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.

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