April 8, 2016

It is Raining!

I woke up in the middle of the night to the soft stream of rain hitting against my window. I think it must have rained most of the night because the ground is still wet and my car looks freshly washed. I love the rain! I love it when it rains! It seems like we get so little rain during the year, even though the weather statistics say otherwise. We do tend to get rain throughout the year, but it seems that the heaviest rain only comes to us during the summer months. I am hoping that this summer we have a super strong monsoon. There is nothing better than heavy rain storms to help beat the heat of the summer sun of the desert.

Today is a good Friday. Yes, it is a good day. I am feeling better overall, but still sensing some doubt about my future and the plans the Lord has for it. I am an overcomer for sure, so my hope is placed squarely on Him. I am trusting Him as I move forward through this process, these last steps toward the final push to graduation. I thought a lot about this fact the other day, how in just a few short months, I may be PhD. Yes, I may defend my dissertation so that I can wear the official moniker of a doctor. Of course, there stands a huge gap between now and then, between me and the final product. I have to write the defense proposal between now and May, and then I have to defend it to my committee. If I don't pass, I honestly don't know what to do. My research is good, I think. My idea is solid, and of course, I have the Lord at my side, my Champion and my Victor, so I feel like I am in good stead. It is just so overwhelming to do this work. I am struggling to focus (again), and to complete my to-do list. I didn't think it would be so hard to do this work without the deadlines, you know, the due dates like when you are in class. I am finding that I slack off a bit and prefer to watch Netflix instead of focusing on my research (help me, please!)

The Lord is good to me, however, and I know He will see me through to the end. Paul wrote, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6 NIV). I take confidence in this truth -- the Lord will perfect me and will see to all the tasks associated with His will and His work. Selah! Amen, so be it!

Day 3 of the "Shred"

So I have been faithful for three days in a row now. I have worked out using Jillian Michael's "30 Day Shred" DVD, and to tell the truth, it is not that bad. Yes, I know I am only on Level 1, but I am finding that I can do this program. It is still hard overall, and I do feel like I am going to die by the end of the 20 minute workout, but I am hanging in there. I am committed to getting fit, to losing this weight, and to feeling better.

I haven't weighed myself today, and I haven't checked my measurements, but I do feel like I am seeing some changes already. It seems odd to see changes so quickly, but just yesterday, my Mom said she thought I looked like I had lost some weight. Normally, people don't see "weight loss" unless you have dropped 5-10 pounds. But they do seem to notice body changes such as when you work out. As your body is reshaped, toned and tightened, people tend to notice the way your clothing hangs on you. I am guessing this is what my Mom noticed. I would say that I do feel "tighter" overall. My body just seems less flabby, loose, and jiggly. I am noticing it mostly in my core section and my legs. I still have jiggles and cellulite (ick!), but I have to admit, that I see a difference after I work out. I notice it most as soon as I finish. It must be that "pumped" look that weightlifters get when they lift. I see it, and I do feel like I am getting toned.

My legs didn't hurt nearly as bad on day three as on day two, though my heart and lungs were kicked during the cardio portion yesterday. I am pretty solid with the strength and ab portion because I have always seemed to build muscle quickly. It is the cardio that takes its toll on me. Always has, always will. I was never able to run long distance or do anything that required hard cardio work. I don't know why, but since I was a child, it has been this way. I get winded easily, almost to the point of throwing up. But, I could always pump out the strength exercises or do ab calisthenics well. I guess it is just the way my body is, in truth. My goal this time around though is to push the cardio so I can build resistance and finally be able to do things like hike, row, or run. We will see, we will see!

The good news is that I am sticking to the program. I checked my food diary yesterday as well and I am staying right in the 1100-1300 calorie range. My goal is to lose 2 pounds per week, and per my current weight, this is the range I need to be in to do that. I am using Atkins, so my daily intake of carbs is low, but so is my overall calorie count. So far so good! I am tolerating the eggs and bacon each day, and I am doing okay with having chef salads for lunch. My dinners are up or down based on what my Mom decides to make. I am trying to get her to remember that I need clean protein and veggies (not casseroles or things laden with gravies, etc.). Hopefully, she will remember when she plans the meals. If not, then I am prepared to step in and help out. I don't always know what she is going to do, so even if I plan something, she will not remember it. I will get home from work and she will have made something to eat. It is habit for her, and for folks with dementia, this is what happens. They tend to work on rote control, doing what they remember doing most over the years. I am okay with it, I mean, it is what it is, so to speak. The Lord has us covered, so what will be, as they say, will be. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done!

I need to work on my water consumption as I am struggling to drink four of my water bottles each day (32 oz each). I am getting about 1.5-2 downed depending on the day. Overall, I am doing well -- meeting the minimum water suggestions of 8 glasses per day. I just know that with the extra water, I feel better, and I think I look better. I have noticed my face and skin looking fresher as well as just feeling less sluggish internally. Yes, water does a body good.

More Thoughts About Moving

Yesterday, my parents both mentioned that they didn't want me to move. In the morning, my Dad said that he didn't want to consider moving and that he didn't want me to move away.  Later in the afternoon, my Mom brought up moving as well. She said that she didn't want to move from this house, and that she didn't want me to move away. Sigh!

I understand their fears. I understand their motivation. I understand that they want me to stay put so that their life is not up-ended. They don't want to consider moving because of the stress and hardship that moving to a new place would incur. They don't want me to move because they need me to pay for my half of this house, and if I move out, they will not be able to remain here alone. They need me.

It is difficult for me to process this because I do understand what they want. I do understand that at 82-83 years of age, they don't want to face moving into a residence home (independent or assisted). They like having me here. They like me being near to help care for them. The problem is that their heart motivation is predicated on what is best for them, and not on what is best for me or my future. They tell me how proud they are of my achievement. They tell me that they see how hard I work, study, and focus on my doctoral studies. They see it, and they are supportive of me. But, when it comes to moving, they are adamant that everything must remain as is. I have tried to tell them that I don't believe the Lord intends for me to stay put here in AZ. I have tried to tell them that I need to go where He is leading me. I have tried to tell them that while I love living with them, and I will always care for them, that I must do what is best for me. This is where our thinking takes different paths. My parents want me to do what they want so that their lifestyle can be maintained as they are accustomed to it. I want to follow the Lord, to do what is right in His eyes, and that means to go wherever He sends me. I trust that they will be cared for and provided for so I am not worried about what will be. They cannot see this, they do not trust the Lord in this way. They look to their own hand of provision, and because their retirement is dwindling, they are looking to me as their savior rather than to God. 

I realize that this is my fault in some ways. I have taken on this role when I should have stepped back and let the Lord provide His way. I realize that my parents look to me as their provider, and that they want to use me to keep a roof over their head. If I said to them "No way, folks! You are on your own," I don't know what they would do. I mean, I could do it. There are many people I know who love their parents but who refuse to let them live with them. They maintain a strong line of separation between their parents and their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

I am not sure how this came to be, really, other than to say that I believe my parents have always wanted to control me, to keep me from living my own life. They were supportive, encouraging to some extent, but they didn't want me to get out of line or to go too far from them. I should have moved out a long time ago, like when I was a young adult. I should have broken the chain so that I could have established my own life without my parents control or interference. 

I am responsible for this situation in some ways, of course. But in other ways, I know that the Lord permitted this situation to come to pass. He opened this door, and I followed. I need Him to resolve the tension here at home because I cannot move without His approval and provision, thus as long as He keeps me here, I have to endure. I have to remain hopeful, watchful, and obedient. Selah!

Job News

I am still waiting to hear on the jobs (full-time) that I have applied for over the past several months. As of right now, I have four jobs set (two are contracted, two are in process). This combination will work for me as long as I stay here in AZ, at the least, for a time. It is not a long-term solution by any means, but Lord willing and with His provision, it will be okay.

The problem is that this provision is not good for my long-term success. I need a full-time position that will allow me to build retirement and to be settled permanently. I need to pay off my debts and purchase a home where I can live comfortably. I need to be proactive, to take financial responsibility for my debts and retirement as the Lord leads, and start taking steps toward fiscal health and well-being. The Lord knows this, of course He does, and for this time, He has chosen to have me be content to work part-time so I could finish my schooling. I cannot rush this last part of the process. I mean, working on my dissertation is not an easy task. It is not like writing a research paper in school. No, it is a major undertaking, and it will require time to complete it. I know this is the case, and I know that this is why He has me positioned where I am at present. However, I also know that this is a temporary solution, just a "time-based" solution. I believe with my whole heart that the Lord has a job out there for me, a job that will take me from part-time doctoral student to full-time professor. I pray it comes to pass soon. I pray the tension in my home ceases. I pray that I will know His will clearly so that I can follow after Him and go where He wants me to go. I pray this all now, in Jesus' Name! Amen! So be it, thy will be done!! Selah!

Trusting and Resting in Him

I think one of the most difficult aspects of this faith-walk relationship is trusting and resting in the Lord, especially when the future appears to be uncertain or bleak. I know I blog often about my future, about how I feel stuck where I am, and how I long for certain breakthroughs to take place. I am content, really I am. I am thankful for what I do have, for the blessings and opportunities the Lord has provided to me. I am trying hard to not complain nor grumble, but at times it is difficult to stay focused, to continue to solider on.

I have some friends who are in the "worst of ways" right now. They are suffering with illnesses or loss of jobs to the point where they feel so oppressed that they cannot go on. I have Facebook friends with children who are developmentally disabled, who struggle with severe medical issues, and who need constant care. I have family who have recently divorced or who are in the midst of divorce. I have family who have lost loved ones and who are dealing with other significant losses (financial, for example). 

Here I sit on my perch, writing about my woes, when in reality, I am uber blessed. Yes, the Lord has poured out His blessing and favor on my life, and as a result, I am in a wonderful and unique place right now. I am about to graduate with my second advanced degree. I have successfully transitioned from a corporate worker to a professor. I have lived on my own with ease, and now I am learning how to live with others again. I have a good life, with many possessions and possibilities. I have food on my table, good health, and a bright future filled with hope. However, because I don't have what I want or think I need, I do tend to fixate on it. I mean, I am free in Christ Jesus. I am free to move about the country as I desire. I can go where I want, do what I want, and live the way I want. I am not stuck even though it feels like it at times. I am simply restrained. I am in a holding pattern right now, but I believe as soon as the Lord lifts the starting gate, I will flow out along with all the blessed water like a river when the dam is broken. I will fly freely as soon as He permits it. Until that time, I must wait. I must rest. I must abide in Him alone as the VINE, and I must learn the lesson of letting the Lord lead rather than allowing my own will to rush out ahead. I don't want to make a mistake in this matter. I don't want to take a poor-fitting job or move to a place where I will be miserable. No, I want to find a good job, that pays well, that provides a decent living, and that allows me the type of life I would like to have for my end days. I want to live in a lovely place, if possible. I want to work at a good school. I want to go to a job every day that I enjoy. I want to be paid fairly, equally, and to have opportunity to grow, to develop in my skill, and to become a leader at some point in time. I want to be in a position to minister to others, to lead them to Christ, and to always reflect His values, His justice, and His grace. I want to be used by the Lord, to be His vessel of choice, and to do His expressed work. I want all of this, but until He permits it, I must learn to wait, to rest, to abide in Him and in His provision and in His power and in His presence.

He is good to me, so very good to me. He is good, and because He is good, therefore, I am good. It is a good day to praise the Lord, to give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory. Selah!

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