April 28, 2013

Good Sunday Morning to you all! It is a beautiful day to praise the Lord and to enter His gates with thanksgiving. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

It is weird how Sunday marks both the beginning and end of the week. In traditional Christian teaching, Sunday is the first day of each week. However, most people would agree that Sunday marks the end of the week because Monday is always the first day of the "work week."

I am glad that today is Sunday, and I have plans to enjoy this day. After church, I am going over to Grand Canyon University to have lunch with my nephew. He is finishing up his first year at the school, and will be heading home to California on Wednesday. He has some extra food coupons that will go to waste so he invited me, his cousin (my son), and his grandparents (my parents) to drive over and have lunch with him. He is also going to give us a tour of the grounds. It should be a lovely afternoon visit.

Later in the day, I have some business to attend to, considering the fact that I was told on Friday that I would need to go to St. Louis this week. I will have to be in St. Louis for two full days (leaving Wed. and coming back on Fri.). This is a needed trip, and I was the only person who was able to go this week. I have to plan for the week, take care of some personal items, so that I can leave on Wednesday.

My courses at Regent start next Monday, and I still don't have all my books yet. They are on order, and I am expecting them any day now. I also need to get prepared to move -- something of which I have done nothing toward -- since I made the decision and gave my notice on April 1st! The days are dwindling down to my summer session in VA Beach, and I haven't made my travel arrangements yet. Everything is crashing down on me, and I am going on a business trip right in the middle of it all! Ugh!

Just some ramblings this morning - I know the Lord has me well covered - yet I still worry and fret over all these details.

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God. Isaiah 50:10 NLT

"Those that make the world their comfort, and their own righteousness their confidence, will certainly meet with bitterness in the end. A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and everlasting light. A wicked man's way may be pleasant, but his end and abode for ever will be utter darkness." ~ Mathew Henry

As I was sitting here thinking about Trust, and the fact that I struggle so with it - this thought percolated up in my head:

Perhaps the reason I do not trust the Lord is out of habit, rather than out of a genuine fear?

Oh my, words of wisdom coming out of my sleep-sogged brain this morning. Yes, this is more than likely true for me. I struggled with trusting the Lord early on in my new walk because of issues in my personal life. Having grown up in such a way made it difficult for me to trust people. I didn't readily trust anyone as a child, and then later in life, once I had been hurt emotionally, I didn't want to trust people who would potentially hurt me or who had hurt me previously.

I had trust issues. I was unable to trust people in my family, and people in my business. I simply didn't trust because I had been hurt so many times that the natural outcome of trust equaled pain and disappointment.

All that changed, of course, after I met the Lord again. The very first thing He did was heal my broken heart, and teach me how to trust. He gave me reasons to trust, and He helped me understand the nature of my hurt and the anger that resulted from it. I learned to trust Him first, and then by extension, trust others. It has not been an easy road of recovery, but I have made great strides. I no longer fear relationships, and I have forgiven many people who hurt me (from years and years ago). I let go of the pain attached to that old hurt, and in forgiving them, I set myself free. It has liberated my life, and cleared my head and heart. It was a very good thing to do.

Yet, all these years later, I still don't trust the Lord. I do and I don't - to be fair about it. I believe His word to me, but I often question what He is saying for fear that I will get it wrong or misunderstand what He is telling me to do. I shouldn't do it, but I do it anyway.

Considering the revelation I had this morning - or perhaps it was an epiphany? Oh well, let's just say I came to the conclusion that I don't trust the Lord because of a habit I developed, and any habit is open-season for the breaking.

Dear Lord -

I am ready to break this bad habit. I realize now that I have learned how to trust and rely upon you, and that I know the difference between trusting and not trusting you. I have come to expect truth from you, so my reaction of not trusting your word is simply a habit that needs to be broken. I ask now in the name of Jesus to break this habit today. I confess it to you, and I trust in your Name knowing that this habit has been broken, and that I walk in freedom and in the knowledge that you are healer and ruler of all things - Lord over my life this day. May your Name be praised forever more, Selah!

April 25, 2013

Clarification - It Makes Sense Now

Yes, sometimes I am like this - I need clarification on very simple things. It is weird how my brain works. Often I can grasp the most complex theories and ideas - I just get what is being shared. I don't always understand the details, but I get the big picture of what is being said.  Then there are times when I need clarification to help me grasp the obvious! LOL!

I asked the Lord to help me understand why I am so confused, and as always, He readily helped me see where I was off in my understanding of the facts. Oh, how I love Him so!

As I prayed about my confusion, the following just came up to my mind (I love it when this happens). I started thinking about my job, and my education, and the path I am on right now. I have struggled to put job in it's proper context. It took many heart to heart talks with the Lord before I figured that one out (LOL!) I guess it is my generation or perhaps it is just my mindset from growing up in a home where my Dad worked, and my Mom was a SAHM. I have always had issues with the idea of "work" and the roles men/women, moms/dads, husbands/wives play. I mean I never wanted to be a career woman. I never gave it a thought. I was planning to be a SAHM, and while I accepted the fact that I would have to work for a while -- until marriage, until children -- I didn't really consider a career as a viable option for me. A career was what my Dad had, it was what other people seemed destined for, but it was not what I wanted nor what I thought would be my destiny. I digress.

All these years later, and all the changes in my life, have caused me to rethink "career" and "job" and to be truthful, I have not been quick to grasp their significance. I know I have to work, I have to pay the bills, and I have to live. I get it, I know what I have to do. I just was confused on whether I need to start looking for a career or whether just having a "job" was good enough for me and for God's plans.

The Lord was clear on this point. I wasn't to have a career. He didn't want me to lose my focus on ministry as my work, my driving force. I was to be single-mindedly pursuing His plans for my life, which are MINISTRY focused.

Perhaps the confusion came from my attempts (failed) to clearly articulate why I am -- now at age 50 -- going on to school to get a PhD. I get asked this question all the time. "Why now, Carol?" Why would you want to do this now?" "Why take on the debt?" "How is this degree going to benefit your career?"

I stumble, and bumble, and stammer around with feeble answers. I know what God has called me to do, and I know what He is asking of me. I don't do a good job sharing it, partly because the person with whom I am sharing it might not be a Christian, or if they are, they might not have the same understanding as I do (in that God still does call His children to a vocation).

I usually end up saying something like this:

"I am going back to school to complete a goal I set for myself over 20 years ago."
"I am doing this now because I have the time, and the interest has never waned."
"I think this degree will benefit me in my career path."

Yes, all these statements are true. They are all true, but they are not the reason why I am going to Regent University at age 50, jumping through masses of hoops just to get my foot in the door, and then taking on huge debt to accomplish an insurmountable degree/goal. No, my reasons are far more simple and far more to the point:

"I am going to Regent because God has called me to go there."
"The Lord has laid a burden on my heart to work and serve in International Ministry and to use my gifts, talents and experience to help front-line missionaries, pastors, teachers communicate more effectively to this cross-cultural and multigenerational non-believing world."

It is the latter that formed the center of my thesis to Regent. It was the latter that has motivated me since 2009 to return to graduate school, complete a Masters degree, and now begin a PhD. It is the latter that consumes my attention, that directs my focus, and that keeps me moving forward toward what I believe is the plan the Lord has for my life.

It is my vocation, my calling, and it is the only career I will ever have in my life. I am consumed with the prospect of working in this ministry and in doing whatever is necessary to prepare me and train me for it.

As I write these words, I am utterly convinced that what I am doing is right, it is His way. I know that this path is the right path, the right way to go. I am confident in it.

Where I struggle, and where I lose my way is in that dreaded "forest." I am blinded to the fact that I am in the middle of a forest (you know -- "cannot see the forest through the trees".)

I am in the middle of that forest right now, and the trees are in front of me. They all have names on them, names such as:
  • home
  • school
  • work
  • car
  • money
I see these trees and their names and I panic. I don't see how they fit into the forest that God is preparing for me. If I could only fly up into the sky and look down on that forest grove, I would see how everything, every tree fits into his marvelous and magnificent plan. Instead, I see them, and I think they are in the wrong place, out of sorts, or just the wrong kind of tree.

God knows that I struggle with the finer details, and that often I get lost when I look to closely at the bark on the tree trunk. I need to accept that fact that they are "just trees" -- nothing more, nothing less -- and that as a tree, they are part of the big forest I am in. If I can just let go of that fact, I can accept them for what they are, and move on. I can keep moving forward, moving towards His goal, His plan, His way for me.

Oh, Lord -- it is so hard for me to let things go! Help me now to accept what is in front of me, and let the rest of the worry and doubt go! I ask this now in your Name. Amen (so be it), thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it!!)

Confusion Abounds

Yeah, I am confused. I am not feeling well today, so I am at home taking a sick day. I was hoping I would feel better after resting some this morning, and giving myself time to decompress and to recoup. Unfortunately, while I am feeling a little better physically, I feel out of sorts mentally and spiritually. I am confused, and I feel like I am spinning around.

Yesterday was supposed to be a good day for me. The Lord had said "Today will be a good day," but instead it was a difficult day, a weird day, and a day filled with a lot of uncertainty. In truth, it was a good day. I got a lot of important work done, and I am almost caught up with my backlog of tasks from our 1/1 Welcome Season. Almost all my privacy cases are closed, and there are just a few odds and ends that need wrapped up before I am officially out of those projects. In all - I am in a very good place at work, and my workload is manageable, and I am not feeling so overwhelmed and overloaded. It is a very good thing.

Still in my heart, I am struggling. I am trying to figure it all out and to feel confident in the way I am going/heading. I mean, I have given my notice to my landlord, and I am making my way to my new home -- living with my parents so I can be more accessible to them as they enter their 8th decade. It is tough for me to give up my home, and while I felt previously that it was the right thing to do, I am starting now to doubt that decision.

Not a day goes by that I don't say "Lord, this is not going to work." Usually it is in reference to one of my cats (or both) who have done something so "cat like." My parents have not been around cats for thirty years, and while they like them, they have not had the pleasure of living with them for a very long time. My cats are good, but they are CATS. I mean, they are well behaved and they are generally mellow, but they are still cats, and like all cats, they get into things, jump on things, meow about things, and generally speaking, act like cats.

I love my boys, and this was my stipulation with my parents -- the cats have to come with me. They said yes, of course, but I keep thinking about their beautiful home, their beautiful things -- and well -- my cats and beautiful things don't really go together.

My home is comfortable, but my furniture is old. I have slipcovers on my sofa and chair, and I don't mind the fur balls, and hair balls, and other smelly aspects of pet ownership. I deal with it, and I have always put up with whatever my pets gave to me. After all, they were my pets, and I loved them.

I am panic-stricken over what my cats MIGHT do to my parents furniture. I am worried about the cat smell (even though I keep a very clean box - it still smells). I worry about the clawing of the furniture, and the general messiness of having two very rambunctious cats.

Yes, I know -- I am worried over nothing. I am worrying about tomorrow when tomorrow has enough worry all on it's own. Drats.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34 NLT

I need a reminder that my God has me covered, that I am safely and securely kept in the power of His Mighty hand. He is Good all the time, and all the time -- HE IS GOOD.

Psalm 95

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

3 For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
    as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Feeling Convicted

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks) where you feel as though something is not quite right? Where you are constantly looking over your shoulder, feeling as though you have done something wrong, and that you are about to get into trouble? I am feeling this way today. I know what the Bible says about guilt and about conviction:

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 NLT

I have repeated this verse over and over in my head, and yet I still feel the pangs of guilt.

Earlier in the week, I had a dream whereby I was being convicted by a woman. I didn't know this woman, but she was continually harassing me, convicting me (yelling, abusing, and saying things about me). I remember asking the Lord about it, and wondering why I would dream such a dream. He told me to be prepared, that there would be a time this week where I would be accused and would need to stand up for myself. Of course, I was thinking that I would face spiritual accusation -- which is a common thing for me. I didn't think of it as a personal experience. In truth, I didn't think that I would find myself in a position whereby I would have to face an accuser directly and stand up for what I believe in.

It is a weird feeling, to be spiritually convicted, to be harassed with guilt feelings, and to keep repeating that same mantra over and over again: I am free, I am free - there is no guilt or stain on me because of the blood of Jesus. Yet, here I am today, feeling still as though there is some issue, some error that has not been resolved, and that I am waiting while the jury is out for the conviction to come.

God is Good all the time, and all the time, God is Good. I know this, and I know that I am no longer condemned before Him. I struggle though with these feelings, and with knowing that I did something I shouldn't have done, and that I displeased Him with my behavior and my words. Oh, how I wish now that He would have stepped in and reminded me of His Word. Oh, how I wish my feet would have been prevented from stumbling on this point.

The Word tells us that He will keep us from stumbling - but there is a part of me that believes that sometimes - God allows us to stumble over things so that we will be reminded of our own actions. I believe that we are partners with the Word of God, that we must remain aligned with what the Lord declares for us. We can agree with the Word, but not obey it. We can recite the Word, but not believe it.

There must be no distinction between what we say we believe and what we believe. Likewise, there must be no distinction between what we think and how we act. If we say we are His Children, then we must behave as His Children. We must be One with His Holy Spirit, and we must not do things or say things that are contrary to His Nature.

I know that I have done both - not purposefully - but nonetheless - I did them. I was a party to something I should have walked away from, and because I didn't do it, I am being condemned for my lack of action. I sat by and participated in something I didn't want to do, but rather than stand up and walk away, I gave in and remained. It is guilt by association. I am condemned.

Dear Lord -

I know what I did, and I have confessed this sin to you. I have acknowledged my weakness, and I have surrendered to your hand of discipline. I know that I should have stood up, and that I should have walked away when things started to turn. I didn't do it, I misread the signs, and I didn't see what was coming at me. I guess in my defense, I am naïve in such matters. I am also not the most apt when it comes to picking up on feelings and emotions. I struggle to perceive sometimes, and that has caused me in the past to find that I am just "a little too late" in moving out of the way. I get it now, and I see that my lack of reaction led me to remaining too long. I take responsibility for my actions, and I stand now before you, humbly asking your forgiveness and for your Grace to learn from this lesson. May I understand that I am not the most savvy when it comes to reading intention and emotion. I need to be aware of what is going on so that I can avoid these kinds of situations in the future. Please empower me to refrain from these activities, and help me now to repair the damage I created by my lack of action, and my unwilling acceptance of something that I should have clearly rejected. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, Amen (so be it). Thy will be done. Selah!

April 21, 2013

Getting Everything Ready

It's Sunday evening, and I have to admit that I have had a pretty good weekend! I am not even feeling that rush of anxiety over starting the new week. I feel good, I feel ready, and I am excited to see all the wonderful changes God is bringing into my life.

Just some highlights from the week:
  • I reached out to a friend at UOPX to find out about registering for several individual courses today. I had planned on taking some research prep classes last year when I was still employed as an Advisor. I felt the Lord leading me to step up and take a Statistics course, a research foundations course, and a graduate level analysis and design course. All of these, of course (no pun intended) were to prepare me for the doctoral methods course that is required for my program. The funny thing (as in odd, curious, and unbeknownst to me at the time) was that I hadn't decided on Regent when the Lord pressed these courses on my mind. I was still waffling, thinking of maybe sticking out at UOPX and doing a doctorate in higher education. Now, with that in hindsight, I see that He knew exactly the path I would be on, and that there would be a time when these three courses would come into play. Furthermore, I found out last week that my employer offers a 6% tuition discount at UOPX, and offers $2K in reimbursement per year for courses taken. Whoohoo!
  • I met with my manager on Friday for our weekly one-on-one and had a good conversation about skills training, new challenges, and job potential. I was pleased at her insistence on creating a path for my career advancement. I had been very hesitant the previous week when after meeting with my director and finding out that the job change he had mentioned to me would be "postponed" for 12-18 months. I thought for certain that I was stuck in a limbo-land position, with no real path to follow. Then on Friday, my manager outlined the plans she had for me, and I felt more secure, thinking that perhaps the Lord was correct (Ha! Isn't He always correct?) in that staying put was His plan for me.
  • I was feeling pressured to get ready to move, and the details were starting to overwhelm me. I spent most of the evening on Thursday with my parents, and then had dinner with them on Friday night. It was a good time, and we talked about some of the plans we had made. I felt far more confident that this was indeed God's provision, and that He was creating a home for me and my son - a permanent home - whereby we could be settled and live in peace.
  • Lastly, I started to look at finding another car for my son, and feeling overwhelmed by that process, realized that there were cars out there for my budget. Furthermore, my parents offered to kick in some extra cash to help me, and I started to see that the Lord's provision for a second-hand car was well under way. All in all, His provision is secure. The plans He has for me are good, and everything is coming to pass just as He has revealed it to me. God is so very Good, so very Good to me.

April 20, 2013

It's a GREAT Day!

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed. Oh, my -- what a nice feeling! I didn't have to drag myself out of bed, and I was able to linger a bit before heading downstairs to feed the cats. I am not quite as sore as I thought I would be - I mean - I am 50 and I did play baseball and sand volleyball at our team-builder picnic yesterday. I was pretty miserable last night, but six Advil's did the trick, and I slept like a baby. God is so very GOOD to me!! PTL - for today is the day He has made, and I am rejoicing in it!!

I am a little panicked, though. I wish I could say that I was a "cool as a cucumber," but there is a part of me that is starting to worry about those pesky Regent University details. I need to make air and hotel reservations for my summer course. I am worried about the money - not being here yet (financial aid) - and having to put it all on my credit cards. LOL! I know the Lord has me covered, still -- I am getting that sinking feeling whereby I start to doubt His provision. Stop it, Carol -- Just STOP IT!

So today is a Good day, and God is in His Heaven, and all is right in His World. Our world -- NAH!! His World -- Amen, So Be It -- Always His Will Be Done.

The events of this past week have been difficult to watch as they unfolded on TV news. I was shocked by the horror of all those innocent people being blown to bits by pressure cooker bombs. I was even more shocked to find out that the two men (supposed assailants) were seemingly "normal" people. I know that most of the time, these kinds of suspects put on that "I am normal" facade only to keep hidden a deep-seated hatred of other human beings.

I was having this conversation with my son yesterday, and the thought occurred to me: People who hate another country (using America as an example) aren't really that unique. I mean, if you say you "hate" someone, some group, some ethnicity or country -- truthfully -- you are admitting that you carry hatred around inside of you. You are the one with the problem, not the person, the group, the race or country you supposedly hate.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but after sitting with the thought for a while, it just dawned on me that when you hate, you do what Jesus declared -- you commit murder in your heart. There is no justifiable reason to hate, yet the world is full of it. Hatred boils down from a hardened heart turned against God, and the evil that builds inside, percolates to the surface, and comes out in all sorts of ways.

I am sorry to say this, but the Word of God is clear on this point -- you cannot have love and hate within the same body. You cannot bring bitter water from a fresh spring. You cannot have these opposites living within you, so if you confess Jesus Christ, if you say you love God, then it is impossible for you to hate anything.

I may be rallied against for saying this, but in my opinion, all people who hate are the same. It really doesn't matter what brand of hate they brandish. They can be Islamic terrorists or home-grown White Supremacists. They could be any flavor, any nationality, and yes, any religion. There are people who are filled by hate, and controlled by their evil intentions. These are the people who hurt other people, and who attempt to do so by justifying their position based on politics or on religious fervor.

"Romans 1:29-32: They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

My life has seen its share of hate. I am tired of it, and I am tired of the political rumblings, the finger pointing, and the accusations. I see these people (who commit these crimes) as being part of a global group -- haters of mankind. These people all have one thing in common -- they hate other people -- and they allow that hate to control their actions so as to inflict great pain and suffering on whomever they are targeting.

"Joshua 1:9; Don't be afraid or dismayed. The Presence of God will mend, repair and heal every place you have been hurt! Let the master surgeon do what only He can do!"

These people need to be prayed for, and we must understand that the nature of that hatred stems from one source only. They are filled with evil intentions, evil thoughts, and evil actions. Their nature has been corrupted and they are consumed by their desire to hurt other people.

"Ephesians 4:32; Be ye kind one to another; tenderhearted, forgiving one another; even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Joyce Meyer says "hurting people hurt people" -- I believe this statement is true. People who hurt others with such random acts of violence are people who are filled with hurt, and who see the only way to stop the hurt is to punish anyone and everyone who is around them.

Dear Lord,

You have called us to love one another. Your Word says that the brethren are to dwell in unity. I understand that these words are for those of us within the Church; however, we are also told that as much as possible, we are to be at peace with our neighbors, to show love and mercy towards everyone. When we see these kinds of acts wrought out on innocent people, we are reminded of how much love needs to be shown to this dying and hurting world. We know that we cannot even attempt to heal all the hurt that exists in the world, but we can do our part. We can be your hands and feet, speaking your words in love, and showing mercy towards those who do not deserve it. We can be your representatives, your ambassadors, and your ministers to bring hope, to bring peace, and to bring love to a hurting world. I ask now to be emboldened with a love for my fellow man, and to not distinguish anyone based upon their race, their sex, or their political/religious belief. I want to work and minister as you did -- unbiased, and without judgment -- so that the world (my little corner of the world) will see You in all that I say and do. In Jesus' Name I ask and pray this now. Amen, So Be It, Thy Will be Done. Selah (Pause and calmly think about it).

April 14, 2013

Moving On

I woke up early today - wish I wouldn't do that on my days off, but oh well, what can you do, eh? I made my coffee and sat for a little while while the cats looked out the patio screen door (they love it when I can open to door and they can look out and smell the outdoors!) As I was sitting there thinking, my mind wandered back to the earlier days of my marriage and to some of the choices I made when my son was little. I guess I was thinking about my life and how much I love the person I have become, and how free I feel today versus back then, back when I was a SAHM. I loved being a SAHM, don't get me wrong, it was more that I felt repressed in so many other areas, and while being at home was great, and I loved being a Mom; I also felt as though I was being forced into a role that I was not meant to be in.

I know now that God's preferred role for me was to remain single. When I say that to people they usually gasp because no one dares admit that God actually calls men and women to be single. Especially within the church, it is as if everyone must be married because that is God's ordained preference. I believe that God calls men and women to two states:  single and married. Not everyone is called to marriage just like not everyone is called to singleness. God has given some, like the Apostle Paul, the gift of contentment in singleness. There are others like priests, nuns, and oblate's who choose celibacy for personal and vocational reasons -- to demonstrate their devotion to God. God clearly has designed men and women for fellowship and intimacy -- we are meant to share in relationships -- all kinds of relationships (family, friends and Church). I digress.

As I sat in my comfy chair and thought back on my inner feelings about my now-single hood status, I couldn't help but admit that God was right, that in my case, He did know best. I have blogged about this before, but as these thoughts have percolated up today, I thought that I had better get them written down so I can let them go to that peaceful place of remembrance no-more.

I was never interested in finding a relationship with a man. I liked the idea of marriage, and of having children, but I didn't actively seek a mate. I was the wallflower, the girl who never flirted, and would run and hide whenever any man (or boy) looked my way. I wasn't "into" dating, and I didn't go on a real date until I was almost 18, and then I only went because I was pressured into doing it by family and friends. I was happy being part of a crowd, and I was happy just going along with everyone.

After several very unpleasant experiences, I made the decision to cast off dating. I remember the day when I voiced my decision to my family. They all laughed at me and said that I would change my mind. I was determined not to change my mind because I believed that God called me to say "no to dating." I was deeply hurt by my families reaction to my announcement, and it grieved my soul to the point where I longed to run away, to move far from my family, just so I could experience life as a free and whole single person.

I tried to convince myself that perhaps God was calling me to a temporary life of singleness, just until I was healed from the emotional scarring that took place in that first relationship. Perhaps there was someone special out there, someone God wanted me to meet. Perhaps at some date in the future, I would meet "Mr. Right," and then I would willingly enter into a marital relationship.

No matter what I tried to tell myself, and no matter what I said to other people (often I lied and just gave the pat answer "I am waiting for Mr. Right), deep inside my soul I knew that this was what God wanted for me. I just wasn't strong enough to really admit it.

My life took the usual course, and I did get married. I had a child at thirty, and I devoted my life to raising him to fear and to love God. I tried my very best to be a good wife, but the reality of it was, that after all the trying, I simply was not good-wife material. I didn't naturally do the right things, and I didn't think about my husband in the way that my friends thought about their husbands. I liked my husband, and I considered him to be my friend. He wasn't of course, and in the end, that was part of our reason for separating. He didn't want to be a friend, he wanted a soul mate, and I wasn't the one he wanted.

I blamed him for abandoning us, and for not being a good provider. Granted, he was not the innocent babe in all of this, and we both suffered and we both sinned. Yet, I can admit now the fact that had I listened to the Lord all those years ago, I would have followed a very different path in life. I would have never experienced the sorrow nor the sadness of a broken relationship. I would have taken a different road, and while I cannot even think of what my life would be like now without my precious young man, there is part of me that understands that I am where I am because of the choices I made.

Yes, I am able to say that I made choices that went against the will of God. Thank goodness my Lord loved me, and He never let me go -- but I did make decisions that took me outside His plans for me. I chose a path He never intended me to walk, and I sit here today, a healed and gracious victim of my own willful stubbornness.

I cannot even explain the relief I feel inside when I consider my life now. I am content, so very content. I love being me, and I love who I am, and the person I have become. I don't have to try to be someone different. I am me, and that means that I am OK with all my weirdness, and quirks, and frailties. I am satisfied to be alone, and I thank God for His gift of singleness. I appreciate my former mate, and I accept him for who he is (and for who he is not). He is not perfect, and he is not many things he probably should be (a better provider for his son, for example); but overall, he is who he is, and I pray that he too will find a place of contentment.

We have a son together, and there is no doubt in my mind, that he loves his son deeply. We have shared memories, some happy, some bittersweet; but none that would cause me to reconsider my life choice.

I am hopelessly devoted to my Lord. I am in love with the One who loves me best, and who loves me most. The Lover of my Soul is the One who keeps me happy, who provides perfectly for me, and who shelters me from life's storms. I cannot think of a better husband, of a better mate, of a better friend, than my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can freely admit that I am in love with God. I consider Him to be my best friend. He is my Companion, my Confidant, and the One with whom I share my innermost thoughts and concerns. He knows me well, He loves me completely, and with Him, I don't have to try to be anything other than the person He created me to be. I am so content and peaceful to be the person of His choosing, to be the woman He made me to be, and to live my life in the way He has chosen for me to live.

God is so very Good to me. He is so very GOOD, indeed.

April 13, 2013

It is GOOD!

The Lord is so very GOOD, so very GOOD indeed!
Today is a day of Praise, a day for me to thank the Lord for His Marvelous Goodness towards me, and to commit my way to follow continually after Him.
I am blessed, blessed beyond measure, and I give thanks to the Lord for His Goodness, and His Good gifts.
Update 2013
This past week has been interesting to say the least. It started off well enough, but ended with a mighty bang! I found out that my manager wants to try to get me promoted to a Senior level analyst (I am guessing this would be in September - 1 year anniversary). This would mean a pay increase for me (hooray), but would also move me forward in my career. I am pleased, very pleased, even though I am not thinking of moving into management at this time. However, I appreciate her telling me this because it helps me feel like I can stay put in my department and that there is hope for advancement down the road.
Yesterday was a really hectic day at work. I moved cubes, and I am so much happier. The new cube is warmer, and it gets more indirect light from the nearby windows. I am sorry that the contractor who started on Tuesday flipped cubes and is stuck in my old "freezer." I had hoped to swap cubes before she arrived so that she wouldn't really know the story - but oh well! I told myself that I am the permanent worker, and she is temporary. Still I do feel sorry for her. I gave her a small space heater, and she said that she is more comfortable now.
Later in the day, a realtor came by to look at the townhome I rent. The owner is thinking of selling, and she had a potential buyer who wanted to check it out. I am not sure whether they actually liked it - but I about killed myself getting everything clean and presentable.
The positive side is that my house looks lovely, and I won't have to do any major cleaning now until I move out. Hooray!
School plans are in order, and progressing nicely. I have my courses set to start in May. I need to buy books still, and of course, arrange air/hotel/car, but I have some time before I hit the must-pay date.
My son is somewhat decided on staying at the CC for one more semester. He needs six classes to get his AFA (two for his AA in Liberal Studies). I am OK with him hanging out there one more semester considering the cost difference and the fact that he is so close to graduating with his AA.
My move is set for May 25th. I have planned my weekends through that date and if all goes well will spend each Saturday packing up one room. This should make it a very smooth transition and so much less work when the day finally arrives.
I am taking some PTO just to acclimate the cats. I will be working from  home on one of those days, and if I can bookend it to Memorial day, I will have a good five-six days of being home so that my boys will be comfortable in their new home.
All in all - life is very GOOD. I am blessed, and God's Mercy and Kindness are overwhelming my soul.
Thank you, Lord, for your marvelous Goodness. Thank you for your Grace, and your abiding Presence in my life. You are Lord, and I praise and worship you this day. So be it.

April 6, 2013

Going Ahead as Planned

It is Saturday here in Phoenix, and the weather is absolutely lovely. I think it is supposed to get up to 80, which is our normal daytime high during March/April. Overall, as I look out my window, I am thinking that it is a very good day to be in Phoenix, Arizona!

I have been thinking about Arizona and my feelings of late on wanting to leave this beautiful state. I have to admit that I am tired of the heat, and I know that as soon as August arrives, I will be back to my normal state of grumbling and complaining. However, as I think about my home, and I consider my options, I realize that Arizona is a pretty nice place to live. It is hot, very hot, during the summer; but the winters are lovely and mild. There is no place like Arizona -- even though the deserts of Southern California are similar. Arizona is a beautiful state, with lovely natural resources. It is a good state for freedom causes, and it is laid-back when it comes to pace. Yes, we have our high-end areas like North Scottsdale, and some of the fancy gated neighborhoods down in Tucson. Most of the rest of the state is normal, middle-class, middle of the road, homes and businesses.

I think about my home, and as I look out the window (for a month or so longer as I will be moving house), I am reminded why we moved here from Northern California. I have blogged about my past, decisions that were made in haste, and  choices which turned out to be for worse rather than better. However, coming to Arizona was a heart-based decision, and not a decision of the mind.

I came to Arizona to help care for my husband's parents. I came here thinking that it would be a good place to raise our son, and that there would be business opportunities that would benefit our struggling family. I wanted to own my own home, to have a place where I could feel safe and settled, to know that I could live comfortably and free from the pressure to succeed. I felt that living in Northern California was unattainable. Rents were skyrocketing, cost of living and taxes high, and generally the political and governing climate in California was unstable. It was also crowded, freeways jammed, people every where, and overall, I was feeling the crunch of being just a fringe above the poverty line.

In moving to Arizona in 1996, our standard of living increased once we drove across the state line. Our first rental was a condo in Scottsdale. Our rent in 1996 was $800 for a two bedroom, two bath plus den home. It was not optimal - we did have a three year old and five cats - but it was a major cost savings for us. Our rent in San Jose was $1300 per month, and was going up to $1500 for a three bedroom, two bath fixer upper in a very unsafe neighborhood. In short, we saved $700 a month on rent by simply relocating to this state.

Moreover, I wanted to stay at home. I wanted to be a SAHM while my son was little. In California, I was feeling the pressure to work full-time, place my son in daycare, and bring home a small paycheck (after expenses) to help us make ends meet. Coming here was going to make it possible for me to stay at home, which I believed God was calling me to do.

It wasn't an easy transition to come here, though. I left my family, and my heart-ached whenever I called my parents or brothers. I missed my friends. It was hard to be in this new place without any friends. I was never social, and the thought of having to make friends again was painful. Yet, I did make a few friends, and I did find a place to fit in. God provided Scottsdale Bible Church to me, and I found a place to call home. I was active in children's ministry and AWANA, and I even worked there part-time on two different occasions.

We did eventually purchase a home, and while that didn't work out long-term, it did provide a place for us to put down roots and raise our son the way we thought we should do so. We home schooled because in Arizona, home schoolers have great freedom. We indulged in music lessons and other pursuits, even if our budget was tight. It was a good life in many ways, a very good life.

A lot has changed since moving here, and my life is vastly different than I anticipated when I told my husband that we needed to come here to help his parents. I am no longer married, and I live alone with our almost 20 year old son. My parents live near by, and in two months, we will be living together so that I can take care of them. My son is content to remain in Phoenix for a while, choosing to go to our state school rather than incur great debt to attend out of state. He is active at church, in music, and theater. He has benefited from home education, and he has turned out exactly as we wanted -- an individual, a free-thinker, a godly young man.

Yes, Arizona has been good to me. It is my home now, and while I still think about the redwoods of Northern California or the sunny beaches of San Diego -- I call this desert place my home. I am happy and I am content to remain here as long as the Lord chooses for me to do so.

April 3, 2013

Confirmation on the Way to Go

I was supposed to meet with my Director on Monday, but that appointment was rescheduled to next week. This left me hanging in suspense over possible changes to my employment at CVS Caremark. I was bummed, but tried not to let it impact my day. After all, meeting rescheduling happens all the time where I work, and when you are meeting with leadership, it is almost a guarantee that you will be moved around at least once or twice!

I was concerned over my future job plans -- not sure whether I should stay or go -- and fielding offers from other groups just complicated matters. I was told later in the day that the job posting for the position in Legal was going to open up next week, and that if I wanted to find out more about it, I should arrange to meet with the department manager as soon as possible.

I went ahead and emailed her to set up a time to speak -- and before I could get a reply back -- my own manager came by my office cube to tell me that I was being moved into a Project Specialist role in the group. I am not sure what that means exactly, but I believe it means that I will not be a Marketing Analyst specializing in either Implementations or Existing Business. My role is new, and I will be working on special projects for the group.

The odd thing about it is this -- last week -- one of my colleagues stopped by my cube, and sensing my frustration over the kinds of work I was stuck doing, asked me plain out what kind of job I wanted to do. She said, "Do you want to do Existing or Implementations?" I shrugged my shoulders and said, "not really." She said, "Well, do you want to do Projects?" I said that I was pretty much doing that already, but she said, "you can just be assigned projects to work on if you want." 

I hadn't really thought about that too much, and then lo-and-behold I get told I am being moved into this role. My colleague is a Sr. Analyst, and has been assigned as my mentor. She is very sharp, and very good at her role with new client implementations. 

I never really enjoyed doing these kinds of tasks. They involve long hours on the phone, conference calls each week, and a lot of "hurry up and wait" while the client approves documents. Since January, I have worked on several key projects, and while I didn't particularly like doing that, the work did keep me busy, and it was varied.

So I guess it is official. I am staying at CVS Caremark, and I will work as a Project Specialist for Member Communications.

Receiving Confirmation

So with that said...yesterday morning, on my way into work, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to pray over my job, my home, my future plans. As I was praying, I asked for confirmation on the path I am to take. I have applied a several other schools, thinking perhaps that going back to higher education was the best choice for me. I haven't received any word back on those positions (unless to say I wasn't chosen), and I have felt pretty "stuck" in a not so pleasant job at my current employer.

I prayed, and I asked for confirmation. I asked for favor and peace, and for an obvious sign that I was supposed to stay put. WOW! Did the Lord provide for me!!

In addition to my manager coming to chat with me, and giving me the impression that:
  1. I am changing roles effective immediately
  2. I may receive some title change or a pay increase
  3. I will receive favor on my schooling and my need for work/life balance
  4. I will be relocated to a new cube (out from under the blast of the freezer vent)
In short, I am staying in my group, being given new job responsibilities along with potential pay grade change, support for my PTO and schooling, and a new cube that is less frigid and more sunny.

All in all, I would say that I received favor from my employer and the incentive to stay put.

God is so very good to me.

Dear Lord,

You have made it clear that I am stay put at CVS Caremark. You moved me into a position that should be easier in many ways, more conducive to my schooling, and offer me the opportunity for higher visibility within the company. You are moving me into the position of your choosing, and I thank you for the favor, the blessing, and the grace you have provided to me this day.