January 22, 2012

I Am Almost Finished

Yesterday was Day One of the last three day push to empty out the old house. It has been bitter sweet for me. I am happy to be out of that house, and out from under our lender. I am very happy and contented in my new place. Every single day I find myself saying "Oh, Lord! How I love my new home!!" It is true -- I love my home. I love everything about it. And, I am so content to live here.

The old house is filled with memories. Many of these memories are not sweet. Some are, of course, but some are reminders of very hard times, very challenging and spiritually dark times. I am glad to be out, and I am glad to be walking fully in the light. It is hard to live in the darkness, even when you don't want to be in it. You want to always go turning the light on, you want to feel that warm sense of peace -- but it isn't there. There are just nagging thoughts, doubts, major difficulties, and they never seem to go away.

Since I have been in my own place, I have only had one night where I didn't actually sleep well. I had watched a movie on Netflix that deeply disturbed my spirit. I normally do not watch movies that I know will bother me or the Holy Spirit. I am very careful about it because I have an almost photographic memory so images stick with me for a very long time. This time, my son wanted to watch a docu-drama called "Downfall." It is an historically accurate account of the last 12 days of Adolph Hitler. It is a highly acclaimed film, shot completely in German, and documents the days leading up to the surrender of the German army in at the Battle of Berlin.

My son has an incredible interest in military history, and during our Ambleside Years, read almost every book (teen and adult) on World War II. He has read most of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" as well as several biographies of major Generals who lead the key military campaigns during the war. I never minded his interest, and remember as a child watching the "World at War" series with my Dad. I can usually tolerate these kinds of films. However, not this film. I sat through the entire film in shock. It wasn't that it was brutally gruesome (some parts were), it was more so the way the story was told. I had great compassion for the key character, and some of the lesser characters in the film. I also had intense hatred for other characters due to their lack of compassion for the suffering of the German people and soldiers.

I simply was horrified by the ending, by the totality of the victimization, and by the presentation of the film which neither glorified the Germans nor the Americans (and in this case the Russians). It was neutral in it's presentation, which is very uncommon in films. It presented the horrors of war as close to the truth. No fanfare, no sympathy -- just cruel oppression and suppression with little honor, little victory, little idealistic vision.

Okay, so I digressed a bit here. Just wanted to note that of the two and one-half months living in my new home, only one night was passed with little sleep, and that was due to watching this film. In the old house, almost every single night was fraught with some sensation of unpleasantness, some disturbance -- whether sound or visual -- that would jerk me awake. No, I am very happy to be out of that home.

The bittersweetness stemmed from having to sort through years of old items, things once treasured, but now cast off. I looked through boxes of photos from my wedding and my honeymoon. I sat and stared at childhood photos given to me when my Mom downsized their collection and passed photos to my brothers and me. I remembered my childhood -- so many happy days leading up to my 16th birthday. So many memories of my life before marriage. I saw pictures of my childhood friends, parties, Brownies and Girl Scout camp -- all happy times in my early life. It was so sweet and wonderful to see those pictures, many of which, I haven't seen for thirty or more years.

Of course, there were other items, other reminders too. Things that I easily tossed in the garbage bin. I ended up bringing home seven more bins of miscellaneous things (like the afghans my Grandmother made when my son was born) and one large steamer trunk filled with childhood items. I don't plan on keeping them all -- I don't have the space now. They are on my patio and I am praying that there will be no rain until I can sort through them properly, and decide what to keep for long-term memory.

As I consider my life, I see it more clearly now. I am able to reconstruct the past and see where I made choices and where these choices led me. I made some horrible choices in my teen years. I made plans that were outside the Lord's will for my life, and I have suffered greatly because of my decisions. I looked at those photos and saw a beautiful young woman, filled with new faith, and a new desire to serve the Lord. Oh how I wish I would have waited, just waited -- the Lord would have provided a life for me, the life of His Choosing, and I would have been so happy in it. I know this now, but I also know that the choices I made have shaped me and made me into the person I am today.

That young girl was sweet and innocent. She had a sincere desire to serve the Lord, and was very naive. However, the woman I am today is different. I am powerful, and I am poised. I am confident in the Lord's provision and in His Goodness. I know my stuff really well, and I know the One who leads me and guides me each day. I am ready, I am able to do all things through His Grace. I am a woman of Faith, and a woman who is not afraid to look life squarely in the eye and say "Watch Out -- Here I come!" I am no longer than timid and shy person, the one who was afraid of speaking her voice and saying what was on her mind. No, now I speak freely and with boldness. I am ready to do His Will -- for His Name -- and to bring Him Glory.

Those memories of the past remind me of the sweetness of when I was a child; but now, I am a woman, and they serve to call me to account, to remind me of what happened to me when I didn't follow after the Lord. No longer am I content to do anything other than His Way. No longer am I content to serve any man or woman or to prostrate myself before any idol. No -- I am wholly devoted to Him, and I am living in His Will for my life. I want nothing other than to be used by Him so that other people will come to learn of the great mystery of His Mercy and Goodness.  God is so very Good to me, and I want other people to come to know and recognize that Goodness in their lives. May God be Praised today and forevermore.

January 14, 2012

But With God EVERYTHING is Possible

"Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Matthew 19:36 NLT

 Isn't God amazing? I mean -- He is JUST SO INCREDIBILY AMAZING -- ALL THE TIME!!

 Here I sit this beautiful Arizona morning, and I am thinking about all the things that are possible simply because I KNOW Him. Just a few specifics to get the ball rolling:
  • The offer we had on our old home fell through, which was unfortunate for us (facing auction on the 25th). However, God has consistently assured me that the house would sell and that I was not to worry about it. Yesterday, I found out that we have another "offer" ready to go -- this time -- there is a good chance it will be accepted. God is so very GOOD to me!
  • I am utterly satisfied with my job at the University of Phoenix as an Enrollment Advisor. I love my job, and I love going to work every day. However, I know that I am not meant to remain an EA indefinitely. The Lord has clearly told me that I am to move into higher education positions in time and that this role is for "now" only. I realize that He is correct because every day I go to work and then leave with this same feeling -- as if there is more for me to do. I am happy, and I am so blessed -- yet I know that there will be another position for me sometime soon.
  • On this same theme, people at my work are moving all over the place. There is a lot of job swapping, and that gives me the feeling that my time to move is going to be soon too. I have this intense desire to work in Academic Affairs, to work with Faculty, and to be in some administrative role. This is where I see myself staying put for the duration of my career. I feel confident that this is the next step for me. I know I need to be patient and wait, and I am happy to do so until the Lord opens that door for me.
  • I am now contented to consider UOPX my home for both career and education. I recently attended the online seminar on Education assistance (employee education), and I see now how practical it is for me to complete my doctorate here instead of at another public University. I also am contented to know that 68 credit hours is pretty standard for a doctorate, so I am letting go the idea of when this degree will need to be completed, and resting in the fact that it WILL BE DONE in time.
Now that I know my path, and I can clearly see where I am going -- I feel so directed and focused. I see where the Lord is leading me, and I am excited to follow Him. I know that the plans He has for my life are so very GOOD and I am eager to see them come to pass.

 It is a wonderful thing to be focused and directed in your studies and in your life. I have been feeling this way for a while, but I still had nagging doubts about certain aspects of the plans. I mean -- should I go here or there, what job will be next, etc.? Now, I rest in this path. I see where it is going, and it is so GOOD. This is the path I want for my life, this is the direction I want to go. I see the Lord pointing it out to me, and I have heard His voice say to me "Go!" So here I go Lord, with your blessing and your provision. I am going towards this career and towards this degree. I am walking forward and I am not looking elsewhere. I know that you are telling me that this is where I am to go, and that in the going, you will bless me with every provision and meet every need. You are SO VERY GOOD TO ME!

Lastly, as I sit here, still thinking about the blessings of God and realizing just how precious I am to Him, I am in awe of the way He chooses to interact with me. There are still times when I question Him, when I don't believe Him right off. There are times when I worry and doubt, and when fear (the enemy) attacks me and I succumb for a time to feeling so helpless. Then I rally back, and reconnect to my SOURCE, to the One who is all things, and who is able to do all things for me. I stand -- I hold up my sheild of FAITH and I lift up the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT and I take charge. I stand boldly, know that He is God and that as God, truly He is able to do all things. Nothing is impossible for Him, and nothing is outside the realm of His SPACE. He can do it, and He does -- all the time. God is so very GOOD all the time. He is so very GOOD to me!

January 8, 2012

Changing...Again

It is a beautiful Sunday here in Phoenix, Arizona. I woke up this morning after a so-so night. My new mattress is awesome, and I am getting a solid 6-hours of sleep each night. My boys are still being bad, well -- bad -- in cat terms. Every morning about 3:50-4:00, they decide to start playing in my bedroom. I guess they are getting up because they know that I will be up at 5:00 to start my work day. They bring in toys, jump on the bed, attack my feet, get into the window (and out again), and generally make as much noise as possible. I try to ignore them, but it really doesn't work. Oh, how happy I will be when they finally decide to settle in and WAIT until 5:00 a.m. to start their day!

Other than getting up earlier today, I have actually had a very lazy morning. My new DirecTV system was installed yesterday morning. I took the plunge and ordered service after receiving one of those new home coupons. I ordered the Choice package, which pretty much gives me everything I had with Cox at the old house. I get all the local stations plus my favorite HD channels. I don't watch premium channels, and with NetFlix, pretty much have everything I need to enjoy movies and music. It has been nice to get the Weather Channel and FoxNews again. I am not a big TV watcher, never have been, but I do enjoy HGTV and USA. Mostly reruns of the good shows I like, and of course, some shows on PBS. The cost was good, and the service excellent. I am really a very happy and contented little camper this good day.

As I sit here, I am thinking about some recent changes (hence the title of this post). First off, beside getting TV,  I have successfully made it through the first week of the New Year. I was anxious about making my rent payment on time, but that was no issue at all. I was worried about the bills getting paid on time as well, and again, no big issue for me. I did make the switch in car insurance. I moved from Geico (so long Gecko) over to AAA of Arizona and saved about $200 per year. I will be upping my insurance coverage next month, so it will be a wash in cost -- but I will have 100% glass replacement (a must with all the rocks we have here in AZ). In all, the switch will give me better insurance coverage for the same price as what I was paying through Geico.

Some fun news -- last week, I was nominated to our Healthcare Wall of Fame at work. My team manager chose me because of my hard work ethic and my perserverance to do the best for my students. Kudos go to the Lord on that account -- I work unto Him and He does what is needed for me. Thanks to the Lord for His Gracious Mercy and Kindness. He has blessed me at my work place, as well as in my home. I am very pleased, and so well-contented with His Goodness towards me.

I have also revisited going to UOPX for advanced studies. I don't know...perhaps it was just having three weeks off from school, but I feel more refreshed now, and better able to see the "doable" nature of the degree. I know now that I can do all things in His Name, and if this degree is of His choosing, then I most certainly can do it well. I am confident of one thing -- the Lord never leads you anywhere without His Provision to do the thing He asks of you. I used to think it was up to me, to go where He sent me; but, now I realize that I must go (as in be willing), and the rest is up to Him. He provides the Way, the Means, and everything required to accomplish the task or goal. My part is simply to accept His will and to then wait for His Provision.

Some thoughts on the matter -- as I consider options for schooling, I am now less concerned about the actual courses of study, and more concerned with the feasibility of completing the study. In that regard, I can see why going to UOPX is a benefit to me. First off, there is the online system, which is really conducive to working and completing school. Second, there is the acceptability of doing school during the work day. While I am not allowed to do school while working, I am allowed to do school before work, on breaks and lunch, and after work hours. I can do school at my desk as well. That is a pretty big deal, and I am considering it as a great option. Third, there is the financial obligation, and the fact that my student loans will come due in November 2011. If I attend UOPX, I can get these loans deferred until I graduate with my PhD. Now, at another school, I can do the same, but I would have to start making payments this year to do that. I am pretty comfortable with this process, so it is a bonus to me to consider starting school in the 2012-2013 financial aid year rather than waiting to 2013-2014 to begin. Lastly, there is the acceptance of this program as a viable option for me and my career progression. It is not that I will make more money with the degree, but I do believe that it will benefit me long-term in higher education.

With this in mind, I am now considering moving into the PhD program at UOPX in August as originally planned. I am not sure how this will change my career progression now, but at the least, it will open some doors for me down the road. As far as career progression goes, I have decided to go ahead and attempt to complete the internal training courses needed to become a Senior Enrollment Advisor. I wasn't happy with the requirement, and I didn't think it would be possible to do these courses along with my thesis and last class at Mercy. Now, however, I think it is to my benefit to do them, so I have put them on the schedule and set a goal for accomplishing them by March 2012.

I am not sure when I can move into that role -- it is not a promotion so to speak -- it is more a title change with pay raise attached. The job is still the same, but the added money would be very helpful for me.

Here is my latest update on my status:
  • I am living in my new townhome (as of November 19, 2011)
  • I am established and able to take care of all my bills (November 2011)
  • I am almost finished with my Masters program (expected graduation May 2012)
  • I am doing well in my new job as Enrollment Advisor at UOPX (July 2011)
  • I will be ready to move to the next level as Sr. Enrollment Advisor by March 2012
  • I will apply to UOPX for the PhD program in June 2012 (expected start August 2012)
  • I will continue to work at UOPX, moving up through the career progression program until such a time as the Lord provides a different position for me
  • I am happy and contented and I have learned that the Lord's will is done regardless of my ability to do it.
  • I am trusting Him and relying upon Him for His Provision, and as such I am now at REST in His Presence.
  • I have confidence and I am committed to completing all the tasks He has assigned to me to complete.
My prayer for 2012 is for the Lord's will to be done in my life, and for His continued blessing and favor to fall upon me. I can do all things in His Name, and through the Power of His Name, all things will be done. I rest in the knowledge that He is God, and that I am in His tender care and mercy. He is good all the time, and His goodness flows over me. I am good because He is so very Good to me.

January 1, 2012

Day One 2012

Happy New Year! I survived 2011, and ended it quietly with a happy heart and with humble and heartfelf gratitude to the One who made it possible for me to make so many changes in one year. I cannot even imagine going through what I did again -- please Lord -- let it never be this way again! I am blessed, so richly blessed, and I am so completely and utterly satisfied with the changes which have come to pass, and with my future plans. I feel good about them, and every single day I know that I am on the right path, and I am moving in the right directly. God has helped me, and I give Him all the testimony -- He is so GOOD, and He has been so very GOOD to me.

As I sit here and look out my second story window, I am thankful today for my new home. I love my new home. I love everything about my new home. It is quiet, and the neighbors are so friendly. Everyone waves as you enter or leave the development. I like that -- it is old-fashioned, and so very comfortable. I hear, "Good morning, have a nice day, or Happy New Year!" as I walk to my car, to the post, or to the garbage bins. I am truly blessed with such a wonderfully warm, and safe place to live. God is SO GOOD to me.

I cannot imagine the turmoil now, even though I know I lived in it and through it for so many years. Yesterday, I went to the bank and got a cashiers check to cover my 2nd month's rent. It felt so good to post that to my landlord. No hand wringing, no worries about can I pay or when will I pay -- I just got the check, and popped it into the post. My rent has been paid for January -- Praise the Lord!

This was not always my life. In fact, for the past twenty-some years (eight to be exact), I never knew if the rent would be paid. I never knew if the utilities would remain on. I never knew when I would get to go to the grocery store, or fill up my car with gas. It was always a guessing game, a waiting game. I hated the uncertainty of it all, and I hated the fact that I worked so hard, but never had enough money to live on comfortably. Don't get me wrong, I lived in a nice apartment, a nice rental home, and even a home I owned -- yet -- I never knew from day one to the next whether there would be "enough" money to make ends meet.

One thing that I longed for, and still do long for now, is security. For me, lack of security has been my zero-tolerance point. Not having a secure home, a secure future, caused me such enormous stress. I have lived with stress for so many years that I got used to it being a part of my life. I didn't like it, but it was there, just like the cousin who won't leave -- never going anywhere, always sticking around. I cannot tell you how much comfort it brings to me to have "enough" now. I can pay my bills on time, I can pay my rent. I have money left over in the bank. I can go to the store when I want to do so, I can go get something to eat. I can do all things without worry now.

The stress has lifted, though the remnants of that stress remain. My muscles have lived in this contorted way for so long that they no longer know how to relax. Even with treatment, chiropractic and acupuncture, the pain is still there. I still have chronic headaches and back pain. It never goes away. I know that the pain is a reminder of my life, of what was, and of the choices I made. Now, I just deal with it. Today, I am suffering -- my back hurts so badly, and I can barely move. Yet, I get up, and I go through my morning, just as I would without the pain. It is part of my life, always a part. May I never forget the choices I made, and the pain that those choices caused me. May I choose wisely now, always thinking about what He wants for me, and then choosing His Way. His Way is best, it is easiest, and it is the most reliable way to a secure future. This is what I want now, security at all costs. I want to be secure, and I want to know that my future is safely in His Hands.

Sure, I understand that the future in never secure. Hey, I know this well -- I am losing my home, I have been on welfare and Medicaid. I have been at the bottom so long, that I am very well aware that riches and wealth are fleeting. I am not looking for wealth. I am not looking for riches. I am looking to the One who gives liberally to those He loves and cares for most. I am looking solely to the Lord to provide my needs, and to keep me safe. I have learned my lesson -- reliance upon anyone but the Lord gets you uncertainty. Reliance upon the Lord brings you sweet peace, constant comfort, and the assurance of His promise:

Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." ~Hebrews 13:5 NLT


God is Good all the time. All the time, God is Good. May His Name be praised today and forevermore. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.