February 2, 2016

Moving Forward

It is February, and I am thinking "pink"! Pink is my favorite color now, not sure why, but it is. I love all things PINK. Yes, I am feeling very "pinkish" today. For those of you who don't know what that idiom means, it is used to express a feeling of wellness, of feeling fit or good. While I won't go as far as to say I feel "well" in every way or area of my life (physically, I am stiff and sore -- just getting old), I will say that I do feel well in my spirit and my soul. Yes, I feel in the pink, and as a result, I am giving God all the praise, the honor, and the adoration for it is He who has made me feel this way today. God has richly blessed me in every way, and I am thankful for the treasures and provisions He has brought to my life. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

Just to keep track of things, today is February 2nd, so technically it is Groundhog Day here in the US. Punxatawney Phil didn't see his shadow today so the prediction is for a shorter than normal winter. This means spring is right around the corner. It certainly doesn't feel very spring-like here in Phoenix. I woke up to a chilly morning with the temperature hovering somewhere around 34-36 degrees. Inside, the heater was on, but the house was only at 70-71 degrees and frankly, that is a bit chilly for me. I didn't want to climb out from under my covers. My boys wanted to be fed, and they were not content to remain still for long, so eventually I got up and out to the kitchen to feed them and to get my cup of coffee. Now I am seated at my computer, and well, I am trying to get myself reconnoitered so I can begin my day. I have a lot on my to-do list, but I feel confident that I can do everything that "must needs" be done this good, good day. Selah!

Moving Forward and Reaching Up

It is a good day today. I have a lot on my plate, but I am making steady progress through my study/review books. I am down to 8 days before I sit my written exams, and today, I have to say that I am not really nervous at all. I may be a bit uncertain, for sure, but I am not panicked or nervous. Frankly, there is only so much I can recall, and to memorize 8 classes of doctoral content -- enough to be able to discuss the topic cogently -- well, that is nearly impossible. Thus, I let go of the idea that I would need to recall everything, and instead, I focused on what I thought was reasonable and plausible for me to do. This means that I have been steadily working through material that I felt covered the "meat" of each course. Truthfully, I have no idea what I will be asked, so instead of focusing on what I don't know, I have had to study what I do know. It has been a difficult process, but at this point, I do feel like I know enough to write a two-hour essay exam answer. Praise God!

The process has been grueling, to say the least, and I am tired and ready to move on. Yes, I want to be done with my exams so that I can rest, really rest, and then begin the even more challenging work of my dissertation. I am ready to take these next steps, and I am excited to do this level of work. I just have to hunker down and finish this review process with strength. I know the Lord has me well covered, and I know He will provide for me. He is good, so very good, so very good to me! Selah!

The house is very quiet this morning. My son is at school, and my parents are at the doctor's office. My Mom is having her quarterly checkup for her CLL. Hopefully, she will remain in stable condition. Her last checkup was good, and her white blood cell count had stabilized. This is good news for her chronic condition, so the prayer today is really just more of the same. My Mom's memory is the challenge, and every day it seems we struggle more and more with her ability to remember how to do things. For the most part, she can handle the daily "to do's" that she has taken responsibility for these past 70 years. It is remembering how to do things, dates, and things that just seem to disappear on her. For example, she still remembers that we need to eat at certain times of the day, but often she will forget to make herself something to eat. Or she will forget to take her pills even though my Dad has left them out for her on the counter. She might forget to put things away, food mostly, and she will leave things on the counter. I know this may seem normal for anyone who is 80 plus, but my Mom has never been this way, so for her, this is so not normal. There are other things, the mental confusion, the inability to make choices and decisions (like ordering off the menu) or even shopping at the store. She is unable to process complex details, so my Dad or I have to take care of these things for her. It is not a burden at all, but it can be difficult to manage especially when there are competing interests (like my study schedule or work schedule). So far, the Lord has graciously provided for us to live together and with that or for that, I should say, I am thankful.

Still, I am looking forward to my independence, and to taking the next steps the Lord has in mind for me. I blog mostly about my life, my schooling, and my work situation, but there is another part of my life that I am anxiously waiting for the Lord to begin working in and through for His name and praise. Yes, my love life has steadily been improving, and now that my good friend and I have been in a relationship for almost two years, it is exciting to think about the time when the Lord will bring us together. Yes, I await His next steps for me in this regard. I long for a satisfying relationship, a companionship that will endure through my golden years, and I want to experience this type of deep soul-to-soul friendship so that I can enjoy what I believe is God's design for relationships between men and women. My marriage was not this way, and even though I lived with the same man in faithful union for nearly 30 years, I never had a true friendship with him. I didn't have that "I love you more today then when I married you" feeling. It isn't that I didn't try, but life wasn't good between us, and it was difficult to find reasons to love someone who did things that cut against your core beliefs. I tried my very best, but in the end, I found the relationship difficult, tiring, and draining of all life and energy. I hate to say it that way because I do believe that love is a choice we make, and that we choose to love a person for life. The problem, and I can say this now, is that it is vital that the person you choose to love is worthy of being loved. Let me explain...

Love is one of those amazing wonderful emotions, and we all enjoy that first blush of "love." I know I certainly did, and I still do. However, love is something that is also fickle, and when we love someone or say we do, often what we mean is that we are in "lust" with them. We find them sexually attractive or we find them dazzling to our senses. We form romantic attachments that are not predicated on love, real love, but on fantasy or emotional stability, and in doing so, we set ourselves and our relationships up for a rocky road and rough going romance. You see, love is predicated on selfless and sacrificial service to another. It is mutual, and must be a balance of give and take. It says "I am willing to lay down my life for you" without expecting the other person to do the same. The key, though, is that in true spiritual and loving relationships, the other person IS WILLING TO DO THE SAME. This is what is vital to spiritual health and wellness. Too often couples join and one partner is willing to do everything, sacrifice everything, and the other partner is not. This makes for a manipulative and controlling relationship whereby one person is the giver and one person, the receiver. If this type of imbalance continues throughout the life of the relationship, you will have in-equalization that will simply drain the relationship of all its sympathetic and mutually serving properties.

I realized too late that the man I married wasn't willing to sacrifice for my needs. No, I married a man who had narcissistic tendencies, and who pretty much did what he wanted when he wanted to do it. Furthermore, while he treated me with a measure of kindness on the outside, he wasn't a kind man on the inside. He didn't place my feelings, my needs or even my desires any where near his own. He chose his way, and when he didn't get his way, then he would become emotionally distant. He used his emotions to blackmail me so my response to his withdrawal was to give in, which I did. I spent my life living this way, always giving, but never receiving anything in return. I made the mistake in marrying him because I wanted to get out from under my parents control, and I believed that this man genuinely cared for me. He didn't care for me at all. Instead, he used me for his own delight, and even after I realized that this was all he wanted from me, I refused to walk away (out of pride really, and of course, shame). Yes, I married a man who didn't love me, but who wanted to use me to satisfy his own selfish needs and desires.

Now that I am single, and aware of what I did in the past, I know that I don't want to repeat that scenario again. No, this time, I am waiting for a man who wants me for me, and who is willing to lay down his life to protect me and honor me. I am willing to do the same for him, but instead of "hoping" it is so, and I am waiting to see that it is indeed "so." There is no rush in forming romantic relationships. I am no longer of childbearing age, so there is no pressure due to a biological clock ticking. No, I long for true spiritual companionship, and a love that is predicated on God's will for our lives. I want to live 100% wholly devoted to God, and should the Lord call me to be married a second time, well then I will go into that marriage with the eye on the prize -- God's design for marriage -- above all else. Yes, my desire is to be married again, but to a man who is worthy of my love, my respect, and my mutual submission. I will not settle for second-best, and I will not follow after any man unless I believe that he is the one God has purposed and planned for my life. Selah!

I am fortunate to have found a Godly man who loves the Lord, and who places that love first and foremost in his life. Furthermore, this good, good man, genuinely cares for me. He is a good man, an honest man, and while not a perfect man, he wants to share his life with me. In this way, I think the Lord has placed us together for a reason. First of all, our ministry and calling is similar, yet different. We are both called to preach the word of God, though I am doing it in a different way than he is. Second, we are both devoted to God, and have surrendered our life fully to Him. We go where the Lord leads, and because of our reliance upon the Lord, we don't make decisions that will go outside His will. Third, and most importantly, we both desire to be married, but are content to remain single until the Lord provides a mate for us. This means that we have not had any physical contact with one another in order to "wait" for the Lord to provide a way for us to meet. The blessing has been that we are in a relationship with one another, we are committed to one another, but we are distanced due to factors outside our control at this time. We are learning what it means to wait on the Lord, to wait for the Lord to open doors of opportunity (for ministry, for work, and for life), and in doing so, we are gaining strength to be successful in whatever way the Lord calls us to go. In short, the longer we wait, the more we desire one another, and the more we realize that the other person is "worthy" of that wait.

I cannot really explain it other than to say that I find that as the time goes by, I desire this man more and more, and not just for those romantic feelings I have for him. No, I desire to spend my life with him and to be his companion. This means that all romantic feelings aside, I am choosing this man as my companion, and I am trusting the Lord to fulfill all the desires I have in my heart toward this end. If it is the Lord's will, then we will be together. If it is not the Lord's will, then we will not. The funny thing is that we are not growing a part, but rather we are growing closer together. This has been hard for us, especially as I have had to take time from our weekly conversations in order to focus on my studies. The distance created by not talking to one another has been hard on us, but we are committed to seeing each other through whatever circumstances befall us. This means we stand next to one another, strong in the Lord, and patient in the belief that the Lord will see us through to His perfect end, His perfect measure of completion.

My life, thus, is bound up in one pursuit alone, and that is to serve the Lord with gladness, to relish in His provision for my life, and to surrender all my desires, wants, and needs to His mighty and merciful hand of blessing. He knows me well, and He has me so well-covered, so well-covered. Selah!

Today, then is a good day. I am ready to tackle my stack of study materials, and to continue to push forward and prepare for my exams. I know the Lord has a great and mighty plan for my life, and in this way, I am trusting and relying on Him to see me through to the end of this process. His plan for my life is good. I am thankful, I am hopeful, and I am anxious to see His revealed will come to pass. I cannot wait to see all of the good gifts the Lord has in mind for me, to experience the full-time job He has waiting for me, and finally be able to enjoy spending time with the man I love. God's timing is perfect, and He knows me well. He loves me, and with His great love, I can rest and take assurance that I am so well-covered, so well covered this good, good day!

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