October 22, 2016

Good Saturday

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. October is one of the nicest months to be in the desert southwest. It ranks right up there with March, in my view. Both months have about the same temperatures, with cool mornings and evenings and hot middays. October has the blessing of being the doorway to the fall and winter, whereas March — well — March is just a short segue into the heat of summer. Still, anything or anytime we find relief from the oppressive heat HAS TO BE such a good thing, such a very good thing. Selah!

Today should be a good day by all accounts. The weather is lovely, and despite the high of 96 (yes, that is our forecast for the day), I think it will turn out quite nicely. I plan to be indoors most of the day, but even still, just knowing that it is lovely outside makes up for that fact.

On top of the weather (news), I am feeling pretty well today. I had a really good night, and I slept soundly. I didn’t even wake up until close on 6 a.m., and then it was only because I needed to use the bathroom (I know — old lady ills). I slept right on through the night, and after I got up at 6, I crawled back into bed and slept until right about 8:30. My boys both came and snuggled with me, and since neither of my parents were up yet, the house was so quiet and still. I really do love to wake up to a quiet house.

Today’s plan include my study prep for my defense/conference call on Monday morning. I am not nervous at all — as weird as that may seem. I mean, I really am pretty calm about the whole thing. I guess I feel like the Lord has prepared me well, brought me safely to this place, and given me the green light to proceed, so really now all I have to do is walk on — walk on through the defense — and into the research phase of my study. I do need to be ready, and I plan on spending today and tomorrow re-reading my study plans, covering all my bases, and putting together a short handout for my professors to use as a review guide. Other than that, I am going to head into this next phase with my “guns blaring” as they say. I am going in “full bore” — ready to take on the task of finishing my PhD! Praise be to God, I will do it. He is good to me, and He will see me through it. I am confident of it. I boast only in His abilities, in His way, and in the fact that He is sovereign over this area of my life. If this is His will, He will be faithful to see me through it. I believe it. I rest in it, and I trust Him completely for my final outcome. Selah!

Thoughts on Fall and Moving

Lately, my thoughts have been focused on moving out of the Phoenix area to another place, a more mild and cool place. Perhaps it is just my wunderlust or my strong desire to fall (it is my favorite season by far). I am not sure, but it seems like my mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of moving. A lot. I mean, lately, my thoughts have been centered on moving to another place, setting up shop, and well putting down roots. Sigh!

Just today, my distant cousin posted this picture to Facebook, and I have to tell you, I had this sharp feeling, a sense that I was being pulled to take a visit up north (in this case to the northeast). This picture is of the Pack Saddle Bridge in Somerset County, PA. My Mom hails from this part of PA, and my cousin, John, always posts pictures of the covered bridges in the fall. This one is a “beaut” as they say up north.

Then, later this morning, another friend posted a picture from Arizona Snowbowl. Apparently, the post said that you can still ride the ski lift up to the top of the mountain to see the fall foliage, but that soon, the line will be closed down to all but skiers. Sigh! I’ve been to Snowbowl, but not during the fall season. I was thinking today how I would love to make the drive up north, just to drive in and around Flagstaff and enjoy the very cool fall temperatures and the beautiful change of seasons right about now. The Aspen trees are stunning in this photo (courtesy of AZ Snowbowl). I can feel the crisp air by just looking at this picture.

I marvel at the magnificence of God’s creation on days like today. I think about how the climate varies depending on where you live, and how October is typically gorgeous in most northern places. But, in the deep south, and I mean “south,” it is going to be summer soon. Yes, my friends in New Zealand and Australia are getting ready to have Christmas in the middle of the summer! I don’t know if I could handle that much of a change. I really do look forward to winter and to the snow falling right around Christmas time. I don’t know…maybe I am just feeling wistful or I am longing for a change of pace.

I honestly don’t know, but lately, I have been consumed with the idea of moving away from Phoenix. I have blogged about moving for the past 10 or so years, but it seems like the Lord is “ramping” up that desire. It seems like He is getting me prepared and ready to go. That thought excites me to no end, but it also makes me wonder about the details, the logistics, and the wherefores of actually picking up stakes and moving on. Let me explain…

God’s Will and My Move

Last night, my good friend and I had one of our long conversations. It was a refreshing change considering we have not been able to spend as much time together recently because of my crazy schedule — with work and school and research — and with his overtime. Last night, though, the Lord provided a short window of opportunity for us to chat on the phone, and it was such a blessing to be able to laugh with each other, to listen to each other, and to share with each other the deep and wonderful love that we have that is always centered on Jesus Christ and kingdom matters. One of the reasons why I enjoy my friend so much is because of our connection to God’s call and the work He intends to do through each of us. Although our calling is different, so unique, we share one thing in common and that is a deep and sincere desire to do God’s work. We simply feel compelled to pursue His calling, and we are willing to sacrifice our comforts and our joys in order to abide in and obey His voice. Thus, last night, we discussed all matter of things from politics and the church to evangelism and apologetics. Our conversation was rich, rewarding, and refreshing. I sure have missed our good, good, good discussions! Selah!

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, mostly about moving and about being settled and what not, and last night, my friend and I talked briefly about my job prospects and the opportunities for me to find full-time teaching work. I try really hard not to focus on my need for a job, and I made the conscious decision a couple months back to not whine or complain about my lack of steady work. In truth, the Lord has provided amply for me this semester, and while I am thankful for the abundance of teaching contracts, I am stressed and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the work. In many ways, I long for one job versus four jobs (like I have now). I really need to simplify my life, but until the Lord provides that steady position, I am content with the work I have to do. So be it, thy will be done! Selah!

I was telling my friend how I feel that the Lord is preparing me to move, and how I am ready to move, but that I feel stuck where I am right now simply because I don’t have all my little duckies in a row. I mean by this — without a permanent job — I am stuck where I am. If you have read my blog for any length of time then you know that it is pretty much full of my reflections and my restlessness when it comes to what I feel the Lord is doing in my life. Mostly, I write about my work life, home life, and school life, and I pour out my feelings about my calling, my desires and my reliance upon the Lord’s overarching will for my life. Yes, I often will say that I feel so strongly that He is preparing me, getting me ready, for a big change — and that I believe that change is coming very, very soon. In all honestly, I believe that something is afoot! Of course, I can’t put my finger on it — nor do I know what the Lord intends to do with me. It is more that I think in a short amount of time (by May 2017), the Lord will ask me to move. I believe that by next year, Lord willing, I will leave Phoenix and settle some place where the Lord plans for me to pursue His work.

It seems like almost every night, I find myself drifting off to sleep with the words, “Be prepared,” pinging in my head. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe the Lord is giving me a “heads up,” so to speak. He is letting me know that in order for me to move or to take those next anticipated steps, I need to be prepared for them. I was praying about this last night, how I feel ready and how I believe the Lord sees me as such. I feel like He has said to me, “Carol, you are ready to go.” So the idea that I am ready, but not prepared, well it just throws me for a little bit of a loop.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I yet again heard the words, “be prepared” echo in my head. This time, I asked the Lord, “Lord, what do you mean? What must I do to be prepared?” Unfortunately, after my question, I nodded off, and well, I never did get the answer I sought (LOL!) The funny thing is that today, I’ve been thinking more about being prepared, and I also have been thinking more about moving (physically relocating). So this morning, I asked the Lord again: “Lord, how am I to be prepared?” His response to me has been interesting, and so this is what I believe I am to do in “preparation” for my next big MOVE.

Ready vs. Prepared

First off, it is important to understand the difference between being ready and being prepared. I think of it this way, like when you may have a big trip planned. You make the plans, buy the tickets, mark the date off on your calendar, and make arrangements for your time away (from work or home). Then you wait. You wait until you get within striking distance (one-two or three weeks) from your anticipated holiday or business trip. You are ready for the trip. You have made the plans, you understand the need or desire, and you are waiting for the actual departure time. However, you can’t just show up at the airport and get on a plane without some preparation ahead of time. Well, you could of course, but most of us wouldn’t do that or couldn’t do that very well. No, for most of us, we pack our things, we make extra arrangements for the kids or the pets or the house, and we arrange for our departure (do we take our car and park it at the airport or do we get a friend to drop us off?) We are ready for our trip, for sure, but we need to prepare to go, and that often takes time, some planning, and even some purchases (new clothes, a new suitcase, for example). Sometimes we have to plan and prepare for a trip long in advance of the departure date. Other times, we can toss a jacket and backpack in the car and just go. With this in mind, in order for me to move, to relocate, I need to plan, prepare, and then go (in that order). I need to have a plan in mind, approved by the Lord, and then I need to prepare my way so that I am “ready” for my “pack and go” date.

Right now, I feel ready to move. I think I am mentally ready, spiritually accepting of the mandate, and my heart and mind are both willing to entertain physically leaving my home and moving across the country. Yet, I cannot go just yet. I cannot toss my things in the car and up and move “just like that!” I have a friend here in Phoenix who recently relocated to Colorado. She made the decision to move and within 3-4 weeks, she was gone. Just like that! I have thought about her move, and how she was able to pack her things and relocate with such ease. I would love to be able to do that, but then she had no real encumbrances, no job, no home, etc. It was easier for her to pack her belongings in her car and simply move someplace else. Not so for me. I have quite a lot of things that tie me to Phoenix, and until I am prepared to let these things go (as in close them out, cancel the lease, etc.), I am where I am for a reason. Yes, I am stuck where I am for a time until the Lord provides me with the resources I need to close out my life here.

This is the spot I am in now. I feel ready to go, but I am not prepared to go as such. I have ideas in my head, thoughts and dreams about going, but I have no real plan in place. I have what I think is His plan, the idea of it, but I don’t really have anything set in stone, so to speak. I simply have the desire, the will, and the pull toward moving, but I don’t have anything concrete as of yet.

Specific Plans

This brings me back around to the conversation I had with my good friend last night. He mentioned to me that he felt the Lord might be opening a door for me to teach full-time at Regent University. I am adjunct faculty right now, and I would love, love, love to teach for Regent on a permanent basis. Yet, I know that this is not a reality, per se. I mean, unless the Lord intends to move me to VA Beach, I really don’t see this happening anytime soon. But the thought was a nice one, and I loved that he felt he could share it with me.

I’ve been praying for a full-time position for several years now, and frankly, I made the decision a few months back to let it be, let it rest, and to accept that for now I am set as an adjunct instructor. I am okay with adjunct, and I like the variety, the change each semester, and the fact that I am pretty much come and go as I please. Yet, I know that for longterm security, I need a full-time faculty position — somewhere — and I need to have that position in place before I can “up and go.”

Just the other day, I was over on Twitter and I read a “tweet” that said something to the fact that sometimes you have to step out in faith — go before — the Lord has everything laid out for you. Actually, it was Richard Blackaby who tweeted this comment:

Don't wait to advance until all of God's instructions make perfect sense to you. You might never leave the starting block! Get moving!

At first, I thought, “No, that is foolishness.” I mean, I don’t want to run out ahead of God and take a chance that I could be mistaken in my feelings or my thoughts. But today, I am thinking differently. I thought about the Old Testament patriarchs and how often God told them to go, but that He didn’t always give them clear instructions on what to do, where to go, or even how to get there. He simply said they were to go and they were to have faith that He would provide for them along the way.

I have heard the Lord tell me to go several times now, but I have not actually “gone” anywhere. I have waited for His provision, and in waiting for His provision, I have tarried in this place. I have not found the provision I needed, and in this way, I simply convinced myself that His timing wasn’t perfect or that I misread His intentions or His plans. Now, I am thinking that perhaps God doesn’t provide the resources until we take the step in faith that says, “I will trust you for these resources.” In this way, God didn’t give me what I didn’t need or use. You see, had I stepped out in faith, I have full confidence that He would have provided what I needed — when I needed it. But, since I didn’t go, I didn’t have need for the provision. Thus, I have remained in this place, sitting here waiting for the resource to come to me.

I am not about to go running out willy-nilly without a plan, that is for sure. However, the Lord has told me to go, and I have not gone. I wonder whether this is why I am still here, still waiting, and still struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps my promised provision is not here in Phoenix, but rather it waits for me at the other end of the stick?

Hmmm.  I need to think more about this idea and to decide if this could be true or not. Right now, I have heard the Lord say to me — be prepared — and that tells me that I am to start making plans, start the ball rolling, and start lining all my ducks in a row. I am to wait for His leading, His guiding, and His providing — of course — but I am also to be prepared, to be ready, and to be at the waiting line for His command to go. Until that time, I have work to do. I have so much work to do.

In Closing

As I wait for the Lord, I also realize that I must be ready, be prepared to go. I must look for His provision where He will provide it, and if that means I have to go without provision in order to demonstrate my faith, so be it. Thy will be done. However, until I am confident I am to physically move, I will continue to wait for His blessing, His deliverance. I will look up, and I will wait. He is good to me, He will show me the way. I am confident of it. Selah!

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