May 3, 2016

Team Tuesday

So it is Tuesday. Yes, it is another warm and sunny, very blessed day in Phoenix. I am sitting at my computer, thinking about my life, and giving praise to the One who has spared me such unimaginable sorrow. I have had my share of sorrow, but my sorrow is small compared to the sorrows of many people I know. I am in this very good place right now. It is a tight fit, for sure, but it is not uncomfortable or unpleasant. It is simply a feeling of being constrained, held back, or like being “kept” in a very safe place.

I was thinking about this today as I emptied our garbage. Yeah, I know — it is funny how your mind thinks of such things when you are in the process of completing mundane tasks. Still, as I emptied the trash, I couldn’t help but think about all the good the Lord has provided to me. I guess it all started when I was emptying the cat litter box this morning. Let me explain…

As I scooped the dirty litter, my mind raced back to when I was moving into my town home (in 2011), and I was worried about where I would keep the litter box in the new place. My old home had a storage area off the living room/dining room where I had an old-fashioned opened litter box. It was a good place for it, out of the way of traffic, etc. The box never really smelled, and the litter could get splashed about because no one directly walked past the area. The cats could do their business in privacy, and I could shut the door when people came over to visit. In the new home, however, there wasn’t any place where I could keep the litter box that wasn’t in the middle of living space. I decided that the only place for it would be in my bedroom. I was concerned about keeping the rental home clean and free from damage, and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t smell or be a huge mess right where I was sleeping.

I prayed about a solution. I searched the pet stores locally, and then the Lord provided a wonderful solution for me — an upside down box  — where the cats climb into it but the litter is down deep so it cannot be splashed out. It was a little pricey, but it was one of the best investments I have made.  The box took some time for my cats to like it, but it did as promised. The litter stayed in the box, the smell was contained, and the rental home was not damaged by litter or unwanted cat by-product. I was blessed. Furthermore, the Lord placed on my heart the idea of using a different type of litter. Over the years, I have used every type of litter — pricey brands to cheap brands — and nothing really improved the situation. When I switched litter to Target’s brand, I knew I had found the “winner.” Not only did my cats like it, but their allergies ceased to be an issue, and frankly, the overall care of their needs improved. Since I switched brands, I have never had issues with smell or with unclean litter boxes. So, while I know that seems weird to say, but here I was praising God for providing something so small as a litter box and good litter. Yes, I was giving Him praise because He provided exactly what I needed — right in the moment I needed it. I can recount numerous times when He has been so good to me. Time and time again, He has been so good to see to it that my life has been modest, yet comfortable. Every need has been met with sufficiency, and while I didn’t always expect the provision to be as it was delivered, the end result was good. The need was met, the problem was solved.

There I was — emptying the trash — and I remembered how good God was to provide that litter box to me. I remembered how in the smallest of concerns, He helped me make wise choices. I know trash and litter boxes seem inconsequential to God, but then I my mind started to think about just how BIG God really is, and how despite His size, He still cares about the smallest of details. He cares about the birds and the flowers just as much as He cares about our daily needs (Luke 12:27). He is good that way, so very, very good.

Moving On — Steady as it Goes!

Right now, my life is moving along well. It seems to be moving at a snails pace, but that is okay with me. I would prefer to be clipping along, but I also know that sometimes if we go too fast, I may become unsettled, and then start to lose my balance (or my perspective). I realize that the pace, just like the timing, is all in His hands. He knows what I can handle, and He knows just how quickly He can move in my life without upsetting my entire apple cart, so to speak. Today, I feel well and good. Tomorrow, I hope to feel the same. But there is no guarantee in that fact. There is no way for me to know what tomorrow will bring so the best I can do is remember to be thankful for this good day. I can be thankful for what God is doing presently, and I can trust my tomorrows to His care. I may not like letting go or leaving my hand off the wheel, but I know that He is far better able to handle what concerns me this day than I am. In truth, He is far better able to handle the details, to plan and to forecast, and to bring to completion whatever He has in mind and in store for me. I must look to His deliverance, to His keeping, and to His provision always. In doing so, I can rest in knowing that the details, small or large, will be carefully considered, and a solution will be created that meets, no exceeds, my very need. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

Some Thoughts and Ideas

It is Tuesday, and I had hoped to be further along with my chapter 2 - literature review than I am. Yet, the timing aside, I am confident that everything will be completed in His time. I have given up my time-table. I have given up my need to control the time, the dates, and the output. It is funny, really, because this is exactly what happened to me when I was studying for my exams. I had this grand plan in mind. In fact, I had created a schedule for my study group, and I had intended to keep to this hard-and-fast plan for producing study materials. I had it all scheduled, right down to the 16 weeks it would take to get my entire doctoral program crunched into 8 small binders. I was so good, so organized, so on top of the process. Then — life intervened — and school started, and well, I missed my deadlines. I would go a week, perhaps almost two, without producing everything on my list. I panicked. I freaked out. But inside of me, I would hear this voice say, “I’ve got you covered.” I would relent, let go, and trust the Lord to help me, guide me, and lead me through the tasks that had to be completed. In the end, with six weeks to go, the Lord showed up, moved the mountain, and accomplished more than I could have ever imagined being accomplished. I pulled my materials together, made sense of them, studied hard, and I passed my exams. He did it His way, and in His way, the process worked. All my planning and purposing served to confuse me, frustrate me, and cause me to feel so stressed. His way, on the other hand, was smooth, easy, and doable. It worked for me, with me, I should say, and I completed what was an insurmountable task with grace and sufficiency.

Now, I see that the same thing is true for writing my proposal. And, in like fashion, I did exactly the same thing as I did with my study approach. I planned. I organized. I made a way for myself. And, yes, I have missed every single checkpoint along the way. LOL! So, according to my calendar, I should have had my entire proposal written and sent to my professor by this date. Yet, all I have sent off is my chapter 1. I am no where close to finishing my chapter 2. Why do I struggle so, Lord? Why do I strive this way?

It is only through His grace and with His mercy that He bends down toward me. When I cry out to Him, I hear  Him say to me, “It is OK. We are on track. Do not worry.” I think, “Lord, I am not doing what I should be doing. I am resting (sleeping, chilling out, kicking back) when I should be writing.” He always responds in the same way. He will say, “I’ve got you covered.” I know that He knows I need to rest, to chill out, and I know that He knows that I need to write. What He knows best is that I am stuck right now, stuck trying to figure out how to write a literature review, how to do my paper, and how to move forward on this project. He knows that I need His divine intervention, His schedule and timing, and yes, His pacing in order to finish strong. He knows that I cannot do this on my own, and whenever I try to do it in my own strength, I falter. I fail. He knows I need His guidance now, and that I need His provision and solution to solve this problem.

What is more is the fact that I KNOW I cannot finish my program without His help. I cannot even attempt it. I know this to be true. I know that I do not have the thoughts, the ideas, the where-with-all to finish this paper. He does, though. He knows it all. I trust and I rest in His sufficiency and provision this good, good day. Moreover, I know that as soon as I finish my degree, graduate, I will be in the place of His choosing to receive that formal position as full-time teacher. I need the degree before I can move on, and right now, the only thing standing between me and that goal is my willingness to let Him finish this task, to let Him have His way with this project. If I want to wear the title, I have to let the Lord have His way. He has to do this, and I know it now, and I know that if I let Him do this thing, the outcome, well, it will be very, very good.

Today is a good day, therefore, to let this go, to let Him lead, to let Him provide for me. I am at this place where my hands, my thoughts, my ideas, have all run dry. I have nothing to mix, to make, to mold into solutions anymore. My reservoir is empty. Yet, He is the Master over the rain. He is the One who rains down and provides nourishment to dry souls. I look up, and I pray. I look up and I ask the Lord to rain down His mercy, His grace, and yes, His blessed provision in order for me to finish strong, to complete my task, and to submit my dissertation for consideration. I trust the outcome — it will be good — I know it will.  I let this all go, I let it go, and I let Him take the lead. I will follow. I will do as He asks me to do, and the end will come to pass just as He has said it would. It will be good. I will graduate. I will wear the title with humility and in awe of the One who provided it to me. He is my King, my Redeemer, and my Ruler. I look up, and I trust Him to finish what He started so long ago. Bring this to completion, Lord. Let’s finish strong. Let’s do it! Selah!

My task list for today is short. Besides having to make arrangements for the disposition of my son’s car, I need to work on my chapter 2, and I need to look for a new desk chair. My back has been aching now for months (years, really), and while the chair I do have is good, it is getting worn out. I can feel it in my back now. I am thinking of purchasing a kneeling chair. I used to have one years ago, and I loved it. I am thinking that a kneeling chair would solve my posture problems and that it would provide relief for my hips and back. I probably will have to buy one online so some time today will be spent looking for an inexpensive chair that I can purchase through Amazon. Other than these items, the rest of my day is open to the Lord as He leads. I pray my day is blessed, of course. And, I do pray I can work out again. I felt so much better after doing my workout in the afternoon. I am a bit sore today, but nothing terrible or uncomfortable. My goal is to stick to my workout plan, 5-6 days a week, for the rest of my life. This is lifestyle change, and not just lose some pounds and tone up to look good plan. I do hope I can get in shape, lose some weight and tone up, but the goal is longevity and creating a healthy life. I am 53, after all, and I would like to feel better at 63, Lord willing.

My prayer for today is really this:

  • I ask the Lord to grace me with the provision of work to do for fall.
  • I ask the Lord for a solution to my son’s car needs.
  • I ask the Lord for His sufficiency with my income, my debt, and my future resources.
  • Lastly, I ask the Lord to cover me and to provide for me in every area where I currently have lack — lack of time, lack of resources, lack of vital need.
My prayer is to live modestly, comfortably, and to be in total dependency upon Him for provision. This means that all thoughts of self-provision, taking authority and control over my situation, etc., must take a back seat to His continued coverage. If I want to be covered by His blessing and banner, then I must remain under His blessing and under His banner. I cannot walk out and expect the Lord to follow. No, I must remain under His marvelous umbrella of grace.

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