It is a beautiful Saturday in Phoenix. The skies are clear, the air is warm, and the wind has finally calmed down. My allergies have been out of control the past couple days, and yesterday, in particular, they were really, really bad. My eyes watered and burned all day while at school, and then last night, they were so uncomfortable, I even had to close my eyes and go to bed early. I woke up this morning after several weird dreams feeling a bit better, but still not as if I am in tip-top shape. Still, I am thankful to have passed a good night, and to be able to be at home today to rest and to play catch-up on all my grading. I have a fair amount of work to do today, but mostly, it is easy work. I am feeling so blessed right now. I am feeling so very blessed.
It is April 1, 2017 — April Fool’s Day — and I just made my reservations for my trip to Virginia next month. I am excited, well starting to be excited, about traveling back to VA Beach for my commencement ceremony from Regent University. The last time I walked in graduation was in 1993. I was 6 months pregnant and the ceremony was outdoors (like this one). I graduated with my best friend, Martha McAndrews. It was a great day, and I enjoyed the blessing of finishing my Bachelor’s degree despite the overwhelmingly hot temperatures (it was 95 in San Jose — unheard of in May!) My precious baby, DJ, was born the following September, and for all intents and purposes, I put aside all hopes, dreams, and yes, even thoughts, of graduate school. I believed that my academic career had ended, and that I would never go back to school again.
Now, I am able to say with such definite assurance that my academic career is truly over. I have graduated from two schools since that time — Mercy College in 2012 and Regent University in 2017 — and with my PhD in hand, I am ready to step out and embrace the future the Lord has planned, purposed, and prepared me to perform. I am ready now, so very ready. I cannot wait to see what doors He will open for me now that I am finished. I have looked to this day for the past seven years, and now that it is almost here, I really stand amazed. The Lord has done this for me. He has made it possible, and even now as I book my airfare, I think to myself that the Lord has blessed me with blessing beyond blessing. I cannot believe that I just spent $1200 — like that (with a snap) — to travel to VA. Not even 4-5 years ago, I would have been panicked to even think about putting double-air on my card. I mean, I just travelled to VA this past month, and here I am going again?
Over the course of the past years, from the time the Lord first pressed Himself and His will into my life, I have learned how to lean on and rely on Him for my every need. I was thinking about this yesterday, how it has been 14 years since my life took a turn for the worse. In that I mean, since the first issues within my marriage started to produce red flags. It was in 2006 when I first laid my heart, my mind, and my strength at the Lord’s feet. I surrendered fully, and I embraced what I call my turn toward a wholly devoted follower-ship of the Lord Jesus Christ. I had been a Christ follower for years, but in March of 2006, after a real wake-up call (the death of a friend), I realized that I was living a lie. I was saying I loved the Lord, but there was very little love in my heart. I confessed this to the Lord, begged for His forgiveness, and I asked Him to help me learn to love Him in a way that would please Him. My life was changed — transformed — in an instant. I became this person who found their first love after many, many years of looking elsewhere. My life turned around, I turned around, and I started to change. My outside (the whitewashed part) started to match the inside (the dirty part that wasn’t as clean as it should be). In time, I came into this deep, wonderful, and graceful love and relationship with my Lord. But, as I drew closer to the Lord, my husband walked farther and farther away. In time, he was living a life that was messed up. It was at this time that he suffered two medical crises, and with each one, our lives became more and more fractured. By 2009, our marriage of 25 years had fallen to pieces. My husband walked away after another woman, and I turned more toward the Lord. I made the decision then to be 100% committed, and I had to place my trust — all of it — on Him. He became my Husband, and He took over the role that should have been filled by my physical husband. He provided for me, gave me spiritual direction, and helped me figure out a plan, a way to go.
I have followed that plan to the tee, and here I am today, ready to graduate with my PhD. I have a new career, a career I love, and I have a hopeful, positive, and optimistic future ahead of me. I have a good, good life. I have hope again. For a very long time, and I mean LONG time, I lived without hope. I was in a bad marriage, and by that I simply mean, I was in a marriage that didn’t have much love in it. My ex-husband was driven by the pursuit of wealth. He was controlling, and made decisions that were not in the best interest of the family. I loved hand-to-mouth, often choosing to give up food in order to pay bills. We lived at the poverty line by choice, and didn’t have access to medical care or basic needs. Had it not been for our family and their willingness to supply needs like food, dental care, vision care, clothing, etc., we would have been destitute or even homeless. My parents and my ex-husband’s parents gave so much money over the 25 years we were married. I always felt so guilty, but my ex simply refused to work in any job that paid a salary. He wanted to be self-employed (he still is), and as such, he controlled the little money we did have. I suffered emotionally as a result. I lived in panic and dread, and fear of never having enough of anything caused intense stress. My son also lived this way, and even today, he still has lingering issues.
Now that is all behind me now. I have a good life. I have a good job. I have a future, and all of this change is the result of one thing: God’s grace in and through my life. He saved me spiritually many, many years ago. But, I was saved physically, mentally, and emotionally the day I had to face my most difficult decision — the day I chose to say no to “sin” and to stand by the Lord and His word — my life changed. It was upended, dumped out, and turned inside out. I lost everything including my self (my identity as a wife), but in the end, I gained a new lease on life. The Lord helped me to recover my sense of self. I was given a new identity, and as such, I had to learn how to live life as a single person. It wasn’t easy. I struggled mightily, but in the end, praise be to God, I became a strong, confident, and powerful individual. I am driven, directed, and determined to see His will come to pass in my life. I am dedicated to His cause, and as such, I have this sense of self that is based solely, securely, and soundly on the Lord and His will, His power, His name, and His abilities. I can LITERALLY do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
As I close out this blog post, I am confident in His plan. I rest in His plan for my life. I know that while some times I hope for this or that thing, the truth is that I only want His will to come to pass. I want nothing else, save Jesus Christ. I am completely, wholly, and significantly devoted to Him. With this in mind, as I look toward the end of the semester (in only 4-weeks), I know that this summer the Lord has amazing plans for my time off. Of course, I won’t be “technically” off. I just received a summer contract from Regent, and I am hoping for online classes through Grantham (I am finally almost through the verification process). I hope to have some online work to help me make it through the summer and to help pay off these air charges. I am thankful for all the work the Lord has provided, and praise His name, I know that this summer, I am going to receive a full-time teaching contract (9-months). I will finally be promoted — He has promised me — so I look forward with excitement and anticipation for that marvelous and wonderful provision. He is good to me, so very good to me!