school full-time the next year, and work full-time (school part-time) thereafter. God knows the timing, the opportunities, and the plans He has for me. I am resting and abiding in Him (the Vine). I have decided I like being a branch, and that it is much easier just to be a branch than to try and do what the Vine only can do (VBG!)
September 16, 2010
On a side note:
I have been asking the Lord if it might be possible to advance my schooling to the point of taking more than two classes next term. I find these courses to be challenging, but not overwhelmingly difficult for me to keep under control. In fact, I would say they are not as difficult as my undergrad courses -- they are different -- just not as much paper work. I have to read about the same amount, but my involvement is left to writing responses, and participating in discussion. In some ways, graduate study is easier for me. Perhaps it is just up my alley, you know -- a better fit for the type of student I happen to be like. Or perhaps I am just so ready to do school that the idea of reading and writing research papers just doesn't phase me anymore.
So let's say I take four courses next spring, and then four in the fall -- technically, I could graduate in December 2011 rather than May 2012. The main advantage for me is that I could begin to persue teaching right away, and that means less time being unemployed or working in part-time or other non-related career type work. I know I could do this, and Mercy allows you to take up to 12 units per semester. My goal is to maintain a 4.0 average so I have to make sure I can really do the work (I think I can, I think I can). Lord willing, He would have to provide some income opportunity for me as well. Oh well...we will see what shakes loose over the next few weeks and months.
As I sit here this morning, I am feeling incredibly downcast. I am upset, yes; but more than that, I am simply tired and irritated. I feel like I have been walking a very long time with a pebble in my shoe. I am carrying a heavy burden, and this darn rock is causing me great pain. It is rubbing me the wrong way, and there is no way I can get it out of my shoe. Even when I stop to look for it, I cannot find it; I just feel it as soon as I attempt to walk on. I am walking in faith, and this pebble (which at times feels like a massive boulder) is Satan's thorn to try and hurt me and cause me to stop moving forward. He doesn't want me to go anywhere in faith, no; he would much prefer that I sit down and look/hunt for the thing that is causing me the pain. By focusing on my pain, my sorrow, my hurt -- I will not so readily get up and start moving again. God is leading me forward, God is asking me to follow Him in faith. I must walk on, I must walk on -- but the pain is intense at times. How can I continue on?
The answer is really to have more faith, faith in God, faith in His promises, and faith in knowing that He is able and will do what He wills. It is not a matter of Him being able, for He is -- but rather, it is a matter of fact that He WILL do what He has promised. He will do what He has promised to us (all of His children), promised to me, and promised to you. God is Faithful, and we are called to follow Him in faith.
I look at the pebble in my shoe, and I know to whom it belongs. I see it, I know it well. It hurts me daily, and as much as I would like to empty my shoe out, I cannot not -- not yet. I cannot get the pebble out of my shoe because it is hidden, buried beneath the layers of fabric and the sole material. It is deeply situated, and the only way to get it out is to: change shoes or walk on barefoot. I either have to leave the shoes behind or wait for someone to give me a new pair to put on.
God has not given me new shoes (speaking metaphorically); so I must take these shoes off and follow after Him barefoot. This scares me because I am afraid of injuring myself, I am afraid that I will be hurt through the process. God is telling me not to be afraid, He is saying that He will protect me -- and I must believe His word to me -- that He is telling me the truth. I have to take off these old shoes and for the time being walk on without any protection on my feet. I am afraid to do so -- I do not like pain -- I do not like to suffer in this way.
What can I do? I can either walk on with the pain I know or walk on without pain and experience the potential of other pain (or perhaps not.) There is no absolute proof that if I walk on without any shoes that I will hurt again. Yes, there is empirical data -- my Mother always told us to put shoes on our feet whenever we went outside to play. She was being a good Mom, protecting us from harm. I know to do this as well, because I told my son the same thing. It is good advice, and advice worth heeding. Yet, my Savior is walking on and I must follow -- do I sit and wait until new shoes arrive? Or do I just go and trust that my Savior is not only able to protect me BUT that He can provide those new shoes to me at any point, at any time, and in any way He chooses? The answer of course is YES. My Savior God is more than able to provide new shoes to me, and He is more than able to keep me safe until He does so. I must trust Him to do both, I must believe that He not only can do this for me, but that He will do this for me.
I am being asked to walk on without the formerly comfortable protection of my old shoes. They need to be left behind, and I have no new shoes to put on my feet at this time. Therefore, I have to walk on without any shoes, and it scares me to do so. I don't mind going barefoot, but because I don't know the terrain ahead, I am afraid of what "might" be. I am trusting you today to provide to me safety and security, and I know that in time you will provide new shoes to me. My faith rests in You and You alone, and my trust sits securely and squarely upon your shoulders. You are able, you will do as you promise -- You are God alone.
September 15, 2010
Work at Macy's is going well, and I am finally settling into the routine of working PT flexible hours. I like that my schedule seems to be working out to be about 3 days each week. Some weeks I have four days, with 2 of those days being 3-4 hours long. Other weeks, it is about 3 full days of work. My feet are accustomed to standing now (thanks to my Walmart Earth Spirit clogs). I am also more comfortable with the routine and expectations of working retail. I understand what I have to do, how to do the register, and how to open accounts. Everyone there is nice to me, and I don't mind the work (rather mindless, but still good practical work).
My son's life seems to be going upwards, thanks to some specific people praying for him. The power of prayer -- it is awesome! He is meeting with our Pastor regularly (to discuss guy stuff -- thank you , Jesus!), and he is now more involved in church with music/worship. He feels confident that the Lord wants him to study audio engineering at college, and he is more devoted to his studies. I see a great change in him personally, and I notice that he just seems to be "older" all of a sudden. He looks older, acts older, and appears to be more solid, more steadfast, and more in control -- less lost. I am so pleased, and he seems geniunely happy. God is so Good to us.
My marriage is as it has been for the past year, in limbo. We are still together, yet not together. We still live under the same roof, but we are not in relationship with one another (other than in a casual, sort of roommate type way). This is not my will, but it appears to be the Lord's for the time being. I want to move out or have him move out, but the Lord appears determined to keep us as is for the time being. I am content to not allow myhome life to upset the rest of what God is doing in my life, so I leave it alone. I do what I must--cook, clean, and generally keep the house well ordered; but other than that, I feel like I am just biding my time, so to speak.
My husband's parents call often now, wanting us to help them out with tasks around the home. With my work and school schedule, I am not able to do this much anymore, and they have recently lost a good friend (due to a move out of state) who often came over and did such things for them. They are seeking to move to assisted living, but are waiting now for confirmation whether or not that will be possible. Until then, my husband has helped them out, but there is strain in that relationship, so generally it is difficult on a daily basis to just do what must be done.
All in all, life is very good. It could be worse -- always worse; and, God has seen fit to ensure that both my son and I are well-cared for and provided with our basic needs. I am blessed through the struggles and turmoil, and even when I don't know what to do, God is always there to assure me -- it will be alright. He is so Good like that, and I love Him with my entire being.
Thank you, Jesus for caring for me and for meeting every single need that I have this day.
September 14, 2010
I forgot how enlightening and engaging school was for me, and how much I enjoyed thinking deeply on subjects new to me. When I was in undergraduate school, I recall only some of my courses causing me to think deeply, and requiring that I stretch myself academically. English was one of these departments, but not all of the courses I took allowed that of me. Most wanted me to just deconstruct the text (to break it apart) and then diagnose any patterns, problems, or possible theories for the literary elements and language. One professor in particular, took a keen interest in my writing, and always allowed me more reign to explore the philosophy or psychological aspects of the work. This was my element, and the place where I found the most stimulation and challenge. In my Humanities courses I often had the opportunity to explore these subject areas; but then, it was par for the course, so to speak. Philosophy was not a "no-no" in these courses, and often, was considered an integral part of the reading assignments.
I was uncertain exactly how Mercy would choose to format their English program. On the one hand, it was clear that they were a traditional classics type program, whereby you study English and American literature along with writing. This focus is what drew me to the program as it fit me better than say a local university that had various streams of interest outside the traditional canon of Western literature. Though I have no issue reading from other cultures, and in fact, I greatly enjoy it -- it is more a matter of idealogical standing -- and some schools tend to be bent far right or far left (if you get my drift).
Mercy appears to be a school where traditional courses are taught, but where students are allowed the freedom to express themselves outside the scope of decontruction. I am estatic and cannot tell you how relieved I am right now. I turned in my first response paper for my Chaucer course and I got a great response back from my professor. These are ungraded, but they generally will let you know where you are standing as far as how free you are to explore a topic. In my case, my writing was well-received (thank you, Jesus), and the professor liked my ideas and approach to the subject (hooray!) Now, I can rest and know that I can just read and digest and then discuss these works as I think upon them (orally and in writing). Writing is my foray, it is my strength, and I am far more persuasive through writing, then in person. I think I am like the Apostle Paul in that regard. He often said that he wasn't persuasive in speech, and that people were taken aback by his physical presence and his apparent lack of speaking skill. Yet, his letters were another matter entirely, and that is what caused such an abrupt sense of "Whoa, is this the same man?"
I tend to be all over my words when I am speaking in person. Often, I am so lost and clueless, that I sit in the outer fringes of the discussion and struggle to hang on. I am just not a good linquist. I love words, but I often cannot find them when I need them. I am very content to be inside my head, in my books, and in my writing (journals). I like it, and feel most comfortable with myself as my only audience. Writing scholary papers is the same way for me -- I love the challenge and complexity of them, but also I enjoy the quiet solitude where I can sit and think and then try and express myself well. It is like a game to me -- can you really articulate what is in your head in such a way that the reader will "get it?"
Therefore, I guess I know my trueself (if you can really know yourself), and that is the fact that I am a writer, a scholary writer, bent towards psychology and philosophy, specifically dealing with the nature of how we learn and process truth. It is who I am, and it is the field that I enjoy most, and where I could see myself directing my entire life's work. God made me this way for a reason, and I am loving it. I am thanking Him for the gift of writing, and the ability to perform it so well. May God be praised today for His unfathomable Goodness toward me.
September 13, 2010
I placed my order to Christianbook.com yesterday. I have needed some additional curriculum for a while, and I finally just did it -- ordered the materials. These books will round out our program, and I will be able to finalize our schedule.
We are going to begin Saxon Advanced Math as soon as the DIVE CDs arrive. I picked up the textbook (almost new) at Half Price Books. I ordered the Solutions Manual and CDs yesterday. This course will prep us for the SAT math test as well as prepare us for college level mathematics.
I also ordered Apologia's Advanced Physics curriculum. My son has decided to pursue Audio Engineering, and physics plays a large role in his understanding of how sound travels. This course should be excellent for him.
We already started A Beka's British Literature textbook, and I like it a lot. I have added some novels to the mix: Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde;" "Dr. Zhivago" (ode to DJ's intense love of all things Russian); "To Kill a Mockingbird;" etc. More to follow for semester 2.
We are using "The American Pagaent" textbook (a great find for $1 at our local hs resource store) to review US History. In addition, we are reading several bios and other non-fiction books that deal with the US Civil War and Slavery.
Language study continues as now my son wants to visit Russia some day.
Same story -- continue on as always.
For Bible, I will have my son do Oswald Chamber's devotional book -- "My Utmost for His Highest" on a daily basis. That and whatever reading he normally does, should be just fine.
Lastly, I have decided to pursue community college for my son. I will take him next week to get his ID card and then we will go and take the placement tests. I am not going to worry about how well he does or if he passes, etc. I am simply stepping out in faith and letting God lead us in this endeavor. It is for His Glory -- therefore, it will be as His will dictates.
I remember time after time when my parents would say to us kids, "we are going to clean out the garage on Saturday so don't make any plans." This happened every so often in my life, but it always prepped a garage sale or some event such as a change from summer to fall (and preparing for winter and moving the cars into the garage). My Dad is notorious for keeping junk, as Mom calls it, in the garage. They presently live in a lovely home -- but the garage is my mother's thorn. It is full of boxes and my Dad's stuff (some work, some hobby, some storage). It is neatly stored, mind you -- there is just one path in, and one path to the side door. The rest of the floor space is devoted to bins and boxes and old furniture. Stacks of things line the walls, and there is shelving in some places, cupboards in other places. The attic space above the garage holds Christmas things -- so every inch of space has been utilized -- and the garage is chockfull of things.
When I was young, we all had to work to sort, to clean, and then to clear out stuff. We had to take responsibility for that which was ours (like bikes and skates and balls/bats) as well as to help throw away garbage or broken/torn items. Once the garage was emptied, we swept it and often washed it down (hosed it and cleaned it to remove oil or dirt or other stains). Then after a good airing, the stuff (less than before) got moved back in according to my Dad's instructions (the bikes over here, the garbage cans there) so that there would be room for the cars come Winter.
This thrice yearly cleaning ritual was hard work, and none of us kids like doing it. My Mom loved it, and she was so pleased to be able to walk around the garage, not just up and back a little path. I took pride too -- I always liked the way it looked when it was all cleaned out. It was fresh, and not that dark scary place (with stinky smells) anymore.
As God brought this concept up to my rememberance, He enabled me to make the connection between housekeeping a garage and heartcleaning our minds. Jesus instructs us in the importance of not allowing clutter to choke our minds. Paul tells us to keep our minds pure (Phil. 4:8). Furthermore, we are told that we are to "have the mind of Christ," and that in doing so, we will find it easier to keep our minds clear from the junk of the world.
The more I pondered this mental illustration, the more it made sense to me, and the more I came to understand just how important it is to keep our minds clear from the junk of the world. We all have junk. We all have piles of it. However, we don't have to keep the junk -- we can clean house, so to speak, and be liberated from the stores of unwanted things we have collected over the years. Cleaning is not really the issue, as I think most of us, are pretty good at the cleaning bit. The part we all seem to struggle with is the clearing out, the removal of the junk, the letting go of the "treasures" of our hearts. This is where we get ourselves into the thick of things when we refuse to clear out the old stuff, move it out, dispose of it. Instead, we simply shuffle it all around, and try and make room for more stuff.
We hoarde things too, we come to love our "things" and in doing so we begin to suffocate admist all that stuff. So what do we do about it? How do we get rid of the junk in our lives? Easy. We pack it up, and taking it to our Heavenly Disposal Center, we allow Jesus to take it. God doesn't recycle (sorry all you greenies out there); no, God destroys sin and sorrow and the muck of our lives. He doesn't just "clean it up" either. No, God takes the refuse and literally banishes it into a place where we can no longer find it. It is gone permanently, eternally, forever.
We tend to just put our things, our junk, out of mind. You know the saying, "Out of sight, out of mind;" well, that is what we like to do. We don't really want to get rid of the thing, just put it out of sight. God says "this will not do" and then He takes it from us and disposes of it properly. It takes the stinky toxic waste of our lives and makes it disappear. In the process, He cleans us as well, so that we are not only liberated from the stuff, but we are also not left ill because of it. We are healed, we are restored, and we are able to walk away with a clean and decluttered heart and mind.
I have learned this lesson in my life, and most recently discovered that as I have been working to clean house (the Holy Spirit is the leader in this event -- He prompts the clearing, He directs the sorting, and He enables us to let things go), I have come to understand that Jesus accepts large donations just as surely as He will take small things. I have learned that I can back a truck up and pile everything in at once, and Jesus will take it all from me. I don't have to give Him items one at a time. I can do a major dump, and He will tell me "fine." I was very used to doing the one item only routine, and in doing that, I never quite felt good about myself. I was glad to be free, to be liberated from the "thing;" but then I would come home and find a dozen more things sitting there ready to go. This last time, I just loaded the entire truck and took it to Him. I came home to a clean garage, a cleaned space -- freshly washed by the Holy Spirit, and ready for His use. It felt wonderful to be done, really done with the junk in my life. I was relieved, I was emptied of my burdens, and I was able to start to focus on storing up treasures for Him. My garage was meant for His use, not my own; and now the entire space belongs to Him. What a glorious feeling to be free from years of piled up, pent up, and packed up junk.
After this long interpretive dream, I asked the Lord this question: "Lord, what about stuff that doesn't belong to me? What do I do with stuff that other people have either given to me (and I took it) or dumped it on me? How do I get rid of that stuff?" His answer to me was the same -- "Pack it up and bring it to me." But, "what about stuff belonging to my husband (or wife)?" Ah, interesting point -- the Word tells us that marriage causes a man and woman to become one flesh, and in short, part of our garage is set aside for another person (the same with them). Our lives are now comingled with another, and they have access to our storage area. How they use that storage area is a matter of principal, a matter of their spiritual condition, and their willingness to obey the "right of use" priviledges granted to them. In many cases, the spouse is considerate of their mates "space allottment" and will abide by the rules. They will keep what is theirs, share what is to be shared, and then dispose regularly that which is overflowing (both will do this). In turn, this keeps each garage in order, and everything is separate that must be separate, and joined in what must be joined.
In some cases, however, one spouse is attempting to keep their garage clean, but the other spouse is bent on hoarding and not doing their own spiritual cleaning. They collect junk, so much that they start to use their spouses allotted space for their own. Without regard to the restrictions set up, this overflow of junk ends up causes stress and discomfort for the spouse who is trying hard to keep everything tidy. They may attempt to help their spouse "clean up," they may attempt to sort or to declutter. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. They may have a spouse that refuses to do any work at all, and doesn't want their partner to touch their things. What do you do then?
With a spouse that is unwilling to do their own housecleaning, the Holy Spirit of God must enforce the boundaries of limitations upon them. The Holy Spirit is the One who directs the clearing process, and He will not allow your clean and sorted space to become defiled by another persons disgusting junk. No, He will put a stop to it so long as you abide and agree with Him that it is what must be. You must not allow your spouse to freely use your space for his own purposes. No, you must stand on the Word of God and simply say: "take your junk home."
Now, what about those folks out there who try and donate stuff to you? Or the ones who do a "dump and run." These people don't want to dispose of their junk directly -- they want you to do it for them. The best measure is to not accept junk from anyone else. Take care of your own home, and let others take care of theirs. If they won't do that, and many times this is the truth; then, you must let the Holy Spirit of God place a boundary or hedge about you with the warning signs clearly posted: "No dumping allowed. Violaters will be prosecuted (fined)." Yes, it is true. You cannot dump your junk on someone else and then walk away. You will suffer the fine for doing it, and you will be forced to go back and pick it all up. It is best to take care of your own stuff, and do the right thing: take it to Jesus, and let Him dispose of it rightly.
In this long discourse, this is the point I am trying to make. Our junk is the stuff we hide, we store away, and we keep from others seeing. It is sin, yes; but, it is also bitter roots of hurt feelings, disappointments, and disallusionments. It is the stuff we refuse to let go of and the stuff that we tend to bury down deep inside of us. Moreover, it can also be memories of past hurts, traumas we endured, or failures we made ourselves. In short, it is mental and spiritual junk that needs tending to so that it doesn't block out and take over our garage (our heart/mind). God needs a clean house -- His Holy Spirit wants to live in a clean space (He must -- He is Holy), and to do that, work has to be done. How quickly you get at it, is a matter of priority. The sooner, the better (after coming to Christ). And then it is vital to keep your garage in check, always making sure it is well-ordered and clean. The Holy Spirit will stop you if you try and bring in things to store in His Space (once yours, now His). He will ask you not to do it, and you either can listen and abide in Him or you can willingly resist and bring it in anyway. In doing so, you will have to deal with it eventually, and truthfully it is best just not to bring it in.
In the end, this is what I learned:
- My mind is no longer my own for if I am truly born again, I no longer have my own way; but, my thoughts are now His (I have the mind of Christ)
- The Holy Spirit of God comes to abide with us, to dwell in us, to make His home with us -- therefore, He cannot do so in a dirty space. It must be clean and kept clean. He will do this, but we must help (we have to do the work).
- I can say no to others who want to dump their junk on me or give it to me to take it for them. I have enough work on my own, and I don't need to help anyone else with their stuff (now, I am called to bear anothers burden -- but this means to support them, to encourage, to help them -- not take their junk and let them walk away)
- My spouse has junk of his own. He can take responsibility for his junk or he can try and get me to take it for him. I cannot now. I cannot dispose of other people's junk without God intervening and assisting me. It is best for me to say "No thanks" and keep my space clean.
I am convinced that this is the true nature of human beings, always trying to pass off their sin and it's consequences onto other people. How we deal with our own sin is a major issue for most Christians. We know we are forgiven, but we don't always accept the totality of that forgiveness. Scripture tells us that our sins are forgiven (forever). Moreover, our consciences are cleansed -- our guilt is absolved. We harbor left over copies, reminders of the sin in our storage areas or garages. We keep on remembering them long after the original has been disposed of and destroyed. We need to remember that Christ's atonement was complete and our sins are forgiven. And, we must also remember that it is up to us (and the Holy Spirit of God) to make sure we keep our minds in check, and our hearts free from the burden of new sin and roots of bitterness caused by the sin of others.
September 12, 2010
Today, is a day when His peace has created a bubble around my life. I am able to sit here and type, and know that everything is going to be OK. I may not control any aspect of my life right now; but He can, and He does keep me steady. I may not know what tomorrow will bring; but I can rest in my Savior's arms and know that I am safe and secure. God has enabled me to experience the darkness along with the brightness of His very light. The more I focus upon His Goodness, the more I am able to see Good all around me. The more I concentrate on His Blessedness, the more blessed I feel. God is Good in this way, and He gives His blessings freely to those He loves.
As I ponder the Goodness of God, and I amazed at how deeply He loves us. His love is never ending, never failing, and never falls short of any need. He cares so deeply, so completely, and with such tenderness, that nothing passes by Him, nothing is left out of His vision. No, our God is completely in love with us, and gives freely to us so that we can come to love Him in return. Truthfully, we love God because He first loved us.
I am in love with my Lord, and I am not ashamed to admit it. He is my King, my Savior and my God. I am utterly at His feet, looking to Him only, and resting in His Presence. He alone can make my life shine -- and the more I look into His Light, the more that light bounces off on me and back out upon others. I look to Him, and I am relieved. I see Him, and I can see others with new eyes. I place Him first, and I place others ahead of myself. In all things it is Christ and Christ alone, and in doing so, I am able to finally let go of "ME" and embrace the call to minister to others. Praise God for He is so Good to me.
The funny thing (curious) is that I went to church today feeling so low and blue, just down about everything in my life. I have felt lost recently, clueless of sorts, stuck trying to figure out where I am going and how to get there. I prayed about it today, wondering what I may have done to get myself in this spot, and then asking how to go about getting myself out of it. Usually, whenever I in this particular kind of spot, I go before the Lord and then seek His explanation as to what is what. I come away confessing, acknowledging all that I have done or haven't done, and then placing my trust back upon Him. When these types of things happen to me, they almost always coincide with the Lord's Day. It never fails, I will be sitting in church singing or listening to the message, and it is like a bolt of divine understanding just hits me in the head. I hear the truth, I recognize it as it pertains to my own situation, and I come out of it thinking "Oh, yes, I get it now."
This is exactly what happened to me today. It wasn't so much a WORD or anything like that, it was rather just a feeling of "you are right where you belong." I had this sense of peace about everything in my life right now, and then this sense that everything was OK, and that I would be OK too. It wasn't like I received miraculous instruction as to how to resolve the unresolved in my life -- no, nothing of that sort. Rather, it was just like everything was OK, that I was OK, and that my work, my school, DJ's school, etc., they were all OK.
After the service, I continued to think about this new revelation, and this is just what I have determined:
- I am committed to knowing Jesus as Lord, and I am devoted to deepening my relationship with Him at all costs. Jesus comes first; everything is second.
- I am working where I need to be right now. Macy's isn't the "job" for me, that is for certain; and, it doesn't pay the bills. Yet, Macy's is where I am, and I like it. I like the people, I like the work, and moreover, the Lord is blessing me there. People seem to really like me, and they are nice to me. I am content to remain at Macy's until the Lord moves me elsewhere. I will still interview, and I will apply at the Holy Spirit's prompting, but finding a FT job is His business and not mine. I am just to "do the work" assigned to me this day. I can do this, I can do it.
- I am pleased with my schooling, and with my schedule (how it will work out). I am also pleased with the course content. The professors seem genuinely good, and they are asking really interesting questions. I think I am really going to like this program a lot, and I know that God is blessing me here. He guided me to Mercy College, and He provided a way for me to go there. Therefore, this is His business -- I am just to do the assigned work. I study, I read, I write -- and God does all the rest. I can do this, I can do it.
- I am also really enjoying my cello studies. I got new strings last week, and I ordered a new bow today. By next week, I will have my new bow, and I should really improve now. I am also loving Chamber. It is so much fun, and it challenges me in ways other than just through the lessons. I love the cello, I love my lessons and I love chamber.
Lastly, I am content to know that I am in the center of the Lord's will for my life. I am doing everything that God has asked of me, and I am being faithful to do the work He has provided. I don't have an answer about my home/life situation, and I don't know what will be long-term. I simply know that my Savior loves me, and that His plans are good. I will wait upon Him, do what He has asked, and rest in the knowledge that He knows best. There is nothing more for me to do, nothing at all. God is responsible for the growth and change in my life, and He is responsible for providing for my needs. I don't have to worry about these because they are not my responsibility. I do what He asks, I trust Him, and then He provides. Pretty simple -- now just let me rest in it, and remember to keep my hands off! PTL!
September 11, 2010
September 10, 2010
Today is Friday, and I have just come home from working Macy's one-day sale event (9-1). I am exhausted, but ready for cello lesson and chamber group. I am also gearing up for my second class, which has already met once. I have home work to do this weekend, and I am trying to figure out how to make this whole "work/graduate school/cello/homeschool/life change" thing mesh together. Truly, I am on auto-pilot now, and I clearly have that "deer in the headlights" look about me.
Some recent developments to blog about:
- Graduate school began last Tuesday and Wednesday. I am enrolled in two courses: Chaucer and Reason and Imagination. Both seem like good courses, and I think I will enjoy them once I get more settled and into a routine.
- I have another interview with the MCCD -- this time with Phoenix College.
- I am dealing with Macy's better now, less stressed over my back and feet, and more able to handle the customer issues.
- Home schooling and doing all of this simply is not working out well. I need to come up with a better plan.
So there you have it. I am getting ready to embark on this new adventure, and I still feel so overwhelmed and unable to deal with the challenges and changes to my life/routine. I am such a creature of habit, so conformed to my routine. Can I do this, really?
Your word in John 15 tells us that we must abide in you. You are the Vine and we are the branches. We receive all life from the Vine, and all nutrients and power come up through this one conduit. You are our Source of Power and Energy and Control. I ask now in Your Name to receive a fresh blessing of Power, of Energy and Control so that I can feel more comfortable with the changes happening in my life. Consecrate me today, Lord, so that I can do your will, and follow after you. May I walk worthy this day, in Jesus Name, Amen.