June 20, 2017

Toasty Tuesday

The weather man said today that we are expecting highs around 120. Yes, you read that right — 120 stinking degrees! Yesterday, my back porch read 118, though the official number at Sky Harbor was only 116. Can it get any hotter than this? Sure, can. In 1990, our high hit 122, so we are on track to reach that mile marker today or tomorrow. I am feeling the heat for sure, but thankfully, it is a “dry heat,” LOL! Yes, there is such a thing as a “dry heat.” Yesterday evening, I took my Mom to Boston Market for dinner, and well, it was a dry heat at 118! It felt like we were walking in an oven. Needless to say, the day was spent indoors, just as today will be, with the exception of a quick dash to the store later this morning. We are all in “summer mode,” and summer mode means hunkering down and waiting until the heat subsides (which should be next week — only 109 — ha ha!)

Living in Phoenix during the summer is a challenge, but it is no different then living in Chicago in the winter. I mean, in the winter, one stays indoors unless they “must” venture outside — to work, to shop, to church — and so on. The same is true here. We stay inside unless we absolutely must travel. I’ve gotten used to the heat, really I have. I can remember when we first moved here (in November), and I was so appreciative of the warm (mild) temperatures. In San Jose, I was bundled up most days in sweaters and coats. In Phoenix, I walked around in short sleeves. Of course, once summer came, I thought I would die — literally. Thankfully, our first home here was a condo, and we had access to a number of pools. Our second home didn’t have a pool, but there was a pool/park close by so we went to the pool most afternoons. After my parents moved here, we had a pool to use every single day, and for the almost 13 years they lived in that house, summers were pleasant and enjoyable. Now, though, we live in a house without a pool, and for the past 4 years, I have simply learned to live inside, indoors, during the hottest part of the year. Perhaps my next home, should it be here in Phoenix, will have a pool? Hmmm…

In all, I am thankful for the strong AC. We are comfortable inside today. The cats are cool, my office is actually chilly, and really, I am doing well. I am doing very well.

Thinking and Planning

So it is Tuesday, and that means I am thinking — always thinking — about my next steps, and about the plans the Lord has for my life. I spent most of yesterday trying to rest, trying to stop thinking about the job the Lord has for me, the life He intends for me to live, and so forth. In the end, I just gave myself a good headache. I tried to rest, really I did; but all I ended up doing was feeling more confused about the whole matter. I guess you could say that I am trying to figure out something the Lord isn’t ready for me to figure out, LOL! In truth, I think it is more that I was trying to make something be that wasn’t meant to be. I mean, I know what the Lord has told me. I know what He has said would be, and yet, I still try to push my thoughts, my ideas, my wants on Him — as if — my agenda is more important. Let me explain…

This past week, I had the pleasure of spending five days in blissful rest in the Midwest. It was so wonderful to be out of the heat and back in the country. I loved the whole vacation, and part of me wanted to move there, PDQ! Yes, I actually looked at houses in the area, thinking that perhaps the Lord might want to move me to be closer to my Dad’s family. In the end, I realized that moving to Indiana wasn’t going to be part of the Lord’s plan for me — for a number of reasons — so I settled on thinking back to how I would really like to live in the Midwest, and well, that took me to other places and other thoughts about moving north again.

I spent several days this weekend thinking how it might all work. I mean, I hope to teach online full-time so living in the middle of nowhere is doable — so long as there is Internet — I mean. No matter how I tried to imagine it, thinking about living away from Phoenix just didn’t sit with me. I feel this call, this pull toward moving, and just the other day, I blogged about how I believed (yet again) the Lord intended to move me — to move me physically to a new place. But, thinking about moving doesn’t bring me peace. It just brings me confusion.

This morning, I was praying, and I said to the Lord that I was really feeling “off” and that I wondered if I was thinking about this moving thing in the wrong way. What triggered my thoughts wasn’t just my feeling off, but rather it was something I read or remembered about how as Christians, we are to focus more on God and less on ourselves. I started to think about how my desires, wishes, dreams, and wants are mostly about me, you know. I want a farmhouse with land. I want to decorate a home in “farmhouse style,” etc. In all my wanting, I was focusing on what suited me best rather than on what worked for the Lord’s plans. You see, I believe the Lord is calling me to hospitality, to community, and in this way, my home needs to be large enough and conducive to hosting people — family, friends, visitors — anyone who may need a place to belong. I am not to be all about “me” and while I don’t think the Lord is saying I cannot decorate in farmhouse style, what He is telling me is that sometimes what I want, while good and pleasant, isn’t the best fit for His plan. It is a good thing, mind you, but not the best fit for what He wants to do through me.

I came to terms with this idea that my home is an extension of my identity this morning. My identity is formed in Christ Jesus, and as such, my identity is not about my home. My home simply supports or reflects my identity. Thus, if my identity is about Christ and doing His work, then I cannot be all about me and my wants. I need to be open to receiving any home, any look or style that meets the Lord’s needs for hospitality and community.

I learned that in letting go of my wants, dreams, and desires, I am embracing what the Lord needs me to do and the way in which He wants me to do it. Thus, if the Lord moves me — wherever He moves me — I realize that I have to accept less or more based on His judgment and not my own wants. This is especially true because I long for things that are tied to my childhood memories, but those things, while sweet and warm and quaint, do not always facilitate His will. For example, my heart longs for a country home, but the Internet is not always reliable or available in rural areas. Satellite internet will not cut it. I am required to have high speed internet for work. I need to video and stream live content, thus, I have to have really fast speeds, like 100 MPS or more. I currently have over 300 MPS here in Phoenix, and the thought of using a much slower speed, well it scares me to death. I mean, the best Satellite internet gives you is 1-5 MPS. Lets just go back to dial-up, okay?

So, while I want to live rurally and on a farm, I cannot live this way and do my work. I need to live in a place where I can have good access, but also, the Lord intends for me to be active in a large church rather than a small rural one. This means that I need to be in a city that is large enough for me to do His work. It is not that He cannot use me wherever He plants me, it is just that I know with my mandate and calling, I am to do communications ministry, and that means I need to be in a church of a size that would need that support.

In all of this, I guess what I learned is that the plans the Lord has for my life are specific. I cannot just take my life and stick it where I want it to be. I have to wait for His provision, His lead, and even if the provision seems impossible given the situation here in Phoenix (cost of living, for example), I have to trust the Lord. He will provide. I don’t have to rush this process. I have to let go of it.

 In Closing

As I processed this new thinking today, I started to feel at peace again. I started to feel better — like at rest — and I think what I realized is that my feelings of rest are not necessarily about staying in Phoenix or moving to the Midwest. My feelings of peace are about me choosing to put God first — in all things — and letting go of the desires I hold in order to embrace the change He has in store for me. It is a voluntary thing. I am being asked to let go of my dreams, my hopes, my wants, so that I can be ready to receive what the Lord wants to give to me. He may give me a farmhouse. He may give me a town house. He may keep me here in Phoenix or He may move me to a more rural or smaller city area. The place, the move, the house — all these things — are not important. What matters is that my heart and my internal motivation are aligned to His will. I will go where He sends me (place). I will live where He tells me to live (house). I will do the work He has designed me to do (ministry). It is about my attitude, my heart, and my willingness to sacrifice my wants for His desires.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him also and He will do it.
~Psalm 37:4-5

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