March 1, 2017

It is all good…

It is a good day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. Yes, our rain has moved east, and the sun is back in the sky today. It looks beautiful outside, and I am thanking the Lord for the provision of springtime in the desert southwest.

I woke up this morning after passing a fairly restful night. I slept soundly, and I feel refreshed and ready to take on my day. I am sensing a decompression of sorts, sort of like when you let the air out of a balloon. I feel this “whooshing” sensation as all the stress in my life, the stress I have dealt with over the past four years is beginning to rush out. It feels so good to let the “air” out. I am looking forward to the next few months of rest and relaxation — downtime — and I am feeling more invigorated toward my future. I still don’t know what the Lord has in mind for me, but so far, I feel confident that 1) I will graduate (pass my defense on 3/13) and 2) that I will be offered more work — in some shape or fashion.

In all, I feel confident that I am right where He wants me to be, and in this way, I am ready to begin those next steps. I am ready for my future life as Dr. Carol Hepburn.

Praying in Boldness

It is a good day, and the good gifts the Lord is bringing to me seem to not end. I was watching Joyce Meyer this morning via Facebook, and she said that as Christians we must not be afraid to ask God for big things. Her message was that often we ask for tiny things when God wants to bless us for big, BOLD things. She was speaking in particular about her own ministry, and how through the Holy Spirit, she felt Him urge her to ask for a powerful ministry in which she would preach the gospel to all people. She said that she didn’t know how she would do that, and even when she did pray for it, she didn’t wasn’t sure that it was what God wanted. She just had this sense inside of her that she was to ask boldly for the provision to teach the Word around the world. Today, this is what she does. Her ministry has translated the Gospel into 85 languages and people receive the gospel in their own language through her efforts and others in joint ministry.

Bold prayers are the kind of stuff God delights in. In the Bible, we see many people who prayed BOLD prayers for deliverance, for rain, for food, for healing, etc. We see that God is not afraid of our requests, and so long as they align with His will, we are encouraged to ask for big things. Remember in God’s economy, there are no limits. Finances are not an issue, logistics are not a concern. God is able to create money from the dust of the ground, and He is able to move the mountains to make a path.

I have been given some big prayer requests over the course of my life too. Getting my PhD was one of those requests, and then becoming a professor was another. More so, I have asked for ministry opportunities, and I have been given the desire — no — the dream to do a specific thing for God and for His Church. I didn’t know how I would do these things, yet the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask for them. I didn’t know how I would go back to school (1) or pay for school (2), let alone graduate from school twice. Now, I have done both, and I am ready to take the next step of faith and begin to walk in my purpose. The Lord has faithfully trained and prepared me to do this work, and as such, He is ready to move me into a position whereby I will be able to do His work, to walk in His way, and to live out His plan for my life. It is an exciting time for me as the Lord readies me for my next adventure.  Of course, I still have much to do. I have to defend my dissertation and graduate from Regent University. Second, I have to be moved into a position of leadership whereby I will be able to develop the key skills that I need to do this important work. All the while, I need to focus on my daily practical work of teaching students how to write winning essays.

The plans God has for my life are unique to my calling, and as such, I have been a “work in progress” for many, many years. I have worked in so many different venues, in so many different positions. Some have been very lowly, menial, and at times, difficult. Some have had great perks and benefits. And, some have taxed me mentally, emotionally, and physically beyond what I thought I could stand. Yet, He has kept my little ship afloat, and He has provided for my needs with sufficiency and abundance.

Just this morning, as I was reviewing my finances, I realized that the Lord has blessed me recently with enough money to make a serious dent in my credit card debt. I had hoped to have my cards zeroed out, but instead, I have taken a slightly less aggressive attack and zeroed out some, but not all. I have reduced my debt to credit limit down to 30%, which is acceptable to most lenders (for loans). By the year’s end, I hope to be at less than 10% or even close to 0%.

Moreover, my income has skyrocketed recently — even without a full-time job. I have picked up enough work, and Lord willing, with consistency I should be able to earn my prayed-for-monthly amount with ease. This means that my income is now where the Lord said it would be, and like I said, this is without having one full-time job. I am content to work part-time (multiple jobs) to make ends meet, and if this is His will, then I know He has a reason for it.

God’s Plan is Good

Today, as I think about all that I have processed, witnessed, and experienced, I realize that the Lord has graciously provided a way for me that has made my life new, exciting, and activated. In truth, I think “activated” is the correct word to describe my life over the past 10-12 years. My life previous to this turn of events was going no where, and it was filled with such hardship, trial, and uncertainty. Furthermore, it was filled with strife, constant strife, and I felt like my days were difficult and unpleasant. In many ways, I was battling so many issues — depression, family conflict, marital infidelity, and financial crisis. It seemed like nothing I did helped. No matter how hard I worked, and I worked very hard during those years, made any difference. My life was in the pit, and while my faith in the Lord was strong, I was never able to figure out why things didn’t improve. That is, until the day when I truly gave my life — all of my life — to the Lord. It was at this point in time, back in 2006, when things began to change for me. I call it my “Come to Jesus” moment when I had to face the blackness of my life and admit my failure, my sin, and my unwillingness to obey the Lord. I got on my face before the Lord, and through tears of repentance, I laid my heart bare. I admitted my wrong doing, my pride and sinful behavior, and I accepted the fact that my situation, my life up to that point in time, had been the result of my own willful and stubborn refusal to follow after the Lord as He called me.

My life didn’t change overnight. And, it didn’t get better. In fact, it got worse. Over the four years in between that moment in time and the moment I declared that I would not continue to live in sin (as in a marriage made for three), my life, my mind, and my body suffered greatly. I was torn asunder, and as I was devoured, it seemed, by every evil wind, my faith in Jesus grew stronger. I became strong, stoic, and empowered toward living a right and holy life. I made a lot of mistakes during those four years, but when the end finally came, as in my marriage failing, I was ready to walk out with my head held high. I was ready to face the world and to follow after the Lord, trusting Him, believing in Him, and resting in Him, for all my spiritual and worldly needs.

I don’t make like of my marriage failing at all, I simply bear witness to the fact that my marriage was not the fairy-tale sort. It never was what Hollywood makes it out to be, and it never was the kind of marriage that most of my Christian friends and family members experienced. I never had a love relationship with my husband. I never had that “true” love feeling, that “you are the best thing that has happened to me” sense. I read my friends on Facebook, and I see their marriages. I know they are not perfect, but there is love there — in between all the hurt, the sorrow, and the pain — there is deep and abiding love. I didn’t have this — ever. Not at the beginning, not after 10, 20, or even 30 years. No. I had a relationship with a man who used me, abused me, and in the end, misused me — tossed me away. I had a difficult relationship. I had pain from the moment I entered into that relationship until the day the Lord said to me, “You are free now.”

I thank the Lord for the experience, however. I was given a precious gift, my beautiful baby boy, whom I love dearly. But, other than my child, I can say that I took no glory in our relationship. It was hardship from day one through to day 10,950. I look back on my life, and while there were times when we did things that were nice, even fun — the majority of the time — the days and weeks and months, were filled with unhappiness. My ex-husband made the decision to end the marriage because he was unhappy, and because he wanted to be with another woman. I made the decision so that I could wholly, completely, and without any hesitation follow the Lord. I gave my heart to the Lord as a young girl. I accepted His call as a 16-year old. I walked closely with Him until the day I met my ex-husband, and then my life turned in the wrong direction. I followed my ex-husband away from the Lord rather than closer to Him. Mind you — my ex came from a Christian family and was a church-going young man. He simply had eyes for other prizes, and the Lord wasn’t one of them. He walked a different walk from his talk, and in the end, the naive girl that I was bought his line. I sunk to the depths of depravity with this man, and when it was finally over, I cried out for the Lord’s deliverance, healing, and restoration. The Lord restored my life, not my ex-husbands. He restored my fortune, my welfare, my benefits — and not because I did anything — but because He was gracious toward me. He gave me a new life, with a future predicated on one thing only — serving Him, loving Him, and by extension, serving others and loving others.

Now, I am ready. I walk this thin line, and I look around me and see the goodness of the Lord. I see His graciousness, and I thank Him. I lay myself before Him as I worship and adore Him. He has done this all, not because I deserve anything from Him, but because it delights Him to rescue His children, and to restore them to their place in His family and in His kingdom.

Boldness and Not Fear

This morning, Joyce Meyer said to trust the Lord for bold things, for big things, and no matter how difficult they may be or appear, to keep on trusting the Lord to bring His word to pass in your life. Today, I am praying for boldness in my life — in every area of my life. I want to teach with boldness, preach with boldness, and to move people to a deeper level of faith. I want to be used in such a way that the Kingdom of God is expanded, and that people from all walks of life are able to understand the Gospel message with ease. I want to empower believers to be strong, to be confident, and to rest in God’s sufficiency so that they can come into a more powerful relationship with the Lord, and so that they experience His grace in every avenue, every venue, and every area of their life. This is my BOLD prayer today — to be used by a mighty God — and to do the mighty work He has purposed and planned for me to do.

My life is now in His hands, and with that said, I am to do the work He desires for me to do. At the outset, this means that I am to keep on teaching students to write essays well. I am also to engage in ministry and to work with children and families (my second love). More so, I am to move to a place where I can comfortably live, in modesty but with sufficient provision. I am to engage in scholarly activity, to write articles for journals, book chapters, and other works predicated on my degree (Communication and Rhetoric, specifically digital rhetoric). Furthermore, I am to actively engage with the church to help them understand how they are to use mediated communication to reach this postmodern generation. In this way, I am to create materials, studies, and the like that will help church leaders, communication directors, and others grasp that the message must be mediated for effect. We live in a mediated generation, and the message must be transmitted through channels that reach a postmodern mind. In this way, the church needs to move from its Philistine way of teaching and preaching and engaging to a modern way that can touch the mind and the heart of the 21st century viewer (rather than listener). The Lord knows what He is doing in this regard, and as His servant, I am simply a tool in His marvelous tool belt. He is able to do whatever He desires, but in boldness, I will surrender my life — all of it — and I will choose to follow Him alone. I will not follow anyone — no man, no woman, not even my own child — but I will follow the Lord. I will go where He sends me, and I will do this special work. I will listen, I will obey, and I will go. He is good to me, so very good to me, and His purpose and plan for my life are equally as good.
In Closing

My life now is an open book. I am ready to write the next chapter, but between now and March 13, I have to let the remaining paragraphs be written by Him. He has to bring my time at Regent to a close. He has to make my end as significant as my beginning, and in this way, He will draw me round and bring me to that place where He intends to lift me up. He has a plan, and it is good. I rest in Him, and in Him alone. He is my God, my King, my Shepherd — my everything. Today, I rest. I give Him my hands, my feet, my mind, and I work unto His name and for His praise and honor. He is good. He is so very good to me.

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