February 18, 2016

Gratitude

It is Thursday, and I am at home resting. I woke up this morning with a migraine headache, and thankfully, the pain and sinus pressure have abated. I should have taken something before bed when I first realized the symptoms, but I was so tired, so very tired. I laid on the bed while I was watching reruns of NCIS at 8:00 p.m and then woke up around 11 p.m. having snoozed through the rest of season 8 (on Netflix). I didn't take anything then, thinking I would just sleep it off. Nada, no can do. I know better. Thus, when 6:00 a.m. rolled around, I was in the throes of a major migraine. Ugh!

The good news is that the pain has subsided, the nausea is gone, and I am sitting upright working on the computer. My Keurig is my "new best friend" these days, and the new machine I bought two weeks ago is performing beyond expectations. My older machine just chugged, chugged, chugged until it could chug no more, so I had to invest in a new one. I wasn't super thrilled with the design when I bought it, but I thought "Heck, if it makes a good cup of coffee then that is all that matters!" And, yes, it sure does.

Today is a down day for me. I have my study/review to work on, but I also have to run some errands. The clouds out my window seem to be saying "rain" so what a blessing that would be. My guess is this is why I got the headache in the first place. I tend to have these sinus/migraines in the spring here in AZ. Once the hot, hot, hot weather arrives, my head is typically pain free until the next spring. It is crazy that the barometric pressure plays such havoc with my head like this, but it does.

I think a lot about my head whenever I consider moving to another state. I never had headaches in CA and we had a lot of weather changes. I remember getting headaches in the summers in IL, but I think that was more due to exertion in the high humidity. Plus, we didn't have anything to control the pain back then. No Tylenol or Advil. I really experienced major headaches once I moved to AZ, and truthfully, I think it has to do with being in the desert, allergies (which I never hard before), and the change of low to high pressure all the time. I will be glad when I move elsewhere so that I don't have to suffer like this anymore.

Gloomy but Grateful

Thus, today, I am feeling a bit gloomy even though my head (the part that doesn't hurt or isn't too stuffy) recognizes all the things I am grateful for and so blessed by. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I am so very thankful, so very thankful this good, good day. The word tells us that we are to give thanks for everything since we are called as Children of Light. Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV remind us how as Christians our lives should be reflective of the good that God has brought to us.

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Lately, I have struggled with gratitude. Merriam-Webster defines gratitude as "the quality of being thankful" and as the "readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness." Yes, gratitude is something that God asks us to put on as part of our character, as one of the marks of transformation of a new life born in Christ. A heart that is grateful expresses the goodness of God, remembers the kindness He has shown to us, and turns us toward Him in a way that enables us, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to be people who are kind, in turn, toward others. This idea, then, is that as we show the world our thankfulness and gratitude toward God, others might see it. In seeing it, they might come to wonder about it. Then when we are kind toward them, they will see the goodness of God in and through our lives as it is poured out on others. It is Christ living and loving with ACTION.

My heart has been stressed lately, and while I do have an excuse (my exams, etc.) I cannot always use it as a "get out of jail free card." No, I am called just like all my brothers and sisters in Christ to give thanks to God for His mercy and goodness. 

The sad part in feeling ungrateful is that when I come to think about it realistically, clearly I have so much to be thankful for these days. I mean, I do think I passed my exams. I won't know for sure until next week, but I feel good, confident, assured, that I have passed. I may think that I did poorly overall, but in truth, I do feel sure that the Lord will see me through my defense. My thanks goes to the Lord for He has done this marvelous work in me and through me. 

Furthermore, I have work to do at GCU, and I did pass my faculty orientation for OCU. I am still in process for online adjunct at Regent, so in all, I have several strong options for fall teaching. And, if this weren't enough, I just was asked to take on a class this fall at ACU. This could mean that I might have 4-6 teaching contracts, and that amount of work would equal a decent pay check for me. I am praying over these options now, and if this is the Lord's will for me, then so be it. I have several other options for work as the Lord leads as well. I applied for two full-time faculty positions and now I am just waiting to see if either are the Lord's will for me. I am trusting in His timing for a full-time faculty position. If He chooses to keep me as adjunct for another semester, that is fine by me. I know He has this worked out, and praise be to God, I want the RIGHT JOB and not just any job to come to pass. No, I am willing to wait for His best. I want His best always.  ALWAYS His best. 

Moreover, as I consider His provision, I must give Him thanks for He has made a way for me, He does certainly have me well-covered. I struggle with that covering at times, but the fact remains, He provides for my needs in so many ways. I have everything I need at present, and for those pending needs (in near future), I know He will provide for me. I can rest in His provision, in His safety and security, and in His will for my life. I can rest. I can rest. He is good, He is God, and I am grateful for His grace and mercy in my life! Selah!

I feel the clouds lifting, and that little storm cloud that was brewing over my head seems to have passed by without showering any rain on this girl's "mojo" today. I woke up feeling so fuzzy, so tentative, so unwell. In truth, I have felt confused lately, confused about a lot of things. I thought I had everything figured out, and I thought it all made sense to me. 1 Corinthians 14:33 NLT says, "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people," and while Paul was speaking of order in the congregation (not allowing anyone to prophesy or speak in tongues without an interpreter, etc.) I think we can safely say that God delights in order, not in confusion. He has created order out of chaos in our universe, He has set the days and times and epochs (Genesis), and in this way, He delights in order, in peace, and in rest.

There are times when I feel such clarity, and then there are other times when I feel so confused. The enemy is the author of confusion, so when I feel confused, I know it is because my enemy has fed me lies. He is crafty and very good at telling me things that "seem" so God-like but they are not. Remember his words in the garden? Yes, he has a way of using language that confuses and confounds the children of God. 

I also know how to defend against the enemy -- Ephesians 6:10-18 NASB -- reminds us to put on the whole armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

I especially like verse 18 where Paul says we are pray at all times in the Spirit. I think this is the critical part in this entire section of text. While we figuratively put on the amor of God, we must not just stand idly by in our gear. Our action and response is to pray in the spirit. We must actively pray -- and in doing so -- we unleash the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to defeat the enemy and his charge against us.

I have fallen down on this account lately, and yes, I can say it is because 1) I am so very tired; and 2) I am overwhelmed by the exam process; but nonetheless, I know that I must pray in the spirit as I stand battle-ready. My enemy exploits my weaknesses, and right now, he knows that my primary weakness is the fact that I am tired and overwhelmed. I am weak because I am overworked, stressed about my exams, and worried about the details of life. I am distracted, thus I am vulnerable to his ploys.

Thus, the proper response is to return to the One who is my Victor and my Champion. I must reaffirm my stance, place my trust where it belongs, and stand strong in His power and His presence. I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me. I cannot do what I am being ask in my own strength, but only through His strength. Therefore, today, while I am still feeling vulnerable and weak, I look up to Christ my head, and I recognize that everything I have accomplished, all the good in my life, is because of His authority, His headship, His grace and His mercy. I am good because He is good to me. I am safe because He has made me safe. I am provided for because He is my provision. I am happy, content, and at peace, because He is my joy and my peace. He comforts me. He sustains me. He gives me His life, and in this way, I live my days out in total and utter surrender to Him. He is good, He is God, and He is my everything.

Dear Lord,

I thank you for everything you have done in my life. I look up as I rest in your total provision for my life. You have made all this possible, and you will see me through to the end of all things. I let go the worry, the stress, the fear, the doubts, and the feeling of overwhelm now so that I can experience your peace, your joy, and your comfort. I love you, Lord. I love you, and I thank you for the good gifts you have provided from your marvelous and merciful hand. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

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