April 7, 2016

A New Day Dawns

Thursday has rolled round without any fanfare. It's been a good morning so far, and I am ready to get settled in for the day. My morning has been slow, considering I woke up after sleeping nearly 12 hours last night. My body needed to rest, really rest, and for the most part, I slept well. I am sore and I am stiff today, but I am in a good frame of mind, and I am ready to tackle my to-do's on this good, good day. The weather is overcast, and rain is forecast for our area today and tomorrow. It will make such a nice change from our normally sunny skies. It is cooler than it was yesterday (we hit 98, I think), and I am enjoying the spring like weather.

The LORD, Our Healer

God has been good to me this week, so very good to me. I survived my teaching schedule and some of the challenges here at home. I have stuck to my diet and workout for two days in a row (woohoo!) Jillian kicked my backside again, but I made it through day 2 of the "30 Day Shred." The good news is that I did much better on day 2 than on day 1. I didn't puke (or feel like it), and I was able to keep up with her on all of the level 1 exercises. I did take some breaks toward the end (just a couple seconds to catch my breath), but overall, I stuck with her through the entire 20 minute circuit. I am feeling the burn, you know, the "Oh, please don't make me squat today" feeling in my thighs. I am hanging tough because I know that this is going to not only help me to look better (in my clothes), but that it is going to help me to feel better. I have felt so poorly for so long -- like worn out, tired all the time, stressed, and generally as though I was slugging through each day to get from morning to evening.

Most experts will say that when we feel generally unwell, non-specific feelings that create malaise, that sometimes it is simply the result of a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Our bodies were designed to move, and when we don't move them consistently, really move them so that our muscles are strengthened and our tendons and ligaments are getting stretched, we run the risk of suffering injury, but also we suffer from common maladies such as unrestful sleeping coupled with body aches and pains. Moreover, when we feed our bodies processed foods and other unhealthy alternatives, we suffer from a whole host of aliments. Constipation, stomach issues, acne, eczema, and other sort of auto-immune disorders that can cause us to be unwell. Often these issues resolve once we address the cause -- the food source -- that is triggering the symptom.

I have been unwell for years. In truth, I would say that I have been unwell all my life. When I use the word, "unwell," I mean that I have suffered from a wide range of illnesses that were non-specific in their cause. I have had it -- everything from migraines to debilitating back pain -- and all without any specific trigger. I have learned to live with my intestinal issues. I have suffered through the bouts, and over time, I have come to accept that my feelings of unwellness are simply part of life. The truth of the matter is that some of what I endure can be eliminated through dietary changes. Some can be improved through physical activity. It has taken me a long time to realize that I have settled for less than possible because I have not wanted to make the changes necessary in order to feel better.

My desire today is to pursue health. God has promised us health (3 John 1:2) -- good health and vitality -- and He has ordained that we are to be healed (Isaiah 53:4-6). Yet, for many of us, we do not do the things necessary to ensure that we are receiving His healing power in and through our lives on a daily basis. I like the way Joyce Meyer says it when she writes, "The foundation of true health is a relationship with Jesus Christ...I believe good health for the whole person requires a solid faith in God through Jesus Christ. He helped me through the rough years and He restored me. God showed me what to do and led me to make positive changes. Sometimes it took me a long time to fully obey, but I can tell you from experience that God's ways work" (CBN.org).

It isn't rocket-science, as I tell my students, but it is about applying God's word to our life and then walking in obedience. We know what to do to be healthy. We know that choosing good food options and exercising are keys to healthy living. We also know that water is such an important ingredient to overall wellness. Yet, we choose instead to fill our empty souls with food and other sources of entertainment, work, achievements, etc. rather than doing the simple things such as putting God first, choosing healthy foods to eat, and getting out and moving our bodies as God designed them.  I am guilty of being a sluggard, and then complaining to God about how bad I feel. Joyce talks about a time when needed to lose weight. She did "everything from dieting to getting help from her doctor, but nothing seemed to work" (CBN.org). Finally, "she took this problem to God and He told her to eat the necessary food. She did what He said and lost the weight" (CBN.org).

I think many people forget that God placed dietary laws upon the Jewish people for a reason. Some people just assume that God did it in order to restrict their freedom as they entered into lands filled with "unclean" people. Yet, God never gives an ordinance or command that is not designed for a purpose (1 John 5:3). We know now (scientifically) that many of the dietary laws actually are good rules to follow. Certain foods shouldn't be eaten because of what they do internally to the body. Thus, God does know what is best for us in order for us to experience health and vitality. If we choose to ignore the truth, choose to eat whatever we want, do whatever we want, we will reap the consequences of those choices. Eating healthy and working out may not keep you from developing cancer or another serious illness in the future, but it could make your life better now. Furthermore, it certainly will make you feel better, and for many of us, feeling better equates to a positive self-esteem, a positive outlook on life, and a positive hope for future good. It is a good thing, really a very good thing.

Choosing Life and Health

It has been a long time in coming, but I feel that I am ready to choose life and health over convenience and laziness. I am 53 years old, and frankly, I feel pretty sorry when it comes to my overall appearance and vitality. I struggle to do all the things God asks me to do, and I feel unwell most days. I am tired, cranky, and slow (as in not a lot of energy) most days. It is time to take control of my life, my health, and to realize that everyday God has given me is a precious gift. I want to live to the full length of my days (Job 14:5-7), and I want to live to the fullest possible outcome. This means that I don't want to find myself at age 90 living in a nursing home (Lord willing). I want to live my days to their end in vital health and with ability (as the Lord permits). I will do my part, and I trust the Lord to do His part in and through my life. Joyce Meyer says, "God is everything, but we’re partners with Him. He wants us to be partners with Him—to do our own part, for His glory" (JoyceMeyer.org). She reminds us that "If you change your thinking, your feelings will follow. You can say today: I am going to have a good day. And I can do everything God asks me to do!" (JoyceMeyer.org).

I changed my thinking about diet and lifestyle this past weekend. I decided to see both as the key to successful and vital living. Instead of seeing diet as restriction (as in a law that forbids certain foods), I am choosing to see it as provision. Instead of seeing exercise/work outs as drudgery and difficult and painful experience, I am seeing it as strength training that leads to vitality (the ability to do what God calls me to do). I want to be His servant, to go where He sends me. This means I have to be in the shape to do His work. I have to be strong, to be vital, and to have my body ready to tackle the physical demands He places on it. I have to stop acting the part of the sluggard, the sloth, and instead, take up the position, the power, and the authority of the warrior. Yes, I cannot make it through this life limping, sickly, and filled with disease. God has given me His healing power and authority, and as such, I am choosing to live life to the best of my ability.

Ready for the Next Step

I am ready to take the next step of faith as the Lord leads. Yesterday, I heard the Lord say to me to be bold, to take a step of faith, and yet, I wasn't sure what He wanted from me. I walked through my day thinking "How am I to be bold today, Lord?" It seemed that nothing happened to me that required any boldness, so by the end of the day, I had wondered what He really meant by that command. Then later in the day, I realized that He was asking me to boldly take on the tasks He has assigned to me. I am to not stand in fear against the enemy, and I am to be bold and confident in His provision for my life.

I struggle at times with boldness, and yes, I even become fearful when my circumstances seem to overwhelm me. Yet, I know that He is faithful, and that He delivers His promises to us. He is not a God who makes proclamations and then recants on them. No, the Lord is faithful to keep His promises to us (Hebrews 10:23).

There are several items on my checklist that are in the process of coming to pass or to fruition. The first is work, and the second is success in my field. I have blogged about my job hunt for months (well, years really), and in and through the trials of finding good purposeful work, the Lord has faithfully provided to me. The job may have not been a perfect fit, but it was provided, and it served it purpose. Likewise, God has promised me good success in my field. He has seen to my favor and blessing in many situations, but most notably at my place of work. I have received appreciation from my employers, awards for performance, special offers and promotions for a job well-done. I have seen good success in the form of sales or student enrollment numbers. I have seen good success as in performance evaluations and in student engagement. In all, the Lord has prospered my hand and allowed me to see blessing after blessing come to pass.

Today, I marvel at His goodness toward me. I thank Him for His faithful provision of good in my life. I struggle still to see how ends will be met, yet I believe in faith that they will be met with His sufficiency. I look forward to tomorrow with excitement and with anticipation so that I can experience His goodness in every area of my life. I want to know His blessing in and through my life. I want to be a blessing to others. Mostly, I want to honor Him with my whole life, to give Him my whole heart, my whole body and to let Him use me as He sees fit. I know the result will be good. It will be so very good.

Some expectations I have are still waiting for realization. I am waiting for a solution to my debt problem. It is my debt problem, yet it is part and parcel to His will for my life, thus I am trusting Him to provide a way to resolve it. I had to travel to Regent University over the course of the past three years, and I still have debt that must be paid off for those trips. I have student loans that will need to be paid at some point, and while I shirk at the thought of the cost, I know that the Lord provided for my education, and thus He has a way in mind for me to repay every penny I borrowed. I don't like being in debt, and I don't believe that it is biblical to be in debt. However, I do know that at times the Lord does use the financial systems of this world for His purposes. Everything belongs to Him, thus, it is up to Him to direct and to determine how these finances are used. I think many times Christians take a wrong approach to the financial system. They consider it wicked because the Bible does teach that we are not to run after money or make financial wealth a god. The problem with this line of thinking suggests that God is limited in His reach and scope in this world. If God is Lord over everything, then all financial matters, all wealth and all prosperity are in His hand. I believe the truth is that Christians should not get into debt on their own accord. There are many people who use credit to buy things that they do not need nor that the Lord has given them permission to have. Thus, they place themselves in debt to purchases that were not God ordained. If the Lord is directing your purchase, then He has a reason for you to have it (need it). I believe that only when the Lord permits it, should we use these resources. If we don't have need, we should not be borrowing and using credit.

I am in this situation today because I purchased items that related to my education at Regent University. These were travel related expenses that were required in order for me to participate in this program. I am about to graduate and I will have more trips to make back east. The Lord has permitted me to use my credit cards for travel. I would like to have these cards paid off 100% by the end of June so that I can be free to travel in the fall (for defense) and then in the spring for graduation. I need the Lord to provide what He promised to me so that I can freely move as He calls and leads me. Until then, I must patiently wait for His promised avenue for me to close out these debts. I trust that He will do it, and I believe that He will because He has said it is so. It is just a matter of His timing on the matter. He is good, He will provide, and I will rely on His provision alone.

It is a challenge for me to remain fixed in this part-time working position, but the Lord seems to be keeping me as an adjunct instructor for the time being. I received confirmation yesterday that my application for adjunct at Regent is being sent to the department for review. This means that I am one more step closer to being approved to teach online at my alma mater. I was ecstatic when the news came to me yesterday and I am hopeful that the department chair will approve me for part-time work. I wonder how I will make ends meet. I mean, it sounds great to be able to teach at so many schools, but the truth is that I will be working twice as hard to teach at four schools than if I were to be hired at one only. I know the Lord's plan is good, so I rest in His provision and in His sufficiency. He has this all figured out, and to God be the glory, it will work out for my good. I am sure of it. I am sure of it!

Secondly, I have received approval to submit my paper for final review at the Journal of Instructional Research at GCU. I was hesitant to follow through even after I received the coveted "revise and resubmit" email. Still, the Lord pressed on me to ask if they would consider my paper without the case study, so I did. They responded with a yes, so off it went the other day for final review. Lord willing, if it is accepted, I could be published come August 2016. This would be a dream come true for me, and it would get me one step closer to a full-time faculty position. I am so amazed at God's faithfulness to me. I am so amazed at His provision. He promised me publication and success in my field, but I just didn't see that it would ever be possible. Yet, here I am today, ready to take these next steps, to pursue excellence in scholarship in my field and to enjoy the blessing of being an academic scholar and a professor. God is good, so very good to me! Selah! Give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory for He is good and He is faithful to me!

As of now, I am thinking to myself, "What more do I need, Lord?" I mean, He does know my needs. He does know that my next big hurdle is the dissertation proposal and then defense. I can do this, I know I can, but I am struggling to come to grips with the process. Still, He has me well covered, and He will help me through this next phase in the process. I worry about my financial situation greatly, and I worry about my parents health, especially my Mom's memory as it is getting worse daily. I worry about how I will make ends meet on adjunct pay if something should happen to my parents and I would have to take over all the bills for our shared home. I worry about my son and his well-being. He seems to be doing okay, but so much of his life is a mystery to me now (he is 22 after all, and you know, a guy). I worry about his future, and his needs, and whether I will be able to help him out much longer. He is going to have to take the reigns of his life and start making decisions as the Lord leads and guides him. I am also anxiously waiting to travel to see my love, and I am praying the Lord will provide a way so I can visit this summer. I want to do this, I believe it is the Lord's will, but again, there is so much unknown between now and then. How will I go? How will I afford to go? How will I make ends meet over the summer -- with no income -- and travel expense?

The Lord has me covered. He has blessed me with blessing upon blessing, and I know He is faithful. Thus, I rest in the sufficiency of His hand, and I trust that He will provide exactly what is needed to me this good, good day. He will show me where to go, what to do, how to make the most of the life He has given to me. He will help me make good decisions that will prosper me financially, and He will open doors of opportunity so I can achieve His will. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I know the plans He has for my life are good; now I must rest in His ability to provide, to produce and to prosper me according to His will and His work. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

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