March 30, 2013

Looking Up (Again!)

Ok, so once again I have found myself looking down at my feet while walking on this path the Lord has laid before me. Oh, how I wish I could be like the little child who looks up, up into her daddy's face, with complete trust and faith (assurance of His good intentions!)

I have been struggling these past few weeks, trying to gain perspective on my life, trying to understand where I am at today and where I am going tomorrow. Yes, I know that my path is firmly set and that I am walking towards Regent University and a PhD degree in Communication. I also know that I am where I am supposed to be on that path -- that I am not heading off the mark, down a rabbit trail, or over to another alleyway. No, I am where I belong, but something just didn't or doesn't feel "right." It took me a while to put my finger on it, to come to terms with some truth in my life. Thank goodness that the Lord takes His time with me, that He is always gracious to me, and that He never gives up on me. He has all the time in the Universe to patiently wait for me to "get it," to come to His way of seeing things.

Yes, God's perspective is far grander and far reaching than our own shortsightedness. I am reminded of this verse in the Bible where it says:

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." (Is. 55:8 NLT) 

God's ways are beyond our imagining, and often we forget that He knows everything, in our time and outside of our time. He is ever-present, ever-knowing, and always in control.

Our little snapshot of the world looks like this - like we are holding it in our hands. This is our viewpoint. Everything is exactly as we can see it. If we want to see another side of things, we flip it over, and then "voila!" it is clear to us. 

However, we are thinking with such small vision, such small eyes. God's view is from the Heavens and He can see all of time -- our past, our present, and our future.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Heb. 13:8 NLT)

Our future rests in His hands, not ours. Our past, and our present are always in His view. Nothing is hidden, nothing is out of bounds to His purview. He is God, and we are flesh. Psalm 33:13-15 NIV says:

From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

Oh, how we stumble around, how our flesh yearns to take hold and be in control. Yet, the God of Heaven sees all, and considers everything we do. What a comfort to know that our God cares about us, that He sees us and knows us. God is so very good, so very good indeed.

Regent and Beyond

As I consider my education, I have come face to face with the truth of the situation. I have received two grants to attend this school. Neither are what I had hoped for -- a full scholarship -- so I would not have to take anymore financial aid. I have had to consider the fact that I will have to incur more debt to complete my education, and this bothers me, it bothers me greatly. I was deeply disturbed, and felt as though the Lord had not been truthful to me. I thought He would provide a full scholarship to me, and instead He provided some funding, but not enough to cover all my expenses. 

I had already expected to need some aid for this summer residency. After all, I have to fly to Virginia Beach and stay a week in a hotel near campus. I knew that I would need more money than I had access to, and I was praying for some financial aid to assist me. Well, I got my aid, but it comes at a cost. I will have another summer loan to add to my already large debt. 

Furthermore, there will be more expense over the next three years. I was disappointed, and I believed that the Lord had let me down. I stewed over it, even after I felt the Lord saying to me to go ahead and accept the financial aid award, grant and all, for this summer and fall tuition. I trusted Him, I believed His word to me, and I felt that this was His provision. I was just upset that He didn't provide all the funding to me like I had believed He would do so.

In truth, the Lord provided what He promised me -- He provided a grant to me and financial aid. I have my tuition, expenses, air fare and hotel/car, and everything covered -- just as He said it would be. It just didn't come in the package I expected. I didn't get a letter saying, "Carol - here is $20,000 for you to cover all your educational expenses, and guess what? You don't have to pay any of it back!" LOL!


I moved my parents into their rental home this past week. I couldn't have done this without my brother's help, and he was a God-send to come the week before the move, and be available to do so much heavy lifting. We got everything moved over, and the moving company came on Tuesday, and brought all the furniture. Thank goodness we spent time the previous week moving the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, etc. This made for a very easy transition so that my parents could rest Tuesday night in their own bed, with their home almost completely unpacked. They are settled, and while very tired, they are very, very happy.

I have stewed over moving in with my parents since the idea first came up back in January. Mom was sick, and my Dad was overwhelmed with her care. He needed my help, and he was worried about their financial situation. He wanted us to move in together, and I said yes. 

Since that day I have worried and fretted over this move. How will I tell my dear landlord that I am leaving six-months short of my lease agreement? How will all my things fit into two tiny bedrooms? How will my cats get along with my parents? Will they behave and not claw at their lovely furniture?

Yesterday, I was over at the house and Mom and I were working in the back yard. There are garden boxes near a brick patio on the yard. The owner had planted vegetables for her family, and Mom and I decided we would use this space for a flower garden. My mother has not had a garden since she moved to Arizona in 2000. I have not had a vegetable garden since 1996. 

We had gone over to The Home Depot to pick out plants for the garden and Mom was pulling weeds. I was hoeing the dirt, getting it ready for planting today. My mind was blissful as I hoed. It has been a long time since I worked in the garden, and a flood of memories came back to me. Happy times when I worked hard to produce four square plots of vegetables for my family and others. I loved my garden. It was my sanctuary. It was a place of peace, and a place of rest for me. I worked full time then, but I would come home every evening and go out in my backyard to prune the grapevines, pull weeds, water, etc. It was my pride and joy, to see the fruits of my own labor.

As I hoed the dirt I heard these words bubble up in my head:

"Oh, Lord, how I miss living in a home."
"How I would like to have a garden again - to work in and to enjoy."
"Oh, I do miss being in a house."

It was not long ago when I utter those words -- several times over -- in prayer, in conversation, and in thought. Yes, my Father in Heaven sees and hears everything we say, and He knows us, knows us well.

My Lord has provided a home to me. It is not the way I thought it would be, of course. I had wanted to purchase my own home, and then have my parents move in with me. I thought it would be a big home, a two story with plenty of room for all of us. I wanted space to separate us, so that my parents could have their own quiet area, away from the cats, the noise, the drums!

Instead, the Lord has provided a lovely home to my parents. It is 400 SQFT larger than the home they sold -- it has no pool-- but it does have a fourth bedroom. It is a good layout for both of them -- all tile -- which is good for my Dad (should he need a power chair in the house). It is in their neighborhood, across the street from our church, and it has a three-car garage (big enough to hold all my Dad's stuff and my things).

Again, my shortsightedness only saw one part of the picture, one aspect of the provision. I was happy to have a home, but I only saw the negative part. I missed the blessing because I was focused on the difficult aspects -- the telling my landlord, the moving from a larger town home into two small rooms. I didn't see the blessing of God's provision, and the beauty of the possibilities that lay with the future.


Lastly, and probably most importantly, the Lord has provided a job for me to do. 

I have been miserable to say the least with regard to my current work at CVS Caremark. I have come to hate my job, hate the work I do, and loathe having to go there each day. The environment has become oppressive, and I wanted out. I prayed about it, I started applying for other jobs, and I looked for any way out, any way at all.

This past week was the death knoll for me. I simply couldn't take any more, and with moving my parents, and the stress and strain of the physical work, I was overwhelmed and undone. I cried every day, and the fact that I was already emotional due to my monthly cycle didn't help. I prayed to the Lord -- "Please release me, please provide something else for me to do?" The Lord would calmly reply to me: "Be patient. Remain where you are. I have you covered."

AGH! Whenever He tells me to be patient, I squirm. I don't like being patient because it means that I have to wait, and waiting for me is like a trip to the dentist. I loathe it, I fear it, and I literally hate doing it. 

Not my will Lord, but thy will be done. Yes, I repeated this mantra over and over again. Confessing and confirming that I would patiently wait for Him to move, to do whatever He had in mind to do.

Thursday was a blow-up day at my job. I had taken two days off to help my parents move, and then I worked from home on Wednesday. I was beat. I needed to work from home, and while I was glad to have the time off to help Mom and Dad, I came back to a boatload of work, and very little time to meet deadlines. My boss tried to be helpful to me, but her help was not wanted.

Instead of helping me with my already heavy workload, she walked into my cube and pronounced that she was giving me a new implementation - a new client to work on. I looked at her and right then she could tell I was not a happy camper. I didn't cry, but I was upset. I didn't want a new implementation. I didn't want more work. I wanted to leave, to run out the door, and to leave CVS Caremark as quickly as I could do so.

She could tell I was stressed. She could tell I was upset. However, she did try to ask me what was wrong, but I wasn't in any mood to tell her. I just wanted her to leave me alone.

Later that day, while I was driving home, I cried out to the Lord - "Lord, what is happening to me? Why am I still here at this job? When will you provide something new for me to do?"

I was supposed to have a one-on-one meeting with my new Director on Friday. It got pushed back to Monday, so I was really bummed. At the least, I thought speaking with him might help me out. He was sympathetic to me, and frankly, he is on my side. He was the Director I interviewed with last September, and he offered me a job to work in his department. I chose to work in Onboarding because I thought it would be an easier transition. Now, this same person is my Director -- so I was hoping that perhaps he would help me, he would step in and take some of the work off me or at the least move me into a better job.

Yesterday, I went to work as usual. I did my work, finishing early. I had a sinus headache, and with the holiday looming, was getting ready to go home early. My Director stopped by my cube to ask if I could meet with him for ten minutes. I did, and I was surprised by what he said to me. 

He told me how much he valued me, and that he wanted to make sure I was happy in my job. He was putting me on a special project starting Monday, and he wanted me to know about it. He also said that he wanted me to be candid about what has transpired over the past eight months when we do meet on Monday.

I told him about my schooling, and how I felt that CVS Caremark might not accommodate my need. I told him I was looking for other jobs because I couldn't take the work load. I wanted to be honest. I wanted him to know that I was overwhelmed and I wanted out.

He assured me that he would help me, and that he would work with me and my schooling.

So I left yesterday thinking, once again, that I was stuck in a terminal situation. No hope, no way out. Yes, I believed that God would provide a different job for me, a different place to work. In a way, He did just that -- He opened a door for me to potentially move into a new role, with the understanding that my schooling comes first, and that I have to have the freedom to go to Regent each summer.

I thought I would receive a call on another job, and that I would leave my current place of work and start over. Instead, I am potentially looking at staying put, but moving into a different role, doing different work.


As I sit here this good Saturday morning, I am thanking the Lord for His provision of Grace. It is His Grace that has made all this possible. And although I don't fully understand His plans, and how He has determined them to come to pass, I do know that my God is firmly in control of all the details in my life. He has plans and ways to make things come to pass to suit His needs. He considers my ways, but in the end, He always chooses the way that suits Him best. He knows me. He loves me. And, He only desires my good, my best.

Dear Lord -

Thank you for your provision this week. Thank you for helping me to see that you are moving in my life, changing and turning things that "seem negative" into positive outcomes. My view is stunted by my own flesh and willfulness. Your view is perfect, and all encompassing. I rest securely in your view of my future, taking confidence in the truth that You are God, and that as God, you have everything in control and predetermined to accomplish your will for my life.

Thank you, Lord, for your Grace. May your Name be praised today and forevermore. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about that!!)

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