March 5, 2017

Blessed Sunday!

It is a lovely gray day here in Phoenix. I am not sure if we are scheduled for rain or not, but the cloudy skies were a nice change this morning. The temperature is cool, in the low 60s, but the forecasted high is still set to reach the mid-70s. It is a lovely day today.

I am at home, despite the fact that I have my car this morning (a rarity). I am staying home today for a number of reasons, but mostly simply to rest and to get a jump on my end of semester grading. I also need to work on my presentation for my defense, which is in one week! My plan is to get the presentation and handout created today so that this week, I can simply spend time going over my research, and preparing for potential questions. I fly to VA next Sunday and return the following Tuesday. It is a quick in-and-out trip, but praise be to God, I am going to pass! I feel it, I sense it, and I believe it!

Moving On and More Plans 

As I think about what is next — like after next week’s defense — a number of things come to mind. First off, after next Sunday, however, I am back to attending church. My son will no longer be working on Sunday mornings, so that means I will have my car back (hooray!) I have decided to try out the Saturday night service at Scottsdale Bible Church. It is my home church, but since my divorce, I have found it difficult to attend on Sundays. I am thinking that the Saturday service might work better for me. I received an email asking members to consider switching in order to open up room for visitors and out-of-towners who are here for the winter months. I think spring might be a good time to try a new service and see if I can be comfortable attending on Saturday evenings instead of the regular Sunday morning (like I have my entire life).

I guess you could say that lately I have been thinking a lot about church. I have missed so many Sundays, and in January, I simply gave myself permission to do church at home. My son needed my car to get to another church where he was working audio each Sunday, so rather than attend with my parents (which I did do some days), I simply decided to just stay at home. I think it was the wise choice because so many of those Sundays were truly set aside as rest days. I mean, I would need them to REST, from my work and my dissertation. I prayed over the decision, and finally I let it go. I stopped beating myself up (legally) over the “do not forsake the fellowship” command in Scripture. I decided that if the Lord was upset with me, I would know it. If I needed to walk to church, well then the Holy Spirit would prompt me to get up and walk. Instead, I had peace — lots of peace — and in the end, I never once felt like I was sinning by not going to church. Sure, I know I missed fellowship, and I missed worship (I love to sing). I missed the message as well, but I filled my time with study, with music, and reading of psalms, and while I cannot say that my poor attempt at “church” was anywhere near what I would have had with my own megachurch service, it served the purpose I needed it to serve. I finished my dissertation, and here I sit, relaxed and ready to defend. God be praised, I am ready to defend.

Second, I’ve thought about ways to get involved in church again, and how I might want to serve in ministry. I considered a number of options, but frankly, I know that my time during the week is very limited. I will be very busy with my work — all my jobs — and as such, I have to be wise in what I commit to doing. Right now, I am thinking now that if my schedule permits it, I will get back involved with Awana. It is the one ministry that I enjoyed consistently over the years, and I can do it on Wednesday evenings without sacrificing too much teaching time. Plus, I love to help little ones with their verses. I read online that my church needs volunteers in K-2, which is my preferred group to work with overall. I have over 10 years of Awana experience, specifically with this grade, so I think come fall, I will volunteer to help in the classroom again.

More so, while I would like to do bible study as a group with women, I don’t think I will have the time during the week. My schedule will be full with teaching, so Awana on Wednesdays, should work for me. It will give me a place to be each week, and I can make the commitment to Awana without being placed in leadership roles. I don’t need leadership anymore (been there, done that). Nope, I just want to help out, and working in this fun and enriching program will fit the bill. Thus, as I think about my life today and the plans I would like to make, and so forth, I am in awe of the way the Lord has orchestrated the details. I mean, here I am about to graduate with my PhD, and I am talking about serving K-2nd graders in Awana. Smile.

Third, while I have so many plans, ideas, and thoughts on what to do next, the Lord seems content to have me work and serve in small ways. I kind of like that approach. I teach for my work, and I serve little ones for my ministry. Yet, the Lord does have many wonderful things in store for me. For example, I have plans to write a number of journal articles, book chapters, and even books. All of this will be scholarly, and will be focused on my field of visual rhetoric. Moreover, I have conferences to attend — so many conferences — and I have plans for really embracing my field, studying, learning, and enjoy it.

Fourth, I want to travel some, locally and nationally.  I really want to go and see and do things that I have wanted to do for a very long time. Right now, I have two trips planned, both to VA. But, I may be taking my parents to Indiana toward the end of May, simply to facilitate my Dad’s desire to get his final arrangements set. I know it sounds morbid, but my Dad wants to go and buy their headstone for the cemetery. He wants to make arrangements for how their ashes will be buried in their plot. Plus, he wants to see his sisters. He says that this will be the last time he will see them on this side of heaven. He has been pretty adamant that he wants or needs to go, but since he cannot travel on his own, he needs help. I told him the other day that I would take him and my Mom, if that is what they want to do. He has said that he would appreciate it, so I am trusting the Lord for provision in order to fly to Indiana and stay the week to help my dad make these arrangements for their final resting place.

Finally, I have my home to think about, and as soon as the Lord provides one to me (my own, I mean), I want to devote time to decorating and creating my own style. I am ready to have my own life, and to enjoy my life. I’ve spent a lot of time planning how I would like to decorate. I’ve posted some snapshots to this blog, but lately, the Lord has really convinced me that an eclectic approach is best (rather than being conformed to one style or fad).  In truth, I love decorating, and I love the idea of certain styles (like Farmhouse or New Century Modern — both hot right now!)  My Pinterest board is full of both styles, but neither has really “sat” with me. So, I’ve been on the hunt for my own style — something I could live with for the next 40 years — and the idea of eclectic style has taken hold. I’ve spent months collecting pins that match this style, even thought, I wasn’t sure I could embrace it fully. I mean, typically eclectic style includes really bright colors like pink, green, orange, blue, and yellow, and well, I am a plain jane (beige) person. I am drawn to this style, despite my aversion to color. It is funny, but as I was praying about it, the Lord reminded me of how, when I was younger and in my early teens, I embraced —no, really loved — sort of the 70s’ bohemian style. I wasn’t all “hippie” or anything, but as an artist, I had an eye for color and design. I loved the natural look, wicker especially, and I longed to decorate in this style. The more I remembered how fond I was of color, especially pink and green, the more I embraced the “idea” of decorating this way. I am still not sure I can go with lime green, but the more I see pictures of the various colors mixed in with white, the more I am willing to try it out. I even said last night, “Lord, help me to not be afraid of bold colors. Help me to be the way you made me to be and to no longer hide amongst the beige and background of the world.”

So with all this in mind, I am starting to put together some plans for my future life. For now, I am content to remain in Phoenix, since this is where the Lord seems to be blessing me, encouraging me to put down roots. I am content to remain in this home with my parents, to see them through to the end of their life, and I am content to focus on the work the Lord has provided to me. I am no longer pushing to move, simply because He has taken that desire away from me. I think the Lord has helped me to see that moving is a good thing when it is for His work, but to move — just to move — well, that is more about running away, not facing your fears, or trying to avoid responsibility. I don’t want to move unless the Lord expressly calls me to move. I am choosing to embrace my life here and now, and well, the rest of my life — whatever that may be — is 100% in His hand. He is my ruler, master, and keeper, and I go or I stay based upon His word to me. Selah!

In Closing

Today is a good day. I heard the Lord say this to me during the night: “Carol, today is a really good day!” I said, “Yes, Lord!” as I rolled over and drifted back to sleep. I believe that today is a really great day, and that His plans for my life, for this good day, are really, really, really good. I am content to be where I am, to be at the end of this very long road, and to be ready to embrace the next 5, 10, 20 and 40 years of my life. I used to think that there was “nothing” after my PhD, and while the work will change, lessen to some extent, the plans the Lord has for my life are significant and good. Thus, the next season of my life is exciting, and I wait with eager anticipation for His provision, His revealing, and His marvelous permission to step out and to enjoy the plans He has for me! Selah!

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