December 25, 2012

He is Born!

Blessed Merry Christmas! I wish you and your family the very best this Christmas day. God has been so very good to my family, and today  we will gather together to celebrate all that the Lord has done for us. May the Spirit of Christmas bless you and keep you today and throughout the coming new year!

Reflections from 2012

So many things have changed this year for our family. We settled into our new home in Phoenix in November 2011. It has been one year, and one month since we moved from our little house on Hearn Road. It was a sad day when we packed up and moved our belongings from the home we had shared as a family for the past 12 years. That little house was filled with memories, many bittersweet, as we struggled to keep our family together and to keep the very roof over our heads.

God provided a lovely home for me and my son. It is now filled with new memories, sweet and warm, and while it doesn't always feel like home, it is our temporary home until we meet with the Lord in Heaven, and live forever more with Him.

My son has almost finished community college. He will graduate with his Associates Degree in May, and then transfer to our large State University to complete a Bachelors degree in Linguistics. It is a far cry from when he first started school in 2010, and then had planned on a career in the Music Industry. He has studied Audio Engineering, Theater and general studies since, and now has focused on languages and linguistics. It is an interesting change for him, but he believes that God is calling him to use his gift of language in some way, and has decided to pursue this path locally.

I completed my Masters degree in English Literature in 2012. It was a long, long, road for me, but I finished with a 3.9 grade point average, and the satisfaction of knowing I carried the load of full-time graduate student while working (in the end) full-time as an Enrollment Advisor at the University of Phoenix.

I left the University of Phoenix in September for a career move to CVS Caremark. My job as Analyst has been challenging, and difficult. It has pulled me in new directions, and has caused me to carefully think about my next move, and whether I can handle this kind of work and the anticipated load of advanced study courses.

I am all-but applied to Regent University for summer 2013. I have one small essay to write and turn in, and then in a very short time, will find out if this is the Lord's plan for my education. I have believed that the Lord was calling me to attend Regent for the past five-six years. He has made my way smooth, and has provided everything I have needed to be prepared for this next step. I am now on the threshold of starting doctoral coursework, and while excited at that prospect, still feel overwhelmed at the very thought that I am about to start another three to five years of classes.

My parents have been supportive of me, and have stood by me, helping as they were able. Now that they are in their latter years, they need my support, and they need me to be there for them. I have spent my life in close relationship with them, and even though I have spent time, and been there whenever they have needed me, I feel now more than ever that I need to be available 24/7. I am not sure how to do this, but there is definitely a feeling that I need to be available, and I am trusting the Lord to provide for me so I can do this for them.

They have decided to sell their lovely home in Phoenix, and downsize to an apartment not too far from church and our home. I am pleased that they are taking this next step, and I know it will make these next years easier for them. Less work, less stress, and less worry. It is a very good thing.

Future Goals and Direction

My career at CVS Caremark has stalled somewhat, and the hopes I had of being able to remain there through retirement have changed. I certainly could remain there, working in this role, or another similar, but my heart has pulled me in a new direction, and I am pondering just where to go and when to leave this comfortable path.

God has provided amply for me and my son. He has given me His Grace to embark on this journey, and He has gently guided me to the best schools, the best jobs, and the best path to follow. I am on this path now, and while it has been good for me, there are rocky peaks ahead, and an uncertain turn that could take me in a different way.

I know that the plans He has for my life are very good. I know that He desires that I remain focused on His calling, on His way, and on doing things (making choices) that align with His desire for my life. I am trying to listen and heed the blessed Holy Spirit, but there is so much that is unknown. For everything I do know (or believe I know), there is a world of unknown that is staring me in the face, and causing me to shirk back in fear. I want so much to accomplish His will for my life, to go where He is sending me, and to do the work He has prepared for me to do. Yet, I am flesh, and I am flawed, and I am afraid -- so very afraid at times. God is Good -- all the time, and He knows my weakness. He is strong when I am weak -- but I still think to myself, "Lord, I cannot do what you are asking me to do." Oh Lord, how can I do what you are asking me to do? I am afraid and I do not see a way. Please provide your blessed Light of Clarification to illuminate the path so I can see where I am going, and how I am to get there?

For now, I must rest and rely upon the Word of God. I know He will never leave me nor will He abandon me. He is with me, He is my Friend, and my Guide. I trust and rely upon Him, and I know that He is Good all the time.

As I look forward to 2013, I think about how far I have come, and about the past and the changes the Lord has asked me to make in my life. Some of those changes were not easy. I gave up my life, I gave up my family, and I have up my very identity to become what He was calling me to be. I was remade. I was reborn, and the person I am today is very different from the person I was then. I am new. I am a new creature in Christ Jesus, and I now think differently. I see the world through His Eyes, and that means that my perspective is skewed heaven-ward. I think about people now in a way that says "Listen to what they are saying" and "Respond to their need." I am no longer thinking about how they might benefit or hurt me. No, it is about being compassionate towards them, and showing them the Love of God in my words, in my hands, and with my heart.

This is God's way. This is how He chooses to minister to others. It is never about us. It is always about them, and about showing them His way. In doing so, they see Christ, and they come to know the Savior. It is how God reaches out and touches men and women, and demonstrates His Love for them. I am part of that plan now, and I am a resource He has to use to do His work. I am blessed to be used this way, and for the Lord to be active in my life to change me to make me more useful to Him.

I want to do this now, and I want to live my life this way. I don't care about working for a company until I retire or gaining wealth or status. Sure, I think about these things and how nice my life would be with them. I don't need them, though, and that is the biggest change of all. I am no longer dependent on the things of this world to bring me happiness or to make me feel safe. I know that God is the one who does both, and that He keeps me carefully tucked away in the shelter of His Almighty Wings. I am safe, and I am secure. I am good. I am all these things because He is God, and He lives within me. I am OK because He is OK, and always Good.

In closing, I offer this prayer of hope to you and your family. If you are struggling to know what to do this day, or to follow after the Lord, then consider these thoughts:

God is Good all the time. There is nothing in Him that is not Good. His Goodness is the aspect of His Nature that brings forth Love and Mercy (Compassion). It is His Goodness that sent Jesus this blessed day into a world confounded and confused, tossed in chaos. The Light Of Hope was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and that baby, Jesus the Christ (the Messiah) brought in reconciliation between God and man. 

Man was no longer separated from God, and the right relationship established my Jesus made it possible for you and for me to live in union with Him through the blessed power and presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our lives have been given hope, and the hope we have gives us the opportunity to live a new life. Our lives no longer have to be torn and tossed by chaos, and we can live in joy, and in peace knowing that we are no longer an enemy of God, but His Friend. 

As you consider the new year, and begin to make plans for all you would like to do, make sure to put "Friendship with God" at the very top of your list. If you will do it, I promise you that your life will change and you will find the joy you desire, the peace you need, and the love you crave -- all in and throughout your life.

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