April 20, 2017

Thankful Thursday

It is a great day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, and my head has finally stopped aching. Yes, I have had a recurring migraine the past three days, but today, my head no longer hurts. I am thankful for this fact, praise God, and I am so grateful that I am home from school, and that I can enjoy this blessed day.

I wish I could say that I slept well last night, but I didn't. My cat, Ike, woke me up around 3:30. He wanted into the hall closet, so naturally, he started to pound. With every single pound, he became more intense, and well, after a couple minutes, I had to get up. As soon as I got up, of course, he stopped. Sigh! I tried to go back to sleep, but instead, I tossed and turned for a good hour. Thankfully, I did drift off to sleep close to five, and then I was able to sleep for a couple more hours. I feel pretty well rested despite the interruption, and well, God be praised, I am feeling good now.

I cannot believe that I have three more teaching sessions before the semester ends. Partly this was the reason why I couldn't fall back to sleep. My mind was racing over some issues from earlier in the day, and I simply couldn't let it rest. I prayed, read the Word, and eventually confronted the cause -- my enemy -- who was taunting me. In short order, the taunts and conviction ceased, and I fell back to sleep. God is good to me, so very good to me, and even with the on-going oppression, I was able to recover my peace quickly. Thus, today, I feel really well rested, really well rested.

On Tap for Today

So as luck would have it, I am about to rent a car for my son to drive to Las Vegas. He was given an opportunity to see Hans Zimmer in concert, and since I cannot let him take my car due to my travel needs tomorrow, we decided to rent a car. He has some special codes for ASCAP and I have my FastBreak account. In between both of us, I was able to rent him a Ford Focus for under $40. Of course, he will have the cost of gas, but truthfully, for the cost of the rental car, the safety of knowing it is brand new, I am relieved. He is a good driver with a clean record, so I am not concerned about his failure to head the law. He is taking a friend along, and I am sure they both (both are music students) will have a great time. Hans Zimmer is one of my son's favorite composers. I know this will be a great "compositional" experience for him.

My parents are out at Bible Study, and I am home alone. It is so nice to be home alone. I know that sounds weird, but really, I love the quiet of being in the house alone. There is no TV noise, no Ham Radio noise, no washer running, vacuum sound -- nothing, nada, no sounds at all. It is bliss for me, pure bliss. I am blessed to be in this home, and yes, I am thankful this day for the opportunity to share it with my parents. I am looking forward to the day when I will have my own place, of course, but until the Lord provides, I am content. I am good. I am joyful and happy to be here this good, good day.

I have a mountain of grading to grind through today, but praise God, I know I will get it done. I am so ready to be on break -- summer break -- and I am so ready to be packing for my trip to Regent. I have been checking the registrar in my.regent.edu daily -- just to see if my degree has posted. I had received an email that said that once you are "cleared for graduation," your degree will post in Genisys. I haven't seen it yet,  but I was cleared last week. I am hoping it will be today!

In other good news, I pulled my latest credit report, and I was so pleased to see that my credit score is now over 715. This has been such a long, long, long process. When I first started living on my own back in 2010, my credit score was at 620. In fact, it dropped into the high 500s, for some unknown reason, early on, but since then it has been in a steady incline. My initial low score was in part to having no credit of my own, but also it was due to my ex-husband's abuse of my credit over many years. I was the only one who had credit, and he was not consistent with paying credit cards. We were in debt most of our married life, and we had defaulted on loans and cards several times. It wasn't a pretty sight, and once I walked free, I asked the Lord to help me learn how to manage my money, credit, and to always be responsible for my debt. He has been so faithful. He has helped me rebuild my credit from $0 to well over $25K, and what is more, He has shown me how to manage my credit and my finances so that I am always in control of my money.

I do have debt, mostly school loans, but I well on my way to zero-ing out my credit card balances. I have already paid close to $8K this year, and I have a plan to pay the balance of my cards off this fall. In all, my credit-to-debt ratio is now at less than 40%, and I am working hard to bring that down to less than 10%. More so, my credit to income ratio is very good right now. I have credit power, though I do not intend to exercise it. I am saving for a car for my son, and I would like to trade my car in on a newer model. I also want to qualify for a home loan as soon as I have a full-time job. In all, the Lord has managed my finances, given me grace, and helped me learn how to be a wise steward of His gifts.
Some Ideas and Other Thoughts

It is a good day, therefore, to celebrate. I am pleased that I can rent my son a safe car to drive to Las Vegas (and for a low fee), and that my credit is now in the range I set for myself back in 2010. I feel so ready to step out into this new life, and to embrace the change the Lord has in mind for me. I cannot tell you how great it feels to finally see my future on the horizon. You see, I have been working so diligently to see certain things come to pass, and in that way, I have been consistent in my approach. I have worked on two graduate degrees, and now I have completed this work and done so with excellence.

More so, I have worked in a number of jobs over the past 7 years, but now I am firmly established as a teacher in higher education. I love my job, my students, and I look forward to tomorrow (all my tomorrows).

Furthermore, I have a plan of action, so to speak, and that plan includes being hired full-time at a university, settling into full-time teaching, engaging in research. This plan also includes establishing a path to retirement, saving a lot of money over the next 15 years, so that I can live comfortably through my golden years.

In addition, this plan factors in my needs for a comfortable home where I can live and work (since I will be working from home). It also includes a new vehicle for me (one that I will keep longterm), and a good used car for my son (so he can finish school and then develop his own plan of action).

In all, my plan is one of prosperity, solidarity, and establishment. I believe the Lord has blessed and has given me favor to pursue these things. I am not grasping at straws, trying to make money come from nothing; rather, I am working hard (very hard) to save, to plan, and to be diligent and faithful in every thing I do. I don't have plans to purchase things I don't need, to travel where I have no reason to go or to indulge in passions or things that do not honor the Lord. No, may it never be. I will go and do whatever He asks me to do, and I will trust that He will provide -- meet all my needs  with His sufficiency. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

My specific plan of action is as follows:

  • Graduate from Regent University on May 6, 2017
  • Be promoted to full-time faculty in June, 2017
  • Purchase a second car for my son in June, 2017
  • Trade-in my car for a new car in August, 2017
  • Begin to look for a house and apply for a loan in late September or early October, 2017
I am not sure of the timeline above, but this is the plan I have had in mind now for several months. The Lord knows my needs, and while some of this might sound wishful, the truth is that I believe every item is a "must" according to the Lord. And, while I am happy to be here with my parents, I have always felt that in 2017, I would step out on my own and begin to pursue the Lord's interests full-time. This would coincide with a move for me, a new home, and though I thought that new home might be located in another state, I am now of the mindset that the Lord simply meant that I would "move" house -- to a new home -- not necessarily to a new state, if that makes sense. The only reason I say this now is that I have been fixated on moving to another state, yet the Lord has not opened any doors for me to do so. It was more like I was permitted to consider it as an option, but when it really came down to it, my life as it is now, is the life He has chosen for me to keep. I am to be established right where I am at present. Should the Lord lead me elsewhere, I will go. I will follow Him, but for now, it seems like the only place I have found blessing and favor is the place where I reside today.

My heart is settled now. I realize that in my effort to interpret the Lord's will, I may have read things in that were not correct. This is not to say that I read in what I wanted; rather, it simply says that I guessed at what I thought the Lord was saying, and my guess was a little off the mark. I interpreted words as I believed they were defined, when in fact, the Lord had much broader or narrower definitions. It is an easy error to make since the Lord knows His mind, and His word tells us that we do not. We can infer and do our best to interpret, but sometimes we simply goof. Praise be to God, in all my interpretation, I never took a step until I felt He gave me permission to do so. In this way, I was prevented from making mistakes. I may have made mental errors, but at least I didn't make any physical ones. I think erred in my thinking, and in that way, I may have been confused or even confounded for a time, but I never did anything to disrupt my current way of life or anything that could have hurt my family. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace while I tried to come to terms with my life, my future, and the plans you had for both of these things.

My life is in His hands, and with this statement, I let go my need to plan and to figure out His will. I will continue to seek His advice and counsel, but from this point on, I know the path I am on, and He has said I am to rest in it. This means that there will be no change for me from this point forward. I am settled. I am established. I have been planted in Phoenix, and the Lord has chosen to water me deeply. He intends for me to stay put, to grow strong, and to develop my ministry here in this desert place. He has determined that I will not move away at this point in time, and while my heart is sad in some respects, I think I am also relieved. I was so impatient, so anxious about moving away from here, and for a long time, I considered it, but I felt so uneasy about it. I had no peace about it. I assumed it was because of my life, my studies, and all the things that were still up in the air. Now, though, I realize that I was focused on something that was not meant to be. I considered it, studied it, posited it -- but in the end -- I came down to the realization that where I am today is the place He has decided to keep me.

I guess you could say that I made the decision to stop looking for a future some place else, and I embraced the future that is right in front of me. Sure, I don't have everything I need right now. And, I don't see any full-time jobs here yet. But, I have this sense of peace that I am where I am supposed to be, and while that doesn't mean that the Lord "could" move me, I just don't see it happening in my life. My life is here in Phoenix. My parents are here, my son is here, and my life is here. I can imagine living elsewhere, and I have tried really, really hard to envision it, but I can never feel calm or peaceful about it. It is only here where I have peace. I can look at homes in the Phoenix area, and the more I do, the more peace I have inside of me. It is like I know this is His plan, His will, and for the next season of my life, I am to embrace it, take hold of it, and trust the Lord to provide for it.
In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I am encouraged in the thought that the plan the Lord has for my life is rich, full, and vividly exciting. I believe that the next 3 months will be telling. I am so looking forward to my graduation from Regent. I believe that it will be while I am at Regent that I receive the testimony I need for ministry. Yes, I believe that I will KNOW the plans the Lord has for me during my commissioning ceremony. You see, I have always known that it was vitally important that I attend graduation, and that I graduate in 2017. Even when I was thrashing around, thinking I would not graduate, the Lord consistently revealed to me that, yes, I would graduate. He has had this day in mind, and He has made it possible for me to experience it. My ministry, my mandate, and my calling are summed up in the studies and work I completed at Regent. Thus, I must go to graduation, walk through these days, and in the end, I will be rewarded with His confirmation of the plans He has for my life. Selah!

What is more is the fact that once I graduate, I walk free as a PhD, and that means that I will be ready to be promoted to a full-time faculty position. In fact, I will be available, so to speak, and I believe it will be at this time that I will find out about the position He wants me to have. Until then, I have to wait. I have to finish my classes on campus, close my classes online, and do all the due-diligence work required at the end of the semester. The summer holds a new life, a new way, a new future -- bright and shiny -- and it will be revealed to me. I will know His plan, I will see the path clearly, and I will walk on after my Lord and my Savior, Jesus the King!

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