February 23, 2017

Making Final Preparations

Happy Thursday! It is a sunny, but windy day here in Phoenix. Today is my day off, and because it is Thursday, this means that I have one more day of “teaching” before I can relax and enjoy the weekend. I have a lot on my plate today, but I am relaxing and chilling-out a bit before I jump into my work. Mostly, I have to finish the very last section of my paper. I have lost my mo-jo, as they say, and I am struggling to finish my dissertation. I guess now that I have my defense date set, I am so ready to relax, to just rest! I have to finish, though, and that means that I have to get this last little bit of work done today. No excuses!

It is all good, really. I am ready to make my plane reservation, and book my room at the Founders Inn and Spa. In truth, I am ready to be done, to be finished, to graduate. I have been working toward this day for four years, so it is exciting to be this close to the finish line. I guess you could say that I have “senioritis” like most of my senior students do. I really cannot wait for summer to get here, and to be able to rest — like rest — for three whole months!

In all, I am resting in the fact that God has made all of this possible. He has made a way for me to finish strong. I almost lost all hope a couple weeks back, simply because I wasn’t making any headway, and I felt so overwhelmed by the final “home stretch.” God, though, has been good to me. He has made all of this come to pass, and as such, I am able to let this go, to let all the worries and fears pass, and simply REST in His provision, His goodness, and yes, His abilities to seem me through to the very end. I am ready, I am so ready to move on.

Preparing to Go and to Stay

Yesterday was a good day for me. I went to school, did my three classes, and as I was coming home, I thought about all that God had already done for me, through me, and with me to prepare me for this next season of my life. I mean, I am in this very solid place right now. I have a good life, a very happy life, and my home is settled now. I know that while I want to move, to go elsewhere, I really sense that the Lord is saying to me that I should be content to remain where I am, to simply stay put, and to enjoy the blessing of His provision right here in the desert, in the Valley of the Sun.

Phoenix is not my choice. I do not really want to stay here at all, but something is happening here, and as a result, I feel like I must be content to remain. I may not like it, I may not want it, but I feel as if the Lord wants me to stay put, and to be considerate of all the Phoenix offers to me. First of all, this is where I already have work. I have plenty of work — good work — but so far there has been no movement toward a full-time position at any of my existing schools. This causes me concern, but I realize that the Lord is the One who promotes, so if He has chosen for me to remain as adjunct faculty, then He has a reason for it. Second, despite my lack of full-time work, I actually am making a significant amount of income with all my jobs — collectively speaking. I am doing well. In fact, I am thinking that this year alone, by the year’s end, I will have made more money than previously in all of my jobs since I first starting working full-time some 30 years ago. Thus, there is blessing in this place. I am being blessed through my efforts, and for now, I am being well-looked after and provided for so…why complain? Third, I have family here. My parents are here and so is my son, and for all intents and purposes, we are a family, living together. Again, this is the Lord’s design, so it must be for a reason. Last, despite the heat and the sunshine (all the time), the weather in Phoenix is better than the weather in colder climes. It is a lovely, and oh-so balmy 69 today. This is a far cry from the blizzard ravishing the Midwest today.  More so, while housing is expensive, it is not impossible to find a home here. Yes, the pricing is higher than say a small town in the Midwest, but the jobs, the lifestyle, and the opportunities that come with living in a major metropolitan area are worth the trade off.

With this in mind, I also have to consider my network of friends. While this has been a small part of my life, it has to factor in somewhat to the whole mix of things. I do have friends here. I do have a church that I love, and I do have opportunities for ministry. In many ways, there is room to grow here, to mature in ministry, and there is plenty of good practical work to do in this place. It might not be green, filled with trees, lakes and ponds, but there are people here who need the gospel just as much as the people who live elsewhere. I guess what I am saying is that I am feeling this need to put down roots, and for so long, I didn’t want to dig my roots in here in Phoenix. I wanted to move some place else, and as such, I was not satisfied with what was here. This doesn’t mean that I loathe it here at all. It is lovely — and there are spectacular views all around me. It is just that this place doesn’t suit my style, my temperament, my desires. It does however happen to be the place where I live, and for that, I think I need to reassess my desires, my wants so that they really match my needs.

In many ways, I have tried to move from Phoenix. I have applied to numerous jobs all over the USA for the past 10 years. None of them have come to pass, no, not one of them. In all, the only success I have had occurred when I applied here, in this place, right where I live now. Thus, there is a part of me that recognizes that the Lord seems to be saying to me, asking me to consider putting down roots right in this place. I guess this is what He is saying to me. I mean, I am not panicked about staying, and I am not anxious about living here anymore. It is like I have this sense of peace about it all, about my life, about what He intends to do with my life. I feel confident that He will provide for me. I feel confident that He will make a way. I feel confident that when it is all said and done, I will have a home, a good job, and a life that is predicated on serving Him completely, wholly, and with sincere devotion all the days of my life. I guess I am ready to settle down, to put down roots and to say that “Yes, Phoenix is where I am to remain.”

Blooming is Possible in the Desert

I started to think about this thought the other day, how I never was happen living in Phoenix because such a part of my life was left behind in San Jose, California. It will be 21 years this November that I said good-bye to San Jose and hello to hot and dry, Phoenix. I really didn’t know what I was doing when I left the beautiful and perfect weather that belonged to San Jose. I came here on a whim, thinking that leaving expensive California and fleeing our debt-ridden life would somehow save my struggling marriage and open doors of opportunity for me and for my family. In hindsight, I gave up everything dear to me to come here, and I plunged my family in a bitter battle of family war and manipulation that lasted nearly 13 years. I suffered for 13 long years in a dysfunctional family, being pulled, guilted, and controlled in order to do what was expected of me. In the end, with crushing debt, personal hardship, and mental anguish, the bottom of my life fell out, and as such the little I held onto slipped through my fingers like sand on the beach.

The past 7 years since that time have been filled with upheaval. My life has been reshaped, reformed, and restored, and as such, I am now living in a new way. But, my heart is till hardened toward this place I call home. I have had a hard time accepting the fact that perhaps the Lord is choosing to keep me in Phoenix for my own good. I was praying about this last night, asking why I couldn’t move elsewhere, and I heard the Lord say to me, “Moving is about what is best for you and not anyone else.” I thought about those words as I drove home from GCU, and I wondered what really was best for me. I mean, I love the thought of picking up stakes, moving to a new place, and beginning a new life some place else. But, no matter how often I think about it, I cannot get this place, the place I live in now, out of my mind. I cannot think about life anywhere else. Why is this so?

My life is new, it is an open book, as they say, and that means that I have chapters yet to be written to my story. Yet, there is this part of me that thinks that somehow Phoenix will play a more significant part of my life down the road. My son seems content to remain here now, which was not always the case. For so many years, I wanted to move so that he could have a better life, but he seems to have figured out how to have a good life all on his own. This means that what matters now is what is really best for me. I mean, is it in my best interest to move away from Phoenix and start over someplace new?

I’ve prayed about it, thought about it, and wondered about it often. Today, though I can say with almost certainty, that it feels like the Lord is calling me to stay here, to not think about leaving and moving away. He seems to be saying, “It is good here, Carol. We can make something of this place.” I don’t have any specifics or details, but I feel strongly that my life has more story to it, and that story is partly about this place. I cannot leave just yet. I cannot go just yet. It is not about the job. It is not about my parents and their end of life care. It is not about my son, either. It is about me. God is not finished with me in this place yet, and thus, I must stay. I must be content to remain where I am until He is finished with His work in me and through me. It is all for His name, His praise, and His glory — so I must do as He asks me to do. I must wait. I must be patient. But, mostly, I must be content. I must remain faithful, watchful, and expectant. I must look for His hand of blessing, and until I see His guidance lead me elsewhere, I will simply be happy to be where I am. It is really all about accepting that God has a plan, and that plan may or may not align with what we want or think or feel. His plan is always good, and as such, His plan is good — through and through.

In Closing

As I close out this blog post and begin to write my last little section of my dissertation, I realize that I am where I am today for a very good reason. I live in this house, I share this home, and I do this work all because God in Heaven — my Father — delighted for me to do these things. He made the choice. He made the decision, and He said, “Yes, you may do this or that. You may have this good thing or that good thing.” I have been a cheerful recipient of His goodness, but I have not always maintained a cheerful attitude when things didn’t seem to be going my way. Now, I see that His goodness has manifested itself in my life in so many intangible ways. I see His overflow as it washes over me. I see His grace and His mercy as it blesses me, soothes me, and gentle caresses me. He is good to me. He gives me good gifts, and He provides for me. So today, with all this in mind, I rest. I let the rest go. I say, “I am happy today for the blessing is good. It is enough. I need no more.” He has satisfied my every need, and I lay my arms down, I lay my burdens down, and I let go, I relent, and I accept His provision as He has graciously provided it to me. Selah!

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