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!

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