August 10, 2016

Remembering is Good

It is Wednesday here in mostly sunny Phoenix. Yes, our monsoon has gone bust again. The hope for rain came and went yesterday without much of a thud at all. It was like we received a smattering of light rain only, and then for a brief moment in time. The storms passed by us, yet again, and today, the day with the best chance of rain, has started with partly sunny skies. Sigh!

This means, for the most part, that our monsoon will now wind down, and before the month ends, we will be high and dry for the rest of the year. I don't mean to bash sunshine, but frankly, I don't know how much more of this "perpetual sunshine" I can take. I am so ready for variable weather; I am so ready for a change of climate.

Lord, please send the rain! Lord, please move me to a place where I can experience four seasons -- summer, fall, winter and spring?

I ask the Lord this daily, but only because I believe it is His will for my life.  And, while Phoenix has been my home for 20 years, I know in my heart that it is not my final destination. No, I have believed, firmly and with great confidence, that my forever home is not in the desert climate of the Southwestern USA. You see, I am a midwesterner, and with that, I have a desire to return to the cooler climate that is found in middle America. UGH! I am so ready for a change, so ready to experience something new. I am patiently waiting for the Lord to release me so I can begin the process to move to my new home soon (in His time, of course, in His time!) Selah!

This Good Day

Well, it is a good day today, despite the unending sunshine and warm temperatures. It is supposed to be 106-108 again (tomorrow), and with the left over humidity from Javier, well that just means it will be miserable outside. One of the things, and I am digressing here a bit, that I am looking forward to doing is spending time outside again. I used to be quite the outdoors person. I was always outdoors. I wasn't into backpacking or hiking, no. Rather, I was always just sitting outside and enjoying the weather.

San Jose was the perfect place to live. It had the "perfect" climate. It was nearly 78 degrees all year round, and it was very green and lovely. Sure, we had some hot days in August, days when the temperature would hit close to 100, but they were rare and short-lived (1-2 days each year). The rest of the time was generally mild. We had a lot of rain, a lot of rain, and for the most part, the days were warm, but the nights cool. The weather was perfect, really. No snow (only occasionally, and then on the mountains around the city), no sleet, no really harsh weather to speak of. Just perfect weather day in and day out.

I loved the fall in San Jose. It would get very cool and crisp out. I can remember, if I close my eyes, how I loved to drive my Triumph Spitfire around town during the fall months. I would put the top down and cruise on through San Jose. Sometimes I would drive up along the reservoir behind my house, just so I could see the changing leaves as the trees would hang over the country backroads. It was bliss. My bliss.

When I was a child, I loved to drive with my Mom or Dad through the country areas in IL. We lived in the suburbs, so a drive to the country was not too far off the main roads. Most of the time, in 10-15 minutes we could be in country, open acreage, in between small towns. I loved to ride with the window down, my head leaning out the window, so I could feel the breeze hit my face. The autumn months were mostly wet, as I recall. I can see the leaves pool up in the road way, wet and sticky from the rain, and feel the crush of the cold wind as it would cut across my face. I loved fall. I still do. It is my favorite season.

Winter, of course, was a different story. I loved to watch the snow fall. It was my second most favorite thing to do. I especially loved watching the snow fall at night. From my house, if you looked to the left, you could see how heavy the snow was falling because it would be illuminated under the lamp of the streetlight. I would often stand at the door (the storm door) and watch the snow fall. My Dad would holler at me to close the door, simply to save on heating costs. I just loved to stand there, chilled and shivering, as the snow would fall all around my house.

Walking in the snow was another matter. As a child, I had to walk to school. I rode the bus for Junior High, but other than those two years, I walked to elementary school and high school. This meant that I walked in winter as well as in the nicer months. I walked in snow, in ice, in driving rain. The wind would blow right through me, and while I hated walking when it was icy, I enjoyed being outside. Even when it was miserable outside. Yes, even when it was absolutely miserable outside.

Now, I am faced with perpetual sunshine. I hear this from folks who have moved from northern locations to our city. They love the sunshine. They love the weather. For me, though, I miss the cloudy skies. I miss the change -- I think that is it really -- it is the change, the fact that a day can begin with sun, turn to clouds, pour down the rain, and then clear and be sunny again. It is the variable nature that I miss, and it is the natural environment that is shaped by all that water. I mean, we do have trees here. We do have some grass. But mostly we have rock, lots of rock. Mostly, we have cactus, and dry landscape. I miss trees. I miss ponds. I miss grass. Like a lot, a whole lot.

So my heart longs to live someplace wet. Someplace green. Someplace where I can experience snow (not heavy, but occasionally would be nice). Yes, I would simply like to move to where the weather changes day in and day out, where there is always a chance of rain.

Reflecting on the Past is Bittersweet

These past couple days, I have been thinking a lot about my former life. I don't know why this is so, but lately, I have had this deep sorrow over the loss of my marriage and my former home. I find myself thinking about it all the time. I mean, I am thinking how sad it is that my marriage ended. This year would mark 32 years for me, and that fact is difficult to take. I mean, 32 years is a long time to make a marriage work, and if you can make a marriage work for 32 years, you most certainly can make it work for 50 years, know what I mean? Yet, my marriage is ended, it is over. There is no hope of restoration, and there is no chance of it ever being resurrected. Still, my heart is so saddened at the loss. I think part of the issue is that I am struggling with doubts about living on my own, moving on my own, and being on my own. It is one thing to live on my own here in Phoenix, where I have friends and family. It is quite another to live elsewhere, where I know no one.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I felt this deep urge to look at my old house. I live 2 minutes and 52 second from my old home. It is just down the street from me, around the corner, and over the major connector road. It is just there --> just over there. Sometimes I will drive down my old street, just to see if it has changed. It hasn't changed at all. The same old houses, the same old stuff. Most of my neighbors are still there. There are still run-down homes, junked cars, and debris in some yards (rentals, of course). But, most of the neighborhood looks just the same as when I lived there.

I didn't drive over there last night, but I did google my house and look at Google drive. The funny thing is there on Google was my house with my little Kia in the driveway. Yes, my Kia was there along with my ex-husband's Thunderbird. I don't know when that drive by picture was taken, but it had to have been between 2010 and 2011. The house looked like it always did when we lived there. It was in poor shape on the outside, and it needed some major fix up. I did my best to keep the rocks in tow, and to trim the hedges and such. My wreath was on the door, and the wicker settee was sitting on the front porch. It looked like I remembered it, and for a time, I thought, "Oh, how I miss that house."

Then I started to think about why I left that house, the situation that brought us to foreclosure on it. I remembered that while I was there for almost 12 years, most of that time, I was miserable. I loved my house -- it was my house -- I had found it, I had arranged the sale of it, and I made sure we got it. It never was a happy house, per se. But, there were lots of happy moments in it. Especially life spent with DJ (my son), and with his antics and his music study. I remembered all our pets, our dear sweet cats, and the things we did together as a family. In many ways, my time in that house was special, it was good.

Of course, that life ended abruptly in 2009 when I found out my ex-husband was in love with another woman. My life ended there and then, the old life I mean, the married life. I left that house November 19, 2011, and I never really looked back -- until now. I moved out, moved on, and moved away. It was good for me to do so. The Lord provided a lovely home for me to rent, and for the 18-months that I lived in that rental, I was so happy, so very happy. I loved that home. I loved that it was new, it was clean, and it was mine, all mine.

In 2013, I left that home and moved in with my parents. I have been relatively happy since that time, but as my parents age, their needs increase and such, the time spent here is becoming more difficult, more trying. Now, I am looking forward to moving away, finally away. I am looking forward to a new adventure, a new start. I am looking forward to having a place of my own, a real place, a place I own, where I can spend the rest of my life. I am eager, excited, and energized to think that the Lord has this place in mind for me, and that He is working toward bringing it to pass. I am excited to think that perhaps this has been His will all along, and that He always wanted me to go to this particular place, to live in this particular place for His ministry.

The Lord knows my coming and my going. He knows everything about my life including my past, my present, and my future. As I think about remembering the past, I am reminded that my past is a closed chapter. There is no going back. I can read it again, visit those pages and think about the stories contained in those chapters, but I can never go back, pick up where I left off, and start again. No, there is no way for that to happen now. I am moving forward, and the Lord is writing new chapters in this book of life. These new chapters are filled with exciting adventures, great new places to visit, things to see and do. I am happy, I am content, and I am so willing to go and to do what the Lord asks me to do. Now, I just need Him to move ahead of me, to sort out the details, to author the plan, and to give me the permission and the provision to begin this long trek toward my future life. He will do it, of course. He has promised. He is faithful. He will keep His word to me. Selah!

Moving Forward, Taking Aim

I have thought a long time about this move. In fact, as my good friend likes to say, "You think a lot about things, don't you?" He means to say that I think about things very deeply, for very long periods of time. I wrestle with them, I run them over in my mind, and I turn them inside out. I look at them with scrutiny, with detailed analysis, and I consider them very carefully. This is one of the reasons why I blog. I write my thoughts, in res, so to speak. I write about my life, as it is unfolding, and I always don't tie things up well. Sometimes I do, but mostly I write what is on my mind and in my heart, in the moment, as my heart and mind is stirred to think, to ponder, to wonder. It is just how I am, and I have always been a very deep thinker. I believe that one of my spiritual gifts is this ability to consider matters deeply. I think this is why the Lord chose to give me an INTJ personality type -- and to make my mind so analytical and judgmental. In biblical terms, I am called as a judge, as that is my gifting and my characteristics. The Lord asks me to judge matters, and while I try very hard not to judge people, I do judge other things, theories mostly. I use my gift to interpret, to know things, and to understand them in ways that help me communicate complex matters clearly.

Furthermore, I am called also as a communicator, someone who is able to take complex, abstract, and difficult matters and express them in ways that help others to understand. I don't always do this well, frankly, I mess up a lot. I think it is that I am still a plebeian, you know, a newbie when it comes to being a judge and such. I simply don't have enough skill or experience to do it well -- yet. In time, though, I think the Lord will put me in a place whereby my spiritual gift will be used effectively to minister to those in the church. Until then, He has me using this gift in other ways, mostly in pursuit of my education, but also to study important weighty matters that concern His heart.

My thoughts on moving, then, are not just my dreams and visions of moving. Instead, they are the studied and considered facts of moving, and in that way, they represent careful consideration of all aspects involved with moving house, home, belongings, and family. Yes, I am not choosing to move, willy nilly, as I like to say -- rather -- I am choosing to move to places where the Lord has said to me, "Carol, go and learn about this place. Study it. Observe it. See it." So, I do. I use the Internet since I am not free to travel to these places yet. I google, I research, I use the tools that are available to me. I learn about the culture, the community, the neighborhoods, the resources, etc. I consider these places carefully, and then in the end, I see their value. I see reason for moving to these locations for His work, His ministry, His calling and purpose.

My heart has taken time to acclimate to this process, however. At first, I thought every single place the Lord asked me to study was THE PLACE He was moving me. Little did I know that the process of learning about these places was more about me learning to trust Him than me actually moving to them. I mean, if I were to note all the places I have considered, well it would seem laughable, really laughable. Yet, in all of them, I clearly heard the Lord ask me to discover, to study, to learn about these particular cities and states. I obeyed. I studied them in great detail, some more than others. In the end, I have not moved to any of them. I have done all this "homework" from the comfort of my home computer, yet I have not moved house. LOL!

Now, though, the Lord is preparing to move me -- really. It is up to Him to choose which place to send me. It may be one of the places I have "discovered" or it may be someplace completely different. It could be a new place, a place I haven't even studied. If that is the case, then so be it. I believe it will be one of the places I have studied, though, and I believe it will be one of the places the Lord has said He has work for me to do there.

The Process Matters

What I have learned through this experience, the "planning and preparing to move experience," to be specific, is that the Lord is more concerned with the process of moving than with the actual moving itself. It is funny to think about it this way, but in truth, I think we can all agree (perhaps in hindsight) that we learned best through experience. Experience is one of those practical skills that allow us to learn in the moment, but to continue learning long after the moment has past by. In fact, whenever we remember our experiences, we often are better able to reflect, to analyze, and to glean truth simply because we are distanced from the actual moment in time. I know this is true for me, and I believe that one of the reasons why the process is so vital is that as our senses become tied to the experience, the event or moment is seared into our recall system. This means that most often our memories become powerful allies to help us remember details that we might otherwise forget. In this way, the process of learning some new think, linked to our sense (our perception), can work to help us not only remember details, but to recall the visual and the sensory impact of that experience. Thus, in my case, as I study about new places, I am experiencing them virtually (since I cannot visit all of these places to really 'check' them out). Then, as I reflect on these experiences, I am able to remember them in detail. All of this is to say, I think the Lord has used this "process" to help me get over my fear of moving, my fear of major life change, and my fear of the BIG UNKNOWN.

Now, I think I am finally ready. I think I am finally ready to embrace this major life change, and I am willing AND able to trust the Lord for His provision in it. This is a big deal to me. I am finally able to let go and to let God lead, guide, and provide for me. This means, I can see myself packing up my belongings and driving across the country to this new place. I can see myself buying a house, all on my own, and then moving in to it. I can see myself ordering services, making cosmetic repairs, and decorating my own home. I can see myself settling down and living in this place, being content and happy in it, and making a life that is purposed on His glorious plan for my life. I can see this happening now, where as some 5-6 or 10 years ago, it seemed impossible. It appeared as though it was completely foreign to me. The thought, the concept, the actual thing was not realistic, not potential, and certainly, not going to happen. At the least, not in my lifetime. Yet, here I am blogging about it, thinking about it, and wondering when it will be. I am eager, anxious, and excited to begin this next phase, to consider it a "done deal," and to know that my Lord has this all figured out. He has made a way possible for me, and I am following along that way. I am in such a good place today, such a good place. Now, I just need to be patient and let the process have its final result. I need to let the Lord produce the outcome. It will be good, so very good simply because He will be the AUTHOR AND THE FINISHER of this move. Selah!

 In Closing

As I think about this idea of "moving house," one thing comes to mind. I believe that the Lord is the author of this idea, this vision, this dream. Yes, this is His plan coming to pass in my life. This is His doing, therefore, I can take no credit in its creation. If the Lord moves me to this place or that place, it will not because I said "I want to go here or there." No, rather, it will be because He has said to me, "Carol, there is good work for you to do here," and I will have said, "Yes, Lord. Send me!"

Today, I rest in my search. I stop the process of looking at places. I say, "Lord, we are done," and He replies to me, "Yes, we are done." He has made His decision, and His decision rules. He has made His choice, and in obedience, I will follow His leading. He will guide me to this place, and He will provide for me in this place. I will rest in His provision believing in faith that it is enough. It is good, it is right, it is His best for me. I will let all the other places go now, and just accept that His decision has been made, and in doing so, I can know for certainty, for assurance that He will bring it to pass. It is His will, His way, and according to His word, thus it will be so. It will be so. Selah!

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