June 9, 2017

When The Tide Turns

It is a good day in Phoenix. Yes, it is sunny. Yes, it is warm. In fact, today is supposed to be 107 — again! I mean, 107! Summer is here, and there is nothing we can do about it. Praise be to God, I am surviving the heat. It is, after all, a “dry heat!” LOL! Next Monday, I will be in a “wet heat,” once I land in Indiana. The entire week is forecasted to be in the mid-90s with a chance of thunderstorms. What does that mean? Well, can we all say, “hot and humid!” Ack! Oh well, it is what it is, and our trip has been planned for over a month now. The weather, despite our best efforts to predict it, is so very unpredictable.

In other news, I am feeling well. I am doing well on my diet program. I weighed in on Wednesday, and I was down a total of 5 lbs. I am wavering up and down a half pound or so since, but so far I have been able to keep to my game plan. I measured myself, and I think I have lost 1/2 inch off my waist (yay!) and a good 1.5 inches off my hips (super yay!) My thighs are the same, but heck, I have chunky thighs now and the only way to whip those bad boys into shape is through hard exercise (like running, stair climbing or squats — lots of squats). In all, I am really happy. My clothes fit me a bit looser, which is really what I had hoped for as I prepared for my trip. I simply want to feel the best I can go into the heat and humidity. I didn’t want to spend the entire week feeling squished into pants and tops that tugged at my breasts and bottom. I am really happy, quite pleased, with my progress thus far. I hope to continue to lose 2 pounds each week as I focus on eating healthy and watching my “numbers.” I have religiously journaled and the myfitnesspal app has been a great tool to show me how the food choices I make an impact my calorie, carb, protein, and fat count. It has been very helpful to know how I am doing throughout the day.

I also am excited to report that my degree has finally cleared the verification process. I called the registrar yesterday to check on the status, and I was told that my degree has cleared and it should post to Genisys later today. This means I can request another transcript from the National Clearinghouse later today or early tomorrow, and my paperwork for Grantham should go through without a hitch. I am praying it is so; I am praying it is so. I am not sure what Grantham pays per class, but at this point in time, I figure that if they still want to hire me, it must be the Lord’s will. I am trusting that whatever amount it is, it will simply add to my already growing “savings fund.” I am super excited to see that my secondary account (at a different bank) has really grown in size. This is an account I setup as a freebie gift for working at ASU. I didn’t think much of the offer, but the Lord pressed on me that it would be good to enroll for free checking and savings. I did, and I have had my paycheck from that school auto-deposited since. I checked this morning, and I have almost $10K in that account. I plan to put Grantham in there as well, and depending on how often they offer me, classes, I could build a nice little nest egg for myself. Thank you, Jesus!

My prayer today is to rest. I have to grade papers for ASU, and I need to do some more prep work for my classes that are set to start on 6/19 at Regent. I need to also think about my trip, packing, and the like. Plus, I need to go shopping to get my Dad some new slacks. My Mom is not able to do this anymore, though I will take her with me to pick things out. She always purchased my Dad’s clothes, but now, she cannot remember to do that or even know how to go about doing it. I told her we will go over to Kohl’s to look for slacks today. I will need to help them pack for their trip too, and of course, I need to get my son some things since he is staying here to care for the cats. In all, today is low-key but rather busy.

God is good to me. He is so very good to me.

I have been so panicked over my degree posting, and I even got antsy the other night and ordered a transcript just to “check” if my degree was stated on it. It turned out that the transcript, while complete, didn’t have the words “Degree” or date posted, so I basically wasted $7. Had I simply been more patient, I would have waited until I received the email from the registrar (hopefully today), and then the copy I received would have been the official one. Silly me!

The plans the Lord has for my life are sure. I mean, they are rock solid sure. Like the kind of rock you can stand on, you know. I don’t need to panic, worry, or fear the future because I know that He has me well-covered. I am good. My bread bowl and basket are full to overflowing, and I have NO LACK. My hand produces good results. I am favored. I am blessed.

Why then can I not rest? Why then do I strive to know, to know, to know?

Sigh! My flesh fails me. I am flawed. I am simply imperfect, and I desire perfection because I know the difference. I am not perfect, but He is. I am not infallible, but He is always, always right. I mess up, but He holds me so tightly, and He never lets my feet slip off the mighty rock of His presence. I stand assured, strong, and sturdy, not because I am strong, but because He is my strong tower, my rock, my refuge, and my strength.  My portion and my cup overflow because He is gracious to me. He is merciful. He forgives my foolishness, my arrogance, and my simple ignorance. He is good to me, so very good to me. I don’t deserve Him. I don’t deserve His care. I don’t deserve this life. I deserve nothing but His wrath. Thank you, Jesus, for sparing my life. Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of grace. Thank you, Jesus, for sending your Spirit so that I can live a gracious, true, bold, and victorious life through your Name and for your Praise!
Plans for the Future “Me!”

As I rest now from my worries about Grantham, I take stock of where I am today and where I feel the Lord is leading me tomorrow. I have plenty of good part-time work. In fact, I will have three online schools feeding me contracts, and one campus school where I can continue work at during the semester. My other two schools, ACU and OCU, are no longer in play. Neither needed me, so I simply thanked them and exited out. I would like to exit out at GCU as well so that I could work full-time (in a mixed capacity now or with one job down the road) from home. I feel confident that the Lord intends for me to work from home so I can be here to help my parents. They are able to take care of themselves for the most part, but daily I am seeing how my presence in the house is necessary. I am here for them — should they need me. I am here to make sure they eat meals. I am here to assist with tasks that are too difficult, hard, or heavy for them to do. I am here really to bring them comfort so that they don’t have to shoulder the burden of aging alone. It is true, really. My role is to be a source of comfort to my parents. I don’t “care” for them, per se. I am not their caregiver, but I bring them comfort in the fact that they know I am here. I am not temporarily parked, just visiting or passing by, but I am here. I am living with them to provide them with help and assistance as they need it.

It is interesting to know that the Lord said to me many years ago that my role in my parent’s life would be to bring them comfort. In fact, He often tells me that I am to “comfort” someone, to be a source of “comfort” to them. I sometimes confuse comfort with care, so today, I took the time to look up the word “comfort” to see what it really means. Dictionary.com says that the word, “comfort,” means “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” It also means, “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” Conversely, the word, “care” means “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.” I think we sometimes confuse the two words because they are used in connection with the well-being of people we love. However, as you can see, the words have a different meaning. When I care for someone, I take the role of provider. I provide means to make sure that a person is covered. This is the primary role that the Lord takes over my life. He is the One who provides for me. He covers me by caring for my health, my welfare, my daily maintenance (sustenance) as well as my physical protection. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, takes a different role in that He is the One who eases our pain, who helps us with our emotions, especially grief, and who gives us strength during times of distress.

In this way, my role in my family now is both, but only in part. I care for my son, despite the fact that he is a grown young man. He still needs me to help him with some health, welfare and daily maintenance while he finishes up college. I cover him, especially in the gaps, so that he can continue to study hard and to graduate from college. Soon, though, he will be on his own, and in that way, I will no longer “care” for these practical needs. My role will transition to that of the comforter for my son whereby I help him on-going, supporting and encouraging him, and when needed, stepping in to ease his pain or discomfort as I can. Comforting another person is what I believe the Bible means when it says we are to “bear one another’s burdens.” We are to comfort one another, but not necessarily be the “caregiver” for that person. This is especially true in families, where our time as a caregiver (parents) ceases at the point of maturity. But, when we are tasked with helping older relatives, often the caring and the comforting merge together. We often have to take on the extra duties of caregiver simply because our older relative has no means for their own support.

My parents, my Dad in specific, is the caregiver for my Mom. He has always held this role, and he holds it still today. But, it is getting harder and harder for him to do this with her needs and memory issues. Thus, my role is as a comforter to my parents. I come along side of them, as does the Holy Spirit with us, and I provide comfort as I am able to do so. I help ease their burden, but I don’t take on their burden. I simply provide extra help to make their distress easier to bear. God is my parent's provider, and still today, He is the One who sees to their immediate physical needs. Likewise, my son is also under God’s care and provision. My son is learning to trust the Lord, and soon he will come to understand the role God has in our daily lives (if we allow Him to do so). My prayer is for my son to come to know the Lord as Provider and Protector so that he can lean on and rely on Him for all his needs going forward.

I have come to see the Lord as my Provider and Protector, and in this way, I have come to rely on Him for my physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs. He covers me in all areas of life, and the blessed Holy Spirit, as Comforter, eases my stress. He helps me to know and to understand how to live in this life — during the hard times and the easy times — He gives me the grace I need to live when I am hard pressed or when the circumstances of life are difficult or distressing. He helps me overcome, and He gives me the comfort I need to hold on tightly, to hang in there, and to keep on hoping (resting in faith) in God. Yes, God is my caregiver and my comforter, and in this way, I am well-covered (as I like to say), so very well covered.
Learning to Rest in His Care

The past 10 or so years have been lessons in learning to rest in His care for me. I have had to learn what it means to rest in the Lord. I have had to learn to rely on and trust the Lord for my physical needs. He covers me with His provision and His protection, and in this way, I feel His secure arms around me. He is my shield, my strength, and my strong tower. More so, as I have come to learn what it means to rest in His care, I have also experienced the blessedness of His presence. I have experienced the comfort of God during really difficult times, really stressful times. Now, I am in this good place, a place of both provision and protection, and I live in relative ease. I am in this good, good place. Yet, I know that along the pathway, there will be times of more stress, more distress, I should say. My parents are aging, and in time, they will pass away. This will be a difficult time for me. I will deeply grieve the loss of my parents. Likewise, in time, my son will move away. He is already talking about studying overseas, so there is a chance that he will move away come next year. This means that eventually, I will be alone. I will live alone. My family, my close family, will be gone, and I will need to be able to handle living on my own.

I have struggled with living on my own for a long time. In fact, as a child, I was terrified of sleeping alone. I was so terrified that I didn’t sleep at night, and as a result, I suffered from sleep deprivation as a child and teenager. This sleep deprivation led to Post-Traumatic Stress, a disorder I have learned to live with for many, many, many years. Still, the thought of being all alone has terrified me, and as a result, I have made choices that have not always been in my favor. 

Now, though, the Lord is telling me to prepare. I must be prepared for the day when I will be alone. My son will go away to college (perhaps overseas), and I will be in my home day in and day out without any companionship. Of course, I have my cats, my little fur-children, but I will not have human companionship to keep me company. My parents often remark that they are worried about me. I think they are worried that once they pass away, I will become a hermit. I will live in my little room, always on the computer, and that I will never have any “life” outside the home. I understand their concern, but I also know that the Lord doesn’t intend for me to remain alone. He doesn’t intend for me to be alone. I may live alone, but He will never leave me or lead me into isolation. This is not His will. The Word says that it is not good for man or woman to be alone, and while this verse is used in the context of marriage, the truth is that human beings were created for fellowship and companionship. We are not meant to be alone, and thus, God desires that I have friends who will comfort me during times of loss, times of distress, and simply times of loneliness.

So what does this mean for me today?

Really, I think what all this means is that my life is set and fixed on a path the Lord has chosen for me. I am to walk on this path alone, as in single, but I will have friends, “Companions” who will bring me comfort over the course of my days, weeks, months and years. Likewise, I will serve as a companion to other people, and I will help to ease their stress over the course of their life. My path, my role, my service to others is simply to be a comforter — much like the Holy Spirit is to us — in order to help my fellow travelers survive the difficult journey through this life and into the next.
Moving On and Staying Put

I blogged yesterday that I feel the Lord has given me the green light to stay put in Phoenix. In fact, I would say that today I am even more confirmed that I am to remain right where I am at in Phoenix. I have thought a lot about this, and I have wondered how I will make a good life for myself here in this desert place. My heart, my desires, really, long to move someplace more green, more sustainable, more pleasant, but the Lord seems to be telling me to cast aside those desires and focus on putting down roots right here in the Valley of the Sun.

Of course, I am content to do so, but I still don’t quite see how I can make a good enough living to do so. It is expensive to live here. I did a quick search on Zillow last night and the average priced house near me is between $300-400k. This is a house that may need work. It is expensive to live here. The cost of cooling in the summers is very high, and should you be blessed with a pool, the cost of pool maintenance adds another $200-300 dollars per month to an already pricey AC bill. Furthermore, most of the homes in my area have HOA fees, so when you add everything together, the cost to purchase a moderate home and then pay a mortgage requires a significant income.

I do believe that I will make good money as a professor. I just wonder how I will ever come up with a down payment on a house that costs nearly $400k to purchase. More so, how will I renovate, fix it up, and then furnish it — let alone — keep it cool in the summer without a really, really good paying job?

I believe the Lord has a plan for my life, and that plan has all these logistical details figured out. I know that every single time I look to move outside of Phoenix, I find myself confused, confounded, and generally depressed. However, whenever I look here, in my own hometown, I am able to see things more clearly. Thus, while I would love to live someplace else, I really see the Lord telling me that I must rest in faith — trust Him — to provide for me. Despite the costs, I must rest in the Lord. He is my Provider. He is my Protection, and as such, He is the One who cares for me.

I have made the decision to stay put in Phoenix. For now, this is what I believe the Lord is telling me to do. Of course, in time, I could be asked to move someplace else — for work — as an example. But, I really see my options and opportunities now settled on teaching online, and with teaching online, I generally can live anywhere the Lord chooses for me to live. Some schools require that you live within driving distance to the campus so you can attend meetings and participate in school activities. Other schools do not have that requirement. Still, I am open to going should the Lord say it is His will and plan. For now, however, I really see my life settled in Phoenix — at least — through the end of my parents’ lives and then for a time afterward.

My hearts’ desire is to do what the Lord asks of me, and when His desire conflicts with my desire, I must let my desire go. I must trust Him that my desire, while good, pure, noble, etc., simply is supplanted by His better desire for me. I rest in my desires, and I boldly take on His desires because I know they are good — better — and even designed for my best. He is good to me, so very good to me!

In closing, my heart is fixed now on remaining in Phoenix. I have let go of all other ideas and options, and I am embracing this desert place as my permanent home. No matter what I want, His will trumps it. No matter my heart, His plan is for my good. Thus, I let go of all the other dreams and desires, and I embrace what is right in front of me. There is a blessing in this place. There is prosperity in this place, and with blessing and prosperity, there is hope for a practical and providential future. Yes, there is hope for a good, good, good future right in my very own hometown.

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