I was talking with my good friend last night, and I said that today, I had very little on my to-do list. I thought it was funny because for the first time in the past three years, I actually have very little to do right now. I do need to review my answers for next week, and I have some prep work that must be created (flash cards, etc.), but other than this and a handful of left over grading, I don't really have to do much of anything today. I may get my car washed later on, and I probably will go to Walmart for a few items. Other than this, I am a free, free gal today! Yay! Praise God, selah!
One of the things I am thinking of doing, though, is to start thinking or preparing my heart and mind for moving. The Lord has placed on my heart the idea of moving, of going, and I cannot shake the feeling I have about it. I have tried to figure it out, as in "where are we going, Lord" and so far I simply do not know. But the feeling that we are "going" someplace new is there in my heart. It is also on my mind -- a lot. What do I do about it?
I could just ignore the feeling, think other thoughts, but I cannot seem to do that very well. I have tried, mind you, and I have turned my head away thinking that it is better to remain in the present than to think or dream about the future. Yet, whenever I do that, the Lord seems to press harder into me, asking me to be prepared, to be ready, to get my head in gear.
I guess I have no other choice than to accept the fact that the Lord does intend to move me, and He intends to move me soon. Whether I go here or there is immaterial, but the fact remains that He is moving ahead of me, and He is telling me to get myself ready, so I must. I must be prepared.
Preparation and Plans
One of the things I have struggled with over the past 8-9 years is the "preparing to go" mindset. When the Lord first started to prepare me for going, I thought He really meant "get up and go!" You know, like we are moving in 10 days so pack your bags kind of going. This never happened, and then I thought "Well, obviously, what I heard was not from the Lord," and as a result I stopped listening for a while. But the voice I heard saying "get ready to move" didn't subside. I kept hearing the call to move, to go, and finally I had to start paying attention to it.
I would make notes on all the places I felt the Lord was calling me to go to over time. I probably reviewed a dozen or so, in deep detail, and when none of these places proved to come to pass, I once again stopped listening. The call didn't stop, just like before, so I would pick up my note pad and continue to study, to research, and to plan out a move that would take place at some point in my future. It was weird, really, to feel this strong desire to move when everything in your life shouted at you, "You are not going anywhere, sister!" I never realized back then that someday in my future, I would be free to move, to go, and all that preparation and planning was simply to get me ready to go. Yes, He made sure I was ready to go.
Now, I only hear "You are ready, Carol," and so that means I must be prepared to the point where I can follow after Him. I still have doubts. I still worry about the details. I still don't know where we are going, just that we are going, and we are going to "get up and go" very soon. Until that time, I continue prepare, to plan, and to put my trust in the One who is able to move me. I cannot move on my own. I am unable to even consider it. But, the Lord has this all figured out, and I rest in His provision and in His plan. Yes, I rest in His plan. Often I will say that I am trusting in His provision, but I will fail to say "and in His plan." There is only one plan, and it belongs to Him. I sometimes get that point confused -- you know -- thinking that there are many plans and many options, when in reality, there is just one. Yes, the plan the Lord has for my life is good. His plan is already figured out. He knows tomorrow, and He knows where He wants me to go. There is no doubt in His mind that the place He is sending me is His place, His best for my life and the work He intends for me to do there. He has this all in His hand, and why for the life of me, I struggle with that fact, I just don't know. I just don't know. God is good, all the time -- He is good. Why cannot I just rest and trust in His plan for my life?
I am thinking the reason I struggle to trust Him with His plan is because I don't really know what will be. Yes, I have a "need to know" problem. I have always needed to know, and that need has tripped me up more times than not. I need to know everything. I want to know everything. I want the details -- the facts -- and without them, I struggle mightily with resting. He knows this about me, and thankfully, He doesn't always leave me in the dark. Yes, He gives me light (illumination) so I can see my path clearly. I just cannot see miles down the road. Sigh!
Choosing the Right Path
It is this "not seeing down the road" that has caused me to stumble so frequently. I mean, how do I know where to go? How will I know that the path I am on is the 'right path' for me. I realized that my choices in life were limited. This was about six years ago now when my life (as I knew it) had turned south on me. My marriage was falling apart, and I needed to get a job, a real job (outside the home) for the first time in some 25 years. The Lord was my strong tower then (as He is now), and He graciously helped me see that my future held three possible paths. Each path was good, but I had to make a choice and choose one path to follow. I struggled for a time with choosing a path, a direction to go, simply because I worried that one path might be better than the other. I didn't want to make such a huge decision and end up worse off so I vacillated for a long time. It took time for me to come to understand that each of these paths were good choices, and that each would enable me to accomplish His will for my life. Yes, each path would take me different places, to different locations, and the work I did (practical) would be different based on the choice of direction. The ministry work would be the same regardless, so in essence, I could take one of three paths and still arrive at my final destination having accomplish His will for me.
These three paths were opportunities that would provide a good life for me and for my son. They would open doors for me that would allow me to work and to live in various places in the US. In all, they were good choices, good paths. I floundered early on, as I said, because I believed that there was just one right path. In truth, there is just one right path -- and that is the path that leads through Jesus -- and takes us toward eternity. I was already on that right path for sure, but I also needed to choose path in this life that would, practically-speaking, provide for my needs. Spiritually, I was on the right track. Physically and materially, I need to get moving forward in order to meet my daily needs as well as my long-term financial needs.
Of these three paths, I chose the path that leads through higher education (path 1). I could have chosen the path that took me into retail management (path 2) or corporate analysis (path 3). I was on paths 1 and 2 for a time while I finished my master's degree. I worked at Macy's and then UOPX and finally CVS Caremark. In all, path 2 provided a good life, a good income, and for the most part, a path to successful retirement. But, there was this strong desire within me to pursue education, and to teach, at the least to try teaching college courses. The Lord provided an opportunity for me, and for the past three years, I have been on this path (3).
At this point, this is the path I will remain on. I cannot get back to these other paths, and for a time last year, I did have the opportunity to crossover, but I decided that this was the way to go, and so here I remain. God has prospered me in this path, but not materially or financially, as would have been possible on these other paths. No, I don't make enough to live on yet, but the personal satisfaction of seeing students learn, improve, and overcome, has been well worth it. Plus, I have come to love teaching, to really, really love it. And, that is worth more to me. I mean, I liked the work I did at CVS, but I didn't like the company politics nor did I like the long work hours. While I felt good about my work, as in my productivity, I didn't feel the same sense of satisfaction as I do now. No, teaching has been a hard fought battle, and I have overcome the trials, the feelings of doubt and insecurity, and I have made this my life. I am content now. I am happy to be on this path. I am thankful for the provision of it, for the life lessons learned while walking on it, and I look forward to all the new opportunities that are waiting for me down the road. Yes, this is a good path, and I am glad I finally decided to give it a try. God is good, so good to me. Selah!
Finding the Right Job
Path 3, the path through higher education, has been a good choice for me. I am content, happy, and well-satisfied -- even if -- I don't make a solid salary yet. I know that in time, the Lord will provide a job that will meet my needs, provide a good income for me long-term, and enable me to be settled someplace modest where I can live comfortably through the end of my life. This is all I ask of Him, really, I mean. I have asked that I could be:
- Settled, set and fixed, in a forever home
- Live modestly, comfortably
- Have good practical work to do (teaching)
- Have good ministry work to do (communications)
- Build lasting friendships
- Be content all my days
I have not asked Him for lucrative positions, for a money stream that will provide oodles of financial security. He knows my heart on that matter, and He knows that I do have issues with financial security. I made a conscious decision a while back, and that was, to place my trust in Him rather than in riches. The Lord knows that I desire money, a lot of it, but not to spend or to lord over other people, rather it is just that I desire the money for other reasons. Of these reasons, the biggest ones are:
- To be secure always (as in have enough to cover my daily needs)
- To be free from debt (no house payment, car payment, credit cards)
- To be able to take care of my family well
- To provide for the needs of my church family and others in the community
- To offer educational help to those with great needs
- To provide music education for students who cannot afford instruments
- To travel and go to places where the Lord asks me to minister/teach
- To be free to move about the country as He leads me
I don't desire riches or wealth for personal gain. I don't desire a million dollar home or a 600-acre ranch. I would like a small amount of space, perhaps an acre or two with a country farm house on it. I am particular about the house, though, and that is because I don't like what most people do with these old homes. I don't want a house that is made to look new inside. I want an old house that looks old. I want it to be clean, in good working order, and functional -- but I don't want a historic home (over 100 years old) that looks old on the outside and all new on the inside. I hate it when people do this to these beautiful homes. I want wood floors, wood trim, staircases, pocket doors, glass knobs, and yes, funky baths and kitchens.
Moreover, I don't want to spend a lot of money. I am miserly when it comes to spending money. I will spend $1500 on a side-by-side refrigerator, but not $200,000 on a house. I see value in the refrigerator, as in its function, but not in a showplace home whose purpose is only to "show off." Nope, I would rather spend $100K and live in a home that might need some work, but not one that will tax my income every month to pay the mortgage or that will cost me oodles to keep it warm/cool throughout the year.
I am particular, of course, and that is problematic. There are not a lot of places like this around here. I need to move east. I need to move to the midwest or to the east or to the southeast to find old farmhouses like this that are reasonably priced. If I go to the midwest or east, then I contend with below zero temps and lots of snow. If I go to the southeast then I contend with tornados and other icky weather.
As of right now, I am content to go north, south or east. I am okay with either direction, but my preference is southeast, of course. Yes, who'd a thunk I would choose to go where the weather is icky...sigh! I would give up my beloved snow for my beloved, should the Lord make it possible for me to move south. I am waiting for His provision, of course, and when He is ready for the actual move, I will be ready as well.
For now, I am waiting for several things. Once these things, these remaining things fall into place, then I anticipate the Lord giving me the "all clear," and then we will finally go. Like REALLY GO!
- Full-time job teaching online (necessary)
- Debts paid down to facilitate moving and buying a house
- Resources (finances) to enable moving (packing, transporting, setting up)
- A house that is ready to move into (key) so I don't have to do much work other than customizing it to my liking and needs
- Resolution of all my life, loose-ends, and such here in Phoenix
- Solution for my son's living arrangements for next year (his last) at school
- Care for my parents (on-going) so they will be safe and secure
- Confirmation that this is His will (most important)
I know that seems like a lot, but I think it is reasonable and practical. I need to have all my little ducks in a row so that I can know for sure that I am going where He wants me to go. It is His plan, after all, and that means that there is only one plan to follow. I rest and I trust in His good plan for my life this day. Selah!