February 17, 2016

Making The Most of the Time

It is a blessed Wednesday morning, and I am up early today. My home is quiet, and I am at peace. It has been a long road to get to this place of contentment, but I have finally arrived. I wish I could say that something miraculous happened or that I had an epiphany moment, but that is not the case. Instead, it seems that things have started to fall into place, and I am ready to accept the truth about my situation, the plans the Lord has for my life, and the desires and intentions He has for me personally. I guess I didn't want to believe that things would work out this way, but it appears that this is what is going to be, and well, I need to accept and deal with it. As weird as that may seem, I am okay with accepting reality. I mean, I really am OK with accepting the truth of what is and must be. Let me explain...

Last night while my parents and I were at dinner, my Mom had an "episode" or what laymen would call, an "attack." Yes, she occasionally gets these kinds of episodes where she has intense pain, nausea, and profuse sweating. We have taken her to the doctor before, and she has had a full workup, and always the answer to the cause is "unknown." Her other illnesses -- CLL, diabetes, and most recently breast cancer -- typically are the culprits that get the blame. Yet, she still will suffer with these ailments, and frankly, I think she is getting really tired of experiencing them without any answer to their cause. I have googled the symptoms before and they always point to a heart attack. Yet, when we go into the doctor, they do the EKG, and everything is normal. It seems that she gets these episodes and then everything seems to settle down.

I told my Dad we should take Mom to the ER. Mom didn't want to go, and thinking about it just made her feel worse. In the end, she said she was doing better, her color returned, and by the end of the night, she seemed fine. Same scenario played itself out -- yet again.

Dad is going to call the doctor this morning and make an appointment for her just in case, but I sat there last night and thought the worst. You know...what will happen if my Mom should die? I hate to think that way, but I couldn't help not to consider it. My Mom is 83, and she is not well. Her illnesses, especially her CLL has taken such a toll on her physical abilities. Plus, the Alzheimers is getting worse, and with that and her recent cancer scare, well let's just say she is worn out. She is doing her best, but I can see how disappointed she is in her life right now. She reads and watches TV, and we do keep her involved in Bible study and the ladies group. But, there is little she can do on her own, and I think this bothers her so much. She hates that she cannot drive, that my Dad has to take her everywhere. She doesn't like that she is losing her memory, and she doesn't like the way she feels every day.

I started to think about her condition and her long-term care. Right now, my parents have no plan for long-term care except for what they are doing, which is to live with me. They have no insurance to provide for their care, so whatever happens, they will need to live with a family member. I am the most likely candidate since we get along the best. Yet, the Lord is calling me to move, of this I am sure, and my parents will not, cannot, consider that at this time. What do I do?

I thought about what I would do should Mom pass away. How would I deal with my Dad? I mean, how would Dad deal with my Mom passing away? My parents have been married for almost 57 years (their anniversary is next week). My Dad always assumed that my Mom would care for him due to his post polio. However, the case is reversed, and my Dad, while not strong or physically able, is attempting to do what he can to care for her. It is so difficult to watch them, and I pray every day that when the time comes, the Lord will simply take them home, you know, to allow them to pass in their sleep. It would be easiest on me in some ways (no death is every easy, for sure).

I think I have been trying to figure out how I would manage here when all along the Lord has been preparing me for His outcome. I don't know their time or epochs, as the Word says, but I can see the writing on the wall, so to speak. My parents lives are coming to an end, and while they may still live one, two or more years, the fact remains that they will eventually succumb to old age and the various ailments that they suffer with, and when that times comes, well, I need to be ready for it.

I am not trying to be morbid, but rather, I am trying to be realistic. My parents are getting older, and I have to accept the reality of this fact. Their time is in His hands, but this still means that I must accept the fact that the Lord doesn't intend for my parents to go with me. My Dad has made it absolutely clear that they cannot move. The Lord has pressed on me that I must go to where He is sending me, and I must go soon. The time in between is then for me to be prepared, to get my house in order, and to make myself ready to go. I know this is the case. I know it because He has been saying this to me for several years now. I just didn't want to believe that this is what would be, what would happen, what would finally come to pass.

I have to accept this fact. The Lord's plan for my life is a good one, and He does have a place in mind for me to settle. Yet, the Lord knows my needs, my parents' needs, and my son's needs. He has this all figured out. I have been trying so hard to find a solution, a solution that would work for all of us, and it seems now that the solution the Lord has in mind is for me to go ahead of my family. Will He provide a place for my parents to live? I believe yes, this is so. Will He keep us together? I believe yes, for a time. However, since none of us knows our own days and hours, we must live each day with the realization that life is precious, and that life is not to be taken for granted.

Making Plans and Moving On

My study group conference call went well last night. I feel good that all four of us will pass our defense in the coming week. One of our group goes first on Friday. The other two are with me the following week. We have all worked very hard for this next step, and we know that we cannot do this without His help, for sure. My prayer is that we all pass. No one wants to come back and retake any of these sections. My hope is that by next Friday, all four of us will be ABD. Praise God, may it be so, may it be so!

Between now and then, of course, I have to do some studying, clarifying, and generally, some polishing so that I can get my life in order. Yes, this is part of the "house keeping" that the Lord has reminded me to do. I need to pass my exams and advance to candidacy so I can receive that full-time faculty position. I believe it is coming, and with it, I will have steady income again (whew!) Three years has been a long time in coming, for sure!

I know that once I am employed full-time, then the Lord will move me east. I know this, I have known this now for the past nine years. I never really understood the timing of it nor did I think that I would be a professor, but I did believe that sometime around 2017, the Lord would move me permanently. I have scoped out so many places, done my due diligence, and realized through it all that the Lord is the one to determine my final destination. I mean, I have wanted to go many places, some were places of my childhood, and other were places that the Lord simply pressed on my heart. I have wanted to go so badly at times, and then at other times, I have been afraid to even think about moving away from my home and my family. Now, though, I see that I am at the end, the time has come, and I must go. He has been saying to me, "Carol, you must go." I know, Lord, I know, I will go.

It is difficult to know the right way to go. I mean, when the Lord says "You may live anywhere so long as you are within an hour of a major airport" that opens up many, many locations in the US. Some of the major cities I have considered previously have been:
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Tampa
I have also looked at some smaller cities too including Chattanooga, Columbus, Winston-Salem, etc. In all, I have probably looked over 20 different cities, checking out county and city websites, and viewing house listings on zillow.com. I have scoped out banks, shopping centers, utilities, and churches. In truth, the Lord has had me on a mission to find my next home, my forever home, for a long, long time.

Part of this process, I think, has been to prepare me to move. I think the Lord needed me to see that the places I considered all were viable locations. None of them were so far from the beaten path that I couldn't have services. He is not sending me off the grid, thank goodness. No, the places He has shown me are all in cities with infrastructure, stores, and the necessities of life. One thing I know is this -- He intends for me to work -- and that means that I need to be in a place where there is work for me to do.

I also think He has been helping me decide on the type of place, the type of house, the type of neighborhood where I would like to set down roots. You see, I have issues with the type of place I want to live in. I vacillate between country and city, old and new. The Lord is helping me decide which is best, and so far, I am leaning toward new rather than old. My heart longs for old -- like turn of the century old -- but the practical me says new is better. My heart wants trees and grass and a bit of space to sprawl -- but the practical me says a smaller yard is easier for me to care for long term. My heart thinks living in the country, with a well, and an old fashioned house is cosy, comfortable, and cool. Yet, my practical side thinks -- drafty old house, mice, and nasty water. Yes, I think I have come to realize that what I want, while nice and sweet, is not the best thing for me. 

The Lord knows that while I am not into a "show place," I like nice things. I like clean things, and I don't want to live in a dump ever again. I want a home that shows well, is clean and presentable for visitors. I want a home that has nice things in it, is not cluttered with junk or old papers or boxes (I did that already). No, what I want is a lovely home where I can live comfortably without a lot of fuss, muss, and upkeep. Yes, I think this is what He has been showing me, and I simply didn't want to believe it because for so many years, I wanted old, dusty, and dirty.

It is funny, really. I mean, I have looked at hundreds of homes, and very few of them "meet" my standard of living. I am not looking at million dollar homes, and in truth, I don't want an expensive home at all. But I do want a nice house. I want a house that says "Carol" on it. I never realized how important this was to me until just recently. I've never had a home of my own, well not until I rented my town home. I have blogged about how that one came about, and how the Lord showed me this very home several times, but how I refused to go and check it out until it was almost gone. Yes, in the end, He put me in the perfect place. It was a lovely home, just the kind I would have picked to live in. And, to think, I refused to accept His choice for me simply because I didn't like the outside parking lot! LOL!

Now, I realize that for many years, I have been doing the same thing. The Lord shows me places on the Internet, and I go check them out. I like some, and others, I pass by. In the end, I struggle with choosing because nothing really looks "right" on the outside. I need to let this go, and to let the Lord provide the home to me that is His choice. Just like with my town home, He provided a wonderful sweet man as land lord, a lovely newish home to move into, and a great place for me and my son to live for the two years in between our former home and our current home. I think He is more than able to provide a forever home to me. I just need to trust Him on this one.

Now that I think about it, I realize that there are a number of things I need to trust the Lord for in my life. Of these things, these three are most pressing:
  1. A full-time faculty position at the school of His choosing
  2. A home located near a major city that affords the amenities I am used to having around me, and a place where both me and my son can live comfortably
  3. An income that will provide for our daily needs as well as one that will help me pay off my debts and take care of my future/long-term financial needs
I cannot come to terms with these three things on my own, no matter how hard I try. I have to rest in His provision, let Him lead me, and let Him be -- in all things -- let Him be God in and through my life.

As I look toward the future, one thing is clear: God does have a great plan for my life. He knows me well, and He has my needs so well-covered. I trust Him today to provide these three things along with all the other things I have need of this good, good day. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

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