January 1, 2016

Happy New Years!

It is 2016! Woohoo, I made it through 2015, and I am still alive and kicking! God has been so good to me this past year. I stand amazed at His faithfulness, and His goodness toward me. He has kept me steady, and He has made sure that my feet remained firmly planted on the straight path. I thank Him today for all the goodness in my life, all that has passed and all that is to come. I look forward to 2016 as a year of more challenge and change, but mostly as a year filled with hope, with anticipation, and with excitement as the plans the Lord has for my life come to pass.

Looking Back Over 2015

I started to reflect on 2015 earlier in the month of December. My life has been kicked into high gear the past two months, so I haven't had a whole lot of time to reflect. I have focused mostly on my issues with finishing school, starting my exam prep, and generally stressing over the every-day details of my life. Today, though is a good day to reflect, to think back, and to consider all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me, how He has helped me, guided me, and challenged me as I learned to walk beside Him, live with Him, and come to love Him more deeply than ever before. He alone is God, and I love Him with my whole heart! Praise be to God, Selah!

My Journal

One of the ways I am able to reflect on the past is through this blog. I started my blog back in 2004, and for many years, I would write posts as I had time. My life back then was busy with work as a web designer and with home schooling my then grade-school aged son. My blog posts were pretty utilitarian, sort of filled with snapshots of our home school or family photos. I occasionally would write about spiritual things, devotions, or experiences I had, but mostly the content was every day stuff, school shopping, book choices, and family gatherings.

In 2007-08, my blog took on a much more serious note due to some challenges in my family. My ex-husband suffered two near fatal episodes, and his medical needs and expenses took over our life. For a couple years afterward, this blog became a personal journal as I chronicled more spiritual longings, and I shared my personal experiences as my faith was shaken, and I began to devote my life, all of my life, to a single purpose. My heart and my mind were fixed on serving the Lord, on knowing Him in more personal and intimate ways, and as I began that process of transformation, my desires began to change and take shape. I started to long for the things of God, for ministry work, and for a life that was predicated on Him as central to all.

I didn't realize of course that in 2009, my life would really hit the skids. My ex-husband announced that he was in love with another woman, and after 25 years of marriage was no longer in love with me. Later I would learn that he had never been in love with me. I struggled to comprehend his change of heart, his behavior, and his motives. My blog grew intensely personal, and I poured out my heart and my soul on these electronic pages. I used my blog to help me understand what was going on in my life, and as I did, I began to sort through the pain, the emotional turmoil that wasn't just tied to recent events, but had lingered for years. I worked hard to unpack the emotional baggage I carried around with me, much of it from childhood, and in doing so, I began to experience healing and emotional well-being. I let things go. I embraced truth that had been long hidden, and in doing so, I came to see my life in its totality. Yes, I accepted the good and the bad, and I made the decision to finally let some things rest.

As I struggled with life-altering, career-interrupting, and marital-status change, my blog started to collect posts that were both spiritual and practical in nature. I started to focus on what I was going to do with the rest of my life as a single person. I never believed I would return to school, and I never believed I would be a college instructor. But now, I am both a doctoral student and a professor, and God be praised, I am good. I am in such a good place right now.

My blog, then, is divided into sections:

  • The early years (2004-2007)
  • The transitional years (2008-2010)
  • The growth years (2010-2013)
  • The foundation years (2013-2015)
  • The established years (2016 and forward)
This new year, then, begins a new section, a new division in my life. As I consider 2016, I look forward and I see many possibilities on the horizon. I see the end of my doctoral study, and I see the culmination of a long-held dream coming to pass. I see my life that has been in transition now being established, and even resettled. I see opportunities for continued expansion in my study. I see future prospects for ministry, and I see a life that is brimmed with hope and expectancy. In all, I see a very bright and a very shiny new year, filled with many new possibilities, and many new opportunities. I am excited, but still a bit tentative. I want so much to see the Lord's will for my life come to pass, and to do that, well I have to give in and get over these feelings of doubt and insecurity. I simply must let go of the past, the fears and the failures, and start looking to the future, to see that every thing the Lord has promised to me rests in His hand. Thus, there is nothing open to interpretation, as we scholars like to say. No, the Lord holds it, therefore, it is in His hand to deliver it. I don't have to seek it, go figure it out, or even attempt to achieve it. I must simply go -- follow Him -- and wait for His promised deliverance to me. It is a real-deal, the real McCoy, and with that said, I rest in this first day of the new year. I rest from all my worries about what will be, what may or may not happen. Instead, I let whatever may come, come. It is all good. It is all in his hand, and I let it all go.

Moving Forward and Getting Ready

Today is January 1, and as I think about my resolutions and plans for this coming year, several items are clearly on my check list for completion. Some relate to school, but some are also related to my health and overall well-being. My prayer is always to submit any plans I make to the Lord for His governance. He knows my life, my schedule, and my routine. He also knows me best, so anything I decide to do, whether be it a good or bad thing, I trust to His judgment to oversee to keep my feet steady. My list is rather short this year, but that is because the items on it are all significant and my time is limited to complete anything other than what MUST BE DONE.
  1. Complete my study and exam prep (2/10)
  2. Sit and pass my written exams (2/11-12)
  3. Defend my oral exams (3/7)
  4. Submit my proposal for dissertation (4/22)
  5. Begin work on my dissertation (formal work)
  6. Submit my dissertation for defense (10/15)
  7. Complete all revisions (12/30)
Other than this list, I do have some other resolutions that deal with my health (losing 20 pounds, start running again, climbing stairs, lift weights, etc.) and with my overall lifestyle (eat better, be more active, generally rest in all things). I also hope to stabilize my work situation (new job or settled job) so that I can move forward financially and clear my debts this year. I hope to move (2016 or 2017) to be closer to my love, but that resides with the Lord alone. Until He provides a way for me to get from AZ to AL (or nearby GA or TN), I will remain where I am. I am content to teach at however many schools will have me, and to focus on my research and dissertation as a single-minded pursuit. I can do nothing else but focus on the end goal. I have to finish this race, I have to run this course, and there is nothing that I can allow to deter me from my appointed end.

God is good, so very good to me. Selah! Praise be to God, for He is so very good!!

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