January 25, 2015

Possibilities are Endless

It is a good Sunday, and I am glad to be at home. The house is quiet and oh so very still this morning. I missed church today due to some oversleeping and general feelings of malaise. I am struggling a bit with finding a new church home, and I am tired (can I say that any more loudly?) It seems that my workload, stress, and class assignments are coalescing to create a long and laborious semester. Yet, despite the feelings of overwhelm, I press on and I stay fixed on the plans and purposes I believe God has in mind for me.

I woke up this morning thinking about my life and about my current situation here in Phoenix. I have blogged about my work life for the past couple years (a quick scan of my archives shows that my posts are most often about my school, my job, and my family). I am trying to figure out what the Lord wants me to do, where He wants me to go for a full-time job, and when I am to begin taking steps toward that new place, that new horizon, that new life. I know His timing is perfect, and I believe that He will let me know when the time is right. I am keen on not missing the sign or signs, even though I feel unsure of what I am waiting or watching to happen. I believe that "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26), and as such, I am certain that nothing is outside His control or His hand of mercy and blessing. I feel a bit off kilter, almost like a person on a train ride, feeling the jostle of the wheels against the steel tracks, and the shifting weight of the cars as they lunge forward and then stop. I feel myself swing to the left and to the right, not certain what is going on, but feeling secure in thought that the movement is simply the Lord pushing and pulling me forward. Yes, I feel as though my life is in motion, and I am a passenger on the Lord's Express, going where He leads me. I am going to the place of His choosing, and while I may not like the way the train is moving (metaphorically speaking), I sense that I am where I belong, that I am right where He wants me to be. I must hang on, trust Him, and rest in His security and provision. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Open Doors - Job

It is no secret that I have been looking for a full-time job for a while. I have been in flux since 2009 when I stopped working as a Website designer and started looking for a job that would provide for me and my son. I didn't expect to be unemployed for 18 months (working only part-time at Macy's) nor did I expect to lose my home and find myself on my own, but that is what happened. It took a while for me to figure out what I needed to do, and how to go about it, but eventually, Praise be to God, the Lord led me to the position of His choosing at the University of Phoenix. It wasn't a perfect fit, mind you, but it was good honest work. I liked it. I liked my colleagues, and I liked having a real job with a real paycheck. Of course, the job was stressful, and it ended up not being a good fit for me (long-term wise). It was a good transition job, and I believe now that it was the Lord's provision for me at that time and season of my life.

Since starting at University of Phoenix, I have worked in three other positions: Analyst for CVS, Analyst for Nurse Wise, and Instructor at GCU/ACU. Of course, I am currently employed as adjunct faculty, and it seems the Lord has me placed in this role for a short while only. I have been praying about the next step, the next job -- because frankly -- I cannot live on Adjunct pay for much longer. I am blessed, fruitful, and content to teach -- but -- the pay is a struggle and the bills do not go away at the end of every month. The Lord knows my needs, and He has me well covered. I am content to know that He will provide for me. He is good to me, and He cares for me. I can rest in His security and provision. Praise God, He is good, so very good to me!

The Lord has provided a series of jobs for me. Over the past four years, I have followed a path that seems to be moving me into various positions, almost as if the Lord were giving me the opportunity to try each one out.

In truth, I never had much career intention growing up. I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I did have some passing fancy, just ideas of what I might like to do (become a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, an artist, and a curator). I never pursued any path in particular, that is until I went back to school in 1990. Since that time, my education has aligned with becoming a Professor. My practical work aligned (previously) with being an artist or designer.

Since 1982, I have worked:
  • Full-time Corporate (NuTech) - 1982 to 1983
  • Full-time Corporate (CompuServe) - 1984 to 1985
  • Full-time Corporate (Britton Lee) - 1985 to 1990
  • Part-time Self (Graphic Designer) - 1993 to 1996
  • Full-time Self (Web Designer) - 1997 to 2009
  • Part-time Retail (Macy's) - 2010 to 2011
  • Full-time Higher Education (UOPX) - 2011 to 2012
  • Full-time Corporate (CVS) - 2012 to 2013
  • Full-time Higher Education (GCU/ACU) - 2013 to present
Now, I am looking for the next job --> and I am trying to decide which path to take.
  • Full-time Higher Education (Lecturer/Professor) 
  • Full-time Higher Education (Administrator) 
  • Full-time Corporate (Communications)
I have considered going back into corporate work, but whenever I lean that way, I get the feeling that the door is closed. My education aligns with higher education (college or university work), and I feel that this is the path I am on and where the Lord intends me to stay (for now).

Open Doors - Location

It is hard to believe, but 2014 will mark my 18th year of living in Phoenix, AZ. I moved here with my husband and then 3-year old son back in 1996. We left San Jose in order to avoid legal issues associated with my ex-husband's business. We also chose to move closer to his parents, with whom we believed we could help (due to health issues). We also were under the impression that if we came to Phoenix, my husband's parents would help us buy a house (a luxury we could not afford in CA). Moreover, my ex made the decision to enroll in school here in AZ so there was the possibility of a new career, new life, new start waiting for us.

Leaving my family behind was very hard for me to do, but I was committed to my marriage, and I believed that the Lord would provide a way for us. In the end, moving to Phoenix was difficult. In hindsight, I believe that had we stayed in San Jose we would have figured out how to make our marriage work (distance from my ex's parents would have been better than living close to them -- lesson learned the hard way). Of course, many things would have had to change for that to happen, mainly (1) my ex would have had to give up his idea of being self-employed or (2) I would have had to give up my desire to be a stay at home Mom. We couldn't live on one salary in CA, and my ex refused to give up his business dream even though we were almost bankrupt with creditors following hard after us. I wasn't willing to give up my desire to be at home because I believed that my son, then 3, had serious issues and needed to be at home and not in a day care setting. In the end, I chose to leave my parents and my home to go live in Phoenix because it was the only way I could remain at home and care for my son. I made the sacrifice of my parents and my family to come to a difficult place, with difficult family relations, and with no assurance of support (financial or moral) for the sake of shepherding my child (whom I believed was a gift from the Lord -- and for whom my calling -- at least in part was to care for him in this way).

Now my parents live here, with me and my son, and I am considering leaving Phoenix to go to another place. My Mom has wanted to leave Phoenix for a long time (almost before they moved here in 2000 -- she came for my Dad's health -- but she has been vocal about not liking the heat). My Dad is content here. He likes the weather, and he is happy in our shared home. However, both of my parents are struggling now, and they both need more care. I am the primary care giver for them, and I am considering moving away from them. Weird as that may sound, I believe it is the Lord's will for me. Does this mean that my parents will move with me? I don't know at this point in time. I know they would prefer to stay here because they have friends and church support. Yet, in truth, I am not sure if they would want to stay here if I were not close by. Do I stay here until they can no longer take care of themselves? Or do I go where the Lord is leading me, and trust Him, to meet and provide for my parents care?

Where Do I Go?

Right now, I am in Phoenix. I do not believe this is where the Lord intends to keep me. A couple years ago, the Lord began to impress upon me that He was going to move me to another location. I was still married at the time, and when I shared this news with my ex, he shut me down. He was not interested in moving, and he would not consider the Lord leading me (or us) to go. Yet, despite his lack of interest or willingness to go, I kept feeling the Lord pushing me to consider places in the SE USA. I would wake up in the middle of the night or in the very early morning hours with this feeling that I needed to go get on the computer. I would go into the office and sit at my computer and begin to research these places. I would look up city data, study houses and economy, schools, jobs, etc. I felt the Lord saying to me "Go look at this place. Consider this place." I obeyed. I kept copious notes on the places, saved pictures, data, etc. I did thorough research on cities where I thought the Lord was leading us to live.

Of course, never did I imagine that the Lord was preparing me to go and not my ex-husband. I continued to hope, to pray, to imagine a new life for us, for the three of us.

Then my marriage ended; then I found myself single.

How could this be, Lord? How could I start over? How could I live alone?

Now I see what the Lord was doing. He was preparing me to go; He was giving me time to process the idea of going someplace new. In the interim, before He moved me, He had a lot of work to do. He had to get me to trust Him completely, to rely on Him, to place my faith in Him. He held me tightly as my marriage crumbled, and I found myself a single woman. He took hold of my hand, and He showed me that my life was not over, that there was more for me to do. He laid a plan in front of me, and He asked me if I would trust Him, if I would follow Him, if I would go where He sent me.

I said yes.

The Lord began to rebuild my life, from the inside out (as the song goes). I learned what it meant to be a Christian, a true born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I devoted myself to study of the Word, to learning from Him. I leaned on Him, looked to Him, and became wholly devoted to Him. He helped me. He held me up, and He showed me how to live my life as a single, wholly devoted woman of God. Little by little, He rebuilt the shattered parts of my life. He helped me deal with lingering psychological issues, cleaned up the fragments of the pain and sorrow I experienced in childhood. He helped me see my life as a new creature in Christ. I was made brand new -- brand new.

In the ensuing time, the Lord sent me back to school. I completed a Master degree. I am almost finished with a Doctoral degree. I have lived on my own and with my parents. I have purchased two new cars (all on my own). I have opened bank accounts, credit accounts, travelled across the USA, and I have learned to be independent.

My life, the broken parts have been healed, and I am different than I was before. I have learned how to communicate more effectively, how to minister with more empathy, and how to be content in all things. I am a new creature, a new person, a new woman.

Now, almost 8 years later, I am ready to go. I am ready to step out in faith and go to where He is leading me to go.

As I consider my next steps, I have to think about what the Lord intends for me to do. Am I to remain single for the rest of my life? Am I to remarry?

Open Doors - A New Life

It is all so confusing. One day last summer, I met someone online. I thought it was a friendly conversation, but that conversation turned into something more significant. I wasn't looking to meet anyone. In fact, I was stubbornly adamant that I was going to spend the rest of my life alone. I was content to do it. I was content to live as a wholly devoted daughter of the King. Then BAM! The Lord asks me to have a conversation with a man -- online -- with someone I didn't know. Red flag, red flag -- danger Will Robinson! I know "so what's the big deal?" Well, for me, it was a HUGE deal. I didn't have male-female relationships. I didn't have conversations with any men that were not sanctioned by the Lord, my husband or a "need" (such as a work or church relationship). Nope, this girl didn't have convo's with the opposite sex -- ever!

The funny thing is that the Lord asked me to "consider" a relationship several months prior to that first meeting online. Yes, back in January, I felt the Lord asking me to consider the possibility of not being alone. I wasn't interested; I was not going there. Yet, I obeyed, and I said "I would consider it."

Then came the decision to divorce. ACK!

I had put off the idea of filing for divorce for nearly three years. I didn't want to initiate it. I didn't want to file. I knew there was no restoration happening, and I knew I was stubbornly refusing to let go of my vow because I didn't want to break it. Once I consented to the divorce, things moved rapidly. My life seemed to be kicked into high gear, and before long, I was a divorced woman. I don't brag, I don't say that in delight. It is just a fact. I am divorced. I am learning to live with the stigma of being divorced. I digress...

It has been seven months since I started that conversation, that very innocent conversation. My life has changed dramatically, and I am in love. Yes, I say it honestly and with intention. I am in love.

This whole love/romance thing is something I don't do. I have never had romantic feelings. I have practical feelings, friendship feelings. I don't fall in love. I like people. I am loyal to people. I am supportive, encouraging, genuine with people. I don't fall in love -- like with the fireworks, the romantic feelings, the passion and intensity.

The Lord knows me well. He knows my heart, my mind, and my desires. He knows what matters to me and to Him. The good news is that I believe the Lord orchestrated this meeting for a reason, for a purpose, for His mutual will. He brought someone to me who fits me so closely, so perfectly, so completely that I cannot imagine spending a day apart from him. My feelings for this man are deep, are grounded not in passionate lust, but in mutual submission to the Lord and to His will for my life and his life. Yes, I feel that this may be the Lord's doing, and I am overwhelmed in my soul and in my spirit to think that the Lord may be calling me to move across the US to a place where I can be near this person.

So what does this mean for me, for a job, for relocation?

Well, I have found a job in a location that places me very close to the person I love. Hmmm...

I don't have the job. I haven't even applied yet. But there is a job that I would enjoy doing, that aligns with my education and experience, that would provide well for me, my son, and my parents. Yes, and it just happens to be within a hour of the man I love. What are you doing, Lord? Is this your will? Is this your intention? Or am I just fooling myself into thinking this is your will?

I am patiently waiting for a signal from the Lord. I am patiently waiting to find out what the Lord wants me to do. Should I apply? What if I am rejected? How would I feel? How would he feel? Is it worth stepping out in faith? What will my parents think? What if I get accepted, interviewed, offered the job? What if I step out in faith and the door is closed to me?

I don't know if I could handle the rejection at this point in time. It is far easier to "think" about a job, to "think" about moving across country, to "think" about getting married then to actually begin to take steps toward it. I am scared, and I am worried about what the Lord is doing right now. The train I am on is jostling me back and forth and the rattle of the tracks is deafening. The Lord is moving, and He is pulling me forward. He has told me to "go" and I have said "yes" to Him. But I hesitate...I falter.

Dear Lord,

Only you know the outcome you have planned for my life. Only you know where I am to go, what job I am to apply for, and what the timing is for your grand plan. I struggle today with believing that this might be your will, your answer, and your provision. I need confidence today. I need a boost of faith to get me over the hurdle and to let go of the past, of my current life, of my need for control. I ask in your Name, Lord Jesus, that you would make my way clear. Remove any obstacles from my path, and show me what to do. Lead me to your provision, your "promised land," and make it possible for me to go where you are leading me WITH the full provision of your will, your way, and your wisdom. I ask this in Jesus' mighty, merciful and majestic Name, Amen. So be it. Thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it!!)

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