January 19, 2017

Thankful Thursday

It is a cloudy and rainy Thursday here in not-so-sunny, Phoenix. It is such a lovely change of weather, and I am enjoying it immensely. I am home today, and I am supposed to be working on teaching and dissertation tasks, but instead, I am working on my financial plans. It is quiet here at home. My son is at school, and my parents are over at their Bible study. I am here with the "boys," and for the most part, it is such a blissful morning.

I slept pretty well, though these hot flashes are really getting to me. My prayer is that I transition through menopause quickly. I can handle them during the day time, but the night time "sweats," are a killer interruption to peaceful sleep. Still, I am thankful that all that awful peri-menopausal stuff has passed. I spent a good four years dealing with heavy periods, flooding as they call it, and the panic-dread sensation of never knowing how to handle life without a bathroom near by. Thank goodness, and thank the good Lord, all of that is behind me now. I will put up with the hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms that happen in menopause, and I will try not to complain about their inconvenience. Selah!

It is Thursday, as I mentioned at the top of this post, and right now I am thinking about all that I have to be thankful for and thinking how much I am enjoying my "everyday life" (Meyer, 2016). Yes, I am thinking that it is good to purposefully give thanks to the Lord, and to express joy in the very life He has given to me. Selah! I am the recipient of His good favor, and as such, I am called to respond to that good favor with expressions of joy, peace, harmony, contentment, and goodwill (toward others). Yes, my natural response should be one of great joy, shouts of praise, laughter, and a deep seated love for God and for His amazing creation (including the natural world and all that is in it). Yet, there are times when I don't feel like praising Him or thanking Him for the work He has done in my life (and is doing). I don't always stop to lift my voice in thanks, to honor Him with song or with prayer, and as a result, I often feel deflated, let down, and yes, even depressed as I consider the world (the nasty, sinful parts of it and of human creation). Still, He is God, and He is my creator, sustainer, and the joy of my life -- thus today -- I stop for a moment, and I consider His gracious goodness, His marvelous patience, and He loving provision. He is good to me, always so very good to me. I give Him thanks this good, good day, and I CHOOSE TO BE JOYFUL!
Processing and Making Plans

This week has been low-key for me, but at the same time, it has been very high stress. I had the MLK holiday off, which was such a blessing, and with that day off, I had four days to work on my research project and get a handle on my courses at Regent, ASU and GCU. In all, I was very productive. Now, I am the end of this week, and I have several to-do tasks that need to be done today and tomorrow. I feel a bit of panic, but that is only because I haven't fully processed the details and considered the time needed to complete them. I always think it will take longer than it really does, so right now, I am pressed for time, but in truth, I probably have plenty of time to simply do what I am doing, which is REST, relax, and enjoy this blissful day.

Yesterday, while I was at work (GCU), I was praying over my day, my student's needs, and of course, the challenges I face with graduating. I had blogged about my Mom's illness, and praise be to God, she is doing so much better. Today, she is more like herself, and for that I am thankful. Still, there is this worry in the back of my mind about tomorrow -- like TOMORROW -- and what type of care she will need long term. I had heard some sad news about a family friend who passed away on the January 12th, and that got me thinking that my parents may not live much longer. No one knows the days, the times, or the years of our life (save the Lord), so we really do need to live each life with a thankful heart. Still, the thought that this family friend passed (from a massive stroke) just a few days ago was distressing to  me. I thought about how I would endure that trial in my own family. Right now, I am reliant on my parents for their share of this home. I am reliant on them for many things -- like using their car to get to the dentist today. What would happen should they pass quickly? I mean, could I handle all the details of our life at this point in time?

I was praying over these thoughts as I was driving home, and I realized how much I need stability in my life. I am still in this transition, still finishing graduate school, still working multiple part-time jobs. I know I could handle our needs easily with a full-time job, but that job is somewhere --> out there --> still hidden in the mist. If my parents passed suddenly, could I pay all our utilities, for example? Would I have to leave this home right away because I couldn't afford to remain here? I've been thinking more and more about moving, about whether moving is more about my preference than His will. I believe that it is both, really. I have had this desire to move for many years, but the Lord has not chosen to move me. I blamed myself for that lack of movement, in that I felt I wasn't ready to be obedient, to step out in faith, and to really go when He said, "Go!" Lately, I have felt the desire to move, but when push came to shove, as in the possibility of moving, I recanted and said, "Oh, Lord, I am not ready to go!"

I felt so disobedient in that moment. I felt like Peter, who denied Jesus three times. I have said time and time again that I would go, and then when the moment came to apply for a job, and I say the "must start date" next summer, I simply panicked. I cannot go. It is too soon. I am not ready. I am not prepared. I don't have the funds. I cannot go. I simply cannot go.

Of course, the Lord was gracious to me. He helped me see that where I am right now is a good place. I work very hard at my schools, but I have no hope of a full-time position at this time. Perhaps in a year or two. Perhaps in five or six. Who knows? I started to see that I could be content here, I could be happy here, but even with that assessment, there is this part of me that says, "Yes, but is this your will. Do you want me to remain here or do you want me to go there -->?

The more I prayed about it, the more I convinced myself that it was best to just stay put. I mean, I have a nice house here. I have good work. I can be sustained -- not for ever -- but for another year. I went to bed last night, resolved to stay put. Then this morning, after I woke up and started my day, I thought "once again" how difficult it is to work at four-five different schools and managed all the responsibilities. I thought about what might happen this summer if any of these schools dropped out of my "plan" for fall. As with adjunct, contracts are always "at will," which simply means my schools could say "we don't have anything for you" and I would be SOL, as they say.

I kept thinking how easy it would be to just stay here. I mean, my cats are happy here. My parents need me. My son has one more year of school. Surely, staying put is better than uprooting the family and going to an UNKNOWN place and living in an UNKNOWN way. Then, my heart started to doubt this logic. It does make sense to me. But...is this the Lord's will for me. Is this His provision?

I keep coming back around to this fact. I do want to move based on personal preference. I long to live in the country, to have an old-fashioned home. I also long to live someplace where I can enjoy a more moderate climate (with trees, greenery, things to do outside). I have certain things I like, certain ideas, but I also realized that I am content now, right where I am, and that this house, while modern and very Phoenix-like, is not really my style, I am comfortable in it. I guess throughout all this thinking process, I came to see that while I prefer certain styles, certain things, I can be content here and now simply by acknowledging that the Lord is my contentment. He is the reason I am happy, filled with joy, and at peace. The house, the location has nothing at all to do with it. The reason I will go is because the Lord asks me to go. The reason I will stay is because He says it is good for me to stay.

This morning as I walked through this house, as I sat here reflecting a bit on my life and what the Lord has done for me, I remembered that I am no longer able to call my own shots. I don't say "I will" or "I won't," rather I can only say, "Yes, Lord, thy will be done." I have to do what He asks me to do, and if that means picking up stakes and moving elsewhere, so be it. I will go, Lord. I will go.
In Closing

I give Him thanks today because He is good, and as such, He is worthy of our praise. He is gracious to us. He gives us good gifts. He makes our way sure, secure, and He directs our steps as He leads us through this life and into the next. I either trust Him completely with all the details of my life or I don't. Today was a wake up call of sorts. I realized that I was trusting Him 90%, but that last little 10% was reserved for my own way, my own wants, my own wishes. I made the decision to let that last 10% go, and no matter how hard it will be to say "good bye," I will do it, if He asks me to do it. I will go, Lord, where you lead. I will follow you. I will trust that you will cover me. I will be, do, and live in your way, as you lead, guide and provide for me. You are God, and as such, I place my life in your hands this good, good day.

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