April 29, 2012

Another Step of Faith

I took another step of faith today. First of all, I made the decision that to play the cello well, I need to devote serious time to practice and study. Second, I decided that to play the cello really well, I need to give it a much higher priority than I have been lately. Now, granted, I have been super busy with school, and with graduating -- that has taken first priority since last Fall. Yet, I know I could have applied myself more, and could have been farther down the cello road, so to speak, than I am. However, giving myself a break, I know that I am where I am for a reason. I am simply trying to do too many things at once, and frankly, something has to give.

My To Do List includes:
  • Continued improvement on the cello, moving into grade four by the end of the year
  • Solidly learning French by the end of the year, and then adding in German by next year
  • Completely my Masters (in May), and then starting my doctoral program next fall.
In between, I need to work, and take care of myself and my son. I am well on my way to losing the weight that has crept up on me over the past year and half. I have lost 6 lbs already, and this has been in one week. I anticipate losing another 4 by the end of next week, and then slowly dropping 2-3 lbs each week until I hit my target weight of 140. I am pleased so far, but I know that with the weight loss, I also need to start exercising and I need to prepare myself for more physical activity (like traveling). I am  so ready to travel, but right now, I don't think I have the physical energy to do it.

How do I improve on cello and do everything else on my list? Well, I think the best way is to be super organized with my time. This means taking time to do everything in small increments, and consistently working towards accomplishing the goal. It is just like with weight loss -- you cannot drop 20 or 30 lbs overnight. You have to lose the weight each week, and it takes a cumulative toll -- whereby you see the final result at some point down the road.

This is true for everything on my list. I started playing the cello two years ago, and truthfully, I am farther ahead than most beginning students. For example, I am learning 4th position, and I am just about to start to read Tenor Clef. I also play with a small chamber group, and I have played works by Vivaldi as well as other composers. These were easier versions for me to play, thanks to my teacher, but they still were far more advanced than what most year 2 students would be able to play.

Furthermore, I am about ready to begin Suzuki Book 4, having completed all the pieces in book 3 except for two. I still want to complete those last two pieces, but the feat is still something to relish. I did complete books 1-3 in two years of study.

My new cello is a blessing, and I can play it well. I want to be really solid, so that I can play for my church, and I can be comfortable sight-reading any piece and then play it after just a week or two of practice. I also want to play cello solos and not freak out. I totally freak now, and struggle to perform. I get anxious even when I tell myself not to do it. I mess up or I fear that I will mess up and ruin the piece of music. This is rarely the case, yet it ruffles me and I lose concentration.

As far as foreign language, I have decided this: I can learn a foreign language easily since my Lord has provided this gift to me. I am able to do this, and I can do it so well, that I don't need courses to learn how to do this. I am registered for four semesters of French, and I had hoped to take a certificate program in Linguistics. Now, I am wondering if I really need to do this at all. The Lord is able to help me, and if it is his will, then so be it.

Last, I think I am ready to tackle any thing the Lord asks of me. I understand now that it is not about me. It is about Him, and in Him, and through Him, I am able to learn how to do anything He desires for me to do. This means that nothing can stop me, because no one can stop Him. My rest is in Him, and in His provision -- therefore -- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Resting and Trusting

I am counting down the days until I will be officially graduated from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY. I have to say that I have really enjoyed my experience as a Maverick. I am feeling sad that I will no longer be a graduate student enrolled there, and I wish now, that I had more classes to do! I know, I know -- gimme a break, Carol! All you do is complain about your homework, assignments and papers!! Yes, this is so true!! But now that I feel more updated, and more in control of my school work, I see that I have taken A LOT of time to rest and that means that I wasted time when I could have been staying active this semester. It has all worked out, and will all work out -- but still -- I do feel as though I should have been more involved in my course.

God knew that I needed this down time, especially coming off of the wild January I had, where I had to spend three weekends in a row (3-days mind you), cleaning the old house out for auction. I was literally exhausted, and I didn't want to do anything else. Then I had two very big months at work, where I enrolled 10-12 students. The amount of work involved in getting these students enrolled took its toll as well, and I ended up getting sick.

It has been a struggle since then just to keep my head above water. But now, I am feeling better. I have taken four vacation days so far, and will take two more before the end of May. In all, this has given me three weeks of 3-day weekends, and with two more of the same, I should be feeling fit and ready to start new adventures.

My Chronic Fatigue seems to be lifting, and that is a real blessing. It has complicated matters, as has some additional stress at work. Now, though, I feel better, and while I am not 100% yet, nor am I really as strong as I would like to be, I do feel as though I can work again. The Lord has been very gracious and kind to me. He has shown me that with proper physical rest, I will get well. He has also shown me that much of the inner turmoil I feel is due to spiritual unrest. This is my own fault, and it stems from not trusting the Lord to provide -- to oversee my needs. Yes, He is right, always right. I have not trusted Him as my Lord and Provider. I have chosen to focus on my own abilities, and in doing so, all I have seen is my own weakness. However, when I look towards His Ability, then I see the strong and mighty hand of the Lord. There is nothing He cannot do, and all things are possible for Him (Luke 1:34). I know this, yet in my human frailty and weakness, I still choose to look down instead of UP.

God be praised forever more, may I always LOOK UP. There is hope, and a good future only when you Look Up and Wait Upon the Lord. I need to remind myself of this encouraging word, and then I will remain steady and steadfast -- I will remain faithful, and I will look to Him for His Provision.

God is so very good to me, and His Mercy endures forever. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

April 28, 2012

I Am Done!

I did it! I completed my masters thesis today. I had the majority already written, but I had not touch the text for the past two months due to illness and weariness from work. I have had this assignment hanging over me, and it felt like a gigantic weight. Today, among other things, I made up my mind to finish the text. I need to submit my rough draft to my Professor tomorrow, and hopefully, he will have very small suggestions for me. I am hoping that he will accept it as is, without any changes, but that is a long shot.

I spent the day adding in more references and fine tuning my text. My paper is supposed to be 25 pages, but I think mine is around 36 with references. Oh well -- I like to write and I write a lot.

I ran it through WritePoint(sm) which is an awesome tool that I have access to at UOPX. It gave me really good suggestions for style and grammar. I will incorporate those changes tomorrow, and then I will submit my paper for proofing. I also ran it through Turnitin, which is a plagarism software application, also through UOPX. My document came back with a 10% match. I am very happy with the result, none of the areas were of any concern. They were all references to the title of works or the works themselves. I am so elated and happy!

I have three weeks left of school, and in that time, I have to submit my thesis, and write four essays (5 pages) for my Humanism course. I also need to get caught up on the boards, and I will do that tomorrow. If I can get my reading done, and post some responses, then I will be in good shape. I plan on writing one essay each night next week -- that is four essays by Friday. This will allow me to close out my time at Mercy, and graduate with honors. I am hoping that my lack of posts on the boards will not really hurt my grade. I need an A in that course, and if I get two As -- one for the thesis as well -- then my GPA will go up to about 3.93 again. Right now, it is 3.83. I really want to end my Masters program with a solid 3.9.

Lastly, tomorrow I need to perform at a student recital, so after I get back, then I will hit the books. I feel so empowered today. I feel as though nothing can stop me now. I feel as though I can really do all things -- through Christ -- who strengthens me. I can do this, I know I can.

Once again -- At the end of all things

I am reminded of this wonderful phrase written by J.R.R. Tolkein in "The Return of the King,"

"But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam."

I don't know why those words stick with me, but perhaps it is because these words in the LOTR's triology movie struck a chord in my heart. The friendship shared between Sam and Frodo, the quest to destroy the ring in the fires of Mount Doom, and the restoration of the King to the throne of Gondor. I guess I just love a really good story.

I also think that this idea, "coming to the end of all things," bespeaks of any kind of end of quest, or journey. It is the summation of a movement, the completion of a set of tasks, or the ending of a long friendship. It is the finalization of some thing, and typically that thing, is or has taken it's time or it's toll on the person engaged in the task at hand. Like Frodo and Sam, I have been on a quest of sorts too. Though my quest has been spiritual in nature, and not a physical quest per se, I have suffered through the trials and tribulations, the twists and turns, related to the journey and path I was on. Now, I am here at the "end of all things," at the end of this quest. I have completed my journey, I have learned my spiritual lesson, and I have finally come to the final phase, the closing days. I am so ready to be released from this journey, and I am ready to rest. I am ready to partake on a new adventure, but not yet. I need to rest. I need to stop and take time to process it all, to come to terms with what has transpired, and to make sense of it all. In doing so, I will be able to learn from the lesson, to draw inference, and then later use what I learned to help others. This is the Lord's will for my life, to help others by encouraging them in their own spiritual walk, to build them up so they stay consistent and determined -- and do not stray from the path.

As I consider my quest, and my journey's end, I go back in my mind to the end of the movie, to this dialog between Sam and Frodo,

Sam: (reading the title) There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale by Bilbo Baggins, and The Lord of the Rings by Frodo Baggins. You finished it.
Not quite. There's room for a little more. 

Yes, as with Sam and Frodo, my quest has ended; but there is still more for me to do. I am ready now to go on to the next journey, the next phase in my development as I walk my way forward into the future, and onwards to the prize.

"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Phil 3:14 NLT

Yes, I press on. I continue walking down the road, to the place that my Lord is calling me towards. I am in need of rest, and that rest will come -- soon, very soon. Until then, I walk on. I continue to walk along side my Lord, knowing that He carries the burden for me, He shoulders the heavy yoke. I can walk at ease because my Lord walks next to me, and He is able to carry the load. I am glad that my Lord is my Master, and that I am His work-fellow. I am in a good place in my life -- good, safe, and stable. Now, I must trust the Lord to show me the path we are to walk on next. It is not this same path, it is different, and it leads to another way. But that way will take us to the end, and that is where we are to go. I wait, I trust, and I look to Him for His leadership. He is my King, and I am with Him until the end of the age,

"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matt. 28:20 NLT

Saturday Morning, Part Two

As I sit here, I continue to give God praise. He has been my rock, my refuge, my shelter in the storm (Ps. 18:2). He has been my strong tower -- the one to whom I run into -- when fear and enemies rush to overtake me (Prov. 18:10).

The Lord God is good. He is worthy to be praised, and I give Him this testimony today.

In re-reading my long list of testimony, I am struck by the magnitude of what the Lord has done for me. I consider the fruit of the Spirit of Galations 5:22-23 NIV:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

The experiences I have suffered through have been there to shape me so that I can demonstrate these very characteristics of the Holy Spirit. While I wasn't particularly happy to endure such trials, I have seen great promise in my ability to demonstrate faithfulness, for example; or to put on self-control (as in today -- sticking to my weight loss program. I am a much stronger, far more discipline person today than I was three years ago. I rejoice with the Lord, and I give Him thanks for the mighty work He has performed in me and through me.

With consideration that this is all of the Lord, and it is not of me, I am faced with the realization that I have two choices to make each and every day: one, to follow the Lord; and two, to go my own way. Every day, in every way, these are the choices I must make. I can do things the Lord's way, and follow after Him; or, I can choose my own understanding and limitations, and go my own way, do my own thing.

I have tried doing things my way, and frankly, I was not very successful at them. In fact, I would say that my way was pretty pathetic -- yelling, screaming, crying, demanding, sinning -- yes, fleshly and flawed. But, His way is perfect, and is filled with His blessed peace. So while I may not fully understand where I am going, or how I am to do something, I have confidence to know that it will be done His way.

I am far more comfortable going His way, and doing things the way He asks me to do them. It is easier, though at times the path is rocky and difficult. The "going" part is what is easy, and this is why our Lord said this to us:

"For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matt. 11:30 NLT

The burden we carry is heavy, and our yoke, the yoke of fleshly, flawed humanity is difficult to bear. But when we put off that yoke and lay down that burden; and then, pick up His yoke and burden, we feel relief. The Lord's yoke is easy because we are not the one pulling the cart -- we help Him to pull that cart. We are not the one's to carry the load; we help Him carry the load. The idea is of a Master Ox yoked along side of a junior Ox. The greater animal pulls the cart and the load, keeping to the path. He is seasoned, He knows where He is to go, and He knows how much strength is needed to get the job done. The junior Ox is undisciplined, and would prefer to graze by the side of the road all day. He cannot pull the cart on his own, he is unable to do it. He cannot lead because he is not trained to the yoke yet. Therefore, he must be trained to the side of the Master, so that together they get the job done. In doing so, the Master corrects the junior Ox, making sure he keeps his footing, takes even steps, and moves at a steady pace. The junior Ox learns how to move with the yoke, how to pull his share of the cart, and how to stay on the path. It is quite simple -- and it is a perfect illustration for us to see that this is how the Lord trains us for His work and ministry.

We are undisciplined creatures. We need a Master to show us how to do things, and we need to follow and listen and obey. We learn by listening first, and then doing the work by imitating the Master.

I am yoked to my Master, and I carry the burden He gives to me. I do not seek my own burden to carry. I do not seek to go my own way. I do not attempt to yoke myself to another, because I can only have one yoke on at a time. I would have to take off the Master's yoke to put on another. I choose to remain yoked to my Lord, and to listen to His instruction. In doing so, I will pull the cart, carry the burden, and do it with His help. I will be able to walk on at a steady pace, and not grow weary or tired (Is. 40:31).

Now I am ready to cast off all other yokes. All other yokes lead to bondage and slavery. Only the Lord's yoke brings freedom, brings peace, and brings rest. I have cast them off, and I have laid my burden's at His glorious feet. I am ready Lord, I am ready to choose your way -- always. In Jesus' Name, I pray...Amen. So be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

Good Morning - It's Saturday!

It is a beautiful morning in Phoenix. I woke up around 6 a.m., took care of the boys, and made my cup of coffee. I am now sitting here at my desk, thinking about my future, and where the Lord wants me to go from here. I am happy, I am content -- though I am not feeling 100% well yet. My time off has proven invaluable. I am not sure what my employer thinks, but it is my earned vacation time, and I am using it to rest from the weariness of my life.

My life is weary -- I prayed and spoke with the Lord about this today -- and I know that I need a very long rest. The past couple years of stress have finally taken their toll on me physically, and I am officially burnt out. In addition to my year-long stint working at Macy's, I have gone through the trauma of divorce (separation, not finalized); foreclosure; moving out on my own for the first time in 30 years; being self-sufficient; raising my son on my own; being unemployed for 18 months -- to now. I cannot even tell you how I feel inside. I am contented with what has passed, but I am so completely worn out emotionally. I rarely laugh. I rarely feel rested and at peace. I am simply on idle -- just motoring on through these days, hoping to finally get to my destination where I can shut off the engine, park the car in the garage, and rest.

As I sit here and recollect on the past changes, I am able to see the Hand of God upon my life. I don't think I could even list all the blessings He has brought to me over the past two-three years. This is just a short list, so here goes:
  • Medical intervention when my husband suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 2007
  • Medical intervention when my husband suffered a brain-bleed due to uncontrolled hypertension in 2009
  • Emotional stability to see me through the turmoil that followed -- lack of money, lack of medical insurance, lack of unity with in marriage
  • Strength to stand up to infidelity and say "no" 
  • Strength to stand my ground at blatant emotional attachment to women outside of marriage
  • Strength to continue to hold my family together during all of this while the Lord developed character within me so that I could finally walk away
  • Discipline and the willingness to go head to head with family members who thought I was making things up, telling lies, or just over-reacting
  • Developed relationship with the Lord to prove that His Way and His Word are always right and good and worthy to heed and obey
  • Willingness to be open, to be honest, and to be humble before counselors and others who sought to help reconcile my marriage
  • Willingness to be open, to be honest, and to be humble before God, and to accept the fact that as a flawed individual, I was partly responsible for the failure of my marriage
  • Determination in the face of great pain to seek out part-time employment at Macy's
  • Diligence to stick with Macy's even though the pain was searing at times, and the work grueling and monotonous.
  • Patience to wait for the Lord to provide a full-time job
  • Deliverance with a full-time job
  • Grace to let go of a home shared for almost 15 years
  • Faith to locate a new home to rent
  • Favor with the landlord to rent this home, even after three other applicants, and one approved applicant ahead of me
  • Favor with utilities and others to be able to be settled with minimal out of pocket expense
  • Blessing with financial aid and other sources to be able to purchase new things -- the first time since 1984.
  • Continued blessing to remain in this home, to add to it's comfort, and to enjoy it, and be at peace
  • Peace with relationships, even those torn apart by fire, and slowly mending
  • Grace to work in a job that is boring, and stressful
  • Fatih to consider other options even when so very tired
  • Blessing to graduate with a Masters degree
  • Faith to contemplate a PhD -- no fear as to how to pay for it either
  • Favor to learn cello and study foreign languages
  • Blessing to have a future planned for me, and to know where I am going
  • Faith to consider all options as possibilities, and to look UP and WAIT upon the Lord for His Word to Go
In all these points, one this is consistent, and that is this: the Lord God was with me through it all. Never did I make a decision without His approval, never did I go or do anything without first prayerfully considering it, and waiting for the Holy Spirit to give me the go ahead green light. I never did anything without the Lord first saying it was OK. I have never done this before, in all the years I have been a Christian, and I have never experienced such amazing control, such blessing, and such favor. Nope, this all has transpired -- and some of it with deep sadness and great regret -- because of my reliance upon the Lord and my unwillingness to go before He gave me permission to do so.

I know that there are scoffers out there who would say -- you were just lucky, positive affirmation was all that was needed, you could have done this without religion...but they are wrong. Never before in my life have I been successful, approved or favored. Never.

Never have I ever been able to accomplish so much in so little time, and with so much ability. Never have I have been able to be controlled, and not an emotional mess. No, never. These past couple years, while incredibly difficult, were easy compared to my previous life's choices. I suffered to the point of a breakdown, not once but twice. I was an emotional roller coaster ride, and I rarely was in control of my emotions. I am rock solid now, and I came through great turmoil and trial without falling apart. This is the grace of God at work in my life, and I give Him all the glory, all the praise, and all the honor. No, I have done none of these things on my own. This is all God, and it is to His Name that I give the credit.

May God be praised today, and forevermore. Amen. So be it, Thy will be done.

April 27, 2012

Some Changes

Well, yesterday I ended up staying home so that I could have my plumbing leak fixed. While I was waiting on that little ditty, I spent some time working on my computer, and in getting myself organized online. I have been through four computers in the last four years, and each time, I copy only those files I really need to save. I keep my school work, for example; and my photo albums, but most of the other files are lost forever. This losing files has taken it's toll on me. So much of my life was spent on the computer, part home and part work, it was all intertwined. I feel like I have lost a big part of me, and that what was left over, was just getting by. It was almost like I was a visiting tourist who was on a bus, taking only the clothing he/she needed for the time she was going to be gone from home.

So yesterday, I configured my Mac to be more like my old PC. I know, heresy, but in reality there were just certain programs I missed using, and certain applications that I relied on for my daily comfort and workability. I installed Firefox for my browser, and then added Thunderbird for my email client. I also found free versions of software to replace my FTP needs as well as my HTML developing options. Someday soon I will purchase Adobe CS6 and then use both Photoshop and Dreamweaver for my design work; but for now, I am content with what I have installed. I am starting to feel comfortable again.

I also spent some time planting flowers around my front door. I used to have a large flower garden when I lived in the more moderate climate of San Jose, CA. In AZ, it has been a constant struggle for me to grow anything, but I have been quite successful at keeping a geranium alive and well near my front door. A friend of my parents gave them some geraniums in pots, and my Mom didn't want to keep them all. I repotted a couple, and the rest just spruced up with some petunias and lobelia. I think my front door looks lovely. I would still like to get a different wreath, something with brighter colors, and perhaps more pink and white. I am happy with the result.

I also spent the day revisiting my job and career path to see what options exist for me. I have been actively looking for a different job since the end of February. So far, no real response from recruiters, etc. I have had two opportunities to update my resume, but other than that, it is just me applying (again).

A friend next door to my parents suggested I look at Cox Communications, as they are hiring in our area. I applied to Cox last year, but never heard from them. I looked on their website, and while they do have a lot of jobs available, none are a good fit for me. This started me thinking about what kinds of work I am suited to do. I mean, not that I am that picky -- oh my goodness no -- but rather it is a matter of my age, my experience, and what I am physically able to do at this point in my life. I am unwell physically, this is a given. I struggle with Chronic Fatigue as well as chronic back pain. I cannot stand all day, and I cannot sit all day. I need movement, and I need a flexible schedule. I also need to be in control of what I am doing, to believe in what I am doing, and to be committed to it.

I like my job as an Education Advisor. I had hoped that I could be promoted next year into a different kind of position, potentially back into web/graphics or marketing. I also hoped that I could move into Academics, so that I could work in curriculum design. These are great jobs, and I thought I would like them -- now though -- I am rethinking that entire path.

My issues are really this: I like working for myself. I like having the freedom to come and go, and to work very hard for short periods of time. I like the downtime that comes when the job is completed. I like to work on my own, and at the computer. I like to know that I can start my day at 6-7-8-9 in the AM or wait until the evening to do what needs done. Yes, I never liked working 24/7/365. I never liked working the weekends and feeling the pressure to go round the clock. I didn't like that I didn't get a paycheck. I didn't like not having benefits and insurance, and all the things that go with being self-employed.

As I consider what I am suited for the following options appear likely:
  • Teaching - I can teach. I have taught adults over the years, and I have been told that I am a good teacher. I can teach children as well. Do I love teaching, am I called to teach? No. I like it, and I can do it, but it is not my calling. I know this now.
  • Computers/Technology - I have worked in this industry for 25 plus years. I know it well, and I am very comfortable with technology. I have performed repair, worked as a technical support rep, etc. Do I like doing this kind of work? No, not really. I can do it, and I am good at it, but I find the tedium boring. I am not called to be a programmer nor am I called to be a website designer or any other type of designer.
  • Marketing/Sales - I have worked in sales support off and on for the past thirty years. It is something that comes very easy to me, but I really do not like it. I like supporting others, but I don't like cold calling or outside sales. I am not a salesperson, even though I have been told I am really good at selling. I think I am good at selling what I consider valuable and worthwhile -- but not good at selling just any item or service.
  • Lastly, I am very good at Administration. I am a details-oriented person, and I am really good with numbers and data. I am not an accountant, but I am good with databases and I enjoy working with numbers, reports, charts and graphs. I like being responsible for outcomes, and I like to solve problems. I am very good -- and in every job I have held -- my ability to administrate is what shines. Therefore, the best job for me is to be an administrator. The key is to administrate something I value, I believe in, and I can support.
Now that I understand this aspect of my abilities, I am better able to hone in on jobs that work well for me. My job at the University is 30% administration, with almost 70% sales. I have been very successful in my job, and no doubt, with continued efforts I would see great sales numbers. However, I don't like the sales part, and I prefer to spend my time administrating my work. I am highly effective when it comes to administration, and my lead base shows it -- almost 30% out of policy on a base of nearly 4000 leads. That is impressive, and I am enrolling an average of 5-10 students per month. So -- I like my job when I can sit at my desk and administrate, but I don't like it when I am cold-calling or prospecting. This is sales, and that is something that makes me shudder.

I liked being in my own business when I could administrate my clients needs. I managed a Unix server for about three years, and I really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that I was responsible for the server, for email, and for creating web accounts. This part of the job was fun for me. I also enjoyed creating graphics and making websites. I liked the creative part of that job. What I didn't like was selling my services and putting myself on the line to be judged. It was always like asking someone for their opinion on your work. It was very hard for me to take the criticism.

The negative of being in my own business was relying on someone else to sell my services, and on never really seeing a paycheck. This was just poor management on my part, and an unwillingness to take control of the business.

As I lay all this out, I realize that my spiritual gifts lay in this realm. First of all, I do have the gift of Administration. It is my one real helping gift. I am to use it for the Church, and over the course of my life, I have done this well. I have been a Children's Director, and Awana Director. I have managed upwards of 150 adults and over 500 children per week. I have also administrated the program, making sure that the weekly meeting ran smoothly. I loved doing this, and I loved the responsibility of being the "go to" person. What I didn't like was dealing with Church politics, and having to handle personal disputes between workers (personalities and such). But, that aside, I loved being a Church Administrator.

My other Spiritual gifts are personal and are for my own development, though in time, they will be used also to build up the church. My main gift though is as an Administrator, and this is the most comfortable area for me to work in.

Now that I have this all detailed, the key is to find a job where I can be an administrator over programs and resources. This is the "best" place for me. I am not a people-person, though I am very social and outgoing when I have to do it. I prefer to work in quiet, and I prefer to be in front of the computer and do my work as I think it should be done. Is there a job out there that would allow me to do this kind of work? Do I work for a Church? Do I work for a business? Do I work for myself?

Dear Lord,

Thank you for helping me to see what kind of work suits me best. Thank you also for helping me to see that over the course of my life, I have used my spiritual gift, but not always as the primary area of my job. This has been why I have always felt deflated in the work itself. I now see that for me to feel positive and know that I am doing what you want for me, I need to be using my gift 100% of the time. I am asking you to bring me the opportunity to administrate a business. Whether it is my own or someone else s, please provide a way for me to use my giftings to bless others and to bring blessing to my family. I realize that the only way I will be satisfied in my work is to being doing the work I am most suited towards, and to do that, I need you to provide a job to me. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, Amen.

April 26, 2012

It's a Good Day

I am home today because of a plumbing leak under my bathroom faucet. It has been dripping for a couple weeks, and I thought I had fixed it a while ago. I periodically check under there, and so far it has been dry. Today, however, there was a large puddle, and now the sink veneer is coming away, and since I am just a renter here, I wanted to call the owner and have him send out a repair person.

I don't mind really, it is another personal day for me, and now that I realize that it is OK to take time off from my job, I am feeling more free to do so. Everyone else takes time off, but I am one of those people who just works, works, works. I hate to come in late, stay home, etc. I would rather just work until I drop, which is what I normally do. I work myself until I am ill, then take time. The problem is that I don't ever get well, I just get better, but not fully recovered -- kwim?

Anyway, I am scheduled to take tomorrow off as vacation, so I am taking today as well. It is what it is, and so be it.

As I sit here, with my coffee and Atkins breakfast bar, I am happy to think that I have already lost almost 5 lbs this week. I was down 2 lbs from Monday, and if you count my pre-weighin on Friday, that is almost 5 whole pounds. It has been pretty easy so far. I feel OK, even though I have been off Diet Pepsi/Coke since the weekend, I have only been irritable once. No headaches either. I still am not feeling 100%, and I am very tired, but overall, I am pleased with my progress, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to get myself back in better health.

My goal is to lose 20 lbs before July 7th. My nephew is getting married, and I want to look better than i do now. I need to lose about 35 lbs -- much like before when I did Weight Watchers in 2001. I hate the fact that I am this heavy again. I know why; I am just mad at letting myself get this heavy. No wonder my back aches all the time. No wonder I have no energy, and feel awful every day. This is extra weight I don't need in my life right now, and I am ready to get rid of it! Pronto!

My plan is pretty simple, really. I am exchanging high calorie/carb foods for low-calorie and low carb items. I am trying to keep my menus easy to plan and prepare, so nothing major as far as what I am eating. My big change is in getting off the Diet drinks, and in replacing my breakfast and my afternoon snack with a high protein choice. I am also keeping my lunches to smaller portions, and eating either salad or Lean Cuisine frozen items. These are easy for me to bring to work, and cutting out the junk food, easily solves the extra calories as well as the mid morning and afternoon cravings. In fact, my cravings have gone to zero since I got off the Diet drinks. I am a little hungry, so I think I need more calories than my budgeted 1200-1500, but for now, I am going to try and stick with this number until I have lost some more weight. They say that 1-2 lbs per week is what you want to shoot for, and with Atkins, you can lose up to 15 lbs in the first two weeks. I am not doing the full-blown induction diet, just some tweaks -- but as I said -- so far I have lost about 5 lbs. I am blessed.

On another front, I really do like my new Mac system. I am still getting used to finding things, and I don't like Safari at all. I would much prefer to use Chrome or even Firefox. I don't like that the windows swap back and forth -- I know -- it is like my IPad, which I think is cool. The computer, though, bugs me when I cannot minimize the windows to get where I want when I want to do it.  I like my monitor, and I really like the Magic Mouse. I don't like the wireless keyboard, and I find it really hard to type on it. I am thinking of buying a standard USB keyboard, and then keeping this wireless one for my IPad or when I get a laptop down the road. It is cool, but I make a ton of errors, and that just bugs me.

Lastly, and this is just an update post for my blog -- I have had some issues with knowing what to do regarding my next step in my schooling. I have received word from the Lord that I am to go to Rio Salado this fall to complete my foreign language. However, I have not received word to go on to ASU. I have received word to go to Regent, but I guess I am confused. I don't want to give up ASU or Regent -- Time wise, I cannot afford to miss any of these cues. So I am waiting for the Lord to give me confirmation on which way to go today. I am asking Him to provide a clear and direct path so that I know exactly which direction to take. God is Good all the time, and I know He will provide good clear directions for me to follow. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

April 23, 2012

Making Progress Today

Day One of my Atkins Diet. So far so good. I have kept my carbs down to a minimum, and am feeling pretty good. I was hungry earlier today, and I needed a snack, so I drank my protein shake. I think I need to have a bigger lunch, or at the least, add more protein to my lunch. The protein bar for breakfast was spot on, good and satisfying, and held my hunger at bay until lunch time. I had a caesar salad, which was good, but not enough for me. I think tomorrow I will add ham, turkey and cheese to make it more of a Chef Salad. I need to plan for dinner tonight, and right now, I am craving food -- so I need to come up with a good dinner plan to carry me through until tomorrow. Ok, so more refining on the menu is needed, but generally speaking, I am happy with the result.

On the school front, I am more content with my choice of Rio Salado as an intermediary stop before doctoral studies. I need to bang out my French study, and I am really looking forward to these courses. I am also feeling confident on my papers for Mercy, and I plan to get everything done in the next week or two. I want to order my announcements for graduation, my sash, and other items for my Masters degree this week.

Recital is over, and my nerves are back in good shape. No worries about the upcoming performance piece of Ava Maria for Betsy Morrow's Senior Recital on Sunday. I can play this piece well, and we sound great (all of us - Karen Macklin, me and DJ Hepburn). It should be a really nice afternoon performance.

Lastly, I am contemplating change again -- well -- I think the Lord is contemplating the change. He had asked me to be prepared for change a couple weeks ago, and naturally, I freaked out. I don't normally freak, but whenever He speaks to me about change, I tend to go off the deep end. I am comfortable even in the midst of my unconfortability, if that make any sense. I am comfortable because I don't like change, but despite the fact that I am not happy about certain things, I choose to remain simply to avoid the unpleasantness of change. The devil you know versus the devil you don't know, as the old axiom says.

In my case, change doesn't sit well with me, and I worry over it, and how my life will fare after it. I don't know what kind of change He is thinking of, but I am confident that change is coming into my life, and I need to be ready for it. I accept it now, thanking Him for the opportunity to grow. I accept the change, even if it makes me uncomfortable, because I know that I need to be stretched this way, to mature into His will. I don't want to change, yet I long for the kind of change that conforms me more closely to His will for my life. I ask Him now to change me, to change my attitude, and my willingness to experience all He has in mind for me. I ask this now in Jesus' Name because change according to the Lord is indeed Good for me.

April 22, 2012

French Language Study

I am officially registered for French at Rio Salado Online College. I will be completing a Language Certificate that includes four semesters of French along with three additional courses in Linguistics, Sociology, and Communications. I think the Certificate will look nice on my resume, show that I am preparing for doctoral studies, and generally give me another item to add to teaching applications.

My plan right now is to complete this certificate program in two semesters. I should be able to do this, simply because Rio Salado offers mini-courses which include 8 weeks of online instruction. Hopefully, with working full-time, this will not be an issue for me. I am blessed to be able to do this short program, and I think it will be a nice change from all my English master courses.

April 21, 2012

A Step of Faith, Part Three

Final post...

Boy, I sure don't like the changes Blogger made to the site...I digress!!!

In summary, then, I took a step of faith last night by choosing to trust the Lord and return to the path I was on, which is through ASU's Linguistics program. I am registered to take the first two semesters of French in the Fall, along with a Linguistics course and a Sociology course (Racial and Ethnic Minorities). I will then complete the remaining two semesters of French along with a Communications course to complete the Academic Certificate program. None of these credits will transfer to my program, but that is Ok. I don't get credit for my language study, I just need to show that I completed courses through 200 level. The SLC 201 class is foundational, and will give me a little background for graduate courses. I may still take a 300-400 level class at ASU, but more than likely, I will be able to take the 500-600 level class since I am coming in with my Masters in English. If everything works out as it appears now, I will have accomplished the following education in preparation for the Lord's work:

  • Associates of Art in Liberal Studies, emphasis in Graphic Design - Evergreen Valley College, 1984
  • Bachelors of Art in Humanities, emphasis in European Studies, Minor in English Literature - San Jose State University, 1993
  • Masters of Art in English Literature - Mercy College, 2012
  • PhD in English/Linguistics, emphasis in social and psycholinguistics - Arizona State University, 2018
Along with these degrees, I will also have an Academic Certificate in Languages from Rio Salado College, and have completed Intermediate French. I will still need to continue my language study through fourth year, but this will be done on my own through language programs and travel. I will also need to complete additional language study in German and in Italian before I am really ready to do His work.

My job will be as an instructor in English Language and Linguistics, a teacher of Composition as well as Literature courses. Additionally, I will focus my studies on social and psycholinguistics with the emphasis on understanding language development and acquisition along with cultural diversity. The intention is to equip me to minister to those individuals who work on the front lines in International Ministry. My role is to support and encourage frontline Pastors, teachers, missionaries and to equip them to deliver the Word of God in a new way, a fresh way that will incorporate the cultural and ethnic diversity of Northern Europe to overcome the challenges inherent in a postmodern and New Age world. I plan to use my education and experience for God's work, and in doing so, my primary goal is to be ready to minister to the Body of Christ, specifically those individuals who are attempting to minister to the lost in the triangle between Northern France/Germany and Italy. This is my calling, this is the Word I received from the Lord showing me the way to go, the path to complete to be ready to do His work. I am ready, and I am willing, and I am eager to do this work. I have overcome so many obstacles since He first called me -- so much doubt, so much unbelief, and so much unwillingness to "go." I have learned to trust Him, to believe in Him, and to know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am ready, Lord -- send me!

A Step of Faith, Part Two

Continued post...

The Lord and I talked about the options I have for work a while ago, and of these choices (teaching, corporate, or retail sales), we settled on teaching and me becoming an instructor at the Community College. Now that I am graduating with my Masters in English, I am eligible to teach college courses. This has been something I wanted to do since I first started my Masters program. I have wanted to do this for a really long time (years), but I always felt that it wasn't possible -- not with my age, lack of experience, etc. Even though I thought it was impossible, the Lord has provided some positive affirmations to let me know that it is possible (recent news articles saying that the CC's are hiring again, etc.) I have wanted to believe this is the case, but truthfully, I decided not to believe that the Lord would do this for me, even though He said that He would do it. My bad, so to speak!

Yet, even while I was floundering and choosing not to believe the Lord, He has been working behind the scenes to make this option viable to me. Last month (March), I submitted my resume (another step of faith) for a teaching position at one of our local CC's. It is for an instructor to teach Developing skills or Fundamental writing. I really want to do this, as I like working with developing writers. It will be a challenge, and I am willing to work with adults who cannot write a sentence or paragraph. It will be good experience for me, and I like the focus -- helping adults overcome writing phobia and challenges. The job posting is for August 2012-May 2013. It is a one year position, and while I was excited to apply, I was concerned about the "what happens after May?" part of the job post. The Lord was not concerned, and He replied to me with His usual, "I have you covered" line, which just means "rest and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

If I could draw all this out, this is what you would see>

Me------->walking towards enrolling at ASU to study Linguistics for Fall 2013
Me------>applying for a teaching job at our local CC to teach fundamental writing skills for Fall 12/13
Me----->preparing to study French in August so I can pass the CLEP exam and earn 16 lang. credits
Me----->choosing to study Linguistics, but not having studied it previously thinking if I needed a prep class to introduce me to the program
My son ---->signing up to take German at Rio Salado, an online CC for Fall 2012
Me---->thinking that I could take the required EDU 250 class (for teachers at the CC) at that same school
Me---->seeing that RS has French courses, and an intro to Linguistics course as 8-week mini courses
Me----->looking at ASU, and starting the application for a Certificate in Linguistics, but finding it a no-go
Me---->being overwhelmed at work, needing a changed job, and more time off
Me---->wanting to do the Lord's work, but feeling that it was impossible
Me---->worried about my Financial aid which I need for doctoral studies -- but having loans due in 5/14
Me---->overwhelmed again, looking at other ways to do the Lord's work
Me----->considering staying at UOPX, going to school there only to find that I cannot do this now due to a change in the requirements
My son--->becoming more interested in languages and wanting to be a Linguist too
Me---->praying, praying and more praying to know what to do
Me---->being turned around by the Lord, and set back on the path to Linguistics again
Me---->applying to RS to study French in the Fall
Lord---->showing me a Certificate in Language Study which includes the Linguistics course and language study
Lord---->showing me that because it is a certificate, my financial aid will continue, and my loans remained deferred
Me----->completing the application for certificate for Fall/Spring thus accomplishing what I need to accomplish: 4 semesters of language along with an Introduction to Linguistics course

Taking a Step of Faith

The Lord asked me to take a step of faith this week. I thought it was about the recent interest in me as a candidate for another position. Instead, I believe now that while this is true, that God does have another position in mind for me, the step he wanted me to take was regarding my education and not my actual work.  Let me explain...

I have been stuck for a while now when it comes to my next steps for my education. I know in my heart that I am supposed to be completing my studies at Mercy, and then moving on to another school to begin a PhD program. I have narrowed my choices down to just a handful of schools, and I have been concentrating on those schools -- considering them -- for some time. About a month ago, the Lord and I discussed a change in plan, a change in my focus for my advanced studies. I wasn't thrilled about the idea at first, but after He showed me the program, and the focus, I realized that it was a really good fit for me. The more I thought about it, considered it, and meditated on it, the more I became excited about going to this program. I was happy, I was good, and I felt so positive that this was the direction He had for me to go. I even received His Word to go, which means "yes, go that way!" The problem came when I went online to look at the class schedule for this school, and found out that the courses are not offered online nor are they offered in the late afternoons and evenings. They are offered throughout the week, and usually during the day. This means, of course, that I cannot work in any kind of job that is full-time, M-F. I can only teach, and I can only teach through the school that has this program.

I received further bad news when I talked with the Advisor at the school, and she confirmed that graduate students are expected to go full-time, and not work outside of their responsibilities at the school. This is pretty typical for most doctoral programs, and while I wasn't shocked at the news, I was disappointed in hearing it first hand. I mean, I need to work. I need to make money, and I need at least what I make now at UOPX to pay bills, to live comfortably. I cannot go without money, and I cannot be a starving graduate student -- not now anyway -- not at this stage in my life.

I saw a huge roadblock up ahead, and I stopped in my tracks. I stopped and instead of asking the Lord what He planned for me to do, I simply turned around and went back to where I started. This going backwards is what I wrote about on my blog yesterday. I felt as though I was swimming up stream, and the going was tough. I was tired, and exhausted, and I didn't know why things had gotten so rough for me. Now certainly, I know the Lord can move mountains. I know He can part the seas. I know He can do anything He wants or needs to do -- and nothing is impossible for Him. I simply refused to believe that He would do this for me, that He would make my way passable. I assumed that this roadblock was the end of the line, when in reality, it simply meant that God had another way for me to go, a way around the boulder, a way to keep going and to do what He asked of me.

It is weird, really, when I stop to think about it. I know what I need to do, and I have a task sheet that helps me to remember all the things needed doing. In my particular case, I need to accomplish the following:

  • Learn French fluently (for school and for ministry)
  • Complete a PhD in a program that aligns with my undergraduate and graduate coursework (so English, Composition, Linguistics, Rhetoric, etc.)
I need to do both of these things, and I am on track to do them. The language requirement is necessary to be accepted into a doctoral program. It is a given that i have to demonstrate reading and writing ability as a prerequisite for most programs. Therefore, I have known for a while that I needed to do this, and I had made plans to study on my own and then take the CLEP exam to try and pass and receive credit without taking the courses.

Then I found ASU's Linguistic program, and the Lord showed me how this program would be a good fit for my interest. The language requirement is still there, but the program is interdisciplinary in nature, so I can take Psychology courses along with the Linguistic courses to develop a unique field of study. Moreover, I can specialize in the area that I am most interested in, which is Psycholinguistics. I thought this was good, and I liked the approach, and the fact that I could take these classes. The problem was that I couldn't start the program until next year, and fearing that it would take me more than 5 years to complete, I worried about the timing of it.

As I prayed over this potential concern, the Lord showed me a certificate program in Linguistics. I liked it, and even took a step of faith to enroll -- the program check sheet said the program had rolling admissions, and I thought "OK, so I can enroll for fall 2012, and take some courses to prepare myself for the doctoral program." I started the application only to find that you cannot enroll for any start other than Fall the next year. Moreover, you can only transfer a number of graduate credits into the program and with my Masters, I am already maxed out. So I stopped again, turned around and headed back up stream. Another roadblock in my way to accomplishing this goal the Lord has set for me.

I was in a tailspin, feeling overwhelmed and out of control. I prayed, I cried, and I tried so hard to figure it all out. The Lord was kind to me, gracious and patient. He kept telling me to rest, to trust Him, to wait, to be patient. I thought -- "Lord, how can this be? Something is clearly wrong, and I cannot figure it out." Then as if a miracle occurred, the Lord showed me the way out.

I always get confused and assume the way out deals with my work, and not some other area of my life. I need to remember that my work is just a job to the Lord. And, work is something the Lord can easily provide to me. No, the BIG DEAL is always about His will, and the way out will always focus on some aspect of His will. So in this case, the big deal was that I had my schooling and path to succeed blocked, and I needed a way out, a way around, a way to follow that would still take me in that same direction, only make it possible for me to do it now.

Voila! The Lord provides when you ask Him genuinely and with the intention of doing what He says (obedience, you know). After much tailspinning, the Lord righted my little craft, and helped me navigate back to where I was, and back to that boulder in the road. He then pointed a way for me to go that moves me around that object, and now I am moving again. PTL! I am moving again!!

April 20, 2012

Starting Atkins

I made the decision to do something about my weight last week. I have been praying about my weight gain for the past 6-12 months, but nothing I have done, has really made any difference. Last week, I talked with the Lord about it again, but I really wasn't keen on doing anything to help my weight loss program. Then at work this week, my next door cube-neighbor said that she wanted to do something about her weight. We started talking, and decided to buddy up and track our progress together. I decided to try Atkins for the first two weeks. I am not sure why I wanted to give it a try, but I thought it might be easier to jump start my weight loss.

I bought some Atkins product at Walmart. Given my day and routine, this is what I am thinking might work during my first two weeks:

Breakfast - one Atkins Bar (3g) along with coffee and 1/2 and 1/2
Snack - Veggie and dip (2g)
Lunch - Chef salad with veggies and ham/turkey/bacon/cheese and Ranch dressing (6g)
Snack - Atkins shake (2g)
Dinner - 4 to 6 oz of Protein, green veggies, etc. (6g)

My goal will be to keep my net carbs below 20g. I am also thinking that I will go off the Diet Soda, even though it doesn't have carbs, it has artificial sweeteners and I need to be rid of them as well. Eight glasses of water, including tea and coffee, and I think this is good.

The last time I did weight loss, I was successful by keeping a journal and eating a set menu. I am not into variety, so I don't mind eating the same foods every day. If I can stick to this for two weeks, perhaps I can lose 10 lbs.  My goal is to lost 35, just like before, and that took me 6 months, so I am hoping that by changing my eating habits, counting carbs, and exercising, I can get my weight back under control by summer. My initial goal is to be down to a size 6 by July 7 -- my nephew's wedding. I think this is really doable, so I plan to do Atkins Induction for the next two weeks, then moderate my menu so that I can continue to lose weight over the next 6-12 months, like before.

I actually signed up on the Atkins website so that I could use their online tracker to track my weight loss, create menus, and keep tabs on my progress. It is pretty cool, and I think having an online tracker is a great thing. Plus it is totally free, and for me, that makes it worth while.

Lessons from Driver's Training

My son has his learner's permit. We went to the MDV today to pick up the "official" card, so technically, he is allowed to drive with a licensed adult. On the way home, he asked if he could have a driving lesson today. I said, "yes," and then we spent about an hour learning how to drive my Kia Rio. His dad will take him tomorrow to practice on the SUV, but since he will primarily be driving my car, he needs to learn how to drive a manual transmission.

We took our time today, and drove around several nearby neighborhoods so my son could practice shifting, and working the clutch. He did pretty well, though I only allowed him to get into 2nd gear. We will work more this week, and hopefully, he will be ready for his driving test in the next couple weeks. I have paid for professional driving lessons, and he will schedule his free time after school to train with the teacher. I wanted him to have professional lessons along with practice so that he would be a really good driver.

I have 100% confidence that my son will be a good driver. He is very conscientious and he listens well. I know that I can trust him with my car.

Learning how to drive is a big step in the life of anyone, but especially a young person. My son is an amazing young man. Not only is he an honor's student at the Community College, but he is also excelling in professional pursuits as well. He volunteers at church, and he is constantly studying to improve himself. Next fall, he will be taking 17 credits at PVCC along with 8 foreign language credits at another school. He is determined to learn as many foreign languages as possible, so he will start with German for four semesters, followed by Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages as he can find classes or courses.

He wants to be a Linguist. He plans to complete his music studies first, then go for a second Bachelor's degree in Linguistics. He can do it -- if anyone can -- he can. I am so proud of him. He has really turned into a fine young man, and I am so blessed that he is my son.

As I consider my life, I look over the contents of it, and I realize just how blessed I have been. God has provided me with every blessing under Heaven. I have for all intents and purposes one of the most blessed lives I know. I am thoroughly immersed in the Holy Spirit, and I am under His control and direction. I listen carefully, and I am watchful to make sure I don't go astray. I am doing as the WORD says -- keeping alert, and paying close attention. In doing so, I am confident that the plans the Lord has for me, will indeed come to pass.

Today, I started my morning feeling so very befuddled and uncertain. Now, midway through my day, I see things clearly. I realize that I am moving again. I am back in the river of God's will, and I am flowing with His Holy Spirit and not against Him. I am letting Him do what needs doing, and I am resting in His provision for me. I know that I am good. I know that my life is good. And, I know that the plans the Lord has for me are so very good. God is good all the time, and all the time, God is so very good! PTL! God is GOOD!

Resting, Part Three

Last post on this topic....

So now, I need to make some choices, and these choices need to align with God's will for my life. I know His will, I know what I am to do, I just don't know how I am to do it. I have tried to follow what I believed was the Lord's plan for me, and so far, I have found success. Something changed for me, and I am uncertain what that was, I just know that for the past couple months, I have been pushing a rock up a hill, and I am losing hold.

My choices are as follows:

  1. Remain where I am at UOPX (as an Advisor), and wait for the Lord to move me to another position within my company (a promotion to Sr. Advisor in September)
  2. Take a job offer that comes my way, step out in faith, and go to another employer
  3. Continue to work where I am, but look for a job outside my employer or in another part of the parent company (as in moving to a different part of UOPX/Apollo Group)
Right now, I have been told that if I remain #1, I will receive a promotion to Sr. Advisor in September. This will come with a small pay raise, about 3-7%. I am already receiving interest from recruiters #2, though none of these positions has proven a good move at this time. But this doesn't mean I won't be offered a job that would be a good move for me. And, #3 may end up a good move too, as I have already received confirmation that my resume is being considered for a position in another part of the parent group. So in reality, I have three confirmations on options for me, and all three are positively influenced. Which one do I choose, or which one do I follow? How will I know where to go?

As far as my continued education, as I blogged earlier, I am blocked from doing anything right now. None of the schools I have chosen is open to me at this point. I cannot project which way to go because of the timing of being accepted.
  1. UOPX - this was the path I was on and the plan was to enroll here and start the PhD in Higher Education Administration in November. This would require that I remain at UOPX for five years, and continue to work my way into new positions.
  2. ASU - this was a path I considered recently, and liked a lot. It leads to teaching, and it would make it possible for me to become a full-time faculty member at the CC or another school. The plan would be to find a teaching position upon graduation from Mercy, and then teach for one year, and start ASU in fall 2013.
  3. Regent - this was the original path when I was still a Website Designer. I tried to get work as a designer, but ended up coming to UOPX instead. Now I may have the opportunity to be hired as a Graphic Artist, and this path appears open again. I could work at UOPX and do classes online. However, I do not necessarily feel that this is what the Lord wants for me now. The path seems closed permanently to me.
I know that this following is part of God's will for my life. I am to complete advanced studies in an area that aligns with my undergraduate and graduate course work. This would be English/Humanities -- so really the only school that fits me is ASU. I can enroll in one of two programs: Rhetoric/Composition/Linguistics or Linguistics. The issue with the second is the emphasis on Second Language Acquisition, which is not really my field. It could be, but really, I am far more interested in Social Linguistics than in SLA.

Alright, so factoring in my job with my schooling, this is what I can see. If I wait for #1, then I will have two years of higher education employment to satisfy the requirement. I still need to demonstrate leadership, but that probably won't happen in two years. In three yes, but that places me out of the Lord's timeline on completing my education. It looks like I have to let UOPX go. This leaves me with #2 ASU and #3 Regent. Since #3 is blocked, I feel that my only course of action is to accept #2 and rely on the Lord to provide two things to me: a teaching position and the opportunity to attend school full-time in 2013.

Resting, Part Two

I am not sure that I like Blogger's new interface. I guess I have a limit to my posts now, which is a bummer, since I tend to write really long entries. Oh well, brevity...brevity. It is all about brevity.

As I ended my previous post, and started this one, the topic at hand is my inability to rest in God's provision. I cannot see what He is doing right now, and I am confused. I don't know what to do, and I am feeling stuck. Ok, so when this has happened before, I had to let go of my hold and realize that God has it all in His hand. It is under His control, and everything will turn out fine. He is always able to make things work out, and I know that He will not allow a school, a job, or even a computer come in the way of His plans. I need to rest and let things be. God will show me a way out.

I am reminded of a river, and how it meanders through the land. The river runs where it will, and the current drives boats, people, fish, debris, etc. down from the headwaters to the mouth and into a larger body of water, like a lake or bay or ocean. The river is in control of where it goes. The people who are on the river can navigate the current, stay clear of the rocks or other hazards, but generally have to go with the current, and not against it. In dangerous parts where the current is extra strong, the captain must read his map or chart to know where to pilot his boat so that he doesn't cause harm to his vessel or crew.

In this same way, God's Spirit is like that mighty river. He flows His way and we are allowed through the Grace of Christ to ride along. If we struggle against the river of His Will, then we may come to harm or find the going rough. If we yield, then we flow naturally along the current, and the Spirit takes us where He wants us to go.

I have been struggling against the Holy Spirit, and now I understand what I have been doing. I have said that I was willing to go with the flow, but in truth, I have been trying to pilot myself along this river. I have found myself in places where the water is rough, deep, and unsettling. I have been struggling to go up stream, when I needed to turn around and go with the current. I am tired, I am worn out, and I am undone.

There has been blessing in my life, no doubt, but I have struggled with exhaustion to the point of missing all that blessing and enjoyment. This is because I have been going the wrong direction, and I have tried to navigate where clearly I cannot go.

Therefore, I must stop trying to go upstream, and turn around and allow myself to flow with the current and not against it. I don't know how long I have been going against the current, but it has been a long while. My life has been at an almost standstill since January when there were major changes at my work. I felt the pressure of finishing my thesis, of completing two classes at one time while working full-time, and learning a new way to do my job. All of this coincided with losing my house, moving the remnants of my life to a new home, and trying so very hard to keep it all together.

As I ponder this thought, I am struck by the gravity of what I have come through, and how the Lord God has enabled me to make a good life for myself, despite everything I have endured. I am good. I am somewhat healthy now, and I have great prospects for my future. I just am so unhappy where I am right now. I am stressed beyond measure, and I am sad and feeling as though the road ahead is a mountain of rocks and boulders, and I do not have the strength nor the energy to attempt one more step.

What can I do? What should I do? All I hear from the Lord is this word: REST. I am being told daily that I need to rest. Yet, I try and rest, and nothing changes. I try and stay still, and wait, but I am still unwell. I listen for His voice, and I hear TRUST ME. I cry out and say, "Yes Lord" I trust you -- I believe you, but nothing changes.

I am lost, and I am uncertain, and I am so very, very tired.

Learning to Rest in God

My paycheck was short this period, and I am a little bit bummed. I messed up on my time sheet last week, and I should have just left things be, but instead, I tried to be honest, and ended up losing $100. I hate the fact that I tried to do the right thing, and was penalized by my company. I could have kept the lie, and ended up with more money in my account. Lesson learned. Next time, just put your time in, and stop worrying about whether you are over or under.

On to other things this morning. I am home today, another vacation day, and I am enjoying my time off. Plans include taking my son to the DMV for his Permit, and then chamber rehearsal this afternoon. I have so much on my plate right now and I am struggling to understand what God wants me to do. I feel pressured, and I don't like it. I need to have everything be done, over with, so that I can rest, but that rest is not coming anytime soon.

I have prayed over this rest, asked God for His help, and yet, I am still sitting here feeling the pressure to perform, the pressure to get things done, and the pressure that says you are behind, not good enough, and you are late. I hate it. I want it to stop. I want to be done with school. I want to be graduated. I want to rest.

On top of all these feelings, is the underlying issue of me not being able to start advanced studies this fall. I wanted to keep going, but now I am finding that my way is blocked. I cannot start at UOPX because they have recently changed the rules and now you must work in Higher Education for two years before you can enroll in the PhD program. You have to be in leadership for two years, which I can say that I was since I ran my own business for 12 years, but I don't have the required two years in administration. So, that means that I cannot enroll at my own school until August 2013. All of my school choices, UOP, Regent, and ASU are now pushed out to 2013. What does this mean to me? Well, either the Lord is giving me rest from school or He is telling me that His plan is for me to start next year?

Lord, which is it?

I am Ok with going to school next year. I already made peace about Regent and ASU. I just thought I would stay on at UOPX and then take some classes to prepare me for enrolling in November. Now that is not the case. More than likely, I will not be able to enroll until next November. It will just depend on the cohorts and when they form.

So, here is the low down on my choices:
  • Regent is holding my application for May 2013 start. I would need to spend the summer or about 2 weeks on their campus sometime in May-June time frame. I am OK with this, but not really sure I want to do that now.
  • ASU requires that I attend full-time. They offer teaching positions to help supplement income, but generally, you have to take the classes when they are available, which is not very often. It is either be a full-time grad student, without income or go someplace else.
Regent is online, partly a hybrid program. ASU is not online -- old fashioned ground campus program. I just don't know if I can cut ASU. This is a major research University and I am out of my league when it comes to this kind of research. Of all the programs, I think UOPX and Regent will be easiest.

So now I don't know what to do. I have to wait regardless of the choice. I feel like my path is blocked and I don't know where to go.

April 18, 2012

More Interesting Changes

So today was a pretty good day for me. It started off roughly, but after a couple positive hours, things turned out OK. First of all, I made up my mind to stay put at UOPX. I made this decision last night, but didn't articulate it until today. Second, I decided that I have had enough of the "beat me" up attitude I am sporting. I have been very hard on myself lately, and it is not helping me feel better about my life and my work. Third, and last, I have noticed some things happening, hence the title of this post.

Yesterday, I received a call from a technical recruiter. This followed the email I received on Tuesday from my own parent company in response to a job I applied for back in March. Today, I received an email from another recruiter asking me to update my resume, and meet with her to see if I might be interested in some positions she has open. Ok, so what is going on?

In February, I got really fed up with the pressure at my job. I was feeling overwhelmed by what was going on, and I decided to start casting my net, so to speak. I applied for a couple positions through Maricopa CC and ASU. I also applied internally to see if there was any interest in my resume. Nothing happened, nothing at all. Then last week I received recognition regarding something I did at work. It was pretty huge, and the praise was nice to receive. Yesterday, after the email from the internal recruiter and the call from the external recruiter, my current supervisor also gave me praise and encouragement for my handwork and discipline. Now, I am getting contact from another recruiter.

I would like to take credit for this, but I cannot. This is the Lord's doing on my behalf, and I am really overwhelmed and overjoyed about it. I don't even have a good resume ready -- but already -- people are taking an interest in me. I guess it is true what they say "when you don't have a job, and need one -- nothing happens; but when you have a job, and want a different one, then the ice dam breaks loose and opportunities abound."

My plan today is to rest. I am to sit still and remain where I am until the Lord chooses to move me to another position. I know that I don't want to take a job for less money (I cannot), and I don't want to do contract work or temp to perm. I need benefits, and while I would live without them for a while, I really don't want to give mine up. So I am looking for a job that betters me, moves me up, and into a better position. I want to make more money, and have a job that aligns with the Lord's will for my life. I need to move up, and into His work; not take another position that moves along side of it.

Dear Lord,

I ask you to open a door of opportunity for me regarding a new job. I am content now to remain where I am. I know that in September, I will probably get a promotion and pay raise. This is nominal, but it would be a good start. I can last until then, but I really would like to move up into a position that is more directly related to your work for me. I ask now that you move me to the place of your choosing. If I am to remain where I am at, so be it. If I am to go elsewhere, then so be it. I trust you, and I am relying on you for your provision. God be praised today and forever more. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.  Selah!

April 17, 2012

Rejoicing for God is Good

I went into work today later than usual, just to give me a little down time and a more relaxed morning. My day was pretty normal for a Tuesday. I made about 80 calls, talked with three new students, and generally took care of my every day business. I had a meeting with my new manager, again -- a nice change for me -- and a very surprising phone call from an outside recruiting firm. The recruiter wanted to know if I was interested in a Web Development position for a local firm. I really wasn't sure what to say, so I tentatively said "yes." The position is temp to perm, something I really don't want to do right now, but the money was better and the job would be familiar ground to me. I considered it a gift from the Lord, for after all, He said to me that I needed to step out in faith today.

I am sitting here thinking to myself that I have had two new opportunities for work in the past couple days. Both are for graphics or web design, which surprises me most. I mean, after all, I tried to get hired as a designer last year, and no one would take serious interest in me.  Now I am set in my position as an educational advisor and recruiters are looking at me again. Weird, to say the least.

I really don't know what to do. I want a new job, but I also don't want to give up the security of this position. I want benefits, and I want a stable paycheck. I am doing well at my current job, and I am getting noticed by upper management. I don't want to jump ship, but I also don't want to keep doing what I am doing for much longer.

This morning, the Lord had me write down that I struggle with change, and that often I am content to stay in one place, even if the conditions are not a good fit for me. Better to be miserable than to have to deal with change. I guess He is correct. I would rather stay put than try something new and find out I had made a mistake. Hmm....sounds just like me...giving into my fear again.

Ok, continued stepping out in faith right now. Lord, so be it. I will stay put if this is your will or I will look elsewhere, again only in your will. You provide the next job for me, and I will do the work. I let go of the rest -- the details, the whereabouts, and the wherefores. Take me where ever you see an opening that pleases you and accomplishes your will. You are God, and you can make this happen. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

This is the Day the Lord has made...

This is the Day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~Psalm 118:24 NLT

I sing praise to God today, giving Him honor and preference. He is Good, and His will is Good. I love the Lord with my whole heart, and I look to Him for my strength and my salvation. May God be praised today, and forevermore. May God be praised today!

As I sit here today, I have made a decision about my life. I am ready to do the Lord's will, to complete His calling on my life, but some things need to change. I know this, I have known it for a while, but I have struggled to accept this change because it means upset for me. By upset, I simply mean that I do not handle change well, and I prefer things, everything in my life, to be stable, to run smoothly. I love balance, and I desire that all things be in balance in my life. This means that often I accept less than perfect situations so that change will not occur. I want to remain steady, and not have to deal with new people or new things or new events, so I choose to remain still even when I know that I need to move.

Today I am taking a step of faith. I am stepping out in belief that God is greater than all my fears and that His word to me is true. I am choosing to no longer believe the lie that I am less than I need to be, that I am in such a state that I cannot do what God is calling me to do. I have believed that lie for so many years, and it is the root of my fear of failure. I no longer want to be that way, I want to be victorious and I want to be all the God has made me to be. I am choosing to live my life fully engaged, and fully realized so that I can go where He calls me to go, and I can do the work He is asking me to do.

I am ready, I am willing, and I am agreeing with the Lord that His way is best, that He knows where He is leading me, and that I am able to do all that He asks of me in the Name of Jesus. I have His power, I have His authority, and I go in His Name; therefore, there is nothing that can stop me, no one who will stand against me. I am anointed and I am able to do all things through the blessedness of Christ who has saved me (Phil. 4:13).

This is my decision today:

  • No longer fear my graduate schooling choice, No longer worry about the details of it including how to complete assignments or what grades I will get. I am choosing to trust the Lord and believe that I will do well because He has chosen this path for me, and I am anointed to succeed.
  • No longer concern myself with my job or the tasks assigned to that job. God has provided work for me to do, and while it is not perfect at this time, it is work. I will go to my job, do the work, and not feel personally responsible for anyone's choices. I will stand for what is right, do what is right, but I will not be pressured into performing for anyone other than my Lord.
  • As I consider options for new work, I will trust the Lord to provide that work to me. It is His call now, and that means that it is not about me figuring out how to get another job or deciding on which job to apply for or take. The Lord provides and I will do whatever job He brings to me.
  • I let the rest be because there is nothing in my life that matters more than the work I do for the Lord. I live for Him, and I devote my time, my energy, my life, and all the makes up my soul to Him. I am no longer living to please any man. I am no longer living to prove that I can do certain things well. I know that everything that succeeds is of the Lord. Every thing I do is empowered by Him for success, and therefore, there is nothing I can do that profits Him in any way.
  • I go out today as a new person, convinced of the supremacy of my God, knowing that everything He has promised will come to pass, and that everything I am do to is in the works. There is nothing out of sorts, nothing wrong, nothing to fear or worry about this day. God is Good, He is in control, and His will is perfect. My life is blessed because of His blessing to me.
Dear Lord,

I confess your Name today, and I give you praise. I have been living in fear and been consumed by doubt over the past couple months. You have been more than faithful to me, and you have kept your word to me. Everything you have promised me has come to pass, and everything yet to be is in process. All things will be as you have said, and I am ready to move forward into the next phase of my life. I ask now for your blessing upon my life this day, and I ask for the grace to do your will. I want to please you in all things, to obey your word to me, and to keep focused and directed on your plans. I know I can do this because of Christ who lives within me. I can do all things through the Name of Jesus -- the Christ -- the risen Lord. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

April 16, 2012

New Computer is Here!

My new computer is here! I picked it up at FedEx today, and after a few issues getting things hooked up, I am now up and running on OSX Lion! Whoohoo!

God is so very good to me!!

I have had major issues with my eye sight for some time now. Partly I believe that this is due to eye strain/dry eyes, but also think there is some visual issues at play. I need to get new glasses, more than likely, trifocals, so I can see mid-range as well as up close and at a distance. I have been vacillating regarding purchasing a Mac or a PC. I weighed the pros and cons of each, and in the end, went with the Mac. I am really glad I did because the visual issues are less noticeable on the Mac then they were on the PC. My new monitor is great, and I like the way it displays everything - slightly larger than with the IMAC, yet still fairly sharp and crisp.

It will take a little while for me to get used to using the wireless keyboard -- it is so tiny and I make a lot of errors in typing, but I think I am getting the hang of it. All in all, I am really pleased. I can actually see the text, and when I watch Netflix or browse the web, I can actually see things!!

I have been struggling to take the Lord at His word to me, and now here I sit, typing on the very computer He suggested to me. He has been so gracious to me, and has given me choices about various items I needed to purchase. I have second-guessed Him, not wanted to spend the money He has provided, and generally been disagreeable regarding opportunities and such. Now today, God is Good -- well always Good -- it is just today I realize just how Good He really is. God is Good all the time; and all the time, God is Good.

Today was a really horrible day at work. I had some issues with student retention, student completion, and generally just student dissatisfaction. This is pretty normal when you work in higher education. It never is a great day, but most days are pretty good.

I was at a really low point today -- between just the normals of the day, and then being chased by some bees (I walked by a swarm of them) -- I really was not a happy camper. Then I got an email regarding a job I had applied for at my work. No real information, just a confirmation that my resume and application are being reviewed. I am blessed. I mean, even if I don't get this interview, it does show that I can apply for positions at my company.

I am not really sure if I want this job or not, but after today, I am leaning towards wanting it a lot. It is as a graphics designer, which is a good fit for my skills. I am ready to go back to working on the computer, and being into my own thing, rather than being in student business. I don't like taking responsibility for people -- at the least -- not for people I don't know and will not know personally. I want to go back to doing a job, and going home at night and leaving it all at the office. I don't want to bring that work home with me anymore.

God is Good so I am trusting Him to do this work through me. I need Him to do this for me, and to keep me until He does provide another kind of work for me to do. Praise God for all His blessings -- He is so very Good to me!

April 15, 2012

Stressed Out Today

It is 11:30 and I am stressed out. My music teacher is having a recital next week, and we (me and my son) are heading over to her house for practice in about 45 minutes. I found out yesterday, that my son cannot be in the recital next Sunday. He told me that the show at the CC in which he is the sound designer has two matinees on Sunday (today and next week at 2). This means that there is no way he can perform as part of our chamber group, and unfortunately, he is the accompianist/performer, so without him, we cannot really perform the pieces we have been practicing for the past couple months.

I am so upset at him for not checking the calendar, and for telling our teacher that he could do this recital. I am disappointed in his lack of follow through, but I do understand that he is overwhelmed right now. He has a lot on his plate, and truthfully, he cannot do everything required for school and still do outside activities. This was poor planning on his part, and I am upset that we are one week away and that he has to tell our teacher he cannot be there next week.

I don't need this stress today. I don't need this stress this week, and I certainly do not need this stress this month. I am about to graduate from college, and I have so much work to do. My job at UOPX is stressful. My life right now with school is stressful, and I just don't have the time to do anything else that brings stress into my life.

I don't want to quit any of these things, but I am at the breaking point, and I cannot continue to do everything and expect to remain well. I am not well, this is true. I am hanging in there, taking each day, but I am exhausted and I am overwhelmed with everything I have to do for work.

I need a break. I need to rest. I need to let go, and every day, I pray to do that very thing. Yet, I cannot seem to break free from this relentless pace. I want to stay home, I want to do work from home, and I want to be free.

How do I do this, and still live? I don't know, I just don't know. I do believe in God, and my faith is firmly in Him and His wisdom. I know He will see me through this, and I know everything will work out in the end. God is bigger than this issue. God is able to handle it, and take care of it. I know this about my God. He is so very Good to me.

The Lion of Judah

As I sit here today, I am reminded of this verse from the Word:

For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and none shall rescue him. ~Hosea 5:14 KJV

The Lord our GOD is an awesome terror -- great and mighty -- and filled with wrath for the ungodly and wicked. Yet, in His tender mercy, He is a gracious Father, Loving and Kind, and a King worthy of all our praise. How is it possible that the God we worship, the God we trust, and the God we look to for safety and shelter, can be both benevolent, and filled with wrath?

I was surfing the net looking for background pictures, and came across this one which I saved for my desktop. This is a imitation of Aslan, the Jesus Christ figure in the Chronicle of Narnia series. This picture reminds me most of the God I expect to see when I am at His feet in Heaven. This is the face of the One who is both loving and compassionate, yet totally awesome in power. I love this picture, and it comforts me to know that my God and my King is like a roaring lion -- able to devour and able to save.

But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, "Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals." ~ Revelation 5:5 NLT

The Lion of Judah has prevailed. He has overcome, and He holds the victory in His Hand for all who will trust in His Mighty Name: Jesus.

May God be praised today and forever more. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

New Computer

I bought a new computer the other day. I have been needing to replace my old system for about three years. Last week, the work-around-pc I have been using started to fail. First I got system errors, then major Windows OS failures, and today, hard drive whining. The latter got me off my duff to back up my files, especially my school files. I had already invested in a new monitor last week, so on Friday, I bought a new computer from Apple.

I bought the MacMini, the low end unit, because I am no longer a power user. I don't really need to crunch numbers or edit websites with Photoshop. I only read email, surf the web, and do my school papers. I could have bought a less expensive PC, but with my history of failures, decided that I would return to my old standby, a Mac.

It has been about 7 years since I worked on a Mac. Now, I am an Apple user since I own the iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Having the Mini will make it easier for me to stay on one platform. Plus the Mini is HDMI ready, so my new monitor should really work well.

I still need to purchase some accessories and software, which I will do next week. One of the reasons I went with the Mini was to be able to upgrade as I could afford it. I can add up to 8GB of RAM for $59.00. I will do this in a couple weeks, and with the extra memory, Netfix and other graphic intensive programs should be happy. I can also add a second hard drive via USB or when a Thunderbolt drive is released, use  one. I will need to purchase a Super Drive so I have a CD/DVD. The new version of the Mini doesn't come with one. I don't really mind. I price shopped and to get a similar configuration with HDMI support, graphics and an i5 processor, I was still going to be in the $600-700 price range. The Mini is comparable to the HP P7 I was considering over at Office Max.

The biggest need I will have is Office and watching Netflix. This computer is in my bedroom, and will do double-duty as a TV. I needed something very small, very quiet, and easy to use. Overall, I am pleased with my purchase, and I can't wait to get it up and running (tomorrow).

April 14, 2012

Feeling Weird Today

I woke up at my usual 5:00 a.m. this morning, no thanks to Winston, who was crying and pounding on the closet doors! I got up to feed both cats, then tried to go back to sleep until Ike started throwing up in my bedroom. I have not had to deal with cat throwup for a long while now, so this was a surprise of sorts. I expect it with cats, I mean, they do eat their own fur and form balls of hair in their tummies. It is God's way to help them get rid of that excess fur! However, since I switched them to Hills Science Diet Hairball Control and IAMS Weight Control (good for Hairballs) about two years ago, I have had nary a ball. Ike has been struggling the past couple weeks (coughing and trying to toss one up) though so I thought he might actually produce the darn thing. Today, however, all I got was half digested food (yuck!) I got up to clean that mess up, and well, decided I would stay up since I have to take my son for his Driving Permit class at 7:30 a.m.

It is windy out, has been all night, and it does look like we got some rain. Today is forecasted as rain showers, so I am looking forward to a change of weather. Here in Phoenix it is sunny almost every day of the year. It is nice to have rain, wind, and even clouds -- just to change things up a bit. I am happy for the clouds, and the cooler temperatures. It will soon be hot, and then I won't get to enjoy my windows being opened again until October!

On other news fronts, as my title suggests, I feel kind of weird today. I had weird dreams last night, one particularly where I yelled at my Mother. I don't know why I dream that same dream, but I do. I love my Mom greatly, but I guess there are some latent issues there, and I get upset and say angry words in my dreams instead of in real life. I don't recall the reason for the confrontation, but I believe it had to do with my working at UOPX. I just remember her asking me about work, and me getting really upset at her. My brother was there as well, which is even more weird because he lives in San Diego now. Furthermore, we all were at my old house in San Jose. My two cats were there, and I was in my son's old room. I could see the striped wallpaper, but the border at the top was not bunnies -- it was pink flowers. The windows were covered with plastic, and had curtains that covered them. There were two twin beds in the room, and the room was really crowded (it was a small space as I recall, perhaps 10x10).

I went into the room, unmade the beds as if to change the sheets, and then pulled down the curtains, the plastic, and saw that the window was broken at the bottom half of it. The sun poured in, and Winston, my cat, jumped into the window to look out. I saw my beautiful green front lawn -- which I had worked so hard to create (literally from dirt patches to lawn and a profusion of flowers). I so miss my garden!

That was it. That was the extent of the dream. My cross words with my Mom and brother, and me looking out the front window at the grass and flowers. What does it mean? I have no real clue other than to suggest that some of the images do lend themselves to intrepretation:
  • Going home, to any home where I previously lived usually means that I am longing for some aspect of that life. In this case, it was to return to a time when my son was small, and when I was a SAHM. I worked very hard to graduate from San Jose State University, got pregnant, and then devoted myself to raising my baby. It wasn't really a happy time for me, but I tend to go back there every now and then in my dreams.
  • The broken window and the coverings suggest that something was hidden from sight, but when revealed, turned out to be broken and not whole. This is significant as it was my life, my marriage, that was broken, yet kept under wraps for all those years. I knew then that my life was horribly wrong -- besides personal stress issues, financial stability, and marital struggles -- my life during this period was a sham. It was hidden under cover so that no one would know just how bad things really were for me.
  • The sun shining through tells me that it was the Love of Christ who revealed this to me, who broke through the darkness and gave me the strength to pull down the covers and plastic, and see the truth outside my life.
  • The argument over work was more than likely stress due to the fact that my Mother has been cross with me every time I share my frustration over my current work situation. She will say things like "a job is better than no job," or "you'd better not quit that job." I know she means well, but I really wanted a tender ear to listen to my struggles, and instead, I seemed to just get quips with suggestions on what not to do (things I already planned on not doing, kwim?)
  • Why my brother was there is a mystery, as is the fact that my cat Winston was present, when my other cats (current feline Ike, and the deceased "Black Family" along with Samantha) were not.
  • Moreover, neither my son nor my husband were their either. My son and husband are rarely in my dreams, so really that is not such an issue. I would say that almost always my dreams tend to have my Mother in them or my brothers -- not my Dad nor as I said -- my son or husband.
I guess to summarize, I would say that this dream represented a small snapshot into reality, even if it was a distored one. My home in San Jose was filled with deep grieving, even though there were periods of joy mixed in (my son being born, my graduation from SJSU for example). I lived undercover, this is certainly true. I hid from collectors and others who were at our door demanding money. I was afraid to go outside because there was a stalker down the street (a drug-damaged guy who would show up at my door and stand way to close to me whenever I was outside in the front yard. He would also say things t me and I would get really uncomfortable with his questions). I lied back then, often, to cover up things that my husband did in business. There were issues with the business, with friends, and with work -- all lied or glossed over -- and I lived in shame. I hated my life, I was far from Christ, and I was psychologically tormented (oppressed and persecuted spiritually).

Once the Light of Christ touched my soul, I realized that my life was really broken, that what I believed or was trying to believe was not true nor THE TRUTH. Of course, rather than turning to Christ fully and asking Him to heal my life then, I chose instead to continue to make choices based on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). This was a mistake on my part, and now I regret it. Had I made the Lord as my first priorty, I have no doubts that my life would have turned out differently.

Nonetheless, I am where I am today because of those decisions. I thought I was acting correctly, when in truth, I was acting out of self-preservation, anger, hurt, and the desparate need to be freed from the misery of my life. Hindsight is a blessed thing, but the truth be told, I did what I did because it was the only avenue I saw open to me at that time.

Now things are different. I am a different person. I am NEW, and all things are made NEW because of my relationship with the Lord. I am on a different path, heading in a different direction. My life which was in shambles has now been remade, not pieced back together as I had hoped, but made NEW. The Lord chose to create a new vision for me rather than allow me to live in a repaired or restored one. Often the Lord chooses to restore what was broken, to fix it, to make it new again. Sometimes, though, He chooses to replace what was broken, and change circumstances to reflect a new direction. This is what He has done in my life. I am on a new path, going new places, and following after Him to see where He intends for me to go. It is exciting, but frustrating at times. It is filled with joy, peace, and contentment, but at times, it is so new to me, that it scares me. I am not afraid, I am just out of my element, so to speak, and find that I am often off-kilter slightly. I never know what to expect with God as my Leader.

So today, on my calendar there was a note that said "FINALIZATION OF PLANS." The Lord asked me to write this note about two months ago. He didn't explain it to me, He just said to pick this date and write it down, so I did. I now think I understand what He meant, and why He chose today of all days.

I have been asking the Lord to finalize the plans He has for me. Now, I know that His Will is perfect, and that the plans He has for me to accomplish His Will are set and fixed (they will not change). The tasks or say "paths" to take to accomplish His Will are in flux. There are variables at play, options and opportunities based on decisions and turns, that open up new avenues for completing His Perfect Will.  It has taken me several years to grasp that this is how the Lord works in our lives. I used to be a very concrete person, so if the Lord said, "Go to Africa," that literally meant GO-TO-AFRICA. In many ways it very well may be a call to live and work in Africa, or it could be a call to missionary efforts in Africa (supportive work done here or abroad). This supportive work could be in person or through another agency or group. It may be physical work, it may be spiritual work. It may also be to support someone or a group financially. Often, it does mean a literal "going," which could be now or it could be later on in life. It just depends on the Lord's timing.

In my case, I have been told several things that I took very literally. When they didn't come to pass, my first reaction was that they were not of the Lord. With any revelation, there must always be testimony to give credence that it was indeed of the Lord. In my specific situation, though, this was personal, a personal call that didn't materialize in the literal sense or as I had expected it to do so. Instead, I have had to wait and patiently learn about the call. In doing so, I have come to rely on my Lord, to trust Him, and to believe in faith that His Words to me are true. This is a faith-calling versus a live-calling -- the difference being that I was being called like Abraham and Moses to do something down the road, in my future. To do this thing, the object of the calling, I had to accomplish other steps in preparation for it. Therefore, my faith was tested, is being tested, and will continue to be tested as I progress toward this calling. For me to remain and be fixed, I must keep faith and believe that the Lord is telling me the truth, that His Words to me, the "promise" so to speak, will be fulfilled.

It is really difficult, and I now understand how Abraham and Sarah felt when the "promised son" didn't appear right away. I know see how they chose to make that thing happen through their own understanding and how that thing worked out for them (as in Ishmael being born). I have been in similar situations where I thought something was to be, it didn't happen, so I tried to make it happen myself. I failed miserably, and I learned a lesson that says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding..." (Prov. 3:5-6). If you want your path to be established -- you must put your faith in the Lord and wait for His provision. Otherwise, your path will go astray, miss the mark, be off from where the Lord wants you to be.

My path has changed recently. I went from one path to another, and for a time, everything felt off-kilter. Now, I am back on this path, and while I am not really happy about it, the path is fairly smooth, and the way seems clear. I may not like this path, but this path seems to be the one the Lord desires me to remain on -- at least for the foreseeable future. What is this path? How do I know I am on the right path now?

I wish I could say for certain that this path "feels" better than the other ones or that I just "know it in my soul," but in truth, I cannot really say that it is either way. I do feel better, and I do feel confident in my soul, yet I am not 100% certain. I just am willing to trust the Lord to lead me on, and if He chooses me to go another direction, than we will go that direction. It is pretty easy -- I follow His Lead.

Then what does "finalization of plans" really mean? I think that it means that I am willing to let go of the plans, and to relinguish control to the Lord's choosing of the pathways for the rest of my life. I have been struggling to remain in control, and whenever I do that, we either stop or we divert in another direction. Now I am at the point where I am willing to let things be. It is the "so be it" that often comes before the "thy will be done." I am tired of wrestling with the Lord, and I am tired of missing the mark, and feeling weird. I want to be done, to be working and moving towards His goals for my life. While I am doing that -- this is not about will so much as it is about control -- I am now ready to give in to His Way and let things be as He says they should be. I am surrendering to His Mighty Power, Authority and Determination over the course of events in my life. I am saying "so be it, thy will be done" to Him and really meaning it. I mean it. I am done. I surrender all, and I wait patiently upon the Lord for His Provision, His Direction, and His Going. I will follow. You lead me, Lord; and, I will follow you.

Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!