February 18, 2017

Rainy Day

It is a rainy day here in Phoenix. The weather forecast calls for showers all day today and tomorrow. In some ways, it is a perfect Saturday in February. I am loving the wetness, and the gray skies and clouds are soothing my need for change this good, good day. I am feeling well, for the most part. I woke up with a sinus headache, and still a bit grumpy from my not-so-nice day yesterday. But, overall, after a good cup of Dunk-in Donuts coffee and a donut, I am starting to feel better.

I slept fitfully and tossed and turned most of the night. I fell asleep around 7 p.m. last night, and instead of grading, which was on my to-do list, I simply curled up in a ball on the bed and fell asleep — hard. I mean I crashed. Yesterday, was a difficult day, and by the time I made it home, I was pretty much spent. I meant mentally and emotionally spent. I made myself a sandwich, and after eating dinner and watching an episode of “Midsomer Murders” on Netflix, I finally gave in and laid down to rest my eyes. Zonk!

Yes, I woke up at 10 p.m., noticed that all the lights were turned off in the house, and decided to get undressed and into the bed, proper — know what I mean? My parents had turned in early, and my son is over in LA for the weekend. I fed the cats before I retired to bed, and then drifted off rather quickly once I was buried deep beneath the covers.

The sun didn’t rise this morning, but I heard the rain as it hit my window. I woke up around 5, I think, and my boys figured that 5 was the perfect time to get up and start the day. So — not! I rolled over and forced myself to stay in bed, and thankfully, I woke up closer to 8 a.m. before I really decided it was time to get up and get moving.

Today is D-Day for me. I have to make progress on my dissertation, and my plan includes revising both chapters so I can send them off to my professor by tomorrow p.m. The Lord is in charge of the program, but I am feeling a bit panicked despite His authority and control. I also have a lot of grading to do, and I have this awful feeling that something is missing — like something is being left out or behind. I am paranoid that I have forgotten to do something important, and this thought is nagging me. Still, I either believe the Lord and trust Him or I do not. I am choosing to trust Him this good day, and thus, I have let my project go. I have chosen to let Him have all the glory and praise, and that means that He is the only One who can finish this paper and do it well. He is able, and I am not. Thus, I rest. I let go. I trust Him. I rely on Him. I wait upon Him this good, good day.

My mind is racing this morning as I contemplate everything that needs doing, but I am letting all the pressure and the pain go. I am choosing to rest in my Lord, and in His sufficiency, for He alone is able to see me through this very dark byway. He will lead me into the light, and I will find my way out.

It is a good day, therefore, to practice the discipline that leads to success. I know that He is able to do this work, and that He will make a way for me. I know that He can show me what to change, what to keep, what to add, etc. and the final product will be good. He will do it, I am sure of it. He knows what is best, and I will let Him have His day. I will let Him do this good work in order to bring His Name praise. I rest, I relent, I relinquish, and I let the Lord receive the reward.
Trust and Obey

I am trusting the Lord today. I am choosing obedience because I know that the only way I will finish my project is to let the Lord do it. I have tried my best, worked until the wee hours, and in the end, I have run out of strength. I have run out of mind-control, and by that I simply mean, thoughts, ideas, words. Yes, my students laughed at me yesterday when I said that I had no more words for them, and that all my words were put into my dissertation. They got a kick out of that thought, but it is true, really true. I am struggling just to put pen to paper (or thoughts to keyboard) today. I am struggling with clear thinking, calm mindset, and the ability to carefully articulate my thoughts. I am in a blue funk, and this funk is really deep and murky. Yet, I know the Lord has me well in hand, and that He will lead me out. He will show me the way out.

My mind, in times like these, runs to thoughts that are easily remembered. Yesterday, while I was in the midst of crisis (here at home), all I could mumble was the children’s song, “Trust and obey — for there is no other way — to be happy in Jesus — than to trust and obey.” Why, this little song? I think because songs are one way we can remember important things. We memorize things unintentionally or intentionally, but when we recall them from deep storage, there are times when we need some little trigger to pull the memory out. The trigger could be sight, a smell, or even a song. In my case, I tend to remember songs and Psalms this way. I also remember psalms and other bible verses that have been set to song, like Psalm 100 and James 4:10. The latter is from this song that comes back to me time and time again.

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord
And He shall lift you up (higher and higher)
And He shall lift you up

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord
And He shall lift you up (higher and higher)
And He shall lift you up
And He shall lift you up (up into heaven)
And He shall lift you up

Or Psalm 95, one of my favorites to sing acapella in the car:

Come, let us worship and bow down
And kneel before the Lord, our Maker
Come, let us worship and bow down
And kneel before the Lord, our Maker

He is our God, He is our God
We are the people of His pasture
He is our God, He is our God
We are the sheep of His hand

Come, let us worship and bow down
And kneel before the Lord, our Maker
Come, let us worship and bow down
And kneel before the Lord, our Maker

Worship the Lord in holiness
Let the whole earth stand in awe
He will come to judge the earth
In righteousness and truth

Or this refrain, which was originally published in 1840:

For “they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings,
they shall mount up with wings as eagles,
They shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint;
They shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint;
They shall run and not be weary,
shall walk and not faint.”

Lately, I have been confused and confounded by the clouds covering my path. I have found that I have been plunged into the darkness, and while I have tried to reach up and rescue myself from this dark place, I have been allowed to linger, to sit and to stir. I know that the Lord has allowed this to be for a reason. I blogged about it the other day, how I felt the Lord was allowing me to learn an important life lesson, and that lesson was that in laying down my life in order to follow Him in obedience, I also had to let go of my reliance on my own ability to “think” myself free. What I mean is that I have always known that the Lord endowed me with keen insight and a rational brain. I am a thinker by nature, and as such, I have this scholarly brain. I am not as keen as some scholars, oh never! But, I have the mind and the intellect of a scholar, and as such, I know that I am able to think problems through, create possible scenarios, and develop plans that often lead to success. It is a gift, for sure, and I use it every single day. However, sometimes I rely on my gift of insight more than I should. I sometimes look to myself more than to the Lord to figure things out, and while I know the Lord desires for me to actually use my brain for good (and I do), He also wants me to rely on Him for His wisdom, judgment and determination. Let me explain…

Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord

It all started two weeks ago. At the first part of February, I received my chapter four back from my professor. I knew that my chapter was not perfect. In fact, I hadn’t even run it through Grammarly.com before sending it off two weeks prior because I was rushed to finish, rushed to have something to send. I felt it was in need of more serious proofing and revision, but I had to send something to him to review, and I so I sent what I had completed (best as it could be). Mind you, it wasn’t terrible, per se; but it wasn’t my best effort. Still, I knew it was strong, and I was so relieved to have sent it for review. However, the copy I received back was filled with comments — loads of them — and when I sat down to read them, I immediately felt crestfallen. Furthermore, my professor missed our call and so when we did speak, it was rushed and a bit short (on time, I mean). So without much direction, I looked at the comments and I thought to myself, “I have to rewrite this entire chapter!” 

I spent most of the first part of the previous week mad at myself for being so busy. I berated myself daily, and I was upset that I had submitted something so awful for my professor to read. I really kicked myself hard, and I felt like I had ruined any hope of graduating. Yes, I believed the negative thoughts that told me I would never graduate and I would never be able to fix the paper in time. As a result of all the negative self-talk, I stewed over the required changes, and then I tried to push myself to fix my paper over the weekend. In fact, I pushed myself to fix my paper so hard, and I pressured myself to do it by Sunday, that I made myself ill. I literally made myself ill. My family was in town for a birthday, and instead of enjoying their visit, I locked myself off in my bedroom to work on my paper. In all, I let my failure — drive me to try and overcome the deficiencies in my paper. As I normally do, when push comes to shove, I make plans. I make these grand plans in order to take control of a failing situation. So, just like I normally do, I made this grand plan, this awesome goal to send the changes off on Monday so that I would be prepared for my conference call on Tuesday. The good news is that I actually added some 17 pages of clarification and amplification, addressing some of the issues and comments my professor had made for me. The bad news was that I didn’t like the work. I didn’t care for the changes, but I was bound and determined to do some work. In the end, I didn’t make my deadline. I had grading to do, and that family birthday, so when Sunday ended, I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to get chapter 4 finished in time. 

Consequently, Tuesday arrived with a thud. I still felt like such an utter failure, but I was looking forward to a call from my professor because he always encourages me, cheers me up. Instead, my professor sent chapter 5 with more revisions. I glanced at them, feeling already shaken, and frankly, what I saw was off-putting. I knew then and there that I was not in any good mindset to even tackle them. I cried most of that day, and I gave up all hope of graduating this year. Then to make matters worse, my professor kindly suggested I work on edits rather than speaking with him on the phone. I felt like he was saying to me, “Uh, Carol, you need to get busy and fix this work.” I was sunk, so horribly sunk. I felt like a whipped puppy, to use that phrase. I thought, “My work is horrible,” and I really believed I would never be able to finish on time.

So all week long I prayed over these changes, and I asked the Lord for His help, but it wasn’t forthcoming. The more I tried to work on my paper, the more I simply wandered around — like Moses in the desert. I simply went round, round, and round again. More so, I felt pressured at work, pressured at home, and frankly, I felt like I was waging a losing battle. 

When Friday came I still had my game plan in order. It was a second revision game plan, I should add. The first had failed, so naturally, I came up with a second plan. I would come home from work, do all my grading, so that Saturday and Sunday, I could knock out the changes. I would send my copy off to my professor on Monday, and well, I would be done. My beautiful plan. It was perfect. It would work so long as nothing intervened to stop it. But something wasn’t quite right, something just felt off. And, in between all the plans, the decisions, I still had this awful feeling like I was a major failure. No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t finish this work. I felt so afraid as if I was lost, hopelessly lost. On top of all of that, my entire week at work was so very difficult. I felt like I was on trial at work, constantly being scrutinized, and no matter what I did, how gracious I was or acted, nothing seemed to be going my way. Thus, when the week ended, I wanted to chuck it all — the job, the dissertation, the whole mess. Last, if this wasn’t enough…to compound matters, I had a set-to with my Dad yesterday. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I left home here at noon in an angry huff, and when I came home last night, things weren’t any better. The tension was sky high, and any thoughts of doing good productive work, well, they just flew out the window.

Intermission —

This morning, I woke up to those rainy skies, and after a trip to Dunk-in Donuts, I was praying about my day. I was asking the Lord how I would possible finish my work, what with all the hufflepuff here at home. I sat down at the computer, frustrated and worried about my day, when I heard those simply little words percolate back up into my mind. 

“Trust and obey.” 
“There is no other way” 
“To be happy in Jesus” 
“You must trust and obey.”
Life Application

Did I learn my lesson? I sure hope so. I think the lesson learned was one of humility and reliance upon the Lord. You see, as a very capable individual (VCI), I am the type of person that tends to take the bull by the horns and gets down to business. I will take the lead in the campaign, I will stand on the line and hold the defense, and I will take the full authority necessary to get the job done. I do it often, and most of the time, I am successful at it. This time, however, I came to the end of myself, so to speak, and like my wireless solar keyboard (that I love, BTW), I simply ran out of sunlight to keep myself powered up, charged up, and able to withstand the heat of the battle. In short, my end came, and I was routed, bested, and beaten. I didn’t trust in the Lord, and I didn’t rely on His insight and wisdom. I didn’t obey what He was saying to me, which was to rest — like to lay down my arms and rest. I didn’t let Him lead, guide, and provide for me, even though I loudly protested and said this was what I was going to do. Instead, a stewed, I wandered about, and I ended up run off my feet, rushed into hysterics, and completely lacking in all wisdom, judgement and ability. I lost my way. I let my enemy beat me at my own game. 

Thus, today, I sit here blogging, trying to wrest away a tension headache, and think to myself, 

“Lord, I have no strength to complete the tasks on my list. I simply have too much work to do and not enough time to do them all. I cannot complete this work at all. I have nothing left to give. I ask you to help me now, to show me the way out, and to give me the strength I need to do this work.”

I know this work is His will, and therefore, He will do it. I must lay down now and let Him do this work. It is for His name, His praise, and His honor. 

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