September 3, 2015

Feeling Good Albeit Still in Pain

It is a beautiful day here in Phoenix. It is not quite as hot as it has been (we are in a cooling trend), and the forecast calls for the heat to return again this weekend, so I am enjoying the lower temps while I can. We may get some rain today -- not sure -- but wouldn't that be sweet! I hope so -- I just love the rain. Anyway, today is a good day. I made it through teaching this morning, and a trip to Walmart, and now I am back home resting before I tackle my paper. I am feeling better about my schedule, and I feel as though I can do this work, the amount I mean, and still survive the issues here at home. My parents seem to have resigned themselves to the challenges they face. Mom is so tired, and today her doctor told her that the effects of the radiation treatment are "cumulative" and that it is right about now when they kick in. She said to me "I feel so worthless right now." I know she does feel as though she cannot do what she normally does, but I try to remind her that this is just a temporary trial, and that she will feel better come next week (her last treatment is next Wednesday). Well, that is my prayer, anyway!

Gathering Up Stones

As I rested today, this word picture came to my mind. I thought about gathering up stones to make a memorial to this place. I know, sounds creepy, doesn't it? But in biblical times, often followers of God would set up stones as memorials of some special event or circumstance in order to "remember" what occurred or to remind them of God's faithfulness. Today, I am thinking about stones in this way too. My refund check was automatically deposited this afternoon and that means, for all intents and purposes, my accounts are solvent again. I got very close to being overdrawn, something I have never done since I moved out on my own nearly four years ago. My account and my bills have been mysteriously, miraculously paid. My account has gotten low, for sure, but when I was working, it was usually temporary -- just until payday -- and then I would be good again. This time around, my accounts were drained very low over the summer, much lower than last year. This is not my preference, for sure, but it is something that I have had to learn to live with since I returned to doctoral study and teaching college. I don't receive a paycheck over the summer, and my adjunct pay is not enough to partition out to cover me during the months of non-payment. In time, I will have full-time work, a teaching contract that pays 12 months salary over a 9 month period. I will be responsible for paying myself for those three extra months, but there should be enough "overage" during the flush months to make that happen. At the least, that is my hope and my prayer.

This summer has been long and very dry. My parents took the brunt of our expenses during August, and for that, I am thankful. I have to repay my portion of the utilities to them (adding in an extra $50 per month over 9 months will do it), and I need to repay them one month's rent. I don't like that I had to do this, but there was no way I was going to be able to live on what I make AND meet my bills over the summer. In the end, they were gracious and offered this to me -- I didn't ask for it -- and I consider it another provision of the Lord.

I updated my expense sheet today, and I made some plans to pay off my credit cards over the next 9 months. My goal is to have all my credit cards paid off by next June. I believe I can do this, and with the Lord's help, I should be debt free -- with the exception of my car and my school loans -- by next summer. The blessing is that I will also be finished with my schooling, and I will not have to travel to Regent again unless I choose to walk in the ceremony. I want to walk, so I am planning a trip to VA for the May 2017 celebration. My prayer is that I will be living closer to VA then so I can drive and not have to incur flight and car rental fees.

In all, I feel good about my path and my financial state. I am not comfortable with my school loan debt, which is excessive, but I believe that the Lord has a way for me to be responsible to pay those loans off in time. I am grateful to the Lord for His blessing of financial bounty. I am not rich, yet I am not poor. I am comfortable with what I have. I still must rely on Him and remain dependent on Him for provision -- but I am not in the bread line or receiving food stamps (not that there is anything wrong with that, it is just that I feel no need or calling to do that right now in my life).

My hope is for a prosperous future. Teaching is not a lucrative endeavor, but it still pays a fair wage. I am looking to move to where I can own a home and make a comfortable mortgage payment. I am also looking to stay put, to move and not relocate again. I hope to set down roots, live out my days, and enjoy the blessing of life that the Lord has given to me. I am not saying that this life will be easy, no way, but what I am saying is that I believe the Lord has not called me to a life of poverty. I already did that -- lived it -- and since 2010, He has not chosen to keep me in this way. Instead, He has provided a very nice quality of life for me, modest and comfortable, but not poor or poverty-stricken (excessively poor). Poverty is "general scarcity or dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money." I have lived in these circumstances while married, and I bore up under this lifestyle with the best possible attitude. At times, it was so depressing and devastating to me, while at other times, it angered me and caused me to lash out at those around me who I believed were responsible for causing the poverty in my life. Mostly, I tried to deal with it, and that meant simply living with it, enduring through it, and occasionally, trying to overcome it.

In 2010, the Lord opened a door for me, and He gave me the choice to walk away from all the elements that caused my poor life. My marriage had crumbled and while I wasn't looking to walk away from it, and because my ex wasn't willing to work toward reconciliation and restoration, I felt that I had no recourse but to start making plans to live a single, but married life. Later in the year, I was hired part-time, and then the following year, I started my first full-time position. It took a long time for me to get comfortable paying my own bills and be responsible for various items. Overtime, I became less and less afraid of being poor again, and by 2013, I finally felt good enough to let go of the worry about making enough money each month to cover all my bills. Then, I made the decision to transition to teaching, and I started what I call the path to learning how to lean on the Lord for everything. Just like before, when I needed Him to help me determine which brand of Peanut Butter to buy, I needed Him to manage my expenses because I knew that come "summer," I would be flush out of income.

I think I finally learned to "let go" this past summer, 2015. I mean, I had to let go and rely on the Lord, even to the point of not watching my bank account go down each week. In truth, I have looked at my account once during the summer, and that was in late July, when I had to transfer some funds from savings to checking to cover the bills that are auto debited from my account each month. Every time I was tempted to look, I said "No, Lord, I trust you. There is enough in there to cover whatever debits come through to each account." Sure enough, there was enough to see me through until my first pay check (tomorrow) and my refund.

I worry some about sharing this testimony because there are those out there who might say, "Well, the Lord doesn't provide for me like that so what's up?" I know, and I do understand. The Lord provides for me like this -- and truthfully -- I cannot say why it is so. I can bear witness to the fact that since January 2010 when I faced my ex-husband's adultery face on, and asked him to choose between me and the other woman, and he chose the other woman -- the Lord has stepped in and provided for my every need. He provided a car for me to use to get to work (even though I didn't have a job). He provided insurance, a bank account, basic clothes, food, and necessities. He also provided a job in time, and even though it was a difficult job to do (hard on my physically), He sustained me for the year I did that work. Then He moved me to another position, a better position, and provided a way for me to move out of my home before it went to foreclosure. In all, He helped me through the difficult and dark days between marriage and single hood, and as a result, He taught me how to manage my money well. I had no credit to start with but now I have a decent score. It is not great, but it is fair, and for that I am good. I have maintained a steady credit rating for nearly 4 years, and it is slowly inching up over time. I hope to hit my magic number soon, and when I do, I know I will be able to purchase my own home.

I still worry about the school loan debt -- that payment scares me -- but I know that my school loans are part of His will (some may disagree with that -- saying the Lord wouldn't want me to be in debt for anything -- but I disagree). I know that I have been called to return to school, to complete this education, and the loans were necessary to get me to where I am now. I believe the Lord will miraculously pay for my loans here in time, and I will be debt free except for a home mortgage within the next four-five years time. It sounds unreasonable, I am sure, but I believe it in my soul, and I trust the Lord completely. He brought me to this path, He has sustained me on it, provided for every need, and He will take me through to the end (loans and all). He is good, He is faithful, and He keeps His promise forever. Amen, selah!

Looking Upward and Outward

As I think about all of this today, I get the feeling that the plans the Lord has for my life are starting to quicken. By this I mean that the plans He has had that were long-term are starting to come into focus. I am seeing them at the outer boundaries of my life, and they are coming more and more into the clear. I can see them now, whereas before, I only believed they were out there (waiting for me). These plans are for my future, and they will determine where I will spend the rest of my days. I am excited about these plans because I know that they are His will and that He has provided this next step for me. I have been patiently waiting for Him to reveal them to me, wondering, watching, and waiting to see what He has in mind. I have had inklings of this or that, but nothing for sure, for real, for certain. Now, I feel that this is the case, and that these plans are coming closer and closer to me, and soon will be real and tangible, and I will be able to begin the steps walking toward them. I see Him as He beckons me toward them, calling to me, reassuring me that this is where He wants me to go, to follow after Him, and to rest in His sufficiency. I know He will care for my every need, and as a result, I can let go and let Him provide for me. He is Jehovah-Jireh, and He is good, all the time, good.

Today as I write this blog post, I sense His movement and timing. I feel that everything is starting to come together, and that the plans He has for me will be made known to me soon, very soon. I am eager, and I am anticipating that they will be more than anything I could imagine, more than anything I could possibly dream. I am excited to know that the plans He has for my life are good, so very good. He is good to me, so very good to me.

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