March 31, 2011

It is a New Day for Me

So much has happened in the last 24 hours, and I am excited about these changes.   I am not certain what prompted them (ok, well, I am -- it was the Lord, of course!), but I am overjoyed with the results.  I am giddy, and I feel so wonderfully blessed today.

First off, I am contented to remain in my current situation and to stay here in Phoenix. I have spent the past year and half seeking to move away, for a myriad of reasons, and I believed so strongly that it was the Lord's will (I still do, but now with a new understanding of that process).  I have come around to realizing that God's word to me regarding His will has been fulfilled.  I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing, and I am in the process of completing these assigned tasks.  The end result will be accomplishing His will, and that will happen over the course of my lifetime.  For now, I know that each course I take at Mercy College, each day I practice cello, and each hour I listen to my foreign language tapes -- I am ticking off "to-do's" on God's Assignment Schedule for my life.  I am to remain focused on what He has asked me to do, and to not get pulled away into worrying about my daily life or the concerns that are all around me.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV) says:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

As Christians who are dependent upon God for His Provision, we are to remember Jesus' words to us -- "Your Heavenly Father knows these things" -- God knows our needs.  Why then must we fret and worry and despair over the dailyness of our lives?  Why can we not trust God to provide for each need as it arises?

It has been couple hours since I first typed this post (saved it, not published), and now I am back home again.  I am still thinking about how God has intervened in my life recently, and how I am so blessed by what He appears to be doing.  I mentioned above that I am content with my situation -- remaining where I am and staying in Phoenix.  Secondly, I am content in my schooling and the options I have for second-tier graduate programs.  Moreover, I now have a firm plan for how to get through the next six years, and I feel confident that this is the correct way to go.  In the past, I felt confident about aspects of the plan, but not the whole plan.  I now feel as though I am right in the middle, right on target, and I am moving down the middle of the road.  I am happy to finally be in this spot, because I had found the sides of the road filled with some bumps and pot holes (figuratively speaking).

I feel like I have this plan sorted out.  I still need to finalize some of the specifics, but generally speaking, I see the road ahead as "doable."  Before, I believed it was doable, but I couldn't imagine actually doing it.  Now, I see it as both -- it is doable and I can do it (with God's Grace).  I think this is the difference between believing something and actually walking in that belief.  I am confident that with God's help, I can do all that He has asked of me.  I am so blessed.

Some issues still unresolved right now include finding work, which has been such a major sore spot for me.  I have some applications out there still (no word back), but I generally have let the search go.  I believe that God will provide some work for me to do, and that work will coorespond to a need (if PT is the need, I am set; if FT is the need, then He will provide).  The other issue is really with my present home.  I am blessed to have had my window repaired, but now I am faced with other more significant concerns.  I cannot sell my home in the condition it is in right now, so staying put means working to make these repairs and then trying to sell it when the economy improves.  Perhaps this will be in a year or so, I am not certain.  I am to remain as I am and stay put in Phoenix (and in my home).  There are a number of homes available to me, and for very good prices (nicely renovated, low monthly payments).  I really would like to move.  I have seen a home not far from me that would be perfect.  It is bigger than my current home and it has a pool.  It is hard to live in Phoenix without a pool, and I am thankful for my parents home, which is near by and has a lovely pool (though they are wanting to downsize, and I will be without a pool in the next couple years).  However, long term, I would like a home with a pool.  Now would be the time to buy since there are so many foreclosures in our area.  I will need a FT job, and the opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home.  Perhaps in time this will be the case.  If not, that is OK.  I need to fix my home anyway, so I will focus on making the changes I can make now.  God knows what these are, and He will provide for them -- of this I am certain.

Lastly, my son seems settled here.  He wanted to move for so long, but now with school and church work, I think he is happy here.  I am glad because I didn't want his life to be ruined because of my problems (marriage and such).  I think God has protected him, and blessed him in music as well as in school.  I know God has a great plan for his life, and I am trusting the Lord to do whatever He chooses to do as far as making that come to pass.

Overall, I have found the secret to contentment.  I have made the conscious decision to forgive those who have hurt me deeply.  In the past, I forgave without much work -- I mean -- if someone asked me to forgive them, I readily did so.  I never was in a situation where I had to forgive someone who didn't ask for it.  I forgave, but I held on, and grudges formed in my heart.  I took offense again and again, wondering why they wouldn't just come clean, ask and be done with it.  It took me a long time to realize that for some people forgiveness will not be the choice they make -- they will not ask to be forgiven.  I can either live with that root of bitterness or I can choose to forgive them completely and allow God to heal my heart on the matter.  This is what I have done and I feel so liberated.  I feel so free, and I am sensing God's pleasure in my attitude and heart.  I know that we are to forgive 7x70 -- which is not difficult when you are dealing with repentence.  It is a much different matter when there is hardness of heart or even a disinterest in seeking restoration.  This is when forgiveness and grace are most effective.  To forgive at this point is the time when God is honored most, and His Name is glorified.  I admit that I haven't been the most willing, and I had to come to terms with that feeling.  God has been patient with me, and now I am experiencing that blessing.  God is so very Good to me.

As I close today, I am confident in three things:
  • God loves me so completely and has a good plan for my life
  • God desires me to be like Jesus, and His Holy Spirit works constantly to bear fruit of this testimony
  • God longs for me to be in like relationships -- with Him and with others -- and He works to bring this kind of life testimony to pass in our lives
The end result is a life that is lived to bring Him Glory, and to help those in need.  It is a life devoted to His Ministry, and to doing what His Word says.  The blessing comes in obedience to the Word of God, and in doing what the Word says to do (not just hearing it).  God loves us, and loves to be with us (Emmanuel -- God with us!)  My prayer today is to remain and to stay right where God has called me to be.  May His Name be glorified and praised forever more!

March 30, 2011

God is so Amazingly GOOD!

I am about to run out the door to pick my son up at college.  He is doing fabulous, and I am so greatful to God for this amazing provision.  Yesterday, DS got his second essay back (195/200 -- A!)  God has provided this super school, great teachers, and a sweet schedule (flexible and so doable considering we have one car only).  My son also is performing with the Adriane Blanco Band, and will be with them when they open for Todd Agnew this May 1st (in Sutter, CA).  God has opened doors for my son to play music professionally, to attend college on full scholarship, and still live at home so he has his Mom around to help with papers and assignments (LOL!)  I am so blessed right now.

Additionally, besides my working at Macy's, God has provided me with student loans to cover not only the cost of tuition for my graduate degree, but also a substantial blessing to live on while I am in school.  This combination along with some family help has made it possible for me to work PT and go to school FT.  God is AWESOME!

Today, I applied for a part-time position with NAU at Glendale Community College.  I was able to apply in person (well, via email, but not through the county website which takes 8-12 weeks to process).  This means that my resume and cover letter were sent directly to the hiring person.  I am praying for this position because it is part-time only, and the hours are super sweet (just days, 10-2).  It would be a perfect fit for me, and the pay is almost double what I am making at Macy's.  The position is as an office assistant, and requires admin/clerical skill.  I have the to boot, so unless they have other candidates or an internal person, I think this might just work for me.  Interviews are not scheduled until 4/15, and the job won't begin until May.  I am so hopeful that this might be God's timing and will.  I cannot explain why I feel so positive about it, but perhaps, just perhaps, God's plan all along was to provide for me so that I could devote my time to my schooling (and not work FT right now).

Moreover, I have made the decision to pursue going to Regent University after graduating from Mercy College.  This is the PhD program of the Lord's choosing, and it was something I initially was excited about.  Later, I got into thinking about teaching English, and went off on that bunny trail for a while.  Now, I realize that Regent has always been God's choice for me, and once I let everything else go, I can see it so clearly.  I am so excited, that I cannot wait to finish up at Mercy.  I love English -- don't get me wrong here -- but God has given me the time to come to my own understanding about studying it at the PhD level.  I am simply not that interested in it to spend four years of research on it.  I am passionate about what God wants for me to do for missions, and Regent is a missions oriented degree.  I love the courses, and I want so much to take them all now!  I think this is God's way of showing me that His way is always PERFECT!

Gotta run now...and later I am at Macy's (until 9 -- filling in for a friend who had to take a personal day off).  God is so GOOD, and I stand in AWE of Him today!  PTL!!

March 28, 2011

Coming to Terms and Letting Go

Yesterday, I took some time to figure things out, and discovered that while I am ready to move on, I still carry some emotional baggage related to my spouse.  I am not sure how to get rid of that baggage, and I don't know if I will ever get to the point where I am really free from these feelings -- but I must try my best to move on.  I think one of the most difficult things to consider is how to leave someone with whom you have shared a life together.  It is one thing to leave an abusive spouse or be left by one; it is another to walk away from a person who is so desparately lost, so completely bent on their own destruction. 

I remember when I started the DivorceCare group at my church.  There was a woman there who had been married for 27 years to an alcholic and drug additicted husband.  She had left him several times before, but she was now finally divorcing him.  In her case, her husband begged her to remain, but she couldn't tolerate his behavior any more.  She wanted to be free, and she didn't want the responsibility for caring for a man who would go on week long binges, wind up in the hospital or worse in the drunk tank.  She was tired, and she was lonely, and she wanted out.

I remember thinking to myself, "Why have you stayed with this man?"  They had no children together, so I was clueless as to why she would continue to want to be with this person.  It was apparent that she loved him, and still did love him.  This man was bent on destruction, and would do nothing to save himself (no rehab, no recovery, no interest in anything other than the bottle or pills).  In her case, clearly her husband had abandoned her for a life of excessive living.  She was in danger of disease, of losing her home and finances, and a whole myriad of other things because of her husband's unwillingness to get help for himself.

In our psychoanalyzing world, we would feel compassion for such a man.  We would attempt diagnose him, to clinically define the reasons for his alcoholism.  Then we would rationalize and justify it, and say "that poor dear soul.  He is so lost to the drink."  Yes, this is what we would do (and still do).  We try so very hard to remove the will from the person, and point to some other person or thing as the culprit.  We don't want to admit that some people choose to do mean and evil things.  Some people choose to live a life of excess.  Some people simply make choices that place their lives and the lives of their families in harms way.

Why do they do it?  Oh, there are so many good reasons (not as in justifyable reasons -- just good sounding reasons); but the very truth of the matter is that they seek to console their soul with something or someone other than the ONE who was purposed to do it.  Every human being from the creation of time onward has been designed to be in relationship with the Creator.  Every human soul longs for this relationship, but sin having made that relationship impossible, has created a separation between man and God.  It is this sin-chasm that keeps man from uniting with His God.  Man in his futile attempts to cross that boundary seeks any way possible to God, but finds there is no path, there is no way.  He turns towards himself and begins to seek his own fulfillment in desires and passions.  Instead of calling out to God and asking "How can I cross this chasm?"  Man chooses to go his own way.  We know that the only way across is through the cross of Jesus Christ.  Man refuses God's redemption, God's solution, God's provision, and goes on his own way.

This is why our world is filled with lost, with lonely, and with desparately hurt people.  This is why people seek everything possible EXCEPT Jesus for their salvation.  The time they extend in seeking hope without God is wasted; and the damage they do to themselves and others is insurmountable.  The damage is done.  The breach is never brooked.  They are lost in their own sinfulness, and are dying without the love of Christ to save them.

As I contemplate this truth, I need to remember that from God's perspective, no one is lost (yet).  Until the day they die, they are able to turn towards Him.  Will they turn?  Will they return (for those who once accepted Christ)?  Only God knows this truth, only He is able to determine the outcome of a person's life.

What then is our role?  How do we deal with people who are bent on going their own way, and who desire no help from God?  The Bible is clear that we are to forgive and love our enemies, but sometimes that seems impossible to do.  It is by Grace, of course, for we cannot do it in our own heart.  Only God can enable us to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgiveable.  Yet, how do we continue to have relationship with people who are destroying themselves?

I think that the answer is simply that we cannot.  While we can choose to love them with God's Grace and Mercy, we cannot expose ourselves to continued harm.  We must step away, we must walk away so that we can place a boundary about us, to keep us from their influence.  The Word speaks of this often, and reminds us that we are not to have fellowship with those who call themselves Christian yet who are harming the Name of Christ.  We must walk away, and we must trust God to do the work, to convict the heart and mind, and hopefully, a brother will be returned to the family.  If they choose not to return, then we are to go on our way.

The Bible is so very clear on this point, yet it is difficult to live that admonition out in our daily lives.  Lives are messy, and relationships are tangled.  It should be easy, it should be black and white, clear cut; but often it is not.  Emotions cause us to remain attached, fixed, and sorry for the person.  We are moved by our pity to remain and keep with us the thought that "perhaps they will change, perhaps they will stop (this time?)"  We choose to live our lives chained to someone who is not going to change any time soon (perhaps they will, perhaps they will not).  We must choose to do the right thing, and when the time comes, that means to walk away.

This is where I am at now.  I am in this place, where I have remained out of pity for someone that I loved (and do love).  I cannot keep feeling sorry for him, pitying him, and then allow my life to go into the dumper when he is not willing to do anything to stop it.  He has made his choice, he has made his decision, and now I must as well.  I must choose to follow the Lord or stay behind and nurse a sick and lonely and lost man.

But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:15 NLT

Dear Lord,
I have waited so long, and I have prayed feverishly for your deliverance from this situation.  I realize now that my Deliverer has already come and taken hold of me.  I am free to go, free to walk away, but I have refused to go because of my love and my pity for David.  I have felt sorry for him, and I have wanted him to change, to stop doing what he is doing, and return to You.  He has not.  He has made his decision and his choice, and now he is living out the fruits of his labors.  Your word tells us that we will know we are Christians by our love, and that the testimony of a life hidden in Christ is the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  The acts of the flesh are testimony as well, and the Christian cannot walk in the flesh if they are born of the Spirit.  I know the truth, I see it before my own eyes, and now I must make my choice.  I have told you that I am willing to go where you send me, to live where you tell me to live, and to do the work you have prepared for me to do.  I am ready now, Lord, I have made my choice as well.  I choose to serve you, Lord.  I choose to follow you, Lord.  I am ready, so be it, thy will be done.  Amen.  Selah (pause and calmly think about that)!

March 27, 2011

Sometimes You Just Know When You are Right

Well, that little feeling I had proved itself to be true.  I laugh a bit at the reality of the situation because it reminds me of my love affair with Magnum PI (ok, I am dating myself here -- but I was newly graduated from high school, and yes, I had a huge crush on Tom Selleck -- didn't every girl back then?)  I never missed an episode of Magnum PI, and I always remember how Tom Selleck would do those little voice overs during the story.  Usually he would say something about "his little voice in his head" telling him that something wasn't quite right.  I always liked the way he would say that and then prove himself right by the end of the show.  His intuition was always smack on, and somehow it made him more relatable to me.

I have that "little voice" too.  The only difference is that my voice happens to be the Holy Spirit, and His intuition is ALWAYS SMACK ON.  I have come to listen and respect that little voice.  The Bible says it this way in 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV:

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 

The Word of the Lord came to Elijah not as a powerful wind nor as an earthquake.  The voice was not heard in the midst of the fire, instead the voice Elijah heard came to him as a gentle whisper.  This gentle whisper has been transliterated as a "still small voice," and we like to think of God speaking to us in that way.  It is difficult to describe, because other than the prophets of the Old Testament, and those who were present with Jesus -- no one has audibly heard God speaking to them.  Yet, somehow, God does speak to His children.  Of course, we hear His voice through the reading of His Word, and the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirits so that we receive understanding.  It is part of the mystery of how God chooses to speak with us, and how we hear His voice in our lives.

Some people believe they actually hear the Lord speaking with them, and whether they do or do not, it is not really for anyone to say.  God chooses how He will speak to us, and just like in the days of old, God chose often to audibly speak with specific individuals for His purpose.  In any event, something happens inside of a believer to enable him or her to hear God speaking -- whether it is a still small voice or a loud clang or a movement of their own spirit -- no one knows.  God does speak to us, and we hear Him in so many ways.

I still like the idea of that small voice gently whispering to me, and I think of God this way.  I rely on that small voice because often that voice is smack on.  I often feel off the mark or just know that something isn't right.  I cannot explain it really other than to say I just "know it."  Most of the time, not all the time, I am right.  Sometimes when I am uncertain about a thing, and I don't know or have proof of it being right or wrong, it is simply because I lack testimony (there is no proof).  I may still be right, but I will never really know for certain.

Yesterday, I started to blog about something personal.  I wrote it out and saved it (not publishing it).  I didn't know if it was true or not, so I thought it was best to just write it out and leave it be.  I prayed over it, the situation I mean, and the Lord said for me to "leave it be, to let Him take care of it."  I did, and in the end, that still small voice proved my inclination to be correct.  I still don't have all the details, but I have enough to know that what I suspected is true, and therefore, my inclination to think a certain way was justified.

It doesn't really matter much anymore, but at the least, I know I am right.  How will this matter eternally?  Well, thankfully, any eternal judgment is not of my hand, so I can let that be.  How will this matter now, in the mean time?  Simply put, it just means that now I can proceed with what I made up my mind to do yesterday, and I can know that I am justified in doing it.

Yesterday, I knew that my husband was leaving for a trip to San Diego.  He told me on Friday after I asked him if he was willing to take our son to a jazz concert at the local college.  He told me then that he was going away for the weekend, and wouldn't be back until Monday.  He said it was for a job interview, and that there was a conference there on Saturday and Sunday.  He left without much word, taking his car along (which he said he wasn't going to do because his friend was taking him to the airport).  I woke up to an empty home, quiet and restful, but with this nagging feeling in the back of my stomach that said things were not as they were supposed to be.

It is no secret that for the last year and half, my marriage has been on the rocks.  After 25 years, I was told that I was not the wife my husband wanted to be with for the next 25 years.  He was in love with someone else, and that someone was the love of his life.  It didn't matter that this person was married, it was just very matter of fact -- she's the one, and you are not.  My life went through the dumper for a long while, but God sustained me.  I made the decision to ask him to move out in January of 2010.  It was my choice based on behavior that was not God-honoring nor appropriate considering the fact that we had a child in the home.  My husband refused to leave, telling me that I had to leave instead.  I couldn't leave then -- I had no job, no car, no income, and no place to go.  I kept to my resolve, and waited paitently until he finally agreed to move out. 

The months and months rolled on by and he never left.  I waited for a job so that I could force him out, but this didn't happen either. We settled into a truce, sort of, and have been in limbo since that time.  I have know that his feelings for this other person never waned, though she was committed to her husband (so she said).  My husband has been saying he is single, advertises it on dating sites, and on FaceBook.  He has not divorced me, just played the game of remaining here and playing the field at the same time.

I had this nagging feeling inside, and I went to his FB page.  I am not a friend, but his wall is available to anyone to read.  I went to the page of his "friend" whose wall is also open to be read, and found out that she was flying to someplace "warmer" for the weekend.  I knew it then, even though I didn't really want to believe it.  I checked back in today, and it was confirmed.  She told friends she was in San Diego.  Now granted this could be a big coincidence, always possible -- but likely?  No, not really.  She is married, and she is in the same city with my husband for the weekend.  Is that odd?  I know, part of me keeps saying -- it is possible Carol.  Yes, but then I have to remember all the years of hidden lies, and well, I guess I am just not that naive anymore.

I told my Mom about my inclination last night.  She was mad, but said she thought I was probably right on too.  I told her that I had decided to move out of my home, and that I would no longer stand to be mocked this way.  It is time, really it is.  My husband may not be having an affair with this woman (physical), but they share a friendship that says it is Ok for a married man and a married woman to spend the weekend together.  That is just not right in my book, and it is not Biblical.

I accept that this is the case, that whether anything happened or not, the fact remains that my husband has no respect for me, no interest in his son, and is taking advantage of my kindness and goodness.  He has spent money that should have gone to the house on this trip.  He has kept money back, refused to help us out, and basically chosen to take what he can from me so long as I am willing to let him do it.  I am not willing any longer, and I pray to God that He will stop this affair now, stop it in it's tracks, and let me go from this marriage.  I am ready to be released, and I am ready to live my own life.

March 26, 2011

Its Time to Move On

Today was a surprizingly good day.  I worked at Macy's, made my sales and Loyalty goal, and generally had a very good day.  Afterwards, I went for pizza at my folk's house.  My son and Mom went to PVCC to see a Jazz concert (my son's Jazz teacher's band performed).  He needed the concert attendence as part of his grade, and it was great that my Mom consented to go.  I had asked my DH to go, but he was unable to do so because he was leaving for San Diego.  Long story short -- everything worked out OK, and my son got to go to the concert, and will earn his honors credit (Thanks Mom!)

After dinner, my son and I came home.  He went to his computer, and I made my usual cup of coffee.  I watched several episodes of "NCIS" on USA while I chilled out in my comfy chair.  There isn't much else to do after a long day at Macy's -- and boy do my feet appreciate the time off.

Tomorrow I am off work (hurray!) so I will be able to attend church at my regular hour.  Later, Mom and I are going to purchase some flowers to plant around her fountain.  It should be a very nice day, warm and sunny, and not too windy (hopefully).  All in all, the weekend seems to be turning out good.

As I think about everything, where I am today, and where I would like to be tomorrow, this thought crosses my mind:  how do I get from here to there, from point A to B (assuming I am at point A)?  I have tried in vain to make this move, to get going, to start the process of moving on, but something has been holding me back.  I thought it was the Lord, that some how He was preventing me from moving on.  I rationalized it, justified it, and even scripturalized it -- trying to put words to the situation so that I would be able to accept the truth.  I wanted to move on or so I said.  I wanted to start a new life.  Yet, every time a new opportunity was offered to me, I refused it for one reason or another.  Clearly, experience tells me that if you consistently do something, more than likely, you will continue to do the same thing out of habit.  I believe now that I didn't move on simply because I didn't want to do so.  I might have thought about it, like the idea of it, and even protested that I wanted to do it -- but when 'push came to shove' as the old saying goes -- I stuck like glue to my fixed position.  I never moved one inch forward.

So here I sit today, still in my same boat, still waiting for someone to come and rescue me.  I have said it before, and I have even blogged about it -- I guess I am waiting for my white knight to ride in and save me.  I am a damsal in distress and I really want that knight to come and make things better for me.  It is every little girl's dream really -- for the shining knight to come to the princess and carry her away.  I never really believed I was like that, but you can certainly see some parallels of it in my life.  I have seen the truth, realized it, recognized it, acknowledged it, and even accepted it.  I got it in my pea brain -- but I didn't do anything with it, I never made one motion to correct it, to establish it, or to abolish it.  I simply stood frozen in time, looking for that hand of rescue, that hand of deliverance.  Of course, I was hoping my deliverer would be the Lord, and I still do hope in Him as my Deliverer.  In truth, He has delivered me (and continues to deliver me).  Why He has not come to rescue me now is a mystery to me.

In so many ways, He has rescued me, has established me, and has enabled me to survive, to learn how to live rightly and appropriately.  He has made my life GOOD.  But, why hasn't He fixed all the problems in my life?  Why hasn't He provided a way out for me?  Well, I think He has -- several times -- I just refused to go, to take the offer, to follow it through to the end.  I stuck to my guns, stood resolute, and refused to go.  He has said as much to me, and I have confessed my unwillingness to go.  In some ways, I think the time that has passed has been ample experience for me, has helped me see just how stubborn I can be, and how resolute I can behave.  While not terrible attributes to have, in my particular case -- I have no one to blame but myself.  I am the one who has chosen to remain in this situation, who has refused to let go, and who has been unwilling to suffer defeat.  I have not wanted to give in, to give up, and to admit failure.  I have stubbornly refused to be beaten.

In one way, I guess I have gotten to that "uncle" point of the game, where I am against the odds, and I am the super underdog.  I don't have the strength or the ability to overcome this on my own, and while I am trusting the Lord for His strength, I have to wonder if this is what I really need right now?  I mean, do I need to continue on with the game or can I just say "game over" and walk away?  I have never considered walking away because I didn't want to be the one who did that -- who walked away.  Yet, I am beat.  I am defeated, and I am tired of playing the game.  What recourse do I have?  The Bible tells us that there are times when it is OK to walk away.  There are legitimate times when as believers we can say "enough" and walk away from people, from situations, and from circumstances that are insurmountable in our own capacity.  Unless God chooses for us to remain, there is no point in remaining because we will do in our own strength.  I think this is my situation precisely.  As long as I am content to remain, I am doing it under my own will power.  The Lord is not in it, and He is not helping me to endure.  If this is His will, then I will have the grace to remain, and the presence to be able to handle it all.

I guess the question I must answer is this:  is this something the Lord desires me to do?  Am I to remain as I am for more time?  Is this something to bring Him glory or is this something simply for me to suffer through due to my own stubborn willfulness?  If the answer is that God has asked me to remain, and it is for His Glory -- then everything is Good and Perfect because He will glorify Himself.  If however the answer is no, then I must let it go and move on.  I must not tarry in a place where the Lord has said not to remain.

Good questions and I think these are ones that must be answered.  The time is right for them to be answered, and in doing so, I will find my resolve, find my source and solution.  I will finally be able to do one or the other:  remain with grace or be empowered to move on.

Dear Lord,

I humbly ask now that you help me to choose your way.  If you call me to remain then it is for your glory, and your grace will enable me to do so.  If I am to move on, then it is with your provision that I go, and I will have peace in the journey and process.  I ask that you clearly direct me now, help me to choose to follow you, and to accept the choice so I can live in peace, be in harmony with your Holy Spirit, and finally feel free to be who you have called me to be.  I ask this in Jesus' Name, trusting in your answer, and knowing that I am ready now to accept it.  Amen, so be it, thy will be done.  Selah!

March 25, 2011

I Get It (Again)

Today, I think I am finally understanding what is happening in my life, and how I am to deal with it.  I know that I blog about my life all the time, but that is the purpose of this blog (I wish it were a general blog, a home school blog, etc. but that is not what it is).  I write out what I am thinking and feeling, and then through the process, come to learn whether I am right on or way off the mark.  Most of the time, I land somewhere in between, somewhere between "I get it" and "I am lost."  It is not such a bad place to be in, really it isn't.  I mean, if I score 50% on a test, well that means I have failed.  But in life, if I get it "right" 50% of the time, then I am doing OK.  So I am doing OK (hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!)

I woke up this morning feeling blue and out of sorts.  I had a screaming headache, and the gardeners were here to spray our weeds/grass.  My DH was gone, so I grumbled out of bed (dis-shelved and looking really, really bad), and proceeded out to the kitchen.  I didn't want to have to try and communicate with Julio -- my Spanglish is not good, especially when I have a massive sinus headache.  I ignored him, and thankfully, he just did what he came to do (spray my weeds/grass).  After a cup of coffee, I was in a better sort, and I waved hello and eeked out an affirmation that next week I would see him again (to spray for the second time).  Man, there is a time when knowing Spanish would be a really good thing -- I wish I had learned it in school!  I digress.

After getting ready and taking my son to school, I came home and slumped in the chair.  I was depressed.  My Mom had called and expressed her concern over my not working FT, and my giving up the search.  She wanted to know if I had heard back on any jobs.  I wasn't in a good mood then, but I tried to be nice when I said that I had gotten ANOTHER REJECTION letter -- impressive skills, but heck no, we don't want to hire you.  It was all I could do to say, "Mom, God will provide" without screaming or crying or falling apart.

The Lord and I had a good chat (which always helps my mood), and I realized a couple things:
  • I process information through experience
  • I make judgments based on that experience
  • I determine outcomes by analyzing the history of the experience
It probably doesn't matter that much really, but to me, it is important to note.  I process information this way, and I am very adept at doing it.  God, however, doesn't always use experience to help us learn from Him.  Sometimes He does, but sometimes He chooses for us to learn from Him in other ways (such as through His Word, through a spiritual encounter or the prompting of the Holy Spirit or through a person, book, movie, etc.)  God uses any number of ways to help us learn what He desires us to learn.  We receive information through our senses, and then process that information using our brains (minds) as well as our souls (the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit and we learn directly from Him).  My problem is that I based almost all my skill in judgment and outcome on my experience.  Some people are "trial and error" people, and I am one of them.  I simply have to "try it out" to see if I like it, or it is good, or I want to buy it.  I am a trial and error person.

My issue with God is that I expect everything to be tested through trial and error.  I approach everything this way, and often I am left befuddled.  Not everything is as it seems, and not everything can be tested with God.  Somethings are simply to be trusted on faith, and there will be no test for them (you just gotta believe Him).

As I try to unwrap how I think, how I determine and how I judge things, I am confronted with this truth.  Often, I am attempting to process God-things using my Carol-logic.  God, prefers that I trust His logic, His way; yet, I prefer to do it my way.  My way is faulty, my way is less than perfect (oh heck, it is awful and flawed).  Why must I have it my way all the time?  Why must I always test everything?

I guess that answer is that I am stubborn, and determined, and willfully minded.  In truth, these are not bad characteristics -- they only get in the way when I won't humble myself before God.  If I let Him use my stubborn refusal to give up on the thing He has purposed -- then I achieve God's will.  It is a good thing.  But, if I refuse to reign that in and let the Lord lead me, well then I end up deep in trouble, and lost in my own selfish desires (may it never be!)

So today I decided to make some decisions that are for my good.  I prayed over them, and I think I am on the right track.  These are important decisions for me, and while they don't immediately change my outcome, they do put me on the right track to seeing those outcomes come to pass.
  • First, I determined that my life as it is right now is of my own choosing.  I have determined to remain in my home, to remain married to my husband, and to live together as friends (brother and sister).  I chose this path because I was unwilling to consider divorce, and I didn't want to bear the shame of being a divorced woman.
  • Secondly, despite the overwhelming evidence that my husband has chosen to live a life without me and his son, I still remain here -- waiting faithfully for him to return.  He has given no assurance, no interest or no word saying that he would return.  He remains here simply because he has no other place to go.
  • Thirdly, I chose to remain in this situation out of my need for security.  I have said that I trust the Lord as my provider and my security, yet I have been afraid to live on my own.  I was willing to live in a very unsatisfactory situation just to be "safe."
  • Lastly, I realize that over the course of the past two years, God has provided everything for me, and He has sufficiently met all my needs.  My husband provides $400 on average to cover our expenses.  I provide the bulk, and I have relied on this small amount out of fear.  The truth is that God can certainly provide an extra $400 for me if He wanted to do so.  I have enough money to pay for all my bills, all my needs, and even all my desires.  God has richly blessed me and provided me with every need.
So why have I continued to remain in this awful situation, taking less than what God wants for me, simply to save face?  Yes, that is a big part of it.  Moreso, there is the issue with believing that some how I deserve this treatment, and that somehow it is Biblically right for me to suffer this way.  I know, faulty thinking.  So with all that said, I have made the decision that I would rather live alone and rely solely on the Lord, than to live in this relationship with someone who really doesn't want to remain with me.  At some point, you have to let people go.  You have to let them go the direction they are going, and not hold on to them.  It is like wearing a dead bird around your neck -- it gets pretty stinky the longer you wear it.  You have to let it go, let it be buried, and let your own life be renewed.  I am ready to live my life.  I am ready to depend on the Lord, and I am ready to go where He tells me to go.

I think the hardest thing for me has been letting go of what I wanted.  I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn't walk away from my marriage, but my husband did.  In the Bible when men chose to divorce their wives, they issued a writ that released them back to their fathers.  In my case, I have been given a verbal writ -- not in writing -- but in words.  I have been told that I am no longer the wife of his choosing.  I have been told that this has been the case for many years.  I see him looking at other women on the Internet, saving their pictures and profiles.  He is looking for a new wife, all the while, his old wife is here in his home.  This is not right, it is not good, and it shouldn't be -- but it is what is happening in my home.  I can no longer look aside, and I have to use my process of experience to pass judgment.  If a man consistently behaves a certain way, then clearly his heart is directing his behavior (Proverbs 23:7).

My experience tells me that consistent behavior can be counted on.  Someone who repeatedly acts a certain way has no intention of behaving differently.  Consistency can be a good thing or a bad thing -- it just depends on the THING one thinks, acts or does.

My life is such that inside, all that is inside -- is so very GOOD.  God has blessed me with this peace, this understanding of His will, and this good feeling that tells me -- you are OK.  My outside life has issues, major issues, and I struggle to understand what and why things are the way the are.  Yet, inside I am at peace, and inside I know that God's hand is on my life.  My words need to match my actions now -- I need to do the thing I say I believe.  I say I trust God to provide, so my words now must support my actions.  I am trusting God for my safety and my provision.  I have no one else on my side so I can only rely on Him.  He is my God, and I am His servant.  I trust Him.  I know Him, and I know that He knows me well.  We are OK.  We are Good.  God is everything, and I am nothing -- yet in His Grace, I experience the blessed Goodness of His Hand.  I love Him with all my heart, all  my mind, all my soul, and now all my strength. 

To God be the Glory forever and ever -- Amen.

March 23, 2011

Feeling Good Again

I just finished watching, "Remember the Titans."  I forgot what a great movie that was, and how good Denzel Washington was in it.  I had seen it when it first came out, and remembered some parts of it -- but not well enough.  Tonight though I shed a few more tears as I watched this story of black/white, good/bad, etc. play out on the small screen.  It is funny how a movie can do that to you, how it can make you think about your life, and remember what is good about it.

I am sitting here now typing a quick blog post before I go in and lay down.  I am having a hot-flash of sorts, so I don't feel that well (even though the title of this post says that I am feeling good again).  Oh well, hormones and such -- can't live with them, can't live without them.

I was thinking about my life and how good it is right now.  Earlier today, I was over at my Mom's house, and she was expressing her concern over my recent decision to stop looking for FT work.  I know my parents love me, and they worry about me (how I will make out, etc.)  I was trying to be hopeful, and optimistic about what I am doing, but my Mom just worries (you know, it's a Mom-thing).

My life is good right now.  There is really nothing more I can say about it other than it is GOOD.  I may not have a full-time job, and I may not have any security what-so-ever, but I do have one thing, and that THING is called G-O-D!  My God is bigger than all my needs.  My God is more than able to provide for all my needs, and my God is well aware of those needs, and already has plans in place to supply all my needs.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  ~Phillipians 4:19 NLT

When I choose to worry, to fret, and to fear, then I forget to rely on God and His Rich Supply.  When I choose to have faith, to rest and to trust in Him, then I am able to have peace in my life.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT

This peace is characterised by the word, Shalom (or salom) which in Hebrew can mean several different things (all related broadly to the concept of peace).  Generally speaking, Shalom is a sense of well-being, of being whole, of being complete.  It is also signified by a cessation of hostilities, and by a covenantal relationship with God.  Shalom is a broad greeting, a general overarching sense of wellness.

I have this kind of peace in my life.  While the external aspects of my life are not always without trial, my internal being is well, is good, is content.  This is the peace that Paul writes about in Phillipians 4:7 NLT:  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This is the kind of peace that enables the Christian to live well, to be prosperous and successful in all areas of life, and to be well (inside and out).  It is God's peace, God's blessing of wellness on the lives of His Children.

I am at peace, and I am content.  I feel good about my life, where I am going, and how I am to get there.  Although I don't have all the details worked out, and I don't necessarily have the process drilled down to a list of numbers, I do have this overarching 'sense' of wellness, of goodness, of God's hand and blessing.  I "feel good" like the old James Brown song says:

Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now

I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you

God has made my life "so good" and I feel His blessing all around me.  I am happy (a state of mental well-being), I am content (joy not dependent on circumstances), I am good (a state of feeling good).  God has brought all this to pass in my life, and I am blessed, thoroughly blessed by His Marvelous Hand.  As I reflect on His gifts to me, I am able to say that I lack nothing, I have everything I need, and I am able to do all things He asks of me (in part due to His Blessed Grace).

I am in awe of Him, and I trust Him to take care of me today, tomorrow, and every day until I am with Him forever in eternity.  God is so very Good to me.

March 21, 2011

Spring Break is Here!

Well, I made it to Spring Break 2011, and I am so blessed.  My professors emailed in saying that there would be no reading due this week, and that we could actually use the extra week to catch up on last week's assignments (yes!)  I am good on my readings, but I plan on forging ahead and doing my research so that I won't be so overwhelmed during the last 3-4 weeks of the semester.  God is so very Good to me.

March 20, 2011

Can It Really Be This Easy?

This is just a very short post today since I have to take my son over to church for worship practice (and I am working at Macy's -- all day!)  I had blogged earlier and wrote out my grievances to the Lord, how Macy's is impossible for me to do any more, and how desparate I am for His deliverance from this kind of work.

As I prayed over my words, and later confessed my inability to remain in control on any level, clarity came to me, and I understood just what Macy's represented in my life.  Yes, this was something the Lord allowed me to do, but it was never His will for me (as in to prepare me for His work).   Macy's taught me how to be a worker again, how to smile even when I didn't feel like it, and how to be discipline when the work is very, very hard.  I needed those lessons, and now that I have been there almost nine months, I think I am well-prepared to do the work the Lord has in mind for me.

I am in the middle of trying to find "that work."  I know the actual ministry work, but it is a ways off yet, so until then, I am to do "work" of another kind.  I am to do a JOB that will provide and prepare me (train) so that when the time comes for the Lord's opportunity to open, I will be ready.  I understand this, and I know what I must do (theoretically) until that time.  The problem has been finding that "work."  I have looked, and looked, and looked.  I have interviewed as well, but nothing has come to pass.  In all of this time, I have been looking for a JOB that would provide for me.  The Lord is my Provider, and therefore, I was looking to the JOB to do what only God can do for me.  Yes, I believed it was the Lord's provision, but in my heart, I considered the JOB as the savior and not the Lord.  I confessed that error a few weeks back, so coming to terms with Macy's was the last step in the process.  I had to let go of any notion that a JOB (whether Macy's or some other place) would ever provide for me.  No JOB will suffice because the Lord is Providing.  Therefore, what He Provides to me, is His choice.  I understand this now, and I get how important it is to wait for His choice.

Now that I understand where the blessing lays and how I am to live under His banner, I can rest in that knowledge.  I know the plans the Lord has for me, and they are good.  I know that what I am doing within those plans is good (and I am experiencing that goodness daily).  Now, I need the rest of His plan to come to pass, then everything will be good.  I need to let go of everything that is not good, that is not of His will nor His choice (errors, choices that I made on my own -- even ones that I thought "must be of the Lord.")  I can only do that which is of the Lord, and everything else must go.

Lord, take it all today.  Take away all the dross, and leave only that which is good in my life.  You know your plans, and you have made your choice in many areas of my life.  I submit to your authority, to your decision, and to your provision.  In Jesus' Name, I let all this dross go.  I let it go in favor of receiving that precious item which can only come from your hand.  Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

March 18, 2011

Back to Basics

After my earlier post, I got myself ready to head out to Walmart and Petsmart.  My boys were not happy about the food they were eating, and I had promised them their favorite choice last evening (I awoke to unhappy campers sitting near my face -- boy cats sure do remember your promises, eh?)  They seem happy now that their tummies have the food they like (I guess I have spoiled them...oh well!)

My trip to Walmart yeilded a very nice fitting pair of jeans (like I need another pair?)  I have struggled to find good fitting jeans, and had been happy with Levi's 515s.  However, the stores near me stopped carrying them.  I found two pairs on sale at Sears, and bought them two weeks ago.  They fit OK, but not as good as my older pair.  I was struggling today, which I am sure is more monthly bloat than anything else, and was grumbling about the way my jeans fit me.  I happened through Walmart looking for Lee Riders Black Jeans (which I like to wear to Macy's).  Instead, I found a pair of light blue jeans (faded) that were exactly the same style.  I tried them on, and boy do they fit well.  So comfortable, yet still chic looking.  They were $16 bucks I think (a fair price when paired against those $31 Levis).  I am happy now, well at the least, my backside seems happier in looser/stretchier jeans.

As I walked through Walmart, I prayed to the Lord.  I am in this awful pickle, and I am not a happy camper.  Me and my boys -- we are both out of sorts.  I have tried, and tried, and tried to figure out what I could have done, and why I am feeling like the world is sitting on my shoulders right now.  It is as if everything just came screeching to a halt, and then BAM the world caved in on me.  I feel lost, helpless, and overwhelmed.

As I prayed, the thoughts worked through my brain:  "What have I done? and Why is this happening to me now?"  It didn't take me long to realize my error, and then acknowledge it before the Lord.  Really, I started to feel this way last Monday.  Prior to that, except for having such an awful interview on Thursday, I was good with the outcome, and the plan for my life.  I was content to focus on my school, keep on with cello, stay at Macy's, and just WAIT for the Lord to deliver me from this place.  Then after work on Monday evening, I said something that I now regret.  I remember it clearly...I said, "Lord, I am ready to let go of needing to know everything.  I am ready to rest in your care, trust your provision, and let things be."  I meant it sincerely, and as soon as those words came out of my mouth, it was as if the world shut in on me.  I felt this overwhelming sensation of drowning, of being let go, lost and afloat on some massive sea.  I have struggled to figure it out all week, and finally it dawned on me that this was my error.

Though my words were meant to confess reliance on the Lord, I chose to say that I didn't NEED to know what the Lord had in mind for me.  It was like, "Ok, I don't want to know anymore" rather than "Lord, I trust you that you have this under control."  I cannot really explain other than to say that I chose to disregard something very important to the Lord, and that is knowledge.  I have been given the gift of knowledge as a spiritual discipline.  Now, in no way do I want to give that gift up, but in essence, that is what I was saying.  I was telling the Lord that I didn't want it anymore, that I didn't want the burden that goes along with it.  Not true, I shouted, not true at all.  Yet, in many ways, I was choosing to try and navigate this life without the blessing of knowledge.  Knowledge in the Bible is not always "knowing" what to do, but rather it is the ability to research and study and remember various information regarding different subjects or points of interest.  It is the ability to read and study the Word of God, and to glean insight from it.  It is a special gifting of the Holy Spirit, and it is critical to the health of the body of Christ.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:8 NIV)

Mark Driscoll says this about people with the gift of knowledge: "These people love to study, love to learn, and are not content with a surface-level knowledge of topics. They are compelled to conduct thorough research and compile their findings so that others can benefit from their long hours of focused study. People with this spiritual gift love God with all their mind (Mark 12:29-30). And these people tend to like footnotes."

I didn't realize what I was doing, how my words which were meant as a confession of faith in God, actually were a condemnation of the very gifting of His Precious Holy Spirit.  It is difficult to be filled with knowledge.  I know things that other people do not.  Sometimes this is Biblical understanding, and sometimes it is practical knowledge.  Sometimes it is the ability to understand very difficult and complex theories.  Sometimes it is just a knowledge that something good is going to happen in the life of a believer.  Sometimes I know that God is going to bless someone, and sometimes I also know that this same person is struggling with sin or with a deep secret that must be delivered to Jesus alone.  I don't understand it, and I don't always get why I know what I know.  I struggle when what I know doesn't line up with wisdom or when I interpret things incorrectly (which I sometimes do).  I hate that I make mistakes, and often impugn my Lord's integrity (for my lack of understanding and wisdom).  I hate it when I do dumb things, because I should know better, and I hate most of all displeasing my Lord.

The more I grasped the severity of my actions, the more awestruck I was in my situation.  I am often the "last to know" anything.  I mean it, really it is true.  I am not the most perceptive person, and even in my studies, I will tell my professors that I am slow-witted, dull, and not always keenly aware of what is going on.  I tend to focus on my work, and when I do, I don't do anything else.  I then write my answers or my interpretation out, and often say "ugh, this makes no sense at all."  Someone else reads it and says that they understood, and how it helped them understand something difficult.  I think, "you've gotta be crazy because that was just gobbly-gook to me!"

God has given me these study gifts so that I can do my schooling and graduate and then pursue the work He has prepared me to do.  I know this now.  I have been made this way from birth, and it is so that I can do this one thing for God.  I embrace it, even when I don't understand it.  I accept it, and I cherish it.  I know that I cannot do what God wants me to do without this gift.  There is no way I could ever attempt it without the gift of His Holy Spirit.


I humbly confess to you that I didn't understand what I was saying or why I said it.  I thought I was confessing my faith in your provision, when in reality I was saying I didn't want this gift.  I am so sorry for saying those things to you because I know I cannot do anything you ask of me without them.  I am helpless, hopeless, and utterly lost without your blessed gifts.  Please forgive me today, and I do promise you that I will never say that I want to live without knowing again.  I confess this now in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thinking Heavenward

I survived another grueling day at Macy's.  I am not sure how many more shifts like this one I can work!  The department was understaffed during the day, and when I arrived at 6:15 p.m. to close, I was left with 5-racks of clothing needing to be put back on the floor. The problem -- there were NO RACKS available for us to use, so we had to sort, put away, and then move clothes from one rack to another, just to make any headway.  By the end of the night, my back and thighs ached from all the lifting of clothing.  I made my goal (hurrah!), but I felt miserable when I got home.  I had planned on finishing my school work for the week, but managed only to eek out one essay.  I have to write two more plus a paper (short) today.

After I got home, I called my Mom to check in on her.  She told me that she had fallen the day before, and was worried she had hurt her shoulder.  She tripped going into their bedroom, and laid on the floor for a while before she was able to get up.  My Dad apparently didn't hear her call for help (not surprizing as he is usually on the other side of the house).  Mom was OK, bruised and bumped but no broken bones.  She was more scared than anything else, and I think worried mostly that my Dad couldn't hear her call to him.

My parents are both aging, and while my Dad suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome, and is by far the worse in actual physical limitation; my Mom is having some health issues as well.  They had planned on staying in their home for five more years, but now the economy has put the kabash on that plan.  Home prices have dropped and my parents are not in a good position to sell their home.

Mom mentioned 'casually' to me yesterday, that she and Dad talked about having me and my son move in with them to help them make their house payment.  My first reaction was, "Oh no, I don't think we would fit."  Mom even conceded that my cats were welcome, which is a huge concession on her part.  I think she is concerned about taking care of my Dad, and about having someone there at night should he fall.  Plus she has said several times that Dad can no longer take the garbage out to the street (nor can she -- it is too hard to pull it out).  My son normally does this, but we have been rather hit or miss about doing it for them.

I woke up today thinking, "Oh, Lord -- tell me that this IS NOT your plan for us?"  My parents home is lovely, just lovely.  It is finely decorated, and they have an awesome pool in the backyard.  I love visiting with them, and we are often there during the week for dinner.  There is nothing about their home that I don't like, kwim?  It just is THEIR home, and they are comfortable in it.  It is about 1900 SQFT, but only has three bedrooms.  My Mom has the spare/guest room nicely furnished, and my Dad has the smaller room for his computer and Ham radio equipment.  There really is NO ROOM for us to move in.

Plus with the cats, come all my son's music gear (now 2 electric guitars, 1 bass, 1 acoustic, 2 pianos, and 2 very large amplifiers).  Add in my cello, and then my books (several bookshelves full), and you can see that we simply have too much STUFF to take with us.  We would, of course, reduce our things, but music and cats and books are MUSTS.  I don't have to take all my books, but I have a substantial set for graduate school.  DJ has his books for college too, and then there are the computers (2 desktops and his laptop).  I could trade my desktop in for a laptop, and he can get by with his laptop as well.  We could manage it, but I would have to sleep on the pull out sofa, and then my son would get the guest room (why not reversed -- well, I am neat and he is not!)

I wasn't too agreeable about doing this, and it is not as if I have to do it today, mind you.  I simply had hoped that we would either remain in our home or move to a nice rental home (with a lot more space!)  The thought of moving in with my parents raises all sorts of logistical questions for us like how can my son practice guitar or listen to his music at 11:00 at night?  Yes, he will have to modify his schedule, and he would do that for his grandparents (he loves them dearly), but still it is hard to imagine us living with them.

On the upside, there are advantages of course.  First of all, we would be helping my parents out with their house payment, and that would probably mean that I would be able to save half of whatever I make each month.  If I continue to work part-time and go to school full-time, it would make it easier on me financially to save my money.  Secondly, it would allow me to go to school full-time since I wouldn't have to worry about working 40 hours a week and paying $2-3K in monthly expenses.  Third, it solves the transportation issue to church (my parents live across the street from our church) and to school (they would be able to help get my son to school -- which they do now -- but with more ease).  And lastly, it would resolve the issue with my DH as far as where he would live, and how he would make it on his own.

In some ways (as outlined above), the plan actually makes good sense.  In other ways, it scares me greatly.  I don't want to lose my independence, and moving in with my parents does that to me.  I also like my freedom and I like to be alone.  I would have neither living with my folks.  I love my folks, and I love spending time with them, but I don't know if I want to be with them 100% of the time (and I am sure they feel the same way about us -- it goes both ways -- even in loving families!)  My heart is torn because while I want to help my parents (and I do as I can), I am not sure I am ready to resume a full-time caregiver position right now.  I felt this way with my husband's parents, and the strain on our relationship was detrimental to my health.  I don't think it will be this way with my parents, but the added strain of caring for them and going to graduate school, well, I am not sure I can handle it.  I guess if you compare it to working at Macy's, then really it would be the preferred choice.  Living with my parents would be a heck of a lot easier than working PT at Macy's.

My issue is three-fold:  1) How can I do this, how can I give up my own home to move in with my parents?  2)  How can I maintain my independence and continue to strive for the Lord's will in my life? 3)  Will this be beneficial for all of us or is this just one solution to the problem at hand?

Living with my parents is probably the most difficult decision I could make right now.  If I were in the drivers seat, and if I owned a home big enough to accomodate them, then I would have no issue having them move in with me.  It is different when they are in control, and I am moving in with them, kwim?  I worry about becoming "Daughter Carol" instead of "Woman Carol."  I have worked so hard, and come so far to be able to be my own person -- I don't want to lose that now.  I know that this solution would benefit both of us.  My parents would get the help they need, and I would be able to work PT and go to school.  That by itself is reason enough, but my mind doesn't want to give up control just yet.  Is there another way?

It doesn't help that Biblically speaking, taking care of one's parents is part of the "honoring thy father and mother" commandment.  I cannot financially provide for them, so living with them to help them out is one way of keeping that command.  Whether they live with me or I live with them, it is part-and-parcel with honoring them.  That little Biblical ditty keeps running through my head, and that is where I falter most.  I have said to the Lord that I wanted to remain in Phoenix to be near my parents and to help care for them.  Yet, in truth, I wanted to be near them and help care for them -- AT A DISTANCE.  I wanted to appear to be a good daughter (and I am playing Devil's advocate here -- I actually am a good daughter to them) without having to sacrifice everything to do it.  Perhaps the Lord is asking me to sacrifice everything to demonstrate my willingness to do His will?  Perhaps this is so, I don't know.

So what does this mean for me?  I think it really means that right now my life is in flux, and I don't know why.  I had everything thought out, planned out, and I was following what I thought was THE PLAN OF GOD.  All of a sudden, everything changes, and I mean everything.  First off, my son comes home to tell me that our Worship Pastor has asked him to become part of his private band (and go on tour).  Secondly, at school, my son is being asked to work on the newspaper, and has the opportunity to become more involved there in extra-curricular activities.  Thirdly, he has now decided on studying music performance, and that opens an entire can of worms for me (do we continue private lessons or do we take them at college?)  Fourthly, I am being turned down left and right for FT work.  I cannot find any good work in Phoenix.  Lastly, my schooling seems to be going well, and my professors are telling me that my work is good, very good (which is important for upper level graduate study).

I had planned out my life this way:  I would find FT work.  I would be hired.  I would work in this job and make good money.  As soon as I had enough set aside, I would move to a rental home or perhaps purchase a foreclosed home.  I would by my son a car so he could get to school this fall.  I would buy all the miscellaneous items we talked about having (a new TV, a laptop for me, a new cello, a new acoustic-electric guitar for him, etc.)  I would save money, and pay my parents back for braces, the water heater, the dryer, etc.  I would rebuild my credit so I could purchase a home (if not now, then later), a second car, and be established to go where the Lord would send me.  I felt that all this was doable, possible, and would come to pass.

Now, this is what I see:  I will not work FT anytime soon.  I will work PT, writing in some capacity from home.  I will make some money, not a lot, and continue to struggle to pay for everything I need.  I will move into my parents home, and sell my current home (after the repairs are made, which now are in process).  I will not buy a second car because one is not necessary.  I will get a laptop, and perhaps a new cello (down the road), but I will not get anything else lest the Lord provides.  I will go to school full-time, and I will depend on a scholarship/fellowship to do so. I will help my parents by living in their home, and being of assistance to them.  My son will go to the community college, go on tour with our Pastor, and continue to do the Lord's will as far as music is concerned.  My credit will be rebuilt, as it is is now, but I will not purchase a home or anything major for a long while.  I will save some of my money each month, though not much, but I will have money in my account to cover miscellaneous expenses.

The main difference is this:  I will be established, but not in the way I envisioned.  I will go to school and I will work as I can.  My parents will provide the bulk of the support, which we will use, but not take advantage of (as in cable/internet, etc.)  I will give as much to them as I can financially, and then provide physically for them (doing the housework, helping my Mom and Dad with the chores they cannot do).  In return, I will have a place to live, and I will be able to focus on my studies without worrying about having to do everything myself.

It is a weird way for God to provide for me.  It is not anything I can do myself -- it is all being done around me by other people.  It is the same as when Julio came with that darn window.  I had no choice but to let him put it in my home.  God has decided how things will be done, and I am being pushed aside as not being part of the decision making process.  Yes, I said this was OK.  Yes, I actually agreed to it.  But, I didn't think He would take me at my word?  Oh drats!  This is exactly what the Lord has done, is it not?  I said I was willing to let go of the need to know, to be in control, and I will willing to go where he sent me, and LIVE WHERE HE TOLD ME TO LIVE.  Yes, yes, yes -- how many times have I agreed to this when He has asked me if I would do it?  Too many, too many times I have said Yes.  I guess the old "rubber meets the road" has hit me square in the face.  I am either to do what I say or I am a stubborn and lying fool.  I meant every word I said to the Lord, but often I say I will do something without really thinking it through carefully enough.  He asks me to "consider" His words, and I rush in and say "Yes, Lord."  I don't always consider them, really meditate on them, think about them, and understand them BEFORE I AGREE.  He knows that I do this all the time, and perhaps this is simply a visual and real way for me to get the point:  if you say you are willing to do something, you better pony up and be willing to do it!  Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

March 17, 2011

Feeling Better, Part Two

After a rocky morning, I am finally starting to feel better.  I made it to the shower, got myself dressed, and out the door to run my errands before 10 a.m.  Our workers showed up today, and did our grass again.  They are coming back to spray the crabgrass, so hopefully we will have ROCK and not grass and rock in our front yard.

I made it over to Guitar Center in Glendale, and was able to pick up the Line 6 power supply my son needed for his Line 6 POD (on loan from church).  He was thrilled of course and now has another new toy to play with and learn how to use.

I finished my morning with a trip to the bank, and then a stop at Subway for sandwiches (which I have engulfed).  Now I am stuffed, though still feeding Cheetos into my mouth, and will be retiring to the chair to read the rest of my school books before work tonight.

I am stressed more than usual, and I asked the Lord, "why?"  I really haven't been stressed like this for perhaps a year or more.  Today, I have that rush inside of me, and that sense of dread.  I don't like it, and I know it is fear based worry about my future.  I think the gauntlet has fallen and I finally understand what it means to rely on the Lord 100% and trust Him as my Provider.  It is not that I haven't done both in the past, or that I haven't been consistent in doing so; rather it is that I finally understand that there are NO JOBS for me here in Phoenix, and that I must now wait solely upon the Lord for His Mercy and Provision.

Let me explain.  Last year, when I started seeking work (well, back up to December 2009), I felt confident that with my IT skills and abilities, I could find a good paying job in 2-3 months time.  As far as good paying, I was looking for something that would pay me about $3k per month.  I felt that this was a fair amount, and that I could easily be hired to do such work.  I applied to many jobs, each time thinking, "I can do this job easily;" but no word came back, no offers for interviews, no nothing.  I kept the faith, told everyone "the Lord will provide a job for me very soon."  Well, the months dragged on and on, and no jobs.  In August, I had three interviews, right in a row.  They all were awkward, hard on me, and very uncomfortable.  I wasn't happy about the outcome, and I began to feel doubt that I was qualified to do any work.  After all, I have been working from home, and I have been a Mom and a teacher (home school).  No one would take me seriously and even consider my other skills because it had been far too long since I worked for anyone else.

I ended up taking part-time work at Macy's, and found that retail was a killer on my back and legs.  I suffered through the fall and Christmas season, and ended up in January thinking that I was totally unemployable.  On a whim, I applied for a position in a software company, and my new resume seemed to get me a bite.  I went for a long series of interviews only to find that I didn't want to work for the company (major internal struggles).  They sent me the courtesy rejection notice, and then I was back to square one.  All in all, I probably have applied to 200 jobs since December 2009.  I have had four interviews in almost one and half years.  I have tried for entry level positions, middle management, and more skills IT roles.  Nothing has produced a winner, and I am left with the feeling that I am once again too old, and have outmoded skills.

Besides feeling depressed at being rejected so many times, I am suffering with the pressure to find work from family and well-meaning friends.  Everyone asks, "so how goes the job hunt?"  I don't even like to give an update because frankly I don't care anymore.  I don't want to apply, I don't want to interview, and I don't want to work anymore.  When you couple these feelings with my reality -- well -- you can see the issue.  I have to work, yet I cannot find work to do.  The pressure from family and friends is not even equal to the pressure I feel inside.  I see the monthly bills, I know the amount of money needed to pay them, and I worry where it will come from.  I have my "Mercy Money," as I like to call it (my financial aid), and without that loan, I truly do not know where we would be.  Mercy College has not only enabled me to study to get my Masters degree, but also approved me for student loans which form the basis of the money I live on month-to-month.

I also struggle with the truth about the job market here in Phoenix.  The Lord gave me options of moving to other states for work and school.  I chose to remain in Phoenix because I didn't want to leave my parents.  I didn't think I had it in me to move away from them, leave my home, and start over.  That kind of move required greater faith than I had, and I caved into fear, choosing to remain here instead.  The Lord said to me that there would be no work in Phoenix, no job that would come to pass, and that it would be harder for me to remain here.  He promised me His provision, and that I would be OK, but He clearly said there would be no job for me.  I was so conflicted about moving, about uprooting my son, about trying to figure out school for him, and how we would live.  I didn't want to go, and I said so (yes, I actually did say it to the Lord, several times).

It has been many months since I was told to go elsewhere for work, and I didn't go.  I asked permission to remain, so don't get me wrong here -- the Lord said I could remain here.  I just didn't believe that what He was telling me was the truth.  I really thought He meant that there would be NO CAREER JOB and not that there would be NO JOB at all.  Moreover, the Lord told me that if I remained here, I would eek out a living, having enough to survive, but I wouldn't have what I needed to live properly.  I said, "OK, I understand and I am willing to do it."  Well, was that the honest truth -- yes and no.  I was willing, I really was -- until the hard rub of it came to me, and then I was like "Oh, this is not good, this is not good at all."

God doesn't lie, and He doesn't mince His words. He tells the truth always, and He is always fair.  I asked to remain here in Phoenix, and I didn't take Him at His word.  I believed what He was saying, but I thought that somehow He really didn't mean it.  I thought He would provide something different, and not exactly what He said it would be.

Now I am stuck here in Phoenix, at the least, for a time.  I don't know what will be, but I know that I got my way, and my way was exactly what the Lord said it would be:  hard.  I am tired of hardship, and I am tired of living this way.  I complain about it all the time, yet it was what I wanted.  Why did I not trust Him to lead me where He wanted me to go in the first place?  Why did I not believe that His way would be blessed?

Lord, I am ashamed to admit it but this way, the way I have chosen is hard, is difficult, and is not what I thought it would be.  I turned down your offer for a better life so that I could remain close to my family.  I believed it would somehow be different than what you told me, but I was only hoping you were not telling me the truth, when you were.  I am so sorry now, sorry for not following you when you told me to go those many months ago.  I am stuck now, stuck living here, and eeking out a living while I finish graduate school.  You have promised such good to me, yet I consistently reject your hand of provision in favor of my own way.  I don't want to do this anymore, but I am afraid and stressed to think that it is too late for me to go.  Is it too late?  Have I missed the opportunity to go someplace where there is good work available?  Is there any hope of release?  I ask now in Jesus' Name and I open my heart and mind to doing your will, to completely resting and trusting your will.  Please Lord, help me today, to know what I can do, and what I must do.  In Your Name I ask this now, Amen.

Feeling Better, Not Quite Yet

My new window is in, and I am thanking the Lord for it.  It ended up costing a bit more than what I was told, but it works, and it looks OK.  Our house is old, and is cheaply made, so nothing is "right" in it.  The plaster walls are all dented and difficult to patch.  The mouldings around the old window were metal and the new window has no mouldings.  There is patching to be done, and repair and new mouldings to add, but the window itself looks good.  The men who did it spent the entire day working on making that window fit, and I appreciate their hard work.

I am feeling pretty lousy today (just that time of the month), and I am not looking forward to having to work at Macy's tonight.  But, working at Macy's will help cover the cost of that window repair, so that is a good thing.  I have applied to two more jobs, one with The New Teacher Project (part-time), and one as an online writer for  I have no feelings about either job, so whether they come to pass or not, I won't mind.  For now, I am content to work at Macy's, do what I can around my home to make these repairs, and concentrate on my schooling studies.

As far as schooling goes, I think I am OK.  I still need to find out how I can pay for summer classes.  I will need financial aid to cover those courses or else I cannot take them.  If I don't take them, then I will need to either take 3 courses in the Fall and Spring, or spread my courses out to next Fall 2012.  Right now, I don't mind not taking these courses, even though I like the content and the teachers.  I don't mind if it takes me longer to graduate, so be it, I will just be happy when I do.  However, I believe that this is the Lord's time line, so if He chooses for me to go to school over the summer, then He will provide a way for me to pay for it.

As I sit here thinking all this through, I am befuddled to some extent.  I mean, why would the Lord bring workers to my home now?  I don't have a job that can pay for their work.  Yes, I need the work done, but I cannot pay for repairs.  So why now?

Well, part of me thinks that this is His provision, and part of me realizes that I cannot pay, plan or purpose these repairs.  Therefore, God has chosen to repair my house without my direct help.  He may ask me to work to provide money for the repairs, but apparently He has determined the timing of them, and He is providing workers to do them.

This whole process leads me to believe the following:  1) When God promises a provision, He see to it that it is done His way; and 2) Often God chooses to provide for something through His own means and not ours.  Sometimes we are asked to cooperate with Him, but often He chooses to do things on His own for His Glory.  The latter is exactly what I think is the case in my home.  I have prayed over these repairs for nearly two years.  I have asked, asked and asked again for a way to make them myself.  I have sought after jobs hoping to find good work that would earn enough income to not only provide for me and my son, but also provide extra so that I could do these things.  Nothing has come to pass, no work, no job, and no extra money for the repairs -- yet, I know that what I am asking for is a legitimate need.  God knows that it is not safe for my window to remain broken, or for that leaking tub to continue to foster mold in my bathroom (it is not healthy, and the cost of repair goes up the longer it is left unattended).  He knows all of this, yet He has chosen when and where and how to make these repairs.  And, apparently, He has chosen to do them without my direct help (meaning a job).

My response to His hand is always, "Yes, Lord."  He has asked me to trust Him, and I say that I do.  I know that I don't really trust Him well enough, so I ask for help believing and resting (resting is key).  I know that God is able, more than able to provide the workers and the repairs.  I know that God is more than able to provide the money to cover these costs.  And, I know that through it all He will receive Glory for everything because He is God and He is Able to do all things abundantly well.  My part is to believe, to rest, and to remain faithful to Him, trusting Him to do what He always does best.  I can do this, I know I can -- even if I don't feel quite well today and even if I don't understand the whys and wherefores.  God is so very Good to me.

March 15, 2011

It is Done

Oh, my what a horrible day!  Although it began well enough, it ended on a sour note.  I went to the movies with my Mom this morning (to see "The Kings Speech") while my son and Dad went to Body Worlds at the Arizona Science Center.  Mom and I had already seen BW and were sufficiently disturbed.  My son was given the opportunity to earn extra credit for his Psychology class if he went to see the new Brain exhibition.  My Dad was game to go, so they went there today, and Mom and I ended up at the movies.

After the movies, Mom and I ate lunch at The Olive Garden.  It was a nice end to the morning, and then I came home.   I promptly fell asleep on the bed, and then woke up after dinner time (around 5:30 p.m.)  I made some homemade potatoes for dinner, and then drove my son over to church for Worship practice.  During this entire time, I felt so oppressed and unwell.  I felt like throwing up, really I did!  I picked my son up at 8:30, and drove us back home.  While I was sitting in the church parking lot, I had that sickening feeling again -- feeling like I was really unwell, and going to be sick.

We got in the door, and I went to the bathroom first.  I came out to the office, and sat down at the computer.  I had been praying about the way I was feeling throughout my time sitting in the car waiting on my son.  After sitting down here, the Lord pressed on my heart to go to My Documents.  I have a couple files where I created an outline of the plan I feel the Lord has called me to follow.  I made these files one year ago (almost to the day -- March 12th, 2010).  Since that time, I have altered them ever so slightly, just adding in more details as I feel the Lord's lead.  These files are my visual way to understand what I believe IS the Lord's will for my life. 

I sat down and opened up my file called "God's Will for my Life."  I had changed it earlier today based on a feeling I had.  Since I made that change to the file, my entire day went south.  I changed the file back, and it was as if I immediately felt great relief.  I cannot really explain it, but that sense like I was going to throw up went away.  I felt the Lord say to me, "tell me how you feel?"  My response was "better."  Like I said, I cannot really explain it other than to say that often when I move this way or that way, I will get a sense that I am off balance, out of control, or feel unwell.  When I go back to where I was previously, then I feel better, I feel at peace.  This doesn't happen always, but it has happened enough times to make me realize that I need to pay heed to these kinds of physical clues.

So where does that leave me now?  Well, I think it helps me see that I am right where I am supposed to be, and while the change I made earlier was in line with God's will (always has been), clearly I am supposed to go this way.  I am not to change my path nor the plan laid out for me.  The fact that once I stepped back on that path, I felt immediate relief, reminds me that I am to STAY where I am.  The Lord had told me, "Carol, stay where you are, do not deviate from this path."  Moreover, He told me to wait on Him, and to let things go (looking for a job, etc.)  I did this, and I said that I would remember to stay put.  Well, not really thinking I was doing anything wrong (so to speak), I took a step outside and I found myself really unwell.

I get it, I think I get it now.  I have come so far, and while I don't understand why I experience things this way, the fact remains that I do on occassion.  Perhaps God has something in mind for me, and the time is now.  Perhaps I need to stick to this plan and wait on Him because He is doing something for me, and He needs me to be in a certain place at a certain time.  I am not sure, I just know that I feel better, and that the sense of unwellness and feeling out of control has passed.  I think the best way to explain it is this: 

Years ago, whenever I would make a decision or choice that somehow was not a good one, I would get this feeling of being really sick.  My brain would literally feel like it was going to explode.  Often, my stomach would ache, and I would feel sick.  I can remember times when I would feel this way, and how awful I felt until I did the right thing.  I haven't felt this same way in at the least 30 years.  I used to think it was a weakness on my part, a weakness in my ability to handle stress; but now, I understand that it was one of the ways the Holy Spirit used to get me to pay attention to Him.  For example, I can still see myself sitting on my bed, crying over the agony I was in, and stubbornly refusing to end a relationship with a teenaged boy (I was 17 at the time).  I knew it was God's will for me, and I felt the Holy Spirit literally pulling me to get up and do the deed.  I was feeling so sick, and when I finally did it (and how awful it was too), I immediately felt that sense of relief.  I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me.  This is how I feel now, though I don't think I was quite as off the mark as I was back then.  Today, I am simply back where I belong, and feeling relieved.

My next task is to remain where I am called to remain, and that means to stay put until the Lord chooses to move me elsewhere.  I don't know what that means really, but I feel confident that I am to stay on this path now.  This path leads me from Mercy College to Old Dominion University and back through Regent University (for English and Bible degrees).  This is the Lord's plan for my life, and He has purposed it.  I am to stay on this path now, and I think that means that whatever kind of job the Lord has for me will depend on this road I am following.  I don't know what kind of JOB will come to me or even when it will come or where it will be (here in Phoenix or someplace else).  I just know that God has this plan, and it is coming to pass because of His Work in and through my life.  I will remain where He has me placed, and all things will work out to His purpose and for His glory.

Thank you, Lord, for taking the time to show me that I am to do what you ask -- and not -- deviate from your Word.  I promise you that I will remain as I am, that I will stay put, and wait for you to deliver me.  In Your Name I pray tonight, Amen.

More Updates and Perhaps the End?

Oh, wouldn't that be 'loverly' (quoting Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady)?  I would love for the "end" to come, and to be finally, officially, and completely ON the path to my future.  It is really funny (comical) to think of it this way, as if I am somehow stalled in the universe and not moving.  Our knowledge of Time Theory tells us that nothing stands still, and while we may feel like we are not moving, we actually are progressing through time.  I am getting older as each second passes, I am moving into the next moment of time, whether I do anything (physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally) or not.  I am in constant flux, as you are, so while it FEELS like we may be at a dead stop, really we are moving forward, and our future is getting closer each minute that ticks by.  Perhaps this is why I am so anxious about it coming to pass, about being on the right path.  If I am off the mark, moving in the wrong direction, the time I am using up will be wasted, and I will find myself (perhaps) at the end of my days, having over or undershot my goal.  Well, that is how my human mind works, and not necessarily how God's mind really does work.

In God's provision for our future, our eternal destination is fixed.  Once we come to know Jesus (confess Him as Lord and Savior), and place our daily trust in His Sacrificing Provision for sin, then the Holy Spirit of God seals us for the day of redemption.  We are eternally saved, and we have His assurance that we will not miss THAT mark.  We will be with our Lord in Glory, and we will reign with Him for 1000 years (and longer!)

However, in my limited mental capacity, I always think that everything us up to me.  You know, if I mess up, then I lose out.  If I keep the faith, then I will win the race.  Paul does speak this way, and we do have a responsibility to remain faithful.  This is one of those doctrinal positions where I would like to agree with Calvin and say, "once saved, always saved" and "hooray!"  I like the idea of predestination, and while I believe in it, I also believe in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and in my continual willingness to remain under His Lead.  You see, some believers have the idea that once they are saved, they are saved, and their behavior is really not up to them.  They can sin, but they are forgiven.  They can curse, they can act out, they can be disagreeable, and not follow God's commands, and it is OK -- they are saved.  Other believers, of which I am one, take the view that once you come into Grace, you must remain under Grace.  It is not a work we actually do, but a work of God's Holy Spirit.  I have to choose to remain, I have to choose to obey, and I have to choose to be faithful.  His Grace is at work in me to enable me to remain, to obey, and to be faithful -- but I have to surrender my will to His Work.  In doing so, I am sanctified by His Grace, and I am made to conform to the image of Jesus (to be like Him in character).

In this way, it is up to me to remain.  I must choose to be under His authority, and to work with Him in cooperation.  It is not a matter of things happening without me or around me, and I float through life without any responsibility; no, not at all.  It is more like I am cooperating with God, working together with His Holy Spirit to understand His purpose for me.  Once I know His purpose for my life, then it is up to me to remain in line, to abide in that knowledge, and to rest in the security of His will.  It is up to God to bring His plans to pass, but I have to remain in faithful friendship and cooperation with Him.  I have to choose to allow these plans into my life, to allow His Holy Spirit to direct me, move me, change me, alter my way, and so on.  If I am willing to do these things, then He is able to do what He purposes to do in and through my life.  It is as the Word says:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phil 2:13 NLT

It is God who is working in me, giving me desires and the power to live a life that pleases Him.  Moreover, through God's Grace, I am able to do the very things He desires.  This means not only to live a holy life, to be conformed to the image and likeness of His Son; but also to go where He sends me, and to do the work He has prepared for me to do before the foundation of the world.  God's plans are complete, they are whole, and they lack nothing:  they are planned, they are purposed, and they are provided for -- we just have to walk in them (agree to do so, letting God's Grace empower us to finish the work).

As I sit here today, blogging once again, I am reminded of His promise to me.  I know that my life is changing, that it has changed over the past four-to-five years.  I am a different person now, and I think differently.  I am more interested in the things of God than I am in my own life.  Yet, I get so bogged down with the details of daily living.  God's Word reminds us that our Father knows that we need basic necessities, yet these basic needs often are the very issues that drive us away from Him, and into our own devices.  We contend with the world, we strive to earn more money, to own more things, to live a "better" life -- and we do it without the work of God's Grace.  We are not content to live in the life that we have, seeking only to better our station.  Sometimes God chooses to lift us up, and sometimes He chooses to bring us down.  Sometimes God asks us to endure and remain where we are for a time.  Sometimes we have to turn around and walk a long way back, back to where God waits for us.  Sometimes we run ahead of Him, wanting so much to do His work, but not understanding that the time is not ready for us to begin.  Sometimes we are at the mark, ready to go, and we are waiting for the starter's pistol to go off.  Sometimes we must simply wait, and wait and wait.  Yet, no matter where we are in God's providence, we are in His care, and He is working His will out to His good pleasure.  He is making something strong and courageous out of the mess of our human frailty.  God's time is always spot on.

I reflect on this truth today, knowing that I have done all the above more than once.  I am the one who runs ahead of God, often thinking I am doing the right thing, when I should be remaining in that wait mode.  Moreover, I gone my own way, only finding that I have to turn around and walk a long way back to where I started.  And, I have had to wait at that starting line, wait for the gun to go off, and remain "at the ready."  It is so hard to wait for God's promises, and it is hard to remain faithful to them.  I want to give up, go home, or run away; but then I remember what they are, and I know that I want nothing else but to do His will, and to live the life He has called me to live.  I don't want to please anyone as much as I want to please my Lord.

Therefore, where does this leave me today?  I guess I am resigned (in a good way) to stand on the starting line once again and wait for that pistol to fire.  It will fire soon, and then I will be off.  I will run the race of faith, finish the course, and receive the prize waiting for me at the end.  I cannot do it on my own, and I cannot start without His initial movement to set my feet running.  I wait for Him to say "You may now go."  I have heard His command before, I have received the word "go," but I didn't go.  I was not ready to go.  I wanted to go, but I was thinking that going meant getting there on my own, that it was all up to me to make the going happen.  I said, "Lord, you know I cannot go unless you provide a way to go," and while this was true, I was forgetting to whom I was speaking.  If the Lord says, "go," then He means it.  He is ready to provide, He has figured it out, and He is prepared to do what is required to make that "going" possible.  I was relying on my own hand, my own understanding (as Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us clearly not to do!)  God is the giver of the command, and the fulfill-er of the provision.  He is the only One who can tell us when to go, and provide the means to do it.

Now that I have that clear in my head, and I am more settled into knowing that God does what He promises He will do.  Romans 8:28 NLT says,  

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

This is true for us today -- God causes everything to work together for the good of those (you and me) who love God and are called according to his purpose.  This means that if we are aligned with His will (agreeable to doing it), then God orchestrates the details so that they work together (fit together like a joint or puzzle piece).  The way these details fit together is good, and will bless us.  Our willingness to align with God's plans is critical, because by doing so, we are committing ourselves to His Good for our lives.  We are saying in short:  "God, I trust you to provide a solution to this problem, and I am agreeing to your resolution."  We not only believe that He can solve the problem, but that He will solve it.  Then we are saying to Him, that once He does solve it or provide the solution to us, we will take it, assume it, use it, follow it -- in essence -- we will not say "Um, try again, God -- I am not satisfied."  Often this is what we do, we ask for a resolution but when that resolution comes, we reject it as not being good enough.  Yet, God has given us the resolution that is good for us, and suits His purpose and plan for our life.  We reject God's provision, and cry out for something different (like Israel did in the wilderness -- we don't want manna from heaven, we want meat!)

God promises are always "yes" and "amen" --

"For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory." 2 Cor. 2:20 NLT

We have that resounding YES to remind us that God is not one to be mocked.  His Word is Truth (John 17:17b) and that He doesn't take kindly to being set aside, to have His Wisdom and His Integrity impugned (which means to attack as false or questionable; to challenge in argument).  We do this all the time, question the validity of God's provision, His plan, and His purpose.  We argue with God by saying, "yes but really we are just asking for clarity, for better understanding?"  No, Dear Brother or Sister, we are saying to the Lord of Heaven, "I don't think you've got this figured out, and your wisdom is false!"  Oh, may it never be!  I am guilty, so very guilty of this very fault.  I have done this so many times, so many, many times.  I am ashamed to admit it, but this is truth -- I impugn the Lord all the time by questioning His Marvelous Grace.  I shouldn't do it, but it is a nasty habit, one that must be broken today.

Dear Lord,

I confess that this is a nasty habit of mine, and it is one that I lay at your feet today.  I am choosing to fully cooperate with your Holy Spirit, to walk and to work in your way from this moment on.  Your Wisdom, Your Advice, and Your Guidance are perfect, are complete, and lack nothing.  I can trust Your Judgment, and I can rely on Your Direction.  Please forgive me for doing this to you, and I ask that I never do this again.  I cry this in Jesus' Name today, Amen.