March 13, 2016

Blessed Sunday!

I woke up early today. I am not sure why this is happening, but it seems to be a recurring pattern. I wake up around 5 am and then cannot go back to sleep. I typically get up around 6:30, but even then, it is a stretch for me to stay in bed. Hmmm...what is going on here?

My day is starting slowly, quietly, and for that, I am thankful. My family is still asleep, and I am sitting at the computer reading the news of the day. My coffee is hitting the "spot" right now, and frankly, life is good. I am feeling better, but not great. Yesterday was such a good day for me -- until mid-morning -- that is. I had a row with my Dad about something rather meaningless, but these burst ups seem to be happening more frequently now. I understand why they are occurring, and I am trying very hard to combat them head on. My folks are in a difficult place, and my Dad is frustrated over their future, the plans they will have to make, etc. I do understand, and I am choosing to be compassionate rather than offended. It can be a challenge, of course, but with the Lord's help, I know I can do it.

Furthermore, sometime mid-afternoon, I started to get queasy, and then by dinner time, I had a "sick" headache. I was chilled and felt as if I was going to be ill. I rested most of the evening, and by 11 p.m. finally was able to go to sleep. This morning, the headache is gone, but I still feel a bit "off." I am not sure if this is a virus or if it was just stress brought on by the events of the day. My gut is saying it was some 24-hour bug I picked up at school.

Overall, I am feeling better, generally speaking. Today is a beautiful day in Phoenix, cool and sunny, and with that in mind, I am thanking the Lord for His gracious care and mercy. My life is good, very good. I have everything I need -- food on my plate, a roof over my head, and a secure future planned, prepared, and purposed by the Lord for my good. In truth, I lack nothing. I have my health, my vitality, and my outlook is good. I may not have all my little ducks in a row, but what I do have is very bright, very positive, and very much aligned with the Lord's will for my life. It is good, He is good.

As I consider this good, good day, one thing comes to mind: I wonder where I will be in the next year. I mean, I will be graduated (PTL!), but where will I be living, working, investing in my future? The Lord has these plans well in hand, and just last night, I shared with my son (again) that I am applying to jobs out of state. I know he wants to graduate. I know he wants to be settled, and I hate the fact that I am not able to provide that stable life right now. I don't want to stay here in Phoenix, yet I also don't look forward to moving away. I don't want to start over, but then again, I feel like I have never started here at all. I mean, I carried the problems of my previous life in San Jose right on to Phoenix, and in truth, nothing ever improved for us. I painted a pretty picture -- our own house as opposed to a rental home -- but the fact was that we never gained any momentum, any measure of success once we left CA for a life in AZ. In fact, our life didn't improve, it only worsened to the point of death. Living in the desert was not a benefit to our marriage or our family, rather it was a detriment. My ex-husband suffered two major life threatening illnesses here. I suffered such a severe asthma attack that I almost died as well. My son was plagued by nightmares and other health and emotional issues, so much that we had to home school him just to provide a measure of health and well-being. It is a wonder we survived at all, but then we were living in a place that was not of the Lord's will nor His choosing.

I know this is truth, I do. I didn't want to admit it for a long time, but hindsight is always 20/20. I realize now that coming to Phoenix was the worst mistake we could have made. Our reasons for coming here were not valid ones. Rather than turn our life around, repent from the sinful behaviors and agreements we were engaged in, we ran to Phoenix thinking it would be the solution. Instead, it only intensified our sorrow.

I have learned a valuable lesson in all of this history, and that is that running away from your problems, your life, etc. is never a good solution. It is always better to stay put, deal with whatever issues are facing you, and then only when you feel the best option is to move, do you move. I know now that I have made this same mistake more than once. I got married hoping it would "solve" my problem with my parents. Once married, I believed that having a child would "solve" the marital discord. I agreed to move away from my family (a good idea) in order to "solve" our financial troubles. I picked the wrong destination, and in the end, saw my life micromanaged and almost destroyed by the choice.

Now, I am considering moving again, but this time, I am only going to go where the Lord leads me. I have said it before -- if the Lord intends to have me stay put, then so be it. If He intends for me to move -- then let's go. I am simply trying to be flexible, to be movable, so that He can do whatever He desires in and through me. If there is a better life somewhere else, then I want that life. If it is in my best interest to remain, then I want to remain. I cannot go where I choose anymore, so now I must rest in His guidance as He leads me onward to the next phase of my life.

Several things come to mind this morning while I am blogging, thinking, and reflecting on the course of events in my life. So often, I recount the good things the Lord has done through me. I think this is vital -- we must never forget His goodness -- yet, often we overshadow the difficult trials, the mistakes, and yes, even the sins we made that put us in positions where we had to make choices, to make reparations.

Desiring a Clean Slate

I was thinking about this yesterday, how I would love to be able to have a clean slate. I would like to be able to wipe all the past mistakes, the errors, the poor choices from my slate, and make repairs to all the relationships I damaged in the process. I wish I could start over, like really just start over. I know this is impossible, but my heart wants a major do-over now.

The blessing is that I am forgiven. As a Christ-follower, the Lord has graciously wiped my slate clean. However, the mistakes I have made, the choices that I made that hurt other people, well, these are the sorrows I bear daily. I have tried my best to reconcile with people whom I offended, hurt, or treated badly over the years. There are many people with whom I am no longer in relationship, and these are the ones whom I feel saddened about the most. I know that the problems of the past, specifically the relationship problems were not one-sided (as in not all my fault), still I believe so strongly in Psalm 133:1-3NASB, which says,

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.

The Lord desires unity from His people, and that means physical unity as well as spiritual unity. One of the things I would like to do is repay all the people I owe in debt. I believe that it is the Lord's command that we not be in debt to other people. If we borrow money from another, we should honor that debt and pay it back as soon as we are able to do so. I have borrowed money from several individuals, and while I intended to pay them back, I never had the money to do so. I guess you could say that I borrowed when I was in great need, and my circumstance never changed any to afford me the ability to repay my debt. I did offer my services in a couple cases, whereby I worked, served, etc. to repay what was owed. In some instances, I believe that the debt was more than paid, but in other instances, I still have a lingering feeling that I owe more.

Sometimes I pray that the Lord would bless me financially just so I could take all the money He provides and give it to these people. I want my debt cleared. I want a clean slate. I cannot tell you how much this bothers me, and frankly, I think this is one of the reasons I struggle so with my current situation where I owe student loan debt and some credit card debt. I simply do not want to be in debt at all. I want to own my car, my house, all my things -- nothing borrowed -- only paid for out of my own pocket. The Lord has not provided for me in this way yet, so I must live with the regret of taking out more than I could pay, with borrowing from family and friends and not being able to pay them back.

I believe that before I leave Phoenix to go to this new place, I must repay all my debts. I must clear my slate, cross out all the line items that remain so that I can leave with all balances paid. My hope is that this will be the case, that before I move, I will have cleared my credit, repaid all the loans, and take care of all balances so that I can move forward with a clean slate, a clear accounting sheet.

I also believe that the Lord intends for me to begin a ministry in this new place. Thus, it is vital that I not owe anything that could hinder the success of this ministry effort. By this I mean, my accounts must be cleared so that nothing shines a harsh light on the ministry itself. I must learn to manage my accounts properly, to learn all the business details -- accounting, bookkeeping, etc. -- so that I can be honorable in all my ministry dealings. It is vital that the Lord's work be kept pure, thus I know I must clear my debts now before I can enter into His work whole-heartedly and with complete abandon to His purpose and His plans.

Praying for a Clean Slate

There are several things that must be attended to before I can move again. First, I must make repairs to my current financial situation. I must pay my credit cards off, and I must make a major payment on my student loans. These two things most readily affect my credit worthiness, and if I want to qualify for a home loan, well, I need to get these two areas under control. Next, my car loan must be paid for soon. I owe about half what was financed, and while I had thought about trading my car in, I decided (after the recent repairs) to keep it. It is in excellent condition, a solid little economy car, and thus, there is no need to purchase something newer. I may instead purchase a second vehicle for my son to use (his Honda is in okay shape) or I may find that I need a second vehicle, such as a truck, should the Lord move me to a place where I may have some acreage. In addition, I need to consider my savings, which are now being used to cover my monthly expenses. I will need to add to my savings in order to have the resources I will need to finance my move (travel, etc.). Last, I need on-going financial support so that I will have enough to live comfortably in my new location. I have calculated my costs, and I believe it is possible to reduce my expenses to about 3/4 of their current amount. This will give me extra money for savings and retirement, but will also provide "coverage" for any purchases I need down the road.

These are some immediate plans to help me move forward, but to repay those I borrowed from previously, well that will require a substantial investment of some sort in order for me to honor my debt. I am thinking now that I could easily begin paying these debts back on a monthly basis once I have a full-time job. I could set aside some each month and simply make the offer to pay them back. I would prefer to pay in lump sums, but for now, I think this is more reasonable in its scale. However, should the Lord provide so that I could simply pay back in one payment, that would be a blessing to me and to the folks who I owe smaller amounts.

Outside of borrowing money from some people in my life, I have a couple people with whom I need to work toward reconciliation. These are people who the Lord intends for me to bless, so I must stretch the olive branch and hope that they will agree to meet me half-way. If they do not, then I will trust the Lord to care for them without any future thought. But, if they are willing, then I will engage with them in a way so that I can be a blessing to them now at this point in their lives. It is difficult to say this, but since the Lord desires that I bless others, I must be willing to bless those that curse me, to bless those that do not deserve to be blessed. Yes, this is what He has asked me -- bless those whom I send to you -- without judging them or considering them unworthy of the blessing. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I have asked the Lord for the provision to become a blessing to others, and I believe this is His will for my life. Therefore, I will bless others, I will give to them what they need, and I will not consider the act anything other than simple obedience to the Lord. He is good to me, thus, I will be good to others in His Name.

Giving Blessings to Others

There are many ways to bless others outside of financial resources. My words are meant to be a blessing to others. My actions are meant to demonstrate blessing through touch, through care, and through service. Yet, for many today, the blessing they need is financial. Many people are suffering with medical issues, severe debt (not of their own accord), and other issues that are robbing them of their joy, their lives, and their hope in God. My heart wants to bless these people with the resources that they need in such a way that they never feel as though they must repay what they are given. I want them to feel the freedom that comes with God's grace, and that means that I want to freely give that which has been given freely to me. Of course, I understand that some people will take advantage of such generosity, but this is not my business. I will bless whom the Lord asks me to bless, and I will trust their heart condition to Him alone. He is able to see the intentions and secret motivations of the heart so I don't have to worry about it.

I believe this is part of the ministry work the Lord is calling me to engage in. I believe that He is sending me to a part of the country where this type of work is needed. I believe that as part of the work He has for me, I will be actively involved in providing financial blessing to others, to people in need. I also believe that I will be using this ministry as a vehicle to reach many people with the Gospel message of Christ, and that through this ministry effort, many people will come to know Jesus as Savior. I also believe that the Lord intends for me to engage in this ministry on a full-time basis and this is why He has provided a job that will be online (remote) so that I can work from home. I believe that this is His doing, and that shortly (or soon), I will receive a call to interview for an online teaching position. Until then, I will be faithful to the work I have to do -- namely -- my studies at Regent and my current contracts at GCU. In all, I believe that God intends to move me sooner rather than later, and that before I can move, He will tidy up all the existing issues here in Phoenix so that I can move with a clean slate. For those outstanding issues, the personal debts, I believe that the Lord will provide a way for me to repay the individuals involved, and to give to them what is owed. It is clear that the Lord believes strongly in honoring all debts, thus I take heart in knowing that it is His desire that I feel the same way.

In sum, as my life begins to turn toward my future and the plans He has for me, this is what I know today:

  • I am called to be a blessing to others
  • I am to bless others through ministry and through my words
  • I am to bless them financially as well as with the Gospel message
  • I am to bless them in ways that are tangible in order to alleviate suffering
  • I am to be a blessing in all that I do so I must be ready to live as a blessing
  • This means that living as a blessing, I must make sure that there is no spot or blemish on my record
  • I must do whatever it takes to account for all debts and pay them
  • I must live within my means from this point forward
  • I must honor all requests asked of me
  • I must be faithful to discharge my duties as a vessel of blessing to others

Dear Lord,

Today is the first day of the week, and as such, I ask that you will restore to me all fortunes and benefits that belong to me. I ask Lord that you would right all the wrongs in my life, and enable me to begin this process of repaying my debts. I ask that you open doors of opportunity so that I can earn the income I need, and that through this income, produce a life that is modest and comfortable for me and for my son. I also ask that you begin to move in the hearts of others so that I can be reconciled wherever possible. I ask Lord that as you move, you will enable me to extend grace to all people, to not judge them, but instead love them as you love them. May my life be transformed now so that I can bless others, serve others, and love others in your Name. I ask all of this in the mighty, merciful, and most majestic Name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, Amen.

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