It is Friday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. It is a good day to be alive, to be free, and to be able to go and do and think on my own. I am celebrating the day after my Mom's birthday, thankful for her 83 years of life, and giving praise to God for His graciousness toward me. He has made a good life for me. He has helped me recover my identity, my sense of self, and my purpose in life. He has shown me a good way to go, and has provided for me so that I am able to think, to contemplate, and to imagine all the blessings that are in store for me. In this way, He has shown me a hopeful life, a life that is filled with possibilities and wonderful outcomes. Gone are the days when I woke up thinking my life was over, that it was never going to be good again. Gone are the days when I thought "is this all there is to life?" Yes, the Lord has taken my sorry existence and infused it with Godly purpose. He has ordained a new life, a new plan, and in His great mercy, He has shown His goodness, His power, and His authority. I am free today because He has set me free, not only from the sin that leads to death, but free from the pain, the sorrow, and the suffering of that sin. Yes, my life has been cleansed, and as a result, I am able to walk in His blessed freedom, knowing that where I go, He goes. I follow; He leads. In this way, my life now has value stamped on it, and I take pride in the sense that I am able to do things, accomplish things, that I never thought possible. He has made this way possible. He has done this, and this day, I give Him thanks. I praise His mighty and holy name, and I give Him thanks.
Yesterday was a really good day for me. It started out weakly, just with me feeling less than ready to tackle my day. I was tired, even though I rested well during the night. The good news is that I think these hot flashes have abated some. I haven't had one in about three days now. I would be uber blessed if this were the case, permanently I mean. I have had hot flashes off and on now for about a year. They were pretty bad this winter-spring, and then suddenly then have stopped. I was struggling with cold flashes too, where my body would feel like it was doused in ice water. And, of course, I would have these flashes at night that would wake me up. All of a sudden, they have stopped and I am thankful, so very thankful. This means that I have been sleeping better, feeling better since. Yes, I feel more rested, less stressed just from having my internal thermostat reset. I keep hoping this is a good sign, a sign that I am through perimenopause and into full-onset menopause. My last period was in December, and even then, it was barely a period. I have had menses off and on for the past three years, with some months experiencing regular cycles and others with little to no cycle at all. Since 2010, I have had terrible perimenopausal symptom, mostly due to my fibroids, which I think for all intents and purposes, have shrunk or completely disappeared now. I am blessed to experience no period, no cramping, and with the diminished hot flashes, I feel really good now. I am hoping that this is what will be for the rest of my days (Oh, thank you, Lord!)
So yesterday, was a good day, despite my feeling a bit winded and tired. I sent my paper to my professor, and enjoyed the blessing of a free day, a down day, with little to nothing on tap. I had a wonderful conversation with my love in the early evening, and then enjoyed some Instant Video (watched old episodes of "That Girl"). I went to bed early, around 10:30, and I slept until 9:00 a.m. this morning. I am feeling rested, refreshed, and in good spirits. I am thankful today for the good sleep, and I am thankful for my life -- all of it -- even the nitty and gritty parts. I am thankful that God has blessed me beyond blessing, and that He has provided a good way, a solid path, for me to follow. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!
Last night, as I was speaking with my love, I couldn't help but think about my life in specific terms. I am so happy right now, content -- I mean -- and I don't want anything to change my appreciation of the good in my life. I don't want to lose this sense of wellness, wholeness, and happiness inside of me. My life has turned out better than expected. It has shaped up to be something quite nice, and I am thankful to the Lord for providing such a good thing to me. I mean, I don't deserve this life. I don't deserve His goodness and mercy. I don't deserve any of the blessings He has brought to me. I am thankful -- no grateful -- for the blessing, for the mercy, and the goodness. My deepest desires have been met with His sufficient goodness. In truth, I feel satisfied because He has satisfied my inner longings, my deepest needs, and my most significant desires. He has been the GIFT I longed for, cried out for, and wanted. I never understood how much I needed His presence in my life. I knew I needed His saving grace, for sure. I knew I needed His love and affirmation of worth. I knew I needed His help -- oh my goodness -- His help. But, I didn't realize that what I needed most, deep down inside is His very presence, His being with me -- as in "I will be with you, lo, even unto the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).
In truth, what I have inside my heart is an overflowing sense of His presence, His goodness, and His grace. I am covered, so well-covered. I have what I need most, and that means that I have His peace, His comfort, and His joy -- all wrapped up in His very essence, His very being. I love this fact! I love that the Lord lives within me, and that He is actively present, working, willing, and making changes in my life that suit His purposes, His plans. I want what He wants. I want everything He wants for me, and I cannot really explain it in any other way than to say that right now, in this moment, I have this deep desire to WANT His life, all of His life. By this I mean, the life that He lives to give to us, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, and the life that brings power, authority, and goodness to every area of that life. I want to experience the fullness of His life in me, and in doing so, to experience the blessing, the prosperity, the outward manifestations of His beauty so that I can live a transformed life.
Lately, I have been so fixated on the tangible things that we, humans, call life. You know, house, job, car, material possessions and money. I do want and need these things, but more so, my mindset has been shifting toward the intangible things, the things that God wants to produce in my life. I asked the Lord to make me a blessing to others, to enable me to use my words, to speak words that will bless others. I want to live in such a way that I use my communication skill, understanding, and ability to bless others, to share affirmation, encouragement, and the goodness of God with them. I feel this sense of peace when I seek to bless others, to please others, to do things for others in His name. I don't mean doing things in my own will or strength, no, that is not it. Rather it is to go and to do good in His name, with His power, and His authority so that others are blessed, spiritually and materially. I long to be a blessing, a blessing that is tangible, relatable, and filled with Holy power. I know that to do this, to produce blessing, I must pronounce it. I must speak blessing from my lips, utter blessing from my soul, and allow my words to create, generate, and permeate blessing all around me. I don't know how to do this, so this mysterious work must be produced internally by the One who does, who does it so well, and who knows exactly how to do it. I trust Him to help transform into that blessing this good day. May my words, Lord, be sweet, caring, and genuine. May my heart and my mind be transformed by the washing of your Word so that what I speak is true, accurate, and Biblically inspired. I want to be life to other people, to bring in life, your life, so that they can see that you are Good. I want them to experience the good life too. Help me now to become this person, to be transformed into this person so that I can live my life as you direct, as you desire, and toward your fulfillment not only of your will in my life, but your will in the lives of other people.
It is a strange thing to be enveloped in the Lord's will, in His presence (spiritually), and to receive revelation like this. I mean, it is not that anything mysterious happened to me. No hand reached down from heaven and touched me. No words were audibly heard saying "Go, bless others in my Name!" Oh, that it would be so, Amen! But rather, it is this sense, this feeling inside of my head and my heart that says that it is so. I just feel like this is what I am to do today. I am to be a blessing with my words, with my actions, and with my deeds. I am to live my life this way, and now I feel compelled to do so. I feel like this is the way, as if a door has opened by magic, and I see the golden pathway before me. I hear Him say to me, "Walk this way" and I feel compelled to do so. I feel so good, so comforted, and so convinced that I am do this special thing. I have no specific call, no specific direction. I don't know what or how I will do it, just that the Lord has pointed for me to go this way, so I go this way. The outcome, the results, are unknown to me. The place, the destination, are all foreign. I don't see where I am going or how I am going to get there, I just feel this sense that suggests it is time to go, time to move, time to take those next steps.
Today is May the 20th, 2016. I took some time this morning to read through blog posts from May 2010. It is wonderful to be able to read through my reflections as I recorded them throughout the months and years of my faith-walk journey. God has blessed me with this blog, and I thank Him for giving me the grace to post my deepest and most innermost thoughts on it. I love the fact that I can read through these posts and recall all the highs and lows of my life. I mean, there were good days and bad days, but throughout it all, there was the Lord's presence in my life. His presence, His Spirit guided me, gave me help, hope, and the know-how to do whatever was asked of me. I cannot imagine feeling the way I do today, even when I consider my life just a few short years ago. I am in a completely different place today. I am in a completely different WAY. I mean that I am ready, grown up, and more mature to whereby I am willing and agreeable to go and to do the Lord's work. I am no longer set on having my way, wanting my way. Rather, I am about His way, always now thinking what is His way for me.
Today, I read two blog posts, one from May 19th (my Mom's birthday), and the other from May 22nd. In both of these posts, I remembered just how difficult my life was back then. I mean, I was living in separation from my husband, but we were still living together. I had asked him to move out, and he said he was "working on it." In truth, he was waiting for me to move out, and eventually in 2011, I did. In the interim, I was in this dependent state -- dependent on others and the Lord -- for my daily needs. My uncle was providing a monthly stipend to help me until I was able to find work. My father had bought me a car so I could get to a job once I had one. My parents were supporting me and my son with food, clothing, and other small needs. My in-laws were in dismay, in denial, and unwilling to consider that divorce was on the horizon. They were acting as though nothing had changed, when in reality, everything had changed. It was a weird place to be, in this half-married, half-divorced state, and even though I was forced to live in this way for almost a year and a half, the Lord did amazing work in my life to bring me into a way of thinking that would enable me to actually move -- to move out and to move on with my life.
Just yesterday, I was discussing moving on with my Mom. I had taken her to the store and we were having a conversation about my brother, who is also facing divorce. I said that I didn't think my brother was ready to move on yet, and my Mom had agreed. We talked in generalities, how you cannot move on until you have made peace with your past. You have to get to the point where you are ready to close the door to your past, before you can open the door to your future. Until that time, you sit. You sit. You sit. You wait -- sometimes a really long time -- but you wait. I was in this same place, waiting for change, waiting for a job, waiting to go. Then, in mid-2010, a job came to me. It was a part-time retail position, but it got the ball rolling. It took another year of waiting, of being patient, and then the next job came, a full-time position at UOPX. UOPX enabled me to move physically from one home to another. UOPX brought the start of a new, independent life. Another year came and went, and then the job at CVS came along. More changes resulted, and before I knew it, I had moved in "temporarily" with my parents while I worked on my PhD. In all, there were periods of waiting, long wait times, followed by quick movements, that led to resettlements. Thus, I experienced fast and hard moves, jolts really, but each one was followed by long lulling waits where I was able to get my bearings, find stability, and come to rest. This seems to be the pattern in my life since 2010. The pattern has repeated several times now, with each go round producing bigger changes, and longer wait times. It seems that initially, the Lord moved in small ways, ways that created change, but that didn't completely overwhelm me. Now, as I prepare to move again, I see that all that waiting and going was to make me strong, make me ready, and to help me deal with major life change. I see it, I get it, and I acknowledge that this pattern of movement in my life was specifically designed to help me acclimate to the kind of change the Lord desired for me. It was His gracious way of ensuring that I would survive each move, understand the reasons for it, and then accept the changes that occurred as a result.
I see now that with these extended wait times, certain important changes occurred in my life. For example, in the first wait time, I had to deal with living singly for the first time in my life. I had to accept the fact that I was going to be single, and as such, I was going to have to have find a career that would provide for my life. Over the course of three years, from 2010 to 2013, I tried out several career paths: retail, higher education, and corporate work. I worked three jobs, as a sales person, an education advisor, and an analyst. Each job was a good fit in some ways, and not a good fit in other ways. But each job served a purpose, and provided for direct needs. Macy's helped me reestablish myself financially. I had access to resources through Macy's and was able to start to slowly prepare for living on my own. UOPX gave me benefits for the first time in 15 years, a real job with salary, and a chance to complete my education and advanced in a career. CVS gave me more pay, a better fit for work, and the power to purchase a new car on my own. I also travelled and began to manage a career. All three jobs were good, but they had draw backs. Macy's was too hard on my body, and didn't pay a living wage. UOPX was mind-numbing robotic work that tired me beyond functionality. CVS had no work/life balance. The Lord used these jobs to move me, to push me further and further toward His will. I took baby steps along the way, made purchases, paid bills, and came to rest in the knowledge that I could be a single adult, successful in a career, and responsible in all things. It was a good progression, a good path to follow.
Then, I had to decide on a career path. I had to make a choice. I had tried retail, higher education, and corporate business. In the end, I chose higher education, but not in administration, rather in teaching. I took my Masters degree and used it to get an adjunct teaching position. I have spent the past three years, from 2013 to 2016, working as an instructor. This job, while a good fit in some ways, is not perfect in all ways. I get tired. I get really tired, and my body aches from standing all day long. I love the work, but the pay is not livable. Yet, there is potential for career movement once I complete my PhD. There is potential for advancement, and in time, I have come to learn how to deal with my aches and pains. Despite all the difficulties, I have come to enjoy this profession, to see it as a viable path for me to follow. Now in 2016, I am about to embark on the next steps in my career progression. I am ABD. I am ready to find that next faculty position. I have more work to do, finish the dissertation and graduate, but I am moving toward this end. The Lord has provided the longest wait period thus far in that I have stayed in this job for three years. In fall, I start my fourth year of teaching, so it appears that this is the new way, the path for me to follow.
The Lord has developed new interests in my life, and He has brought new people to me, people who encourage me, enfold me, and enable me to think and to see myself in this role. I have come to accept my life as a teacher. This is the career I have chosen, and after careful analysis, this is the career I am well-suited toward. Sure, there are obstacles ahead, mostly finding a job, but the Lord knows this is the case. I have thought about making a change back to business, but so far, that door is closed to me. No, this is the direction, the way I am to go, and I am content now to pursue this path, to stay fixed on it. He will provide for me. He will sustain me. He will help me to endure, to wait, to be patient. He is good to me, so very good to me.
As I think about my next steps, moving on, and the past pattern, I realize that I have been in wait now for three years. In sum total, the first three years of my separation were preparatory. They enabled me to systematically move to this place in time. I have accomplished much over six years. I have transitioned through three career options, and finally chosen one. I have completed two advanced degrees. I have moved twice. I have bought three cars. I have successfully managed my credit, my finances, and I have gotten over my fear of travel. I am in a good place, materially. I am in a good place, financially. I am in blessed spiritual harmony, and I have an abiding sense of peace in my mind. I know that I am right where He wants me to be, and that the next steps, the next couple years will move me closer and closer to His will for me.
Resting and Letting the Past Go
As my Mom and I discussed my brother and his situation, I couldn't help but think about how hard it was to let my past go. I read my blog post from May 19th, 2010, and I recalled the moment when I did that, when I let the past, the hurt, the pain, the sorrow go. It was shortly after that time, almost two months, and the Lord provided a part-time job for me. He began to move quickly in my life the moment I rested, I let the past go, and I embraced my future, trusting Him to provide for me. Likewise, the moment I accepted my position, the reality that I could be divorced or remain in this quasi-married state (perpetually separated), the Lord moved again. It took 90 days from the filing of the paperwork to the divorce decree. Weird as that may seem, it was closure for me. I needed to let the past go and to move on. Furthermore, the moment I accepted the idea, just the idea of remarriage, it seemed like the Lord moved in my life to bring me into a friendship that has now lasted two years. Will it lead to marriage, I think so. When? Sometime down the road. In my future, I do see remarriage. It is just a matter of waiting until the Lord is ready for that next step. Moreover, the moment I accepted His encouragement to go back to graduate school, the door opened and I was accepted. I have since graduated, and I am close to graduating a second time. Lastly, the moment I accepted His offer to teach, to trust Him for a teaching position, an interview came from GCU, and the ball started rolling. I moved into a teaching role, and I have been there ever since. Now, I have rested from my work, my PhD work, and I have allowed the Lord to complete this final task. I have rested from my ambivalence regarding this career path, and it seems that the Lord is ready to move again. Also, I have rested from the struggle against my long wait, letting this time pass with grace rather than fighting it, and I have experienced great blessing, great peace and comfort as a result. I know now that the next move is up ahead, the next change will be a doozy, as they say. Each wait time has been progressively longer. Each move has been more significant. The next one up should be a BIG one. Perhaps it will be a full-time job. Perhaps it will be relocating out of state. I hope so, I really do hope so. I am ready. I am agreeable. I am willing. Now, it is up to the Lord to open the right future door, as He closes the past door.
Lord, as I let this go, all of the stress, the struggle, the strain, I rest in the knowledge that your timing is perfect. You will open the next door when you are ready. Until then, I wait. I patiently wait. I know what is coming is going to be wonderful, blessed, and filled with such excitement. I thank you for your timing, for your patience, and for the way you have chosen to move me in little steps rather than in one big step. I thank you for your comfort, your provision, and your protection as I learned the life lessons, learned to accept truth, and learned to lean on and rely on you for everything. You are good, so very good to me. I thank you now for your hand of blessing, the movement in my life, and all that is to come today. I ask this all in Jesus' Name, for His Name alone is worthy to be praised! Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!