November 30, 2016

Last Day of School

It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and chilly Phoenix. I woke up early this morning, even though I didn’t need to do so. I guess I am just wired to get up before 7 a.m. these days. I made myself stay in bed for about 45 minutes before I roused myself and started my day. My boys needed feeding, as did Lenny (the Fish). I had a pretty sweet morning at ACU, despite the fact that I had only 4 of my 8 students show up today. Sigh! Such is the life of the adjunct at this small Christian college. Still, in all, my morning went very well. I am blessed, so very blessed, to be able to teach at such fine schools. I really give thanks and praise to God today for His amazing provision of good, practical, and satisfying work. He is good to me, so very good to me.

I am home now for my short break between schools. I had my second cup of coffee and a nice Boston Cream donut from Dunkin' Donuts. I am sitting in my home office, blogging and checking on students. In all, I am in such a sweet, warm, and wonderful place. I am happy. I am content. I am good. I give all the praise, the honor, and the glory to my God, my Savior, my King. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Thinking Today

As I was driving over to ACU this morning, I couldn’t help but think about all the good things the Lord has done for me recently. Of course, I am thankful for my doctoral program, and my recent blessing of software to complete my dissertation (more on that later). But, mostly, I am thankful for the jobs He has provided to me. When I first started to teach, I was thankful for one class. Now, I have a bountiful blessing in that I am teaching 6 classes at three different schools. The combination of classes has given me great experience, and my income is now in a good place, overall. The Lord has dealt bountifully with me (Ps. 13:6).

The past couple weeks, I have had the great pleasure to purchase some things for my room. In this way, I have been able to enjoy the blessing of working full-time, even though I am not full-time faculty at any of my schools. I am looking forward to that happening soon, but until then, I am very thankful for what I do have — which is — solid work, contracts for spring, and the HOPE of full-time work at the end of my PhD.

My life is good right now. I mean, it is really good. I was thinking about this again as I was on my way home from ACU. I was giving praise and testimony to the Lord, thanking Him for His bountiful blessing, His protection, and His constant guidance as I learned how to live on my own after so many years of marriage. More so, I was thanking Him for the years of my marriage, the long hard and difficult years, because despite the pain, the sorrow, and the unfortunate outcome, the Lord provided for me. He kept a roof over my head, and He always made sure I had enough to eat. My son was provided for as well, and while we didn’t have stability in the way we do now, we had enough, and the Lord covered us.

Today, of course, things are very different for me. I am getting to do my dream job. I have a good place to live, and I do enjoy living with my parents. I have enough, and in fact, I would say that I have plenty. My crops yield their produce and I am well-fed. In many ways, I have reaped what has been sown these past 10 years. I have spent a great deal of time developing my skills and the Lord opened doors to provide a job that would satisfy me. He also gave me good things to do such as school and studies. Moreover, He made a path that was clear and direct so that I could find a solid way of living.

Now that I am almost finished with my studies, I can see how my life will turn out. In fact, I can imagine it this way:

  • Teaching full-time at a Christian University
  • Earning my PhD (May)
  • Producing scholarship in Rhetorical Studies as well as Communication (Religious)
  • Mentoring and advising students
  • Mentoring and advising my son
  • Caring for my parents
  • Caring for my pets
  • Enjoying friends, fellowship, and family at my church
Really, my life is very simple now. I have a good job. I have a nice home. I have my family. I have friends, colleagues, and peers. I have purpose. My life has value, and I have a goal in mind for it. I can see my days as they unfold, as I mature and age, and as I develop new interests as the Lord leads and guides me. I am in such a good place, mentally. I have no stress, no drama, no pain. I live my life freely. I go where I please, and I do what I please (within the Lord’s boundaries for me). I enjoy everyday living because I am alive, and I am doing what the Lord has asked me to do.

Furthermore, right now, I have everything I need and want. I may not be married, but I am happy as a single person. I may not have a future husband, but for now, I have the Lord as my covering. I am in a safe place, and I am secure in my new found and created identity. The Lord has seen to it. He has given me the grace to become the woman of His choosing, and I am well-pleased with the outcome. Honestly, I can think of nothing else in this life that I desire, want, cherish, or need. He has met all my needs with sufficiency, and I am blessed, so very blessed.

Imagining a Different Outcome

It was just last night when I prayed to the Lord, and I asked Him to help me see my future for what it can be, rather than what it is now. I mean by this, I asked to see the possibilities of my life so that I could renew my hope, restore my faith, and begin to rest in His abilities to provide rather than my own. I know I am in a good place right now. I have a good future ahead of me (Jer. 29:11). I also have opportunities for success that could take me in many different directions. I am no longer seeking a job to solve my problems. I am no longer looking to a place to entertain or excite me. I am no longer hoping that a person will fill my needs, satisfy my longing, or even soothe my sorrows. No, I am 100% content with what the Lord has provided to me. He has shown me His goodness, and for that, I am so very thankful.

Sometimes, it is difficult for me to see the pictures of my friends, former friends from school and such, and to see their happy in-tact families. Sometimes I wish my life was like these pictures. I would love to see me face smiling as I post to Facebook that “Thankful for Us” meme that popped up around Thanksgiving. I have no “Us” to put in that picture. I have myself, my son, and my parents, and while I am thankful for my family, I have no “Us” to display for the world to see. I am single, and I am content to be so. I believe the Lord has called me to be single at this time in my life. He made it possible for me to handle the transition, to not be devastated beyond repair when my marriage failed. In many ways, He helped me cope with the transition, and in doing so, my life has become more than I ever expected. I am in this wonderful place where I have full authority and control over the outcome. I mean, not that there is anything wrong with the outcome of marriage, mind you. I still believe in marriage as the union between one man and one woman — for life. I still believe in God’s covenant of marriage. I strongly support marriage and family as God’s design for His kingdom, it is just that right now and for the next term (however long that may be), I simply see my life as evolving into full-fledged single personhood. I am single for a reason. I am content to remain this way, and unless the Lord chooses otherwise, I must remain as I am for this time.

My heart flutters some when I see happy families and loving couples. I do thank the Lord for their love, their devotion, and I pray that their commitment to one another and to their children remains strong. It is just that I don’t see that as part of my future now. I did, for a time. I really hoped it would be so, but with my life and its complications, frankly, I see myself as remaining as I am indefinitely. I am not ruling out all hope, mind you; it is just that I am in the very good place right now, and I see all the advantages of remaining as I am. I see great possibilities for ministry, for movement, and for missions — all because — I am single.

In some ways, I am like Paul, I guess. I am a scholar, a teacher, a student, and I love academic life. I love my role as a professor, and I feel now more than ever that this is role I was destined to have, albeit rather late in life. Now that I am a professor, I see how wonderfully satisfying it is to have this particular role. I am absolutely in love with my role, and I love that I learn from my students every day. I am not a super professor at all. I make horrible mistakes, and I say things I shouldn’t. But, God has graciously covered me, and I see how wonderfully fulfilled I am right now. It feels good to be me today, and for that blessing, I give Him all my worship and praise. He has done this for me. He has made this way possible, and I give Him all my thanks and my praise.

Second, I relish in my freedom. I cannot really say this without sounding too boorish, but the truth is that I have this amazing sense of freedom. I guess when you have believed you were caged up for so long, unable to live your life as God was calling you to live, and without any sense or thought of rescue, you begin to lose the desire to fly free. The Lord gave me my freedom, and I intend to use it. I mean, it is not like He caused or wanted me to be divorced, it was just that He didn’t do anything to prevent it from happening. The result of sinful choices brought divorce to a head, and I was given a choice to either continue to accept those choices or stand for what the Word of God said about them. I chose the latter, and through a difficult and hard fought battle, I ended up with divorce as my only option. I put it off for years, but in the end, I made the awful decision to bear the stigma of divorce, to walk away from the sin, and to start over. The Lord was there for me. He redeemed me, and He gave me a new life. He opened that cage door and said to me, “Choose to stay or choose to fly,” and I said I would fly, but only with His help. He has helped me, graciously, completely, and without hesitation, I have trusted in His power and authority over my life. In many ways, I returned to my parents home as would have been the case 100 years ago, and I accepted the fact that my life would be single from that point on.

Third and last, with that new found freedom, I have come to see the benefit of being alone. I think, again as Paul so eloquently expressed, that there was blessing in remaining as you were called. I am single, and as a single person, the Lord has far greater ability to move me, to send me, to take me wherever He delights. He doesn’t have to stop to think about others, a husband, for example, who may or may not be “free” to go. He can simply say to me, “Carol, I have need of you to go here,” and then He will up and move me. I am free to go, and that thought excites me and terrifies me all at the same time. Could He send me overseas, to Paris, to Berlin, or other unknown places? Yes, He could do this, if this was His will and wish and desire. He could also keep me right where I am today, and simply plant me, water me well, and let me bloom in this desert place. I am able to go and to do His work and His will without any hindrance, whereas a married couple or family with children, often cannot up and move without a great deal of logistical planning. I am free, and I have limited “things” that attach me to this place. I have no possessions (relatively few). I own no home. I have my car, and my personal things, but truthfully, I have about 110 square feet of “stuff” to pack. The rest doesn’t belong to me, so in reason, I am really able to be moved quickly and without a lot of fuss.

God has made a way for me, and this good, good day, I am beginning to see the blessing of it. I am in a perfect place, doing a perfect job, and living a perfect life. Granted, when I say “perfect,” I don’t mean perfect by the world’s standard; rather, I mean “perfect” in the sense that it is perfectly designed by the Hand of God, and in this way, it suits me, fits me, is tailored specifically to my needs, my desires, my wishes, and my wants. I am where I belong, and I have finally found my sweet spot. I know who I am, where I am going, and what the Lord intends to do with me. I have finally figured it out, and in that way, I am fully, completely, and utterly at rest in His goodness, His good Name, and with His good provision. I am finally the person God designed, ordained, and predestined to become all those years ago. I have arrived, and yes, this means, that in a short amount of time, I am going someplace wonderful — with His provision, His goodness, and His grace.

In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I realize, perhaps for the first time, that my life has been perfected crafted, and it is now perfectly executed. Everything leading up to this point in time has been planned. I know this now, everything has worked out for my good. Yes, it wasn’t all fun and games, and the difficult parts were very difficult, indeed. But, I survived childhood trauma, physical and sexual abuse, manipulation and control, and long-suffering hardship while I waited for my savior to rescue me. I have been rescued, redeemed, and restored, and now I am ready to take on the responsibility of the life the Lord has perfectly created and crafted for me to experience, to walk in, and to enjoy. He has made this way possible, and I stand in awe of His blessing, His provision, His security and safety, and I say, “YES, LORD. I WILL GO!” I am ready to say these words with full faith and confidence that the path the Lord has for me to walk on will be blessed, highly favored, and good. I believe His word to me is true. I trust Him as my Lord. I am ready, Lord. I am ready to go where you send me this good day. I am ready, so very ready to go.

November 29, 2016

Good Tuesday

It is #GivingTuesday 2016. Yes, it is another one of those made up #hashtag days where everyone on the Internet is supposed to be reminded that the day is special, and that as a human being (collectively speaking), each person is supposed to respond accordingly (well, unless you are a horrible person, that is to say).

When I was growing up, it used to be the greeting card industry that set all those special "national days" that encouraged "thoughtful" people to buy a card and send it to someone they loved.  Yes, it seemed like every week there was another special day that forced you "remember" to be thoughtful, to be a "cheerful giver."  Thanks to the Internet, all that is needed today is just #Hashtag. Yes, one little # and the world feels guilty and forks over money to some good cause. Oh my goodness!


According to Wikipedia, #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 as a response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two biggest shopping days in the USA. The day was set aside as the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The official write-up (Wikipedia) states,

"Giving Tuesday, often stylized as #GivingTuesday for purposes of hook activism, refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).”

I don't have an issue with giving, because after all, this is the SEASON OF GIVING, as the commercial retailers remind us. Consumerism is at an all time high, and well, what is a better way to enjoy the holiday than to give money to the less fortunate. I am all for the latter, and in fact, it does aline with Scripture. Both the Old and New Testaments stress the importance of taking care of our fellow man (men, women, and children), and we are strongly encouraged to consider the poor, the widow and the orphan. I think we can also include, indirectly, the oppressed and the marginalized in our society as well. In this way, being a cheerful giver is the Christian thing to do.

Yet, sometimes I think that we misunderstand what God desires from us when it comes to cheerfully giving to others. I mean, are we to cheerfully give to every person we meet who asks us for something (money, mostly)? Or are we encouraged to give to the family of God first, the world second? It is a good question, and it bears some research.

In the Bible, God lays out what many theologians call “scriptural priorities” when it comes to personal and familial responsibilities. There is a certain “pecking order,” so to speak, and according to the Word of God, this order is in place to help us understand to whom we are responsible. This order then provides a guideline for us, if we are in doubt (I guess you could say), but it also reminds us of the importance of caring for those in the family of God, first and foremost, before other people or even humanitarian causes or needs. Therefore, Scripture reminds us that we are to give or serve others in this specific order:
  1. God (Deut. 6:5)
  2. Spouse (Eph. 5:25)
  3. Children (Eph. 6:4)
  4. Extended family members (Deut. 5:16)
  5. Brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal. 5:13)
  6. The world (Matt. 28:19)
We can see that from this vantage point, our priorities for cheerfully giving are set toward particular people first, with the general population following. Does this mean that we shouldn’t have a cheerful or grateful heart, and as such give lovingly and willingly to others as the need arises? I think we are to do just that, but only when it is obvious and necessary. For example, the Apostle Paul discusses the importance of giving money (resources and supplies) to the church when he writes to the believers who fellowshipped in Corinth. We read in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV),

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The context of this passage was to remind the Christians in Macedonia of the "gift" that was promised by them to help supply the needs of the Christians living in Jerusalem. Paul wanted the believers to remember their word, and to be ready to deliver the promise, as he says "not by compulsion," but as a willing gift. He goes on to provide rationale for this practice -- supply the needs of the saints -- when he says in verses 12-13,

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others.

Moreover, Paul reminds the Macedonians (and us, by extension) of the powerful promise from the Old Testament that comes when we give cheerfully. He says in verses 9-11,

As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

In my view, what Paul is saying here is that as Christians, we should give freely to the household or family of God. This means that we should support our local church as well as the global church, and we should give to those who have need within the church. Secondly, and as the Lord provides according to His promises “sowing and reaping” practice, we are to give those in need as a demonstration of our love for God and our desire to obey the great commission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world.

I am not against participating in #GivingTuesday at all, and I think the cause, if it helps people remember to support local business or charities, it can be a good thing. However, for me personally, I really believe that the money the Lord has graciously provided to me is earmarked, so to speak, for His kingdom purpose. Thus, I will give as the Lord leads, and as He puts causes and people on my heart and into my mind. In this way, my heart as it is “decided” will seek to reflect the goodness of God, and I will give as I am able to give knowing that the money is serving the Kingdom and the people of God first.

Other News

It is Tuesday, of course, which means that it is my day off. I am so happy to be home today. I am tired, and I am a bit cranky, but that is just “par for the course,” as they say. I am really happy to be home. It is quiet now, and I am thankful for the peace and the stillness in my home. My parents are out, and my son is at school, so it is just me and the “boys” hanging out together. I am working on the computer, chatting with my good friend who is texting on the job (LOL). In all, my life is peaceful and restful.

I did sleep fairly well. My new comforter came in the mail yesterday, and after I unpacked it and let it decompress (or recompress as the case may be), it turned out to be the softest and fluffiest non-down comforter I have seen. In fact, as I laid under it last night, I thought it felt just like those commercial comforters that you sleep under at pricey hotels. It had that loft, that super soft feel, and in some ways, it felt like I was sleeping under a cloud. It was so nice, so warm, and so comfortable.

My cat, Ike, has discovered it as well. Last night, before I put it on my bed, he walked around it 3-4 times before he walked on it. Once he did, though, he scrunched down in it and was out like a clock! He slept all stretched out for about 2 hours last night, right in the middle of my comforter. He finally moved about 9 p.m., and I was able to fluff it and put it under my quilt. He is sacked out on my bed right now, so I guess he thinks it “rocks” as much as I do. Thank you, Jesus! I mean, thanks be to God, for His provision of a new comforter for my bed. I have needed a replacement comforter since my old down comforter kept losing feathers. It was old, like 20 some years old, and the cover was splitting and ripping whenever you pulled it a bit too hard. Plus, I had piles of downy feathers under my bed, and my allergies were constantly reacting to the down. My prayer is that this comforter, along with my down-alternative pillow, will keep my allergies at bay. That is my prayer, of course, my prayer!

I am still waiting for the rest of my order to arrive. Hopefully, I should have my whole bed put together by next week. I am really looking forward to finally having my room redone in the way I want. It has been such a treat to be able to purchase some new things. The Lord has graciously provided for me, and I am so thankful for His gift of new bedding.

I still would like to get a new desk, but for now, I am holding off a bit on that plan. I want to make sure that whatever I do actually benefits me in the long run. I would like a new desk, some new office layout to better handle teaching, etc. Until I can move permanently, I think I am stuck with what I have now. It works, but it is getting a bit worn and frazzled. Oh, well, such is life.

My hope is that I will know soon what the Lord intends to do with me, long term. I would love to know whether I will teach online in a full-time capacity or whether I will continue to teach at multiple schools part-time. I would also like to know if the Lord plans to move me to another place next year or I will wait until 2018. I am so impatient at times. I really do want to know what the plans will be. It would be different if I had a full-time job now. I mean, I would simply know that I am set, settled, and then I would not think so much about it. I am settled in some ways, mind you. I do have two good part-time jobs that together equal one full-time paying job. I also have Obamacare health insurance for next year that I can afford. The following year will be different because my income will push me out of the Health Exchange, so I will have to fork over some mighty big payments to be covered. With healthcare and my school loans, well, I am a little concerned about how I will pay everything and keep food on the table. The Lord knows me well, though, and He has a way out of this debt and healthcare crisis. Of that, I am certain.

I am trusting Him and waiting for His promised provision. I am choosing to cheerfully give of what I have, and I am relying on His promised plan of “sowing and reaping,” so that I can be blessed, financially, materially, and of course, spiritually. The Lord is the Giver of all things, and it is up to Him to determine my way. He has this all figured out, and while I really do want to know “for sure,” I also know that I must be patient and wait. I must exercise my faith, and in that way, I must rest in His ability to lead, to guide, and to provide for me. He is good, so very good. He does know what is best for me. Selah!

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I am thankful for the provision of the Lord, and for His goodness as it extends to me. I want so much for the Lord to have His way in my life, and that means, that I must trust Him implicitly and I must rest in His authority over me. I cannot have my way and His way. I must relent, and I must go where He sends me. I must do as He asks, and I must not let my own desires, wants or needs get in the way.

November 27, 2016

The God Who Sees

It is a blessed Sunday here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. Yes, it is lovely outside right now. There is a slight nip in the air, and the skies are mostly clear and blue. Yesterday, it was cloudy and cool, but still a perfect day to put the outside decorations up on the house. I was so blessed to have been able to decorate our house once again this year.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and decorating the tree, the house, and outside the house, is something I look forward to all year long. I don’t over do it, mind you. I am not one of those people who spends $1K on decorations just to have millions of lights blasting the entire neighborhood. No, I like old-fashioned house lights, just the bulbs, a couple wreaths and some festive cheer.

In all, yesterday was a wonderful day of “work,” and today is truly a day of “rest.” Praise be to God, I am resting, really resting today.

El Roi

This is a good day, therefore, because I am home, at rest, and at peace. Yes, the Lord, my God, has seen to all my needs with sufficiency, and I am able to finally settle down and rest. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Today, therefore, is a day of reflection. I am thinking about all the good things the Lord has provided to me. I am reminded of the story of Hagar this morning, especially as I think back on all the times when I felt alone and overwhelmed, and it was God, who saw to my needs. I am like Hagar in many ways. I spent a great deal of time running from God (her name means “a stranger, one that fears”) out of fear. Moreover, I found myself in a predicament whereby I was the proverbial unloved and unwanted woman. Like Hagar, I had a child, whom I loved, but a husband who didn’t love me. Although Hagar was not married to Abraham, she did conceive a child by him, and she was part of his household (so she was under his banner of protection). Yet, Hagar didn’t feel safe or protected, and in Genesis, we read about how she came to be alone in the desert.

It is in Genesis 16:13 that we read about the story of Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael. It is in this verse, in particular, where we first read about one of the many names of God. In this context, it was Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, who responded to God’s goodness and kindness by calling Him “the God who sees.” In her distress, Hagar addresses the Lord as the One who sees her.

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

It is interesting to note that Hagar was the only person in scripture to give God a name (DeMuth). Hagar, if you recall from the story, was in a terrible spot. She had taken her child, Ishmael, and ran from her mistress, Sarah, who was mistreating her. She had chosen isolation, loneliness, and yes, death, in order to avoid the terrible predicament she was in. After all, she had given Sarah and Abraham a child. Yet, this boy was not the promise that God had made to Abraham, a child to be born from his own loins, a child who would be born of Sarah AND Abraham. Hagar was the unwanted woman, the handmaid, given to Abraham by his wife, to force God’s promise to come to pass. Hagar was unloved and unwanted, yet despite her predicament, she was the one who witnessed the Angel of the Lord, and the one who received favorable treatment and care. In return, she calls out to the Lord, and she “names” or addresses Him as “The God who Sees.”

In Hebrew, the word “El” is another name for God. In the Bible, we often see “El” combined with other words to demonstrate a specific character attribute of God (Blue Letter Bible). “El” generally denotes strength or might (Bible Study Tools). So for example, when we say, “El Shaddai,” we are calling God: Lord, God Almighty. Thus, Hagar in our story, called God: El (God) + Roi. In this way, “Roi” gave a specific characteristic to God’s action in dealing with Hagar. “Roi” is a derivitive of “Ra’ah,” which means “to see.” Thus, Hagar was saying that it was God “that seeth” or more literally, “of sight” (Bible Study Tools). Again, according to scholars, this name of God appears only once in the Bible.

When we consider the story of Hagar, one thing comes to mind: Our God is a God who sees us. Often, we feel alone or isolated, and when we are in dire need or deep distress, we typically take the view that God is absent or not paying attention to us. This is an oversight on our part because God is all-seeing, and thus, He is always aware of our circumstances or situation. Yet, we wonder why He doesn’t intervene, why He doesn’t rescue us, or why He doesn’t change the outcome. We ask why does God, who sees us in our distress, not do anything about our situation?

The answer to this question is complicated because it factors in many different viewpoints and perspectives. In Christian theology, God sees everything and everyone. He is sovereign over all His creation. Yet, because of sin, the relationship between God and man is fractured or broken. As a result, there is a chasm that exists between God and mankind. This chasm sits between God and His creation, and therefore, any relationship with God is impossible because of the effects of sin. The only way for man to be restored to a relationship with a Holy and Just God is for some sort of sacrifice, some substitutionary action, that would absolve the sinful effects and make it possible for the creature to commune with the Creator (John 3:16). In the Bible, that way is clearly described and denoted by the death, the burial, and the resurrection of God’s Only Son, Jesus, the Christ. Yes, Jesus is the substitutionary sacrifice that appeases a Holy and Just God, and enables the creature (man) to be restored to relationship with the Creator (God). 

As a Christian, God not only sees us, but He hears us as well. This means that whenever we are in distress, God sees our situation. The reason why He may choose to tarry or delay His response to our cry for help typically stem from one of three reasons: (1), God is using the situation to develop within us strength and resolve (endurance and patience); (2) God is using the situation in order to enable us to minister to others who are in similar situations (to give encouragement); or (3) we are in the situation of our own accord (sin) and we are unrelenting or unrepentant. There may be other reasons or factors, but these three seem to be the most common.

I know in my case, I was in my distress for reasons (1) and (2). Yet, for a time, I was in my distress for reason (3) as well. Once I relented and repented of my sinful action (my decision to walk away from God’s will), I found that my ability to withstand my situation improved. God didn’t open a door immediately, and He didn’t just carry me away from all the pain and the suffering. No, for a time, He allowed me to sit, to stew, and to settle in my distress in order to help me “see” my own actions and the consequences of those actions. In truth, my distress proved to be a life lesson, a lesson whereby I came to see Him more clearly, more correctly, and with more accuracy; and, I came to see my own failures and flaws in more detail. Yes, the Lord kept me in my distress so that I could come to see my own devices and the outcome of those devices. He gave me sight to see the difference between man-made decisions and God-ordained ones. I learned that the latter are far better than the former, and that  reliance on God and His will, generally provides a far better outcome than any man-made decision or approach (Prov. 3:5-6).

God Sees Me

This past week, I came to the realization that God does indeed see and hear me. He has been my faithful companion, and as such, I have come to rely upon Him for meeting my every need. This past week was difficult and stressful. I was on vacation from my campus teaching, and I was so looking forward to resting and to working on my dissertation project. Yet, I had all this “teacher” work to do, grading mostly and maintenance, and despite my best efforts, I didn’t get to rest or work on my dissertation at all. In fact, I spent the entire week working here at home. I worked most days and nights, and praise be to God, in the end, I completed every single task on my to-do list. Yes, last night around 11 p.m., I finished all my tasks.

I was disappointed that I didn’t make good progress on my dissertation, but I was prevented from doing so. On Wednesday, I applied for the software license that I hoped to use for my research. I have not received confirmation on acceptance. In order to get started (per the website’s instructions), I tried to download the demo product three times. Again, I never received the confirmation email with link to do so. It was as if every single attempt on my part was thwarted, and I had no recourse but to focus on other tasks, which I did. I am still not sure what the Lord intends for me to use, but for now, I can do nothing but wait for clarification. Until I hear back or the Lord provides an alternative to me, I am stuck in a stationary place, treading water, and waiting for His sweet release.

I could have panicked (well, I did a bit), but really, I simply moved on. I was busy, so very busy, and I focused on my tasks and on accomplishing them by their assigned due date. In the end, I finished everything INCLUDING decorating the inside of the house, the tree, and the outside house with lights. My God saw me in my distress, and this past week, He provided a way for me. It wasn’t the way I thought I wanted or needed, but it was the way of His choosing, and the result or outcome was great success.

Now, I am able to rest this good day. I am able to focus on a couple things, mostly creating my power points for next week, and preparing for my remaining two weeks of school. I am blessed, beyond blessed, as my God has taken me by the hand and seen to all my needs this past week.

Moving On Slowly

My next steps are to finish my schooling and then begin my analysis work on my dissertation project. I am scared a bit about how to do that, but I have to believe that the Lord has me well covered. For now, my plans are to focus on what I can do, and not what I cannot. This means that my focus is set on two things: (1) completing my assigned contracts for the semester, and (2), completing my analysis research so I can write my chapter 4-5 over the Christmas break.

As I finish both of these focus-areas, my prayer is that the Lord would reveal to me His plan for my future. I am content to remain where I am for the time-being, but I also know that the Lord has pressed on me the desire to move, and I believe that after I have sourced through the desire, and eliminated all that was based on my wish or want, I still have the base desire to relocate. This tells me that the desire to move is not my own, but rather, it is a desire of the Lord. 

Just yesterday, my son and I had a good conversation, and he mentioned to me that several of his friends had discussed getting an apartment together next fall. He has mentioned it before, but he never really did anything about it. He discussed it with me yesterday, and I couldn’t help but think that this is the Lord’s confirmation to me. I had prayed, well — am praying — over the outcome. I mean, I struggle with the thought of moving to another state and leaving my son here in Phoenix. His dad is here, but his dad provides no assistance to him. If I move away, then my son has no one to help support him. Of course, I will do my best from a far, but frankly, I worry about it. Still, it was as if the Lord said to me, “See, Carol. I have you covered. I am working on a solution and it will be good for you and for your son.” 

Oh, Lord, why do I not trust you completely?

My prayer has been for a solution to my needs, and of course, that also means a solution to my son’s needs. It appears to me that the Lord is working behind the scenes to bring that solution to pass. My hope now is that the Lord will also bring a confirmation to me regarding my parents long-term care. As of now, we are doing well, but my parents do not want to move and well, their insistence causes me concern. If the Lord says I must go, what will happen to my parents? I believe, as with the case of my son, that the Lord has a provision for their care as well.

This leaves me to believe that in all things, I am truly well-covered. I have good practical work to do today, and my spring schedule is now settled. I received confirmation on Saturday that I am scheduled to teach two courses at Regent during the first sub-semester. I will have the same combination that I have now, so the good news is, I am prepared. In all, I will be teaching five classes during the first 8-weeks of the semester. More than likely, I will teach five during the second half as well.

At Grand Canyon University:
  • English 360 American Narrative Encounters (MWF) 1:55-3:05
  • English 106 English Composition II (MWF) 3:20-4:30
  • English 106 English Composition II (MWF) 4:45-6:30
At Regent University:
  • English 101 English Composition I (online)
  • English 205 Literature of the Western World (online)
I consider this provision to be significant because it means that I will be well-provided for during the first part of the semester. The second part, hopefully, will be similar. Together, I should earn enough income to be able to be well-covered through the dry months of the summer. Of course, I still have OCU, where I can teach short 5-week classes online. I am thinking that as of now, unless I get a full-time offer, I will plan on teaching at OCU over the summer. These are easy classes for me to teach, and I like the curriculum. The extra pay will come in handy for my off-season.

In short, the Lord has seen to my needs. He is both El-Roi and Jehovah-Jireh. More so, He is Jehovah-Nissi as it is His banner or standard that covers me. The Lord has provided abundantly, sufficiently, and He does indeed see my needs. I have come to trust Him, to rely on Him, and to abide in Him.

I am still praying over my son’s car situation, and of course, a way to pay for a second car. I know that the Lord is working on that problem as well, so for now, I must be patient and wait. I must look up, and remember that the Lord sees me. He knows my needs well, and He is active and present in every area of my life. I can rest in His security. I no longer need to flee or fight. I can simply let go and let the Lord lead, guide, and provide for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

In Closing

It is a good day. I am blessed, and I am rested. I pray today for the Lord to do whatever He needs to do in my life in order to improve it, to make it or to remake it so that I can live exactly as He desires that I live. He has my complete allegiance, and in this way, I am His to do with as He pleases. He is good to me, so very good to me. I trust Him, and I rest in Him this good, good day.

November 26, 2016

Good Saturday!

It is a great day today in Phoenix. Yes, it is cool, and somewhat cloudy, and overall, it is blissful day. I slept really well last night, thanks in part, to my hard day of work (decorating the house), and the fact that I turned my mattress around. I think the latter was the ticket because I slept without any pain last night, and I woke up without a headache!

In all, I am feeling well — refreshed, relaxed, and well rested — praise be to God! I still have a lot on my to-do list to accomplish before Sunday, but I feel confident that I will get everything done before tomorrow.

My prayer today is to finish up my tasks so that I can attend to my grading for GCU and ACU. I have less than two and a half weeks at each school, so I need to make sure I am ready to teach come Monday. My online sections are in good shape, but I have some discussion board posts to respond to, and I have to prepare for the final couple of weeks there as well. I feel confident, as I said above, that I can do everything on my list before Sunday evening. God is good to me, and He has me so well-covered. Selah!

Enjoying the Season

It has been a good week off for me. I have worked hard, but I also have relaxed some, shopped some, and generally, used the time to relax some. I have been stressed, needless to say, over the past year and a half, and while I didn’t get my dissertation project work completed (more on that later), I did do a number of things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never felt I had (a) the resources to do them and (b) the time to do them.

This year, with my Regent contracts, I am in a much better position to actually purchase some things — just because — and not out of dire necessity. It has been a long, long time since I have been in this position. The last time was when I moved from my shared home to my first “real” home. I’ve blogged about my financial struggles throughout the course of my marriage before, but in truth, I spent almost 30 years living from “hand to mouth,” so that meant that I never was in a position to buy anything unless it was a necessity. This meant that I never purchased items for my home, to decorate or even change styles. No, I used towels until they were threadbare, and sheets with holes in them, simply because I couldn’t afford to replace them. I made the most of my frugal and bare life, but when I found myself single, and when I was able to finally think about my first home, I knew I wanted to make it in my style. I didn’t have much money, but I had a little extra going into Christmas 2011. I had been working full-time at UOPX for five months, so in addition to being able to pay all my bills on time (woohoo!), I also was able to buy some extras right as the holiday season was beginning.

First off, I bought my oak buffet, something I have wanted since I was first married. I got it for a sweet deal, $100 plus delivery, at our local TurnStyle consignment store. I also purchased slipcovers for my sofa and chair, and really, the investment ($150) made all the difference. I changed the color, and I covered the rips and tears from years of abuse. I bought some accessories like my giant mirror (over my fireplace), and oodles of art work, to help set my style. I bought a big screen TV and a new bed. I also bought new linens, towels, etc. Some of my family gave me a house warming party, so I also was given some lovely new items to help make my home special. It was a long-time in coming because when I got married, I moved into my then husband’s apartment, and I lived with his college dorm-like decor. I never had the chance to decorate because he didn’t see any value in it.

Second, after settling into my new life as a single woman, I began to develop certain tastes and desires that were long-held buried. I started to think about moving someday, about purchasing a home, and about starting a new life on my own. I was on my own back then, but it had been 30 years since I was single, and learning how to live on my own was a challenge for me. I still considered my ex-husband to be a part of our family. I invited him to Christmas, for example, believing it was best for my son. I bought him gifts, etc. I pretty much treated him with respect, and I gave of myself in ways like I had all those years before. It took time for me to separate myself from the thoughts of “us,’ but in the end — it happened — I started to see myself as a whole individual and not half of a broken couple.

The more time I spent alone, the more time I had to consider “my life,” and what I wanted for “my life” down the road. Little did I know that the Lord would take me from my position as enrollment advisor and send me through a PhD program to become a professor. I had hoped it was so, dreamed it could be so, but never really believed it would become so…that is…until the day the Lord pressed Regent University on my heart and mind. Of course, it was only two years later that I left that town home to move into this rental home that I now share with my aging parents in order to facilitate His will in my life. Yes, moving into this home made it possible for me to go back to school and to work on my PhD. I am about to graduate now, and praise be to God, I am ready to finally, FINALLY, be settled.

Unfortunately, as I have moved around and lived in different homes, I have often made the decision to treat each move as if it was a pit-stop rather than a long-term stay. In this way, I have maintained the “temporary” mentality, and I have avoided putting down roots. Now that I know that I will be in Phoenix for a time, whether it is through the end of 2017 or 2018, I realized that I don’t have to live as if I am in the midst of a move; I can live the way I want despite the lack of permanent housing. I may not know where I will be in 2017 or 2018, but I can make my space as comfortable as possible despite the lack of “knowledge” on where the Lord intends to settle me. In this way, I can develop my style now, and allow it to build toward my final destination, wherever that may be (Lord, willing). So with this new mindset, I decided to invest in some items this week, and in doing so, I took advantage of the steep Black Friday deals.

Living in a Small Space

My greatest need, and that of my son, is more space. We discussed this dilemma last night, how we each need more space. He needs studio space, and I need office space. We live combined — meaning that we do multiple things — in our small spaces, and we make the best of it. It is not a perfect solution, and it is not a long-term solution, but for now, it works.

In my small space, which is about 11x11, I have a Queen bed, a small lingerie chest, a book case, a storage cube, a 20-gallon fish tank, a corner desk, a filing cabinet, and a buffet. I have a lot in my very small space. I hate being cluttered, and I don’t like it when there is no “white space” around, but suffice to say, I am pretty well-packed in this small space.

My desire is to great a bigger office area so that I can feel more “professorial” day-to-day. For now, I have limited options, but I can make some small changes that will help me carve out more room. I’ve made my plan, but this week, I focused on my decorating my space and giving Lenny, my fish, the larger space he needs for health and happiness.

My office-renovation will have to wait a couple more weeks or until I have some free time to purchase what I want.The plan, however, is to swap my corner desk (Walmart) for a Parson’s desk (a smaller and more narrow desk) that will fit along the window wall in my room. This will give me a corner nook where I can create visual space. I have debated over the options, but I finally settled on getting a black Parsons’ desk from Walmart. This desk is narrow and will fit my needs. It is about 39x20, but with my iMac, I think it will work for me. Next, I need a new chair, and I found one that is highly rated at It is narrow, without arms, and it should allow me room to maneuver. Last, I intend to replace my 4-shelf white bookcase with a 5-shelf black book case. This should adequately handle my needs for books.

For now, I think I will wait a couple weeks, at the least, until school is out. I also want to paint my headboard (metal) and my small dresser black. I will need time to do this in the garage, and once everything is swapped out and refreshed, I think I will be ready for 2017.

This past week, I did get some super deals on items from Kohls and Ikea. I have my bed almost ready (yay), and once these items arrive (next week), my room will start to take on a new look. I am excited to begin decorating in my Pottery Barn style (on the cheap), and I can’t wait to see how everything looks once it is all in place.

It is a challenge to live in such confined space, but the Lord has shown me that I can do it, and I can do it with some style and flair. My bedroom is getting a face-lift, and thanks to the Lord, I was able to purchase a number of new things for relatively less money than usual. My Black Friday purchases ended up costing me about $175, but without all the coupons and other store discounts, I would have spent closer to $500. My little investment netted me some wonderful finds:
  • A $200 duvet for $70
  • A $40 set of percale sheets for $20
  • A $80 coverlet for $30
  • Two $40 pillow shams for $20
In addition, I bought a dust ruffle the week before for $25 and a $100 fish tank for $60. The $50 cube storage organizer was on sale for $37.

In order to finish my office area, I will need a new desk, bookcase, and chair. If I purchase these through, I will probably save some more money. I am going to look at a similar Parson’s desk at Big Lots today. It is more expensive ($90 versus $50), but it might be a lot nicer quality. The bookcase is regularly $35 and the chair is about $35. So in all, I will need to spend about $120-170 to finish my office off. I still have some decorating to do, as in changing my pictures and other art work out for more stylish options, but I will do this over the break, and as I find some good deals.

Living with Purpose

I think the key in all of this “newness” is realizing that life has a purpose. I know that for many years, especially when I was married and feeling so unloved and unwanted, that I believed my life had no purpose, and as such, my existence was meaningless. I share this openly simply to say that even as a Christian, my living circumstances worked hard against my beliefs, and in the end, while I believed I was loved, saved, and that my eternal destination was secure — my present life — simply was difficult, unpleasant, and filled with suffering. I struggled to find meaning in my life, and with that, often I believed that “I deserved” the hardship I was enduring. It was hard to maintain the mindset of James, who said in chapter 1, verses 2-4 (MSG),

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

What made matters worse is that my hardship didn’t end after a short time. No, in truth, I suffered enormous hardship — financial, material, spiritual, emotional and mental — for nearly 30 years. In this way, the pain and the suffering simply simmered. There were times when the pain lessened some, but mostly, I learned to endure, to bury it deep inside of me, and to stick my head in the sand so as not to cause more upset than necessary. 

It wasn’t until I came to terms with my situation and circumstances, and I fully accepted my responsibility for where I was (and wasn’t) that I began to see the path I had taken led me very far from the Lord’s true purpose for my life. The more that truth resonated within me, the more sad I became because I knew that I had walked away from the Lord’s plan and design in order to satisfy my own wants, needs, and desires. Yes, I made the decision that took me far away from His perfect will, and while He never let go of me, I suffered the consequences of my actions.

Once I accepted my responsibility, and I repented from my sinful desires, I found the Lord gracious and merciful and so willing to help me get back on track. Of course, I never thought that in the process of getting my life back on track, my then husband would choose to go his own way. Yes, in many ways, as I drew nearer to the Lord, and more intent on following Him closely, my husband walked further away. It was as if my desire to be wholly devoted to the Lord caused my husband to want nothing to do with the Lord at all, and instead, move toward satisfying his own lustful and wicked desires.

In the end, I found my path back to God, my purpose clarified — but at a great cost. I ended up single instead of married. I lost my life, my identity, and my convoluted purpose and meaning, simply by choosing to return to the Lord, and recommitting my life to follow after Him. On the flip-side, the blessing was that despite my marriage ending, and the difficult days, months, and years that followed, I actually came to see God’s divine purpose, plan, and I received His calling and His mandate for my life.

Redeeming the Years

The Lord gave me meaning and purpose again, despite all those years of sorrow. I am in a new place now, with a new vision, and with a new sense of wellness that can only be attributed to the Lord and His marvelous goodness and grace.

Thus, living with purpose, simply means knowing that God has a plan for your life, and that plan is unique and specific to the call and the mandate He has placed on it. Learning how to identify that plan, and then accepting that call is the first step in feeling as if your life has meaning. For me, it was realizing that a long time before I met my husband, the Lord chose for me to live a single life. I know that sounds odd to say it that way, but what I mean is that some people are called to singleness, and while all young men and young women should remain virtuous and chaste, most will find that special someone with whom they will share the majority of their life. 

In my case, I never desired male companionship. I never was very good at dating or relationships, and I was very content to be alone. I had many male friends, but the whole sexual thing was difficult for me. I wanted nothing to do with it, and while I believed in the beautiful blessing of marriage and children, I simply didn’t see myself that way. I did want children, of course. I love children, and the Lord has always given me a heart for ministering to children, but with my physical challenges, I honestly was afraid of bearing children — for fear — of what it would do to my back. I was content to be single, and I was just beginning to find myself when I met my ex-husband. I felt so strongly that the Lord didn’t want me to date this man, and even in my heart, I didn’t want to date him. Yet, I was struggling emotionally and mentally, and he seemed to genuinely care about me. I saw him as my salvation, really. I saw him as a way out of the pain and the suffering in my life.

I believe now that it was the Lord’s intention for me to remain single — life long — single. Yet, I chose to engage in a relationship that led to marriage. I walked into the marriage believing that somehow the Lord would redeem my actions. I entered into a difficult relationship, and I endured many years of suffering as a result. The emotional abuse was especially difficult as was the financial hardship and psychological control. I did get pregnant, and praise be to God, I gave birth to my beautiful boy. But, as I had feared early on, I suffered greatly with the pain of childbirth, and to this day, my back has been damaged as a result. The pain I endure daily is the result of giving birth, a traumatic birth, to my one and only child.

In many ways, the Lord has redeemed the years the locust ate (Joel 2:25). He has repaid my debt burden, and He has emancipated me from the sorrow and the hardship. He has given me newness of life, a new direction, a new focus, and He has renewed my purpose. He has given me His plan, and His plan has made it possible for me to accomplish so many wonderful things in just a very short amount of time. Now, I am ready to step out into this brave new world, to embrace it, and to take hold of the goodness the Lord has set aside for me. This includes good, practical and prosperous work. It includes a lifestyle that is modest and comfortable. It includes exciting ministry opportunities. And, it includes a plan and a path that will lead me homeward, home to my eternal destiny, and my final resting place. He has made all this possible, but the cost has been expensive, far more than I could have ever expected or anticipated. 

Covenant Keeping

I have made a covenant with the Lord, promises so to speak, as to what I will do in return for His goodness and favor in my life. One of the many promises I have made to the Lord is to live wholly devoted to Him. A second promise is that I will remain as I am and not seek a companion or male friend. I will trust the Lord, and should He provide such a person to me, it will not be of my own hand or doing. Third, I have promised the Lord that I would devote my entire life to His calling, and in that way, I would “go where He sends me, live where He tells me to live, and do the work He has asked me to do.” I would not seek my own way. I would not go where He has not permitted me to go. I will not even think about living any place other than the place of His choosing. In these three things, I have made a covenant with the Lord that says,
  • He is God, and I will seek Him earnestly all the days of my life (Ps. 63)
  • He has a plan and a purpose for my life, and that plan is for good and not for harm (Jer. 29:11)
  • He is my sole-provider (Gen. 22:14) and my sole-protector (Ps. 18:2)
As I endeavor to keep this covenant with the Lord, I am reminded of the steep penalty for breaking covenant. In the Old Testament, those that entered into covenant with the Lord were given great freedom and blessing. The Lord graciously provided for them. But, in return, they were forbidden to do many things, and mostly, they were told how to live and where to live. The Lord provided well for His people, but the penalty for breaking covenant was harsh. Under the legal system of the Mosaic law, the penalty was often death. Praise be to God, that penalty has been replaced by the grace of the new covenant. Yet, still, there is penalty under this new grace-based covenant, and that is a loss of relationship, of communion, and of fellowship with the Lord. I intend to never enter into that place again, Lord willing. I intend to keep my side of the bargain since it was the Lord who graciously forgave me and permitted me a second chance to walk in His way, in His will, and in His work. Oh, my goodness, yes! I am a covenant keeping daughter of the King of Glory! Amen, praise be to God, it is true! Selah!

In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I am reminded of the goodness of God, and of the grace and mercy that comes though the blood and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, the Christ. I thank God today for the freedom to live as I do. I thank Him for the blessing, the mercy, and the goodness of His provision. I thank the Lord for providing a new way for me, a second-chance to redeem the plan, and for the opportunity to walk in His goodness each and every day of my life. He is good to me, so very good to me. Praise be to God, He is good. He is so very good to me!

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

It is a blessed day today here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The sun is shining, and the sky is clear. It is Thanksgiving Day, 2016, and I am feeling well, really well. I woke up refreshed, and I feel ready to tackle my ever-long to-do list today. Yes, it is a National Holiday, but since my family is not cooking today, I am using this day for catch up on my school work and my dissertation project. I have no time to spare these days, so every free day, is a work day for me.

I am thankful for the opportunity I have to spend the day with friends and family. I have had a blessed week already. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of helping my cousin, a professor on the East Coast, with a student paper. I was so happy to be asked to help her with some APA style questions. I am starting to really see my life come into focus these days. The work load is a challenge for me, but God has made a way for me, and He is blessing me with blessings beyond blessings. I cannot even describe the way I feel today, just in knowing that I am doing the very thing I have wanted to do, desired to do, and waited so long to do. God has honored my prayer to become a professor, and now after so many years, I am able to do this amazing and wonderful work. He is amazingly good to me. He is so very, very good!

Moreover, as I think about all that I have to be thankful this good day, I must remember to say that I am thankful for His gracious provision. He has made a way for me to work almost full-time and still complete my research. Yes, I am pushed, pulled, and poured out most days, but God be praised, I am content to be where I am. He has made a way for me, and that way is not easy, for sure. It is difficult. It is a challenge. But, through it all, it is His desire for me, and I can sense it. I can feel His good pleasure when I do it. I know that I am where I belong, right here and now, and while I may grumble a bit about being in Phoenix and not someplace else, in truth, I am very happy to be in the palm of my Lord’s hand, and to know that He has me so well-covered this good, good day.

A Fresh Look for Me

Work aside, I am playing some (as in kicking back and enjoying the blessed rest). Yesterday, I spent the afternoon shelling out another $100 for Lenny (my goldfish). I have been vacillating over a tank upgrade for six months now, and finally was pushed to do something about it. Since Saturday, he has been bottom sitting (the term used when a goldfish spends most of its time laying on the gravel at the bottom of the tank). Bottom sitting is often the result of overfeeding, an imbalance in the water’s PH or illness, among other things. Lenny appears fine. He swims and then sits for a time. I have followed the Goldfish Guide to the tee, and the only thing left to do is to give him more swim room. He is stressed and not ill (as far as I can tell).

So in between my grading yesterday, and my grocery shopping, I managed to squeeze in a trip to PetsMart. Thankfully, I found a 20-gallon tank on sale. I also stopped at Walmart, and I picked up a small unit for the new tank to sit on. A 20-gallon tank with water will weigh about 200 pounds. I needed something sturdy, but also useful to me, since I am living in about 110 square feet of space. I found this nifty shelf/cube storage unit at Walmart on sale (oh, how I love pre-Black Friday sales). I’ve been thinking about making some changes to my room lately, and I couldn’t make my mind up whether I needed a new dresser or another bookcase. This unit is very sturdy, and thanks to my Dad, it is almost assembled and ready to be put into place. I will either use it for books or I will purchase some baskets and use it for extra storage. Either way, it should support the new tank well. I laugh when I think of the money I have spent on this little fish! I mean, he is not even “my fish,” but he belongs to my nephew. He has made his home in my room for the past three years, so I guess, he is now my “adopted fish.”

This morning, after waking up and feeling better, I enjoyed our family’s tradition of cinnamon rolls and coffee while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. After a little while, I ended up in my room, on Pinterest no less, and then found my way to Kohls where I did some more shopping. I rarely do this, but lately, I have felt that my room needed some spiffying up. I am, after all, almost a full-time professor, and as such, I often have to make video presentations for my students. My fluffy and floral-ly quilt screams “bedroom” to me, so I decided to invest in some new bed linens in the hope that the backdrop will look more “guestroom/office” than sleeping space. When all is said and done, I hope to create a really formal space like this picture I pinned on Pinterest.

I was able to make the most of the Black Friday sales at Kohls, all without leaving my home, today. I saved over $350 while I purchased some long-wanted and needed items. I found a really nice down-alternative comforter for 60% off. I bought some white sheets, camel colored pillow shams, and a white coverlet that were marked down 75% off. Then with my Kohl’s cash and the special Black Friday discount, I saved an additional $50 at the checkout. I still have a few extra items to order from Ikea, but for now, my bed is almost complete. I plan to redecorate with new pictures and a freshly painted headboard (it is currently a sage green, but will be sprayed black this weekend). In all, my room should look more “designer fashion,” and less smashed together, like it has been. 

I am really pleased to be able to buy some things for my room. I so miss decorating my own space, and for the past three years, my focus has been on school, school, and more school. In this way, I am finally able to spend a little bit of money on “me” and that makes me feel good. I am still thinking about a new desk, but for now, I am okay with getting Lenny settled in a new tank and changing the look of my bed. At some point, I think I will buy a desk that matches the “look of the room.” My design style is Pottery Barn, but of course, I cannot afford their furniture. Ikea makes some really good items that are similar, so I am thinking of replicating this look, but using far less expensive items. My goal is to create a more transitional space with less of a “bedroom” feel to it. Unfortunately, with an 11x11 room, I have little space to really develop my own style. I will do my best, but for now, I think adding in some elements to “grow” up the space will do just fine.

I rarely invest in myself. I mostly spend money on other people, and it is not as if I have a lot of money to spend, but there are just times when one has to make decisions, and sometimes those decisions, come at a cost.

In Closing

It is a great day to give thanks to the Lord. I am blessed, favored, and safely living under His banner of sufficiency and provision. I give all thanks to my God and my King this good, good day. Everything I have is because of His grace, thus, I can take no credit in anything I have done. This is a good day to bring the Lord of the Harvest all our first-fruits, all our bounty. I rejoice with the family of God as we celebrate His blessed provision, and as we remember His goodness toward us, His grace and His mercy, and His constant friendship and love. He is good, so very good. All the time, He is good. He is good — all the time!

November 23, 2016

Feeling Well, Moving On

It is a good Wednesday today, and I am feeling well. I think I am finally over my sickness, whatever it was, because I woke up today feeling better than ever. In truth, I am still a bit sore from my two days of grading, but overall, I am in good spirits, and I am ready to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow and Friday.

Our plans for the day include dinner at our good friend's house. My parent's friend, Barb, and her son, Steve, have invited us over for the past three-four years. They do a lovely dinner, and we always have such a good time visiting with them. This year, my son will be home (last year, he travelled to KC to see his grandparents), so that is an extra blessing for me. In all, the day should be low-key, though definitely enjoyable.

Today, though, I have a lot of work to do. My task list is getting shorter, praise be to God. I completed my grading for my English 101 class at Regent, and I am almost finished with my grading for my English 205 class. I am taking extra time and care to give quality feedback to my students. I want them to learn what not to do, and without my actual teaching in the class room, I have to spend the extra time on assignments. I really do not like this aspect of online teaching, but it is what it is, so they say. I have three more weeks of these classes, but so far, they have been really enjoyable. The more courses I teach online, the better I understand the process. I am thankful to the Lord for this sweet provision. Not only has the income been welcomed, but the entire experience has been really special. I am hoping to remain as faculty at Regent for a long time (I pray it is so!)

My tasks for today include finishing up my final essays this morning, and then moving on to my dissertation later this afternoon. This is my "data dump" week, and so far, I haven't even started on that project. I am not worried, well -- I am trying not to be worried. I need to stay on track, and I am trusting the Lord to keep me right where I need to be. He is good to me, so I have full faith and confidence that He will do as He has promised.

God is Good

In other good news, my son is getting to travel some this holiday season. He has been invited to participate in a mini-tour of the midwest with David Britton, a Christian artist, who often performs at our church. My son has played keyboards for him twice (last year), and out of the blue, he got a call last week asking if there was anyway he could fly to Chicago to join his Christmas tour. At first, it didn't look possible, but the Lord intervened, and now he is able to go. He will be in Milwaukee, WI; South Bend, IN; and Northville, MI for five days next week. On top of that, he was already scheduled to perform with him at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on December 23, 2016. This is such an exciting opportunity for my son, who really desires to be a professional musician some day.

If you would like to hear David sing, you can check out this video from Scottsdale Bible Church back in 2011 or his official video for "Mary, Did You Know". You can really hear his beautiful baritone voice. I am planning on going to the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium on December 23 this year to see his "Sounds of the Season with Jean Watson." It should be such a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas, and I get to see my son play keyboards in this wonderful professional venue.

As I prepare to give thanks tomorrow (something we should do every day), I cannot help but give thanks to God, my Savior (2 Samuel 22:3) for his wonderful provision of music lessons for my son (something we couldn't afford). The Lord provided what we needed so that our son could study music. I could never have imagined that one day he would be a professional musician, and that he would be following after the Lord by pursuing music study and music performance.

I marvel as I think back to that first day when my son begged me for a piano. In fact, he was 4 when he first asked for a "pano." He was enamored by "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas" (1997), so much so that he would watch it every single afternoon. He wanted the organ in the film (wonderfully voiced by Tim Curry). He would talk about the "pano" non-stop, and finally, we bought him a little toy piano so he could have something to "play" with and stop pestering us about it. The funny thing is that besides that first "pano," my son also wanted a Mr. Microphone. He just had to have a Mister Microphone, and once we found one for him, it was love at first sight. He was about 6 at the time, and he would set up his microphone to play through his tape player. He would give speeches to his "buddies" (all his stuffed toys), and he would often preach from his Children's Bible or his Awana Spark books.

It wasn't until he was 10 when the "real begging" began. I tell this story, not to embarrass him, but rather to demonstrate a call on a person's life. When the Lord places a call on your life, there is nothing you can do to avoid it. You can try to run away from it. You can hide from it. But, in the end, the Lord will win. It was this way with my son as well. He was 10 and he started in with the "piano" bit, but this time, he simply didn't give up on it. He begged, pleaded, made his case, and even rationalized his disappointment if he didn't get a piano for Christmas. We did our best to buy him one, and in the end, we found one at Costco (just a Yamaha keyboard). He was so surprised, and my heart melted. I knew that our sacrifice (we didn't have much money then) was somehow part of God's plan for our son's future life.

Over the course of the next 8 years, he would study classical piano with a wonderful teacher (God ordained). He learned to be an accompanist with his teachers, "Strings and Things" chamber group, and for six years, he regularly wrote and performed pieces for cello, violin, guitar and piano. Later, in high school, he was asked by our worship pastor to join his professional band, "The Adriane Blanco Band," and with that opportunity, he began is professional music career.

Now at age 23, he is studying music in college, is performing with several groups at his school, church, and other venues. He is also an audio technician at a local church, and looks forward to someday having his own studio so he can be a studio musician and work for himself and for others.

His is a gifted musician, and all-around musician, who plays keyboards, drums, guitar and bass. He has such a wonderful knowledge of music theory and composition, and he is regularly called on to produce backing tracks and other supportive music for other people. He has recorded professionally with Scottsdale Bible Church (Worship Live 2015) as well as with another friend, who recorded a studio CD entitled, "Blameless: A Corporate Worship Project."

I give thanks today for the blessing of God's promises. I give thanks today for the gift of music, and how that gift has enriched my life. Not only have I had the pleasure to support and to encourage my son in his gift, but the Lord graciously provided a way for me to enjoy music as a performer too. I am no where near my son in talent, but I have learned to play the cello, and I have come to appreciate the beauty of the orchestration and the process involved in making music with other people. I don't play the cello as often as I would like anymore, but I intend to pick it back up as soon as I finish my PhD.

The God of Glory has provided such amazing resources to me and to my little family. I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory this good day because He is faithful to me. He is good to me. He takes care of my needs with sufficiency, and He always keeps His word, always.

Preparing for Movement

As I prepare for this good day, I sense the fact that the Lord is pleased with me, with my progress, with my focus, and my attention to His work. I do not take credit or glory or praise, I am simply saying that I can feel his pleasure, His good pleasure, when I attend to what He has called me to do. When I am faithful to His work, I feel His approval. I feel His hand upon me, just like when a Father touches the shoulder of His child to simply say, "I am proud of you, my child." I feel this way whenever I do what the Lord asks of me. I can sense this today as I share in the good pleasure of the Father as He has blessed and enriched my son's life, given Him a way to go, and a path to follow. It is my heart's desire to help my son follow the Lord. I realize that we must all individually respond to the Lord's call on our life, but once that has been done, it is not always the Lord's intention for His children to walk alone. No, He places people in our path who will encourage, affirm, and yes, equip His children, so that they can find success, find strength, and come to find their purpose and their place in God's kingdom plan. Often, when we walk alone, we stumble, but when we walk with another, we are able to do so much more.

My heart is pierced through today, just like it was the moment my child was born 23 years ago. I knew then that God had a plan for his life, a plan that was special and unique. I knew then that this child, my child, needed my 100% attention and guidance, and that the Lord had tasked me specifically with this job. I took a lot of heat in those early days, facing critics who said I was overbearing, suffocating, and micromanaging his life. This was not the case; I knew that God wanted me to be the influence in his life, to encourage, to affirm, and to equip him for God's work. I did my best, and today, I think he is the product of that effort. Granted, I can take no credit for his achievement, that belongs to God alone, but I can see how my diligence and my protection were instrumental to his development today. At least, this is my prayer. I hope it is so, I hope it is so.

I sense the Lord's movement in my life today. I feel His good pleasure, and as a result, I am encouraged. I feel compelled to follow after Him, to seek His face this good day, and to acknowledge His goodness in my life. He has been my steady companion, my friend, and my savior. I am so ready to take these next steps, to begin the process of moving to His place, His destination for me. I long to go where He is sending me, to go and do this specific work. Yet, for now, He asks me to wait, to be patient, and to consider my days and my ways. I am to think about my attitude, my hopes, and my dreams, and to remember that everything is forsaken at the cross of Christ. There is no other path, plan, or purpose outside of His call. I know this, of course, I do. Still, sometimes I think about what I want or what I think is best, when all I need to know, to consider, and to do is to abide with the Lord. I am to let Him lead me. I am to let Him guide me. And, I am to let Him provide for me.

I look to no other person. I look to no one save Jesus to be my steady companion, my rock and my refuge. It was David who said in Psalm 24,

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah

Yes, He is the King of Glory, and as such, there is no One who is worthy to receive our praise, our honor, and our glory. He deserves our 100% attention and focus. He is worthy! He is worthy!

Today, I stand in awe of my God, my King, and I remember who I am, and how far I have come in such a short amount of time. I am where I am today because of His goodness and His grace. I have nothing that has been made or produced from my own hands. What I do have is every provision granted to me by His good Name, and because of His provision, I give Him praise this good, good day. He is worthy! He is so worthy to be praised.

November 22, 2016

The Call of Christ

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. Yes, there is a nip in the air, and while the sun is shining, it clearly "feels" like fall. In Arizona, that means cool and not cold. Nary a leaf is on the ground, but still, it is a nice change from our always sunny life.

I am home today, the second day of my fall break, and I am enjoying the freedom to do nothing special. In truth, I have a large to-do list, and my to-do list includes grading (a lot of grading) along with some work on my dissertation. I have planned my days this week to maximize my time, and praise be to God, my prayer is that I will complete every task on my list by the week's end. This is my plan, of course, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, I believe that the likelihood is strong that I will stay on track.

I am feeling better, praise be to God, and I think whatever has plagued me these past couple days has finally passed through my system. I didn't sleep well, but that was due to stress more so than my stomach bug. I feel good today, well rested, and ready to tackle my work. I am praying for a good day. I need to get a handle on my list, and I want to enjoy some of my week, if possible. In all, I know that the Lord has me well covered this good, good day. He is my King, and as such, He orders my day, provides for my well being, and covers me with His blessing and His grace. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

Phoenix is My Home

In other news, I am settling down to the fact that I may end up in Phoenix for a time. I don't have any confirmation on that point, but the past couple months have simply provided rationale for staying put for a short time past my May 2017 deadline. I am content in this regard since I know that whether I go or stay is 100% up to the Lord. I have let my desires go in this matter, and I have accepted this fact as truth. I am where I am because it is His will for me. This means that right now, right now, I am doing what He asks me to do. Thus, it is up to me to be faithful to the work He has provided. Until He moves me, as in physically moves me, all the planning, the wants, and the wishes, simply must remain as they are -- plans, wants and wishes. The Lord is the Director of my life, and as such, He calls the shots, and He makes the plans and promises for my future needs.

It has been a difficult road toward acceptance. I have wanted to leave Phoenix for so many years, but lately, the Lord has been helping me to see my reasons in wanting to go. At first, it was because I believed that I had made a mistake initially in coming here. I made a decision, a choice, and that choice proved fateful for my life, for my family, and now for my extended family (my parents, for example). Therefore, when I say that I am where I am for a reason, this is the crux of the statement. I am in Phoenix because of a decision I made back in 1996. Yes, 20 years ago on November 1, I moved with my then husband and my 3-year old son to this place because I believed it was going to be a saving move for our family. I left my family in San Jose, moved to this desert place, and instead of realizing great joy, thanksgiving, and a wonderful outcome, I have spent nearly all that time living in pain, suffering with dysfunctional family life, and ending up divorced, single, and all alone. My decision, my choice, didn't have a positive outcome. Instead, I suffered greatly as I realized my error. My strong desire to move was simply predicated on my hope of reversal of fortune. I wanted to take back my mistake, to have a "do over," but in all this time, the Lord has not relented. In many ways, I have had to "lay in that bed I made."

I blogged about fate and the choices we make on Sunday, and in this way, I realize that the decision I made was in haste and out of fear for my own safety and security. I thought I was doing what was best for my family, but in turn, I simply hastened the demise of my family, my marriage. There was no guarantee that the same outcome wouldn't have taken place in San Jose, and only the Lord knows what might have happened had we stayed there rather than move here. Yet, despite it all, what has happened, certainly did happen for a reason. And, in God's economy, that reason was to strengthen me, to develop me into this person I am today. I am strong. I am mighty, and I am resilient. Yes, what I intended for good, led to my harm. But God allowed it, and in the end, it produced goodness, great skill and ability, and a deepening of my faith. In all, my decision was faulty, but God used it to create within me my faith, my strength, and my confidence in Him and in His will for my life.

Secondly, I came to understand that my motivation toward moving to the "cold and the snow" was more about childhood fantasy than reality. I still have this desire and wish to relocate to some place cold. I miss the fall crunch and the slush of the snow. But, I also realize that my dreams, my fantasies of sort, are just that -- they are dreams and fantasies -- produced over the years while I was stuck living in a place I didn't want to live in. You see, I longed for the sweet memories of my childhood as a way to handle the difficult aspects of my adult life. I wasn't happy in Phoenix so I would dream about living in Ohio, Indiana or Illinois -- the places of my childhood -- where I was happy. I wanted that "do over" so badly, that for me, the only source of happiness was to go back in time to a place BEFORE all the unpleasantness began. In this way, I thought I was recreating a "happy place," but in truth, I was simply running away from the truth, hiding from it, and hoping that somehow the Lord would open a door to allow me to relive my happier days.

Third, I have wanted to move from Phoenix for financial gain, and while there is a strong possibility that the Lord will indeed move me, the fact remains that where He moves me, the outcome will not be to satisfy my financial needs. I have looked to places, to the east coast and other locations as "possible" places for good work. Now, I believe that the Lord intends to provide a full-time job soon, but the place is not dependent on where I live. More than likely, He will provide an online teaching position that will allow me to live anywhere in the USA. Thus, His choice has nothing to do with a job. It is more about His work, and where He wants me to be planted to do His work. Therefore, thinking about moving for work has not proved beneficial to me. I am where I am, and in this place, the Lord HAS PROVIDED good work to me.

Fourth, I have wanted to move from Phoenix in the hope that the Lord would prosper my relationship with my good friend, someone with whom I have come to cherish, respect, and enjoy as a companion. I have prayed over this outcome for over two years, yet the Lord has not relented. He has not moved me, physically, nor has He even provided a way for me to spend time with my friend to see if our relationship would develop and deepen. I have questioned His motives, asked and prayed over His decision, but He has not moved me forward. I have had to learn patience, to be content with what He has provided to me, and that has been difficult for me. I still do not know the outcome, but what I do believe is that sometimes the Lord tarries because of the "other people" involved. You see, the Lord must consider the needs of these other people as well as our needs. In short, sometimes the wait is for a reason predicated on the other person. The Lord knows this, and while we may not like it, there is nothing we can do but trust the Lord to work out the details according to His will for our life and the life of the other person.

Last, I have wanted to move from Phoenix to shorten my time here, to change my living situation with my parents. Yes, it is true -- I have wanted to be established, on my own -- and to be fully active in my own life. I am tired of sharing a home, and I am ready to decorate and live in my own place. Again, sometimes the Lord waits because of others, and in my case, this is clearly true. My son is set to graduate now in a year, so this means that he will not finish school in 2017, but rather, he will finish in 2018. My parents are struggling financially so to leave them is impossible at this time. They are not ready to move into an assisted living arrangement, but they may soon be ready to do so. This option is not possible here in Phoenix due to rising cost of care, so for now and the time being, we are together because it is the Lord's will for my life AND THEIR LIFE. I cannot shorten this time because He has determined it to be so. I must accept the fact that caring for my parents, this task so to speak, has been given to me and not to my brothers. Thus, I have to remain where I am to care for them until the Lord provides other arrangements. I must wait. I must be patient. He is in charge of their care, and I must trust in His provision. He is good. He knows what is best. I will be patient, and I will wait for His deliverance.

In all of this, I have come to accept the fact that when I agreed to follow the Lord, to do as He asked, and to "go where He sent me," I was in all honesty giving up my right to "choose." I was saying to Him that His timing, His knowledge, and His choice was best for my life, and even if I didn't agree or see the reality of His decision, I would honor it just the same. In this way, I gave up my right to my Lord, and over the past twenty or so years, I have to come to learn that in all matters, the Lord is always right. He does indeed know best, and that no matter the mistakes we made in the past or the mistakes we make in the "here and now" or in the future, the Lord is capable -- nay -- He is able to right all wrongs, reverse trends, and rescue us from our errors in judgment. The rub is that sometimes He uses our errors to prove us, to test us, to define us, and in that way, the outcome is according to His will despite our efforts to control or determine what we think is best or will be best. Sometimes, God does use our mistakes for His will and purpose. Sometimes He intervenes and stops mistakes before they happen. Sometimes He rescues us, redirects us so as to avoid the mistake all together. But, no matter what He does, it will always be for our good, for our best, and to bring about His will in our life.

I believe this is true. I know it is true. I am willing now to accept that the life I have lived, the good and the bad of it, whether my decision or that of another, has worked together for my good. I am the person I am today because of the collection of these elements, the composition of all these choices, and God has used them to produce in me the desires, the wants, and the abilities He has decided before the foundation of the earth, that I possess. Thus, no matter what I want, desire, or hope for, the Lord will is to be done and will be done. It will be so because I asked for it to be done. I asked, and He answered. He has been actively involved in my life, in the decisions, the choices, and the outcomes, but for the past 10 or so years, He has taken a far greater role in helping me see choices, to make wise decisions, and to trust Him as He leads, guides and provides for me. I have grown up in my faith, and now I make far fewer rash and hasty decisions. Now, I wait. I carefully analyze, and I remain steady and patient. He has full control of my life, thus to let go, as He asks me to do, simply means to let go of my desire to control the outcome, and to rest in His ability to guide me, lead me, and provide for me. Do I trust Him? Of course, I do. Am I perfect in that trust? No, I am not. I fail Him miserably. I fall on my face, and I often contradict His good advice. Yet, in all things, I know that His will is to be done, and this is what I want. Yes, I want His will to be done. Therefore, I relent, I let go, and I acknowledge that I have given my right to decide to Him. I apologize, and I honor our agreement made in covenant. I said I would trust Him, yield to Him, and allow Him to guide me. He promised in return to provide for me, to keep me safe, and to give to me a good life (safe, secure, comfortable). In all, He has kept His word to me. I have struggled with my part of the bargain. I sometimes wrestle with Him. He wins, of course, but I still try at times to get my own way.

Parting Thoughts

In closing, as I think about all of this truth, I realize that the process to realization has been hard won. It has taken years for me to accept this position, to understand submission in this way. I have come from the place where I believed submission was mandatory to a place where submission is voluntary. I have come to see the blessing in this relationship, with Him as Lord and me as servant. I have come to learn His gentle yoke, His gracious and comforting way. I have come to know and to recognize my Lord as Savior, Master, and now as King. It has taken time for me to move through these various phases of relationship, but now that I see Him as King Jesus, I realize my position of authority is limited. It is what has been given to me by my Sovereign Lord, and in this way, I do the work assigned by my Lord, the King, and I trust that everything I need is provided to me through His sovereign power, authority, and position. I truly am in this wonderful place whereby I see the value and the necessity of living in stewardship to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. It is not about obedience that is feudal in nature, it is about obedience that is born of graciousness and mercy. It is about seeing the Lord not just as my suffering and dying Savior, but as the RISEN AND EXALTED King. You see, He is no longer dead and laying in that tomb. No, He is risen. He sits at God's right hand. The King is exalted, and in His righteousness, His holiness, and His justice, He reigns. He reigns over every area of my life. I give my life to my Lord, my liege, and as His loyal servant, I am placed under His banner of protection and grace. He is the One I serve, and I do it with my whole heart. I do it willingly, and not out of force or coercion. I do it because of what He has done for me. I surrendered my life at the cross so many years ago, but I surrendered my heart to Him only 10 years ago. I made Him my Lord, and as a result, my life has taken a drastic and determined track back from where I was to the place where I am today -- from my own willful and stubborn life predicated on faulty and unwise decisions -- to His feet where I live, surrendered and in total fidelity to His desires, plans, and objectives. He has saved me, time and time again, and with His power and presence, I am ready to go out and bear His banner, His standard as He leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good to me, so very good to me. I give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory this good, good day! Selah!