July 18, 2014

The Lord Provides

I am blessed, so very blessed today. I am giving Him praise and honor for His blessing upon my life. He is faithful and He keeps His promises. I cannot shout enough that the Lord, Our God, is GOOD. He is so very good!

Today is an extra special day for me. It started out as normal as normal can be. I woke up early (OK, well, that is not normal) so that I could take my cousin's granddaughter back down to Grand Canyon for an official school tour. She is a junior in high school, and she has expressed an interest in studying nursing in college. She lives in MD, and she wants to come to school in AZ. I mentioned to my cousin that GCU has a very good nursing program. In addition, they offer a lot of scholarship money to out of state students, and they have no out of state tuition difference (in-state or out of state is the same cost). My cousin had called to schedule a tour, but the person who helped her said that the only tours available were for incoming freshman. I took Janee over to GCU on Wednesday and walked her around campus. On our way into Starbucks, we met an advisor who told us that she could get a tour on any day of the week, so we scheduled a "second" tour for today.

After picking Janee up at my cousin's house, we headed toward downtown Phoenix for the campus tour. We purposely scheduled the tour in the am, just to avoid the heat and humidity. Good thing too -- the official tour had very little walking. We took one of those tour tram carts (like at Disneyland) and were shuttled all around the campus. I was glad for the tour cart because my legs were already sore from our Wednesday hike (up and down four flights of stairs and a good 2 mile walk around the campus).

While we were stopped at the library, I checked my email (GCU has free wi-fi for students and faculty), and of course, Facebook (did I say I was addicted to FB?) I noticed that I had some email from Regent (not unusual, really) so I checked that account as well. Lo, and behold, there was an email from the School of Communication and the Arts. I opened it up, thinking it was just another email blast about fall theater. Instead, it was a letter from the Comm Arts Manager telling me that I had been awarded the Dean's Scholarship for fall. I about jumped out of my flip-flops right there in the library building. The Dean's Scholarship is a 50-100% tuition waiver, awarded to students based on the Dean's recommendations.

I had applied for the Dean's Scholarship back in March, and while I was hopeful of consideration, I assumed that I would not be considered for it. I didn't think that my case was worthy for this scholarship because of the fact that I am able to qualify for financial aid. There are a lot of students in my program who are married and who work as professors and adjunct instructors (or other professions). These people do not qualify for financial aid because they make too much money. Often, they have to take private loans or they pay out of pocket. I have several friends in the program who struggle to make ends meet (with their families) and who attend school on a semester by semester basis (never knowing if they will be able to swing the tuition each semester). I assumed that I would not receive any additional funding from Regent besides my financial aid (student loans) and my PhD grant (because of my high GPA). More so, I assumed that I wouldn't get any additional funding because of the growth of the program. This summer, the 2014 cohort had almost 35 students in it. Regent is expanding and is growing stronger in the Communication field. All those incoming students, many with educational funding needs, would surely be considered for assistance ahead of me.

Yet -- the email stated that I had been chosen to receive this award. The word "chosen" was used and that means that someone or some committee considered all the applicants and picked my name/record out. WOW! I am as excited about this award as I was when I found out that I was chosen to attend doctoral study there. There is something about this idea of being wanted, being considered, being approved that resonated with me. Regent wanted me to study at their school, and now, Regent is providing a way for me to study there at a reduced cost to me. God is so amazingly wonderful -- He is so very Good to me.

When I think about being chosen for this scholarship, I am reminded of the Lord's promise to me. I am reminded of His nature and His character and that one of the Old Testament names for the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord Our Provider - from Genesis 22:14). Of all the Old Testmant names for God, this One name means the most to me. I have often cried out to Jehovah-Jireh in my deep need, and I have rested in His promised provision for my life.

In the over 42 years that I have been a Christian, I have come to understand that I have two great needs (outside of salvation, of course). My two greatest needs are:
  1. Security 
  2. Provision
For me, I need to feel secure (safe and protected), and I need to be well-provided (financially, materially). I need both or else I feel panicked (prone to panic attacks) and full of anxiety. I have come a long way since the days when I would suffer panic attacks, but deep down inside of me, I still become very uncomfortable whenever I think my security or provision is threatened. I will do almost anything to make sure that I am always safe and protected, and that I am well-provided for financially.

As a child, I suffered trauma whereby I was forced to live and to go school in an unsafe place. I experienced this trauma on a daily basis, and it became routine for me to suffer from sleep deprivation or to feel trapped (flight or fight response). Even though I was finally able to overcome much of those effects through counseling and therapy, there are still times when I begin to feel the panic come over me. The Lord has calmed that raging storm within me. Friends tell me how calm I am, how peaceful my life is -- I give testimony to the Lord because He has done this for me. He has healed me from the hurt I suffered at the hands of others, and He has stepped in to be my Shield and my Strong Tower. I am safe, and I am secure because the Lord covers me well.

Materially speaking, I struggle with not having "enough" provision because I spent almost 27 years living in a hand-to-mouth existence, never having enough, never being able to live responsibly. I thank God that I was never homeless. I was however constantly living in debt, in fear of collectors, and always in arrears. There was never enough money to keep the lights on so to speak. I hated the feeling of being indebted to others (mostly my family), and I hated the fact that nothing ever changed, nothing ever improved for my life.

Once I moved out on my own, I made the commitment to never be without money. In fact, I made a vow to the Lord that I would never be late on a payment nor would I refuse myself anything (within moderation and limits). I lived a life of having to buy weekly groceries for our family, and making everything fit within a $20-40 budget. I always gave up my wants, needs and desires to accommodate my family's need. I learned to say no whenever I wanted anything -- even a stick of gum.

As I began to depend on the Lord for my every need, He helped me recover financially. He helped me build credit, learn to pay bills, budget wisely, and spend money. Yes, I say that with great joy -- the Lord showed me how to spend money! I can remember going to Walmart after I was separated from my husband, and I put items back on the shelf because I didn't want to spend the extra $5-10 dollars. It took a year before I was able to walk to the register and not panic when the bill rang up. Since that time, I have bought two cars, rented my own town home, traveled a lot, purchased computers and gear -- not to mention a cello -- all without overly panicking (a little panic still was there).

I had to learn to trust the Lord for my provision. He has never failed me in all this time. I am not financially well-set by any means, but my bank account never runs empty. I am like the widow with her mite or Elijah with his oil. There is always enough to cover my needs. I still worry about having "enough" and there are times when I do panic over my financial aid debt (it is a lot). The Lord promises me that He will provide for me, He will provide for every need. I have seen His provision time and time again, and here today, I see the outpouring of His blessing in spades! God is good, so very good to me.

Today is a good day, and it is a good reminder of how faithful our God is to His beloved children. I used to pray for the Lord to meet my needs, and while I never lost the roof over my head (until our home was foreclosed -- but I had already moved out), I never felt completely safe, secure or well-provided. I believed that the Lord could provide, but I didn't think He would provide for me. I didn't think I was worthy of His provision or His protection. I simply didn't think my life was worth anything to Him.

In just eight short years, my life has completely been up ended. I am blessed, and I am highly favored. I say this not to boast in my self or in my abilities, but to give testimony to the Lord. The Lord has chosen me as His own unique possession. I am treasured, and I am blessed in all that I do. He pours out His life into mine, and I allow Him to fill me up. In doing so, He is able to use me as a living sacrifice. He uses every part of me, my mind, my hands, my feet to do His work and to accomplish His will. I am a recipient of His blessing and His favor -- and as such -- I receive great reward through my obedience and my faith. I am blessed and I am highly favored this good day.

Deut. 7:6: For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.

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