December 20, 2013

I love the rain!

It is raining today! Oh, how lovely everything looks and smells when it rains!! I have so much work to do today so more than likely I will stay indoors. However, I really would prefer to go shopping or be outside (at least for part of the day). I haven't been feeling well the past couple days (monthly woes intensified by peri-menopause) and I thought it was safer to stay close to home. I am a little better today, but there is so much to do, and so little time to do it.

On my to-do list for today:
  • Practice cello (my new cello should be on its way here - hoping it comes by next week)
  • Work on the website job I have been given
  • Think more about teaching my first Literature class (I spent all day yesterday and made little headway)
  • Plan for next Spring
  • Pray over my finances (especially healthcare)
  • Look forward to next week (Christmas)
  • Try to remain upbeat about the end of this year
  • Remember what I am doing, why I am doing it, and for whom I am doing it
  • Last, believe that God's promises are always delivered (He doesn't promise what He will not deliver!)
Understand, therefore, 
that the Lord your God is indeed God. 
He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a 
thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love 
on those who love him and obey his commands. 
~Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

Yep, this last one is most important. I must remember that God is faithful, and that He keeps His WORD. Never does He look aside, never does He lie. He is faithful, and He delivers on His promises!

Oh, did I add last-minute Christmas shopping to this list? I have a couple small gifts to purchase still, and then I can rest and let Christmas 2013 be put to bed.

Plans for 2014

As always, I have a list made for 2014. My son makes fun of me because I am a list maker and planner. In fact, he says that according to my MBTI, most INTJ's plan their lives out 33 years in advance (average). He thinks I am crazy for planning my life in such detail. He doesn't understand that I am lost and clueless without a good plan. In fact, I think I ask God about plans more than I ask Him about any other thing. I pray for direction and A PLAN at least 2-3 times each day. I mean, I do have a plan in place, and I am following that plan. I ask for CLARIFICATION and CONFIDENCE to know that I am on the right path, that I am following the PLAN and that I am working toward the END GOAL.

INTJ personalities are all about OUTCOMES. Everything we do has a purpose and there is always a goal in mind. We work TOWARD something, and no matter how small or insignificant, there is always a motivation toward accomplishment. Today, for example, I need to color my hair. I have needed to color my hair for the past two weeks. The gray is really showing through and with my dirty blonde natural color, the contrast looks horrible. I have been too tired or too grumpy to do the coloring, so I have put it off. Yet, I pray over it every day (Lord, when should I color my hair? Today, this weekend?) I know -- silly stuff, really silly stuff. I need to plan it out, you see, to make sure I have enough time to do the job properly and have the task not conflict with any other tasks assigned that day. It is fearful to be an INTJ with a controlling personality that NEEDS to KNOW everything. Mind you, I don't control others -- just myself. I control everything I do, I think, I say. It is such a difficult lot to be stuck with ME!

This is my short list of plans for 2014:
  • Lose weight (10lbs) on Atkins again (I lost 15, but gained 3 back) until I reach my mid goal of 145 (end of January).
  • Begin daily cello practice (again) and work toward Level 3 fluency
  • Teach ENG 356 at GCU (Short Story) with gusto and confidence (read - BE PREPARED!)
  • Complete COM 702 (Quantitative Methodologies) and COM 785 (Family Communication) and keep my 4.0 GPA!
  • Register for COM 703 (Qualitative Methodologies) for summer
  • Go to Virginia Beach - June 9-13 for residency
  • Teach one class this summer at GCU (Lord, willing!)
  • Teach two classes this fall at GCU (Lord - please be willing!)
  • Register for COM 701 (Historical/Critical Research Methods) and an elective seminar (undecided as of now) - keep my GPA!!
  • Lose another 10lbs between January and June to reach 135
  • Lose the final 10lbs between June and December to reach goal weight of 125
I am sure there are other things to be added, but these are the things on my list so far.

Life Goals

I really do have a life plan in place. It has been a process of learning how to live my life according to God's word and then plan my days so that my life aligns with His will. I started this process back in 2006 -- so it will be 8 years come March 2014. March is the month when my life changed, and March marks the anniversary of when I returned to the Lord and dedicated my life to Him (again).

I had been an "active" Christian for 28 years. I had dedicated my life to Jesus back in 1978, so that is the year I mark as the time when I accepted responsibility for my sins and confessed my need of a Savior. I had believed in Jesus since I was young, but I didn't really understand the whole salvation message or come to terms with my part in God's plan of redemption (confession and dependence upon Him).

I walked the walk and talked the talk during most of those 28 years. I also strayed from His Word, and I downright refused to obey the Holy Spirit for a time (a long time). I refused His Gift to me, and I walked into deep and dark sinfulness for a time as well. There were moments when I returned to God, to His Grace, and to His fellowship, but these moments didn't last long. Finally, I put on the good face, and started to work at obedience (get it "WORK") and my life became one of "working out my salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12).

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

I worked really hard to please God. I worked so hard that I spent most of days in fear of losing my salvation. I thought I had to make up for all the bad I did -- not before I was saved -- but after I was saved. The church I attended for a time was very legalistic, and they taught that you had to live your faith out to demonstrate your salvation (hence the verse above). You had to show that you were a Christian. You were saved by grace, but the testimony of that grace was that your life was changed. You didn't sin -- ever! You didn't have sinful thoughts or do sinful things. You walked a fine and very narrow line and you always looked the part of a good Christian wife and mother.

I bought that teaching philosophy, and I did my very best to be that kind of Christian. I failed, of course. I failed miserably. I wasn't very good at living that way. I married a good Christian man. I was part of a good Christian family. I did Christian things, and I said what I was supposed to say when asked about my faith.

The truth was that I had a lot of head knowledge about God. I knew His Word, and I studied it (Precept Bible studies, never missing church, conferences, etc.) -- but I didn't know HIM. I knew about Him, and I knew what the Word said. I just didn't know Him personally.

I did know Him, at one time in my life. In fact, as a child and young teenager, I knew Him well. I experienced the grace of God on my life, and an in filling of the Holy Spirit. I was growing and manifesting His grace in every area of my life. Then, I walked away. Then I said NO to the Holy Spirit, and then I chose my own way. My life became empty, and I followed the LAW. I believed that I was saved, but I thought that I needed to follow the Law to keep that salvation.

I was wrong, so very wrong. God had saved me -- forever -- eternally. I just followed the wrong Master for a time, for a very long time.

In March of 2006, I took the first step forward and I changed Masters. I decided that the Law wasn't working for me (well, not very well). I wanted to experience the Spirit again, and I wanted to know Him personally. I prayed. I confessed. I turned my life around, and I walked back to Him. He had never left me, mind you. He was there waiting patiently for me to return to Him. I did it, and my life changed. I became alive again, and I started to grow. I started to mature, and I became a different person.

In many ways, I became the person I was way, way back over there (pointing to where I was as a teenager). My heart was changed, my mind was changed, and the Holy Spirit began to work in and through me. He worked hard to change the rough and stubborn parts of my will and my personality. He taught me what it was to be a Christian who loves Christ, and who devotes themselves to His cause. I aligned myself with His party (as the AMP says), and I began to move toward Him.

It didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't easy. I offended a lot of people during the first couple years, and I dove head first into spiritual legalism (a new kind). It took two years for me to learn the truth about Grace, and to understand that God didn't need me to wear dresses, cover my head, and submit to my husband's authority (but submit to one another in Grace). When I came out of that period, I learned the lesson about Grace, and I began the walk I am on now. This walk is all about Him and His will. It is about doing what He wants, and trusting Him. It is about resting, and letting things go. It is about being responsive to His Spirit, and moving and going and doing what the Holy Spirit wants and not what I want. It is all about living each day with Him, for Him, and letting Him live through me. It is a good way to live, a good way to be every day.

Unfortunately, some things in my life changed to such an extent that I found myself all alone. I didn't set out to be divorced, and I didn't think I would be single. I didn't want to be a divorced woman. I was married for life, and I was obedient to my vows. I ended up single because of a decision I made -- not because of a decision my husband made. Well, yes and no. I decided that I would rather live single and be wholly devoted to God than to live married to a man who didn't love me and who was in love with another woman. I also decided that I couldn't live that way and let sin be in our home and in our lives. I took a stand, and that stand said that I had to decide which way to go. I could stay married, but live in sin or I could walk away and live wholly devoted to God. I walked away, and I am living this way now (and will be until I die).

The plans God has for my life have taken me from a shattered new-single person to a strong and established single person. He rebuilt my life, and He gave me a plan to follow. This plan covers all my needs, and it establishes me in this world. I have a career I love, and I have education (which I love) to pursue. I am doing all the things I desired to do way back when, and I am content to be where I am. Yes, I struggle. I don't always think about His promises, and rest in them. I fret, I worry, and I fear that I am going to be without money or provision (He always provides for me). I still think I will goof up, and I still confess my sins (even though I know my slate is wiped clean - old legalism dies hard). Most of the time, I walk in confidence that He is in control. I rely upon Him for His grace and mercy, and I trust Him to provide for me. He is good, so very good to me.

The Plan

This plan started back in 2009. The first three years (2006-2009) were years where I learned to trust Him, to listen for His voice, and then obey what He was telling me to do. It was hard to do that, and I spent a lot of time on my knees in prayer, studying the Word, and asking for clarification (always asking). In 2009, the Lord prompted me to think about returning to school. I was married then, but some things had changed and my life was in upheaval (infidelity, illness, and increasing poverty). I trusted the Lord, and I applied to Mercy College in early 2010. I didn't even tell my husband. I applied for financial aid on my own, and I stepped out in faith following what I believed was direct guidance from the Lord -- telling me what to do.

I was accepted, and I started a Masters program in English Literature. In 2012, I graduated with that degree, and in late 2012, I applied to Regent University for a PhD in Communication. Again, I followed what I believed was the guidance from the Lord, and I obeyed in faith -- trusting Him to provide, really to do it all for me.

In the interim, I had found myself single. I had learned to rely upon God for every need. I was crushed, I was bruised, and I suffered emotional turmoil - yet - I survived and I made it through all the hurt. I came out stronger and more confident. I learned that God was my Savior, my Champion and my Victor. I struggled, I so struggled, but I leaned on Him, and He carried me through all of the pain and all the emotional ups/downs.

Separation - foreclosure - moving out on my own. I did it all. I took a stand, and I moved out. I weathered the storm of family disapproval (disowning) and I kept my eyes firmly fixed on Him.

I am now a first year doctoral student and an adjunct English teacher -- everything God promised to me when I stepped out in faith, He has delivered to me. I followed what I believed was guidance by the Holy Spirit, and I am living out the fruit of that obedience. I am seeing the OUTCOME He promised me. He has promised me that if I follow Him and His plans, He will direct my steps and provide a good life to me (Jer. 29:11; Ps. 37:4-6). I am determined to do just that...to follow Him in obedience!

My long-term list is as follows:
  • Lose the weight I have carried since college and return to my normal size (healthy size)
  • Get off all processed foods (already off diet soda/soda) and follow the Daniel Plan for life
  • Complete my PhD
  • Teach adjunct until I graduate from Regent and then work full-time as a Professor of English/Communication
  • Move to another state where I can live comfortably on the income I made as a college teacher
  • Buy a small house (affordable)
  • Travel as I am able and as the Lord leads
  • Complete my foreign language study
  • Continue to improve on the cello
  • Take care of my parents
  • Support my son until he is able to live on his own (marries, finishes college, gets a good job, etc.)
Yep, those are my plans. I have them all laid out and for the most part, I think they are all achievable goals. I am working on most of them, so there is no reason to believe they will not come to pass. I need to do the work, follow the steps, and obey the Lord -- that is all. He will deliver what He has promised me. I can rest in His faithfulness and know that His mercy is new every day, and that His loving kindness never ends. Selah! Pause and CALMLY think about that (reminder to self -- rest in His sufficiency and Know that He is God!

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