January 27, 2013

Thinking More About My Interview

Yes, I cannot leave this be. I am letting all sorts of thoughts run amok in my head regarding how well I did or didn't do on my interview on Friday. I absolutely hate it when I mess up, when I miss a queue or when I am caught unaware. I do not think well on my feet. I am a studied person, someone who likes to think about things, really review and analyze them -- before I say anything. Whenever I am asked for my opinion, I tend to give a shallow, superficial answer simply because I haven't really had time to think more deeply about the subject. However, with time, and more concentrated effort, I can substantiate my answer fully, and with far greater clarity. I wish I could do this the first time I am asked, but alas, my brain is not wired for that kind of quick-thinking.

So as I beat myself up over missed answers, and my efforts to convince myself that I am not doomed to fail - the Lord has come to my rescue. He has helped me understand something I didn't grasp fully. He has shown me that my interview at Regent is a very small part of the overall application process. I have done well in every other area, and my credentials are very good. I am a very strong candidate. Although I don't present well on the phone, my application stands on it's own merit.

I took some time this morning to read through the graduate catalog again. I had read it two years ago when I was first looking at programs. The catalog clearly states that this program is interdisciplinary. It also addresses the issues of students coming into the program without a graduate level research methods course (I haven't taken one yet). I am sure the faculty would like all students to be prepared on entrance, but for some of us, we do not have the requisite statistical analysis courses. So be it - a statistical analysis course is just one more class I will have to take to proceed down this path. It is just a class, one class, and it will not sink my ship.

Moreover, as I looked through the catalog again, I realized that the program is a good fit for me. I have been asking the Lord why He chose Regent for me. I mean, I don't have a background in Communication, and this field is foreign to me. The Lord has said that this is the program of His choosing because of the emphasis that Regent has upon Missions and equipping Christians with the communication tools they need to share the Message of Christ. The faculty have a heart for missions, and they are actively working in outreach efforts (through teaching and/or training). Lastly, the faculty are well-equipped to train others, and are willing to be used in such a way to help prepare new leaders to go out into the world and do the work God is calling them to do.

I struggle some with the fact that I do not have the experience to do this work. I wish my resume was a perfect example of a communications specialist, but it is not. My resume is a mismatch of experiences, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. It looks like I have never done anything, and when reviewed, it engenders more questions than answers. I cannot help my lack of experience nor can I help the fact that I have worked in a variety of positions, none really leading anywhere but to a paycheck.

I think it reminds me of the kinds of people God calls for His work. God chooses the weak, the inexperienced, and people who lack confidence to do the work He needs completed. In this way, He receives the Glory and Praise. He prefers to use people who don't have the skills they need, who are not ready to "go." God looks at the heart, and He longs for people who are willing to go. He is able to equip, to build up, to prepare -- but the heart must be willing to go.

My heart is willing. I have said this to Him over and over again. Lord, I will go -- Lord send me! He knows my heart. He knows my frailty. He knows I lack confidence, and I self-condemn. He knows that I have never felt that I was worthy of anything special. He knows that I am a wallflower because of years of criticism by others who told me "you are nothing special, you are not good at this or that, you are a nobody." Yes, it is true. I was told these things when I was young, and it is very hard to remove those thoughts once they become ingrained in your mind.

I know that I am someone because of Jesus. I can do all things because of His finished work on the cross. I am good because He is good. There is nothing in me, no power, no understanding, no way for me to be or do what He is asking of me. Yet, He calls me to go. He asks me to be willing to let Him change me, to grow me, to prepare me. He is sending me where He chooses, and I am willingly following after Him. I go because He has asked me to go. He has said, "Carol, I will  not send you or I will not open this door, if you will not go." I have said, "Yes, Lord, I understand. I will go." Then the door opens, the way becomes clear. God doesn't start things and then not finish them. We have to be willing to go the distance, to do everything He asks of us. We cannot start a path, then stop and not go on further. We have to keep moving towards His plan for our life. He will do what is necessary, what is needed, what is required...we are to trust Him, to rest upon Him, and to listen for His word that tells us to "Go - get going."

Dear Lord,

I have heard your voice tell me to go do your work. I am willing, Lord, I am willing to go and do whatever you ask of me. I am afraid, and I hear the voice of doubt telling me I am not good enough to do this work. I ask now for the confidence I need to keep moving forward. I rest in your Name, and I let go of these details. I cannot do anymore, I cannot plan or prepare anymore. I can only do what is next up, and I can rest in your sufficiency, in your preparation and in your provision. Thank you, Lord -- you are great, and you are worthy to receive all praise. Amen, so be it, Lord. I let this go now, and I trust you for your way. Let this be, Lord. Let this be.

January 26, 2013

Feeling So Down

So I had my interview yesterday. The professor had been told that he could call me between 1-3 my time. I had been told he would call at 1:00 p.m. Just a mix up, a misunderstanding. However, the call was awkward, you know, always is when it starts with an apology. However, we chatted for about any hour, and for the most part, I did OK.

I hate interviews. Have I said that before? Probably a dozen or so times. I am just not a good interviewee. I don't like being put on the spot, and I don't like to have to come up with answers. Yes, I know -- I should have something prepared, but that seems canned, artificial, and I don't do well with prepared speeches. I would have blown it, and since it didn't come right from me, I would have said things all sideways, backwards and inside out. No, I had decided to just be me, and well, that is what I did.

I was told I was a strong candidate, but that they had a lot of interest in the program. I guess that is to tell me that there is no guarantee I will be accepted. I get that -- I mean after all -- it is a doctoral program. The faculty can only oversee so many dissertations. I understand that there is competition, and I guess that is why I feel so down today. I feel like I didn't present myself well to this man. I tried, but I ended up sounding like a former SAHM who has time on her hands and decided to go to graduate school. This is true, of course, but it is just a fraction of the real picture. I tried to explain how I feel that God has called me to Regent, to study this program, and that I am going to the mission field. God has done this, and Regent is His choice. This is His program choice, not mine. I would have chosen English or some other field, but this is what He wanted for me.

I don't think I conveyed that to them. I don't think I made the point clearly enough. I am going to Regent because God has told me to "Go to Regent."

The good news is that I get a second chance with another interviewer. I will get to do this all over again, meet with another faculty member, try to not sound incoherent. AGH!

I was told that the decision would be made sometime in February. Hopefully, I will have my second interview this week, and then I can rest until that decision comes. God is Good. He knows me well, and He knows that I do not want to do another interview. I am trusting Him to do this interview, to convey whatever needs conveyed so that this can be done. I am ready, Lord. Let's get this thing over with so I can rest. Please Lord? Please let this come to pass now so that I can stop thinking about it, and just get on with the work you have for me.

There you have it. I am ready to let this all go. I am ready to let go of Regent and let God do whatever He determines to do with it.

Lord -

I am done with Regent. I am finished trying to make this come to pass. I cannot do it, I know it. This is your way, your choice, your provision; and even though I have confessed that to you a million times, I have still felt like I had to do this, like it was all up to me. This is not true, and today, I realize this truth. This path, this next step, is something beyond my reach. I cannot go to Regent without you. I cannot do this level of work without you. I cannot even begin to move towards it -- you must do it all. Therefore, I let it go. I let Regent go now, and I rest in your security and provision. I believe your Word to me today, and I confess that You are God and that You are leading me to Regent for your Name. This is all about your Name. So be it, Lord. Make this be about you, and about your work, and your plans. I trust you now, and I let this be. Lord be in the midst of this process. Be in all the details, and Lord, be in and through this process. I ask this now in Jesus' Name. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah (pause and calmly think about it).

January 25, 2013

Interview Day

Well, it is 1:11 p.m. and my interview is running late. I am jazzed to be able to interview with the Doctoral Faculty at Regent University. This is the fulfillment of God's promise to me. He has orchestrated this process, brought me to this point, and is leading me through Regent University to the plan of His choosing. God has great things in store for me, and I am eager to see His will accomplished in and through my life.

As I contemplate what I will be asked, and how I will answer (Oh, Adonai -- you know I struggle so with these kinds of interviews, so please go through this for me?) -- I think about everything that has happened in my life to bring me to this place today. I am a new person, a new creation and my name is no longer Carol, but another name, a name of His desire. The Word tells us that we have a name that has been given to us by God, and this is the name of His decision. Our parents name us after Uncle Ed or Grandpa Lou, but God gives us a name that has significance and spiritual merit. God has a name that signifies our very souls, that identifies us with Him, and that places us within His special family.

I know that God has chosen a name for me that describes me to a "T." He knows me so well, and He understands my very desires, interests, and thoughts. Nothing is foreign or hidden to Him. He knows me. He knows everything about me. I love this fact, and I love knowing that I cannot surprise Him. I cannot pull something over on Him. I don't have to try to please Him. I don't have to try to make Him accept or like me. I am accepted on the basis of Jesus' blood. I am accepted because of my Savior's sacrifice and the price paid for my sin-debt. Thank you, Jesus, for your gift of life!

I am trying not to be nervous. I was told that the person I am meeting with via phone may run late. It is now 1:17, and I am feeling anxious about this interview. I am not upset that I took the time off from work to come home. I need the rest, I need to settle down and just chill today. I just would rather get this interview started. I would like to know that we are going forward, and moving toward the goal of acceptance. Plus I am getting sleepy just waiting, and I don't like to be sleepy on interviews. I need rest, Oh Adonai, how I need rest!

I decided to write on my blog while I was waiting so that I could keep my mind off this thing. It hasn't really help, LOL! I am writing about waiting for my interview -- oh, Adonai -- what have I done?

On other news fronts -- my mom is very ill. I am worried about her. She came down with a cold about 10 days ago. She went to her doctor, and he said she had a virus and it would run it's course. My mom has a special form of Leukemia, and her specialist told her to go to the doctor at the first sign of an infection. I wasn't pleased that her Primary just sent her home.

Then on Sunday, she called me, and was coughing so hard, and she said her throat hurt to the point where she was crying. I took her over to Urgent Care and they diagnosed her with a sinus infection. The medicine they gave her has not helped, and her coughing has gotten so much worse. Yesterday, my Dad said that she had fallen due to the medicine making her unsteady. My dad is not able to help her much due to his physical limitations.

I told my Dad to take her over to the doctor today -- but I am not sure if he was able to do it. Mom takes care of my Dad, and not the other way around. Oh, I am concerned that this is the beginning of that downhill slide. Mom and Dad will be 80 this year, and I am worried about what this means for them, and for me.

Lord -

It is now 1:35 p.m., thirty-five minutes past my interview start time. I know that professors can be lax when it comes to keeping appointments, but still, this seems odd. I ask that you cover whatever is going on, and that you keep us moving forward with Regent and the application acceptance process. Please go before me, and smooth these rough waters. This is your will, your game plan, your work. Make it be your way. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and Calmly think about it).

January 13, 2013

I did it!

I just submitted my essay on Communication! What a bear of a paper to write -- considering that this is a relatively new field for me. Give me English Literature any day, and I would slide right on through with NO FEAR. This paper was critical. I had to write a cogent and serious essay to include with my application to Regent University. I did it. I am done! Now I have to wait for the Lord to provide acceptance and a scholarship. I am so relieved to have this behind me. I am so excited to think that I have done everything asked, and now it is up to Him to show me the way.

Dear Lord,

I have faithfully followed after you. I have trusted you and believed that Regent University was your choice for my doctoral education. It has been over three years since you first placed Regent's School of Communication and the Arts on my heart, and began leading me to this program. I didn't understand why you wanted this program for me. I didn't understand how I would do it, and I didn't think it was possible. Now three years later, with Masters in hand, I have applied to this school for consideration to begin June 2013. I am believing in faith that this is your will for my life, and this is what you want for me. I ask now that you go before me, prepare my way. I ask that you give me favor with the committee that will review my application materials. I ask that you impress upon them how serious I am about doing your will, going your way, and living my life to bring you honor. I ask Lord that you accomplish your will, that you do what you desire, and that you bring Glory to your Name. I ask all this in Jesus' Name. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah (pause and calmly think about it!)

D-Day Has Arrived

It is a beautiful Sunday here in sunny Arizona. The day has turned out to be great, even though it didn't look as such first thing this morning. I woke up early, and I was not in the best of moods. I had spent the majority of yesterday afternoon trying to get my Wi-Fi back up and running. For some reason, my router wouldn't renew it's lease with my service provider, and that meant that all our wireless devices could not get out on the Internet.

My son has a switch setup up that sits between our cable modem and the router. The idea was to separate off his computer and lap top from all the wireless devices. It has worked well for him -- he is wired to the switch, which is wired to the modem. He gets blazing speed, and a good connection all the time.

My setup, however, is dicey at best. I am sitting behind two bathrooms and the laundry room, and I connect via wireless. My connection speed drops, and often I am completely disconnected from the Internet. I am also picking up a lot of interference from neighboring signals, and find that I never know if I will be online or not.

Yesterday was a powder keg of a day for me. It started off well enough. I had breakfast with my Mom, and then spent most of the day shopping with her. My parents are down-sizing from their home, and will be moving to a smaller apartment this Spring. Mom is paring down, but wanted to get some new inexpensive dishes for their new place. We shopped a bit, and finally found a nice set of dishes at HomeGoods (Marshall's).

I got home around 2 p.m., and came upstairs to check my mail. My computer, phone, IPad, couldn't access the internet at all. I went into my son's room to power down the modem and router, and that was the death knell it seems. The modem came up, the router did not.

My son and I spent about three hours trying to get the system working again. We swapped out our modem, called our ISP, and got the Internet portion working again. However, this didn't solve the router problem. I didn't want to buy another new router -- our current one is less than a year old -- and is considered a very good dual gigabyte router.

I finally crashed around 4:30 p.m. and decided to go to Walmart to get some food. I was in such a miserable mood, that I ended up spending $145 dollars at WalMart and purchased new glasses for myself (eyeglasses). I had planned to get them, but didn't really think I would do it yesterday. I went into the vision center to browse -- to take my mind off the router issue -- and found really cute glasses to wear. I have a little face, and with my strong prescription, I need a smaller frame. I normally end up with children's frames which help with my vision problems.

I found these cute frames for $9, so I only had to purchase the high-index lenses with the coatings. I should have my new "Doctor" glasses in about 7-10 days. I call them "Doctor" glasses because that is what they look like. The are tortoise shell plastic frames (sort of a caramel color). I look very "Professorial" in them.

So to make a long story short, I came home with some food, new glasses ordered, and no Internet. I was not a happy camper, but I let it go, and decided to just wait to see if the problem would resolve on it's own.

This morning, I woke to no Internet, but thankfully my son was up early. He had been thinking about the problem, and together we put our heads into the problem, and voila! resolved it. I am so blessed to have a technically-skilled son at my disposal.

I ended up staying home from Church (for other reasons). I spent the morning playing with my son's violin (borrowed), and catching up on some business-related stuff (supposed to have been done yesterday). I was enjoying my morning, thanking God for His provision of Internet, when I received an email from Regent University reminding me that my application is not complete, and the deadline is coming up (2/1/13).

I quickly sent off an email to the Director of Admissions to thank her for sending that email. I assured her that I would forward my essay to her later today. She replied letting me know that all she needs is my essay, and that my application will go to "committee" tomorrow. Oh wow! Oh wow!

You see -- it was last week -- right in the middle of all that horrible turmoil that I prayed for God to provide some confirmation to me that I am to go to Regent. Really, I asked Him to provide confirmation to me that I am on the right path, following after Him, and aligned with His will. I received part of that confirmation on Friday. Earlier in the week, I was at the breaking point with my job, and I had determined I needed to look elsewhere. Then later on, my job tasks changed and the amount of stress decreased. While not a major improvement from the stress-level before, this change was noticeable, and so very welcomed.

I also had several good conversations with people in the know, people who were my superiors. These conversations, again not completely a confirmation that I was OK, were at the least, a gentle reminder that God had everything in firm control. I felt so much better by Friday, and I started to see that there was some hope for me at CVS Caremark.

And, then today, I get an email confirmation -- out of the blue -- letting me know that Regent hadn't forgotten about me, and that they were waiting for my essay. I sat here and thought for a moment about how great God really is, and how marvelous are His works. I mean, God has seen to it that I have everything I need, right when I need it most. He has provided abundantly for me, and He has made sure that from school to home to work -- it is all covered by His care and His grace.

I am awash in His mercy. I feel His goodness toward me, and I see His hand of provision. I see His workmanship, and His presence gives me such comfort. I am safe. I am sound. I am good.

January 12, 2013

Trust Always

It is Saturday. It is very cold outside this morning, and I am thankful that I am sitting at my computer, in my very warm alcove, and blissfully enjoying my cup of coffee. I am so very glad I am not having to go outside to work, or worst, have to live out in this cold. It is not frigid cold outside, after all, we are in Phoenix. I think the early morning temperature was 29. It is 31 right now -- very chilly for Arizona, even in January.

I am sitting here, early as it is (6:10 a.m.) and thinking about this past week, and all the struggle I had, all the turmoil, all the disappointment. It has been, by all accounts, a very crummy week. I am glad it is over. However, amidst the trials and difficulty, and even the moments when I felt crushed and useless -- there was hope, and a glimmer of good mixed in. God showed up right in the middle of what was a pretty terrible situation, and with His great peace and comfort, helped me see that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Yes, it was pretty bad -- Titanic type crisis to us -- but not to God. God provided a way for me to survive, and to make it through the week. Yesterday, He did something special, something unexpected.

I was working on my tasks, which meant overseeing Privacy Issues. I had been assigned this responsibility earlier in the week (last week really). This week we added six more issues, and the overall importance of my work, escalated. I was helping a colleague with a reporting problem, and I received a call from one of the Directors back east. I was unprepared for the call, simply meaning, I didn't expect to be called personally to give an account. And the conversation was not like, "Carol, what is the latest status...on this or that." It was "When do you need this information?" I mean, this person was asking ME when I needed information, and was explaining to ME why things were a certain way. I just was friendly, and very calm on the phone -- I laughed, I joked a little (just levity), and the call ended. I hung up, and I thought, "well, that was interesting..."

This is the person who I had applied to for a job I thought I wanted to do. I don't think my resume was ever forwarded to him because I hadn't been in my job six months. I forgot that you had to be in the company for that time before you could look for a different position. So here I am having this amazing conversation with a person who could potentially offer me a way out of my situation. My hope soared -- not that there is even a chance I will move out of my position -- but simply to see that my current work situation is not as bleak and hopeless as I had thought. God showed me that there is always a WAY, when you trust Him and when you rest in His Provision and Security.

I left yesterday afternoon feeling better, and thinking that everything was going to be OK. I have no assurance that things will be OK. I have no view or vision that anything has changed, I simply have a belief that things will be OK for me. I may stay in this job or I may go to another. I may remain in Phoenix or I may go to some other city. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what I do or where I go so long as I am going His Way, I am good.

God is so very good to me. I cannot even say how much better I feel today, and how my outlook and attitude has changed since yesterday. It is as if one call, one not-so-special call, changed it all. I saw myself in one moment as an important part of the process, where as I had only seen my role as one of the many who were clinging to the side of that sinking ship. Instead, I glimpsed myself as standing there, strong and ready, defending and helping, and making a difference. There was VICTORY in that moment, and it reminded me that with God all things as possible, and that there is ALWAYS HOPE. God never gives up, and He never gives in. There is always HOPE.

So as I sit here today, I am thanking God for His hope. I am thanking Him for bringing peace into my life and for giving me the grace to remain and be still. God has a good plan for my life, and He knows me so very well. He knows all about my situation, my fears, my worries, and my doubts. He knows what He wants to accomplish in my life. May God be praised today and forever more! Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. God is so very Good to me!!

January 9, 2013

Have I said that I don't like change...

Yes, change is inevitable, but frankly, I do not like it, and I wish it wouldn't happen so often. I am not someone who easily accepts change. I like to think I am flexible, moldable, adaptable, but I am not. I am a creature of habit, and I like the status-quo. I like to imagine change, and I like to think about what it might be like to experience change, but only from a distance, and not first hand.

Yesterday, at work, my boss let it slip that my company may be considering a change that could impact our group. While it would be a welcomed change, it would cause great havoc, and a prolonged stress that I don't think any of us want. Yes, we are stressed already, and we are working hard to try and fix problems, clean up the mess of what was supposed to be a change that would make our lives better, our jobs easier, our days smoother. Not. The change we have experienced has not made anything better, and in fact, it has made it far worse. Not only for us, but for our entire company, and our customers. It was a bad decision, a bad choice, followed by a bad implementation, and an ongoing bad experience.

Now, there may be some hope on the horizon, but to get there, it means long-hours, hard work, and prolonged stress. The good news is that the outcome will be brighter, and eventually be a good-thing, produce good results. The path to get there, however, is rocky, and difficult. It really is a choice between two evils -- one we know, one we don't. One has the promise of hope, one has no promise at all.

Of course, I am glad that I don't have to make this decision. I simply do what I am told to do. I am glad that in the end, I can say "I am just low-man on the totem pole." I really do not have any say in the matter. I go where I am told to go, I do the work assigned to me.

To say that I am stressed -- well -- there are no words to even describe what I feel today. I am stressed beyond measure. I am still walking, PTL. I am still able to think, Amen to that. But, I am sick to my stomach over the issues at work, to the unknown fear looming at my door, and to the change that is up ahead. I don't want to deal with it, I don't want to go through it, and I want this all to stop.

I know -- I feel like crying like a little baby. Stomping my feet, and tossing a major temper tantrum. I can do that, you know. I am an adult, a grown up (grup), and I can do whatever I want. Will it matter -- laughingly -- no! Of course, not. I can stomp around, toss things, and generally be disagreeable, and it will have no effect what so ever.

In this grown up world, the only people you can manipulate are the people who allow you to manipulate them. I have no power, I have no authority, and I have no control over anything in my life.

The short and the sweet of it is that I am powerless. There is no human help, and there is no cavalry to rush in and save the day.

Psalm 108

A song. A psalm of David.

My heart, O God, is steadfast;
    I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
    I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.
Save us and help us with your right hand,
    that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
    “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
    and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet,
    Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin,
    on Edom I toss my sandal;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
10 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?
11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us
    and no longer go out with our armies?
12 Give us aid against the enemy,
    for human help is worthless.
13 With God we will gain the victory,
    and he will trample down our enemies.
Human help is worthless -- so says David. I agree with him. Human help while at times can provide aid, and comfort, often falls short when the real trials of life (or in his case, enemies of state) crash around you. In my situation, I am safe. I am protected, and yes, I don't have an army camped against me (well -- there is a spiritual army out there that would really like to see me trampled down). I am facing human enemies, people who make decisions that do directly impact my life. I can accept them or reject them. I can allow those decisions to impact my life or I can, in many cases, walk away from them.
I am free to quit my job. I am free to walk away from it. In doing so, however, I may find myself stuck in another job that is far worse. Yes, I could also find a job that is far better. It can go either way, either way.
As I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee and contemplating my day, I realize that I am in a position of total dependency upon God. I do not want to do anything to hurt or jeopardize my families well-being. I don't want to hurt myself, and stress is a big no-no for me. It causes all sorts of problems for me (from headaches, to stomach, to IBS, to chronic fatigue, etc.). I need a job that is stress-free or at the least, less stressful. I want to make good money, a good paycheck, and the two -- stress and money -- seem to go together in this crazy world of ours. You cannot have one without the other.
Today, I am dependent on the Lord for His Comfort and His Provision. I can choose to live with this stress or I can choose to run away from it. I can choose to place my trust in Him, and REST or I can choose to continue to fear and hide from any and all stressful situations. I am done hiding. I did that for so many years, and I made the commitment to the Lord saying I wouldn't do that again. I hide in Him, in the shadow of His Almighty Wings -- but I don't hide from life, from the world, or the circumstances I find myself in.
God is so very Good to me today. He knows me. He knows how I feel. I take comfort in that fact -- that He knows how I feel, and that He is ready to stand in for me. He has taken all my penalty, He has taken all my sin. He has stood in my place, and once again, He stands in for me. He takes the assault from the enemy, and He wages war and battle against the forces of evil. He is victorious, He is King. I am nothing, I am not able to stand on my own two feet. I am beaten down, and I am unable to defend myself. My King can, and does defend me. He is my Champion. He is my Husband, my Father, my Keeper, My Savior, and my King. I bow before Him this day, acknowledging that my help, my needs, my everything come from and through Him. It is to Him, to whom I give the Praise this day. My His Name be Praised forever more. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah (Pause, and calmly think about that).

January 6, 2013

Clear Focus

This is really weird. I have blog-posted the past couple times about being confused or feeling as if things were not right, out of kilter, etc. Today, it is as if everything is back in focus. It is a God-thing, I know it. I know that this has to do with Him orchestrating the details, and helping me to see where I may have been off the mark a bit, and where I needed to be for everything to fall back into place. Let me explain...

Yesterday, I had another work from home day. My job at CVS Caremark is tough. I am an analyst, and this is a kind of position that I have never really done before. I have had to be analytical in my previous work, but it was more of a bonus, than a requirement. I mean, I used my analytical ability to figure out a more efficient way to make calls at UOPX. As a designer, I analyzed a client's need, and then created a product (web) that would solve his/her problem. The work was very focused, and was to help me be more efficient, more productive. It wasn't a constant, daily part of my job.

As Print Analyst, I use my analytical and logical ability every day. My job requires that I analyze my work, the projects I oversee, and use the understanding I gain, to resolve issues and problems with client communications. Everyday, I look at data, I run reports, I spot inconsistencies, and other areas of concerns. I have to be very focused, very detailed, and very informed, so that I don't miss a critical component that is either causing an error or will cause an error. I feel like a logic board in a computer -- I am there to control the output, to run the programs, and to make sure the entire project runs smoothly.

I have not been happy, which is really an understatement. I have liked my job -- initially. It started out great, with something new and exciting to do and to learn. My team is a good, friendly, helpful. I work in a very nice building, and my drive is only 20 minutes each way. I am paid well, and I have benefits (a very good package). In all -- I am at a good job.

The workload started out very slow, but overtime it ramped up to overwhelming. This was expected, but coupled with the problems created by changing print vendors, lack of reporting tools, and what seemed a daily casualty report -- it simply became unbearable. Add that I was expected to work 50-60 per week for no extra pay, 7 days with no time off, and well, you can see how a good thing could turn bad quickly.

Christmas was non-existent for me. The holiday and celebration slipped by, and the New Year rounded the corner without much notice. I worked the past weekend, and I worked from home on several days because I was sick (so not really resting, just working at home). I am tired. I am very tired.

I was tired at UOPX, but that was a mind-numbing tired that stemmed from lack of quality work. I was bored making hundreds of robo-calls (that is what we call them). It was a daily grind of dialing dead numbers, leaving the same voice mail over and over and over again. I was glad to be released from that job. I was glad to have something new to do.

So back to feeling off-kilter. I could have just lumped my feelings into the fact that I have worked long hours for the past couple months, and that there is really no end in sight to them. I will continue to work weekends because that is what the job requires. However, it was more so that I made up my mind to look for another job, to try and find something easier, something less stressful.

Last week or thereabouts, I started to put my resume together and to look for another job. I actually applied to two jobs right after Christmas. I was tired of the workload, and I feared Regent's demands when I am actually accepted and start courses in May. I needed to do something different.

Coupled with this decision to look for another job, there was my son, who two-three weeks ago said that he had made up his mind to go to ASU for school next fall. I was happy. My parents were happy. My husband and other family members were happy. Logical. Practical. Good choice. However, I noticed that my son wasn't really happy. He put on a good face, but he dove himself into his gaming habit again. He stopped interacting, and he started spending all night playing games with his international friends. Now, yes, he does play games when school is out of sessions, so some of this behavior was to be expected. The real kicker came yesterday when he came in and told me that he was singing a song from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" musical. I had heard him singing, but I had ear buds in and had been concentrating on my work. He asked me if I paid attention to him, and I said that I had heard him, but didn't really understand the words. He said it was because he was singing the song in Norwegian.

Yes, Norwegian. My son has a passionate interest in studying Norwegian, and up until a few weeks ago, wanted to go to our Church school in IL. North Park University is one of the few schools that offer a Scandinavian Studies program. My son had all but decided to attend there last summer. He received a lot of criticism from friends and family who said "Why?" whenever he answered their question of his intended study. No one gets why a young person would want to study Norwegian. I mean really? Arabic, Chinese or one of the other modern and "practical" languages -- most certainly -- but not Norwegian.

I know his heart. I see it in his eyes, and I hear it in his voice. I know that he spends 18 out of 24 hours thinking about moving to Norway, studying the language, living there, going to school there. He has this strong desire to go there. He wants to study Norwegian.

I took a gamble on Friday and said to him "you can apply to North Park even if you don't intend to go there next Fall." His eyes lit up, and he grew very quiet. He walked away from me. Yesterday evening, I approached the subject again, and tried my best to give wise advice. He diverted us to another stream of conversation. This is his way of saying "Mom, I am thinking about it. Leave it alone."

Last night, we spent the evening together (a rarity). I bought "The Dark Knight Rises" and offered him a stay-at-home movie night. We used to do this when he was younger, but now that he is almost 20, well Mom is not the first choice for movie nights. He took me up on it, and we watched the movie, and most of the special effects and bonus material. After the movie, he went upstairs while I waited until the fire had actually died down. I followed him upstairs only to find him listening to some blazing music in his room (through headphones -- it was the pounding and stomping that concerned me).

My musician son was in the zone. He was listening to something, and was into the music. Yes, we had just finished watching the extra footage of Hans Zimmer orchestrating the movie, but something had clicked in him, something had sparked an interest again. I was pleased.

I went to bed thinking that things had changed. I was much calmer, more ready for sleep than I had been in a couple nights. I had made the decision earlier in the day to remain at CVS Caremark, to hunker down and just work through the trials at my job. After all, I like the work. I am getting paid a very good salary (when you add in benefits and the other compensation, my package is more than I could have expected). I decided to do this job as a job, and not a career. I know the plans God has for me, plans for my education, plans for His work (His Kingdom). I know that between now and 2017/2018, I will be a doctoral student. The job I do is inconsequential so long as it doesn't interfere with my online courses. Once I complete my PhD, the plans had been for me to work as a consultant. This is a very real opportunity, but I have to finish my degree.

I started thinking about everything, how God put it all back together again. My son wanting to study Norwegian, me working at CVS Caremark, and not focusing so much on the job, but on His work. Somehow God fixed whatever was wrong, whatever was off the mark. We seem to be moving back down the path again, the path we were on, when we both were happy and settled. Everything seems to be back to normal, back in order, and back to where it needs to be. God is so very good all the time.

Dear Lord,

I asked you to help me put things back to the way they were. I felt that I had been moving down the wrong path, and that I was going off-kilter. I had noticed that DJ was off as well, and that "it" just didn't feel right, feel good like before. You have fixed whatever needed fixing, and I thank you today. I praise you, and I give you the glory and honor. You are Good, all the time. Thank you, Lord for helping us, and taking such good care of us. Thank you for making our way smooth, our path straight. Thank you for your goodness, and your good mercy. May you be praised today and forever more. Amen, thy will be done. Selah!

January 5, 2013

Always Confused

It is Saturday, and I am sitting at my computer (personal) thinking about the day, and lamenting the fact that I have to work this weekend. I don't mind working from home, in fact, I really like to work from home. I find that I get a lot more done when I am home alone. There are less distractions, fewer interruptions, and the quiet solitude allows me to focus on my tasks.

I worked from home yesterday. I wasn't feeling well, so I called in and worked on my laptop from my home office. I ended up working from 7-5:30 without any breaks, which played havoc on my back and tailbone. I cannot do that anymore. When I finally went to bed last night, my backside throbbed for over an hour. The pain was excruciating, and vibrated throughout my internals -- you know -- feeling like I was being pulled and pushed internally.

I spent the day working on my own projects, but about midday, was pulled off of those and told to work on a group project. Later in the afternoon, we were told we would have to work this weekend because we didn't get the group project completed. I am not sure why this is the case, but with this job in particular, our group doesn't seem to be able to get its work done.

We have two groups, two locations, and I am based in Scottsdale. I know our Scottsdale team works hard, and does whatever is asked of them. However, there is some criticism about our other team not pulling their share. I don't know if this is the case because they are located in another state -- and I am not privy to their work schedules. It does appear -- that my group seems to bear the brunt of the work.

So here I sit thinking about the day, and wishing that I didn't have these responsibilities anymore. I miss the days when I could come and go at my pleasure, shop with my Mom, or just do nothing -- all because I could choose what to do. My life is not that way anymore. I work full-time, and my job is all-consuming for me. I pay my bills, I keep my home, I plan for the future. This is what I wanted, yes, this is what I wanted. I wanted to be responsible, to be in charge, and to live rightly (uprightly). I asked the Lord for His permission to be responsible, to move out from my circumstances, and to live differently. I didn't want to live desperate anymore, you know, living without knowing where the money would come from, putting off bills, and hiding from bill collectors. Yes, this was my life for more years than I care to recall. I was tired of it, and when the door of opportunity opened, I ran through it. I praised God for His Provision, and for the privilege of being able to be responsible.

Don't get me wrong, it is good to be responsible. However, it can be a burden when you are the only one who carries that load. God is my Partner, and He carries the burden. The little bit I carry is still too heavy for me, and I am sinking under the weight. Oh, Lord, help me to not sink today!

The sun is rising -- I can see it out my bedroom window. The sky is pink and gray, and a little blue. The pine trees block my view, but I can still see the pink sky peeking through the branches. I marvel at what God has done in my life and I thank Him for His Goodness to me. He has made a way for me. He has opened doors, and helped me walk through them. I think about that Don Moen song, "God Will Make a Way,"

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness
He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today

God has made a way for me. I am following after Him now, and He is leading me through the trials, the challenges, and the difficulties I face. He keeps me. He helps me. He shows me the way to go. I thank Him for His Grace. I thank Him for being there, never leaving me alone, and never letting me handle everything on my own. He is so very good to me. God is so very good to me.

Today is a new day. Everyday is a gift from God. Everyday is an opportunity to explore the Grace of God. I see this, I know this, and I am aware of the great gift I have been given. I still feel overwhelmed, and I am burdened. The Lord promises me that the burden I carry is not unusual or uncommon -- and in light of humanity -- my burden is very light compared to what others carry. The Lord knows me, He knows my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows what I can and cannot do. I am thankful that He knows me personally. I am blessed to know that He will not let the burden fall too heavy on me. He is always with me, always there helping me to keep moving forward. Thank you, Lord, for never leaving me alone, for never letting this fall on me. You are so very good to me.

As I consider this day, I thank God for the Grace He has given to me. I know I can do what is asked of me by my employer. I can do what God asks of me in regard to the plans He has for me. I can write that admissions essay. I can work the hours I am asked to work. I can pay my bills. I can plan for tomorrow. I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for providing your Grace to me, and for leading me by the hand. I know that you have everything under control, and that my life is planned and purposed. You are in charge of the details, and you are working everything out for my good. You will do your work. You will accomplish your will in and through my life. I can rest in that knowledge, knowing you are sufficient in every way. I can trust you to do what you have promised. I can let go now, and let this all be as you have planned it. I will do what you ask, and you will see to my needs. It is your way, and I thank you. May your name be praised today, and forever more. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

I did my best to stay up to midnight last night, but sometime around 10:45 p.m., I laid down on the sofa to rest my eyes, and that was it! I woke up at the sound of firecrackers going off, and I looked at the clock and it was 12:01 a.m. So much for a happy new year celebration!

I don't really mind because I have never been one for celebrations. I like them, but I am not a party person. I think it is because I have always been the wallflower no one talks to or seeks out. Whenever I would go to parties as a teen, I usually sat around and watched everyone else laughing. I wanted to join in, but it seemed like I was one-step behind the conversation, the last to get the joke, etc. In short, I was never one to fit in, and I knew it. I felt like an outsider even though I was considered a friend. I have learned over the course of my life to simply let things go, to accept that I am a certain kind of person, the kind who prefers to be alone, and who chooses to live on the outside looking in.

It is weird, really, but it is who I am. My mother has tried to change me. My friends encouraged me to be more out going, to join in, to get involved. It never really mattered what I did because the end result was always the same. There are those people who naturally fit in a group. They are the insiders, and then there are those who sit on the edge and watch everyone laughing, joking, and seemingly having fun.

Yesterday, as I was leaving work, a colleague of mine chatted with me about New Years and my plans. We got to joking a bit about being "fuddy duddy's." Apparently he and his wife are low-key and like to do quiet things. They stay home, watch TV or if they do go out, they go to the movies, dinner, etc. They remind me a lot of my husband and I, well when we were a couple. Sigh.

After some chit chat, he turned the subject to my son, and that led to me discussing how my son is graduating with his AA in what seems such a short period of time (it isn't of course but not everyone knows he graduated early). Once that story was told, then the conversation turned to my husband and the state of our relationship.

It was an innocent question, really, starting with "how do you feel about that" and then ending with "are you happy?" The answer came out quickly, mostly because I had just had this conversation with the Lord on the preceding day. I had asked Him about happiness, and whether I would ever be "happy" with my situation. I didn't even wait for the Lord before I clarified my question with -- "Lord, I have joy which means more to me than any fleeting happiness!"

As I considered the idea of happiness the other day, I began to think about the joy that I do have in my life now. I understand the difference, and I shared what I believed that to be with my co-worker. Happiness is a feeling, and it is fleeting. It is wholly dependent on circumstances. It is easy to be happy when you are in a good mood, experience some moment where you chuckle or remember a special event. It is difficult when you are feeling blue or down or having a hard time with the daily-ness of life.

Joy, however, stems from a lack of fear. And when there is no fear, you can rest and you feel content (at peace). Joy is something that comes from God, it is not a human emotion, and it can be constant regardless of your circumstances. I have joy. I am content. I know the road I am on, and where I am going. Happiness for me is fleeting. I am happy some days, and sad others. It is just how it is, but for many people, they seek happiness, they seek to always be UP, always in that superficial place where you laugh, you dream, you desire to live, but where you know there is no reality. In a way, happiness is fake. It is a dream state that we long to live in, but where we know we cannot because of the hard cold light of the real world.

I think this is why so many people use alcohol and drugs to lift them into this artificial reality. They like the way they feel, they like feeling happy, and they want to remain in that state. It is an altered state, and there is no way to remain there permanently. Yet, millions of people try to do that very thing every single day. They try to stay happy. If they would only seek JOY instead, they would find that they don't need to be happy. Emotions are a good thing, and they are a gift from God. We are feeling people, and God created us to love, to hurt, to experience happiness and sadness. The Bible says we are to:

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15 NLT)

So getting back to my co-worker and his conversation with me -- something else came up while we were chatting -- and that was about my personality. It was odd, again a strange experience for me, to be questioned about my demeanor. He asked me if I was sad. He wanted to know if I was because I always look that way. Curious really, because I wouldn't characterize myself that way. I had to think a moment before I answered him. I said, "No, I am not sad." I went on to say that my personality type is melancholy -- reflective. The most common understanding of melancholy is sad or depressed, but a second definition is to be sober, thoughtful and pensive.

Sober: quiet or sedate in temperament, serious or solemn
Thoughtful: occupied or given to thought; contemplative, meditative or reflective
Pensive: expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness: a pensive adagio

Yes, this is me, 100% my personality. And, this is why I was always a wallflower at parties and social events. I find the noise, the crowds, the excitement to be overwhelming at times. I like excitement, don't get me wrong, but I could probably enjoy a great moment with contemplation just as I could with shouting and high-fives (I would probably enjoy the former more than the latter).

It is difficult sometimes to be thought of as sad by your peers, friends and family members. I don't mean to put on a sad face, and I don't think I am sad at all. I may look a little forlorn (dreary), but this is not really how I feel inside.

I thank God that He loves me in all my pensiveness, thoughtfulness, and soberness. Titus 2:6 KJV says this:

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

Paul encouraged sober mindedness among the young men. In other versions, it says "self-controlled, wise, good judgment, discreet, serious." I think you get the point. God highly encourages us to live wisely, to use good judgment and to be sober minded or serious. Many young people struggled with self-control, and as we know self-control is a fruit of God's Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23 NLT).

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I guess this means I have an extra heaping of fruit (LOL!) since I experience self-control as a natural part of my personality. Perhaps this is how God wants it to be in my life. Maybe the issue and the plans He has for me require soberness, thoughtfulness, and pensiveness. Perhaps this is why I am the way I am (I like to think so).

When I stop and think that I have been created by God to do certain works (Eph 2:10 NLT):

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I am humbled to think that my personhood, my personality has been crafted to cooperate with the Holy Spirit's intended workings in and through me. If I am yielded to His influence, and willing of His constant alterations, then truthfully, I am this way for a reason. I am not making an excuse, choosing to be a certain way to avoid life or people in life. No, I am this way because God has designed me to be this way, and the work He has planned is supported through my outlook, and my understanding of the world.

It is a God-thing to be considered with such completeness. I am completely created to serve my Creator with my entire being. The Word says it this way in the Col. 1:4 AMP:

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] and of the love which you [have and show] for all the saints (God’s consecrated ones).

I like the Amplified for this reason. I like the way the writers explain in greater detail what a particular word means. Faith, for example, means to "lean your entire personality" on God.

Personality is something we tend to think of in outward terms only. But according to it's actual definition, it has many different meanings. In Biblical terms, the personality is the whole person, every part of the person.

 the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual

For a more complete treatment of this idea, you have to reach into a Biblical Dictionary for clarification. I like Baker's best, and this is a brief excerpt from it dealing with the concept of "person."

Thus, common Old Testament anthropological thought holds that a human being is a body, rather than having a body. The distinctions between soul and body are minimized. A human being is an animated body rather than an incarnated soul. The body is none other than the soul in its outward form, allowing the various parts of the body to think and act as representations of the soul.

As an aside, I could spend years reading Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

The idea though is pretty clear. God doesn't really distinguish between anatomical parts as often as we do. We concretize things, head, arm, leg. The Word tends to use abstract terms to classify something we think as a singular item. I think this is why we often misunderstand Scripture, and we assume that God is saying one thing, when He really means so much more.

On my list of wants is a complete Biblical Library so that I can really study the Word. I read my Bible, and I have read Strong's and Vines, but now I want to know what the words mean in relation to my understanding of Biblical Theology. It is my hope to have the time, someday, to study God's Word this way, and to really come to know and understand Biblical truth.

Long aside - now back to the main program (LOL!)

My personality is a certain way because I believe God requires me to be sober and thoughtful (reflective, meditative) so that I can do the work He has called me to do. Part of this work includes advanced study. This would go without any further saying -- any advanced study requires soberness, seriousness, and a driven focus to stay on task -- or else there is no point in even attempting it. God has equipped me for advanced study. I like to study. I like going to school. I enjoy the work, the assignments, and the readings. I like to think about things, and I like discussing my findings with others. I am excited to start school again, and I know that my personality, my person, has been created for this very reason.

God in His Marvelous Wisdom created me to be this way so that I could accomplish the plans He has in mind for me. Therefore, whether I fit in or don't. whether I have lots of friends or just one, I am made to do a work that only I can do. How exciting to think that there is JOB out there with my name on it. A position waiting for me to fill. A specific set of tasks that only I can do. I am humbled to think that God has chosen me for this particular assignment. I am humbled and I cry out to Him because I know that my flesh is not able to do what He is asking of me. My mind is in agreement, but my flesh is so very weak. My flesh wants to take the easy way out, to do the least thing, and skim by. God wants all of me, and He expects me to give my best, my time and attention, and my skills to Him so He can use them as He has need. I know this. I know this about God. I still struggle with letting go, and letting God BE in the midst of each circumstance, and each situation.

My New Years Resolution (to be resolved) is to accept who I am, and what God has asked me to do. I am willing myself to follow after Him, and in doing so, placing my self (my whole self) into dependency upon His provision and care. I am letting go of the past, and I am releasing myself into His completeness, His Ultimate plans and purposes. I am letting God BE in every area of my life, knowing that only then can I be free to do what He is asking me to do. I have waited long enough, I have stopped and started, questioned, and remained held back for so long. I can no longer remain still, I must Go do His work. I must go now, and start this work today. It is January 1, 2013, and I am resolved to do His work, to make it the only work I do. I know God's Grace will see me through, and I can do all things through Him (Phil. 4:13).

Dear Lord,

I confess today that I have waited and waited for you to move in my life and align everything up perfectly so that I would no longer be afraid to do your work. I understand now that you have everything ready to go, and that in my world, my little world, things will never "look" aligned. They will always seem out of sorts because of my view and perspective. You are looking down upon me, and you see everything as it is, unfolding and moving towards eternity. I must rest in the knowledge that I will never know everything, I will never see everything, and I will never be ready because of the way eternity moves. I must be fluid, I must move, and I must go -- trusting and leaning everything I am upon you. You are the only thing FIXED in time, and everything moves around you. I cannot stop or be still when your will is moving and flowing around me. I must let go and fall into the river of your Mighty Will. In doing so, I will then flow to where you want me to be, and I will be free to move, to change, to go, and to do what you ask me to do. I let go now, Lord, and I am free to be used by your Hand for Your Glorious Name this day. May your Name be Praised forever more. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!