October 27, 2016

Thankful Thursday

It is Thursday, and I am giving thanks! Yes, it is "Thankful Thursday," which is just another way to remember the words of Paul when he wrote to the church at Thessalonica, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:18 NLT).  Then, just as today, we need to remember to give God thanks, in spite of our circumstances. We have so much to be thankful for -- and even when things are not going as we hope or when our situation seems difficult, desperate, or dire -- we need to remember the graciousness of our Great God.

I know that there have been times when I wasn't thankful, or at the least, I didn't feel very thankful. Yet, in my heart, I knew that my life in its bleakest moments was still given as a gift to me. God has graciously provided for me, covered me with His blessing, and enabled me to carry on, to continue to walk on in faith. Today, I am thankful for His merciful kindness, His goodness, and His grace. All of which is to say that I am thankful that He has spared my life, saved me from my sins, and set me apart to become a joint heir with Christ Jesus. I have good in my life because of His nature and His mercy. I am safe today because He is always with me. And I am secure in my future because He has established me and ensured a way for me to go that will lead me to my final destination. I can take confidence in knowing my God is with me, and as such, I can rest in His assurance that He has me so well-cared for and well-covered this good, good day. Selah!


Feeling Unwell

I wish I could say that today "I feel great" but that would be an understatement. I really feel rather "crappy" today. I did sleep well, but I woke up feeling uncomfortable, sort of ill as if I had eaten something bad. I am still feeling a bit off-kilter, but the good news is that is seems to be subsiding. I am glad for that news because I have some shopping to do later on, and I need to work here at home (online teaching and such). I am trying my best to manage my overwhelming to-do lists. I feel pretty confident that I can stay on top of all my teaching responsibilities and that I can manage this semester. My research project is on hold until November 1 (next Tuesday). I decided to give myself a week and a weekend to rest up before I start my research. I need to make a schedule to follow, but overall, I am letting the demands of my project go. I trust the Lord, I believe He will guide me and provide for me, and I am letting this go, really letting it go. He has me covered. Selah!

Yesterday, I blogged about how I have come to terms with the fact that more than likely the Lord is going to keep me in Phoenix for a while yet. I struggled to accept this fact, even though the "reality of it" was staring me in the face. I have tried to figure out how to follow my heart, how to get from point A (Phoenix) to point B (over there) for months now. So far, nothing has materialized, and as the weeks and months have rolled on by, it has become more evident to me that for now, at the least, I am where I am for a reason. I cannot wish my situation away. I cannot short-change my family or my responsibilities just because I wish it were another way. No, I have to be reasonable, and that means that I have to accept the fact that for whatever reason, the Lord has determined that it is a good thing for me to remain where I am. I may not like it, love it, or be thrilled with it -- but if the Lord says so -- then He says so. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

It's been a really weird ride the past few weeks, especially as I prepped for my defense, and planned for a very full end of the year as I work toward graduation. I am in this place now, a happy place, where I can see the finish line. I can see what needs to be completed, and I can see how to tackle the project. I can see what "must needs" be done, and in that way, I can envision finishing my degree, graduating and moving on. I just had hoped that "moving on" meant moving from Phoenix. Now, though, it looks like it might mean "staying on" and remaining still for a time.

All of this "truth" came to the forefront when my son casually mentioned to me that he didn't think he was going to be able to finish his degree program in one more semester. He said he felt like he needed two semesters (or fall), but because of his scholarship and the requirements, that really meant another whole year of school. I knew this was a possibility, and frankly, what can I do about it? I mean, really? Am I going to say "No, figure out how to graduate in May?" Hardly. I am not in control of those details so no matter what I want, his timeline to graduation is between him and the Lord. So be it, thy will be done.

With that said, there was a part of me that simply felt like, "Okay, that doesn't mean I CAN'T GO, right?" Well, not so fast. I mean, I surely can go, but staying put satisfies the needs of my son (as in having a home) and my parents (as in having a home and extra care). Yes, I cannot forget about my parents. I am in the place of caregiver whether or not I like it. I can do little about it, unless I want to be heartless and walk away. My parents have been really good to me over the years. They need help and my brothers are not going to give them what they need. They care about them too, don't get me wrong, but they are not going to up and move or give up their lives to support my parents. Arguments aside as to whether that is right or wrong are pointless. I mean, it is like with my son, I cannot control that outcome. It is between my brothers and the Lord. I can only do what I can do, and for now, the Lord has me living with my parents. It seems pretty clear that He intends for me to care for them through the end of their lives.

When my brother was visiting a couple weeks ago, this point came home to me. He mentioned that he had no intention of taking my parents to live with him. This was a change for him because he has always said he would do it. Now, he has a new girlfriend and he is pretty clear that he will help support them financially, but he is not going to move or live near them to help them out. So the plans I had hoped for, dreamed about, desired, etc., all came to a screeching halt. I knew then that this was my lot, this was what the Lord wanted from me, and while I have other desires, for now, this is the plan He has for me.

Like I said, I could argue about it. I could demand my way. I could act up or out. But in truth, the writing is on the wall, so to speak. For now on, and until otherwise noted, I am to remain in Phoenix to support my son and to care for my parents. End of story.

What That Means for Me

As weird as it may seem, I am actually okay with this fact. I am not happy about it, mind you, but I am surrendered to it. I mean, my heart desires something else all together, but in my desire to please my Father and to do His will, I have to surrender my wants, needs, wishes and dreams, to the practicality of my life. This means that I have to trust Him and His timing to work things out. I can not manipulate or control the outcome. I have to let it go, and I have to believe that if it is the Lord's will, then He will make a way for me. I have to believe He knows what is best, and in that way, I can take comfort that for now, THIS IS BEST. Selah!

I started to think more about my life, about where the Lord has me, and about the dreams and desires He has given to me. I realized that He has given me all the desires of my heart, and for all intents and purposes, I have everything I need. I may not have everything I want, but I do have everything I need right now. God be praised, I can give Him thanks for providing good things to me. I have a good life. I have a good home. I have a good job. I have a good future. He is good, and He has given very good things to me. Selah!

Now, I am bound and determined to make the most out of what I have in my hand. These things the Lord has trusted to me need to be cared for in the best possible way. I need to attend to my son, my parents, my job, my students, etc. I have plenty on my plate, and that means that I need to focus on what is right in front of me rather than always being so starry-eyed and distanced. I need to be in the here and now and less in the future.

In all, my prayer today is to attend to what the Lord has laid upon my table. I need to focus on the details of my life, on working toward His best in every area, and on letting everything else stay within His careful and considered grasp. I need to be about His business, and that means that I also need to let Him be about His business.

I am ready to let this all go, to stick with what I know today, and to let all the future desires, dreams, wants, and hopes simply remain with the Lord of Hosts. He is the Lord of the Saboath, and in that way, I am resting in His REST. I am resting in Him, completely, securely, and forever. Always. Amen.

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