June 21, 2016

Forward, Ho!

Happy Tuesday! Yes, it is a good Tuesday. I am sitting here in my office thinking about my future. I am also giving the Lord praise because I received a good report back from my dissertation chair regarding my proposal. It has been over a month, and frankly, I was worried I had totally blown my first three chapters. But, God be praised, my chair thought it was a good start. Now to make revisions, and then to continue working toward presenting it in August. God is good, so very good to me!

My goal for today is to REST! Yes, I need to rest (as in let things go), and I need to stop worrying about my financial needs. I haven't heard back on my interview, so my prayer is that my responses were well-received. I don't think I did very well, but then the Lord has me covered. I am praying His will be done, nonetheless, and that means that whatever He has for me, He will bring it to pass. I need to trust Him, abide in Him, and then let all the rest just REST! So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Simplify My Life

As I think about my life today, one thing is for certain. The Lord is guiding me, encouraging me, and yes, leading me to consider simplifying my life right now. How so you say? Well, the Lord has not provided a new job to me yet. This means that this summer, I have three months (counting from May-August) with nothing on my radar, nothing on my schedule. I am sitting here at home with little to do, so this says to me that I need to create things to do in order to keep myself busy. I need to come up with ideas that will help me produce some results, and not just spend my days sleeping them away. I have been physically resting, and even today, I am feeling tired, sort of sleepy-tired. I am not sure why, but I am not at my best today. Perhaps I didn't sleep well last night, I am not sure. What I do know, though, is that the Lord intends to do something spectacular in my life soon, and I am to be ready, to make myself ready to receive it.

The dictionary defines "simplify" as meaning to "make (something) simpler or easier to do or understand." When I think of "simplify" I normally think of clearing away the clutter, organizing or paring down. However, according to dictionary.com, the root word in Medieval Latin is simplific─üre, which means to make simple. The idea is to take something complex and make it clearer, easier to understand. Perhaps what the Lord is pressing on me is a need for understanding rather than a need to be better organized. I am pretty organized normally, but I do not always understand what I am to do or where He intends for me to go. So perhaps He is saying to me "Carol, you need some simplification to help you understand what I am doing, what I am asking you to do for me." If that is so, then my prayer today is "Lord, please simplify my understanding so I can know what it is that I need to know this good, good day!" Selah!

When I am confused, I will often hear the Lord guide me and tell me to ask for clarification. Clarification means "to make (an idea, statement, etc.) clear or intelligible" or to explain something so that it is "free from ambiguity." How quickly we can become confused, especially by our enemy who seeks to confound us, confuse us daily. We must persevere so that we can learn the truth of God's word, and so we can see the truth of His love as it is demonstrated to us through the Cross of Jesus Christ. We must always strive to be clear in our directives for others as well as when we are given directives from our superiors. Clarity is a good thing. It helps us to understand the complexities of life with more assurance, with more affinity, and with more ability to make wise decisions and follow up with good plans.

Today, I seek simplicity in my life. Simplicity is "the state, quality, or an instance of being simple," but it can also refer to the following:
  1. freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts
  2. absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness
  3. freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity; artlessness; naturalness
In this way, when we consider a simple life or style, we are really talking about a way of life that is the opposite of what the world values. Instead of luxury or pretentiousness, we are called to a life of sincerity, plainness, and naturalness. We are to throw off all that is ornate or showy (or worldly), and instead take on humility, lowliness, and meekness (like our Savior). 

In my life, I am far from showy when it comes to my manner of dress or the style in my home. I simply do not like these kinds of artificial presentations. I much prefer natural comfort to that of high-style or art. However, I also realize that in the world, many people judge based on these things. Many people make assessments based upon the way a person dresses, speaks or even carries their body in public.

My prayer today is to be simple, clear, and direct. To live my life in a way that is natural, humble, and without pride or arrogance. This means that I must watch my words, my language, my style as I engage with others on a daily basis. I must not appear to be "better" than another, for I am not. I am judged with the same impartiality by God as everyone of His creatures. I am no better than any other.

Moving Forward with Boldness

It is funny how when one door opens, another closes. I love this saying, and while I didn't know it was originally attributed to Alexander Graham Bell, I always remembered it from one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Sound of Music." If you recall, these are the words spoken by the Mother Abbess as she tries to help Maria understand her calling (vocation). She says something along the lines of how God may have another plan for her life than becoming a nun. This scene in the movie speaks to my heart every time I see it. I feel such an affinity for Maria, specifically in her desire to serve God, to do God's work. Yet, the movie so wonderfully demonstrates how God often opens and closes doors to help us know His will. He shows us in viable ways what He wants us to know.

I am like Maria in so many ways. And while not an orphan who runs to the Abbey to find sanctuary, solace, and security, I have run to God for similar needs. Maria was hopeless at being a nun because no matter how hard she tried to live the life of postulate, she simply couldn't do it. She failed every single time. She gave her heart, but in the end, she wasn't cut out to be a nun.

In the movie (play version too), the Mother Abbess recognizes this weakness in Maria. But rather than scold her or tell her what to do, in her wisdom, she gives Maria the time she needs to come to figure this truth out on her own. In order to help her discover her purpose, Mother Abbess sends her to be a governess at the home of Captain Von Trapp, knowing full well that his needs (for a wife) could be satisfied should a relationship develop between him and Maria. Of course, in good story fashion, this arrangement also was designed to be the venue chosen to test Maria's will and her determination to be a nun. As the story closes, Maria and Captain Von Trapp fall in love and she decides to leave the cloister. She chooses marriage and motherhood, both honorable estates before God. In doing so, she comes to accept her calling, but sees that her calling is to be fulfilled through another avenue rather than through life in the nunnery. The story of the Von Trapp Family is well romanticized and even contrived in some ways, yet despite the Hollywood treatment, it still echoes truth. Sometimes God does use people, places, and positions in order to get His children to see that the plans He has for their life are bigger than the plans they think they know or can easily hold in the palms of their hands.

In my case, I think this is true as well. I received confirmation today of another door closing. I had applied for several full-time teaching positions here in Phoenix. I was invited to apply in early Spring so I did. I never heard back on these positions, and even after following up on them, I never received any confirmation that they were interested in me, in particular. Yet, today, the second door closed. The email came thanking me for applying but saying that they (the school) was pursuing other candidates. The curious thing is that for both of these jobs, I was highly qualified. I had the experience, the relationship with the schools, and I had the education. Furthermore, as a published author (now in press), I pretty much was a good candidate for the department. Yet, for whatever reason, the dean moved forward with other people. I wasn't surprised by the email at all. It was more like a confirmation that said to me, "This door is closed. Move on."

I feel like I am standing at the closed door right now. I wanted so much to see doors open for me, to not give up or in on teaching full-time. In fact, my chair said today that I shouldn't give up just yet. I appreciated his views, but I am not so sure that hanging on is in my best interest. He is very dear, and I value His advice, but I also know that he is not aware of my situation here. He isn't aware of what I am doing each day, how I am getting by. Still, I thanked him for his concern, and I thought a bit about what he said as I got lunch together for my family. I asked the Lord, "Lord, has this door closed yet?" And, then the email came. I think the answer is "yes." The door to teaching has closed, and the door that is open, is the one I am waiting on now. I am moving forward, crossing the threshold, and waiting to see what new things the Lord intends to bring my way. Will this job pan out? Will I get called to interview this week? I honestly do not know, but I will not look back upon the closed door. I will not look back when I should be looking forward, looking to the greater plans, the bigger proposals, and the gigantic adventures the Lord has in mind for me today.

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