June 30, 2010

What to Do When It Hurts So Bad...

to love someone so much?

What a long sentence (hey hey hey), but so very true. A friend of mine is going through a similar situation to me. She is separated from her husband, and is struggling to try and figure out how things will work out in her life. Her situation is more dire than mine, due to the fact that she is all alone, and has several children. I am thankful that as of now, I am not solely responsible for my future, and I have just one child. I don't know what I would do if I had to care for more than one child, and try to make ends meet. If you happen to be a prayer warrior, please pray for my friend (I will leave her name out). She really could use the support right now, and her situation is quite critical. Thanks!

On another front, I am sitting here blogging right now. It is 9:41 p.m. and I just finished watching a video of Inspector Morse. My folks have almost the entire set (series 1-8, 10-11). They recently bought series 10-11, and only need to get 9 to have the complete program (all televised episodes). I became a Morse fan a number of years ago, and have enjoyed the reruns whenever Masterpiece Mystery runs them on TV. My folks loaned me the videos and I have been having a hoot watching them again. I do miss John Thaw as Morse. I believe he passed away in 2002 -- he was such a great actor.

I was thinking about my life (as I was watching the video), and remembering when I first saw the Morse program on PBS. I was living in San Jose, CA then, and was about to finish up my BA degree at San Jose State University. Funny how time flies -- I am just beginning my MA degree now, nearly 17 years later. Still it is interesting to recall what I was doing then, what my dreams and goals were, and then trace the events of my life as they unfolded over the course of time.

I am much older now (will be 48 this year), and am seriously working towards a PhD degree. I have about five years of graduate study ahead of me (given my proclivity for writing, I think I can do it in that time frame). I am actually looking forward to advanced study, and I am so excited about the courses I will take. I love to read school books, and I love to write papers. I guess I am a scholary type person -- even though I don't read for pleasure or enjoyment. I read for purpose -- for achievement -- and for learning (knowledge). LOL! I know so many folks who are better read than I am, better all around when it comes to general knowledge. I tend to know certain things, stick with those that appeal to me, and ignore the rest. I guess I am truly the bobble-headed professor type. In my field, I seem very deep. Everywhere else, I am just a tiny little puddle of mush.

As I was thinking back on my life, I started to wonder just exactly how things would turn out for me. After all, I am in the midst of a serious life change, a serious redirect, a serious turn in the other direction. I started my adult life with one focus, one path in mind, and with one purpose planned. I am now at the midway, and am finding that path leading no where I want to be, and I am redirected (or should say have been redirected) onto a completely different path, heading in a completely different direction. In some ways it is exciting to think about all the possibility. In other ways, though, it is difficult to be eager and anticipatory when the end is unknown, the way unclear, and the future -- well, just a fog.

The good news is that I am content, I am truly happy, and for the first time in my life, I am convinced of my path. I don't know every detail or what will be tomorrow or the next; but, I do know that my plan or my proposed plan is "green lighted" all the way. I feel so blessed to be in this position, to be able to pursue something I have wanted to do for so very long, and believed that I would never be able even to consider attempting. Instead of seeing my life as an end, I am able to see it as a beginning; and with that new view, I can truly say that "all things are possible for God." I mean, I could never have dreamed, wished or envisioned my life turning out the way it has nor could I have articulated such desires, wants and hopes. Nope, this -- all of this -- is not of my hand nor of my mind. I am just not that smart, that crafty, that capable (and I am pretty capable!) This is of the Lord, and I know it. I cannot say it any other way, but this is His will coming to pass in my life, and He has taken me to this point and said (in effect): "Here you go, walk this way and be blessed." Yes, I am walking this way, and He is blessing me with all sorts of blessing. I am at peace, I am filled with joy, and I am contented and satisfied. He has done all of this for me, and I give Him all the praise because He is SO VERY GOOD TO ME. PTL!

Finalizing Plans and Making New Goals

Well, I received one notice from a local HR company telling me that the position I had applied for has been filled. I have since gone back through all the other positions I applied for and requested the status from those HR departments. I realize that this is not in "vogue" now, and that these HR people want to remain anonymous; but truthfully, for those of us seeking work, not knowing whether a position is still open is ridiculous. I mean, how can I know when to give up and move on, if I never know whether a position has been filled. I think it is unfair to prospective employees to treat them as numbers. I guess that is what companies want to do now, but I think it stinks!

So with some "bear on," I am moving forward on my goals, and am taking a much stronger stance on seeing them come to pass. First of all, I took stock of my goals to make sure they align with God's word, and with what I believe is His will for me. Interestingly enough, the very thing I was all hot and bothered about, was not even a goal on His list. Yes, weird isn't it to consider that getting a job was simply not a high enough priority for the Lord (in regard to my welfare). Now, I don't think He is disinterested; absolutely not. I think it is more a matter of what His Word says in Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV):

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

In truth, the Father ALREADY KNOWS that I need a job. This is sort of a non-starter, one of those rhetorical questions that needs not be answered. God has already provided everything I need for life: food, shelter, clothing. He knows that to live in this day and age, a person needs some means of employment, whether through self or through some other person. He knows that it takes a large sum of money to live well, to live modestly; and that with all the associated expenses for insurance and health care, that a person needs to earn a set amount each week. Furthermore, depending on where you live, some people need to earn more just to make ends meet. He knows all this, and He is well aware of what it costs to live here in Phoenix (and anywhere else He may choose to send me).

His goals for me are more sorted along His will. They are goals in and of themselves, but they are specific tasks that will prepare, will educate, and will enable me to do His specific work. Additionally, these goals are the ones that matter most to Him. For without them, I will not be ready to do the work He has called me to do. These goals, therefore, must be met at all cost.

My goals, the goals I think are of most value, tend to be the ones He has already accomplished (like food, clothing, shelter). I am seeking these provisions just as surely as I am seeking to accomplish the goals He has laid out. The difference is that I tend to seek the ordinary with an incredible amount of anquish, as if these are life and death. In God's perview, the other, the more important goals are paramount to His Will. The ordinary have already been cared for, provided -- I just don't see it -- because I am looking for something else.

How do I change my mind to match His mindset? How do I stop seeking the ordinary, and instead, focus on the extraordinary? I think the key is this: I think we must believe what the Word says, and then stop asking Him for the things He has already provided. In doing so, our eyes will be opened to see the truth, to see His Provision for us, and we will more willing to be grateful and thankful in return.

It is not that I am being ungrateful at all; in fact, I try very hard to be gracious and thankful all the time. The point is that I am trying to do something that the Father has said is already done. That very thought is too high for me to comprehend, but that is what I have been doing, and what I continue to do. I am not seeing the forest because there are too many trees in the way! LOL! God has already provided everything I need to live securely, confidently and to do His Will. So be it. I have been looking for something extraordinary to show up, when He has simply said to me "it is done." I have been waiting for the "thing" to arrive, when it has been sitting at my doorstep all along, waiting for me to open it up and start using it.

So, what does this mean for me? I think it simply means that I will never understand how God chooses to intervene in our lives. I am thankful that He does do this often, and especially when times are really tough. It also means that though I am to continue to be expectant and to wait for Him to provide for me, I must also recognize that often He has already done so. I need to open my eyes and see the truth, see the facts, and then accept them as such. I think this is the secret to happiness. It is not some fantasy come to pass, but rather, it is the acknowledgement that if Christ is our sufficiency, our all in all, then we lack nothing and need nothing more than Him and Him alone.

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." ~ 1 Corinthians 2:2

Dealing with Criticism

I blogged about this topic once before, and even did some research on the subject. I don't remember what I determined, so apparently I need a refresher course in how to deal with criticism.

Criticism

n. 1. the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgment, comment, etc.

Criticism occurs when one person makes an unfavorable remark or comment about something, be it another person's appearance, attitude, or behavior. Typically, criticism involves judgement, and the person who is critical is the one who is judging the other person. Some criticism is warranted, and is called constructive criticism.

"Constructive criticism is a compassionate attitude towards the person qualified for criticism. Having higher experience, gifts, respect, knowledge in specific field and being able to verbally convince at the same time, this person is intending to uplift the other person materially, morally, emotionally or spiritually. For high probability in succeeding his compassionate criticism the critic has to be in some kind of healthy personal relationship with the other one, which is normally a parent to child, friend to friend, teacher to student, spouse to spouse or any kind of recognized authority in specific field. Hence the word constructive is used so that something is created or visible outcome generated rather than the opposite." (theFreeDictionary.com)

Conversely, destructive criticism is:

"Destructive criticism is intended to harm someone, derogate and destroy someone’s creation, prestige, reputation and self-esteem on whatever level it might be. This may be done intentionally or out of sheer ignorance and foolishness. Hence the word destructive is used. In practical life destructive criticism may be disguised as constructive to be more painful while harming. Valid examination of intention of critic is when asked to prove, to help or to be somewhat useful at all. Often destructive criticism comes from persons who are envious, cruel and those who judges in fields which are not their own."

I have been the recipient of both types of criticism, and truthfully, neither is a joy-ride. No one likes being criticized, even when it is offered with compassion. Though, I will admit that in most recent days (spanning my marital crisis), I have received numerous criticisms from people who actually were intent on helping me spiritually. In these instances, the criticism offered did have a valid point, and was used, upon reflection, to help me see certain things, to process new information, and in general, to overcome a particularly difficult event. In my case, constructive criticism did what it is designed to do: to uplift me physically, emotionally, materially, mentally and spiritually. It served as edification, which simply means to offer "improvement, instruction, or enlightenment, esp when morally or spiritually uplifting."

The Bible calls us to edify one another, to build each other up. In 1 Cor 14:12 we read, "So also you, since you are eager to have the function of spiritual gifts, seek to abound in spiritual gifts that edify the church." And again in 1 Cor 14:26, "When you assemble, let all things be done for edification." Clearly God has given us the ability to "edify" or to build up, lift up one another. We are to use our ability to criticise for His Glory and for the nurture and spiritual growth of other believers.

"Edification is the process of spiritual growth in a Christian who is living according to the plan of God and who is fulfilling the command to "grow in grace and in the knowledge" of Jesus Christ." (See website on this topic)

It is obvious that the Bible commands believers to lift up one another, to use our words (verbal support) to help other believers grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our goal should be for their betterment, and not our own. Our purpose should be to help them attain a higher standard, to do whatever is pleasing the God, and not pleasing to themselves or us.

How then do we edify one another without falling into the trap of using our words to destroy? We need to take heed of what James tells us in chapter 3, verses 5-10:

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

I think we need to carefully consider how we use our words, first off. And then, secondly, we need to remember why we would choose to curse someone (to destroy them with our words). If we take a second look at the definition of destructive criticism we see the root cause of this type of behavior: "Often destructive criticism comes from persons who are envious, cruel and those who judges in fields which are not their own."

In short, people who engage in destructive criticism often do it out of envy and jealousy. They may feel inadequate and that they lack merit in some regard. They are reacting in a way that draws attention to themselves, in order to puff themselves up, to make themselves feel more valued or wanted or needed. People who feel neglected for some reason will often use their words to dissuade or discourage other people, especially if they feel that the other person is achieving or receiving some blessing or benefit that they desire or wish to have (envy). Also, they may use their words to dissuade a person from doing something that could potentially cause them to lose favor or a specific thing (such as a relationship).

In this case, often jealousy is the cause of the remark, and the person making the remark feels threatened and is trying to keep from losing something they feel they already possess. Sometimes envy and jealousy are confused as being the same thing, but really they are partners in crime, so to speak. Envy is the desire to have something you do not possess; whereas jealousy is the fear of losing something you already possess. Both are powerful emotions, and if left unchecked, can cause us to act out behaviors that are destructive not only to our relationship with God, but also to our relationship with others.

The Word tell us in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

So there you have it, there is the answer to how to keep ourselves from saying things that clearly do not edify and build up the church of God. We are simply to say "No" to any feeling of envy or jealousy. We are to thank God for what we do have, and be thankful for what others have as well. In doing so, we will turn our words into a well-spring of blessing rather than cursing. Let us endeavor to use our words to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not tear them down. If we have any issue at all regarding blessings (whether we are lacking them or desiring them), let us go to the Father of all Blessing and ask Him for His judgement on our life. You see, rather than being envious of what some other person has or is doing or is able to do, simply ask the Father whether or not He intends for you to do the same thing. If His answer is YES, then praise Him for His Goodness towards you. If His answer is NO, then simply accept it and acknowledge that God has something else in mind for you -- perhaps something that is a better fit for you, and something that will bring Him far greater glory.

I took some criticism the other day, and it stung me (as it always does). I then shared that with a friend (well, a relative), and then felt bad about doing that. I thought I was gossipping because the person I told is well-acquainted with the other person (the one doing the criticising). My heart's desire is to use my words for blessing and not cursing, so I was feeling a bit undone that I had shared these hurtful words. I thought I should have just let them go, not even considered them, but they pricked me, and I turned to someone who would sympathize with me. I asked the Lord, "did I sin in doing this?" His reply was, "No." Thankfully, He helped me understand something about how we use our words, and this post is a permanent reminder of the most common motive for destructive criticism: envy and jealousy.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." ~Galatians 5:19-21

June 29, 2010

The Day is Coming

I had another poor night's sleep again. Drats! My big boys decided to really pounce and chase each other this morning (about 5 a.m.) Between pounces and then crashes out in the living room, I surmised that the chase had become quite heated and it had turned to "no holds barred." My boys have been so good lately, rarely even breaking a sweat when they do chase (and usually afternoon, before nap or early evening, before bed). I haven't had this type of event in about three-four months.

My new baby needs protecting whenever the boys get this active, so I found him cowering on the bed, right next to me, and I scooped him up before Winston did a major pounce right near him. I think he appreciated it, because he was all "purrs" and I tucked him in with me under the covers. Gus headed out the door and down the hallway, and all I heard next was the clang of the metal food bowls (guessing they went "splat" against the opposite wall).

I finally dragged myself out of bed (at 7:00) and pulled what I could together for my own breakfast. I made my coffee, and headed out to the office to sit a while. Winston and Ike (my baby) decided that they needed to wrestle on my desk, so between pens flying and baby falling off the desk (doing a header somersault), I pretty much didn't get anything done. I did manage to catch him before he landed on the floor (caught mid-fall, oh am I good with the reflexes). Winston then proceeded to pound my picture above the desk (he sees his reflection in there and attacks it). Finally, I called it quits, and sent the boys packing out of the office.

I showered and just got back into the office after some lunch. My real boy dragged himself out of bed sometime while I was in the shower. He is almost 17 and is enjoying his vacation. He has been sick, so I am cutting him some slack on sleeping. Today is the first day he hasn't coughed excessively, and I think he is turning the corner to better health. It didn't really help staying up all night on Saturday (field day for Ham Radio operators), and that put him back a day or so on the healing. He came home from camp with some upper respiratory crud (the entire camp seems to have gotten it), and it has been nine days so far. I think the worst is passed by, and now he just has that lingering cough with occassionally sniffles (or stuffy head -- it seems to alternate).

So there you have my morning. It is supposed to be another 110 today, and I am longing for more moderate temperatures. My Aunt lives in Indiana and said the storms have been vicious there. Oh, I would take vicious storms today. We live in sun all year round, and while folks who live with changeable climates think that is the "cats meow," for us, it is boring and routine. I miss clouds, I miss the rain, and I even miss the storms.

News Update

Well, I have heard back on one job. I got a nice reply from HR telling me that the position was filled. Out of 13-14 jobs that I have applied for, only one company even bothered to tell me the position was filled. I wasn't too disappointed in that news, and really was kind of glad to know it is not available. I think the hardest thing is waiting to hear, and then often, never hearing anything at all. You don't know if you should give up and go elsewhere or if the company is just slow to respond. You could walk away from a job you ASSUME is filled, when in reality the HR people are slow to get their act in gear. In this economy, every job is a potential job so you cannot just walk away. There may not be another job for a long while, and that is why I have been so diligent to not give up on any of the posts I applied to thus far. I believe the Lord has the perfect job for me, and it is just a matter of His timing. He is doing work behind the scenes and I am waiting to hear back. It is just a matter of His timing -- did I say that already? I will wait until He tells me otherwise.

June 28, 2010

Some Changes Ahead

It is hard to believe that today is June 28th, 2010! Who would have thought that we'd be six months into the year so quickly (actually, June arrives at the same speed every year; it just SEEMS to have gotten here much faster this year than in previous years! LOL!!)

As I sit here, I am thinking about previous June's and some major events that took place in them. Some of these memories are happy, and some not so happy. I recall two specific events right off; the first being my DH's heart attack back in 2007; and our great trip to Montana in 2005. These two June events mark opposite ends of the spectrum for me. On the one hand, our trip to Montana was a wonderful family time together. We spent three weeks traveling and camping through some of our countries loveliest National Parks. We had fun, and enjoyed being together. It was the last real time we had fun like that, at the least, that is how I see it.

In 2007, my husband suffered a major heart attack, and nearly died. I consider this a turning point for me, and the start of what became the demise of our marriage for him. Often, this is the case, especially with men. My DH took stock of his life, and determined that the root of his unhappiness lay squarely with me and our marriage. He wanted out, he wanted a different kind of life, and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. I, of course, like many wives who thought they were devoted to husband and family, didn't see the signs. In truth, I did see them; I just didn't want to believe they were true.

Over the last couple years, I have had to face that truth over and over again. In 2009, my husband suffered a brain hemmorage. He almost died then as well, and there was the great fear that he would be disabled and unable to work due to the type of bleed. He recovered, but the fate of our marriage was sealed, signed and delivered (though not officially until later last year). The signs by now were flashing red, glowing neon, and I was aware of them, but unable to deal with them. I did what I thought was best, only to find that my efforts proved to be anything but successful. I earnestly believed that I could love my husband back to our marriage, and believed the Word when it says a wife can win her husband back without a word. Yes, this is true; often, it is true. But, in some cases, it is not to be. Such was my case, such was my case.

Now, as I face another end of June, I recall these two events and think about how my life has changed in the interim. I am at a completely different place in the road, and I am moving quickly away from my old life and farther and farther into what I think is my new life. Counselors often say that couple's who separate rarely get back together. In fact, many Christian counselors advise against separation, even within the home (as we did). What always seems to happen is that with a time out, each person begins to reflect on their own life, and almost always (not always, but often) chooses to go it alone. This is exactly what happened to me. As I spent so much time alone, in prayer, in counseling, and in study; I began to see my life in a different way, in a way separate from my husband. I began to see what I didn't like about my life, and what I didn't like about myself. I made changes, major changes, and altered my mind, my attitude, and my willingness to do what the Lord asked of me in His Word. In doing so, I grew up, I matured, I became a person who has far greater understanding and capacity for acceptance of reality (the ugly truth of it). As I accepted the truth of my own life, and of my own behavior, I had to acknowledge that I had made some grievous mistakes over the course of 26 years of marriage.

Don't get me wrong, all marriages and all married partners make mistakes. The key to successfully making it through all those errors is really a combination of things: 1) the willingness of each person to forgive and understand the other's failings; 2) the strength of the relationship (personally -- the friendship and love the two people share); and 3) the dedication of the couple to remain true and faithful to one another despite their own sinfulness and willingness to err into sin. What often happens is that when a couple is faced with such overwhelming information, such as the sin of one or both people; the couple must determine the following to successfully move through the trial: 1) can they forgive one another?; 2) can they move on, move passed whatever the issue or trial or sin?; and 3) can they remain committed to one another and remain in a relationship based on trust and fidelity? If any of those three things returns a negative response, the possibility of saving the marriage drops in probability. If two out of three occur, then the likelihood of any chance for reconcilation and restoration becomes truly unprobable.

After nealry 26 years of marriage (28 of relationship), I found that 1) neither me nor my husband were willing to forgive the other for past sins; 2) neither me nor my husband were willing to move on, to move pass the sin in our life; and 3) neither me nor my husband were willing to trust the other to remain faithful to our relationship. How did this happen, and how did I go from being a faitfhful and committed wife, from a wife who sincerely believed that her marriage was rock-solid, and her family intact (for life) to a wife who was willing to walk away from her marriage, and establish herself as a single person (at almost age 50)? Well, I can tell you that it didn't happen over night, and it wasn't the result of a single, solitary event. Nope, it was comprehensive, complete, and complicated. It was a lifetime of living with deception, with deceit, and with the disappointment of unfulfilled promises.

I am not blaming all this failure on my husband, please do not think that at all (earlier in the crisis, that was the tack I took -- but that is almost always the case during the first few days and weeks). I have spent a long time evaluating my life, my choices, my own sinful lusts and desires, and have accepted the truth of my own failings as a human being, as a wife, as a friend. I came up short, I didn't do the right thing, and I chose patterns and behaviors that were not conducive to producing a happy and sustainable marriage. Yes, that is my part in this story -- my complicit behavior that enabled our marriage to go on for 26 years, but without the devotion and dedication of true and faithful love (and friendship).

I don't blame myself completely, of course, because as that old saying goes: "it takes two to tango." Yes, my DH shared in this outcome too, but my part was just as devastating to the outcome as was his. So after so many months of trying to understand the why's and wherefore's of our marriage collapse, it has been decided that the best course of action now is to come to a truce, to come to a conclusion, to finalize the end. If neither of us is willing to forgive, to move on, and to be committed to fidelity; then there is no possible hope of restoration. There is literally and physically no way for a marriage or any relationship for that matter to be healed if there is any unwillingness within the heart to have that action performed and completed.

In the end, what does that leave me with? Just this -- I have in my heart forgiven my husband for his choices over the years. I have forgiven him for his most recent behavior that brought our marriage trouble to light, and to a crashing end. What I cannot forgive is this: I am unable to forgive myself for choosing to enter into a marriage that I believed was not God-ordained. I cannot forgive myself for behaving as I did, despite so many warnings from family and friends. I cannot forgive myself for choosing sinful behavior as an escape from my heartache and sorrow and sin against God's Spirit. Yes, I am forgiven -- the Lord has forgiven me -- but I am unable to let go, to move on, to let things lay. The damage and the destruction of my self, my being, my psyche, so to speak, has been so severe, that I simply cannot move on. I have chosen instead to allow the Lord to move me, to use me, and to heal me in His own way and in His own time. I have come to a river I cannot cross, and it is only through the very Grace of God, that I can even imagine crossing over. I cannot do it, I have tried, I have yeilded, and I have resigned myself to the truth that sometimes things that are shattered simply cannot be put back together again.

This is how I see my life, how I see me in relationship with my husband now after everything is said and done. I am shattered beyond repair, I cannot be put back together, I cannot be restored in such a way as to become a functional and contented wife. No, the damage is far too severe in my mind, and in my soul. I am lost, hopelessly lost to that kind of life. The good news is this -- the Lord has chosen not to restore my soul, repair the damage; but to give me new life. He has chosen to take all that was shattered and create something viable, but brand new. This is how I can live today, this is how I can remain faithful and contented. He took all that was destroyed, and then set it aside. He then made me into something new, completely brand new. The old is gone, thrown away, and what is here now is nothing at all like the former thing.

I am still the same Carol, recognizable to friends on face value; but I am not the same Carol on the inside. My thoughts, my mind, my attitude, everything about me is just different. I don't even think the same way anymore, I don't see things as I once did. I am new, new, new; and it is so exciting to live now. God took what was so badly beaten and broken and destroyed; and He gave new life to it. I am alive today because of what He did for me, what He did because of me, and what He did to me. I thank Him and I worship Him and I give Him every ounce of my Praise for only He is worthy to be praised.

"For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

Update: June 29, 2010

Today has been especially difficult for me. For one, I am incredibly tired, really worn down. Two, it has been incessantly hot, I mean HOT -- upwards of 110 for the past week. And, three, I am close to the end of all this trial, I know it; I can feel it; I can sense it; and I believe that it is so. Lastly, I am impatient, having waited for so long already; yet, knowing that I must wait a while longer. It is not like waiting before, now the expectancy is in high gear. It is like arriving at your destination after a very long car drive. Once you get within 30 minutes of your arrival, your entire being changes and you start to get yourself ready. You sit up a bit, take stock around you, put things away, and maybe even spruce yourself (comb your hair, put on some makeup, and generally try and smooth the wrinkles out of your clothing). This is exactly how I feel right now. I am in the car, waiting for the last mile, and expecting to turn anytime soon. It is right here, the turn, I mean. I can see it, I can see it -- but there is still some roadway to cover. This last bit of waiting is far more difficult than the previous three years of wait. I have come through an amazingly long journey, learned so much, uncovered deep truth (about myself and others), and been asked to accept some things that were difficult to even consider. I have done it all, and now I am ready to embark on the next phase of God's journey for my life. I am impatient, yes; but, I am also relying on the Lord to see me all the way home. His hand is on the wheel, and He is the one holding the map. He knows when we will turn, and when we will arrive. I am simply His passenger, waiting and prepping myself for our arrival.

Update: July 25, 2010

I just go my confirmation back on how my online schooling will work. The Lord has told me over and over again not to worry about this, not to fret over how the classes will work; and yet, I have gone ahead and worried. I fretted. I didn't believe what He was saying to me. This makes me wonder what else He has said to me that I have disregarded in favor of fretting and disbelief? I think there is a whole lot out there, a whole lot of things He has clearly addressed for me and instead of taking Him at His word, I chose to go about my business and believe what I wanted to believe. I just prayed and asked the Lord for the truth regarding this matter. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to believe what the Lord says to me is true.

Two things immediately come to mind. The first is graduate school. The Lord has repeatedly told me not to worry about my financial aid. He said it was done, taken care of and I don't have to worry at all. The second was a job. He has said to me that He had a job in mind for me, a job picked out, a job chosen; and yet, I didn't believe it could be. He was right on both accounts, and He was right about schooling and my schedule. He is always right, always. He always tells the truth because it is His nature. He is TRUTH. There is no lie in Him. He always tells it to you straight, and we just don't like to believe that is the case. We are so used to getting lied to, decieved, and betrayed. This is human behavior, and not God behavior. God is always right, always honorable, and always faithful. He never wavers, He never changes. He is and always will be because He has always been. There is nothing new with Him, nothing old. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Cello Update

Another quick cello update. I have now been playing cello since last September. I started playing with the cello, I say "with the cello" because that is pretty much all I did for an entire month. I strummed it like a guitar, practiced bowing with open strings, and generally tried to figure out how to hold the cello (harder than it looks) so it wouldn't slip on me. I took a short break in October-November, and then after Thanksgiving, picked the cello back up and decided to really attempt to learn to play it.

I spent most of December trying to play Christmas carols with my son's chamber group. Oh my, what a joke that was! Actually, I was told I did pretty well, considering I couldn't play the cello nor had I ever played with a group before. I was downcast and a bit disappointed in my overall progress, but decided that I liked the cello enough to want to really learn to play it.

In January, my son's teacher (piano - though she teaches violin, viola and guitar as well) offered to give me some pointer lessons. I took her up, thinking it would only be a month or so before I was working full-time. She graciously taught me theory and even some singing to help me understand music. I thank her every day because she gave me a wonderful gift of music knowledge and I have become quite good on the cello due to her gentle guidance.

It has been almost six months since I started my lessons with her and I am about half way through Suzuki Cello Book 3. I breezed through Book 2, but Book 3 has had some really difficult pieces in it. Many contain sections of long runs, and though my fingers are getting faster, I still cannot play them and remain in the rhythm of the piece. I am getting better, though, and think that by the end of the summer, I will be able to play almost all of these selections well.

Last night, as I practiced for this week's lesson and chamber group, all I could think of is how much I enjoy the cello, and how well I am doing. I truly am amazed that I am able to even attempt to play pieces from Book 3 (a third year student book). These pieces are challenging for me, but they are tough enough to really make my brain work, yet enjoyable enough to keep me working at them. A good combination for me -- because I love challenge and overcoming difficult obstacles.

My goal is to play well, really well, and to understand music to such an extent that I could comfortably play in a chamber group or ensemble (like the orchestra at church). I would love to be able to play for weddings and receptions too. I want to go as far as I can on the cello, and to be able to sustain my playing level for the rest of my life. My teacher has told me that often with students like me (and my son), we tend to lose our ability to perform at a level if we don't keep it up. It has to do with the quickness of our arrival, and our ability to technically perform to a certain level. Traditional students may take 3-5 years to get to the same point, and we tend to get there in a year or two. There is much to be gained through slow progression (strength training, discipline of the mind and body, etc.) I plan on sticking with the cello because I love it, and it brings me such great pleasure. I hope to play the cello until the day I die (Lord willing).

June 27, 2010

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord for He is so Good to Me.

Beautful Sunday

What a beautiful Sunday morning! It is lovely today, though still very hot. Our weekly highs have been upwards of 110 each day. I really do not tolerate the heat that well, and even with very low humidity, when it gets above 110, it is really hard to take it day after day.

Today is the second day of National Field Day for Amateur Radio Operators. My dad and my son are both HAM Radio guys. Normally, their radio club heads up to Flagstaff for a gathering and spends Saturday-Sunday working their emergency radios. One of their club members has property up north, and invites the club and wives and children to come up and camp out. They setup 4 stations along with antennas and then start making contacts. The point of the Field Day event is to see how many contacts you can make in a 24-hour period. Last year, they had 20 operators and four stations and made over 600 contacts.

This year, my dad created a mini Field day at his house. It is too difficult for him to walk the property up north, so he got a couple friends to come to the house to help setup extra antennas (much to Mom's chagrin). They have two stations and as of last night had made 60 contacts. My son spent the night and was going to be working the radios over night -- we will see if he actually did that. He likes to work them after midnight because the bands are clear and he can contact people farther away than during the day. My dad reached people in Canada and then Hawaii.

It is a fun hobby for my son, and it is nice that he likes to do this with my dad. Dad has been a HAM Radio operator since college (now 50 some years). He teaches radio courses to folks who want to take the license exam as well as is treasurer for the club (my son is secretary).

I spent most of yesterday over at Field Day too, and then Mom and I took a break and went out shopping. I needed cat food so I had to go to PetsMart for the kind my boys like. Then we hit Ross, and came away loaded -- I got a cute summer skirt, and Mom found outdoor cushions (which we have looked everywhere, and found nothing she liked or would fit her chairs). It was a real sweep. We then returned for steak dinner (a pool dip first), and later a movie (the BIG boys took a break). We watched "The Blind Side," a movie I had not seen before, but liked a lot.

I got home about 11:00, tired and ready for bed. My feline boys were kind and let me sleep in (to 7:15). I am now blogging and will soon get into the shower and ready for church. No real plans for today, other than cello practice, and perhaps some laundry.

Life is Good, and God is so Good to me. He has provided for every need, and enabled me to see the positive side of my life, even admist some pretty unpleasant truth. He has given me a new mindset, one that sees His plans and future, and one that can accept what is and what has been without constant redress. I am at peace with the events of my life, past and present, and I am now looking forward to such a great future. God has promised me Good, and His Hand is bringing that Good to pass each day. I woke up today, thanking Him for my life, for every aspect of it, and praising Him for His Goodness towards me. There is nothing I lack, nothing I need, and nothing I desire outside of Him and His Plans for my life. I am totally 100% convinced of His Goodness, and I know that He is Faithful and True. He will do all that He has promised to do for me, and because of His Nature, I can rest easy and relax knowing that He is in control of my days and weeks and months and years. God is indeed So VERY GOOD TO ME!

June 26, 2010

Another Task Completed

Yesterday was G-R-E-A-T (as Tony the Tiger would say)!! I had a good morning all around, but when the mail came, I was blessed to receive two pieces of mail from Mercy College. The first was my official acceptance letter (hooray!); and the second, was my financial aid package. I was overjoyed to qualify for financial aid, and now have accepted this provision. I will receive full tuition paid for the next year (PTL!)

I have never accepted aid before, at the least not for school expenses. I was blessed to have attended Junior College at a time when the costs were incredibly low (my first semester cost me $80 total). When I went back to our state University for my Bachelor's, the first semester cost was around $300 (upped to $900, two-and one-half years later). Still pennies compared to what schools cost today. I was able to swing the cost with help from my parents (initially), and then later through working and being married.

This time around, graduate school runs about $750 a credit unit (for a three credit class, that comes out to be about $2250 a class). My total costs for a Masters program will be close to $20K. I priced schools out before applying and know that some are a little less and some a little more than this amount; but they tend to average right around this mark (Bible programs often are around $500 a unit). Still, with the economy in such a bad way, the thought of taking on such a major expense is daunting. However, when unemployed as I am and have been, the thought of getting a job -- no matter the cost -- well, it seems to lean towards taking the risk and going back to school. Most of the jobs I am seeking expect a Master's degree or higher (Ph.D.), and since this is the game I want to play in, I have to have the credentials to be considered.

I am thanking the Lord for His provision. He told me not to worry about paying for school when I first applied. I believed Him, but couldn't imagine how it would all work out. My advisor back in school told me the same thing once: "Carol, never worry about the cost of going to graduate school. There ALWAYS is a way to pay the bill." She was right, of course, but I just couldn't contemplate that thought back then. Now, my mind is different, and my relationship with the Lord is rock-solid. I trust Him, and believe that His Word is true. He is faithful to provide what He has promised to me. I can rely on Him, and have confidence that if something is His Will, then it will be. I have learned that He is true to Himself, and that He always keeps His Word to me.

Now, I am over the moon, so to speak, and excited for September to arrive. I will be taking two classes: Major Authors (Chaucer); and Reason and Imagination (18th Century Literature). These will be challenging courses, no doubt; but I am up for that challenge, and cannot wait to get into this program and get going (finally -- after 17 years -- finally working towards a Masters degree!! PTL!!)

Some Other Thoughts

I couldn't help but think about the other promises the Lord made to me -- especially after thanking Him profusely for this provision. One of the things the Lord promised me was that the changes He planned in my life would come in a specific order. I remember thinking how practical He was, how orderly (is that not the case, though -- after all -- He IS the God of the Ordered Universe! PTL!!) I mean, I am all about lists and making lists. I love to make lists, and I make one almost every single day. I keep check lists of things in my purse, even old lists, marked and wrinkled (too lazy to throw them away!) LOL! But this list is different, it is not a grocery or Walmart list. No, this list is the list that will eventually define my life. This is the list that tells me step by step what to do, where to go, and when to do it. Furthermore, this list is the list that provides me with the comfort and confidence to know that God's will is working in my life. This check list is a reminder that He is faithful and that He always finishes what He begins. He is Good like that -- to never leave loose ends.

Item One on my grand list was to get accepted to Mercy College. This included all the little details that go along with being accepted. I was accepted last week, and then this week received my confirmation that my schooling would be paid. Hooray -- check that little puppy off the list!!

Item Two is the long awaited JOB. It includes receiving THE CALL, and then going through the interview process. It ends with being hired!!

Item Three is moving or relocating for SAID JOB. The job I believe the Lord is calling me to do is not here in Phoenix, so there will be a move involved. This item has many sub items, but they are all dependent on THE JOB, and then on the company, their timing, and moving expenses. Lots of little things here -- including getting myself prepared now -- and also doing the due diligence of preparation for relocation (like finding a new place to live, scoping the scene out and making sure everything is covered).

I actually have been working on item three for about six months. Ever since the Lord put that ditty on my heart, I have been in the process of doing the diligence work. I have literally driven through the town I will live in (thanks to Google Maps), looked at a zillion homes, checked schools, grocery stores, banks, libraries, gas stations -- you name it -- I have visited or looked over and considered every aspect of said town. Modern techonology -- you just gotta love it!

The Lord knows me well, and He knows that I NEED TO KNOW certain things before I can do what He wants of me. I needed to see this town, I needed to visit it (in person yes, but virtually first). He wanted me to know what kind of place it was, and He wanted to show me that it had everything I could possibly need (like a hospital, and Walmart and Target). He knows me so well, and knows that certain "comforts" make it easier for me to consider "going". I cannot tell you how I felt when I scanned this place out. It truly is a PERFECT FIT FOR ME. Of all the places I might choose to live, this one has it all. There is nothing missing, nothing lacking -- it is perfectly situated near a major city, yet far enough away to be homey and friendly. All the necessities are there, and the town itself is rather small (my preference). Truly, I could not have picked this place out for myself -- and therefore -- I know it is totally, 100% of the Lord. He is so GOOD to me in that way, considering my needs so carefully, and then providing not just a good place, but a great place (the BEST Place).

So here I am, with list in hand (er, on the computer), and I am watching as the Lord ticks off these items for me. They are of His Hand, so He is the One who is doing the providing for them. I am simply holding this list, and watching as He does what He does best -- Jehovah Jireh (the Lord will see to it; the Lord will Provide). He truly is my Provision -- and His Provision is the only provision I seek now. I want nothing EXCEPT what His Hand provides. I have learned that the Best comes from God; second best from man. There is nothing wrong with second best, and often it can be pretty good. BUT, the very best, the highest and most good ONLY comes from Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord G0d Himself, and I have determined that it is His Best that I want, nothing else and nothing less.

June 25, 2010

Refining the Plans

On March 11th of this year, I wrote a post titled, "Purpose and Plans." In that post, I laid out what I believed the Lord was asking me to do, as far as work and His plan to accomplish His will in my life. Since that time, I have tried to get out of these plans, I have tried to create my own version of these plans. It wasn't that I didn't like these plans; no, not at all. Rather, it was that after one-two or three months, I was getting tired of waiting for the plans to come to pass. Truthfully, it was my impatience with the plans and their delivery that prompted me to switch gears, and take a short cut.

Funny, how that happens. I am not a hot shot, and I don't normally take short cuts. Something inside me is very tried-and-true; and, it just isn't like me to jump ship and to start swimming for shore. I am far too practical for that behavior; yet, in this one thing, I have acted like the old fashioned cowboy (er, girl) who yells, "Cut em' off at the pass!," while taking the shortcut through the forest and around the river bend. WOW! I never thought I was so adventerous as to actually leave the path and go round the mountain to try and jump-start the Lord's plans. Yet, this is exactly how I have behaved over the course of months (and not once, but twice).

As I read back over my words, and my profession of committment to the Lord's plan for me, this one thing strikes me: how certain I was back then of these specific plans. As I think on them, I have to admit that I am still certain of them, that nothing really has changed except for my attempt to try and make them come to pass NOW and not in His time. Although I changed the physical location of the plans, meaning I decided it was best to stay in Phoenix and not relocate out of state, the actual PLAN was the same. I just said, "Let's do the Plan here, Lord." It was a perfect Jonah-like example: "Lord, do I really have to go to Ninevah?" "Yes, Jonah, you have to go where I am sending you." Argh! Big fish, and stinky tale (no pun intended) and you know the ending.

I too found myself swallowed by a big fish. Though not literally swallowed, I was stuck in a deep and dark place, left to stew a while so I could "think" things through and decide IF I was doing the right thing. In the end, I accepted the fact that I had gotten myself swallowed up, and asked the Lord to let me out. He did, Gracious as He always IS, and here I am blogging about it today.

God is good like that, and He never leaves us in that rotten stinky place too long -- just long enough until we say "Uncle!" He wants us to see how our own devices work, and to understand that if we follow our own devices, most often we find ourselves not where we want to be -- but, rather we find ourselves in the very last place we want to be. That is how it works with me, and I dare say, how it works with you as well. We are all the same, treated impartially by the very Father who loves us dearly. He knows what is best for us, and He wants so much to provide and care for us.

We just like that stinky place -- and the more we visit -- the less we mind the stink!

Dear Lord,

I don't want to stink like a fish, and I have been to that fishy place one time too many. May I remember this lesson well, and stay the course, stick to your Plan, and wait for you to bring it to pass. May your Name be praised forevermore -- You are SO VERY GOOD TO ME.

June 24, 2010

Refining the Plans for 2010

I looked back over a post I wrote early in January. I titled it "Plans for 2010." As I read through my list of goals, I was struck by the reality that except for one of them, all of these have already come to pass. The only other goal or plan was to do dual enrollment for my son at the community college. We have hit a snag in the road on that item, and now I doubt we can get the necessary information together to be able to do that in time for fall classes.

Still the list seemed quite daunting in the beginning when I first wrote it out. Now six months down the road, I am well on my way to accomplishing every goal I wrote down. WOW! Never before has that ever happened to me, and never before have I actually even tackled one goal, let alone six-seven. I am so amazed at everything the Lord has done for me, and is doing for me. I know that His Plan is coming to pass, and while I didn't hit every goal precisely, I have done better than 90% on achieving them. I am doubly-blessed -- first to have the goal achieved; and second, to be able to enjoy the sweet satisfaction of participating that achievement. I give all the Glory to God on this one -- without His Grace and Mercy -- I would be staring at that list and saying (as usual), "Oh, those were awful high hopes. Perhaps next year I will do better?"

As I mark month six, I thought it would be good to refine my goals a bit. In doing so, I will adjust them slightly, perhaps enlarge a few, and see where we go for the next half of the year.

These are my New Years Resolutions (or my plans for 2010): Edited Version

  • Always, always to put the Lord first in all things. He is my NUMBER ONE so everything begins and ends with Him. ALWAYS THE SAME
  • Consistent daily Bible reading (for me, my 365-Day Bible works) ALWAYS THE SAME
  • Joining a Life Care group at my church ALWAYS THE SAME
  • Volunteering again with AWANA (10 plus years) NEW MINISTRY FOCUS
  • Taking cello lessons and joining my son's Chamber group SAME; Achieving Level 5 (January 2011)
  • Getting my Masters degree in English Literature from Mercy College and then tackling a Ph.D in Communication from Regent University MASTERS OK; PHD EDUCATION/STRATEGIC FORESIGHT
  • Working full-time at the Community College (in any position), with hope of teaching English when I graduate with my MA TEACHING COLLEGE SAME; JOB WHERE EVER -- DUE TO ECONOMY, ANY JOB IS BETTER THAN NO JOB; Get Hired (July 15, 2010)
  • Getting my own car DONE; GET A SECOND CAR FOR MY SON
  • Being financially independent and responsible for my own welfare and good health IN PROGRESS - TO BE COMPLETED WITH JOB; Plans in order (retirement, savings, checking, keeping my debt ratio low, credit cards managed, etc. -- December 2010)
  • Buying my own home (July 2011)
  • Mastering French; Pimsleur Level 3 (May 2011)

I decided to add some dates to these goals, as a way to remind me of their importance. Some dates are critically necessary, like the job hiring date. Other's are simply milestones, stones that give me a new vantage point and a place to move on to the next level or goal. Those dates are important, but not critically necessary. My new found confidence in achieving my goals has prompted me to consider some that are a wee bit higher, a little farther in reach, and that will require the Lord's faciliation. I am excited to contemplate the next six months to one-year. I simply cannot even imagine all that the Lord has in mind for me. He is so very good to me.

Bereavement

adj. The state fact of being bereaved; especially the loss of a loved one by death.

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, and thinking that I am at peace with my decision to forgo trying to create my own plans and purposes, and stick with those that I feel the Lord has placed in my heart and in my mind. It has been a long process for me, to learn how to trust and rely on the Lord. I have been a Christian for a very long time, and despite periods of closeness with Him, there were far too many periods of dry, desert wasteland.

Sometimes difficult trials and circumstances are the THING the Lord uses to call us back to Him. Sometimes we need the hardness of life to drive us away from the world and back into the loving arms of our Savior. Only God knows which way we will go; only He knows if we WILL return to Him or if we will run farther away. I am glad to know that the Lord knew that I would come back to Him; and, I am so glad to know that I did exactly what He thought I would do. PTL!

In all my wanderings away from the Lord, I can tell you that there were times when I was absolutely alone. Much like the Prodigal Son who didn't realize just how good his life was -- until he saw just how bad it had become. In the same way, I have been a Prodigal Daughter, though I never left the church or even my home. Yet, in my heart and in my mind, I chose to go out my own way, not out of pride or arrogance; but, out of fear and a sense of great anxiety (worry). I chose to seek peace outside that of God, thinking that my relationship with Him was good enough for Salvation, but not good enough for daily living.

In some ways, I wandered farther away due to guilt, guilt over past sin, guilt over not being good enough. I did what some children do -- come to believe that the Father no longer loves them BECAUSE of the depth of their sin. Of course, this is not true -- no, no, no! Yet, in our minds and in our hearts, we come to accept that lie of Satan that tells us: "You goofed big-time. God has had enough of you. Get lost, He doesn't want you around anymore."

It is when we sink into despair that we often believe these lies. It is then when our minds are most vunerable to them. This was the case with me. I came to believe that I had had it good, and I chose willingly to do something bad, and that was it -- God was finished with me. I still had my Salvation -- I didn't think I had lost that (well, not at first) -- but I didn't think I could ever be good enough to be in a close relationship with God ever again.

My life took a serious turn for the worse, and I was forced to decide in whom to believe. Would I continue to believe the lies OR would I come back and ask my Father for forgiveness and see if He would do it. I took the latter, as many people do, and I found my Father to be the most loving and forgiving in nature. Yes, He forgave me; but, that wasn't all. He set about to heal my broken heart, bind up my wounds, and set me free from all the bondage I had gotten myself into. It took time, mind you, lots of time. And, the journey wasn't a cake walk. I had a lot of growing up to do (spiritually-speaking). I had to accept my part in all this mess, and then I had to make the committment to never do it again (what was it -- turn and run from God). I had to come clean, confess to the very depths of my soul, and then receive the blessing of healing and restoration.

I have to tell you that I have confessed before, many times before. I even confessed the day I got saved; but not like this. This time I wept with bitter tears, the kind that wrenches your soul and cuts you bare. I wept so loudly that you would have thought I was dying. In truth, I was dying, I was dying to my self and all my selfish needs and desires and wants. In one moment of utter agony, I was set free and given sweet liberty. I was no longer a victim of my wanton lust and desire; no, I was cleansed and washed and purified under the mighty and magnificient flow of His Blood.

Now as I stand here, blood-bought and blood-washed, I can say that the person I was is dead. That person no longer lives. The person I am today is new, born-again. I am alive to Christ; dead to sin and sins work in me and in the world around me. I am living my life with new purpose and with a new mindset that no longer seeks selfish goals and desires. I am living my life to seek His Highest.

The longer I remain as I am, the more I am able to look on the past and see it clearly. God does that for us -- He uses time to not only heal our wounds and brokenness, but He enables us to have a fresh perspective on the past. We see only the truth, because now we can handle it, accept it, and process it. Whereas before we were still wrapped up in US, in ME, and in making sure that I came out on top. Now, I am able to see the past and see my part in it. It is not about blaming myself or another person. It really isn't about taking responsibility (which a lot of self-help books preach); no rather, it is about seeing things rightly and then understanding sin, and how sin works in our lives. I see the sin, and I see the sinner. I see myself and I see others. I see that we are alike -- we all have sinned. In short, I see myself as God sees me, and He has Graciously given me the opportunity to see others the same way.

With this new found eyesight, I am better able to judge rightly. Though Paul tells us we are not to judge the world, because the world is being judge by God; we are to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ [Weird, huh? How many Christian's know this verse in 1 Corinithians? Not many, I dare say -- another lie of Satan -- do not judge anyone! This is not what the Word says, yet we believe we are not to judge, especially not the household of God! May it never be!!]

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." ~! Corinthians 5:9-13

God's Holiness and Righteousness is supposed to be reflected within His People, the Church. However, over the years, we have become very soft on sin, especially sin that is committed within the church. We have it all upside down. We judge and rail and rant and persecute those outside the church, when Paul says that is God's business. We allow sin of all sorts (here referenced is sexual immorality) to run rampant within the church, covering it up at times, and ignoring most often. We say "we are all sinners, brother! I am a sinner too! Come on in, God will forgive your sin!" Yes, this is true! But what happens after that sinner gets saved? What happens then? Does not the Word communicate that once we are saved we are a new creature in Christ and that we are to put off the former ways, the old lusts, the old behaviors. How many times does Paul say "stop sinning" to us?

The issue is this: we are intolerant of sin, but only when it is within the wickedness of the world. We tolerate sin because we ourselves were formerly sinners. I say formerly because I take exception with the preaching that continues to hit Christians with the "you are a sinner" approach. No, no, no. If you are saved, you are no longer a sinner -- YOU ARE A SAINT. You are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God and are being made HOLY, just as He (your Father and Lord) is HOLY. This means that within you now the very same Spirit of the Living God is creating fruit, creating the behaviors, the attitudes, and the mindset of the Lord Jesus Christ. Within you, He is working hard to reform you, to make you, to mold you into that new creature Christ died to give to you.

You are beloved of the Father. You are born again, and you are no longer as you formerly were. Will sin be non-existent in your life? It should be, yes it should be. Will this be the case every day of your life? Probably not. But, you can endeavor to live a sinless life (to the best of your human flesh) by submitting to the Word of God, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to have access to do His work in you. The more you allow Him to work in your heart, the less likely you will revert back to sinful choices. And, keep in mind the harshness of Pauls rebuke: if you do sin, you do so willingly and not as you did before you came to Christ. You do so with the full intention of crucifying your Lord again, and again, and again. The penalty for such sin is far more greivious to the Father, and far more injurious to your spiritual state. You will suffer great consequences if you sin willingly after the Cross of Jesus. Therefore, brother or sister -- simply refuse to give way to sin. Seek the Father, ask for Grace, and stand in the fountain of His blood. You can say NO to sin, you can say NO. Jesus has overcome the power of sin and it's penalty: death. You have also overcome, and now posess the power to say NO. Do not listen to anyone, even preachers of God who tell you that you are powerless, and that you are a sinner first. You WERE A SINNER FIRST -- but now you are a SAINT.

Beloved, listen to what the Word says and believe that it is so. Be free from the mindset that tells you that you are powerless to overcome your addiction, your debt, your betrayal, your immorality. Confess your sin to your Father, come clean, and receive His complete forgiveness. You will be healed and restored AND the Holy Spirit will give you His Grace to be freed from whatever hold these things have on your life and on your soul. In Jesus Name I Pray -- Amen.

June 23, 2010

Calling it Quits

After I made my decision to go back to my original committment to the Lord, I decided to call it quits on everything else, but that which I believe is His will for my life. This means that I am stopping my search for a job here in Phoenix, putting all plans for my son's schooling (locally) on hold, and returning to the details of Plan A. I have no firm date in mind when Plan A will come to pass; I just know that Plan A is what I committed myself to, and Plan A is what I will stick to UNTIL the Lord tells me otherwise.

I recall several months ago hearing the Lord say to me, "Carol, stick to the plan. Do not deviate from it." Yes, Lord, I said. Well, not long after that, I was deviating from the Plan. Not on purpose, mind you; just a little waver here and there. After some time, I found that like a meandering river, those little wavers had turned into full-blown bends in the river of God's plan. Yes, little maneuvers this way and that led me to be quite a bit off course. I really didn't think it would matter that much, I mean, really...just a little waver?? Well, I found out that it only took a little waver, practiced consistently, to bring about a change in the river's path. Just like the Word says: "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" so a little doubt produces quite a bit of disbelief. One begets the other, and when the Lord tells you to steer a straight course, well then, you need not to take any side bends.

I learned my lesson (how many times now?) and decided to recommit myself to His word and to His plan for my life (the plan I believe He is calling me to live out). In doing so, I have also made the decision not to waver or bend on any point within it, just to make sure that I do indeed steer that straight course.

God is so very good to me, and it is His goodness that I see every single day. Whether I am on the right path or not, His goodness is what guides me, protects me, and provides for me. His goodness, therefore, is the reason I am able to say today: I am recommitted to seeing the Lord's Plan A come to pass in my life. Without His underlying goodness, I would still be stuck deep in that cavern, lost in my own handiwork. Instead, I can take great joy in the knowledge that His goodness keeps me in His stead, and provides a way for me to follow Him. As I walk in obedience to Him, I am able to keep His commands and statutes. I am able to live a life that is pleasing to Him. His Grace is what sustains me, and draws me back again and again -- each time I waver and doubt and find myself off course. His Grace is what enables me to see His Goodness -- even when I am frustrated and feeling as though nothing makes sense to me.

May the Lord be praised today and forevermore. His mercy endures forever. God is so very good to me! PTL!

Wondering What to Do

Last night my son and I watched "Batman Begins" with Christian Bale. We have seen most of the Batman movies, and think Christian Bale is the best Batman to date. We liked him in this movie a lot, and loved him in The Dark Knight. As we were watching the movie, this phrase caught my attention: "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

I feel like I have fallen down a very deep, dark shaft, and am struggling to figure out how to get back up and out into the light of day. I did this to myself, I know that now. I also know that some of what I have experienced is the result of testing and trials -- the proving of my faith. However, a fair portion was due to my own hand, in the sense of not doing what I said I would do. It is chastisement of a sort, trial of a sort, and persecution (most certainly) of a sort. The combination plunged me deep into a dark place, a place where I literally felt overwhelmed and afraid I would never get out.

Thankfully, the Lord is good. Yes, because of His Goodness, I know that I can never be lost or abandoned. I may feel it for a time, but He is always there, always ready to grab my hand and lift me out of the pit of life. This time, I had to climb out. I think the Lord does this occassionally, sort of to say "Well, you got yourself into this mess, so now pick yourself up and climb on out." He normally reaches down for me, but this time, He asked me to do it myself. I know why, I know why He didn't rescue me from my own hand. The answer was simply this: I have to learn to trust Him and do what I say I will do. If I choose to wander away, to walk my own way, make my own choices; then He will allow me the priviledge of trying that way out. This means that I will suffer the consequences. God doesn't always suspend the consequences from our choices. Sometimes He does -- I think -- especially when we are frail and so scared that the consequences will overwhelm our souls. Most of the time, though, when we have been hardened a bit, He allows us to experience it. For me, I am a child of experience. I learn by doing, and God knows that sometimes, just sometimes, I have to feel the heat of the fire to know not to stick my hand in it.

Well, I felt the fire, that is for certain. I got myself a bit singed and toasty the other day. In fact, I have been playing with fire now for about two-three weeks. It started out innocently, really it did. My MIL became ill and I panicked. I had my plans in order, I felt confident that the Lord was leading us to move away from Phoenix. I had applied for a job, and the Lord had impressed on me a certain order of events (first acceptance at Mercy College, then acceptance of a job, then provision to move). He was specific with me -- "in this order, Carol." I was getting pretty impatient with His "order of events" and wanted things to move more quickly. I was getting to the point where I was thinking, "this is never going to happen -- and we are running out of time." The Lord's reply to me: TRUST ME. Always He says to me, Trust Me.

My MIL was ill, in the hospital for a time, and our lives were going haywire. I didn't know what would happen, how I fit into the grand scheme of things, so I began to formulate another plan. You see, there were really two plans already established by the Lord. One was to go to IL, and one was to stay in Phoenix. The Lord had said either plan would faciliate His will -- either would work. I choose to go because it was best. It was harder initially, more work, more patience, more waiting, but in the end (the long run) it was best for me and my son. Plan A, I called it. Plan A was just better in the long run.

Plan B was good. Plan B was easy up front. It required little effort other than waiting for a job. I could do Plan B. Plan B didn't really require a big stretch of faith like Plan A. It would work, it would serve the Lord's purpose for my life; but it wasn't as challenging or trying as Plan A. I wanted Plan A, I told myself it was best. I made a list of pros and cons, and I did do my due diligence. Plan A made sense. Plan A was doable, but not by my hand alone. In fact, the only way Plan A would come to pass was through divine intervention. God would have to enable Plan A to be a reality in my life. There was nothing I could do to bring it about -- it was all about Him and would be done by Him. I knew this, I wanted it for His Glory, and I said as much.

Then illness struck, and my thoughts ran to Plan B. Plan B was easy. It was convenient, and it could work without much effort. In short, God didn't have to do as much to make Plan B work. He still directed me to several good jobs, showed me a potential home, and suggested some options for college for my son. It SEEMED ok on face value, and whenever I would think about it, I felt relieved. I was happy to not have to be so faithful, so patient, so enduring. Then I would get this sinking feeling, like I was shortchanging myself and not standing for His Best. I then would waffle and reaffirm my committment to Plan A. I don't know how many times I waffled, lets just say more than a dozen (that is a good starting number). I questioned Him, I made up reasons why Plan B sounded better than Plan A. I tried to convince myself that Plan B was just as good as Plan A. In the end, I never could quite do that because I would always have this "buyers remorse" feeling in my heart, like I had taken a hand-me-down instead of the precious new gift being handed to me.

Back to my MIL and her illness. As illness goes, my MIL recovered, and all the plans (quick changes) made to accomodate her seemed to not be needed anymore. Then all the ICK came back, all the issues that have been a part of our relationship for the past 27 years. There was talk again about taking more responsibility, helping out more, etc. I won't go into a lot of detail, but it reminded me of one of the reasons why moving away was a good thing. I have been the "care giver" now for almost 17 years. Yes, my DH and his sister have helped out (especially his sister -- she comes once a year for a weekend or longer to help do things). The lion's share has fallen to me in years past. Since the marriage crisis, I have taken a back seat and my DH has stepped up to do things that I would have normally done. It has been a good thing, a good thing all around. The care has been provided, the needs met -- just not always by me. I know this was the Lord's doing because whether I stay or go, the fact remains that my time is limited now. I will be working full-time and doing graduate school full-time. I will not have a lot of time, none in the day anymore, to run errands, go places, etc.

I had planned an easy transition out of helping so much. This time around, the need was severe and whenever you are faced with an immediate crisis, you do the necessary. But long term -- well -- I knew that I couldn't commit to anything long term. I just wasn't going to be available to do that. The suggestion that I would be there came as expected. The expectation that I would fill in, that was there as well. I stood my ground, took stock, and politely, but firmly said I had plans that would not allow me to do as much as before. The response was not good. The response was unfavorable, and I thought to myself (under my breath even), "Oh Lord, why didn't I just go to Northbrook?!"

Then came the crash, and later the burn of it all. I found myself saying the same thing not two days ago. I was being pinched by the other side of the family, again for a time commitment, and I said out loud, "Lord, it would have been so much easier to just go to Northbrook." I knew I said IT the very moment the words came out of my mouth. I knew it, and as I walked through the grocery store, the more guilty I felt. I left thinking, "Carol, you have made an error, and now you are trying to cover it up, make it LOOK better. It isn't going to float this time. You know better, so do the right thing." I did the right thing...I immediately confessed my error. The problem was that I got nothing in return. No, "It's ok, everything will be ok. Nope, nothing. Nada. Zip." I was left dangling by my own rope, stuck in a deep cavern, with only a tiny light to point the way out. No hand reached down and scooped me up. Nope, I had to walk it back out, I had to climb the walls, and encounter some unpleasantness along the way. I had to come back out of that cave, and stand in the bright light of His Glory and say: "Lord, I stand corrected. This was my fault, my error. I didn't do what I told you I would do, and I am sorry. Please forgive me." He did of course, but my troubles didn't end there. I still had some mess to clean up. I still had some unanswered questions that needed answering. I still needed to know what to do.

This morning I have spent the better part going back over my decisions, and seeing where I went wrong. I have had to confess some other things too -- clean the deck, so to speak. Now, I have to face my son and tell him that I was wrong, that I made the wrong choice, and that what we just went through was of my own doing. I have to be humble and contrite. Not that I mind doing that, but I feel so bad about it. I never wanted to hurt or disallusion my son. No, never. I didn't set out to do this on purpose, it was an error, that is all. However, this was an error that affected more than just me. This error touched another person's life, a person very close to me, a person I would die to save or defend.

So there you have it, the crux of the past three weeks and all my whining and wailing (though I don't recall wailing too much -- suffice to say "frustration"). I know what I must do, I know where I must go, and most importantly, I know that when I say I will do something, the Lord expects me to do it.

Crash and Burn -- the third time!

Yes, I have officially crashed and burned -- AGAIN!! I cannot believe it, but it is true. Yesterday, was probably one of the worst days I have experienced in a very long while. Nothing seemed to be going my way, nothing at all. I left the house feeling confident, only to have my, and my son's hopes shattered, all before 1:00 p.m.

We headed out to our MDV (Motor Vehicle Divison) to get an id card. My son is not driving, doesn't have his permit, and is pretty content not to drive at this point. He needs a school photo ID, not one we can make, to use for college placement and the board exams. I did all my due diligence on this one, and it was finally suggested that the easiest way was to go to the MVD and get one.

The process, I was told, was simple. Show up, wait in line, give them your other id (ss and birth certificate and a third id) and you are set.

We show up, wait 45 minutes, only to be told by a not-so-pleasant MDV worker that my son's birth certificate is not "good enough." It has to be 'authorized'. His certificate is from the county where he was born, has the registrar's signature and raised seal. It was good enough for SSI, and good enough for the FCC (Federal Communications Corporation) and good enough for the US Air Force Auxillary. Nope, in AZ, our MDV wants the 'authorized version' only. Ok, so I could handle that one. It just means more money, more time to satisfy that requirement.

It was the next point that caused me to blow my top. I am normally calm and very controlled, but when I see injustice coupled with ignorance, and hear the words, "read the form, maam" repeated ten times in my face -- well, I just lose it. I am not stupid, and I did read the form BEFORE I went to the MVD. I had all my ducks in a row, I was ready to do this thing.

Apparently, this worker didn't like my son's professional license. He thought that an Amateur Radio License was for amateurs and not professionals. I told him that it was for AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS -- that is what they are called, not their status. No, he said it had to be license for a doctor or lawyer or some profession. I said this was a government issued license, examined and authorized by the US Government. My son, for goodness sake, is registered in the Federal database for communications. It was a huge job to get him through that process -- far more complicated than getting an id card. No, apparently this worker didn't think a young person could have a professional license. I wanted to scream "idiot" at that point, simply because of the inefficiency, the ineffectiveness, and the ignorance of our governmental system at work. I left the MVD, almost in tears, and all the while telling my son that "he has seen our government in action, and that I would count this as civics credit."

Then to compound matters, I went home (and cried a bit), and then called our local community college to find out if they would accept any other form of photo id. The polite woman said her "hands were tied" and that I should go to the MVD and get him an photo id. I laughed at her answer (which I am sure she didn't appreciate) -- I mean -- afterall, it was our government at work -- caught in a logic loop.

How to Get an AZ ID Card
---go to MVD to get an id card
-- need photo id to get an id card
-- go to MVD to get an id card

I also should mention that there were other forms of acceptable ID -- third ID, but they were all things that either I DON'T WANT MY SON TO HAVE (like an id card from Juvenile Hall) or a concealed weapons permit or they were things that only adults would have. I tried to tell this person that the list was for adults, not students. My word, even the US Passport office allows parents to submit their photo id in the place of their minor child's.

Get a license, don't have a license, get a license to use as id proof for getting a license.

Do you see the idiocy of this policy? Oh my, I cannot tell you how angry I was at the system.

The worst part is this, my son cannot register for any classes at the community college now. He is finished with home school, but because he cannot get a government issued ID card, he cannot take the college board exams. He cannot go to college without the exams, he cannot go to community college without the placement exams. He is stuck, mightly stuck, and I don't know what to do.

My next thought was to by pass the MVD (I said a derogatory remark at this point, confessed it and asked for forgiveness for my wicked tongue), and go directly to the US Passport office. I can get a US Passport card for $45. I only need, ta-dum: a birth certificate (my copy is fine), my son's SSI card, and my driver's license. The issue is timing, as it still takes 4-6 weeks to get a card. I also have to go to the county court house in person, but this is doable. I have to tell you that this business with Immigration is the root cause of all this trouble. I also like to make a stink over the fact that this smacks of "big brother" and that we are one foot away from the ONE WORLD ORDER and the MARK OF THE BEAST. Ignorant workers add to that mix and you have our government running amuck! Anyone who actually thinks our government works is either ignorant or foolish (a fool). Our government, while attempting to actually provide services, has become a monster of great magnitude. We are unable to govern ourselves properly and rightly because we have turned to the almighty hand of government to save us, to feed us, to care for us, and to shelter us. We have gotten just what we wanted -- socialism -- or our form of it (quasi-capito-socialism = a half breed of capitalism and socialism or socialisms illegitimate child). Sigh!

Ok, so off my political rocker, and back down to reality. I am in a pickle, a great big barrel of pickles. I don't know what to do, and it seems as if my best laid schemes are now fraught with frustration. I must quote the following poem (one of my favorites):

To A Mouse by Robert Burns (Standard English Translation)

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor little beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!

You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.

That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

So what do I do now? Ugh! I honestly do not know. I thought I had this entire "scheme" figured out. I thought I knew exactly what to do. I can handle difficultly, I just cannot handle ignorance and inefficiency when they are in bed together. My personality profile was correct. I AM A RATIONAL MASTERMIND! My personality is such that the biggest or my agregious offense anyone can assualt me with is: 1) betrayal, and 2) inefficiency (coupled with complete ignorance). Either one and I lose it, I blow my fuse, I come undone. While betrayal is the most devastating o the two; ineffeciency rocks my core in a different way. I simply cannot tolerate the inefficiency, especially the two coupled together. To me, it is such a waste of precious human effort, not only the fact of personal presence (personal time invested), but in mental capacity (the waste of valuable thinking process or ability). What a waste of a human being's potential to be reduced to uttering the words, "just read the form, maam." There is no interest, no personal investment, no compassion, no thoughtfulness, no service, no helping -- just a blank stare and a shove of a paper, "read the form, maam."

As you can see, I am not quite ready to give in to this outcome. I am not happy about it; yet, being the rational person that I am, I know that there is a solution to discover. I can overcome this challenge, I can conform to the idiocy of our governmental beauracracy. I can do what is needed to be done (I may not like it); but, I can do it if it is really, really, really necessary.

This leads me back to the rest of my horrible day yesterday. After dealing with surly MVD workers, and college testing administrators who only do what is policy ('my hands are tied'), I am questioning some of the positions I have applied to for work. I mean, can I really handle working in higher education, the IVORY TOWER of gross ignorance and ineffectiveness and inefficiency? Sigh! Perhaps, I need to rethink my career options and look once again at a job where I can be anonymous, where I can do my work, get my pay, and leave the politics and policy behind. I am a visionary person, an idealist in some remarks; but, deep down, I am far more a pragmatist than anything else. I am a REALIST, a person who see reality for what it is, and who takes great pains to avoid ruffling feathers unnecessarily. I am a game player; but only to a certain extent. I will not cross a certain line, I will not let my integrity slip. I cannot do it. It is part of my psyche, my internal workings, and it is not some hat I put on today, only to take it off tomorrow. I am who I am, and I know myself well.

Perhaps this entire episode was ultimately for my benefit. I did learn some things through it (now that I can calmly see it for what it is):
  • I learned that any plan, no matter how well thought out, can go awry regardless of the effort put into it. Something or someone will always have the power to say "NO" to your plan. How you deal with that NO is really a matter of principal. If you can deal with it (comply); then so be it. If you cannot, then you must walk away and accept that the plan, while good intentioned and well-devised, was not meant to be.
  • I learned that I can be in control of my own future; yet, even when I THINK I have it all figured out, it is very possible to find a snag in the process. How I deal with snags is akin to point one above. Same outcome -- deal with it or walk away.
  • Lastly, I learned that no matter what I am secure in my own self. God has Graciously enabled me to be self-confident AGAIN after many years of choosing weakness and self-depreciation. I am my own person, and I know my boundaries. There are some lines I will not cross -- no, no, and no. I know myself well, I know what I am willing to do, and what I will not do. At this stage of the game of LIFE, I am less apt to bend; more willing to stand my ground. I don't have anything to lose by standing firm (maybe some brusies -- but hey, haven't I already been beaten and bruised?) Rather, I have everything to lose by giving way. Giving way means giving in and giving up, and that would be contrary to what I believe is my calling and my gifting. I may not like this outcome, but I am not prepared to give way -- just yet.

Dear Lord,

I am not sure what happened yesterday or why it happened. I just know that I was confronted with some big issues, and I didn't take them laying down. I stood my ground, confronted ignorance and inefficiency, even though I know it had no effect. I didn't want to get upset, that was my last thought when I walked into the MVD door. I never even considered that they would say "NO" and treat me so rudely. Yes, I have experienced it before, but I am normally kind (too kind -- on purpose -- just to avoid confrontation) because I know that you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. I was prepared to be "nice" and to play the game -- but something inside of me just snapped, and I turned into a tiger and not a mouse. I don't know why this happened, and I felt so guilty afterwards. I was angry with you as well. I felt you had led me to the MVD and this was a viable solution to our problem. I felt that you were on board with this move, and then right in the midst of it all, I felt all alone. I immediately thought I had done something wrong, gone outside your will; but, I knew that was not the case. I sat, I stewed, and I cried out to you. I was helpless, I was alone, and I had lost my hope. I still don't have answers to why this happened, and why my son would have to witness his mother getting angry over injustice. I also don't see why he had to see his plans (our plans) for community college go up in smoke. I can only say that I know you are Soveriegn, and that I know despite all my efforts and panic and upset -- YOU ARE STILL GOD AND YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE today. I submit my authority to you, I confess your Name, and I rely on You for Your provision this day. I can do nothing but stand in your Grace and know that You are God and that You are in control of my days. May the Lord be praised today and forevermore. Amen. So be it, Thy will be done.

June 22, 2010

Anxious About The Future

I woke up today feeling rather anxious. I am not really sure what I am anxious about (isn't that funny?), I just have this nervous feeling in my stomach. The first thing I did was pray about it, asking the Lord if there was any issue or measure of concern this day. I don't think there is anything happening right now that I need to be anxious about. I looked up the word in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, and was surprised to find this entry:

3. ardently or earnestly wishing

Weird? I wouldn't consider ardently or earnestly wishing as being anxious, but I guess it is. I mean, I would say that this is true in several specific cases. For example, supposed a loved one is dying or very close to death, you might be anxious about their end, earnestly wishing for them to pass in peace. Or, suppose you have asked your loved one to marry you, and they are thinking it over. Again, you are ardently wishing for a "yes" so you can plan your future together.

The next word I looked up was "ardent." I know what it means, but I do love the dictionary for clarity. Ardent means:

1. characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity

Not necessarily the passionate answer I was looking for, but good enough. I usually think of ardent behavior as it relates to passionate interest. I like the word zealous, as often I am described as a zealous person (I tend to be passionate about certain things).

The next word I wanted to look up is this: anxiety

I decided to see what the Bible had to say on the matter. The verse that popped into my head this morning was the usual one from Philippians 4:6. I often quote this verse to myself, just to remind me not to be anxious about anything going on in my life or within another's life. However, I asked the Lord if this was the type of anxiety I was feeling this morning (you know, should I stop being anxious, do I need to control my feelings on this matter). The impression I got back was that what I was feeling was not anxiety as defined in Phil. 4:6, but rather, anxiety as Merriam-Webster defines it. I am feeling passionate about something, and the resultant feeling is one of ardent or earnest wishing, and not worry, dread or fear.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary defines anxiety as this:

Anxiety [N]
Uneasy feeling of uncertainty, agitation, dread, or fear. The most common words in Scripture translated as "anxious" or "anxiety" are the Hebrew deagaa [hg'a.D] (ten times in either the verbal or noun form) and the Greek merimna [mevrimna] (twelve times in either the verbal or noun form). Older English versions of the Bible often render these words as "thought, " "worry, " or "care."

In the Bible anxiety is frequently depicted as the common human reaction to stressful circumstances. Saul's father was anxious about his lost donkeys, and then about Saul's failure to return from looking for them ( 1 Sam 9:5 ; 10:2 ). The psalmist confesses that anxiety is "great" within him ( Psalm 94:19 ). Anxiety is portrayed in the Scripture as being inconsistent with trust in God. David prays: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thought" ( Psalm 139:23 ). Jesus' command, "do not worry, " which occurs six times in the Sermon on the Mount ( Matt 6:25-33 ), is coupled with admonitions to trust in the heavenly Father. Paul urges: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" ( Php 4:6 ). Anxiety frequently manifests itself in ungodly concern about provision, performance, or reputation, and appears to be rooted in incomplete knowledge, lack of control over circumstances, or failure to take an "eternal" perspective on things ( Matt 6:25-34 ; 10:19 ; Mark 13:11 ; Luke 12:11-12 Luke 12:22-34 ). Occasionally, anxiety is a symptom of guilt ( Psalm 38:18 ).

Freedom from anxiety begins with confession that it is not God's will. In fact, anxiety is a subtle insinuation that God is either unable or disinclined to see to our welfare. Other remedial measures include recognizing the futility of worry ( Matt 6:27 ; Luke 12:25 ); cultivating a growing understanding of God's power and fatherly disposition ( Matt 6:26 ; Luke 12:30 ); entrusting to God the things that we cannot control ( 1 Pe 5:7 ); increasingly viewing things in eternal perspective ( Matt 6:32-34 ; Luke 12:30-34 ); and substituting prayer for worry ( Php 4:6 ).


Referenced from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/anxiety.html

WOW! I just love Baker's Evangelical Dictionary (I just said, "Lord, may I PLEASE have a Baker's dictionary?" His response -- "You have one!" Yes, it is online and free!! Thank you, Jesus!) I love how you can look up a word and not only get back the root and traditional meaning from the Latin, Hebrew and Greek; but you also get a mini sermonette, filled with all sorts of encouraging support to help you understand the word and see it in it's proper context.

Now that I have read Baker's, I am more inclined to accept God's determination on this matter (not that I wasn't -- He knows that I liked to do word searches and such). I am not anxious at all, but rather, I am earnestly wishing and hoping for certain things to come to pass. I have a firm understanding of God's Soverienty, of His Provision and Care, and of the fact that He has an Eternal Perspective, and often I see with very finite eyes. I have tried to cultivate that same perspective, to see things as they pertain to Eternity, and not always the here and now. My MIL often says jokingly, "in the light of Heaven, it really doesn't matter." I have taken this phrase because it is a true statement. We need to take our life and our situation and always align it with Eternity. This is a great way to help us determine the value and importance of something. Often, we align it with Scripture, which is a very good thing. But, sometimes our concern does align with Scripture, and yet, in the end it will have very little overall impact on our life.

My concern today is to make sure that all my concerns, whether in the here and now or those that lay in Eternity, are from His Perspective. If I can keep that heavenly mindset, then I am less prone to worry, to doubt, to dread and to fear (as in Phil. 4:6), and will be more interested in pursuing, earnestly seeking and desiring the things He is all about (you and me, and the Salvation of the world). May my focus today be on the things that truly matter to Him, and may I take comfort to know that sometimes we can actually be anxious (in the good sense) as we wait for Him to move and work our lives. We are expectant, as a new mother waiting for her unborn child to arrive. We are believing and working and hoping for God's Hand to do something, and with that wait, there comes a little bit of zealous and ardent wishing for it to come to pass. This is where I am today, and I guess it is a good thing.