January 31, 2016

Moving On...Yet Again

It is a blessed Sunday, and I am home and resting. I finally slept well, praise be to God, and I woke up refreshed and ready to tackle my very-full day. It is the Lord's day, and while today, I am staying at home, I have decided that this is going to be one of my last days to miss church. Yes, I decided to cut myself some slack, to give myself a little break, and to focus on what I have to do right now. I am down to 10 days until I sit my comprehensive exams. I need every off day (from work) to prep, and today is the last day I will be prepping before I begin the crush of cramming for the written exams. Once I am through with the written part, I will have about two weeks until I fly to VA to sit the oral part. At the conclusion of my testing phase, I will be advanced to candidacy, and then I will be in the dissertation phase. In the dissertation phase, I will resume a normal work/life schedule -- which just means -- I will be free again (no homework or school work) to resume my normal life! Praise God!

I know it seems weird, and I have to say that I have had some strange conversations with people who think that nothing should interrupt church attendance. I have blogged about this before, and while I agree with this notion, I also know what I can and cannot do -- as in physically and mentally -- in order to keep my ship sailing upright. You see for me, I need my sleep. I always have, and when you add in the stress of working (teaching and standing/emoting) along with doctoral study, well, my physical, mental, and emotional well-being hangs in a fragile balance. I have had to give up, sacrifice a lot of things over the past three years. I have created priorities, that may or may not align with what other folks consider "priority." That's okay, really, it is. I mean, my priorities are not going to align with anyone else's and that is just fine. My life is in flux, temporarily, in this season, so to speak, and that means that I have to do certain things regardless of if they seem right to others. I have to do what I have to do just to maintain my health, my vitality, and my ability to perform at this level. Church attendance has taken a backseat at times, simply because my Sunday has been needed for study or for catch-up teacher work.

It shouldn't be this way, really it shouldn't. If I were only teaching, then I would be able to do everything and still have time to enjoy my life. It is the doctoral study that has taken over my life. No one really gets this other than my colleagues in my program. My friend Jane posted this graphic to Facebook the other day. It represents the life of a doctoral student perfectly. So much of what I do as a student is under the water line, so to speak. It is hidden. No one really knows what it takes to complete a doctoral program unless they happen to be in one. The upper portion, what my family and friends see is simply an illusion. I often hear people say "Oh, I had no doubts you could do this or that thing" as if the thing I was doing was as easy as riding a bike. I know they mean well, but the truth is that often what I am doing is beyond their comprehension. I am not saying this to brag or boast, no sir, it is just that I am saying that no one really gets what is involved, the work level, the stress level, and the time commitment needed to complete this kind of program.

My heart is convinced as is my mind that what I am doing is for the Lord. That may sound so strange to some who would counter, "I am sure the Lord doesn't intend for you to miss church, Carol!" I laugh at that line of thinking because it presumes that someone out there really does know the mind of the Lord! (LOL! Certainly, I don't). What I do know is this -- my mind -- is convinced that the driving ambition He has placed in my heart is working to achieve this goal. If you knew me, my history and such, then you would know that I once was labeled as a "quitter." Yes, I used to quit things when the going got too tough. Now, you would probably characterize me as someone who never quits, who never gives up, and that would be true as well. I would say that I am ambitious, but only for the Lord, and I am driven, but only when He commands me to go. At other times, I am one lazy girl, for sure!

I guess what I am trying to say is this...the pressure to conform is getting harder and harder for me. I am trying very hard to do this work, to finish strong, and to remain steady through these last few weeks. I am being condemned by voices in my head, thoughts and opinions that have no bearing on reality. Furthermore, there is a part of me that struggles to overcome the doubts I already feel inside of me, worry over my future, and the plans the Lord has for me. Even when I feel confident, like really confident, I still worry about what I am to do, and how I am to do it. I think in many ways, this is my thorn, you know, that thing that keeps me from being arrogant and foolish. I can take no credit for anything at all, no achievement, no award, nothing. Everything I do is because of His grace. He has chosen this path, and He has chosen this way for me. I go, I do, and I live in His way -- regardless of what other people might think or say to me. I do it all for His praise, His honor, and His glory.

Today is a good day, then, to finish strong. My to-do list includes finishing my exam outlines, and then resting (at some point). Next week, beginning with Monday, I will be reviewing everything every single day/night until I get to Wednesday, February 10. Then I will pray, take a deep breath, and commit my work to Him. I will trust Him to see me through the two-day written exam, to help me remember all the details I need to write eight solid essays. Then on February 12, I will rejoice that the first part of this grueling process is over. I will take the next 14 days and review my answers for errors or omissions, and I will study again in order to pass my oral exam. Once I finish, and praise be to God, that will be February 26, I will rejoice as loudly as possible. I will know that He has done this marvelous work in and through me, and He has completed, fulfilled His promise to me. He is good, He is so very good to me.

But until then, I have to work. I have to keep moving forward, moving on, and taking those next steps as they are illuminated. It is a difficult thing, but I know that I am not alone, and that He has made this way possible. I cannot imagine doing anything more difficult than this program. I cannot imagine working any harder than what I am doing now. In fact, I would say that I have never worked harder in my life than at present. Even when I was working 60-70 hours a week, even when I was dealing with the stress of nasty coworkers or a downturned economy. No, nothing can compare to what I am doing now. Nothing can compare to it. I am blessed beyond measure, and as I move through these next weeks and months, I am convinced, utterly convinced that God is going to move in my life in a major way. Yes, I believe that once I advance to candidacy, there will be a full-time job for me. Once I begin my dissertation phase, the Lord will move me to the place of His choosing. Once I complete all these remaining tasks, then I will go (physically), and begin the next phase of my life, ministry. I believe all of this, all the work, the pressure, and the challenge has been for one purpose and that is to prepare me to do His work, His specific ministry calling. I am convinced of it. I am utterly convinced of it.

This is my command, He has said to me, "go and do my work." I have tried my best to obey. I have tried my best to be a good follower. I haven't always done what He has asked of me, but I certainly have tried to listen and heed. The process has helped me learn how to be a good follower for sure, and the process has created great change within my heart and mind. Lately, my mind has been moved to be more in step with His mind, and by that I just mean that my desires are changing to align more with His word. I asked this to be so a couple weeks ago, and this is what I feel is happening within me. I am moving away from my own desires, and moving closer and closer to His desires for not just my life, but His Kingdom. You see, we are all called to ministry to the Kingdom of God, and that means to the church as well as the unchurched. We have a dual role to play to build up the body of Christ while we also reach out to the lost souls who are so desperate for the hope we have within us. We are to be inward and outward, and our inner and outer selves should be mirror images. However, for many Christians this is not the case. Their inner life doesn't match their outer life or vice versa. We (as a community) have done great damage to the cause of Christ simply because we have not taken heed to align our inner heart with our outward motivations. There should be no difference between who we say we are and what we believe and do.

My work, thus, is to be an outward manifestation of the inward transformation that I experienced at the cross of Calvary. My heart has been radically changed, and the person I am today is not the person I once was many, many years ago. I have been transformed by His grace, and as I spend time with Him, immersed in the Word, and living and walking with Him in spiritual communion, my outward life is changed just as completely as my inward life. Therefore, my work, what I do or think God wants me to do is predicated, completely and thoroughly on His calling in my life. I am to do nothing other than the work He has called me to do. I can feel it inside of me, and I can see it as it is manifested outside of me -- the two halves are similar and they function as a whole. I am eager, I am excited, and I am enthusiastic in this work. I want nothing else but to be used by my Lord and my Savior to further the Kingdom and to build up His church. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

As I move through my day today, I give Him praise. I look up and I rest knowing that He has me so well-covered. He alone is worthy of my praise. He alone is worthy of my adoration. He alone is worthy of my devotion, my attention, and my love. I give Him this praise today for He has seen to my needs. He has provided richly, and He has cared for me completely. He alone is my Lord, my Savior, and my King. Selah!

January 30, 2016

Feeling Dejected

I cannot believe how poorly I feel this morning. First off, I didn't sleep well at all. I must have dreamed non-stop, and of those dreams, two were fairly frightening. I don't mean that they were evil type-dreams (you know, scary monster things), rather they were dreams that upset me and caused me to cry in my sleep. Weird, I know, but I felt like I was crying in my sleep. I saw myself upset, crying, and then I could feel those same emotions well up inside of me. I hate those type of dreams. You always wake up feeling like you have lived through the war. I just hate it when I dream this way.

I am sure the reason why I am dreaming like this is because of my impending exams. I mean, I am so stressed, absolutely and completely stressed, over the process. I am confident, mind you, and I feel good about the outcome, but my body, my mind, and well, my spirit are overwhelmed by what I am trying to do. I know the Lord has me well-covered, and I know that I am in good shape study-wise, but the overall stress, the pressure, and the looming deadline are all working together to place an extra toll on me physically and mentally.

Second, there is the issue of my situation here at home. I am doing okay at home, but part of me simply wants all this to be over. I mean, over soon. I love my parents, and I have enjoyed our time together, but now I want to move on, to move away, and to be settled in my own right. I want my life, the life God has promised to me, and that life is some where else. I want to be free, I guess you could say, I want out of this cage I feel I am in. I know, I know...I walked into this cage. I did it. I chose to do this thing, and now I feel stuck here. I want to be free to go and to do as I please. I want to travel. I want to live freely. I want to be responsible in my own right, to be a grown up again.

Furthermore, I want some space of my own. I need my own space. I am tired of sharing my life with my family. I always say "I don't mind" but the truth is that I do mind, I do mind. I want my own things, in my own place, and to do with them what makes sense to me. I want to be free from the extra responsibility I bear, and I want to start my life over.

What is His Will

Psalm 91 is a source of comfort to me this good day. Though I feel downtrodden and dejected, yes even depressed, I am reminded of the goodness of my Lord and Savior. This psalm reminds me how well He has me covered and that His promises are sure.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I know the Lord will rescue me. I know He will protect me. I know that He is my help in times of trouble, and I know that no matter where I go, He is there for me. Still, this good day, I feel so awful, so worn out. I feel as though I am living through this veil of darkness, and I cannot see what is really going on, what is really happening to me. 

I want so much to have everything be His will, His way, and for me to abide in Him and His word. I want so much to see His goodness prevail, His glory to be revealed, and to walk in such a way that every day, I am demonstrating to others His grace. Yes, I want to be about His business, to spend my days in His presence, and to know, to really KNOW Him. I cannot explain what I feel inside or how desperate I feel. I feel as if I am about to die, and that I am clinging to a life preserver. I want to be rescued. I want to be set free. I want to go and to do what He is calling me to do, but I am trapped. I am stuck. I am unable to move.

Help me, Lord! Help me to move so I can go and do what you ask of me. Help me to achieve everything you have called me to do. Help me to see your hand now as it rests upon me. Help me to feel your steady pressure as you calm my troubled spirit, and as you remind me that you love me, care for me, and have me so well covered. You alone are God, and I look up, I look up this good, good day.

I think what hurts the most today is the fact that where I am is right where He intends for me to be. I mean, I am doing the thing He has called me to do. I am at the job of His choosing. I am studying for my exams because it is His will. All of this is to say that I am right where I am supposed to be on His plan and His timeline. However, what I feel is oppression, and that means that my enemy has gotten a foothold in my life somehow. Yes, I know what to do -- I must stand and lift up my shield of faith and the mighty sword of the Spirit (the Word of Truth) -- and I must take my place as a warrior to defend against his wiles and attack. Still,  I also know that what I feel is the result of a very long and hard fought war of ideas, of theoretical teaching, and that my brain has contemplated such important thoughts, such important content. This is all vitally important to His work, and I must learn it, understand it, and then be able to use it. This synthesizing is draining me, and that is taking its toll too. It is just the process of learning content for application that wears me out. I must know this material, not just to pass my exams, but so I can use it for His name and His praise. I must do this for Him, not for me, and that knowledge has worn me down. It is a heady thing to be used by the hand of God, and while I take no credit for what I have done, the fact doesn't escape my notice: God has chosen me for this purpose and He has called and equipped me for His work. It is an awesome and mighty thing to be used by God in this way. I take my role, my calling very seriously, and the heaviness I feel is the responsibility He has given to me. Thus, today, I march on. Even though I don't feel well. I don't even feel like marching. I want to crawl back into bed and just stay there for a couple more hours. I want to cover my head and stay inside. I don't want to do the work that I must this day. I want to go home, all the way home, home to where He is and where I will finally be at rest.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The words of Robert Frost well up in my mind (thank you, Dr. John Galm, for sharing your love of Frost with me). I think about these words (and those of Mending Walls) all the time. Frost's poetry often resonates with me, and this one in particular, reminds me of the journey I am on, and the long way I have to go before I am home. There are tasks to be completed, things to be done, and yes, "miles to go before I sleep." I must do this work, and as I am called, so I am equipped. It is a trial at times, a challenge, and often, difficult and dark like those dark woods of this poem. I know I must plod on, and I must continue to fight through to the end. My Lord is with me, He beckons me homeward. I press on, I press on, I press on.

My heart is heavy today, yet I know that what I am suffering with is nothing compared to what my sisters and brothers in Christ suffer daily. The Lord has graciously provided for me. He has made a way possible, and as such, I am able to withstand the pressure and the pain that I suffer. He has made a way for me, and it is a good way, a very good way. Today, I look up, and I look forward. I know that this day will pass just like the previous days have passed. I press on, and I remember that what I am called to do, what He asks me to do, it will be completed in time and through His provision, His guidance, and His facilitation. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

January 29, 2016

Feeling Better

It is a blessed Friday. I am glad this week is over, even though I am beginning the turn into the final two week stretch leading up to my comprehensive exams. I am excited and panicked, all at once, but overall, I feel good about my progress, and I feel confident that the Lord is going to help me through it all. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

I woke up this morning with such a hangover! Yes, I felt like I had a hangover, even though I don't drink (LOL!) I just had that feeling like my insides were hanging on the outside of me. I am not sure why, but between the headache and body aches, I thought "Ugh! Did a truck run over me last night?" I hope I am not getting sick. I don't think I am. I think it is stress and the fact that the past couple weeks I have had a number of not-so-restful nights. I am sleeping, it is just that my mind races, and I typically have one or more unpleasant dreams during the night. My prayer is that all of this goes away as soon as I complete my written exams. My prayer is that it will go away very, very soon. Sigh!

Today is a good day. No matter how I feel, today is a good day. It is Friday, as stated above, and that means that I am at the "weekend!" Hooray! I am ready to finish my study outlines (for my answers), and get to cramming (well, intensive review). The past four weeks have been more about book reviews and analyzing patterns, themes and overarching questions -- all in preparation for what my professors might ask me on the exam. This week and next (coming up), my process is to review my answer outlines and then to work through my shorter notes and note cards as I memorize what I need to know the most. My plan has been to start very broad and work to this point. I may not have done it correctly, but at the least, I did it my way (as the song goes). I tried to study the way others were doing it, and it never clicked for me. I found that at the mid-point, I needed a new plan, and I came up (well, the Lord placed it on my mind) this way where I reviewed my books (at about 6 weeks out), and then began analyzing the questions (at 4 weeks out). I have been working on building outlines that could be memorized because frankly, there is only so much that I can memorize and recall with proficiency.

Some of my colleagues processed volumes of data and then regurgitated it in what they affectionately called "a brain dump." I tried that a couple times, and I failed miserably at it. Instead, I am creating outlines of key areas that are "chunked" into memorable themes. This is allowing me to remember a "ticket" rather than the entire contents of the ticket (if that makes sense). Think of it like a coat check at a fancy hotel or even. You give your personal contents to the coat check person and they give you a claim ticket. They keep your goods safe while you enjoy the event. When you are ready to leave, you give them your ticket, and you reclaim your coat, hat and bag.

I am doing something similar. I am creating claim tickets so to speak, one page outlines of how I would approach the subject and the possible questions about it. I am organizing the outline around key themes so that I can recall a writer and their theme. I may not recall specific quotes, but I can recall what the writer emphasized. This way I can talk about either the writer or his/her theme with some measure of recall.

I knew early on that I wouldn't be able to recall enough "quoted" material to make a dent in this exam, so to try and force myself to do it made me worry about what I would actually have as a product. I mean, what is more important? Quotes or themes? To me, a perfect case would include both, but with limited time, a theme is a better, more robust, and practical. You can work with a theme, but a quote is very specific and it is tied to one piece of thread only (the book, the writer, or a narrow section of a text).

No, my process might not work well for anyone else, and who knows how well it will work for me either. I am trusting the Lord that this is what He wants me to do to, and I am following what I believe is the plan He placed in my little pea-brain. I mean, I didn't sit down and say "Okay, Carol, let's figure out how to do this thing!" Nope, not at all. I did pray. I asked the Lord to guide me and to show me a way that would work for me. Next thing I know, He has placed this idea in my head. I write it down on a piece of paper, and then I start to think about it, play with it, and in the end, create a mini-study system built around it. I give Him all the praise, the glory and the honor -- He has done this -- and in the end, He will receive all the glory for whatever I accomplish.

My process, the battle over the process, has been hard fought. I couldn't wrap my head around doing things this way, but once I gave in, relented, and trusted Him, I relaxed and I started to make really good progress. I started to see how I was able to piece together different books, theories, and themes to make some "whole" out of them. The Lord is good, He is so very good to me. I cannot tell you what it means to me to know that I am not doing this alone. He will be with me. When I go into my exams, He will be right there with me, sitting beside me and holding my hand. I know He will be helping me to recall these outlines and the bullet points so that I can have enough content to actually write an essay answer.

Making Good Headway and Getting Ready for Next Steps

So in all, I feel really good about the path I am on. I am also feeling better about the job opportunities that have recently come my way. I was stressed yesterday regarding the offer at GCU. Well, it isn't an offer, just a heads up to say that there may be an opening in the department. I thought about it all day, and in the end, I decided that should the Lord choose this for me, so be it. However, I do not feel any peace or calm in the idea of remaining here in AZ. No, I feel calm and peace when I think about moving, and I feel less stress over the idea of moving elsewhere. I just believe that while this would be a great thing if it was His will, that in truth, it is not His will for me. Not now, not now, anyway.

I believe that the Lord is calling me to ministry and that ministry is not in Phoenix. I cannot be swayed by the thought of a full-time position if that position will not facilitate His ministry calling. Keep in mind that while I do believe I am called to teach (now for sure), I am also called to do a very specific task and that is to teach the church how to communicate more effectively. This is the ministry that the Lord has laid on my heart for the past 10-12 years, and at this point, I know and I am convinced that this is the specific work I will do for the rest of my life. It is not tied to teaching students English or communications. It is tied to teaching the Church, and that requires a global focus and work that will develop materials and other resources to be used by churches around the world. I know this, I feel it in my bones, so to speak, and this is my MINISTRY. So while teaching is a fulfillment of His call too, my life is not to be about the job. The Lord has been so specific on this point. He will provide a good job for me, but my life is to be about this specific ministry work. I am to GO AND TO DO THIS WORK. Thus, it is really easy to see how a full-time job here could seem like His will for me. It would solve the income problem, provide a way to care for my parents and keep a roof over my son's head. It seems like a good fit. But, it doesn't do the MINISTRY part that I know, I feel deep down inside, is not here in Phoenix. It doesn't meet His specific calling on my life. I know that I am to go and do this specific work in another state. I am to go and do it. Phoenix is where I am at present, but it is not where the Lord intends to keep me. I am certain of this fact.

I know this doesn't make sense, but to me, it does. I mean, I get the fact that for many people, being called to teach is a calling in and of itself. I get this from well-meaning friends and family all the time. Teaching is a noble profession, so being called to teach is the MINISTRY. I have no issue with this point, and while I agree that I am called to mentor, to encourage, and to equip, I see how God is using my job as a teacher to give me plenty of opportunity to experience this gift first hand. But, God has a plan for my life that is bigger than teaching college. My PhD was not to teach college. It was for ministry, for communication, and for me to be prepared to train and equip leaders in the church. This is why He called me to Regent University. If He had wanted me to get a PhD for teaching, I could have gone to ASU or another local school and studied English. I could have completed my doctorate locally if that was His plan. But, no. The Lord put Regent on my heart, and Communications, in specific, because this was the course of study I needed to know so I could do this very specific work. The job will benefit from that degree, don't get me wrong, but it is a side benefit, and not the "whole enchilada" as they say. I am to use my studies for His work only. I am to use what I have learned to benefit the Church, and that means, while I do overlap some, I do teach Communication courses some times, the Lord has given me a job teaching English Composition and a Ministry teaching Communication. Two different things, two different audiences, and two different outcomes.

My life then is predicated on His will first and foremost. I am to go and do this work first. The teaching, the job, comes second. I have always known that the Lord intended to meet my practical needs with a teaching job. My spiritual and ministry needs would be met in a different way, through different means, and through a different plan completely. Therefore, where I go is 100% directed by His plan for ministry, and not for teaching. I am to focus on His way, and that means that my number one priority now is my exams, my proposal defense and my dissertation (and later the defense for it). I still have a year to go, so I must remain focused and fixed on this task at hand. I believe now that the job the Lord has for me will come in time, but not until I am ABD and ready to take on more work. So for now, I continue to trust Him to provide and meet my needs. I continue to look for His open door, and I wait patiently for the door that leads me to the place of His choosing. I look forward to His going before me, making a way for me, and then leading me to that place of wonderful safety, ministry, and calling. He has this all in His good, good hand, and I simply need to rest and to trust Him to provide for me. In His time, that is, in His good, good time. Selah!

Thus today, I look up. I wait, and I watch, and I rest. I know He will do this, He will see me through to the end of every task, every test, and every high mountain. I am holding on to His hand, tightly, and without fear of being let go. I am holding on to Him, and He has me right where He wants me to be -- 100% wholly dependent on Him for His provision, His comfort, and His will. He is good, so very good to me.

The End is Near

As I consider my life today, I realize just how close I am to seeing the end of all things. In less than one year, I will walk in my graduation ceremony at Regent University. I will enjoy the blessing of graduating with some of my colleagues, and I will be finished with this major and mighty task. I am excited to be finished. I am excited to see the end. I am also feeling excited about what lays ahead for me. I am excited about what the Lord wants for me as far as those next steps. I mean wherever He leads me, there is a whole lot of work to be done. And, this excites me. I am filled with eager anticipation about it. I mean, I want to go so badly, to go to where I think He is leading me, and I want to start this important work. I want to see His glory unveiled so I can bask in His brightness, His luminescence, His warmth and His shine. Yes, I want to be hid in that cleft, and to see His glory pass by me. I want to see Him fulfill the promises He has made to me, and I want to cheer as He does it. I want to experience that amazing moment when I see, really SEE Him do all the things He has spoken to me, told me that He would do through me. I want all this to come to pass because 1) I would then be able to bear great testimony to His ability and not mine; 2) I could experience His power and His authority as it is active in and through my life; and 3) I would know that this process, learning how to walk with Him, learning from Him, etc., was practical and fruitful. Yes, I want to see the end of all of these things come to pass so I can say, "Yes, Lord, You did as you said you would do!" In this way, my praises are not out of relief, which is how they are so often, but rather, they will be out of exclamation bearing testimony to His goodness, His way, and His will in and through my life! Selah!

With this in mind, I say that I am good. I am so very good. I may not have everything I need today, but I have a lot of what I need. I may not fully understand what the Lord intends to do through me, but I know that He will do His work. I am so ready to do His work. I am so ready to take these next steps. I am so ready to follow Him wherever He leads me. I want to go, I want to do this thing that He has laid on my heart and placed into my mind. I know His plan is good, and I know that I can trust Him to bring it to pass. I think now what I struggle with the most is His timing. I get impatient still, far too often, and that works to pull me off track at times. I have to stay fixed, firmly fixed on these three things:
  1. My studies at Regent
  2. My job as a teacher
  3. My hope for a future in ministry
These are the three things I am most certain of in my life. I am to finish my PhD and graduate. I am to continue on this path as a teacher for the rest of my working days (until 70). I am to look to the future for a life of full-time ministry (starting soon and lasting well until my elder years). This is what I know. This is what I am confident will come to pass. This is what I look forward to and what I am waiting for Him to provide to me. Until they come to pass, I will remain on the path I am on. Never deviating, never looking to the left or the right. I am focused -- dead on -- until He brings these things to pass in my life. 

Dear Lord,

I ask today that you clear my mind from all the extraneous clutter that is causing me to be confused over your way and your will for my life. Remove any thoughts that are not aligned with your will, and confirm to me my way. Let me see that what I am doing and thinking is your WILL. I want to know for sure, for certain that the way I am walking is 100% your WAY. I ask now that you will remove all people, all passions, and all poisons from my life -- everything that is not working together to bring your good into my life. I ask Lord that you will provide for every need, and that you will keep your promises to me. I know Lord that I must remain constant, not change my affections for anyone or any thing, so I ask that you will reorient my heart, my mind, and my will so that it matches your will. I want to walk in your way, keep your will, and abide in your word. I want to go where you send me, do the work you have prepared for me to do, and live in the place of your choosing. I want to be 100% wholly devoted to you, and to you alone, and in doing so, I want to experience your goodness in every area of my life. I love you, Lord, and I adore you, and I worship you this good, good day. Amen, so be it. Selah!

January 28, 2016

Sensing Movement and What May be Next

It is Thursday, and I am at home resting. Yes, I am thanking the Lord for this blessed day. It has been a challenge for me lately, just to keep all my little balls up in the air and to do everything that "needs doing." I am struggling some today, just because I am faced with some choices that have recently come my way. As weird as it may seem, I am feeling uncertain about a couple possible "open doors." You know the saying that goes,

When God closes a door, He will open another.

Well, lately it seems that the Lord is opening doors for me. At the least, I think so. Let me explain...

Late last week, I received an email from Ohio Christian University asking me to complete their next step in the hiring process. I started Faculty Orientation on Monday, and I have until February 5th to complete it. After that point, I will assigned to a class with a mentor, and I will be reviewed as to my ability to facilitate online courses. I am happy to have this teaching opportunity, but now that I have been immersed in the online experience, I see how much work is involved in facilitating courses. I realize that the class structure is very specific to this school, and while I am thankful for this opportunity, I wonder if it really is a good thing for me (time-wise). Still, I believe God opened this door for me, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Yesterday, while on my way to my last class of the day, I received an email from Regent University asking me to interview for an online adjunct position. I had applied back in December, and it has taken some time for my materials to get to this point. I am ecstatic to think I might get to teach at my alma mater, and the opportunity clearly seems to be of the Lord's doing.

Then, earlier today, I received an email from my department mentor asking if I would be interested in applying for a full-time contract position at GCU. This is a job that hasn't been posted yet, but apparently it is for fall 2016. I would love to teach at GCU, but it seems odd that the Lord would be putting on my heart the desire to "go" and then provide a reason to "stay" put.  I am not sure what to do, or whether this position is of His choosing or not. It is very odd that they would contact me about it since they rarely have department openings in English. Still, the thought is warming to me -- I really do like to teach at this school, and I do enjoy the English department.

I guess the problem is that I feel so certain that God is calling me to move. I mean, I have felt this way for almost 10 years, and now it seems like He is asking me to stay for a while longer. There are many good reasons to stay put. I mean, my parents need me and my son has one more year of school. I can see positives to working full-time, after all, this is what I have been saying I wanted. Now, the Lord seems to be opening this door. Is He? Or is it just circumstance? I don't know, I just don't know.

Moving or Staying Put?

I have gotten used to the idea of moving, and I have come to look forward to the day when the Lord would choose to move me to another place. I have been hoping that place would be in the East, somewhere south or mid-central (not East coast), where I could experience a four-seasons climate. I also would like to live some place more moderately priced, where I could stay for the rest of my life. I don't want to up and move again, and the idea of moving several places has never really sat well with me. Now, I have to think about staying put, and well, I am not sure I am really happy about that at all.

I have said that I would go wherever He sent me, and I have always said that if He wanted me to stay here in Phoenix, well, I would agree to it. I have been here 20 years, and while the heat gets to me often, the truth is that it is not a bad place to live. Really, it is not a bad place. There are other places I would rather live, especially in the Midwest. I mean, I have a strong desire to live on a farm (a small farm), and to live in an older farm house. I am not a farm girl, per se, but I am open to it. I know that I need a job, and in fact the Lord has said to me very clearly, "Carol, you cannot move until you have a full-time job." He is right, of course. I mean, I cannot go anywhere without the resources to move. I need to take care of some business here before I could be in any position to move.

I was thinking about this very thing today. How for me to move anywhere, I would want to have my credit cards paid off, my student loan debt reduced, and some money in the bank. After all, if I wanted to purchase a home, my financial picture needs to look bright. I need a full-time job to cover me, and I need savings set aside (a down payment and some cash for expenses). Furthermore, if I did move someplace where there was snow, let's say, I would probably want to trade in my car for a small SUV. Other than these things, I think I could easily move to another state so long as I had a job there.

Lately, I have been feeling a pull toward the Midwest. I know, weird as it seems, the Lord seems to be putting Ohio on my heart. It is for ministry, not for teaching. It is where He would like me to do ministry, to build a ministry organization, and to minister to the "nones" that live there. It sounds weird, but I have this great sense of peace about going to Ohio. I know it snows there. I know practically no one there. I would be going to a place by myself where the Lord intended to start a ministry organization. Seems weird. Seems implausible. It sounds just like something He would do.

But my heart is tied to Phoenix and to Alabama, and how does Ohio fit into the mix. I don't know. My parents and son are here. My love lives in the deep south. Ohio isn't on anyone else's radar. What does this mean? Is the feeling, the sense of peace I have whenever I think about it, about moving there, wrong? I don't know.

I know that I need to complete my studies at Regent, and I know that I have wanted a full-time position for a long while. I mean, adjunct is great, but I cannot keep living on this low of pay. Still, I have to write a dissertation, so I thought that the full-time job would best come at the end of the process, in May of 2017, and not fall 2016. Yet, the Lord has been saying to me to consider working full-time this fall, so I have had in the back of my mind this idea that perhaps it would be August 2016 when He would start me some place as an Assistant Professor. I just didn't believe it would be in Phoenix. Now, granted, there is no guarantee on this job. In fact, I don't even have the spot on requirements so the job is a long shot. Still, it seems weird that the opportunity was advanced to me right now, right as I am starting to plan for next year. What are you up to Lord?

What I Want and What He Wants

My heart's desire is to be conformed to His image and likeness (character). My heart's desire is to do the work He has for me to do (to be of the same mind). My heart's desire is to always work unto Him, to bring Him glory and praise. Thus, the work I do is all about Him. All about Him. Now, I think that perhaps what I want is different. Perhaps what I want is to move to the dream-place of my childhood, to live on a farm in the Midwest. Why? Well, because that is what I remember most from my childhood visits to Indiana and Ohio. I remember what I thought life would be like growing up on a farm. I wanted that childhood, and while my own wasn't bad, it wasn't that dream of a place in the country, the white farmhouse with the red barn.

Now I think that perhaps the Lord intends to send me someplace similar, where I will finally have that dream, that desire. Yet, then I think how practical is it to think this way. I mean, I need to work, and I need a good job. I am blessed that today I paid my first premium for insurance. I am now covered with benefits thanks to Obamacare. I am not happy about the plan, per se, but I am covered, and Lord willing, I won't need to use it much. My prayer is to get real insurance through my employer some day, but until I do that, well I am at the least, safe should the unforeseen happen.

So in all, the Lord has opened a number of doors for me this January 2016. First off, I have extra work on the horizon in the form of online teaching. Second, there is a possibility of a full-time position locally. Third, I have benefits, praise be to God, and that means I can get to the dentist again for regular cleanings. Last, I should begin to pay down my credit cards, and start to make a dent in my financial portfolio soon. In short, it appears that whether or not this position comes to pass at GCU, the Lord is moving in my life, and He is preparing the way for me to go...to wherever He plans to settle me. I am trusting Him, and I am resting in His provision. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

January 25, 2016

T-Minus Two Weeks and...Panic!

I think it started yesterday. I woke up feeling this rush of anxiety as it surged over my entire body. My stomach churned, and I started to have that "anxious" feeling well up inside of me. I did my best to just ignore it, but by late last night, my stress level had gone through the roof. Intestinal issues followed, and by midnight, I was in a full-blown panic attack. ACK!

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

This morning, I am still feeling that same panic. The good news is that the intensity is easing, but there is still that "feeling" of uncertainty. I am starting to feel the press toward the end, the final approach of my impending exams, and well, I am beginning to worry (just a little bit). I think that today, my goal is to remain calm. I think that today, my plan is to let go of the worry and the stress and just let this pass. I think that today, my trust needs to be returned to center, placed once again right where it belongs -- in the marvelous and matchless ability of my loving Lord and Savior. Yes, my hope, my trust, and my rest all belong to Him this good, good day.

Realizing the Truth of the Situation

The past couple nights, I have slept fitfully. My nights have been filled with dreams, scenarios that all exhibit the same thing -- a loss of control. Either I am trying to escape some on-coming trial or doom or I am trying to get home (back to safety). I have been spending my nights running, hence the reason why I am so tired in the mornings. All this running, panic and escaping has made it difficult to be at rest.

I know that my due date is soon. You know, I see the calendar as the days are marked off. I cannot believe that it has been 14 weeks since I first started my study group. It has been 12 weeks since I started prepping. It has been 8 weeks since I started reviewing, and that it has been 6 weeks since I really began the "final countdown." Now, I have two weeks left to go, and frankly, I am feeling good about my progress. I have covered a lot of ground, taken time to review content deeply. I am still not 100% ready with details, but I am getting closer and closer to that point where I can say, "Okay, I am ready. Let's do this thing!"

The Lord has graciously provided a way for me to study. My way is different from my colleagues, but nonetheless, it has been serious and devoted to the task at hand. Some nights, I chose to rest instead of studying, but I think in all, I have applied myself well over the course of the past 16 weeks. Now, it is down to the finish line, and I am starting to panic a bit. I wonder, "Did I do enough? Did I study the right materials, the right books, the right way?" I cannot second-guess myself now, it is too late for second-guessing. I must simply push on, and push my way through these feelings of doubt and of insecurity. One thing that I am doing today -- right now, in fact -- is to recognize that the doubts and insecurities are real, and that they are for the most part, true. I mean, I do doubt my abilities. I do doubt my progress. I do doubt my memory. This is all truth. However, when I started this process, this whole program to prepare for and pass my qualification exams, I knew that there was no way I could do it on my own. There was NO WAY I could remember enough to pass a comprehensive exam. I knew it then, and I know it now. I knew that no matter how much I could retain, I simply couldn't factor in every possible question that my professors would think to ask me. There is no way I could have that much knowledge, to function with that much coolness to be able to handle what they "may or may not" throw at me. Thus, I let it go. I realized that I know a fraction, and it is a tiny fraction, of the history, theology, research methods, and theory of communication. My professors have over 100 years of knowledge between themselves (most have been teaching communication and publishing communication for 20 or more years). Therefore, as a new scholar to communication, I know a little bit about the field. I do my best to handle myself well, but frankly, I simply cannot compete with these seasoned professionals. 

Simply acknowledging my frailties is the starting point for humbly understanding my position in all of this. I am in a place of learning. I am in a place of learning more and more as the days pass by, and I am thankful for what I have learned thus far. I will never learn as much as my professors nor will I publish as much scholarship. Not now. Not at this point in my life. But I can learn more and that is my hope and my prayer. I hope to learn practical theory, the kind that has practical and applied outcomes because I want to help people, especially the church, learn how to communicate better -- among themselves and the world.  This is my ministry. This is my calling. So while I may not remember all the details, all the names of theorists or even the theories themselves, I know something of the field. I know something of the way it works. I am thankful and grateful for the knowledge that I have, for the courses I have been privileged to take, and for the learning that has enriched my life. I pray it continues on, and I pray that I never stop learning good practical theory that can be used by God for His praise, His honor, and His glory. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Today, I sit here and I think about all that has passed by me. I think about where I am on this road called life, and I think about where I am going. I felt so confident just a week ago. I felt so assured that I knew what God wanted me to do, where He was sending me, and how I was to get there. But today, I am confused again, feeling daunted, and wondering if I will ever really KNOW His will for my life. I pray that I continue to receive clarity, that I can do good practical work, and that I can come to know and to understand what He desires for my life. Yes, Lord, may it be so. Until then, I think to myself -- I must press on. I must press on, and I must continue down this path, even though I don't know where I am going, even though I cannot see that far down the road. He is good. He knows the way. He is leading me on this path for His name and His praise. Selah!

It has been a difficult journey, thus far, and while I am apprehensive of the outcome (sure of it, but still feeling a bit uncertain), I know that He will never leave me. He has promised me so. I can trust in His nature and His character, and in His abilities to do what He has said. He will keep His word. He will do what He has promised. He is reliable. He is good. He is sure. He is able. I know this. I know this. I know this.

Today, I am deciding to let the fear subside. I cannot allow it to control my thoughts, to manage my stress level like this. No, I must let it go. I must look up, I must wait, and I must abide in Him. He is the Vine, and I am only the branch. He is good, so very good to me.

Remember to look up is key. I must look up and I must wait on Him to provide for me. I am thankful this good day. I received confirmation that my scholarship will finally be applied to my tuition, so hopefully this means, I will receive another refund from Regent University. I need these funds to survive through the summer, and I need to take care of last year's extra expense (flying to VA). I have another trip for February, and well, that expense must be paid for some way. I am thankful to Regent University for their gracious provision of a scholarship to help me with aid. I am thankful to God for clearing the way for me to fly there without a passport (AZ received an extension on the REAL ID Act so I can still use my driver's license until 2018). I am so grateful to the way the Lord has provided for me along the way. Each need has been covered. He says to me, "I have you well-covered," and while I believe Him, I still question "How so?" I don't always see the covering, yet I know it is there. I don't always see the answer, yet I know He has one for me. I don't always see the way, but I do not doubt that it exists. I believe it does, and I use and exercise my faith as a measure to ensure that I continue to rely on Him and not on my own hands, my own way, or my own intelligence. He is everything, and I am nothing (in comparison). I am limited and fragile, and He is omnipotent and all-powerful. He is everything, and in and through Him, there is no end, no beginning. Just a lot of middle -- that spans time and space -- and is eternal. I love the Lord, and I rest my case this good, good day. He is good, and He has me so well-covered.

January 24, 2016

Next Steps and Other Things

It is a bright and beautiful Sunday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, the weather is delightful, and the next week's forecast is for more of the same -- highs in the mid-70s with no rain in sight. What a blessing for me! I sure do miss the in-climate weather that the Midwest, South and East are experiencing, but the fact remains, there is no better time to be in AZ than in the late winter and early spring. It is absolutely DELIGHTFUL!

I am home today, suffering with some issues that required me to do "church at home." It has been a hard fought battle with me, this doing "church" business. And, in truth, I have struggled with church for the past ten years. I guess there is simply too much water under that bridge for me to go back, to find a home at my old church. My parents church is not quite right, even though I did attend there for 7-8 years. I was there for my son's benefit, and I struggled with the theological perspective presented and with the overall focus of the ministry. I looked aside for a very long time, and when the time came to change churches, I went back to my former home church. The problem was and is -- you can never go home. Yes, my home church is nonexistent, and what is there now is a good thing, a God thing, but the memories are too strong, and the personal issues too great, and well, I simply cannot overcome the way I feel. Not now. Not now. Perhaps in time, perhaps after I move away from this area. I don't know, I just know that what I feel is not going to go away anytime soon. Sigh.

I made the decision today to let this pass, to let it go. I think the reason I am feeling poorly this morning is because of something my parent's pastor said to me yesterday. He is a nice man, and I like him. But, he asked where I was attending, and it was the way he said it that bothered me. I know he didn't mean to offend me, and I am sure he had no idea of my issues with the church itself. I think he was being kind and doing the "pastoral thing." I mumbled my answer, but it didn't sit well with me. Clearly, my feelings on the matter were showing, and my answer, well, it didn't sit well with him either. Sigh.

I spent the entire night tossing and turning. My sleep was disturbed by imagery that was upsetting, and some of my dreams were clearly the kind that suggested to me that what I am experiencing in the reality of daylight (my lack of control, etc.) was crossing over into the unreality of nighttime. I could tell that my dreams were simply the result of some of the mental issues I am struggling with right now. But there was more to these images, and I know that part of what I experience last night was the stress over "where to fellowship for church." Yes, my Sundays are no longer a day of rest. I stress, I worry, and I fret over them. This has been the case for nearly two months now, and the problem doesn't seem to be going away. Sigh.

What Do I Do?

Well, I really have two choices. I can ignore the symptoms or I can go to the doctor and ask for help. I have tried ignoring the symptoms for a while now -- almost a full year -- and they simply are not going away. Every Sunday I feel the exact same way. I feel pressured to attend a church I cannot call my home. I feel pressured to go there and to look past what I see, who I see, and to put on a happy face that says "I am okay with it." I have been lying to myself for a year now. I have been telling myself that it is okay, I am the bigger person, and that I can overcome this emotional struggle. But the truth is that I cannot. I have tried, for sure. I have given it the good old college try, but I cannot do it. I am depressed whenever I cross the threshold of the parking lot. What's more...the depression has started to meet me here at home. I feel it, I sense the stress building on Saturday night, and well, what happens? I usually wake up sick, feeling unwell, and then I end up not going anywhere at all.

I know it is psychosomatic. You know, all in my head. I accept that as truth because I believe that this is mostly true. Yes, it is emotional and mental, and yes, I am unable to control my feelings on the matter. As I repress my feelings, I make myself sick. It happens. I used to live this way years ago. I know better. Still, it happens. I just cannot get over this problem, this emotional pain, and I feel like I can either hide it (which is what I am doing) or address it (trying to, anyhow) or deal with it (plan C).

I figure I can do either of these choices, but only one will bring me healing. I need to address the symptoms and then deal with them. I tried ignoring them, putting on the happy face as stated above, but that clearly didn't work for me. Now, I need to look at the problem squarely and simply deal with the fact that what I feel is OK, accept it, and move on. Moving on.

Moving on is a challenge, especially when it is choice that someone else has made for you. I shouldn't be in this situation. I mean, really, I didn't ask to be where I am. I didn't ask to lose my life, my whole life. No, I accepted that fate six years ago, and as a result, I have been on a whirl-ride trying to stand upright and make sense, some sort of sense out of what I am to do, where I am to go, and how I am to get there. It has been difficult, make no mistake, and there have been times when the ride felt so fun, so exciting, and so exhilarating. But, there have also been times when I have felt sick, so sick that I thought I would not be able to lift my head. I have worn a brave face, put on the "happy outlook," and preached the message of hope, of promise, and of trust in the goodness of God. I believe what I preach, mind you, it is just that there have been times, many times, when I was "faking it until I make it" (saying it so I would believe it).

The truth be told, I am unhappy with many things in my life. I try not to focus on my unhappiness, but sometimes the sadness just overwhelms me, and I find it difficult to keep moving forward. I know I put on a good show, always perky, always smiling, but there are days when I just feel so alone, so lost, and so confused that I want to go home -- all the way home. I don't want to play this game anymore. I want to get off this ride. I want to go home.

Today is a day when I want to go home -- to His home. I want to be with the Lord and just say "let this be over, please?" I know that is not His will, and that He does understand my frustration and my struggle. He wants me to overcome, to be tough, and to hang in there. You know, He wants me to finish this race strong. I want to do that as well, but my heart is feeling so low, and my emotional state is in flux. I really would rather give up, give in, and just get it over with. Know what I mean?

Making Difficult Choices and the Road Ahead

As I process these thoughts, one thing comes to mind. I am the product of my own making. I cannot blame the Lord for choices I made that brought me to this place of sorrow. Nope. I am 100% responsible for my own choices, the good ones and the not-so-good ones. I am 100% in the driver's seat when it comes to accepting the sum total of my past actions. I said "yes." I consented. I agreed. I didn't say "no." I didn't stand my ground, and as a result, I suffered negative consequences that have had far reaching repercussions on my life. The storms and waves that crash over me, well, they are the result of some awfully big boulders I allowed to drop right into the middle of the pond I call "life."

I'd like to blame my ex-husband for causing all the sorrow in my life, but that would be unfair. Yes, he is responsible for his actions too, but I allowed so much of what became of our life to happen simply because I was unwilling to go against him or his mother. I didn't stand up for what I believed was right. I didn't say "no way, Jose!" and mean it. I looked the other way, I gave up, and in doing so, I allowed other people to have say, to have sway, and to have authority over me. The result was a series of really bad choices that right now are causing me a lot of pain, a lot of sorrow, and a lot of heart ache. Yes, right now, with the way I feel, the deep and profound sadness I am experiencing, I know that the cause of these feelings is my past, my history, and my experiences of the last 8-10 years. Yes, all of these experiences are coalescing right now and driving these feelings of emotional un-wellness. I know it, I accept it, and now I am ready to deal with it. Let's move on.

When I look back over the course of my life, I see so many choices, so many opportunities. I had options, you know, options for my life. I could have chosen to walk a different path, and the outcome, certainly would have been different. I could have gone a different route, and frankly, while there would have been no guarantees of happiness, the result surely would have been different from what I experienced on this track. Yes, I had choices, plenty of choices, and in the end, I went the way I did because I refused to accept the Lord's will for my life. I refused to accept His call, and in doing so, I chose a way that I believed would be "acceptable to Him." I acted like Cain and I gave an unacceptable sacrifice to the Lord. The result was a life that showed me what disobedience was all about. Let me explain...

When I was sixteen, I heard the Lord's voice speak to me. I don't remember what it was like or if I really "heard" Him speak to me, but I remember the experience, and I remember how that experience changed me. I heard Him say something that made me take notice, made me listen, and made me believe (no other words fit) that He had a very special plan for my life. I heard Him speak, move me to action, and in doing so, I began to walk in a different way. My whole life was changed in one moment. I remember the details well -- I was standing at my bedroom window. I was crying about something, probably the hurt I was experiencing, the sadness over having left my friends in IL and the loneliness I felt in this new place, living in San Jose. I felt Him touch me, move me, and my heart responded. I heard Him speak into my spirit and say that He had a plan for my life, and that His plan was good. I had to believe Him, of course, and I had to obey. I remember this part clearly. I had to follow Him, and do what He was asking me to do. I responded, not audibly, at the least, I don't recall saying anything. It was more that I felt, really felt that He was telling me the truth, that God, the God of the heavens was telling me that my life was going to turn out right, and that I would come to know Him very intimately and personally.

It was not long after that "experience" that I began to make changes to my life. I began obsessed with learning His word. I became increasingly aware of my friendships, and I distanced myself from some people who weren't thinking like me, who didn't believe what I believed. I embraced the church, and I became very active in ministry. I was only 16, going on 17, but I started to teach Sunday School, and I began to immerse myself in everything related to God, to His work, and to His way.

My life changed instantaneously, and I began to see certain things. I began to see that His plan for my life would require a measure of holiness, of righteousness, and of purity. I wasn't interested in boys (well, outside of thinking they were cute). I was interested in God. My family told me I was turning into a "Jesus Freak," and I needed to stop it. I didn't care. I loved what was happening to me, even if I didn't understand how to fit in with the in-crowd or even feel like my life had purpose. I was confused most of the time, still struggling to overcome doubts and insecurities, and for the most part, trying so very hard to figure "life out."

It wasn't until I was 20 when I realized that God was calling me into teaching. I had started college, but there wasn't much happening in my life. A bad breakup had left me reeling and my grades were falling as a result. I was messed up, all over the place, and then mysteriously, I felt the Lord say to me "Why don't you become a teacher?" I remember thinking, "Lord, I would like that, I would like that a lot." But the pain of the breakup and some other personal  issues from my former church (broken friendships, betrayals, etc.) just made it impossible for me to imagine that I could do anything of the sort. I felt like such a loser, such a total loser. I tried to get advice from school, from counselors and teachers, and I sought my parents for guidance. My parents simply refused to help me, which left me all the more alone and struggling to understand what was happening to me. How could I explain to them what I felt inside? You see, they didn't believe God communicated personally to His followers. Sure, they believed He did communicate, but only through His word and the pastor's sermon. No, they didn't buy into any personal revelation. They thought I was crazy.

In the end, I dropped out of school and I went to work. This was not the best choice for me, and I floundered for a while. I went back with my old boyfriend for a short while only to find that he was two-timing me. I broke up with him, changed churches, and bam! I met my ex-husband on the rebound. My ex was four years older than I was, and well, he seemed to have his whole life together. I bought his line, and in a short time, we were inseparable. I thought "this is it," this is what I was supposed to do with my life. I could imagine us being married, having children, and living the model Christian life. It seemed so good, so good. But in hindsight, it was a lie. It was all a lie, and while I don't doubt that he was a believer during those formative years, I do believe that his faith was very shallow, and for all intents and purposes, it was put on as a mask to keep his parents from knowing the truth about what he was really doing, thinking, and feeling.

I married after two years of dating, and in those two years, I came to move farther and farther away from God's call. I knew it. I remember a pastor who came to our church and preached on God's calling. I was convicted, strongly convicted, and I had doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. I remember praying about it, and asking the Lord if I was heading in the right direction. I knew the answer, I knew it, but I refused to accept it. I talked with my then fiance about it as well, about what I thought God was calling me to do, and he flatly rebuked me. He didn't want to follow after me. He didn't want to go where the Lord was leading me. I felt so lost. How could I believe one thing, but be experiencing something completely different? My best option was to turn around and head back to where I last felt, no knew, I was in the Lord's will. But, rather than turn around, and head back to where He wanted me to be, I plodded on, pushing the doubts behind me. I told myself that I didn't believe the doubts were real, and that this "could be" His will for me.

I guess you could say that all of this early "experience" was His will for my life. It would be weird to think that way, but when you factor everything into the mix, the person I am today, well, clearly these early experiences worked together to create His will. The choices I made, I made in disobedience to His guidance and His advice. I walked in my own way, and in doing so, I experienced a lot of things that perhaps the Lord had intended for me to avoid. I suffered great sorrow, and while that sorrow almost took my life (twice), I realize now that it was all part of the way I have come to rely on Him. So while it wasn't His will for me to suffer such sorrow, it was His will for me to be conformed to His image, which unfortunately is as a "Man of Sorrows." And while the choices weren't His expressed will for me, per se, the outcome was. The Lord wanted me to be strong, to be a person of faith, and to be ready to do His work. In order to facilitate that outcome of His will, I had to learn how to be a strong person of faith. In short, I had to learn how to be established in faith, and for me, that meant experiencing situations and circumstances that strengthened, deepened, and at times, challenged my faith so that it would grow.

Where Am I Today

I am right where He wants me to be. I may not like it all, you know, like all the issues that are still left to be resolved,  but I do know that I am where He wants me to be -- for now -- that is.

As I think about this today, I realize that much of what I am still dealing with, as in the emotional issues, the sorrow, etc., is leftover baggage from my married life. It is hard to move on from a major event such as the dissolution of marriage. It is hard to pick up the stakes and move on. I have made good strides in moving forward, in heading in the direction I believe He is calling me to go, but I still carry some baggage, some small cases, that simply need to be jettisoned over the bridge, metaphorically speaking. Yes, there are some issues that are still unresolved, some tension that at times brings up my deep inner sorrow and sadness, and as a result, causes it to overflow into other areas of my life. I know this is the case. I know it, and I know that to be finally free from these things, I must move forward far enough to be distanced from their reach. I have done this already in a number of other areas in my life. I have distanced myself from my former in-laws and spouses family. I have walked away from the negative talk, the downward glances, and the stigma of divorce as best as I could, but I realized today, right now as a matter of fact, that one of the reasons why I cannot attend my former "home church" is simply because of the stigma of that label. You see, while I know divorce people are accepted in this place, the problem is that my former family ties are strong there, and there are many, many people who knew me as "married," and who simply cannot accept me as "divorced." I feel it whenever I walk on campus. I feel it when I sit in the sanctuary. I am divorced, and this is not acceptable -- not for me -- anyway.

The stigma of divorce will remain with me as a label for the rest of my life. Even if the Lord chooses for me to remarry, I will be a divorced, remarried woman. You see, I can never get away from it. I may say "single" on applications, but the truth is that I am divorced. End of story.

I knew this would be the case when the Lord asked me to choose: choose to remain married, but live singly or divorce and bear the stigma attached to it. I chose the latter because I felt like I was stuck forever in limbo land. I know that I had permission to divorce, that is not what I am saying, I am just saying that there is a stigma in the church regarding divorce, and the Lord wanted me to carefully consider the ramifications of becoming a divorced person.

Dealing with the Truth

Now, I have to deal with the truth, and I have to figure out a way to live with it. Okay, so I get it. I do. I think what has to happen is that I need to restart my life elsewhere. It isn't about running away, it is simply about starting over. I think that perhaps this is why the Lord put 2016-2017 into my head regarding relocating. I need to relocate for my health, my well-being, my good. I've been saying that I need to move for a job, but the truth is that I need to move for a fresh start. I need to move so that I can put the past behind me. I know some people can remain, live in the same place, but I have done this now for the past six years, and it is not working for me. I need to go, to move, to make a life for myself. I want this badly, and I want to go soon.

This means that while the issue with "church" started me down this road, I realize that the real issue isn't the church, but my past. My past will not leave me alone until I move away from it. The farther I distance myself from my past, the better off I will be. I need to start some place where I have a clean slate, a new and fresh life. I won't be ready to do this for a while yet, but I believe this is why the Lord has put the desire into my heart to move. I have looked at this the wrong way. I have considered staying put to take care of my parents, to facilitate my son's schooling, etc. But in all of that, I couldn't reconcile the way I felt about staying. I want to go and to experience new life. To do this, I need to make some big bold changes to my life now. I need to get a job that will take me away from here (Phoenix), and I need to move to a place where I can be settled, even if for a short time (a few years) until the Lord is ready to plant me where He wants me to grow. I get it now. I see it now. I understand.

Yes, Lord, I am ready to move forward in my life. I am ready to let the past go, to leave all that little baggage that I have been holding on to here in Phoenix, and walk on in the freedom and joy you are offering to me. I need to go, to experience new life, in a new place, and with a new attitude and a new approach. I am ready, Lord. I am ready.

January 23, 2016

Spring is Here

It is going to be a lovely day here in sunny and warm Phoenix. Right now, it is 57 outside and sunny. Our expected high today should top out around 75. WOW! What a nice welcome to spring, and it is only January 22, 2016! Most of my friends and some family live back east, and well, their weather today is "not so sunny." In fact, many are experiencing freak snow storms today. Weather system "Noah" is pulling out all the stops and is forecast to drop over 2 feet of snow in some places along the eastern seaboard. It is crazy El Nino, that warm water pattern that seems to bread these monster storms in the winter time. I am glad I am safe inside my nice and warm home. I am also glad that my FIRST duty of the day is NOT shoveling snow! LOL!

It is funny, really, because I do like the snow...a lot. In fact, I would consider living back in the Midwest or East. I just don't know if I could really handle it anymore, I mean, physically. I love the snow. I love watching it snow. I love sitting inside and watching it snow. It is the getting out and driving in the snow. It is doing "life" in the snow. It is the whole snow business (LOL!) that gets me now. You see, the last time I was in snow (fulltime), I was 15. Life was much simpler then. I walked to school in the snow. I walked home in the snow. My parents or older brothers drove in the snow. I didn't drive then. I was just a passenger, and for me, snow meant that it was either something to play in outside or it was too frigid to be outside, so you just stayed inside.

When I was older, snow was attached to frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada. Snow meant skiing and enjoying the beauty of Lake Tahoe. Yes, it was cold (brrr!), but it was a fun kinda cold. It was shussing and zooming down a mountain side, looking cool in your latest ski duds, and hanging out mid-mountain soaking up the sun (in less than 30 degree weather). It was the life, and I enjoyed it. Snow was beautiful, lovely, and so refreshing -- especially from the rainy days down the mountain in San Jose. I loved living in CA, especially because I was within a 4-hour drive to the snow each season. I loved that I could be at home, and in a half-day's drive, up in the snow. It was a blessing to me, yet still, I never really experienced it full-time in an adult-like way.

I have a couple cousins and good friends who live in the frigid north and east. I love their videos of the snow. I love to think about waking up to snow, and how I would feel being able to look out my window and enjoy the scene. The picture to the left is from my friend who lives in Richmond. She said this was taken this morning, and more snow is on its way. It is so pretty, so very pretty. Sigh!

I tried to post a video from my cousin who lives in West Virginia. He had shared a video from his hometown of Meyersdale, PA. My Mom and family grew up there (all of my Mom's family -- as far back as the early 1700s), so I have a special affinity for this place. This morning, their local TV filmed an Amish family driving through town in their horse and buggy. Yeah, horses and buggies seem to not have as much difficulty navigating through snow as modern cars do. It was nice to see it and to hear the clip-clop of the horses hooves as it moseyed on its way through town. The photo below is from the video.

Meyersdale is reporting 22" of snow this morning, and the weather man said they had more on the way. WOW!

I guess I am being wistful today. I guess I am thinking about what might have happened had my Dad not relocated from Illinois to California when I was 15. What would my life have been like? Would I have stayed in the Chicago area, made a life for myself, gotten married, had children, etc.? It is always fun to think about "what if's," but I also realize that the life I have is the life that the Lord allowed to come to pass. Yes, I could have been born into an Amish family (like above) had my mother's family remained Amish Mennonite (back in the 1800s). I also could have been raised Church of the Brethren (Old Order) had my great-grandparents not chosen to leave the older order for the newer order. My Mom and her sister where both raised in the church, wore prayer coverings to church on Sunday's and generally were restricted from wearing fashionable attire. Of course, as time passed, the family loosened its adherence to these type of legalistic standards and became less and less concerned about outward appearances. Still, had my Mom's family remained in this tradition, I could still be living in Pennsylvania.

Or more so, had my father not chosen to go into the rubber industry after college, but return to the farm in Indiana, I could have been raised as a farm girl. My Dad, his father and grandfather before him along with all his ancestors who came to America (in the late 1600s) were farmers. My life could have been situated on the farm. My Dad's family still live near the old farm in Bluffton. Some of the cousins have moved farther away, but are still within driving distance to where it once stood (it has been raised, and a new home stands in its former place). My last visit to Indiana was in 2011. It was so lovely to drive the back roads, to stop at the old churches and cemeteries along the way, and to visit the loved ones who are interred there. I have a fondness for my family history, for my family and their history.

But none of this happened to me. Instead, I grew up a city girl, living in the suburbs. My Dad chose to follow industry instead of farming, and that meant that I lived in mostly suburban areas my entire childhood. I had a good upbringing, mind you, and I did get to enjoy living in three very snowy places (Maryland, New York, and Illinois). Most of my longer periods were in warmer climes (California, Arizona). My heart though seems to prefer these other places, but I think that is more nostalgia than anything else. I love history, and I love the romance of history. I love the story of history. I miss being so near to the history of my family, and even though there is very interesting history in Arizona, it is not my history. No, it is native American history, and while interesting to study, it is just not the same as my family roots and my family stories that are tied to these places.

As I think about my life, how I came to be where I am today, and to be where I believe the Lord is leading me, this one thing is certain: God has a clear and articulated plan for my life. I am here for a reason, and while I don't have all the details fleshed out (as I like to say), I do know that His plan for my life is good, so very, very good. Furthermore, the Lord's will seems to be coming to pass in my life. This excites me, and it gives me such hope. You see, for so long, I felt that my life was stalled. I was on "pause" and it seemed like that my life, and the choices associated with it, did nothing to move me closer to the Lord's will, but only farther from it. I know the truth, of course, and I know that I chose a life that was not aligned with His plan for me. I walked away, in essence, from His will, and as a result, I suffered consequences associated with my act of disobedience. He never left me, praise God, but still I suffered great sorrow and pain all because I chose to disobey His call. I chose to walk in a different way, and my life didn't pan out as He had purposed for me.

The good news is that despite my disobedience to Him, He used my life choices as a tool to shape me and prepare me for what I am doing today. Of this, I am certain. The person I am today is the direct result of those life choices. What I thought was for my good, turned out to be not for my good at all (in human terms). Yet, God took was was meant to harm me, and turned it around, and through His marvelous grace, He made something very good out of it. Yes, I thank the Lord for the life I have now, and for the life I have lived. I wish I could go back and make some different choices, but I know that the result, the result of my life today is predicated on those very choices. I surrender myself to the fact that my life is just what it is. I am satisfied to know that I am the product of my own making, and that making was carefully and tenderly reshaped through the merciful hand of my loving Father. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Today, thus, I think about my life this way: I see it as unfolding, like a pop up puzzle in a book. As I turn each new page, a new puzzle expands before my eyes. I am amazed at what I see, the detail, the colors, and story as it is shown to me. I am excited, filled with hopeful anticipation, and with dreams that seem to be, no are, fueled by His desires for my life. I look to His hand as the author and finisher of my faith, and I seek His way only. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to receive our praise. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Moving Forward Today in Grace

As I move forward today, I remember that it is only through His grace that I am able to do so. I can do nothing on my own, but I can do everything through His grace as it is shed upon my life. Therefore, whether I come or go, whether I live here or there, or whether I find myself doing this job or that, I know that my life is being carefully crafted, carefully ordered, so that I can do what He has called me to do. I know this now. I am convinced of it. I am doing the very work He has purposed me for, albeit later in life than He originally purposed. I am right where I belong, right where I should be, and for that truth, I am thankful. I am so very thankful to the Lord for helping me see the light and the truth of His word to me. He has made it clear, so very clear, and I know that I am doing His work, in His way, and for His expressed will. I am good, so very good today.

I marvel at His mercy. I thank Him for His blessings, manifold as they are, and I look up to Him for His gracious provision that meets and exceeds every need in my life. I know Him well, and I trust Him well. I look to Him alone, and I rest in that process. I know He will provide. He will see me through whatever I face this good, good day. He will show me the way to go, where to move, where to live, where to work, and then He will make a way. He will open the door wide, and He will say to me, "Walk through it, Carol." I will say, "Yes, Lord," and then I will do as He asks. I will walk through that open door, and I will see the wonder of what He is offering to me. I am excited, I am filled with eagerness, and I feel so ready to go, to do this work, to walk in this way.

Now I lay down my life, and I say to Him, "Only after you, Lord." I only go after He goes before me. I no longer walk out in front, seeking my own way, even just to "test the waters," so to speak. No, I only go when He says it is time, and I only choose the path that He has marked for me to follow. I trust Him to lead me, to guide me, and to provide for me. I trust Him to be my Great Shepherd, to lovingly care for me, to shelter and protect me. He is good, so very good to me.

The more I think about my life, where I have been and where I am going, I am convinced, utterly convinced that my life is ordained by Him. I am following a path that He has marked for me, and this path is so good, so good. I don't see everything as it should be still, my eyesight is not perfect, but what I do see is comforting to me. I see a way whereas before I saw only blocked and locked doors. Now I see open possibilities, endless opportunities, and a myriad of choices that are all right there -- right there! Which do I choose? How do I know? Well, I have chosen His way above my own, so I follow the way He chooses. I decided that it was best for me to simply let go my need to choose. Instead, I accept His way and His provision, and in doing so, I am able to be at rest. I know He is good. He has me well-covered. I don't need to fret or fuss over these details. He knows my needs. He knows when it will be good timing for me to have that full-time teaching job. He knows when it will be best for me to move from AZ to the place of His choosing. He knows I need to be able to do it, to go, to live, to be settled in a new place, and He knows how much I will need to actually do this work. Until He opens that door, I rest. I stay relaxed, and I look forward to seeing what He intends to do. I am letting go of my need to choose, to make these choices, and instead, I am embracing His provision -- in its entirety -- so that I don't have to be disappointed nor do I have to worry over making the right choice, the best choice. I will be agreeing with His choice, and in doing so, that is always the BEST!

Now, I rest. I let go, and I lean into Him. I rest in His complete satisfaction in my life. I rest in the knowledge that as I AM, He is more than able to deal with all these details. Moreover, He can do whatever He wants and I will know it is good. I will know that it is really, really good. In letting go of my need to choose, I am saying to Him, "It is okay, Lord. I trust you in this decision and its outcome." I trust Him to make the best choice for my life. I trust Him to fulfill His word to me, and to bring to pass all that has been promised to me. I trust that He will see me through these days, and that He will lead me to new days that are filled with such hope. I trust Him to provide everything I need, and to make my life be exactly as He desires it to be. I let it all go today, and I rest in Him, in His sufficiency, and in His perfect will and plan for my life. Selah!

January 22, 2016

It's Friday!

It is a good day today, not to mention, it happens to be Friday, and well, Friday's are always a good, good day for me! I woke up feeling a bit sluggish, but after some coffee, I am starting to feel a little more active and alert. I did sleep well, at the least, I think I did. I don't remember much of my night other than I fell sleep around 11:30 p.m. and I woke up close to 9 this morning. I guess that is good, right -- almost 9 hours of sleep -- should do a person well?

My day so far as been low-key. I checked my email, and now I am blogging. I have a little bit of time before I have to get ready for work. My students are going to work on their essays today, so there is not much teaching for me to do. I never know how well teaching/writing days will go. Sometimes my students are okay with it -- they like that they can write in class -- while other times they are bored in class and give me that "this is not what I want to be doing" look. It is so hard to know...but then I am not in the business of pleasing my students, but of helping them learn how to frame an argument. Still, there is this tug of war between wanting them to enjoy my class and wanting to know they are actually learning something. I guess it is the line we "teachers" have to walk, just never knowing whether we are doing the right thing, the best thing, or the good thing. Sigh!

Computer Challenges

Yes, it has been three weeks since I disconnected my Apple Mac by accident. I didn't mean to do it, but I tried to install a new hard drive and after carefully following the instructions, I broke the fan clip and another smaller clip that apparently were soldered onto the logic board. The directions said to pry the clips up, which I did, but my clips were glued on. I realized what I had done when I saw the tiny copper wires and I thought, "Okay, these are not pins that clip back in." I knew I had blown it, and that my $80 investment of a new hard drive was going to cost me the use of my computer. I was so bummed, like depressingly bummed. Thankfully, my PC has been working well. I had spent some time earlier in the fall reworking it, installing Windows 10, and getting it back into a functional state (Win 8 never worked on this machine). It has been steady since, but I prefer my Mac, so getting used to Windows again has been difficult. Still, a computer is better than no computer, and without one, I would have been sunk for both my need for work and for studying for my exams.

It is funny how one little thing like a computer failure can throw your entire "ecosystem" out of wack. I know that my world should be founded on more stable ground, but because so much of what I do deals with computers, not having a steady machine is one of the worst things that can happen to me. It just causes my little world to spin down to a dead stop. I don't have the means to go out and purchase a new machine, at the least not now, and then there is the practicality of that move. As much as I would like to get a new machine, I happen to have a perfectly good PC that works. It seems to be a waste of resources to even think that way. No, I will be content with what I have, thankful for it, and let the desire to return to Apple land go. Sigh!

Plans for Today

Today my plans are simple: go to work at 12:30 and teach three sessions of English 106. Come home, rest, eat, and then study a little before I get to have my evening "date" with my love. Our Friday's are our date night now, well, until I pass my exams. We are not able to talk on the phone during the rest of the week because I need my evenings to prep for my upcoming tests. I am looking forward to spending time with him tonight. It is weird to think we are in a relationship, considering we have never met face to face. Some people would say that we are not in a relationship because of this fact, but then I wonder how you would describe what we have, what words would you use to characterize what we mean to one another?

Merriam-Webster defines a relationship as "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected." Well, we are connected to one another. We are friends who are in a long-distance, mutually-satisfying relationship. I guess you could split hairs and say that since we have never formally met (in person), we cannot wear the label of a boyfriend/girlfriend. I looked up these words and curiously they say that there must be romantic or sexual aspects to classify the relationship as such. I find this interesting, but then by today's standard, most men (from Askmen.com) enter into a sexual relationship with a woman after only 3-5 dates. I don't know what that time frame is for your average woman, but my guess is that it is around that same time or perhaps longer, if she is expecting commitment. 

In Christian relationships, this question should not even factor into the mix. God calls all his children to abstinence. We are to maintain purity of heart, mind, and body, and we are to not engage in sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage. This means that all sexual and romantic behaviors must be checked, even romantic thoughts, feelings, or actions must be carefully monitored to keep from crossing the line into sexual immorality.

In this way, I think it is prudent for men and women to be in a relationship that is progressing toward marriage. Otherwise, what is the point? I mean, if sex is the object, well then, there are plenty of men and women out there who are only interested in this one thing. But, if marriage is the goal, then the plan needs to be to establish a long-term relationship that is predicated on friendship first, romance second.

I know that according to my family, the fact that I am not physically involved with my friend (as in going out on physical dates) we are nothing more than acquaintances. Until we meet and can behave like a normal couple, aka, take physical dates, we cannot be in a relationship. I guess that is sort of old fashioned in some ways because it suggests that the only way to be in a relationship with someone is either by proximity or by blood or by marriage.

I consider myself, however, to be in a romantic relationship with this man. I think he feels the same way. I have come to love him deeply, not because of any chemical or sexual attraction, but because of his deep sincere love for God's word, his dependency upon God for his needs, and the fact that He is actively pursuing God's will for his life. He is a good man, a Godly man, and I love this about him. I also think he is cute, pretty funny, and has a super personality. I do find him to be very attractive to me, and because of these things, I think when we do meet, we will experience that physical attraction that gets so many people in trouble. I am attracted to this man's heart first and foremost, his mind second, and his physical mannerisms and characteristics third. I think that my order is right because it places his valuation and worth front and center. I value him as a child of God, a man who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a brother in Christ, more than anything else. This valuation thus enables me to see his worth to me, to his family, to his peers and friends, and to the whole body of Christ. I can validate and affirm his worth because of his identity in Christ. This means that I am placed in a position whereby my valuation and worth is mutually certain. He values me in the exact same way. I think that this mutual validation is fundamental to any sustained relationship that seeks to honor the Lord.

Do I find myself romantically attracted to this man? I sure do, and for that, I thank the Lord. It is such a nice feeling to be attracted to someone, to feel those lovely feelings, and to want to express your affection and love openly and with sincerity. I love being in love. I am not talking about that mushy kind of love, that giggly silly kind of puppy-dog love that you first experience. No, I am talking about real agape love, the kind that says "I am here for you, I love you, my good, good friend!" Yes, I have a heart love for this man, and I find that the longer I am with him (in relationship) the longer I experience this deep conviction, deep seated sense of real satisfaction.

I am glad that we haven't met yet. I am so glad that we didn't meet right away. I think we would have found our mushy feelings messing everything up. I think we are in a good place now, and perhaps the Lord will enable us to meet one another. Right now, I feel like I could meet him and hug him without getting all messed up. My hug would say "It is so good to finally be with you" without there being all that romantic/sexual power pulsating in me that would or could lead me in the wrong direction. No, right now, I feel that my heart would simply say to me "Yes, this is the one."

That is my hope, anyway.

God's Perfect Timing

This is a hard segue, but I am trying to rest in the Lord regarding His provision for me. I received my refund yesterday and it didn't reflect my scholarship. I am thankful for what I received, and it will help, but it is less than what I expected, and that has me concerned. I needed a certain amount to take care of some things here (past flights to Regent for example), and now I am in a precarious position because my school has used my financial aid to pay for tuition rather than my scholarship. I am not sure if I will get this fixed, so I am hesitant to use the money that has already come to me. Furthermore, my pay from GCU is less than expected so now I am worried about making ends meet, especially through the summer months. I honestly do not know what to do. I am praying, of course, and I am trusting the Lord, but right now, I am concerned, so very concerned. How will I make it through, Lord? How will I make it through?

I know the Lord has me well-covered. I know He is faithful and that He is aware of what has happened. It wasn't on purpose -- I know my scholarship was approved and applied. I think it was a clerical error, but when and if they will correct it, well, that I don't know. For now, I need to trust Him alone, to rest in His sufficiency, and to believe (to keep the faith) that He will provide a way out for me. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Looking forward today, I see some good on the horizon. I see my continued progress toward my exams, and that does excite me somewhat. I see the potential of getting to finally meet my handsome love, and I get the hint of something more down the road. My life is still in flux, though I think that perhaps somethings are settling down. I am glad that the Lord has covered me so well, and I am thankful for His provision this good, good day. I know He will provide a way for me, and my future, while looking a little cock-eyed right now, will eventually be set aright. I know this, I believe this is true, and I look up to Him to straighten this out. Please Lord, straighten this out!

Thus, today, I look up. I wait and I rest. I trust in Him and in Him alone. He alone is God, and He alone has me covered. Selah!