January 1, 2017

It is a New Day!

Happy New Year, 2017! Woohoo! The year has arrived, and in good form — with a lot of rain — for Phoenix!! It started to rain late last evening and it hasn’t stopped yet. This is good news for those of us here in the desert, especially since we had a less than enthusiastic monsoon season (to the North where I live). The winter rain is a boon to our valley, and it will certainly bring in loads of beautiful desert wild flowers come late February and early March. Yes, the desert will be abloom in just a couple more months!

It is also a blessed Sunday, and I am at home, resting this morning. I decided to stay at home after some late evening Chinese food decided to back up on me during the overnight. I tossed and turned all night, and then finally, was delivered from its throes early this morning (thank you!) Now I am resting from that ordeal, and hoping that my morning and afternoon fare much, much better. Despite the sickness, I was able to get the pork loin in the crock pot, and make the Sunday supper jello (orange with mandarin oranges) before retiring to my computer. My family is out — at church — and it is quiet in the house. I am sitting here with my boys, drinking my coffee, and still feeling a twinge now and then from the aforementioned Chinese dinner. My New Years day is restful, peaceful, and for the most part, uneventful right now. It is a nice start to the new year, regardless of the mini-food poisoning episode.

The Beginning of a New Epoch

As I think about the blessing of this new day, and that this day marks the beginning of the new year, I am reminded of God’s goodness toward me. He has made such an amazing way for me, and I am finding that I am resting more and more in the knowledge that He is truly All-Sufficient. He is everything, absolutely everything, and by that I mean, He “fills my bill,” so to speak. He has made my life serene and settled. He has given me a new hope, and He has made a way for me to walk. In all of these things, He has carefully crafted a path for me to follow, and in doing so, I am assured that this path is a good one. This path will produce His desired results, and this path will bring me home — eventually home and into my blessed reward.

He has made all of this possible, moving people in and out of my life, and showing me, really guiding me through and over various obstacles as He helped me come to know myself better, to see myself better, and to finally accept myself better — more completely than ever before. I would say that by now, by age 54, I am in this place of complete acceptance. I no longer feel the need or the drive to please people, to be approved by people, and to make people like me. I still desire it, I mean, who doesn’t want people to like them; however, I don’t need it anymore. I am content to live singly, to be alone, to walk this path of solitary confinement.

In addition and more importantly, I am ready to take on the biggest challenge of my life — completing my dissertation — and to do it during one of the most difficult, crazy, and abundantly full periods of my life. I am ready, poised and ready, to begin, and I am ready to set everything aside, to sacrifice everything necessary in order to succeed, to finish strong, and to complete the task He has set before me. I am trusting my strength, my wisdom, my inner powers of recognition to Him, and I am asking for the result, the outcome of my project to be significant and satisfying. I am asking Him to complete this work, in the shortened time remaining, and to do it with His flair and style. I want to be accomplished, to succeed, and to be finished — completely, utterly, and finally — finished. I want to graduate.

My life sits at the crossroads between two distance places. One lays behind me, and the other is in front of me. I have come to this place where I am ready to leave the past behind, and to press on toward the blessed future that exists — out there — out in front of me. The only requirement today is to take the first step. I can stand here and look both ways, but I must take a step forward if I really want to move forward. I cannot go back. I cannot return to the past, so I must either stand here, in perpetuity, or move forward into the wild and what is a seemingly unknown way to me. My prayer today is to take that first bold step, to move forward with gusto, grace, and a whole lot of gumption. Yes, I must screw up my courage, and I must be bold. I must place my faith in God alone, and I must go where He is sending me — with or without knowledge — with or without provision. I must say, “I believe your word to me, Lord” and then act like I believe. I must take all my little faith and put it into one nutshell and let it lead me, guide me, and provide for me. It is my faith in God that saves me. It is my faith in His blessed provision of salvation, and in His blessed Savior, Jesus the Christ. It is my faith in His love and care and compassion that encourages me daily, that builds me up when I need it most, and that secures me, anchors me to His amazing and abundant word. Yes, my faith, as tiny as it is and as insignificant as it can be — is what sustains me. I believe you, Lord. I believe your word. I trust you this good, good day. I place my complete, my full faith and confidence in your abilities, in your power, in your might, and in your grace this good, good day. He alone is worthy to be praised! He alone is worthy to receive our honor! I lift my voice this good day, and I give Him the praise that is due His holy name. May the Lord of Hosts, God Almighty, be honored, praised, and glorified this good, good day. Selah! Amen, so be it. Thy will be done!

Plans for 2017

I have taken that bold first step today. I have proclaimed my utter dependency and complete reliance upon the Lord for everything that 2017 holds in store for me. Yes, that means both the good and the bad, and everything in between. I am ready to take hold of His life plan, to begin to move toward His fulfillment, and to come into the understanding of where He is sending me and why. I am ready to receive His grace in order to accept the truth, to acknowledge it as good, and to then believe (trust and rely) on it that it will be for my good. Yes, I am ready to accept the truth about my life, my situation, my hopes, my dreams and how all of this, all of me, factors into the grand plan He has for my life as it relates to His kingdom purpose, His kingdom plan. I am ready to receive my calling, my mandate and the promised provision that will carry me forward into His will and through His way so that I can bring to Him all the praise and honor due His good, good name.

First things first, however, I must reconcile the fact that for the short-term, the short foreseeable future, I am where I am for a reason. I am in Phoenix, living and working in Phoenix because this is the place where I came some 20 years ago this past November. I came here with high hopes and with expectations that Phoenix would be a good place to set down roots, to raise a family, and to live a comfortable, yet modest life. I was wrong, of course. Phoenix was anything but a good place to live. Sure, the weather is nice for six months of the year. But, the other six, the over 100 degrees six, well that can really wear you down and tire you out. Some people love the desert, but most folks I know live here for one of two reasons: they came here for a job or they retired here from the snowy North or East. Most of my friends have moved on to other places, either back to where they came from originally (CA, mostly) or to other places for work. The rest of the people are retired, like my parents, or are natives or semi-natives (from Mexico, Native American roots, or transplants who have lived here long enough to be considered semi-native). Yes, there are very few Phoenicians about, but every now and then, you do meet one. Most, though, are transplants that are here temporarily until the wind and the desert heat take them elsewhere.

I came here thinking that Phoenix would save my marriage and my life. I left sunny and mild Northern California, my family, my friends, and the life I had known for 18 years to follow my ex-husband’s parents to this place. It was a mistake, a huge mistake, but as I have blogged before, the Lord used this place, my wilderness place, to shape me, to hone me, and to make me into the person I am today. I have learned a lot from Phoenix, from living in this intolerant climate. Mostly, I have learned how to how to deal with harsh conditions, difficult life change, and living with unknowable outcomes. Now, though, I am ready for greener pastures. When I say greener pastures, I really mean “greener” places. I am not really thinking of pastures in the farm sense anymore. No, I am simply advocating a life of mild temperatures again, a place where the sun shines only part of the time, and where there are four distinct seasons. I need gray. I need rain. I need clouds, and yes, I need cold.

My time in Phoenix has drawn to a close, and 2017 will mark my 21st year living here. In all told, I have lived many places, but this is the longest I have lived anywhere in my entire life. I spent only a few years on the East coast as a child. I was born in Maryland, and for the first 5-6 years, I lived there as well as in Rochester, NY. Then I spent another 3 years living in the oil fields of Bakersfield, CA. My life took a turn in the Midwest around age 9 and I lived in the South suburbs of Chicago until I was almost 17. After my time in IL, I found myself settled in mild and lovely San Jose, CA where I remained until 1996, when we moved here. So, as I reflect back on my life, really I have spent the majority of my life in CA and in AZ. It is time for a change, and I am ready to go some place new.

Second, I must reconcile the fact that while I am here in Phoenix, I have work to do. I work at two different schools in the Phoenix area. I will be working online at a third, but that won’t begin until this spring. I also teach online at two schools, one in VA and one in OH. My teaching career is on the upswing, and that means that in a short time, I will be offered one full-time faculty position somewhere in the USA. I don’t know where this job will be, but I can pretty much say it will not be here in AZ. So, where does that leave me? Well, I could easily relocate to any number of the lower 48 states (no to Alaska and Hawaii), but my heart seems to be calling me eastward, and that means someplace from the middle part of the country toward the East coast and anywhere from north of Texas to south of the Canadian border. Yes, that is a big territory filled with options, but as I was explaining to my good friend, just because there are oodles of places to choose from, not every “place” will have a job opening that fits my specific skills and experience. Thus, the options are actually quite few and far between when it comes to job placement. Yet, I am open to any of them so long as the Lord chooses the place. I am open to going to the school of His choosing because I know it will be His best fit for me. Selah!

Third, and this is most important, I must reconcile to the fact that wherever I go, I will be leaving a part of me behind. My son is not ready to graduate so for another year, I can either remain here or move on ahead of him. I have made the decision that it is in my best interest (financial interest) to move ahead and let him live on his own for a year while he finishes up school. More so, another driving factor is my parent’s ongoing care, and the fact that the cost of assisted living is out of our range here in Phoenix. The cost might be more manageable in the Midwest or middle Tennessee Valley area, but for us in AZ, it is sky high and absolutely not a possibility. Therefore, my parents will need to move with me or they will need to move in with another family member. They would prefer to move with me, but they also would prefer not to leave Phoenix. It is a difficult spot to be in, but if I am to have a full-time faculty position, I must go where there is a job. I cannot continue to live on part-time wages, thus, my first priority is to secure a full-time position — somewhere — and soon.

Finally, as much as my heart would like to be closer to a certain someone, I have had to accept the fact that the Lord might choose to move me in an opposite direction. I might actually end up further away rather than closer. I have to let all these thoughts go, the dreams and the ideas (the hopes and the wishes) because I am following the Lord’s will for my life and not my own. It is difficult to even consider letting go, but I have to trust the Lord and believe that He knows best in this area of my life as well. The future is complicated; it is complex, and as such, the outcome is unknown. I can force my way and end up unhappy or I can let the Lord work out the details and simply accept what He determines as best for me, for my special friend, and our relationship. In the end, whatever the Lord does, it will be blessed — of this I am sure — so I am thinking positively and with hope.

As I process all the details, accept the “facts” of my life, I have come to the conclusion that 2017 will be a year of change for me. It will be the capstone year whereby I leave my schooling behind, where I step out in faith and embrace the career the Lord has planned and prepared for me to do. It will be a time of heartache as I make decisions that will alter my course, perhaps permanently, and that will set me on a trajectory of unknown proportions. It will also be a year of great promise, of vision, and of provision and financial blessing. I will be earning a decent income again, and I will be working in a full-time (final) position that will provide for my future. Furthermore, I will be living in a place that is affordable for me, where I can buy my first home, and where I can set down roots. I will be carving time out for me to spend getting to know new people, visiting new places, and enjoying the change of scenery. I will also be working hard at my career, writing academic articles, and fulfilling my hearts desire to teach, to mentor, to encourage, and to develop people (students). In all, 2017 has so many wonderful possibilities, and they are all mine “If only I believe.”

My prayer this good day is to grasp the brass ring that is in front of me, and hold on to it for dear life. I will go where the Lord sends me. I will live where He tells me to live. I will do the work He has prepared for me to do, and in this way, I will follow His will in every area of my life. I will be blessed. I will be favored, and I will experience great joy, intense satisfaction, and sheer delight as I watch the Lord, my Jehovah Nissi, march before me. Where He goes, I go. Where He stays, I stay. I follow as He leads me, and I rest in His complete and utter safety, security, protection and provision. Selah!
In Closing

It is a beautiful day here in Phoenix. The sun has broken through the rain clouds, though I still see dark skies to the South and west of me. There is more rain on the horizon it seems. Still, it is a blessed change, a good change, and a hopeful change. I take the gray skies as a sign, a sign that my time in the Valley of the Sun has drawn to a close, and each day of 2017 will move me one step closer to my farewell, to my move, to my relocation. I am ready to go, and I am waiting patiently for His provision, His open door, His job offer. Until I receive it, however, I will focus on my work at hand, my present studies, and my daily responsibilities. I will teach wherever He calls me to teach. I will live in whatever home He provides for me, and I will believe that the place of His choosing (the school, the city, etc.) will be a good place, a really, really good place for my next 20-30 years of adventures. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah!

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