March 25, 2016

Good Friday

It is Good Friday. It is my last official day of spring break, and I am feeling well. Today is the day when we commemorate, we celebrate the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We remember his burial this evening, and then Sunday, we give Him all for His resurrection from the dead!

Easter is here! The Lord has risen -- He is not dead! I am thankful today that as a believer I, too, have been risen to walk in newness of life. My debt has been paid on the cross of Calvary, and I have been conformed to His death, His burial, and His resurrection. Praise be to God, I am saved, I am saved!

Some Random Thoughts

My back is stiff and sore, but I think it is from laying in the same position all night. I think I need a new mattress! I bought my current mattress when I moved out of my home back in 2011. It is a decent Sealy, pillow top with memory foam, so truthfully, it should have many years left in it. But, for some reason, the past year or so, it has been very uncomfortable for me to sleep on it. I am thinking it is the memory foam in the topper that is causing the problem. If the memory foam gets squished down, it doesn't seem to want to "bounce" back. I've thought about getting a topper of sorts, you know, to put ON TOP of the topper. I don't know if this is the best plan or if it is better just to purchase a better quality mattress (one without memory foam) down the road. Sigh!

Last night, I had a good conversation with my friend who lives in the South. I always enjoy our time together, even if it is by phone. We are so similar in many ways, yet we have very different tastes (especially in food). Our upbringing is to blame for that difference -- cultural tastes and such -- are formed in childhood. I was raised in the Northeast, Midwest, and West -- and he was raised in the South. We tend to like the same kinds of other food, though, but local favorites such as fish, shrimp, and grits, etc., well, just turn my stomach off. He thinks it is so odd that I don't like fish. I know, most people think it is odd. I just don't. I never have liked seafood of any kind. LOL!

Our conversation about food was only part of our discussion last night. We also talked about work, school, and life, in general. It was good to have a night of friendly conversation -- you know -- just life stuff. Sometimes our conversations are theological or biblical in nature. Sometimes we discuss our school assignments. Most of the time, we are focused on issues within the church or within Christianity as a whole. Our callings are similarly focused, so our conversation generally surfaces on topics of interest to each of us and to what we believe the Lord is asking us to do (ministry-wise).

As I thought about life, my life, I realized last night how often I focus on the future, future plans and such. I guess you could say that I tend to look forward more than remain in the present. I know my blog is mostly about my past life, my reflections of my past, but it is also a journal that seeks to clarify my future hopes, dreams and desires. I long to know what tomorrow will bring, but I am afraid at times that what will come will not be as good as I had hoped. You know, I wonder if my future will be as I have thought it would be or if my future will be better or worse?

No one knows the future, save the Lord. Still, I like to think about it, to hope for it. I have seen how the past six years turned out different than what I had hoped. I mean, when I found myself single, I didn't imagine living in a home shared with my parents. It was an option back then, but my parents lived in a different home, and they didn't have room for us. Instead, we moved to a town home and the Lord provided a lovely place where we could rest. We lived there for 18 months, enjoying the freedom, the peace, and the perfect location (close to my son's school and about 15 minutes from my place of work). It was the perfect place for us. We moved because our owner wanted to sell the place, and I knew that I would be heading to doctoral studies. I didn't think I could afford to live on my own and do my program. In hindsight, the Lord would have provided for me. I know He would have provided, had remaining in the town home been His will for us. He did provide an alternative, and that was to move here to be with my parents. It has been both a negative and positive for us -- with times of frustration and stress -- mixed into more happy times. Still, I miss the quiet solitude of my own place.

My future back then was all about the job. In truth, all I prayed about, sought, and desired was a full-time job. I wanted to move out of my home, to get away from my husband, in order to move on with my life. He was not going anywhere, as he told me, so he said I had to move out. It took 18 months for me to find a job where I could afford to move out, and then I did. I moved, along with my son and our two cats. The Lord provided the job and the home. He provided everything we needed to be able to move. In the end, my ex-husband remained in our home for two more months before it was sold at auction. He moved into an apartment on the other side of town, and the rest as they say, is history.

Now, I am thinking again about a job and a permanent home. How weird is that? I mean, it has been longer than 18 months between moves. My son and I moved in with my parents in June of 2013. So in June of 2016, we will have shared this home for three years. If you think about it mathematically, the time between leaving my home to moving here was exactly three years. Now, I am ready to move on, and it has been three years. Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly that I am to go. Perhaps it is because I am ready to go, and the Lord's timing is ready for me to go.

The problem is of course that I don't know where to go yet. I have several possibilities, several locations that I feel the Lord has sanctioned, but I don't have a for-sure-for-positive yet. I feel strongly toward a certain place, but I want to go where He wants me to be -- planted -- that is. Until I am sure, I will have to wait. But then, as I remember the issue with finding my town home, I don't want to wait too long and almost miss the "open door." God showed me the town home three weeks before I trusted Him to go and check it out. Once I did, I found out that five other people had placed applications on it. I was told it was no longer available, but the owner relented and allowed me to apply. He then checked my references and gave me the keys. It was a God-thing. He provided the exact place He had showed to me. He moved all the other applicants out of the way, and He gave me favor with the owner.

I think about this experience today because I have been wishing, hoping, and waiting for Him to provide for me again. I think to myself -- "Have I done the same thing as last time?" I wonder if the Lord has shown me the place of His provision, but for some reason, I have turned aside from it. I wonder if the Lord has told me, "This is where you are to go," but I have not listened to Him. Oh Lord, if this is so, I repent! I turn around, and I will listen AND obey!

It is funny when I think about it, really. The Lord has provided so abundantly for me. He has provided jobs and cars and homes and miscellaneous items -- everything I have needed -- to be settled. I have insurance now, medical and dental, and I have savings again. Yes, I don't have summer income, which makes my year fall short of needed income, but He always provides some way for me to make it through to the start of the fall semester. I think about it, and I marvel at His provision. He has said there will be abundant life, for this is why He came to save us. He redeemed us, and He gave us life. John 10:10 AMP says it this way,
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
My life is abundantly full. I have life that brings me great joy. I know my life is not perfect, there are still unresolved tensions, difficulties, and trials that I must endure, but for the most part, my life is very, very good. He has given me abundant life, a life that I can enjoy.

When I consider my life, and how I rarely enjoyed it before my divorce, I give thanks and praise to God. I know that may seem weird to say it that way, but it is true. My life was not enjoyable (as in peaceful, calm, and filled with joy). It was filled with stress, contention, and a lot of strife (anxiety). It was not honoring to the Lord, and I struggled to find a way through it. The Lord sustained me, for sure, and He gave me His peace. I just didn't see a way out. I didn't see any way to hang on, to endure, even though I was trying my best to rest and to let Him lead and guide me.

Then one day, my ex-husband told me he wanted out of our marriage. He wasn't happy, never had been. He wanted a different life. He wanted a different wife. He walked away from 26 years of hard-fought and difficult married life in order to embrace what he thought would be the way for him to experience peace, joy and contentment. I was left holding onto my vow, my ring, and my shattered life. I was left with nothing, but the Lord. The Lord sustained me. He gave me grace to endure. In the end, He gave me the strength to walk away, to stand my ground and to demand that my ex-husband choose to honor his vow and commitment to the Lord. He said no, and the door to my life closed shut. I knew then that I had no other choice but to start over, to start a new.

Grace broke through the torn remnants of my life. God provided a way out for me. He lifted me from the darkness, and set my feet right in the middle of the bright sunshine. In doing so, He healed my heart, bound up my wounds, and gave me rest. I rested a long while, nearly 18 months before He moved me. Truthfully, I didn't think I could move any sooner than I did. I was tied to my home, even after all that had happened in it. It was my home, the place I had chosen when we were looking to buy our first home. I had made it into the best possible home, and so much of my life was bound in it. For twelve years, we lived in that home, and while it was not a happy twelve years, it was my life.

The Lord was not content to let me remain in that home. Instead of providing a way to refinance it, to stem the foreclosure, the Lord let the lien holder take it back. I escaped without any penalties. The house reverted to the previous owners, and I walked away without spending another dime on the property.  I drive past the old house every now and then. There is a new family who lives there, and the facade looks different from when we lived there. The yard is different too -- no flowers or shrubs. It looks like a white cracker box rather than the cute cottage I tried to create it to be.

The Lord provided a spic-and-span home for me to move into. It was almost new inside. It was clean. It was perfect for us. It was a two-story home where there was plenty of space for me, my son and our two cats. The stairs took a toll on me after a bit, but truthfully, I loved that home. It was quiet, so peaceful, and so beautifully landscaped. It was like living in a dream, a dream come true. For a while, I struggled to sleep alone. I struggled to sleep with the noise of neighbors. After a while, though, I got used to the closet doors closing in the neighboring homes. I got used to the cars pulling in and out of the parking lot.

I was content to remain in that home. In fact, I thought about purchasing it, even before the owner offered to sell it to me (in 2013). I loved that place, and it fit me well. My son and I were happy there, really happy. But, it wasn't perfect. In reality, the stairs were difficult and steep. The walls thin, which didn't help my drummer/pianist son. The place didn't offer enough space for us to live comfortably. It was a good transitional place. It served it's intended purpose.

It seemed like just as I was getting comfortable in the town home, the Lord up and moved me here to this house. It came about, the opportunity to move here, just like the previous opportunity. It seemed like it was on a whim. The Lord opened the door, and we moved.

Now, I am here and ready to move on. I would like to go someplace else. I would like to find my "forever home," though I know that the only forever home I have is with Him in heaven. I would like a temporary "forever" home, though. A place where I could put down roots and enjoy life. I am not too picky about the home itself, but I am particular about the location. I need to feel safe. I need to feel as though I fit in. I worry about moving to certain parts of the country where the culture is so different from what I know now. I am pretty flexible, but I am not like people who live in the South or Northeast. You know, I am not from any one place. I have lived in the Northeast, Midwest and West. This makes me rather cosmopolitan in a lot of ways. I won't fit in well where culture is entrenched. Though, I am willing to try, but I know myself well. I am open to go where the Lord leads, to where He intends to settle me. I am willing, Lord. I am willing to go wherever you need me to go.

Thinking About Next Steps

Yes, I am still thinking about those pesky next steps. At this point in time, I am befuddled, confused, and unsure of what I am to do. I mean, where can I go? Perhaps I should just stay put and remain here for the next year. I do have contracts in place for fall, and unless something changes, I am sure I can survive through another school year on adjunct pay.

I just got a rejection email from Northwestern University. I never had the chance to interview, so they rejected me based on my qualifications. I realized it was a long shot since I wasn't credentialed (K-12), but the job said "preferred" only, so I gave it a go. I am not totally disappointed. I thought it would be fun to teach 6-12 graders writing. You know, different, I mean. I guess I am stuck where I am for now. I have to let this go, and simply wait on the Lord to provide for me.

I took some time out of my day to run over to Target. I stopped into Half Price Books to see if they had any special deals, and I found two books on sale. I bought Joyce Meyer's Every Day Living Amplified Bible (yes, I do need ANOTHER BIBLE), and Hornsby's Introduction to Linguistics handbook. I also bought some bible tabs. I was hoping to find a hardcover of the bible, but they only had the softcover version on the shelf. It was a good deal -- about half price (LOL!) and brand new. I have an older hardcover Amplified that has been so highlighted and underlined, that now it is difficult to read. I've been wanting to get a new copy (as if I need another bible!) for a long time. This one was there for the taking -- so I took it! PTL!!

As I walked through Target, I prayed over my life, over my situation, and I realized that I am where I am because the Lord has not chosen to move me. I can press against me, command and demand, but He is not going to move me until He is ready for me to move. I have been saying all along that it is because I don't have a job. The truth is I am not moving simply because He hasn't permitted it yet. I will go where the Lord leads. I will work where He says. I remember how stressed I was for all those 18 months of unemployment where I applied, applied, and applied for jobs -- only to be rejected every single time. Sure, I did get a couple interviews, but in the end, nothing came to pass. Until. Until, I let go and stopped looking. Then, I agreed to do the job of His choosing. He showed me the job, I applied, and I was hired. It was like as long as I was trying to make the job come to pass, nothing was moving my way. But, as soon as I relented, let go, and let Him lead me -- then BANG! -- the door swung open and I moved forward.

Hmmm. I am thinking of possible answers to what is going on right now. As I put the Bible tabs on my new bible, I couldn't help but ask the Lord, "Why? Why am I where I am, and why do I feel so trapped, so stuck?" In Lord-like fashion, He patiently explained to me that I am where I am because of many reasons. First off, I am where I am because of my educational pursuit. I am about to finish my PhD, and to accomplish this level of work, I needed to have time to do it and do it well. Second, I needed to learn how to be a teacher, and teaching takes time and commitment. You must spend the time to learn how to teach, and along the way, you make errors, mistakes, and goofs. You learn the ropes, so to speak. I will start my fourth year teaching at GCU in the fall, and well, that is four years of teaching experience to my credit. I would like to be full-time, but for now, the Lord has me teaching part-time at multiple schools. It is His way of letting me get trained and prepared for the time when I will teach full-time. Until then, I have to accept what has been offered to me. Last, I am where I am so I can help care for my parents. I may not like it, and at times, I would prefer to be elsewhere, but this is where I am. For now, I am here and I am doing what He has asked me to do. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14 NIV

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