February 16, 2016

Check Up and Checked Out

It is a good day here in Phoenix. Today is Tuesday, so I am normally home from school. I just got back from my bi-annual visit to the dentist, and praise God, I had an awesome checkup. No periodontal disease or other issues, and with the exception of my one "green" tooth, I have no special needs to worry about going forward. The Lord has provided a good dental plan for me -- Delta Dental of AZ -- and even though it costs me about $300 per year, the cost savings in preventative care is worth it. After spending some $5K in dental costs due to negligence and lack of steady care for almost 15 years, I am not going to do that again. Nope, nada, no way. I will pay the money to see my dentist every 6 months and to do whatever is necessary to keep my teeth in good shape.

It is weird to think about it this way, but for so many years, I simply let dental care and medical care for that matter, slip by. Had my ex-husband placed a higher value on medical care, I doubt he would be in the shape he is in now (major heart attack and stroke). The sad thing is that for years he put off seeing the dentist until he had to have his teeth pulled for dentures. He put off seeing the doctor until he had a major heart attack that almost took his life. The stroke happened later on, and now he is facing serious medical crisis due to lingering issues. It is so sad, really, to think that some of this could have been prevented. Some of his life issues could have never happened -- if only -- he would have taken the responsibility when he had the chance to do so. I don't mean to bemoan his life choices, but frankly, he is 59 years old and almost unable to work for a living. He chose to leave the marriage so who will take care of him now that he is soon-to-be disabled? I wonder if his present girlfriend will do that for him or if she will walk away when things turn for the worst. My prayer, of course, is that perhaps she will stand by him and will assume the burden for his care. But, of course, I just don't know if that will be the case or not.

Now that I am on my own, having benefits is a priority. My parents always warned us to get them, at whatever cost, and we said "we can't afford them." Well, this is true for me now as much as it was then, but I made the sacrifice to buy them (thanks to Obamacare), just to be covered and avoid major fines. My hope is that when I get hired full-time as faculty, I will have a better plan. But for now, I am covered as is my son and that means that should something happen, we can see a doctor as well as visit the hospital and know that part of our medical costs will be covered by the insurance company. Praise God!

God is so very good to me. I mean, He has seen to my care and well-being now for 53 years. Even when I walked away from Him, when I questioned His care for me, He has been faithful. He has stood by me, and He has kept me steady. Today is a good example of what I mean. I woke up feeling restless today. I didn't sleep well, and I didn't really want to go to the dentist early this morning. You know...I don't do mornings well. So when my alarm rang, I refused to get out of bed. Finally, I did crawl out and I made my way to the dentist. The whole time I was sitting there, I kept thinking how much this visit would cost me. In truth, my finances are stretched to the limit right now. I am at the breaking point, and while I know God has me covered, I do worry about costs and such. For example, besides my dentist visit, I have my trip to VA next week, and I need to get my car over to Nissan for a checkup (the freon is out, I am sure of it). I also need to get new eyeglasses, and well, that is not cheap with my high prescription. Furthermore, I had thought about visiting my friend in AL, but now I am not sure I can afford to make another trip. I will have to go back to VA this fall to defend my dissertation. How can I afford to do all of these things?

As I was sitting in the dentist chair, my mind was racing through all of these "costs." I said, "Lord, how much is this going to cost me today?" I heard His voice say to me, "I have you covered." I winced because I thought that my credit cards are maxed, and adding another couple hundred dollars would just push me further into debt. When I received the "all clear" report from my dentist, I sighed a sigh of relief. I headed out to get my bill and the total cost for today's visit was $24. Yes, I had a $75 yearly deductible to pay, so really it cost me $100 in total. Still, I had an exam, cleaning and full-mouth x-rays all for $100. That is pretty phenomenal to me.

I skipped out to my car, thinking "Okay, I can do this" when I thought about the freon cost and my car needs. My heart started to sink. How will I pay for all of these costs now? Again, I heard the Lord whisper to me, "I've got you covered." I got in my car, thanking the Lord that my dental visit went so well. I drove home wondering how it is possible that He covers me so well when I don't seem to make that much money. Where does the money come from? How does He make it stretch like this? It is a mystery and a miracle of God, for certain.

The Lord has promised good to me. He demonstrates His love for me through His acts of kindness (and in turn, His kindness shows me His nature, which is GOOD). I thank the Lord today for His provision. He is good, so very good to me.

One of the things I think about every day is the goodness of the Lord. I mean, He is good to me, and He has been good to me for so long now. I think back on all the days of my life, and I can see His goodness, His hand of protection, and His provision for my needs. I didn't always recognize His hand, but now I see it so clearly. I didn't always think He was protecting me, but now I know that He was. I didn't always give Him thanks for His provision of good in my life, but now, I give Him thanks daily. He has made a way for me, and He has provided a good, good life. I love my life. I love where I am going, what I am doing now, and all the various aspects that have worked together to make this very "good" thing come to pass.

I was thinking about this yesterday, how sad my life was when I was married. I know, that is a horrible thing to say, right? I mean, as a Christian woman who is divorced, whose husband asked to be divorced, I should be walking around in sackcloth and mourning the loss of my marriage, of my family. But, clearly I am not, so something is not right with me. The truth is that for so many years I believed, now I created a false reality that helped me endure great sorrow in my marriage. I created a fake life that I could live in in order to deal with the pain, the sadness, the anger, the bitterness, and the fear I felt every single day of my marriage. I put on a mask that said to the world, "Hey, I am OK." The reality, the real story, of course, was that I wasn't okay. In fact, I was miserable and I was beaten down, and my life was a joke, a total joke.

Since I found my freedom, my life has turned itself around. I mean, I am going places now. I have education, a new career, and a new life. I have purpose. I have value. I have self-esteem and worth, and I have a calling from God that says to me "I have a great job for you to do in my Name." I wake up with excitement, with anticipation, with joy, and while I do struggle to see the ends meet every month, I am the recipient of seeing God do what God does best -- every single day of my life. He shows up. He does His thing. And, I am blessed by His presence.

The Lord has transformed my life. He has given me hope, a future filled with hope, and a joy that utterly fills my soul with laughter, with comfort, and with peace. Yes, my life is good. Even when I struggle with my parents care. Even when I worry about the job, the pay, and the debts. I see His blessing. I see His mercy. I see His goodness, and I know He loves me. He cares for me. He deeply cares for me.

Today is a good day. It is a good day to remember just how much He cares for me. He loves me completely, thoroughly, and He has such a good plan for my life. I still don't know where I will go to live, to work, or how I will get from point A to B, but I know He has this all figured out. Will He open the door for me to remain at GCU for another year? Maybe. Maybe not. Will He favor me with the recruiter at Herzing University? Maybe. Maybe not. Will He move me to Ohio or to Alabama? I don't know. I feel called to Ohio, and not to Alabama, but I also feel called to pursue the relationship that I am in, which is settled in Alabama. How do I decide? How do I know where to go? How do I proceed with these next decisions?

Right now, I rest. I mean I let these decisions go, and I trust that He will open the door for me. Until I see the door, I won't know which way to go. I will walk through the door regardless as to where it leads. I will believe that somehow down the road the Lord will make everything work out for my good. Thus, if He moves me to a different place then where I want to go now, perhaps it is simply to provide something to me that is not available anywhere else. Perhaps He is intending to create opportunities for my parents, for my son, and for me that wouldn't exist outside this one place. I forget sometimes that the Lord is considering my life in its totality, and that He is not just thinking house or job. No, He is thinking about everyone involved, and that means that He wants me to be in the best place for His work -- His work -- and that His work takes priority. Sometimes I forget this important point, and I start to think about the minor details. I forget that He is God, and that as God, He does know best.

When I think about it this way, I see clearly that what God is doing is for my best long-term. It is not just about providing a job or a house to me, but rather it is about where He needs me to serve. You see, perhaps the place He desires that I go has special needs written on it. Perhaps there is a church that needs me in particular. Perhaps there is a neighborhood that has people who need me as their neighbor. God is concerned with people, with hearts, and with reaching the lost with the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is not so much concerned about the details, though He knows we need food, shelter, and clothing. Yes, I must maintain this attitude. I must think BIG PICTURE. I must consider the bigger picture of His work, rather than just my little part of it. I must think that He has a reason for wanting to send me to Ohio. He has a place for me there. He has a job, a home, and a ministry calling that somehow is there, in this particular place. The funny thing is that what I want is sort of what He wants, but not spot on to His want for me. I want it my way (like Burger King), and the King says, "you can only have it My way." Yes, Lord, may my way be your way. Forever. Selah! Amen.

So this past weekend, I started to think about ways that I could get myself to where I wanted to go. I was feeling like the Lord was moving really slowly, and I was tired of all the "unknown" in my life. I wanted that full-time job, that call to move to a place, and then I wanted to start the process of moving. In my son's words, "I wanted to be unstuck." Yes, I wanted the Lord to move me where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go, and I wasn't happy about Him not complying with my demands.

The thing is this -- I know better -- I really do. I know that I don't want to go anywhere outside His will for my life. I don't want to take the wrong job, move to the wrong city, get settled in the wrong place. I want His best, and I know that by waiting for His best, I will be right where I belong. So while I want to get moving, to get "unstuck," I know that I have to wait for the Lord to move me, to "unstick" me in His way and in His time. I know this is true, I know it.

Thus, as I think about this fact, my impatience and such, I recall that the Lord knows what He is doing in my life. He has this all planned out, and my impatience simply is not doing me any favors. So today, I rest. I let this go, and I accept the fact that the Lord is more than likely going to move me to a place that is different from where I want to go right now. I have to accept this as a fact, and I have to understand that there is a reason for His choice. I have to think BIGGER than myself and realize that perhaps His plan is intentional and through it, good things will come to pass (like really, really good things). Does the Lord do any bad thing? No, He doesn't. Therefore, resting and trusting in His kind acts, His good nature, well, that says to me that whatever He is doing in my life, it is Good, and it is for my well-being. Selah!

Dear Lord,

I am so sorry for being stubborn and for wanting my own way this weekend. I know the plans you have for my life are good. I will wait for you to make these plans come to pass. I will rest in your goodness, and I will trust you to work out all the details for my best. You are Good. You are God, and I trust in You alone this good, good day.

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