October 31, 2010

Out of Sorts

I am up this morning, and it is only 6:19 am. I woke up naturally, which is really unusual; but then I had a fitful nights sleep (strange dreams, and feeling unwell all night). I don't think I slept well at all, so when Ike started crying (more of a chuurrping noise), I just decided to get up and feed him. Once I was up, then I figured I would make my coffee -- well -- and here I am.

It is quiet in the house. My DH moved to the bedroom, and it is just me and the boys now. I don't know when DS came home last night. I went to bed at about 8:30, and didn't hear him come in. He was acting in our neighborhood "Haunted House," sort of a dark place where there are creepy things set about to scare Trick or Treaters. Our neighbors have put on this Halloween treat for about 10 years. This is the last because their middle son, Dakota (my son's friend) is graduating from high school this year (in May). My son has been the creepy guy dressed in black for the past couple years. He uses his Batman voice and gets most girls and some of the guys to scream. I am not "in to" this sort of thing, but I remember doing it when I was his age, so I guess it is just part of growing up. At the least, he will have some fun memories. The family who puts it on has very strict rules for who can walk through the house, and what can and cannot happen. They are a nice family so I haven't minded my son being a part of this yearly program.

I woke up several times in the night with bad visions, but was able to get back to sleep. I also had one very long dream, weird and strange (can it be both), but think I did rest some in between my fits and feeling ill. I am not sure what is going on, but I think some of it has to do with my work at Macy's (just dog tired), and also my heavy monthy cycle. I am generally run down and I just don't feel well. I have to work today so that adds more to the "I really feel awful" feeling, kwim?

Today, I feel like someone who has stepped outside, and suddenly realized she is in the wrong place. I don't feel like I am in control nor do I feel like I recognize anything around me. It is as if everything has changed or I have changed or I am looking in the wrong direction. I asked the Lord if I was off the mark, and He said "no." This means that I am where I belong or I am going through a really difficult trial, a trial unlike any before. I am not sure what to do about the latter -- so I have prayed it through, asked for Grace, and am trusting Him to reveal His purpose to me. Why now? Why this way? Why me?

I am so undone right now, and perhaps that is exactly why the timing is as it is. I mean, if you are going to be tried, why not do it when you are your lowest, most vunerable (devil's advocate as they say)? I think this is exactly what it is, and perhaps it is the "calm before the storm" or the "dark point right before the light comes up?" I don't know why I feel the way I do, I just feel it, and I want it to stop. I am so tired, mentally tired. I am so worn out (undone, through, feeling as though I cannot go on). I don't want to go on, I want to stop now.

Dear Lord,

I don't want to go on any further. I want to stop now. I don't think I can go on -- not at this point -- not when I feel myself failing. I need your help today, and I need to know what you want me to do. Trust me, you say -- yet, I think I am trusting you. I need help to trust you through this mess. I need your help. Please help me, Lord -- please help me. In Jesus' Name I pray today and always, Amen.

October 30, 2010

Exhaustion

I came home last night after a visit to my cousin's house (for pizza and Guitar Hero) and collapsed on the bed. I was tired when I went over to her house, and after dinner, started to fall asleep on her comfy chair (a very squishy chair in her family room). By the time I made it home, I was half-asleep already. I came in the house, dumped my belongings, and headed for the bedroom. I thought I would just close my eyes for a quick rest (at 8:45) and instead I found myself getting up at 12:00 a.m. to change out of my clothes. I got back in bed, and slept through until the morning.

In addition to being so tired, I also experienced a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I got up around 5:00 a.m. to feed the cats and was barely able to even move my arm. I went back to bed after some Advil and ice, and the pain finally subsided after a couple hours.

I have to work today, so I am not looking forward to it. I hope the Advil holds out for me. I also have to work tomorrow -- and hopefully by Monday, will receive my call from the District telling me that they want to hire me at Phoenix College. Oh, Please Lord -- let this be your will!

Exhaustion or fatigue comes in two types: there is physical fatigue which is usually a symptom of over exercising the muscles; or there is mental fatigue which often causes sleepiness (my symptom). Both can affect your life, and can hinder your ability to function normally.

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and have had bouts of it for nearly 20 years. Most of the time the fatigue has been physical, where I suffered great pain, and was incapable of doing anything at all. This time around, my fatigue is mental. I am able to function physically, but I am just no longer able to maintain concentration or focus. I am not sure if this is a symptom of my past year or if it is indicative of something more pronounced. In either way, I am concerned about my ability to work full-time, go to graduate school, and maintain a life (do the normal stuff necessary to live).

The Lord has assured me that I am fine, and that I can do whatever He needs me to do. Therefore, I must look at my life and determine what is not of His will, and what I might be doing that is contrary to the plans He has for me. In these things, whether just one or many, I have to allow the Holy Spirit to remove them from my life. I no longer have the time or the energy or the interest to maintain anything outside of His will for me. I can only manage to focus on His things, on what He wants for me, and the rest must be let loose. I am ready to do this now, because I know that I am about to begin work, and I need to do a good job (for the Lord and for my new employer). I am getting As in school, and I must continue to do that as well. I am ready Lord, take everything away from me that is pulling my attention off of you and your work. I am willing, and I am agreeable to doing only those things ordained by you and for your Glory.

October 29, 2010

I Got an "A"!

I am so excited -- I got my first "A" in my graduate school courses!! My paper was returned today, and my professor said he really liked it (always a bonus). Plus he gave me my first A -- thank you, Dr. Beck!

Now, I have to knuckle down and concentrate on the next 6 weeks of school. I have two seminar papers to write. The first will be on William Blake's "Prometheus Unbound" and the second will be on Tragedy in Chaucer (or something to that effect). I am not sure exactly what the second paper will focus on, but I am thinking it will have to do with social context and the idea of Hero in Greek Tragedy. Oh my, would Mrs. Olcott (my Humanities professor from San Jose State) be surprised at me. I took two semesters of Greek study from her; one was for Ancient History/Humanities credit, and the other was my Senior Seminar (on Greek Tragedy). I still am in love with all things Greek, and I have found so much of modern literature (or early modern) predicates a knowledge of ancient mythology. I am loving these courses, especially when they reference Greek and Roman myths that I studied in my undergrad courses.

Both of these papers will be 20-25 pages in length, so the size of a literary journal article. I have to have eight references beside the primary work. I found all my referenced articles for Blake today, and will look for the others for my Chaucer paper this weekend. I need to prepare ahead of time because I am scheduled to work almost 20 hours this coming week (at Macy's) and I am anticipating getting that "You're hired" phone call from Phoenix College on Monday or Tuesday. My next six week schedule is jam packed. I have two recitals, one for chamber and one for DJ (Senior Recital). Plus the holidays are in there, and there will be some family get-togethers to attend. Crazy busy, but I am loving it.

Moreover, I may be moving house (as they say in the UK) so that will need to factor in to everything. Overall, I am so pumped right now. I am feeling on top of the world, and I am loving my life. God is SO GOOD TO ME.

Waiting is Killing Me

AGH! It is so hard to wait. I have been so patient all these months, waiting for certain things in my life to end, and certain things to begin. Now, I am waiting for word on this job, and even though they said I wouldn't hear until next week, the wait is killing me. Perhaps it is because "I think" this is the job the Lord has for me? Perhaps it is because I am just so tired of waiting, waiting for things to shift and move and finally change? Perhaps it is a bit of both, but nonetheless, I am tired of waiting for my life to arrive.

Yes, I know...it is not as if I am dead and waiting to be brought back to life again (good question though...do the dead feel themselves waiting? Oh that is too weird of a thought, so I won't digress.) I am living now, I am living every day -- so it is not like I am really waiting for anything at all. Then again, I guess I am waiting for my new life to begin, for the life God has promised me to arrive. Yes, this is what I am waiting for and this is what I am longing to come to pass.

  • God has promised Good to me
  • He has promised me a job that will provide security and support so that I can live well in Phoenix
  • He has promised me the opportunity to attend graduate school, to work towards the career/ministry work He has for me later on in life
  • He has promised an end to the misery of my failed marriage. Though I am still married, I am in this relationship alone. My DH lives here, but doesn't live with us. He is living outside the boundaries of Christian marriage, and as such, we are simply co-existing under the same roof.
  • And lastly, God has promised that all the sorrow of the past year will turn to joy at His Coming. Yes, I look for the JOY of my Salvation and I Know that this present sorrow is nothing compared to the JOY we will receive at His Coming.

Until then, I must endure (1 Thess. 4) the heartache and trial. I must endure with patience and I must remember that these trials are nothing new or out of the ordinary. All Christ Followers suffer this way, and we all share in His Glory through our suffering. This is how we are conformed to His likeness. It is part of the process of being a Christian. I may not like it when I am in it, but I know it has its perfect work to be done. I am being made like my Savior and King, I am being made fit for His Eternal Glory. Praise be to God, I am being made into what He desires for me and all His children. May God be blessed today, and even though I don't feel like it right now, I am blessing His Name because to do so Honors the One who died to save me from my sins and who has through His Ressurection Life made the way for me to be with Him in Eternity. Bless the Lord, O my Soul! Bless the Lord!

October 28, 2010

Lunch with a Friend

I had lunch with my friend, Karen, today. She took me to Chompies, always a favorite, and we had such a good time. I really appreciate her generousity, and her willingness to stand beside me. She and I have met over coffee faithfully for nearly one year. In that time, she has been my sounding board, my cheerleader, and my prayer partner. I love her, and I thank the Lord for her kindness towards me.

At the end of our lunch, I shared with her my decision to find a new home for myself and my son. She told me of a friend who has a rental home, and that it might be available. I cannot believe how God orchestrates everything in my life. My hope and prayer is that this home is available to us. More than likely, if available, perhaps we could move in with just rent (no down or deposit)? This would be such a blessing to me, since I will not have a lot of money right now. I am praying that the Lord will open up this door of opportunity to me, provide this home, and make it possible to move in with the least amount possible (not taking advantage of these people -- that goes without saying).

On a related prayer note, I am committed to this job at Phoenix College. I believe this is "my job" and that I will receive the call from HR the first of next week offering it to me. I cannot believe that God would bring me into the President's office and then allow the job to slip away. Unless, of course, it was for training purposes, which the Lord often does do -- but He knows my need so well, and He knows how much I am depending on Him for a job. No, I think the job is mine, and I think it is just a formality. May God be Praised today for this provision! Thank you, Jesus!

The Second Coming

Today, is a day of new beginnings. I am ready to start my new life, ready to begin what God has set up for me to do. I am trusting Him, relying upon Him, and believing with my whole heart that He is God and that He is able to do what He has promised me. I am living in a state of total and utter dependence upon God, and I know that my life is securely in His hands. I am not afraid, I am not worried, I am not lost. I am safely being held, safely being led, and safely being taken to the place where my Lord waits for me. My job is to rest. My job is to believe. And, my job is to do the work He has assigned for me to do while I am here on this earth. I can do my job because He gives me the strength to do it. Everything else belongs to Him and falls into His ability and authority and perview. God is responsible for my days and my nights, for my comings and my goings, and for my sheltering and my protection. I look up, I wait upon Him, and He delivers His promise reward today, tomorrow and throughout all of eternity. I rest in Him because He has rested and now sits on Heaven's throne. His work is done, my work here is just beginning. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. He is everything to me, He has done everything for me, and it is in His Name that I give Glory, Honor and all Praise. May God be praised today and forevermore. Selah!

October 27, 2010

I Survived the Second Interview

I survived the second interview at Phoenix College. I am exhausted, and I don't know the outcome yet. Hopefully, I will hear one way or the other by Monday. Praising God for this opportunity, and resting in the security of His will for the provision of a job.

(The photo is of me in my interview suit. I got my hair cut shoulder length for today. I like it a lot, still long, but easier to manage.)

Down and Out, but not Undone

Well, today is my BIG day, and I am excited to meet with the second tier interview committee at Phoenix College. I am so hopeful that this will be IT, that I will be offered this job, and that I will be able to move out and be established as my own person (single person). God has been so Good to me, and so Faithful -- He has promised me such sweet reward for obedience and for trusting Him through these last difficult months. I have struggled mightily, and I have fallen on my face a number of times; but, He has always remained there with me, picking me back up, dusting me off, and setting my feet back down on the path. Just like a good Parent, God does this for us -- He walks along side of us, and then behind us, helping us when we stumble and fall. He is there, hand at the ready to grasp us so our feet do not slip ("I cried out, "I am slipping!" but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me." ~Psalm 94:18 NLT). He never allows us to tumble down, but is always there supporting us and reminding us that it is OK, we can trust Him, we can rely on Him. Yes, Lord, you are RELIABLE and TRUSTWORTHY! I give you all the Praise for you are Worthy to be Praised today! Hallelujah, Amen!

I am on the brink, so to speak, of walking into my new life. This is a life I never thought possible nor did I actually ever think about it at all. I assumed I would be married and that my life would revolve around my husband (and children) and his career. I would be a SAHM, who worked part-time to help when needed. I would be a home school Mother, who baked and crafted and did all the homey things I loved to do (garden, crafts, sewing, etc.) I didn't see myself as a career woman, as self-sufficient and independent from her husband. No, I didn't even consider that my life might, out of necessity, turn this way. Yet, it has turned this way, and here I am. I am not undone; though, I have been sorely tested and tried. I am not overwhelmed; though; at times I felt like I was sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I am not afraid, even when it appeared bleak and dark and oh-so unfriendly at times. No, I am calm, and at peace, and I am filled with joy. I have all these things, these feelings and emotions and senses because of my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. My relationship with the Lord has enabled me to sustain myself through the deepest and darkest emotional turmoil, through the difficult days of misunderstanding, and through the long hard nights of longing and suffering. Yes, the Lord has sustained me, and He has been my Friend and constant Companion. He has touched me in such a way that I am able to walk out today, consider interviewing for a highly selective job opportunity, and realize the potentional of His Goodness and His Will. "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." ~Phil. 4:13

New Days and New Ways are on the Horizon

It is very possible that today, after my interview, I will come home fully employed by Phoenix College. It is possible that I may come home still waiting, but I am trusting the Lord that He will provide an answer to me, so that I don't have to wait any longer (Yea or Nay, one way or the other -- Please, Lord?)

I may walk out of that interview and be a free woman, a woman who is gainfully employed and who can now fend for herself (under the Lord's Banner of Provision, of course). I may come home and be able to sit down with my husband and discuss calmly and matter of factly the terms of our separation. I have not been able to do this because I was not in a position to even do so -- there was no provision for separation so I was not able to offer any concrete deadlines or even consider options. This may be resolved now, and I have to consider what it is that I want to say to him. He has been living with us for nearly one year since I found out about his infidelity and his ongoing relationship with his cousin and old college girlfriend. These relationships have ebbed and flowed, but they have never ceased to exist (in more than a year). He maintains that they are just friends, but I consider them a continued walk in adultery. A man who engages in relationship outside of marriage, then discontinues, then renews it -- repeatedly -- is not someone who is interested in fidelity at all. He has renewed relationships, maintained friendships with these women even after the counselor said to stop them, even after I asked (begged, pleaded, and demanded), and even now -- in our home, while both my son and I remained in close contact with him (in the same room). I have had to put up with this behavior, this attitude, this unwillingness to bend to the pressure and conviction of the Holy Spirit for too long now. I am done, I am ready, and I want out.

I sit here and I blog every day about my emotional status, about how I am feeling today, and about what God is doing in my life. This blog is my catharsis -- my release -- my life written out (warts and all) for others to see. I do it for myself mostly, but I know that God has a greater purpose in mind, and that someday someone will find my blog and read about my journey and they will find encouragement and hope. They may come to Christ or they may come to rely on Him more -- either way, my heart and my soul are posted for all the world to see, and my prayer is that my words may comfort someone who is going through similar circumstances.

So then, what exactly do I want to happen today? Just this: I am waiting (have been waiting) for a full-time job, one that will pay enough money per month for me to live on my own. My husband cannot provide for us at all. I have had to pay about half the bills the past several months (on my Macy's pittance). Our mortgage was not paid this month at all, and our lender is upset (as he should be). The electric company came out to shut our power off the other day (twice in one month), the gas company already shut the service off last week. I paid for the gas company reconnection fee, and I paid the restoral fee to the electric company earlier in the month. Our Internet has been shut off, and our cell phones on the brink. My income which amounts to $600 (on a good month) from Macy's and $500 gift from my Uncle, has been used to pay for our bills, buy all our food, purchase my husbands medicine, as well as pay for miscellaneous expenses (car, gas, music, school, etc.)

In short, God has used the small amount I have earned each month to keep our "boat afloat." My husband works as a contractor for several individuals (all women, go figure that one out), and they pay him monthly for his sales training or marketing service. If they were to pay him correctly (what he says they pay him), then he should have $2K coming in each month. However, this must not be the case, because he didn't have enough money to pay the mortgage ($800) this month. He is not putting any money in the bank, and on Friday, that bank was closed by the FDIC. All money he had in it was seized by the government (said to reimburse depositors soon). Therefore, my question is this: if $2k is coming in (which would be enough to cover all our bills and expenses), then $2k must be going out. Yet, where is it going? I don't see it. It is not covering us, but only paying for a fraction of the overall cost. In rational and logical thinking this says to me one of two things are happening here: 1) there is less money coming in than what is being reported; or 2) there is money being spent on things other than home/life (though I see no example of them). My gut tells me that my husband has been lying to me (go figure) about how much money he is actually making. I think he is making about $750 a month on one new client only. His other clients either have dropped him or are having financial problems and are not paying him for his services. It would not be unthinkable -- he has done this before -- to work for free just to keep the business. The problem is that he works for free, and we starve. Yes, this has been the pattern of his life for the past 28 years, and I am now convinced, for ever. He will not change, he will not get another job, he will not do what he must because he is quite content to have someone like me be there for him.

The problem is that I am tired of "being there" for a man who doesn't respect me or my son, and doesn't work to provide for us. Furthermore, I am tired of living in the same house with a man who thinks nothing of downloading pornography, seeking women for friendship and other, and who continues to converse with women he has been in illicit/sexual relationship with -- all while he eats my food, sleeps under my roof, and enjoys the blessings of our support. No, I am done, and I am walking away from this man now.

Dear Lord,

I am ready to walk away. I am ready to accept your gift of financial provision, and with it the knowledge that I will need to leave my home. I am ready to move to another home, preferrably one that is available soon. I know you will provide enough income so that we (me and my son) can move out, establish service, and begin to build our life new. I ask now in Jesus' Name for your provision, and for your Grace to accept the job that is offered to me today. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

October 26, 2010

Praying for Manna from Heaven

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness [there lay] a small round thing, [as] small as the hoar frost on the ground. ~Exodus 16:14 KJV

In the Old Testament, we read of the account of Moses and the children of Israel as they fled from Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land. Along the way, they ran out of food, and they began to grumble (complain) to Moses that they were starving, and about to die. They accused him of bringing them out of Egypt and into this desert place simply to die -- as if they were not already dying under the burden of slavery imposed by Pharoah? Moses prayed to God, and God rained down manna from heaven. This food, known as "angel food," was given to the Israelites every morning that they tarried in the wilderness (40 years!) We can find the story in the Book of Exodus, but the phrase, "Manna from Heaven," is often quoted in response to any great need or gift asked for of God. Typically, the petitioner asks God for "manna" or the exact gift he or she requires, and then faithfully waits for the Lord to open up Heaven and rain down the needed item on them.

I am in such a predicament tonight. I am praying for Manna to come down from Heaven. My needed Manna is this job with Phoenix College. I go tomorrow for a second interview, and I am getting nervous about it. I re-read the job description and have to tell you that now I am concerned that I may be in the running with other, more qualified individuals. Oh drats!

I had hoped that it would be just me, and that I would receive the offer tomorrow. Perhaps that is still the case, perhaps this is God's Manna for me?

Dear Lord,

I pray in Jesus Name for Manna to come from your blessed storehouse in Heaven. You know my needs, you know that this is the only job that I have opportunity to interview for, and that this job seems far above my skills and experience. Furthermore, I shared this job post with someone who told me that I wasn't qualified for the job. I am not sure if they were jealous or being serious, but my confidence is shaken a bit. I know you have the perfect job for me. I know I can do this job. I know this because you led me to this job, you told me to apply, and you gave me wisdom to get through the first interview. Now, I need your wisdom to get through the second interview, and I need your provision for this job so that I can live the life you are calling me to live. I give you all the glory, all the praise, and all the honor -- in your Name alone do I ask this now, Amen.

More Designs on the Future

This week looks promising for me. Today, I am hoping to get my hair cut. I have been growing it out for over a year now, and it is ready for a good trim. I wanted to wear it shoulder-length, and I like how it looks that way. However, all of a sudden it has grown long past my shoulders and it just looks "too long" on me. Funny how that is at my age. When I was in my 20s, I always wore my hair straight down my back, to almost my waist. But, now I am at the half-century mark, it doesn't do anything for me. I found a shorter, snazzier style on the internet, and I am hoping to get into my hairstylist either today or tomorrow. If I can go today, then I will color and highlight tonight, so that tomorrow I will be picture perfect for my interview.

Speaking of which -- I have my second interview with Phoenix College tomorrow afternoon. I am excited to be going in to meet with the President of the College, and I am so hopeful that they will say "We would like to hire you, Carol." Amen, and Praise the Lord! I am ready, so ready to go to work full-time, and to quit my job at Macy's. Macy's has been a good interim job for me, but I am getting to loathe the place (everyone who has been there 4-6 months or longer is this way -- I think it must be in the water -- everyone has such a horrible attitude). I go in there for my shifts and I try to keep a happy face on, but by the time I leave, I am grumbling and so glad to be "outta there."

My folks bought me a new outfit for my interview, so I will have new clothes to wear (and no more black pants -- Macy's standard uniform). I bought gray slacks, an emerald green top, and I will wear my black shoes and my black short dressy jacket. It should look suit-like without actually having to wear a suit.

I am also at the turn of my schooling for this semester. We are now in Week 8 (of 15) and things are really ramping up. Some things I noticed -- the professors seem absent a lot from about week 4 on, and this makes it very hard to complete assignments. I am sure it is because both professors teach full-time courses (in class), and then have either a hybrid (part online) or full online course. The online students get the shaft, they are relegated to the left-overs of the professor's time. This is a big negative to me because I do value my professors opinion and input. However, it can also be a good thing if you are a strong writer and you can do independent research. I am both so I hope that my missing professors will not hurt my chances for As this semester.

Lastly, I got word that my MIL is on the mend, PTL. She has been unwell for a long time, but I spoke with her on the phone last evening, and she is feeling better. I think the Drs. have managed her pain, and the in-home care giver service is providing enough help to allow her to rest. The problem was that my MIL never got any rest because of people visiting or calling on the phone. Neither my DH nor myself could be there during the day to manage the phone, so the care giving service has done this as well as made sure they have three meals (which has also helped my MIL with her pills). She says she feels as though she has been 'healed' and I am certain of it. My hope is that my inlaws can move into assisted living soon. This is where they need to be, and perhaps this last bout with serious illness will help them see that the time is now. Praying for this -- anyhow!

October 25, 2010

Recovery

I survived another long day at Macy's. I am not sure why Sundays are so bad, but they are. It is possibly because the shifts are all 8-hours, so you know that "you're it," you are the one who will open AND close. It is a mental thing, where your mind tells you the day is longer than it really is -- oh well!

Yesterday was pretty bad. First off, it was the day AFTER our one day sale event. This means there are tons of returns, and tons of "go-backs." Secondly, the department looks trashed, so a fair portion of the day needs to be assigned to "recovery." This simply means that you must go and recover the "look" of the store before you close. We do recovery every night, but typically it comes down to refolding the jeans, making sure the hangers are even, etc. The day after recovery is much harder, requiring more than one person to go and touch every piece of clothing in the entire department.

My day was full, and I spent nearly 2 and half hours standing at the registering ringing customers. They never stopped coming, and finally at 5:30, another gal from the next department came over so I could go on break. Thankfully, she normally works in my department, so she stayed with me until closing and helped me put all the clothing away.

I made my goal, which was high for the day (938), and ended up clocking out at 204% (or 104% over my goal). This won't matter much because I will get half that back in returns, so it may end up a wash or a little over goal.

My feet held up, and except for the constant twinge in my hip (due to some strain from the previous week), I did OK. I was glad when my shift was over, and I was so ready to head home. As I left the building, my Mom called to say that she had made stew and there was plenty left over. I headed over to my parents house, and I got to sit down and eat a nice hot meal (thanks, Mom!) Then I went home (my son and DH had already eaten), and had my evening cup of coffee. I had planned on finishing school work, but as usual, I found myself falling asleep so I ended up just going to bed early. Macy's does that to me -- makes me fall asleep right after work. Its not just me either -- most of the ladies tell me the same thing. It has to do with standing on your feet all day long. Your body simply cannot handle the 'day in and day out' stress of standing up-- so you just fall asleep (and go into "recovery mode" -- God has thought of everything, hasn't He?)

It is funny (curious) how this word is used at Macy's. Retail uses other words that way, out of their normal context, and you just accept them. Macy's speaks of "loyalty" too, but not in employee or even customer loyalty, but rather as in selling credit. They lump customer service into selling, which is related, but in my opinion is completely different.

Recovery, n. plural: the regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away.

There are other meanings for this word, but this is the one I am using today. I have experienced recovery in my life, and in many ways, I am in "recovery mode" each day. We all recover from something lost, be it a good nights sleep or a cold or other illness (like my strained hip muscle).

In my case, I have lost something, yes; but moreso, I have had something taken away from me. Two years ago, I began a quest to discover myself. I started down a path of spiritual enlightenment, hoping to find a deeper relationship with God, and thereby, finding transformation from the person I was (and who I didn't like), and the person I wanted to be (or hoped to be). I never expected that to find that person, to become that person, I would have to suffer through the loss and the removal of almost everything stable in my life.

Stability in the small things gives us that sense that everything is right or OK. We have balance when our life is in check, when things are as they should be, and when we can rest in the knowledge that what was will be again (the sense of trusting the dailiness, knowing tomorrow will be much the same, and that no extra worry or concern is needed -- these things will be because they have always been). As I moved through this transition period in my life, my stability was removed. That which had always been (my husband) was gone; that which was going to be there tomorrow (his fidelity to me and our family) was lost. I found myself stranded on an island where things were not as they had always been, and where there was no assurance that things would ever be the same again.

I swayed back and forth for a long time, trying to find my balance. It was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. Finally, I had to let things be, I had to let them go, and I had to stop trying to hold everything in my hand. You know how you grab a bunch of items off the floor, only to start dropping one or two as you scramble to put them away. Each time you get them all in your arms, one falls out. You reach to pick that one up, and another falls out. It is the same way when we try and control something that is too much for us, too big, or simply too unknown. We scramble around trying to hold everything, until we finally accept that we can only hold one or two things. We have to leave the rest on the floor.

I had to leave a number of things laying on the floor. It was hard for me because I have always been the one to keep everything neat and tidy. I don't like messes laying about -- I pick them up, I put things away. Yet, this time, I couldn't hold them all, so I had to walk away and leave them be. Wonderful for me -- God took over the moment I left them be. As soon as I walked away and said "Lord, I cannot care for these things anymore," He stepped in and picked them up for me. He carried them for a time, and then slowly, He put them away. Some things He allowed me time to see, to still remember; and other things, He simply just took from me.

It was difficult at first, but I got used to Him doing this, and now all these months later, I am far more content with what I have, than with all that I lost.

Recovery for me is now complete. I have gone through the entire process:
  • Denial and Isolation
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

I am whole, and I am healed. I am ready to begin my life as a new person. I have a new identify, a new self-esteem, and a new outlook (hopes, prosperity, plans and a future). I am secure, I am safe, and I am satisfied (contented, at peace) with the changes that have taken place as well as my new direction. All of this has been a work of God, all of this has been because of His great Care and Compassion, and all of this has been to accomplish His work in my life (for me to learn how to be more like Jesus, to live my life fully devoted to Him, and to trust Him as my sole guide and helper). I am ready to go where ever God leads me, and I am ready to do whatever work He has in mind for me. I have gone, I will go, and I am going -- action, it is faith in action -- to go where God leads, and to trust Him to lead you to where He wants you to be.

Dear Lord,

I am giving you thanks today for your great work of recovery in my life. I am praising you for healing my heart, restoring my broken spirit, and recovering my identity. I know who I am, I know who you are, and I know what I must do. I am whole, no longer broken; I am resilient, able to bend without breaking. You have done this for me and I give you all the Glory, and all the testimony. You are so Good to me.

October 24, 2010

My Style

I am in the process of choosing a personal decorating style. I have been "country" forever, though I am not sure why I actually chose that style originally. I think it was "in" at the time, and it was what my MIL had, and her home was very "put together." I have always favored antiques, and if I could do it again, I would have styled my home more traditional than country.

Now that I am getting ready to work full-time, and I will have some savings to put towards new furniture, I am considering a style that is reflective of ME. My tastes do run the gamut -- from shabby cottage chic to very traditional/victorian. I tend to favor the following design elements:
  • Clean lines and good form
  • Dark hardwoods such as cherry or mahagony
  • Leather with wood accent or nail head trim
  • Oriental rugs
  • Hardwoods on floors (though carpet in the bedroom)
  • Browns, beiges, dusty blues, golds, deep reds, and true greens

I want comfort, but I want good looking comfort. I also like lighting that is soft and very cozy. I don't live in bright rooms. I like darker colors, muted tones, and very soft light.

I have considered my style, and I have tried to figure it out for nearly a quarter-century. I currently live with mismatched styles of old hand me downs. I have little that actually works, and most of it, I don't really like. For example, I have a cheap plywood TV stand (it works) that is very country. I have checkered window coverings that are very country too. I have a kitchen set that is painted green. Do you get the theme here? I got all this from family who out grew their country decor and gave it to me.

I am ready for a grown-up style, a look that says "This is what Carol is like; This is what she thinks of herself." I am not about making a big show or anything like that, and I am not out to impress anyone. No, I just want people to come into my home and see the real me -- not the me that was created by other people's vision of what I should or should not be. I am not that person -- I never was that person, and I am tired of masquerading as that person.

Masks off -- this is me, and I am very happy to be the way I am.

October 23, 2010

Confessing and Forgiving

After my long, long, long blog post this morning, I sat down to have some quiet time with the Lord. I thought about what I had written, and about how the plans the Lord has shown me have not come to pass or have simply caused me such confusion. After some time of reflection, I realized that I have not been agreeable to the Lord's plans for my life. I have liked them, and I even have been in agreement with parts of them; but, I was not 100% on board with any of them. There was just something not quite right, something off, something fishy (in my own fallen human flesh sense). It wasn't until I came to terms with the fact that every single plan of the Lord's is complete, is perfect, and lacks absolutely nothing. God never does anything half-way. He doesn't skimp nor short-change us. He gives us His Best always, and He only asks that we AGREE with Him (agree that His plans are best). He wants us to be willing to accept them, and then be willing to do them. He never says "Only agree if you THINK you can actually do them, Carol." Nope. And, He never asks me to promise Him that I will do what I say -- He justs asks me to agree with Him, to be in agreement (accord or covenant -- a binding contract that places trust on the other party -- in short -- I am agreeing that God will do His part, and I will try to do mine.) I know my flesh, and I know that any promise I make to Him will never be fulfilled. No matter how I try, I will always fail at fulfilling my promise to Him. He knows this, He expects this, and He has a plan to work around our flesh. His Plan and His Promise and His Provision is...ta da...His Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit is our companion/helper. He is the One who keeps the promise to God, who enables us to be strong when our flesh is weak, and who constantly defends us, goes to bat for us, encourages us, and is there to comfort us when we blow it. He is our Friend, and His Job is to see to it that we accomplish God's will for our lives.

Really then...what is my part, what is my responsibility? Just to agree with God on these points:
  • He is God
  • He is always Good
  • He always knows what is Best
  • He always does what is Best
  • He loves me unceasingly
  • He cares for me with an everlasting care
  • He desires for me to know Him better
  • He longs for me to trust Him
  • He wants me to spend time with Him
  • and He enjoys me -- just as I am, warts and all

I don't have to do anything, really. I have to BELIEVE THAT HE IS GOD, THAT HE EXISTS, AND THAT HIS PLANS ARE GOOD. The more I come to know Him, the easier it is to believe in this way. It is also easier to do what He asks of me. I trust Him, I believe what He says is true; therefore, I am willing (agreeable) to do what He asks. It is a really easy proposition if you think about it: God is willing to save you. Then He is willing to restore you (forgive you and help you). Then He is willing to help you know Him. Then once you have a relationship with Him, He will give you important work to do. Cool, huh? I think so. I think it is the BEST.

So after some careful consideration, this is what I have decided. All of the plans God has for me are very good. There is one, though, that appeals most to me (interest-wise). It also seems to be the one my son is most interested in as well. My decision then is to resume Plan B, which is to go to Texas after I finish up my MA at Mercy. It is a short time only, and I will graduate with very sought after degree (the new wrinkle in teaching is Rhetoric). I will also be able to get a full-time faculty position because UT has very high placement results (one of the highest in the nation). Also, their program is geared to churn out teachers -- college teachers. Therefore, it is determined that this is what you will do, and they give you the experience you need while in graduate school. It is a perfectly suited degree program, short and sweet in length, and one that will provide a way for me to teach full-time at a major University. Moreover, UT has oodles of programs for my son. If he decides against Russian, then he can do music. If he chooses recording technology again, there is a program for that as well. If he ends up Liberal Studies, he can do an interdisciplinary degree. It is a good fit, it is a well-thought out and well-designed plan. It is a God-thing.

Today and Everyday

It is 7:56 a.m. and I am up -- on a Saturday, on my day off, and on a day when I really would have rather slept in. Oh well...my boys came in around 5:00 and did their usual "wake up, Mom" routine. I didn't feed them can food (I was out and I forgot to go to the store last night after chamber group). They were eager to get me up, so at 7, I made up my mind to go out to the store and get can good, some donuts, and toilet paper (Yep, in that order).

I am back now, having eaten a very delicious Bavarian Cream donut. I am having my cup of coffee (very good 8'O Clock brand, which I like), and sitting here at the computer thinking about today. A lot has happened this week. A lot of potential changes and a lot of new decisions have come to pass. I am tentatively excited for the opportunity at Phoenix College (trying not to get too excited about my interview on Wednesday). I am also excited about my life, in general.

I have blogged a lot about my life, and I will be very happy when I am done. However, since there is little much happening in it, that would mean I would have to stop blogging completely. My life is pretty BORING and without the present turmoil to think about -- well -- I am not sure there would be anything to write on this blog! LOL!

In the meantime, I will continue to write about my life, my relationship with God, and my plans for a future that I believe He has purposed and orchestrated. Until He tells me to stop, I will write and give Him all the Praise. He deserves it because He is the One who has done everything for me -- from beginning to end -- He is the Alpha and Omega. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

The following plans are in the works for me right now. I am leaning towards Plan A because that one seems the most viable at this time. We will have to wait and see which Plan actually works itself out, but as plans are designed to be -- they are flexible and variable. Plans are never set in stone, they are just laid out and worked on until the task or job is completed. I have never had a set of plans come to pass exactly as I designed them. I have always made adjustments along the way. I don't know why I struggle with God's Plans then -- they are similar, except designed by Him. I guess I think that because He is God, His Plans should always work exactly as written. It makes sense, and it should be this way. Then I remember that while God's plans are always perfectly created, they are implemented in an imperfect world and are designed for imperfect people. Therefore, they require adjustment on this side of heaven. So -- they may in theory be perfect, but in practice they are always flexible. I still struggle to think of God as flexible, but in reality, He is the King of Flex. Really, He is the One who can bend and change and make something out of nothing -- Flex is God -- He can do anything He needs done, and He can change and manipulate and alter (just as we sing about the Potter and the clay), this is the way He is. He can do anything that He needs to do, and He always is able to do it perfectly.

My plans, therefore, are FLEX too. I would like them to be set in stone, but that will not be. I am learning how to be like my Father, the Potter. I am learning to create plans and then change them, move them, alter them to suit our purpose. I am learning not to be so rigid and how to be more willing and maleable in His Mighty Hands. It is a good thing, really it is.

Plan A

  • Finishing my Master's program and then teaching at a Community College while working towards my PhD in Communication from Regent University (online and 2-week summer seminars).
  • Completing my PhD and then teaching at a University
  • Living near Chicago, IL

Plan B

  • Finishing my Master's program and then enrolling at the University of Texas, Austin to complete my PhD in Rhetoric
  • Teaching at the University (Assistant Instructor -- required in this program) while in school, and then teaching at another University upon graduation
  • Moving to Knoxville, TN

Plan C

  • Finishing my Master's program and then teaching at Phoenix College
  • Enrolling in PhD in English Literature at ASU
  • Working at the community college, teaching and continuing to pursue education
  • Living in Phoenix, AZ

Now, of all these plans, some aspects are set. First off, if I continue to work on my MA program, I will graduate in May of 2012. It is a pretty set fact that I will graduate and that I will earn decent grades. I have to do the work, write the papers, participate in class, etc. I will get my MA by putting one foot in front of the other -- and doing the work Mercy assigns.

Secondly, getting my PhD is a done deal for me. It has been my dream for nearly 18 years, and I believe it is imperative that I get it for the Lord's work. The issue has been the subject matter. I am getting my MA in English Literature. My PhD can be in Literature and Languages or in Rhetoric. It can also be in Communication (New Media and Media Studies). I am able to study either subject with the same amount of effort. The Communication degree is probably a little easier, simply because it is a technical type degree which focuses on technology, internet, and media communication (my field for the last ten or so years).

The primary issue with an English PhD is simply time involved and the amount of work required. Every PhD program is unique, and the three schools I have looked at require various amounts of study. For example, UT's Rhetoric program is the shortest with only 24 extra courses needed to complete the degree. ASU, by comparison, is the longest, with almost 54 credits beyond the Master's degree. Regent is also 44 credits beyond the Master's degree.

Then there is the focus of the study itself. ASU's program is intensive and the majority of courses are simply not of interest to me. As a graduate student, your choices of study are limited based on the depth and breadth of the instructors in the program. ASU tends to lean heavily towards research, so their courses are intensive research based (linguistic type). I am neither interested nor prepared for this program. Therefore, I have crossed out ASU as a Plan. They do not have an alternative degree (in Education). I could continue to live in Phoenix, but I would have to take the Communication degree at Regent instead.

UT at Austin was a high priority, but then my son decided against studying Recording Technology for his degree. UTA is an excellent school, but they are mostly science based, and their standards are high for incoming students. He is not sure he wants to study music composition or another type of standard music degree. UT has a very good Russian program, and this is of high interest to my son. He is not certain he is ready for this degree program, so for now, we are in a "wait and see" mode.

He has told me that he wants to go to Southwestern College, which is our local Baptist college. It is very small, now about 750-1000 students. It offers a Music Ministry or Music in Worship degree. This degree is a bible based degree so he would have to start what he finished or lose credits on transfer to another school.

Other schools he has expressed an interest in attending (and still attending) include Columbia College in Chicago (for Music/Film studies) or Northpark University, also near Chicago. Northpark is our denominational university and it is highly regarded. They have a very good music program there, but again, he is wavering on whether that is exactly what he wants to do right now.

He is very interested in film and video work. He spends as much time as possible with Adobe After Effects, and he is recording both video and audio and then creating art with it. He also is writing a screen play (always writing screen plays).

Now you can see why my plans are as they are, and not 100% firmed and set. Where I go will determine my son's college plans too. Though he can certainly go anywhere on his own, he is not the type of boy who wants to do that right now. He is shy and really doesn't want to be on his own. He likes the "idea" of living in the dorms, but not the reality of it (day in and day out). My preference (and the Lord's) is for him to live close enough to commute to school. That simply means for me, that I have to go where there is work for me, and a degree program to fit my son.

I see what the Lord is doing, I get His Plan. He is taking care of us both, making sure that my overall plan includes the following:

  • the ability to work FT in a career position so I can build retirement and live comfortably
  • the ability for me to prepare for ministry work
  • the ability for me to support my son while he is in school and then help him get settled into the life the Lord has in mind for him

To do all this requires a great deal of coordination. I have not been very cooperative at times. I can see that now. God is trying to offer me suggestions that will work for me, and I say "No, I don't really like this one." I am not thinking about everything involved in the matter, so I simply cast it off as if it was a casual suggestion. I have done this far too many times, and I need to stop it now. Ok, I have determined to stop it now. No more -- whatever suggestion the Lord makes, I will take it on good AUTHORITY -- it has been carefully considered and carefully suggested and therefore it is GOOD to go.

Dear Lord,

This is a really long blog post, but it has been good for me to see the process this way. I realize now that the suggestions you have made to me included not only my requirements but those for my son as well. They were "complete" and lacking nothing, as you always tell me. I didn't see their complexity, and I treated them casually. I am sorry for doing this, please forgive me. I will not do this again. I will accept your suggestion as being GOOD AND PERFECT AND COMPLETE. Thank you, Lord, for caring so much for me and for my son, and for making these plans available to us. I offer this prayer in Jesus' Name, Amen.



October 22, 2010

God is SO GOOD to Me!

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:4 KJV)

Today, I am giving all Praise to God the Father, and to the Son (Jesus Christ), and to the Holy Spirit. I am rejoicing in God my Father who has done marvelous things for me. He has prepared my way, strengthened my heart, and given me confidence to know that He is God. I am thanking Him for His Grace and His Mercy, and for sending His Son, Jesus -- who saved me and set me free.

As I think about the Good that has come into my life, I can only give testimony to the One who is Good. God has done this for me -- not because I deserve it, no -- but because He is Good and it is His Nature to be Good and do Good all the time. I didn't do anything -- God did it all because it pleased Him to do so. I am simply receiving His Good into my life as an act of Faith and Grace. God is always Good, and everything He does is Good.

May God be praised today, and forevermore!

October 19, 2010

Thanking God

Well, today I finished up my financial aid paperwork and I am finally set for school. I had received my notice this summer, and then tried to sign all the papers right away. I guess now that everything is done online, I jumped the gun. Mercy College has been sending me invoices, and every time I got one, I just winced. I have no way of paying for my classes (now in their 6-7 week). Thankfully, on Saturday, I got a follow letter from financial aid telling me that all I needed to do was sign the promissory note. Hooray! PTL! I took care of this today, and I am now ready to finish my graduate program. My loans will be low-interest and give me 10 years to repay them once I graduate. They will also be low monthly payments, so I should have no problem repaying these loans. I am blessed!

October 17, 2010

Living Still

It's Sunday, and it is a beautiful day in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The sun is just starting to rise, and the temperatures are supposed to be pleasant (which for us is probably in the upper 80s). It is comfortable to wear jeans and tee shirts, even though many people still are in shorts and tank tops. I am looking forward to fallish temps so that I can start wearing my sweatshirts. I just like fall, and even though we don't have the falling leaves and change of colors, we still have some semblance of a change of seasons.

I worked a full-shift at Macy's yesterday, and I came home with my feet swollen and aching. Even with my good Dr. Scholl's clogs, my feet still took a beating. I ended up on the chair and ottoman, feet propped up, and Advil in hand. It took about eight hours for my feet and lower legs to stop throbbing. The pain is awful, and there is nothing I can do about it. It seems to begin at the bottom of my arch (right before your heel). This is the area that seems to take the pressure from standing all day. I know it has to do with my alignment issues, and with the way that I walk (my hip hurts as well). Well, after standing all day, and working very hard (doing go-backs and recovery), I was worn out. I went to be at 10:30 and got up about 4:30 to feed the cats. By then, I actually could walk out to the kitchen. This morning my feet are still sore, but I can walk better. My back still aches, and my hip is sore whenever I walk -- oh well, I guess that is what happens when you are older and working in retail.

On a high note (hip hip hooray!), today is my Dad's birthday. My birthday is tomorrow, so we are going to have a family dinner/celebration today. My cousin, who recently moved from the Washington, DC area, has invited us to her home for dinner. It should be very nice, and I am sure the dinner will be great (she is a great cook!)

Plans for this morning include church (of course) and then study time with dear Mr. Chaucer. I have to read The Wife of Bath's Tale and a journal article on said subject. Then I have to finish my 5-page paper, and a short 1-page response paper. I have until Tuesday to get it finished, but I am hoping to turn everything by tomorrow evening (after I get back from Macy's -- 4-9 p.m. shift). It will be a full two days for me, but I am ready for it. We are in week 6 of school, and only have 9 more weeks to go!

I also received my notice from Mercy that my financial aid only needs my signature on the promissory note, and I am good to go! This is a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders. I have been getting invoices from them, and the Lord kept saying that it would be OK. Then yesterday, I get my letter, and truthfully -- it is OK. He is so Good to me like that, always making sure I understand that things will be OK. I wish I would trust Him more and not worry so much, but alas I do it all the time. I promised Him I would do better, and that is what I am going to do. In His Grace I can do it, I know I can. God is Good.

My DH has spent the last two nights at his mom's home. I have a feeling that this is going to be a regular thing now. She is not able to do anything at all, and even though the Dr.s have told her that they can find nothing wrong, she is unable to get out of bed. I think it is a breakdown of sorts, a combination of mental and physical inability to go on. I think she has given up, and decided that the only way she can stop having to deal with the trouble in her life is to force other people to do it for her. This has been coming down the pike, and she has given hints that she was headed this way. Unfortunately, what my inlaws really need is assisted living, and apparently this is not doable given their financial situation. We have suggested moving in with my husband's sister (who is willing), but for some reason, this is not acceptable to them either. So the gauntlet has fallen on my DH who seems to be willing to go and live at his parents house. I am not sure if this is temporary or permanent, but it is what is today.

As for me, this brings up an interesting scenario. I still don't have confirmation on the Phoenix College job, but I am hopeful that I will hear something this week. If I get this job, then my DH is more than welcome to move into his parents home (he is welcome to do that now, if that is what he wants to do). I will be able to take care of all the bills associated with this home once I am working in this job. If the job doesn't come to pass, then there is no way for me to live on my own in this home. My hope is in the Lord, and I believe this is the job He has in mind for me. I need to wait patiently on PC -- they will let me know one way or another -- of that I am certain.

I know what you are thinking -- why don't you move his parents in with you? Two reasons: the first, we don't have enough room (our home is barely 1000 SQFT with the addition of our carport add-on, and extra 400). The second reason, albeit more important, I do not want it to be so (and neither does the Lord). The relationship I have shared with my MIL for the past 28 years has been one of manipulator/controller (not me), and I have finally learned how to set fixed boundaries with her. I am at a distance now and it is to remain that way (through prayer and trusting the Lord, I know that this is best). Moreover, given our marriage and such, the mere fact that his mother is a major contributor to our problems -- well, there is just no way this could work. It is not of the Lord's will for my life, and therefore, it will not be.

I am praying now for resolution in the conflict, and not just for agreement, but for completion. I am resolved that this is what will be for my life, so now I just want to get on with it. It has been over a year since my husband told me he didn't want to remain married to me. I have patiently waited for him to move out, to pursue divorce, or simply to stop looking elsewhere (as in women). It has not happened -- any of it -- and I have lived in limbo land since then. I have worked hard to repair my health, my self-image, and get plans in order; but I have not been able to move out or move on because of the job market. I have had to endure this unknown situation for a year, and I am ready for it to end. One way or another, I need it to end.

The Lord knows how hard I have tried to work through this, how I have come to terms with my marriage ending, and how I have tried to make the best of a very challenging situation. I have done it all for His Name and His Glory, and I have suffered much agony and sorrow. In return, He has given me peace, and His grace, and I am content to be where I am right now. I am happy, truly happy, and I am moving forward spiritually/emotionally/mentally even if I am physically standing still. It is weird how that works, but often this is what the Lord does. Before He moves you physically, He gets you ready mentally. He helps establish you emotionally, and then works on your spiritual growth and development. Once everything is in order and you are SET, then and only then will He move you physically. In my case, I had believed it was to make a physical move to another town/state. Now, it has been determined that I can simply move here in Phoenix. I wasn't able to think about staying in Phoenix last month, but now I can imagine it. God is Good that way. He gives us time to process things so that we can accept them.

This is where I am now:
  • I can contemplate living in the same city with my DH, just not the same home
  • I can deal with his parents in a kind and compassionate way without having an intimate relationship
  • I can take care of myself here, find a job, find a home, etc.
  • I can remain faithful to my church community and be a part of it even if my DH remains there as well
  • In short -- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

I can do whatever is needed, whatever is asked, and whatever must be because it is Christ in me who works all things out for my good. God is so Good to me.

October 15, 2010

Learning How to Rest in Him

I am spent, literally spent. I didn't have a good night, just another in a series of full dreams interrupted by my boys who either wanted in or out of the room. I slept fitfully, tossing and turning, and then finally falling back to sleep hard after they were escorted out of the room (and got their breakfast). Then, finally, I fell to sleep.

It is a little after 9:00 a.m. and I have had my first cup of coffee. I have checked email, voicemail, and my school mail, and I am blogging a bit. I have also checked in with my Mom, a multiple-times a day event. Mom worries if she cannot reach me in the a.m., and will call and call and call until she gets me "live." I try and call her first thing so that she will not be concerned. My parents live around the corner from me, but my Mom just worries that something will happen to me or my son. I don't know why this is, but she has always been like this, and now at almost 78 years of age, I doubt she will change. Sigh!

Today is going to be a busy day for me. I have school work to finish (topic questions about Samuel Johnson) along with my cello lesson and chamber group. I also have DJ to consider, and we have to seriously start working on school for him. He is doing math, so thanks be to God; but he is not doing anything else. He has "senior-itis" and now that he has passed his entrance exams at PVCC (and earned honors placement), he thinks he is done with high school, LOL! Oh well, such a problem to have, eh? A too smart senior who is so ready for college. I am sure parents of kids who are struggling academically would welcome a student who is already done with classes, and who has gotten a 2-year scholarship to the local CC. I am blessed, that is for certain!

I am still waiting for confirmation on the job with Phoenix College. Furthermore, there has been no mention of the job with Macy's HR. This position was to be part-time, 20 hours, beginning in October?? Nope, not a word. So what does that mean? I don't know, but I guess the Lord's timing is not ready -- YET! With the Lord, timing is everything. His word says:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV

God is working out the details of my life in such a way so that they are GOOD for me and my son. I need to wait for His timing so that I receive the Good He intends for us. If I get antsy, and I go my own way, then I am not going to receive the Good -- just some mixture of human acceptability. It might be OK, but it won't be His Good, His Perfect and Peaceful Good. No, the only way to receive His Good is to trust and rely upon Him, and to wait for Him to orchestrate all the details into place.

I am content to do this, but it is other people who make it hard to be patient. I wait, but others call and are "concerned" about the length of time passing; others bring up issues that are not of my responsibility and tell me that "I must do something" about them; others try and pull me off point so that I no longer focus on Jesus providing for my needs, but I begin to look to my own hand for the solution. Yes, this seems to be the pattern of my life recently. Instead of me remaining solidly fixed upon God's plans and timing, I have strayed into thinking that it is not good enough or soon enough or right enough. No, it is not Good because if it was it would have already come to pass. This is called PATIENCE, Dear folks, and it is a fruit of God's Holy Spirit. Patience is cultivated by waiting upon the Lord. There is no other way, there is no short cut, there is no easy way. You must wait until the Lord brings His desired completion to pass in your life.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 KJV

October 14, 2010

Fear Based Decisions

Today has been incredibly challenging for me. First off, I had some initial pain (headache, neck ache, and a bit of sciatica -- in my hip and knee), and I also was so tired (just groggy like). I got up and moving, and then later took a good long shower (always helps). I also ate some breakfast and took some Advil. Later in the afternoon, I laid down to rest, and ended up sleeping for about an hour. It helped, and I actually felt better. I have since had a good dinner (yum - tostada's with spicy bean dip and cheese), and I am in pretty good spirits. Overall, what started as a not-so-great day, has turned out to be good. God is so Good to me!

On another side, though, I am also considering some decisions that will affect my life as well as that of my son. We are in this tenuous position whereby we really don't know if we will stay put -- in our current home -- or have to move out at some point. Neither of us are concerned about it, and we both welcome the change, should that be the Lord's will for us. However, there are some outstanding issues to consider, and one of these is my DH and his plans. Right now, he seems content to remain with us, though I don't know for certain if this is a general turn back towards us or a temporary thing (like -- it is the best it can be for now).

We are struggling to make our house payment and pay the bills. My money is low this month, and although I will get paid tomorrow, this little amount will not help much at all. I am hopeful of a new FT job, and the income from that will cover us well. However, what will that mean for our relationship? Will I be alone once I have the money to take care of myself? Or will I have to continue in this quasi-married state with really never knowing what will be at the end of it?

In addition, there is a particularly difficult situation brewing within the family. As I have blogged before, my MIL has been ill, and the Dr.'s cannot find anything wrong with her. Clearly, she is unwell, and the opinion is that it is age coupled with stress. It is a common disorder, and due to the fact that she has provided care for my FIL these past 17 years, well, it is to be expected. However, at this point the issue is what to do with them as far as long term care is concerned. She is unwell now and not able to care for herself or my FIL. The family is split on what to do, and my MIL is fairly disagreeable when it comes to leaving her home. Again, understandable and many children face this same scenario with their parents. The problem is that my marriage is fractured, and right now, I am not able to do much of anything to help. I do try when I can, but the truth is that my time is no longer available. My DH, on the other hand, is bearing the brunt of the care burden, and that causes an extended problem in that if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. Hence, we cannot pay our mortgage because he is not able to work enough to earn the money to cover it.

It is a dicey situation -- how do you care for yourself and then care for aging parents who don't or will not go into assisted living? They clearly need full time care, but they want it from their children and not strangers. My SIL has offered but her parents do not want to move in with them. They do not want to move near her either. It seems that it is a battle of the wills, with my MIL demanding a certain way, and her children trying very hard to negotiate some middle ground. It is difficult, but God knows what is best, and my prayer is for His will to come to pass.

As I ponder all these things, and try and do my best to care for my husband's parents, the thought runs through my head: what about me? For the past 20-some years I have chosen to think of others first. Now, when I have been forced to consider my own plight, and when I have embraced my own identity, I am being asked to consider others first again. If I were solidly married it would be different, but I am not. I may be divorced at some point, I may be single and living on my own. I have to consider me first and then my son -- AND -- still consider my extended family (my parents need help too). How do you do it all? What is the right choice? How do you decide what to do based on logic and reason? How do you avoid making fear-based decisions?

The answer is first and foremost to always put God first. God is able to do everything necessary, and He is more than able to direct the events of my life. Moreover, God is the giver of all wisdom and when logic and reason are needed -- He delivers it "in spades". So I have asked for His logical and rational take on the situation and this is what I believe I am to do (praying that this is correct?)
  1. Know that God is always concerned about the welfare of His children, and that He has a plan for them.
  2. Remember that you (meaning me) are not always the solution He has in mind. Sometimes God intends to use other people to solve a particular problem.
  3. When God does ask you to do something, He will always give you the Grace to do it. Trust Him and know that if He needs you, He will ask you and then walk you through the entire process.
  4. In light of eternity, God is far more interested in building faith in His people than in building things or empires. He cares far more about their spiritual growth than their physical needs. He cares for their physical needs, of course, but often spiritual comes first.

This leaves me wondering how all this fits in the grand scheme of my life. One this is for certain, I know that God has a plan for my life as clearly as He has a plan for my inlaws. He knows their needs, and He knows what they need now and in the future. Worrying about those plans or trying to manipulate or change the situation will not deliver His best. Waiting for Him to change the hearts of individuals and being patient and faithful will prove to demonstrate His will far better than rushing in to solve something you were not meant to resolve ("For fools rush in where angels fear to tread" ~ Alexander Pope from his "Essay on Criticism") I do not want to be a fool here, so it is best to remember that God is the grand master of this orchestra. I am simply a cellist (literally and figuratively), and I am to play my part. I cannot play the part of another instrument, only that which has been written for me. I will play my part, and I will play it well -- unto the Lord and with all my heart. I will not play another part because I am not skilled, not practiced, and not trained to do so.

May God be praised today for this word of testimony. Thank you, Jesus!

Dealing with Pain

I must have turned funny (awkwardly -- not ha ha funny) at work last night because I have a pain in my hip joint whenever I try and walk. I was going down the escalator, a bit too anxiously, and remember skipping off the bottom. I landed and felt that twinge of pain, right here (pointing to the inner most part of the hip joint). Ouch! I felt it tightening up last evening, but it wasn't until the middle of the night that I really felt the ache. Now I am getting pain whenever I step down (yuck!) It is a good thing that I don't work today or tomorrow. I have to work a full shift (10:30-7:00) on Saturday, so two days of low-key activity will be good for me.

I don't like pain, but I live with it constantly. I have chronic neck and back pain, and I never have a day without a headache or stiffness. It is difficult for me to live with, but I do it because I don't have any other choice. Many years ago, I did regular chiropractice care and it helped with the pain management. Since then, though, the cost of visiting the chiropractor has just been out of reach, so I have had to deal with the pain on my own (relaxation technique, rest, Advil, warm soaks, and moderate exercise). It is manageable, but I think now I am at the point where I need to start visiting the Dr. again. My neck is to the point where I really cannot turn it well at all, and the tension has built to the point in my shoulders where I am getting headaches that simply will not go away.

I am hopeful that this new job will provide good benefits for me. I would like to have a package that includes some Chiropractic treatment, at a reduced rate (like a co-pay). I know that the state of our health care is horrible right now, so I will be happy if I can just make enough money to pay the cost out of pocket. I am ready, I need some care, and I want to go soon.

On a related front, I also need to take my cat to the vet. It is neuter time for Ike, and I need to schedule this appointment soon. I also need to take Winston for a checkup. His ear is bothering him, though I cannot see what it might be, he is just always digging at it. It clearly is an issue (no smells or gunk -- so I don't know what it is really), and the Vet needs to check him out.

Lastly, in addition to all of this, I have the issue of my bills mounting up. I have been paying more and more of the utilities each month. My DH has covered the mortgage until this month, and we are late on making that payment (expected tomorrow). I don't like to pay anything late, so this bothers me greatly. I have already paid a portion of Verizon and APS (electrical service), and in months prior, I paid the City and SW Gas. I have also paid for our Cox service (Internet/TV). Now, though, the amount owed is getting much too high and we are only paying a portion every month, not paying it off completely, so the costs remain manageable.

All this in mind, I know that the Lord has a good plan for me. He has promised me a good job -- it is forthcoming. If the Lord wills this job at Phoenix College, so be it. If not, then He will provide some other opportunity for me. It is all a matter of His will and I am trusting in the fact that His will is perfect, it is complete, and it lacks nothing. It is done. Truthfully -- it is done.

Thank you, Jesus, for your marvelous will. Thank you that I can rest and trust in your Security and I can know for certain that everything is in your Hand. There is nothing for me to worry about, nothing for me to fear. Your Love, which is Perfect, casts out all fear, and I can rest completely in your finished Work. You are God alone, and I love you, and I praise you this morning. I will look up and wait for your deliverance. You have promised Good to me and I have received Goodness from You because You are Good. May your Name be praised today and forevermore. God is so Good to me.

October 13, 2010

The Setting Sun

I love it when the sun sets. Here in AZ, we are blessed to have beautiful sunsets and sunrises. I think it has to do with our location near the equator, and the clearness of our skies. The colors are all reds and oranges, and they are always so gorgeous.

Sunsets remind me of the waning time in your life, when you are at the end of a long journey or ready to lay down and rest for the night. This is how I feel right now, as though I have come to the end of a very long journey, and I am ready for a very long rest. God has been working overtime in my life, helping keep me balanced and on a even keel. He has transitioned me from being wholly dependent upon my husband to being wholly dependent upon Him. I am reborn as a women who strives to do Christ's will first, my husband and families second. In fact, I would even say that I endeavor to do whatever the Lord wills -- and then I consider carefully what others will for me. I am in control, but not in control. I no longer attempt to take the reins back from God because He has demonstrated to me His faithfulness and His ability to guide/lead me so well. I don't need to be in control anymore -- God is doing quite well on His own -- thank you very much!

As I begin this new phase of my life, one thing stands out to me, and that is just how much I have changed over the course of 12-18 months. I started this adventure with fear and trepidation. I simply was hanging on for dear life, fearful of everything and everyone. My greatest concern was being taken advantage of and my utmost fear was losing my security (the little I had). Over time, though, and through the Grace of God, I have come to realize that no one can take advantage of me nor will I ever lose my blessed security in Jesus' Name. No, as long as I make Him Lord over my life, then I will always be in His hand and under His care. I am contented, I am satisfied, and I am secure. God be blessed forevermore--Amen!

Right now, I have before me several options and choices. Most of these are already decided, but there are a few that are not "set" yet. Of these, a job, which now I believe is forthcoming, is still undecided. I have received a call from Phoenix College for the job I intereviewed back in September. They were checking out my references and then I was supposed to get a second interview. This has not happened yet, but it simply could be timing or slowness in their response (which is the case most of the time). I am patiently waiting to receive a call to tell me to come in and interview again.

This job would enable me to live quite comfortably here in Phoenix. It would provide enough income to cover my monthly needs, and allow me to begin saving for a second car as well as make all the repairs on my house that are necessary. Moreover, I would be able to provide for my son and not have to rely on any help from my parents or other family members. It provides enough for me so that I can be self-sufficient (under God's provision). This is what I have prayed for now since last fall, and the Lord has provided this opportunity, I believe, as a direct repsonse to that prayer. Now, I must wait for the college to respond to me. But, I can do that -- I am getting really good at waiting for His will and His timing in all things.

Second thing is that I *think* I have finally figured graduate school out. Not only am I more comfortable in my courses at Mercy College, but I *think* I know what I want to study for my PhD. I have been undecided whether or not to study literature or rhetoric. Though I have leaned towards rhetoric now for a while, I hadn't really committed to it. I like literature, but not all the periods of study. I love the Middle Ages and Antiquity, but I didn't want to limit myself to just those types of teaching jobs. So...the other day, the Lord directed me back to ASU (our local school) to look at their English program. They offer a Rhetoric degree that allows you to study two fields instead of just one. I have decided that this is the route I would like to pursue: Rhetoric and Medieval Literature. It works for me, and takes into consideration my interests. This school is doable -- it is close by (within 30 minutes drive), and is affordable (actually less than my schooling through Mercy College). Moreover, it is a highly sought program with excellent placement results. I think it will work well for me.

Third on my list is DJ (my 17yo son), and plans for his college. We have been in limbo now since divorce was talked about and have gone round and round about discussing potential schools. This has caused him great anxiety because I have pulled him left and right while I was deciding on my own college path. Now that I am set on going to ASU this means that we are to remain in Phoenix through my graduation in 2016. DJ can now attend any college and pursue his interests without thinking I might be moving mid-stream.

Last evening, he shared with me some things on his heart, and I am all the more convinced that staying here is a good idea. He has expressed interest in attending our local Christian college, and really feels comfortable with it's size (now about 500 students). I am happy to have him go there -- it is close -- within 10 minutes from home. They do not have the music program he wants to study, but they do have the ministry emphasis he has said he is interested in. I think he needs to decide whether or not he wants to do ministry, and then the decision will be made. Until then, I am trying to give him the best and keep his options open. God seems to have a good handle on this one, and I am letting Him do His thing (which is always best).

Lastly, there has been the issue of my inlaws and their on-going care. My MIL is in the hospital again, and this time we are hopeful that some outcome will be determined. They need full-time care, but my MIL has been unwilling to pursue that option. Her children see it, but we cannot do much about it due to financial issues. We simply cannot support them financially (and I cannot considering that I will be single and self-supporting). However, my SIL has offered to take them in, and I am praying that they will do this now. It is the best, everyone knows it, but there has been hestiation on both parties to actually do it. My prayer is for God to move these hearts and make this come to pass now.

In this twilite of my life, I am coming to terms with many things, many of which I cannot control nor can I predict the outcome. I am accepting of what responsibility falls to me, and what responsibility falls to others. I am also understanding that I must not bow to the pressure by well-intended friends and family members because I have done all that I can over the years, and I simply cannot do more. There comes a time when other people must step in and take over the share of the burden, and not allow one person to bear it all. I have done this too much, and now that I am in a new phase of life, with my own plans and God's leading -- I must do what He says, and not necessarily what others think I should do.

My hope is in Jesus, my prayer is in His sufficiency, and my faith rests securely on Him alone. God is able to solve all these unknowns, to bring them to resolution, and to clarify our way. May God have all the glory now and forevermore -- in Jesus' Name I ask, Amen.

October 11, 2010

Whining

I don't know about you, but whining gets me "right here" (grasping my throat). Yesterday evening, I went out to Fry's to get some soda, and I happened to pick up some extra items (like a frozen pizza for dinner, salad, and other small things). I was in the frozen food section when I passed a mother with her two grade school aged children. The boy must have done something to the girl (as I heard from the next aisle over -- he stepped on her foot), and this sent the girl into a very serious and long-winded whine-session. This girl championed whining, I mean, she was a good as Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ("I WANT IT NOW!) She whined with the best of them, and my ears took the beating until I finally had to escape to the water asile (two more rows over). Gosh, you'd think parents would stop that behavior when their children are small -- this girl was probably 7, and she had some lungs on her.

I am reminded of her whine today, because I just did the same thing here at home (well, to myself really). I am whining a bit today, just being a sod over one of my graduate courses. I like them both, really I do. It is just that one is really, really good (right up my alley), and the other is well -- traditional and old-school English. My professors are good, very interesting, and generally responsive. This one class, though, reminds me of the course I took as an undergrad. It was the same period (though more on the poetry of the Romantic era -- early 19th century-- whereas this one is more late 18th century). That course was taught by the Dean of the English Department, and he was so tough on me. He "dinged" me every second turn. I had to be so careful to cite my references perfectly, and to not go too far a field. At the end of the semester, I was sure I had ruined my perfect 4.0 gpa -- but instead -- he gave me A. I was shocked, but I guess I did OK in the end.

I was whining over this class too, because truthfully, I decided not to pursue English because of that course (well, not true -- there were just a couple that I didn't like -- too stodgy for me). My Chaucer course is fascinating and the teacher is very open to interpretation. He corrects us, but so very gently, and generally likes us to go for it with our thoughts and feelings. I like this approach because that is how I feel too. I know everyone has an opinion, and scholars are the worst when it comes to opinions -- yet, sometimes you connect with a work and it just speaks something to you. Perhaps the author didn't mean it that way, but I think it is crappy to tell a person "wrong interpretation" when clearly they got some deeper meaning and enjoyment from the work itself. Oh well...whine, whine, whine.

Now that I am done with my little whine session, I am ready to start my day. I have a lot of reading to do: The Man of Law Tale (from The Canterbury Tales) and a very long journal article about this Tale and Antifeminism (38 pages worth). It will be interesting, and as an older woman, I tend to understand the writers (many so far) views that Chaucer was an anti-feminist. Most of his contemporaries were too -- it was the High Middle Ages and unfortunately, women were worth less than animals back then. Still the article should give me some good fodder for a short paper (this class requires a paper on every reading). So far, I have written on the journal articles because they are far more accessible to me. I am not a solid English student, and I don't get all the rhyme and meter stuff (I do, but not to the extent that I feel comfortable writing about it). I like to explicate based on my impressions, and journal articles do the same thing. They are in my bailiwick, so to speak (ever wonder what that means -- it means my specialty or area of interest -- I admit that I just looked that up online!)

More stuff on tap today -- piano lesson for DJ, house cleaning, and getting ready for my week. Pretty low-key stuff only.

One thing...I spent the entire night in conversation with the Lord. Do you ever do that? I wasn't really awake, I was sort of in this half-way sleep mode, where I was asleep just not deeply. Something stirred me, and I woke up enough to ask the Lord about it. It might have been some memory or perhaps it was recalling the events of earlier in the day -- I don't really know. I just remember waking up a little bit, and then asking the Lord for His help and understanding. He does that for me, and I think it happens this way because my brain is accessible to Him in this half-way dream like state. He can probed my mind, and I am responsive to Him. I guess I am more unwilling to consider things, well that is not really correct -- I think it is more that I accept things faster in this state than when I am fully conscious.

Anyhoo, the Lord and I had a good conversation about accepting people, and also about learning how to deal with difficult individuals (those boundary busting people who always want to manipulate and control you). I remember asking God how He deals with these kinds of people, and He said He just puts up His hand and tells them to stop. I liked that answer. I thought, "Yes, You are God and I can see You doing that!" In truth, God has done that to me too. Many times, I have tried to whine my way out of something or just thought I could be in control, and God has said to me "No, stop doing that." I then asked Him what I should do, and His response was the same: just tell people to stop doing that kind of thing/behavior. Just put your hand up and say "No." Politely, of course. No anger, no hurt feelings, just a calm "No" does the trick. I will admit that this is true -- if you can do it that way. Most of the time, we are so angry or hurt, and then our words don't have the same emphasis. There is too much baggage attached to them, and the meaning gets mixed. But, if we can be plainspoken like God -- use direct words, simple and focused intent, and gently tell someone to stop, we can effect change (at the least on our end of things). No one but God can change another person, but we can change ourselves, even if that means walking away or distancing ourselves from the person for a time (a grownup time out).

Well, that was the gist of my conversation last night. I don't really remember much more, but I am convinced that following God's lead, and imitating Christ is ALWAYS best, and in doing so, will net you the best chance of a successful outcome.

October 10, 2010

Faith in Action and More

It's Sunday night and I am blogging (as usual). I have been off my blog for a couple weeks, due to stress and some changes to my weekly work schedule. Today, though, I feel as though everything is OK. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I just "feel" like things are good, and like things are going to come to pass a certain way. I am not sure why, and I doubt seriously that it has anything at all to do with me. I am simply feeling like everything is as it should be, and that feeling is worth a million bucks right now.

I have been through the wringer, literally, and finally see hope coming to pass. Our Pastor said something today that really caused me to pause and stop (the biblical word -- Selah -- which means "pause and calmly think about it".) We are starting a new series called Cultivating a Life for God. It will be six weeks long, and the first two weeks are covering the topic of developing a Biblical Perspective. I think I have a Biblical Perspective, but today, I made the connection to a deeper contextual way of thinking about that perspective. In fact, I would say that today, EVERYTHING JUST MADE SENSE TO ME.

Our Pastor said that "God is more concerned with the journey and process of our life than the BIG EVENTS." We are more concerned with the BIG EVENTS, you know, the celebrations in life. We live for the weekend, live for vacation, and live to celebrate anything and everything. We hate the daily grind, the dailiness of our lives, and we do what we can to avoid having to "do the due diligence." I agree with this whole-heartedly, but I didn't really put it all together until this morning. You see, God has been telling me "Carol, all I ask is that you do the work assigned to you." I understood this to mean that I am to DO whatever WORK God brings into my life. And, while this is true because it does mean that too, really God has been saying to me: "Carol, I expect you to do everything the same way, with the same level of intensity, with the same focus, with the same intent. Do it all for My Name and My Glory -- no matter whether you are doing the dishes or working at Macy's. Just do the work, and let Me be Glorified." Yes, Lord, I get that too; I just didn't put it all together in such a nice way or in the same way as our Pastor (who happens to be an excellent communicator).

We tend to focus on the black and white aspects of God's voice -- we like it when He thunders at us: "Go HERE" (said in my best Charleton Heston God-like voice). But, often God simply asks us to do the work, to do the "due diligence" (as Bishop TD Jakes likes to say), and He doesn't make a big deal about it. It makes you wonder if He really cares about the little things. I hear people say that all the time, that God really does care about you doing the dishes. I get that too -- but today -- I also came to realize that God actually cares more about your doing the dishes then He does about some major appointment or life-change. He cares about those events too, so don't get me wrong; but it is in the little things, the miscellanea of our lives that God often speaks to us. I cannot tell you how many times I speak to God in the ordinary time of my life. I speak with Him, and He speaks with me when I am doing the dishes or walking down the street or sitting at the computer. God is all about the process of understanding, the process of change, the process of growth. This is what matters to Him, how we change inside, and how we turn out in the end. He cares far more about our spiritual growth and development than about any event we may experience.

As I ponder this fact, I am convicted of this truth: God loves me right where I am today. I don't have a full-time job (just a part-time job); I am in graduate school (struggling to read Chaucer right now); and my life is still not settled (marriage-wise, husband-wise, and relationship-wise). There is so much that is up in the air, yet in reality, so much has been resolved.
  • I am convinced of His will in my life
  • I have a new identity firmly rooted in Jesus
  • I know where I have been, and I know where I am going (the journey, the process)
  • I am content to be here today, and I know I will be content tomorrow
  • I am actually happy, really happy on the inside and outside
  • My life is GOOD because God is Good and He is part of my life
  • Overall, I have no complaints

So here I am, unsettled and uncertain in so many things; yet utterly convinced of God's Goodness and His Presence in my life today. I am not afraid, I am not upset, and I am not lost or confused. I am totally prepared for today, for tomorrow, and for every day from this point on. I don't know what I will do tomorrow, but I do know that it will be Good (for God is a part of it, and therefore, it is always GOOD).

It is weird, really weird to think about it, but I have to say that the past three years have been joyful (oops -- did I really say that?) Yes, I will say it. I would not change anything that has happened to me over the course of the last year (or longer). The resultant change is a miracle, and the person I am today is a direct consequence of all that strife and stress. I am the better for it, and I am loving the new me. I see such hope, I know hope because Hope is who I trust in (His Name is Jesus). As I place my HOPE in the ONE who offers it to me, I am given precious JOY and an abundance of life-giving Grace. God has done this for me, God has made this change, and I am in awe of Him. I love change, and I love the process of change.

My journey is now complete. This phase of my life is over. I am ready to embrace the next turn, the next path, and the next part of this marvelous process called GRACE.