February 27, 2013

Looking Forward

I am working from home today. It is one of the perks of working as an Analyst at CVS Caremark. I have to admit that this was one of the "draws" for me when considering this job last September. I was in need of a break, a real break, from the monotony of robo-dialing at University of Phoenix, and the thought of being able to work from home one day a week was very enticing. I thought "Oh, I can be at home, do laundry, rest, and take my day leisurely as I need to --" yeah, right! Working from home has been more "work" than when I go into the office!!

I guess on the upside, working from  home, does have some "benies" since I can do my work in my PJs! In the past, I was able to get more work done, but lately this has not been the case. All this Privacy stuff has really clogged my workload, and prevented me from doing my normal job. I am about out of that assignment, and I think next week should prove to be more manageable (yes!) So really, I am thinking that with everything I have gone through, and with all the new changes planned, my best option is to stay where I am (at CVS) and not try and find a new job.

I was looking over my benefits/compensation package again, and truthfully, I am making a very good income. I still sweat over making my monthly payments, and at times, I do feel the pinch of not having quite enough to go round. Generally speaking, however, I am good. God has provided enough income to me to cover my needs. I am blessed.

I wish I had just a wee bit more, for comfort-sake, but I am trusting in His timing to provide that to me. My attitude at work has been really poor, and while I don't like to blame others, I do feel that the overall environment has not been conducive to keeping a positive and upbeat attitude. I am trying to be positive, and for the most part, have been successful at doing so -- it is just that my team mates don't share the same positive approach, and well, the negativity seems to be pervasive. Isn't that true in other areas of life? It seems that negativity spreads so much faster than positivity. Oh well...

I am determined to try and keep my ship afloat, to not upset the apple cart, or allow the negative-Nancy's in my life to pull me down and keep me down. I am tired, so very tired -- of everything -- yet I know that this too shall pass. I will overcome and I will be victorious in Jesus' Name. I will find the strength to see this through and to work through the issues, the concerns, and the doubts -- I will not give in nor will I give up.

I have said "I give up" so many times that I honestly think the Lord laughs at me. Really, I think I hear Him chuckling now because He knows me so well. I say "Lord, I give up!" and then I pick up the plow and muddle on through -- grumbling, complaining, and generally being miserable. He knows me. He knows that while I want to give up, to give in -- there is something inside of me -- that just makes me keep on moving, keep on "keeping on."


Yes, it is FAITH! God has given me an extra helping of the "Faith" gene, and I cannot help but believe that what He has asked me to do is possible. I grumble, I complain, and at times, I stomp my feet in frustration and exasperation. Yet, I don't stop moving, I don't stop walking on after Him.

There have been times when I have sat down, just plopped down in the dirt and refused to get up again. I have been ill, and overwhelmed to the point of utter confusion. I sat down to rest, and didn't want to get back up again. The Lord patiently waited for me to get myself ready, to pick myself up, and to make up my mind that it was time to stand up and start walking again. In those times, I felt pitiful, and I thought the world was coming to an end. I didn't realize that my sitting down "on the job" simply made it impossible for me to see the road ahead, to see what was coming up around the corner. Had I stood up, I would have seen that I was almost at my destination spot, a place where the Lord had planned a rest for me. Oh no, I was tired, and I was upset with God for making the road so hard, the journey so long, and the pace so quick.

It took me a couple times of sitting down before I realized that He has rest-stops planned out along our journey. Just like our modern freeways where there are rest stops every 50-100 miles, the Lord has planned rests for us so that we do not wear ourselves out with non-stop moving. Sometimes we rest for a short while, just get some refreshments and sit a bit to air out; other times we rest a long while, staying put in one place so that the dust settles, and we can unload our burdens, our packs, and our goods. Yes, God is Good like that - He knows we cannot walk on without these rest periods on life, and that if we do, we will hurt ourselves or we will arrive at our destination not fit to do His work.

I know that there are times when the journey between those rests seems unbearable. I just came through one of those difficult times -- I literally believed I was not going to make it. I was tired, ill, overworked, and overwhelmed. Yet, here I am, now on the other side, and while not completely at rest yet, I am able to see the rest stop up ahead. It is not too far off, and I know that with a steady pace, and a strong sense of perseverance, I will make it to the stopping point, and I will be able to rest, and rest well.

God knows me well. He knows what I can and cannot do. I must continue to trust Him, to believe in Him, and to know that His way is Good. I am in a good place right now, ready to rest, but still moving forward for a short time only. I am excited to think about that rest stop up ahead, and I know I will enjoy the time when I finally arrive. I am so ready to rest.

Dear Lord,

You have given me the ability to believe, to trust, and to rely upon your Word. I know I grumble and I complain a lot, especially whenever I don't feel physically well, and when I think there is no way out. You are steady, my Rock and my Refuge, and I know that my hope is placed firmly upon the One who is more than able to work out everything in my life for Good. I thank you now for the Grace to hang in there, to stick this out, to see it through to the end. May your Name be Praised forever more. Selah (pause and calmly think about that!)

February 23, 2013

The Next Five Years

What a busy day I have had. It started out fairly quiet, with just my normal cup of coffee, and two purring kitties trying very hard to get me to play. After the umpteenth stern look, the kitties finally decided to stay off the TV stand, and not attempt to climb on top of the flat panel screen. I honestly do not know what they think they are doing, trying to scramble up on the tiny 2" ledge of the TV screen. I guess they remember the old box TV we had, and think they can still fit on that tiny strip of plastic. I am more worried about the TV falling over on top of them -- it is after all 47" wide, and probably weighs in at 135 lbs. Not a very pretty thought...hence the stern look and the "Dog Whisper" like behavioral stance (sending psychological thoughts to say "Hey, I said GET DOWN!!")

Did it really work? Yes, and no. I really think the boys just give up on me, and go and lay down somewhere else. It usually takes 3-4 times of me doing the "get off" routine before they give up and go elsewhere. Still it bugs me, and there is part of me that thinks this is all just a game to them ("Hey, lets see how many times we can get her up out of the chair to shoos us off the TV stand?") I guess a game is a game when it comes to feline amusements! LOL!

Once I pulled myself together, got dressed, and headed out, I ended up with Mom for the morning. She wanted to do some shopping, and she is still not 100% over her Pneumonia. She is better, but not great. I am worried about her, but the Doctors say it will take her a while to recover due to her CLL (Chronic lymphocytic leukemia). This disease is common among older people, especially men, and it can complicate the natural healing process. It is a chronic condition that affects many people without them even knowing it. My Mom was diagnosed last year, and the disease is progressive, though most people do not die from it. Her main symptoms are fatigue and frequent infections.

This last illness really took a toll on her, and as a result, my Dad asked me if I was willing to move in with them. I had considered it before, but thought I had a couple years still. My Dad is not well, and the thought of caring for my Mother solely on his own, was really bearing down on him. They had made the decision to sell their home, and down size into an apartment. This was the plan going into Christmas, but then Mom got sick, and my Dad felt he couldn't really care for her.

I broached the subject in January, simply because I could see how the move was affecting my Dad. He was worn out, and with his Post-Polio Syndrome, the extra stress was simply too much for him. He was worried about moving, about clearing out their garage, about paying the extra rent cost. I could tell that my parents were simply not going to be able to make this kind of adjustment, and move this spring.

I made the decision to move in with my parents a couple weeks ago. It was a difficult decision at first. I didn't want to give up my freedom, and I didn't want to leave my lovely townhome. However, after my car crash, and the stress of purchasing a new car, it was pretty obvious to me, that I had to consider it, and I had to consider it now.

We found a neighbors house to rent (about a block away), and my parents are planning on moving in after the 1st of April. I am locked into my townhome agreement until November, so I am praying that my landlord will let me out of the lease. I am trusting that to the Lord, since I know moving in and caring for my parents is a God-honoring thing. It is in His Word -- Honoring our Parents -- is the first commandment that comes with a promise (reward of long life). I know that it is the right thing to do, but still I am apprehensive about how we will all fit, and how we will make things work out.

So today, I took Mom shopping for some house things. They have sold their home (in less than a week), and made a little profit on it (PTL!) They are excited about moving in with me (well us all together), and my Dad even thanked me today for "letting them move in with me." I said, "No, Dad, thank you for letting me move in with you." Of course, it is really a shared thing, but still it was nice that my parents understand what I am giving up to help care for them. I appreciate them for their understanding of my life, and my situation.

Today has been a very good day. I mean while nothing tremendous has happened, it has been a pretty solid day. I am thinking about the next five years, and what the Lord has in mind for me. As I consider His way, and all the wonderful plans He has for me, I cannot help but lift up a sacrifice of praise to Him. He is so very good. He is so very good to me.

The next five years hold promise of a brand new future. They are filled with potential, with hope, and with the plans the Lord has in mind for me. I am excited to see what He is up to, and to experience the blessing of His Marvelous Hand. He is Good. All the time, He is so very, very Good.

February 19, 2013

Seeing Hope Peeking Around the Corner

The past couple weeks have been bleak for me. Not only has my workload been increasingly heavy, but I have been struggling to keep the flu/colds at bay. Everyone in my family has been sick, and most of my co-workers have been ill as well. I have been fortunate to keep from feeling the full throttle of the flu -- but -- this week, my immune system took a nose dive and I ended up sick.

Thankfully, I think it is just a seasonal cold and not a sinus/ear infection or the flu virus. I still feel pretty yucky, but at the least, I am not suffering from fever, chills or pneumonia (from which my dear Mother has just recovered). I am stuffy and blowing my nose, but no sign of infection -- yet.

Today, I went into work because I had several conference calls to attend. After my 11:00, I put a sign on my chair and packed my little bags and headed home. I decided to take the afternoon off as sick time, which means I can be logged out of my laptop, and not have to be "available" online. PTL! I am so sick and tired (literally) of being "available" online. I mean even when I worked from home I had the freedom to keep my own hours. I didn't have to be online or available if I was sick. I could just return calls later in the day or the next day. This business of being available is for the birds, and it stinks -- there is no "work/life balance" at CVS Caremark.

As I was driving my little self home, I thought out loud - "Lord, please bring me a new job. Bring me any job that will not conflict with Regent and will work for me." I prayed it with all sincerity, letting go of the job I have, and embracing whatever job the Lord chooses for me. I don't care anymore. I don't care about the money, or the level of work, or the job title. I just want a job I can do for 8 hours a day, and then leave at the office. I want to go home, enjoy my family, practice cello, study my school courses, and be free to live a normal life. I want to serve at church again, and have the job fit into it's little compartment called "work." It is not the end-all and be-all of my life. It is not an idol I worship -- it is just a means of income, and I am not going to let it be anything more than that - ta dum!

I made it home, finally, and I did the little bit of work I had to do before I shut down for the day. Then I booted up my PC, and checked email. Good news - my acceptance materials are in Central Enrollment and I should get them soon! Also I found out that the car loan paper I received that said I had been denied was for the first loan I applied for, not the one I received. I have since received confirmation on my actual loan, and my car is safe and secure. PTL2!!

Then before I laid my little head down, the Lord prompted me to look at a couple jobs boards. I have been browsing them the past couple days but didn't really see anything I liked. Today,  however, I noticed a job for one of our local Charter School systems (the corporate offices). They were looking for an Executive Office Assistant, and the salary and responsibilities fit my range and skill set. I applied - oh joy -- I applied. I am so hopeful that they will give me a call. This is a classical charter school, and I certainly have CLASSICAL written all over me. Oh, what a great job it would be - an easy job, low key, low stress, and something I could do for the next five years while I finish my doctoral program. I am excited to even apply. We will see if the Lord thinks this is a good opportunity for me. Nonetheless, I am blessed to even submit my resume for consideration. God be praised, let's hope this may be His timing and His provision.

February 14, 2013

Stressed Beyond Measure

It is Thursday, and I am stressed beyond measure. I cannot even begin to describe how overwhelmed I feel right now. I have spent the past couple weeks trying to keep the water from covering my head. I am worn out with all the dog paddling, and bobbing to keep my head afloat.

Today was really the final straw. I woke up early, at 5:00 a.m., because I had a 7:00 a.m. conference call at work. I was a nervous wreck, and I wanted to cover my head, and not come out. The weeks leading up to this call have been torturous and frustrating. I feel overworked, and overwhelmed, and as if the short end of the stick is jabbing me constantly. Nothing I do seems good enough, and the doubts, fears, and thoughts of failure are soaring through my head with a constant throbbing pain.

I was sick to my stomach, literally. I suffer from IBS, but it has been a long time since my last flare up. This week, though, my IBS kicked into gear, and the stress and nerves got the best of me. I was miserable last night, and this morning woke up with such a stomach ache that I thought I was not going to be able to make it far from the bathroom all day long.

Thank goodness I am able to work from home some of the time. I called in sick, but said I would work from home through my calls. Afterwards, I would be offline (in essence, home sick.) I did it, and I made it through the calls, and at 11:30 a.m., said goodbye and shut my laptop down. Praise God, I made it through the day.

The good news that followed was that my car was ready to be picked up at the dealership (it had been painted as part of my new ownership package), and that I finally settled the issue with my old car (thank you, Jesus!) I popped out for about an hour, and came home with my new car; and my AZ title notarized and ready for transfer tomorrow with the salvage company. By 4 p.m. tomorrow, I will be a one-car owner again, and my worries and fears and stress will be diminished. God is so very good to me.

As I think back on the weeks leading up to this one, the only thing I can think to say is "God is Good." I mean it, really I do -- He is so very Good. I went from being a one-car owner to having no drivable transportation to owning an almost new car -- in all of 1 week. Secondly, I received my second interview with Regent, and my acceptance call. Third, I made the decision to move in with my parents this summer, so I can be more help to them as they deal with the issues they face getting older. Last, I have handled an unreasonable amount of work at my job, and I have survived. I haven't liked the workload, but I have survived it.

Today, I am worn out, so very worn out; but I am good. I am content to be where I am today, and with the knowledge of what my future holds for me tomorrow. I am uncertain of all the details, but I know my God is firmly in  control, and He has me covered. I am good. He is Good, and His Grace is so very sufficient.

February 9, 2013

I'm "IN" at Regent University!

I got a call at work yesterday afternoon from Regent University saying that I had been voted "IN" to the Doctoral program in Communication! The Committee had chosen to accept me, and I will start courses this June, 2013. I about fell out of my chair when I heard the words "You've been voted IN," and it took all my composure to NOT jump up and yell "WhooHOO!!" in my section of the building. I ran outside instead and called my parents and then I shouted, "I did it, I really did it!!"

I have to be honest and say that my faith has wavered some during this entire application process. It has been over three years since the Lord first placed Regent University on my heart, and called me to consider attending there for a Ph.D program. I was hesitant for a long while, not really sure why He would choose Regent and a Communication program for me. After all, I am a Humanities and English major -- not interested in Media/Journalism. In fact, I never really liked Media and Journalism, and I certainly never considered a career in that field. Yet, here I am working as a Communications Analyst, dealing with communication issues on a daily basis, and the Lord is pressing me toward an advanced degree in this very field. Oh my, what an interesting turn of events!

As I consider my path, and the journey that has brought me to this place, I can only lift the Name of the Lord high, and give Him all the Praise, Honor, and Glory. There is no way that I could even begin to approach such a program (a five-year program) with such enthusiasm, and determination unless the Lord was in it, and through it. He is, and I know this -- clearly -- I know He is all over this program. I see His hand, and His fingerprints on every aspect of the application and interviews and acceptance. I give Him His due because He is Glorious and so very Faithful. He promised me that I was "IN" and He consistently told me not to worry about it. Did I listen? Yes and no. I did listen, but those awful doubts about my adequacy surfaced, and then I would think "who am I to even expect consideration?" Oh, how prone I am to those kinds of doubts and to the issues that surround feelings of worth.

I have struggled for so long with these feelings, and even though I am confident and I know my strengths well, I still do not consider myself smart enough, worthy enough, good enough for this kind of program. Perhaps this is the very reason why the Lord chose this path for me? He knows my weaknesses, and my frailty, and through this path, He is able to do abundantly more than what is required. Yes, it is through His strength, and His desire that I am here today, and it will be because of His empowerment that I walk through these next few years and attend this University.

I am in awe of Him. I give Him Praise today because He is Good, and His Goodness flows over me, and covers my life with His blessing. Our God is an Awesome God, and I thank Him for being who He is -- reliable, dependable, and always faithful. God be praised today and forever more!

February 3, 2013

Trust in His Holy Name

Psalm 33

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.

5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jarsa;
he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—

15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

February 2, 2013

So Much Change

It is February 2nd, and today is a very good day. This past week has passed by quickly, and there has been so much change. God has provided abundantly, and He has kept me safe and secure through it all. I am lifting a sacrifice of praise to Him today for His Goodness and His Grace. God is so very Good. He is so very Good to me! I cannot tell you how much I have suffered this week alone, stress and with worry, yet God has given me His peace, and everything has turned out well for me. Thank you, Lord, for everything you have done for me this week!

As I sit here today and reflect on this week, I marvel at God's provision. He has brought me through some difficult times before, and this past week was no exception. The week as planned was pretty full. I had a busy schedule at work, and a second interview pending with Regent University. I was worried about the latter, but put it off and out of my mind, and focused on my ever-increasing workload at CVS Caremark.

Sunday started off with a bang -- literally. My son called me around 12:30 p.m. saying he had a little incident with my car. He was OK, but the car had some damage. I was distraught over the damage, but tried to focus on the positive -- no injuries to my son nor any one else. He was safe and that is what mattered most. However, on inspection of the car, I soon realized that the damage was not minor. In fact, it was fairly significant.

I called AAA, got a tow truck out and had the car towed to a service/repair station for their evaluation. The news was bad -- frame and suspension damage. The estimate was 1-2K in repair work. The car had to go to a collision shop for a completed estimate. The worth of my car was about the same amount. I knew I was in a difficult predicament. Without some help from insurance, I was going to be up the proverbial creek...

I called my agent, only to be reminded that I didn't carry collision on the car. The cost of insurance on the Kia was high to begin with, and adding collision put the payment way out of reach for me. I knew this, but it was decision I made back when I purchased the car in 2010.

My agent had told me that due to the size of the car, and the brand, collisions generally totaled the car. He said even a low-speed crash will total this kind of car, so the premium is high to off-set that fact. Yes, he was correct. My son had a low-speed crash with a wall, and it caused significant damage.

I was desperate for help. I hadn't planned on buying a car this week. While I had been thinking about it for the past couple months -- planning and budgeting, and hoping to purchase soon -- it was only a dream, a pleasant diversion to keep my mind off of other things (some day soon, you know).

I prayed about the decision. Should I invest in this car and get it repaired (2004 Kia with close to 100K miles on it) or should I attempt to purchase another car? I didn't have a boatload of cash to get me a new car, and while I did have a little saved, it wasn't going to be enough to get me a good newer used card.

I reached out for help, and a friend of my mom's gave me the name of a sales rep for Nissan. She assured me that he was well-regarded and would help me with everything I needed. I called him, and she was correct. This man was a God-send. He looked for a newer used car within my budget, and helped me arrange financing. Nissan was awesome. They financed me with a low-down payment, and payments to fit my life right now.

I brought home a 2011 Nissan Sentra last evening. It is gorgeous! I was able to buy a certified pre-owned Nissan, which means, I get the warranty that was remaining plus an additional warranty. In all, I ended up with an almost brand new car, low miles, and a 10 year/100000 mile warranty. God has been so very good to me this week!!

I am amazed at His Goodness toward me. I not only have a new car (new to me, but almost new); but I also completed my last interview with Regent, and handled all the stress at my job. I am exhausted, really beat up, yet I am still hanging on. God is my Victor, my Champion. He stands for me, and protects me, and He is Victorious.

So what is next? I don't have a clue. I just know that this car loan will help prepare me for home ownership. The finance manager told me that an installment loan is critical to getting good mortgage financing. He gave me a plan on how to build my credit so that I can qualify for a zero down loan when I am ready to purchase a home. He also told me that my credit is very good, and that I am in a perfect place to build my credit history, and be able to be established as credit worthy. I know that for some Christian's, credit is considered negative. They do not want to be a part of this world, and they do not want to participate in what they feel is part of this world's domain.

I am ambivalent about it. I see it as valuable so long as you use it for specific purposes. For example, it is very difficult to purchase a car or home without credit. You can save your cash and buy everything that way (I did that for years), but often you cannot buy quality that way. I don't intend to buy another car for a long time. I don't intend to continue to finance cars. However, this is a start, and it will prepare me to buy a home. Once I have this completed, I don't really see the need to repeat the process, unless the Lord determines that He wants me to do so.

An aside -- so back to the business at hand.

I will wait to hear about Regent. I can only believe that they will accept me, and it will be confirmation of God's will. If they do not, then so be it. I am believing that this is the Lord's expressed will for me. Therefore, it will come to pass. I will pray for His will to do be done, and for mercy by the committee who reviews my application. I will trust Him to move their hearts to accept me, to see that I am following the Lord, and I am doing this because He has asked me to do it. I will rest in the knowledge that God moves behind the scenes and that He makes all things work together for my good. God knows Regent. He knows their hearts, and I believe they will come to see that I am there on the calling of the Lord, and I am moving towards His expressed will for my life.

My work, well, I am asking the Lord for a new job. I like my work at CVS, but the amount of stress is getting to that unbearable point. I am overworked, and I need a break. I was placed on another committee at work, and while the profile is great (it gets me noticed), the volume of the work is more than one person can hope to handle. I am not sure where I will go, whether I will stay put at CVS or whether the Lord will move me elsewhere. I just know that I need a break, and that I am overwhelmed every single day. God help me? Provide some way out -- I ask this now in Jesus' Name.

There you have it. My week in a nutshell. I am resting in the Lord's provision, and trusting Him to lead me through these next weeks. God be Praised. He knows me best, and I trust Him most. His way, always.