January 5, 2016

Let's Go!

Well, d-day has passed, and it is now, t-minus 6 weeks and counting until I "sit" my comprehensive exams. I had my first official study day yesterday, and while it was a challenge to review History and Theology after standing on my feet for four hours, I did manage to get almost all the way through my study notes.

Today, I am at home (so thankful for a MWF teaching schedule), so my hope is to continue to work and print notes to fill gaps in my subjects. Then, by Friday, I should have reviewed all 8 subjects once. Next week, I will repeat the process, but start working on memorizing key themes and patterns as well as start flash memory (quotes, people, and definitions).

My goal is to have thoroughly reviewed all the course content, major books and players (people in the know), and have a good overview established so that I can tackle writing out sample questions. In all, I feel more confident about my study process than ever before, and I think that what I am doing is going to work for me. Finding an approach that works for you is what is best. Not everyone does well in a group, and not everyone wants that close relationship where others are peering over their study notes. I prefer to work alone, but I am a part of a study group nonetheless. The study group I am in is more of a support group, so we are supporting one another rather than testing one another. I do believe that we will work towards testing each other closer to the actual exam date, but right now, we tend to have a very loose and fluid organizational structure.

The Lord knows what is best for me, that is for sure. I know He has my colleagues well-covered too, but right now, I am focusing on what I need, rather than on what they need. I need to feel confident going into my exams so that I will do well. My plan is to pass my written exams so that my oral defense is a matter of clarification and expansion, and not, saving my backside (as it can happen). Still, I know that to do both well, I have to be prepared, so I am focused on this task above everything else. The good news is that I am in really good shape with my teaching contracts, and that is such a great feeling. I have all my power point lessons ready to go (only needing a quick review before class), and I am comfortable with the content. The Lord has this planned well for me, so I feel assured that the next six weeks will go off without a hitch! Lord, willing, that is!

As I sit here and blog, I am giving the Lord praise and honor. I cannot believe that I am at this point in my career/life. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was applying for graduate school, hopeful and tentative as to whether I would be accepted to a Masters program. Then, as the time zoomed by, I was getting ready to graduate and begin my long-awaited dream of earning a PhD. Never in my life did I think I would actually do it (well, I did, but that was a long, long, long time ago). Now, here I am, almost finished with that dream goal, and I am thanking the Lord for His blessing of higher education. You know, when I claimed Psalm 37:4-5 as my life verse back in 2010, little did I know that the Lord would honor my request, but He did. He has given me my heart's desire, and for that, I am beyond grateful. He is good, so very, very, very good to me! Selah!

Thus, it is vital to me that every move I made aligns perfectly with the Lord's will for my life. I know I blog about this, ad nausea, but it is so important to me, that I refuse to take a step to the left or to the right unless I know for sure that He has given me permission to do so. I do not want to miss one moment, one blessing, one opportunity that the Lord decrees is good for me or my family. I believe that His way is best, and that means that while I strive, really seek to humble myself always, His way is much more than humble servant-hood. It is more about living in daily communion with Him, in close connection through prayer and study of the word, but also in fellowship whereby we spend time, lots and lots of time, in close union. We converse just as friends converse, and while He is God, and I pay Him the honor due Him, I have come to find that He is gentle and kind and good and caring, just as a good or best friend would be. We are friends, for lack of a better word, and because of our deep friendship, I trust and rely on Him. He is wise, and He knows what is best, so in that way, He is also a parent to me. He guides me, mentors me, and shows me out of His mercy and wisdom, what would be the best path to tack. I look for His guidance because my sight is short, while His is eternal. I want what is best for me and my family, of course, but ultimately, I want what He thinks is best because I want my life to pleasing to Him, a sweet and pleasing aroma. I know that He cares for me, for every need, so I wait on Him, and I learn patience as I wait. I study, I discipline, and I conform my style, my approach to match that of His approach -- like Master and student -- I endeavor to become like Him. I know that I need help in doing that so I rely on the blessed Holy Spirit to provide to me the teaching, the instruction, the modeling, needed so that I can learn how to be more Christ-like in every area of my life. In all, the relationship I share with the Lord is unique and it is special. I want every desire that He wants for me. I want to be the person, grown up and mature, that He desires for me to be. In that, I want His desires above my own, and I lay aside any selfish thinking, any prideful ambition, and any self-seeking promotion just so that I can receive the special blessing that He has for me. I want His way above all else, and I want to become the person He has created, designed, and destined me to be. Selah!

Desires, Plans, and Such

I really do not have many desires. I mean, I have a few, but they are mostly practical wishes, things I think would be good for me or my family. My heart desire has been fulfilled, so I really do not think there is much more than I want outside of a steady income and a permanent (fixed) location from which to live. When I think about the desires of my heart, and if I am honest, I can say that the Lord has given them to me, all of them, to me. As I consider the course of my life, and as I look back over the years, this is what I see:

  • I desired to be married and have a family
  • I desired to live someplace comfortable, safe, and affordable
  • I desired to do good practical work
  • I desired to be educated, highly educated
  • I desired to study classics, history, philosophy, art and music
  • I desired to learn how to play a musical instrument
  • I desired to learn how to speak a foreign language
  • I desired to travel internationally
  • I desired to work in a career that would give me name recognition, a title, and a status
  • I desired to be free from work so that I could rest (have breaks)
  • I desired to remain close (in proximity) to my parents
  • I desired to be wholly devoted to the Lord, living and giving my life to Him all the days of my life
Of these desires, all of them have been fulfilled in one way, shape or form. I have or am in the process of completing all of these heart wants, as I like to call them. The Lord has provided for me, given to me all of these desires, and while some of them were temporary, many were long-term and life-satisfying. I am now content in what has been, and I am seeking to restore the desires that He has for me, those desires that are predicated on my heart and my willingness to love Him and love others. These are the desires I believe He has placed in my heart and on my mind today:
  • To earn a PhD in Communication and to use it for ministry only
  • To attend Regent University because it is a school that has God's own heart stamped on it
  • To graduate and to be successful in a career using my skills and abilities
  • To live in a small town rather than a bustling city where I could find a place to call "my own"
  • To share in the care-burden for my parents through the end of their natural lives
  • To mentor, build up and equip my son so that he could come to know the Lord and to know His will for his life
  • To enjoy my life, my days, and to find my purpose in all that I do (to be content and satisfied)
  • To teach so that I could learn how to present lessons and not be afraid of speaking in large groups
  • To study communication, English, and linguistics so that I could use my knowledge to help the Church build better relationships 
  • To teach and to reach the lost with the saving message of God's immutable grace
  • To be wholly united in heart, in mind, and in purpose so that I would trust the Lord without question, and follow after Him as He leads me and guides me into the opportunities He brings to my life
  • To receive the gift of joy, of blessing and of honor so that I can experience the goodness of the Lord, day in and out, and then share that goodness with others
These desires are His desires. I know this is true because outside of the heart-wants I listed above, these are the desires that came to me, out of nowhere, and filled my heart, and fueled my passion to seek and to savor, to long for and want them to be fulfilled. Yes, the Lord has given me my wants as well as my desires, and in doing so, He has prepared me for a very special work, a special ministry. I am ready to go and to do whatever He asks of me, and while I am still not sure of the path He intends for me to take (there are two options), I know that He will show me the best way to go. He is good in that way, always so very good to show me how and why and where to go. I love Him, I so love the Lord.

This is a good day, then, to seek and to savor the Lord. Psalm 34:8 NASB says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Yes, taste and see how good the Lord is -- He is good, so very good! My heart cries out with the psalmist for I have experienced this goodness in every area of my life. The Lord has provided good things to me, given me His good desires, and provided such a good way for me to go. I am ready now to take the next steps, to complete the plans He has charted for me. I am excited about going, happy to go, and so very willing to explore and to find this new way. He is good, He is so very good to me!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your grace and mercy this good, good day. I praise you today, and I give you all honor. You alone are worthy to be praised, and today, I lay at your feet all my desires, my ambitions, and my hopes, and my dreams. I want to fulfill your desires for me, your purpose and plans, for they are good. I lay everything I hope for, think about, and yes, wish for now because I know that what I desire is aligned with your desire for me. Thus, I can safely and with complete assurance let go of my shallow and hollow dreams and instead embrace your full and vibrant colorful desires for my life. I take the best from you, only the best, and I let everything that pales in comparison go. I rest now, no longer seeking a way, but rather embracing and acknowledging that the way I am to go is clear and apparent to me. The signs are steady and calling me forward, so I walk on toward them. I let go my apprehension, my fear, and my doubts for I know that you can see down the road, you know exactly what lays around the bend. I believe in your word to me, your beautiful and blessed word, and I trust you this good day. You are steady, my rock and my refuge, and it is in you that I place all my hope. May the Name of the Lord be praised this good, good day. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah (pause and calmly think about it!)

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