July 10, 2016

Looking Forward

It is a good Sunday here in Phoenix. I am home today, resting after a solid night of sleep. You would think I wouldn't need to rest, but I do. I am not sure, but I think I am having a mild CFS episode. I just feel worn out, like physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually tired. I made all these great plans, have ideas of how I will do this or that thing, design concepts to change my home, my life, my outlook. Yet, all of my plans seem to sit on the shelf, so to speak. They do not come to fruition because once I write them down, get the idea out on paper, I am spent. Literally, I am spent. Just yesterday, I was thinking about how tired I was feeling. I mean, I have been sleeping well for the most part, and I am trying to get to bed around the same time each night. There was just something in me that needed to lay down and rest, so I did. I feel so lazy, so worthless right now. Yet, I know that I am physically well (as in not ill), and my mind and spirit are in good shape. Emotionally, I am stable. So I don't know what is wrong except that I feel this crushing fatigue, and as a result, I feel as though I cannot do anything right now.

This morning, I woke up around 7:30 a.m. I thought I would get up, enjoy my morning, and then head out to church. Instead, I drifted off to sleep for another two hours, and here I am now just having my coffee. I know I shouldn't miss church again, but I am feeling so exhausted right now. I slept well -- really well -- so this shouldn't be happening. The only thing I can think of is that I am suffering from chronic fatigue. I haven't had a full-on episode in about 10 years. Yes, my episodes come round every ten or so years. I think I have mild episodes that I simply push through, but when the bigger ones strike, I am usually down for the count. I was diagnosed with CFS in 1987-88, and it has been a roller coaster ride since then.

I've had good periods where I have been incredibly active followed by periods where all I did was rest. The rest needs to be significant, so for me, I need months of rest. I am wondering if this is why the Lord hasn't permitted me to begin my research yet, and instead, is keeping me free this summer. Plus, this would explain why I am working part-time again for another year. Part-time as adjunct actually has been a blessing to me, enabled me to finish my PhD, and provided a way for me to have regularly down-time each week. In truth, working this way has been a good fit for my health, overall. Yes, my feet take the brunt, my legs ache something fierce, but generally speaking, I have not been ill (no colds, flus or anything else) for three years. The Lord has made a way for me so that I could do very difficult work (mentally challenging) along with rather easy work (physically difficult, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally easy). He has made a way for me, and He has taken care of my needs with sufficiency and abundance.

The Need for Rest

As I have blogged before, I am resting in the Lord these days. Well, I sure hope that is the case. I am "trying" to be at rest, and that means letting my worries, doubts and fears subside. I struggle still most days, and I feel condemned by my enemy who shouts at me and says to me that I am worthless, hopeless, and a failure -- all because I cannot do what God is asking me to do. Yet, I know I cannot do what the Lord is asking me to do. I can only do what He asks in His strength, and with His vitality. I am weak, but He is strong. I rest in His abilities and not in my own.

Yesterday, was a decent day all around. I actually made some progress on my revisions for chapter one of my dissertation. I am pleased to be where I am, and I see hope for finishing up those changes within the next couple days. I should be receiving chapter two soon, so I will be busy the rest of the month. Chapter three revisions should be shortest since I actually wrote too much material for the proposal. I think I will need to shorten that section. Hopefully, and I am filled with hope, the Lord will assist me, give me the strength I need to finish this project so I can move on to step two -- research and writing up the final assessment. My prayer is to be able to do the work I need to do between now and school starting again, and then to be able to manage my fall teaching schedule AND do my research writing. It is a lot, but the Lord has me well-covered. This is for His Name and His Praise, and as such, the only One who will receive the honor and the glory will be the Lord. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Relaxing and Releasing is Key

Some of the stress I have been under has been released already, but there is still quite a bit that is bottled up. I feel it, I know it, I do. You see, since I finished school in May, I have been this tight-mess. I have tried to rest, really rest, but all I seem to do is go to bed, sleep, wake up, and keep on "keeping on." I don't feel rested. I don't feel relaxed. I am not unwinding at all. Normally, after school ends, I crash for a couple weeks, and then I enjoy my summer off. I rest really well, and I find myself totally relaxed by summer's end. Here I am -- the beginning of July -- and after two months off, I am just as tightly wound as I was when school ended. Why? Why can I not rest, recover, and relax?

I know part of the problem has been my worry over my finances this summer. This is the first summer where I haven't had to travel to VA, so I didn't take or need financial aid to cover my expenses. This means that I was able to save on student loans (hooray), but it also meant that I had no assurance for financial assistance come fall. Furthermore, in early June I started to look for another kind of job, hoping I could find something that would be full-time and pay well. It made sense, surely it did, and while I did interview, I ended up not getting a full-time, well-paying job. Now, I am settled with my teaching contracts for fall, but I worry about making ends meet. I worry about how I will make ends meet. I know the Lord will see me through -- He always does -- but the stress of not having enough is eating away at me. This is not good, so not good for my well-being. Help me, Lord! Please help me now!!

I know that the only way to rest, truly rest is to let go of the things, the burdens we hold on to that are eating us up inside. These burdens are the ones that cannot be changed without supernatural help from the Lord. In my case, I bear some heavy burdens right now. I have my schooling, graduation, and completion of my PhD on my mind most days. Then I have my work/job and the lack of income following close after. I have my parents -- though I am not responsible fully for their care -- I see the need, the need for food mostly, and that panics me. Last, I have my son who needs little, but what he does need is major (a car). It takes all I can do to focus on the tasks at hand. I don't mean to complain, but frankly, I am getting drained being responsible for my family. It is so hard to be a single woman and carry this load alone. I am stuck, royally stuck, and there is nothing I can do to shift my position. I have to be still, remain where God has me, and endure this until He releases some of these burdens from me.

Today, I would like to see several burdens off-loaded. I know that I would feel better, but honestly I don't see how they will be managed if I let them go. It is not that I don't trust the Lord, it is just that I need help, and I need help now. I rarely cry for help. I rarely ask for help. I am stalwart, steady, and stoic. I just lumber on until the pain, the pressure, the powerlessness overwhelm me. Then I cry out to God, ask Him to intervene on my behalf and crash.

Psalm 61:2 (NIV) says, "From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." This is how I feel today. I feel crushed by the burden I bear. I need His help desperately, and I am struggling to keep my head above the water line. 

A Prayer for Rest

Dear Heavenly Father,

This world seems to move faster and faster
And I’m trying to keep up.
But God, in the whirlwind,
Instead I get caught up.
Like an unbeatable force it pulls me in
But I know eventually I cannot win.
I must learn to rest in your perfect peace
And though good, let all endeavors cease.
Oh that my feet would mimic your pace.
So your joy would be set on my face.
Help me, Jesus, to slow down when you would.
Help me, Lord, to rest as I should.
Thank you for loving me just as I am;
Thank you that rest is part of your plan.

I ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Taking it Slowly

As I think about my life right now, the craziness of my life, I am assured that despite the raging storm, my Lord is with me. Although I am afraid at times, He never leaves my side. I am to draw near to Him, and to find my rest in Him. In doing so, my fears will cease because the truth of His goodness and mercy will overshadow any fear I may have or be imprisoned by. As I come close to Him, I will find sweet peace, and the longer I linger with Him, in His presence, then I will enjoy the blessed rest that is mine through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. 

Today, therefore, is a good day to seek His rest. Today is a good day to experience His great joy, His great peace, and to let the cares of the world fall to the ground as I experience His goodness, His refreshing goodness wash over my weary mind, body and soul. Peter says, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). Oh that I may give all my worries and cares to my Heavenly Father because I know full-well that He cares for me.

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