July 19, 2017

Waiting For Word

It is a good Wednesday in sunny and warm, Phoenix. We had another go-round of storms last night, which has caused our morning temps to be mild but sticky humid. Sigh! I guess you cannot have one without the other, right? I am enjoying my morning cup of coffee. It is just about 10 a.m., and I am sitting at my desk, sipping my coffee, and thanking the Lord for this blessed day. I feel good, despite the morning headache, and I am in this very good place, spiritually and mentally. I have a sense of purpose, value, and I feel confident that within the next week or so, I will have a much better vision of what to expect come fall.

In fact, I feel confident that whatever happens, whatever comes my way, the good of God’s plan will come to pass. I am resting in the final version of that plan, in the version that has yet to be revealed because I know that God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t shortchange us on His vision, and He doesn’t acquiesce to our demands. No, He takes His time, He completes His plan, and He does everything with one goal in mind, and that is to bring us to maturity in Christ Jesus. He has one objective — heaven — and the pursuit of shaping us, recreating us — reconciling us (as Pastor Cooper shared on Sunday) so we are fit to spend our eternity with Him as eternity was originally meant to be (perfect, good).

Thus, wanting His plan to come to pass sooner than He has designed it to do so suggests that we know best. I may desire a quicker response, a “right now” provision, but God knows that the wait will be worth it. In truth, as I have experienced this before, I know that the wait is always worth it. For example, I remember when I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to teach for a really long time, but through my own error in judgment and my misinterpretation of God’s will for my life, I ended up going in the wrong direction. I ended up very far from God’s design and plan. Later, when my life had sort of upended itself, I was in this new place where I could actually choose a career. I chose teaching because I thought it was what God originally planned for me to do. I wanted a career as a teacher, I longed for a career as a teacher, but I wasn’t able to just step into that role. In fact, the more I tried to do it, the more the doors slammed shut on me. I realized after a couple failed attempts that no one was going to give me a shot at teaching until I had the proper credential. I had to wait to complete a masters degree, and then I had to wait a while before I would be given an open door to even work as a teacher’s assistant. Eventually, I was hired to teach as adjunct, and after one successful semester, I was retained and given more opportunities. Now, I am a seasoned adjunct instructor, and I teach both campus and online classes. But, the rub was that it took time to prepare me (school), and then train me (teacher training/assistant), and then test me out (adjunct) before I could even be considered worthy of full-time practice.

As I wait for God’s provision, I marvel at His handiwork. I marvel at how gracious He has been to let me learn how to be a teacher — at my age — and to “do over” the plans He had for me originally. Had I listened to Him way back in the beginning, I would be celebrating my 25-30 year anniversary as a teacher. Yes, I would have been a longtime teacher — perhaps even thinking of retirement — now. But, I didn’t follow His leading well when I was younger. I tried, but I listened to other people who simply were not devoted followers of Christ, didn’t have my best interest at heart, or wanted to see me succeed. I am not blaming these folks because I made the decision, it was really more that the people I surrounded myself with back when I was in college were not the best “advisors” I could have had. More so, the college counselors I met with simply did not care that much for helping students. They were like, “Here. Take a paper on this degree.” They did not really want to invest time in the lives of the students they were supposed to be counseling and advising on life/career choices. Sigh!

The good news is that God is a God of the DO OVER. Yes, He is a God who loves to restore and reconcile. He loves to restore people to their former position (in Christ, as joint heirs, and in His family), and He loves to reconcile them to Himself, others, and even to the designs and plans He has for them. He is all about doing things right, and even when you blow it big time, God is able to restore, reconcile, and turn things around so they come out right. I am living testimony to His faithfulness, His goodness, and His desire to make good things happen for the right reasons. You see, I believe so dearly that God allowed my wandering heart to percolate deep in the dark desert until such a time as I was ready to receive His goodness. I wandered away from Him, not the other way around, and while He never let go of me, He did let me be stranded for a time in a pretty awful wilderness experience. But, when the time was right, and I had surrendered to His will, He rescued me. He reached down and rescued me. He set about reconciling me to Himself (again), and through that reconciliation, He also restored to me the life He had designed, planned, and purposed for me to walk in. I am now in this privileged place, this good, good place. I carry within me the message of reconciliation, and I am ready to take my place, my role, in His kingdom plan, His marvelous ministry of kingdom restoration.

My life is born anew, and the way in which I walk now is surefooted and secure. He has made it so, and while I wait for His next open door, next byway, I know for certain that the way I am going, the direction, the path I am following is also to be blessed. He has a great plan for my future, and I am filled with hope this good, good day, that He will bring everything He has promised to me to pass. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

In Conclusion

In closing, as I sit here today and wait for His provision, I know that He will provide the very best to me. So whether His best happens to be the full-time position I applied and interviewed for earlier in the month or another semester of part-time work as adjunct, whatever comes to pass, it will be best. I know it. I believe it. I am sure of it. He has given me a heart filled with gladness. I rejoice today not just in the material security and blessings I have received, but in the spiritual happiness that resides deep within my soul. I am happy. I am filled with joy. I know my Savior well, and because He loves me — really, truly, deeply — loves me, I can rest in the security and provision of His mighty and majestic will and way. He is good to me, so very good to me!

July 18, 2017

Feeling Settled

It is Tuesday, July 18, 2017. I cannot believe it is already the middle of the month. In less than four weeks, school will begin again, and frankly, I am not ready. I am so not ready. I have so much to do, and well, so little time to do it! LOL! I have had the entire summer to “prepare,” but rather than prepare, I played. I rested. I enjoyed my break. Yes, even in my distressed state as I decompressed from all my previous semester’s work, I really did rest well. He is good to me, so very good to me!

As I think about school approaching, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may need to teach on campus this fall. In honesty, I’ve thought about the fact that I the online jobs I’ve applied to and interviewed for may not come to pass in time (by the months end) or at all (in some cases). More so, I have contracts in place for GCU already, and as such, I feel that I will need to fulfill my contracts and my obligation to this school. I’ve always struggled with exiting out of my contracts at the last minute, and I have always believed that it was vital for me to respond with integrity toward GCU. I mean — after all — they gave me my start in teaching, and I will always be grateful for the Lord’s open door. I have never wanted to leave them in the “lurch” so to speak by exiting out so close to the start of the semester. Sigh!

My prayer is still for the Lord to orchestrate a way for me to teach online only. I would so prefer to be online — full time as it were — even if that means full-time teaching “collectively” through several schools instead of just one school.  Until I know otherwise, I feel like the Lord wants me to proceed with a “business a usual” mindset. I know He has me so well-covered, and if I must teach on campus for one final go-round, I am okay with it. I am so okay with it. I mean, so be it.  Thus, my prayer today to the Lord is to finish strong. My prayer is to complete all my expected work with His grace and provision so I can finish strong! I want to leave Phoenix, Lord willing, with a clear conscience and a mindset predicated on doing His work. I am ready, Lord, I am so ready!
Seeing My Next Steps

The past couple days were a challenge for me. I didn’t post anything, even though I had time to do it. I simply didn’t have anything to write, and I felt that I was rehashing my feelings — ad nauseam to the world. You know, how it goes. Sometimes you just feel like a broken record. Yep, that was me this weekend. I was feeling like I was stuck on a merry go round, and I was making myself sick with the “same old, same old” story.

In some ways, it was like when I listen to one of my friends as they go over the same story 10 times in a row. The first time I listen is okay. It is good, you know, to be supportive and encouraging. The second and third time is okay too, because after all, you love your friend. You want to help them through the difficult experience — but after the fourth or fifth time, well you just get frustrated with them. You may even get to the point where you just don’t care anymore. Yes, after a while, you know the way the story ends so well that you could tell the story yourself. You know all the details, you know all the highs and the lows, and you can even fill in the gaps for your friend when they miss something. Eventually, you reach the point of absolute frustration. It is not that you want to be unkind to a grieving or sorrowful friend; rather, it is just that you see the same movement, almost a “salsa” motion of back and forth steps. You see them go back and forth, retelling the same story, and you know that your friend is choosing to stay rooted to a past experience and simply will not move on.

In fact, when it gets to be really “old news,” you just want to say to your friend, “enough! Get on with it! Stop rehashing the same story!” LOL! This was so me this weekend. I was feeling this way about my blog posts and my experiences. I was so frustrated with myself that I was the one doing the head slapping and giving out the advice to move on, to get with the program, and to stop retreading the same ground. Yes, I was telling myself, “Move on, Carol. The past is over and done with! Stop doing what you are doing and get yourself heading in the right direction!”

I am sure the Lord was pleased that I stopped acting the way I was acting (sort of down in the dumps, unsure, fearful, etc.). More so, I am sure He was pleased that I finally decided to turn myself around and head on in the direction of His will. In addition, because the Lord is kind to me, He never “head slaps” me when I falter or make a mistake. When I get stuck in the “salsa” pattern, He patiently waits for me to figure out that I am retreading old news BEFORE He grasps my hand and says gently, “Are you ready now?”

This weekend, therefore, I decided to follow my gut, so to speak. I decided to follow the path of peace, and in doing so, I decided that the Lord was gently guiding me into a decision making process that would eventually lead me to His will for my life. Yes, I have spent months — no, years — trying to figure out where He was leading me and why. I have spent so much time trying to understand the why’s and wherefore’s, and no matter how often I think I’ve got it all figured out, something happens and well, I am back to square one. This time, though, I feel like I do have a strong sense of what He wants me to do, ministry-wise, and also where He wants me to do this significant and special work.

I’ve blogged about where the Lord might be leading me for a long while now, but I haven’t really had any sense that it could really happen. I mean, I believe it could happen, but I had this feeling that since I was in the middle of my degree program at Regent, I wouldn’t need to “think deeply” about this next step until I was graduated. Well, lo and behold, I am graduated, so naturally, I am at the “think deeply” stage of the process. I am at the ready mark, so to speak. I am ready to embark on the next adventure. I don’t have all my little ducks in a row yet, but I feel more settled that I am moving in the right direction, and as such, the Lord is preparing those resources for me.

The past couple days have been good ones, especially because I took a slight misstep from where I was walking, and in doing, I found that my sense of wellness and peace started to drift away from me. I asked the Lord if I was off-the-mark, and while I wasn’t, I could tell that I was walking ever so slightly off the main path. In short, I was still moving in the right direction, but I wasn’t walking evenly on the path the Lord had laid out for me, metaphorically speaking, I mean.

Yesterday was a good case in point. I had a plan laid out for my next steps, something the Lord had showed to me in the previous two weeks. I had a strong inkling that there was a place for me to go, a house for me to live in, and a church for me to do ministry as a part of the community. I felt at peace about the whole matter, but I wasn’t really sure it was the “right” thing for a number of reasons. One, it was far away from my present home. Two, it was in a small community that had some “crime” issues (more than what I am used to where I live now). Three, the house needed work, not a lot, but some, and the style, while right up my alley, seemed to present challenges with my things (as in how they will or will not fit the space). In all, I was happy, but not 100% eager to accept that this provision was of His design. It felt right, good, and like it was blessed. But…I had reservations.

So naturally, I did what I always do and I kept on looking — just to see if there was something “better — on the horizon. As I looked elsewhere, I would find myself saying, “This place isn’t as nice as the other one” or “Lord, I really liked that other one better.” I still pursued my need to be settled, and by Saturday, I felt miserable. I was so confused again. Sunday came and went, and I still didn’t have my peace about me. Then yesterday, after another day of “browsing,” I came back to the place where I started, and immediately, I felt better. It was like I was coming home, and with that feeling, I knew that this was the place where the Lord wanted me to go.

In the interim, I had been praying over several other issues here at home. I had been praying for clarification on timing, my son’s school and his need for a car, my parents longterm care, etc. I had been praying over and over again, and then yesterday, I started to receive some clarity. It didn’t come all at once, and frankly, I still don’t know how I will care for my parents longterm, but what I do know is that the Lord promised me that He would provide for all my needs, and in His way, He did just that. He gave me clarification that what He was telling me was true, and that I didn’t need to worry or be concerned about details outside my control.

I feel settled. I feel so settled. I feel like what the Lord has been saying to me the past couple months, well — years — has been true. I am right where He wants me to be, and I am set on the direction I am to travel soon. So what does this mean for me today?

Well, what this means is this: I feel like I am set on a place. I feel like I know that this is where the Lord wants me to go. I feel like there is work to be done in this place, and that the Lord intends for me to do work there. This place is not tied to a job, per set. I don’t have to wait for a job to go there. I do have to wait until I have enough online teaching work to pay living expenses, to when I have money set aside to ease my move, etc. But, I am not looking for a job in this place. I am not waiting for some open door to declare that this is the Lord’s will. I believe instead that where He calls me to go, He will provide the resources for me to go. What I mean is this…if this is His will, then He will provide the money I need to move there, buy a home, and settle down and live. I don’t have to figure this part out. Rather, I have to rest in His provision. Thus, with the place settled, I simply must wait for Him to gather all the necessities together to make it happen.

I am greatly relieved. I mean, I have been looking for jobs in all of these places. The more I look, the more depressed I become. Instead, now, I don’t have to look. I just have to wait for Him to provide enough online work for me, and then I can go. Once I have enough work lined up, I will be able to make tentative plans for moving.

Moreover, now that I am settled on this place, I simply need to wait for the Lord to clear away the debt, to make provision for my son’s schooling (his last year at ACU along with his overseas study for the following year). I need to wait for my parents care situation to be resolved. I need to wait for the money I need to be earned or deposited in my account so I can take care of business needs. Yes, I need to wait for provision, but provision is always provided to meet the need. So, I am not concerned about provision. In fact, I was more concerned about not knowing where He wanted me to go than I was on the actual funds to make the going possible. I believe. I trust. I know He will provide for me. I am resting in the knowledge that He has put this place on the map, so to speak, and that I can now rest in knowing that this is where He wants me to go.

In Conclusion

In closing, the Lord has opened my eyes to see needs that I knew existed, but that I didn’t really understand what He wanted me to do about them. Now, I see what I am to do. Now, it makes sense to me. He is moving in my life, and I am standing ready to go. I wait for Him, but I am packed (figuratively), and ready to take the next steps on this marvelous journey called life.

July 15, 2017

Saturday Concerns

It is a great day here in hot AND humid Phoenix! Yes, the monsoon has been active the past couple days, but so far, we have just received lots of wind and some dirt and dust. Last evening, we had a severe thunderstorm warning pop up in the late afternoon to early evening hours. We got some strong winds but no rain. I was just outside briefly and the dew point is high, I can feel it. It is stickier than normal, and the air is already feeling really warm. Perhaps today or tonight we will get some rain. I am hoping so. I am hoping it will be so!

I slept rather well last night. I tossed and turned, and I had several hot flashes throughout the night. In all though, I feel as if I actually did sleep. I have been sleeping later and later than normal. Usually, I am up around 7:00-7:30 am each day, but lately, I’ve been waking up closer to 9:30 am. I think it is partly due to the hot flashes, but also it is due to the fact that I cannot seem to fall asleep at night. I turn in around 11:00 pm, but I am not falling asleep until nearly 1:00 am. Sigh! Still, I feel pretty well overall. I am stiff this morning, with a slight backache, but my head feels clear (hurrah) and I don’t have any sinus issues today. Let’s hope the pain and pressure stay away now that the monsoonal moisture and variable clouds and skies are here for the next month or so!

In other good news, my son arrived home safely yesterday evening. He had a good time in Southern California, and he enjoyed his vacation (and work trip) immensely. He has been blessed by his connection to our church, Scottsdale Bible Church. He has been able to take several missions and ministry-related trips to California and the Midwest over the past couple years simply because of his status as musician and worship leader. I missed him this week, and I spent most of the days thinking about how I will get along when he leaves me for his own life someday. He is going to be 24 this September, and while he still has one more year at school, he is already talking about his next steps and the plans he would like to pursue for his career. I realize that I cannot keep him with me forever (its every Mom’s dream, you know), but there is this part of me that finds parting to be “sweet sorrow” (quoting Shakespeare). I am getting ready to let him go, as the Lord leads, and I am praying for the grace to do so. It is hard for me to think about it, but I know that the Lord has a wonderful life planned for him, and that the gifts and talents He has given to him are not simply to make money — they are for His praise and honor. I think the future looks bright, and I am blessed to be able to witness God grace, mercy, and goodness as He leads, guides, and provides for my son. God is good. He is so very good to us!

Preparing for Fall

It is July 15, which means that in about one month, school will start for me again. I am ready, technically ready, but I would like to take the next four weeks and get better organized. I think I am going to be really busy this fall. I mean like SUPER BUSY. As of right now, my schedule looks like this:

  • GCU — 3 classes
  • Regent — 3 classes
  • ASU — 2 classes
  • Grantham — unknown at this time

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30-4:30, I will be at GCU teaching 3 courses in English Composition II. Then I will have 3 courses online with Regent University. I am scheduled to teach English Composition II for the first 8 weeks followed by English Composition II and Survey of Western Literature for the second 8 weeks. I am not sure what courses I will teach at ASU, but I am guessing that I will teach English Composition I for each 8 week session. This adds up to 5 classes for the first half of the fall semester and 6 classes for the second half of the semester. I am comfortable teaching this combination of courses since nothing is really new. I have taught these core content classes for the past couple years so the curriculum is familiar and I am comfortable with the rubrics and grading. The sticky wicket in all of this is GCU — simply because I am teaching on campus. My son, at this point in time, doesn’t have a car. This means ride sharing for another season, which is not impossible, but not the best situation for us. It would be better for A) him to have his own car (the plan) or B) me to work online only so he can use my car as he needs it.

I noted that at this time Grantham is a big unknown. I have submitted my paperwork to the company and also to the HR person. I have not heard back from them yet. I also applied yesterday for another online teaching position at Central Texas College. This job posting just came out, so I don’t think I will hear back for a couple weeks. CTC would be a great pick up, should they have enough courses to keep me employed. I really would like to drop GCU and go full-time online, if possible. Note that I am saying full-time simply without having a full-time job. The problem has been getting hired full-time for work. As I scan the higher education jobs boards, the fact is that most colleges and universities are no longer hiring full-time faculty. Instead, they are hiring adjuncts to teach core courses. This is a win for the school, but it is a loss for the teacher who often has to teach at multiple schools just to make ends meet.

I am still waiting to hear on the full-time position I interviewed for back at the start of the month. For now, I am optimistic, but realistic, if that makes sense. I am open to working full-time for this school, but there is part of me that wonders if I can make more money and be more free to come/go as I please if I remain an independent contractor. I mean, I really hate the fact that I am an independent contractor at so many schools, yet there is part of me that sees this as a possibility. I mean, I can invest myself in an IRA account (versus 401k), and I can buy my own benefits through Obama or Trump Care or whatever iteration comes to pass. Honestly, at this point in time, I feel it is viable to drop all my hopes on one full-time position and instead accept whatever work the Lord brings to me. He opens the doors, and like when manna fell from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness, God has never stopped providing food, shelter or clothing to me while I waited on Him and patiently sought Him for His provision. I am taking Deuteronomy 28 to heart. I am standing in faith on the Word of God, and I am believing that He will not let my basket or kneading bowl go empty so long as I am faithful and obedient to His commands and precepts. Yes, I will keep the Word of the Lord, and I will rest securely in the shelter of His mighty hand. He will provide for me, and if this is His will, to provide multiple part-time jobs, so be it. I will do this work, faithfully and to the best of my ability, and I will allow Him to meet my needs with His sufficiency. Selah! It is done! Amen! So be it! He is able to do all things, and to do them more sufficiently and abundantly than I could ever hope or imagine! He is good to me, so very good to me.

This means that for now, I have the potential of teaching at four schools (realistically speaking). GCU may drop out for me, which is okay. I am tired of the drive over there — and I really do enjoy teaching online. I am thankful for the good work they have provided to me, and I am thankful for the wonderful experiences I have had. However, I am ready to move on, to try new things, and with this in mind, I am opening up my heart, mind, and arms to other possibilities, other scenarios, and other ways of working this whole “teaching” gig. God knows me well. He knows my limits. He knows what I can and cannot do, and with this in mind, I am simply agreeing with Him for His future provision. Whatever He determines is best for me — will be BEST for me! If this is His plan for providing for me, then I am OK with it. If this is the way He has figured out for me to go, then I will go this way. You see, I have struggled to try and make my thoughts, my ideas, and my wants fit into His timeline and His provision. I have spent years trying to make pieces of His puzzle fit into the framework I was creating. Instead, after so many not-so-successful attempts, I decided to exchange my puzzle frame for His, and well, the pieces started to fit. Now, I am building this beautiful picture that is all about Him and His work. I am putting in the pieces as He hands them to me, and well, they just fit perfectly. Thus, it is vital that I don’t take what He has given to me and try to make it work in ways that are not suited to His plan. I am resting in this endeavor. I am resting and letting the Lord determine which pieces to give to me and when. I am resting in the final picture, the final outcome because I know that He is a far better creator than I ever could be. He has this all designed, planned, purposed, and in His way, the outcome will be beautiful.

My plans for fall now include multiple teaching contracts (I believe it will be so). I am still hopeful, but I am sensing that the Lord desires that I remain free for the short time, the interim, and by free I mean being able to go, up and move, relocate or change living arrangements without issues regarding being tied to one fixed location or job. I am sensing that with my life in flux as it is now, the Lord is saying to me that it is better for me to remain free to go when He needs me to go, and that even though I won’t have the security of a 9-month contract, I will have the assurance of His provision, His security as He leads, guides and provides for me. It was the other week when the Lord asked me if I would go without provision. You know, like “Carol, will you go to where I am sending you even if you do not have a full-time job?” I was unsure of what He wanted, but I said, “Yes, Lord. I will go.” I think now that what He was saying to me was that I would be sent with provision, but it wouldn’t necessarily look like I had hoped — a full-time secured position at a good college or University. Instead, it would be “enough” but from multiple sources or another kind of source.

If this comes to pass, and I feel like it will, I am having to accept the fact that I may never have one job. I am having to agree that I will have to rely on the Lord semester by semester for “enough” work to keep me covered. I am saying to Him that I trust Him enough to let Him fill my basket and kneading bowl and not look to a job, college or university to do that for me. Sure, I believe God provides through organizations and institutions, but what I am saying is that I don’t believe the Lord intends to bring me a lucrative position whereby all my needs are met with a paycheck. Instead, He is asking me to trust Him to provide through whatever means He has at hand. I guess you could say that He is asking me to walk in faith, to be missions-minded, and in this way, to realize that everything I have been given thus far is a gift from the Lord. He will provide. He will make a way — it just might not be the way I thought or hoped it would be, know what I mean?

Therefore, as I think about this fact today, I wonder how the Lord will keep me covered. I have such great needs (big school debt, mostly), and I live in a place that is rather expensive to maintain. I have thought seriously about moving to a place where housing could be had for under $150-200k. I have thought about setting aside enough money to put a big downpayment on a house or to pay for a house cash — simply to reduce my debt burden to the point where I owe no man. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 says of the nation Israel that they will not borrow from anyone, rather they will lend to those in need. I am thinking now that this is part of His will for me. I will not borrow, but I will be a cheerful lender. Right now, though, I am a borrower and I need to get out of this place and position so I can be set free from debt. I have good credit, which I believe the Lord has helped me to restore. Now, I need to be in a position whereby I can manage my money (what He provides) well, invest wisely (for my future), and then owe no man anything. I can live freely. This is what I believe He is saying to me.

However, between now and then, I see a mountain of debt. I see no easy way out. I see no full-time job. I see no way to remain here in Phoenix longer than necessary. I see the way here, the way I am living here, as quickly coming to an end. This means that in time, in a short time, I will need to go. I will need to be able to go, and I will need to be ready to go. The Lord has been saying to me, “You need to be ready, Carol.” I assumed He meant like ready in spirit, in maturity, in mind. But, now I think He is saying, “Ready,” as in being prepared with material things (money, credit, bags packed, etc.) so I can go when He says, “It is time.” I am willing. I am agreeable. I am not ready, however, to pick up and go (like the disciples did in the New Testament), and this is what He is saying to me. Can you freely go where I send you? Now?

He knows that I am stuck where I am at present due to two factors: my parents aging needs and my son’s schooling. He knows that for all intents and purposes I am to remain where I am because my parents cannot care for themselves without me. My son needs shelter while he completes school. I have business to attend to, but with GCU out of the mix, my job will be online and I will be able to relocate without any issues or concerns. I will be able to go freely and without any interruption. Until that time, I must be prepared. I must work to prepare for that day. It is funny, but the other morning, as I was praying, I felt the Lord remind me of how my aunt and late uncle prepared to go to Africa for a year-long missions trip. They had made plans, agreed to go, were accepted to go, but between that time and the actual “get on the plane to go time,” they had work to do. They had to get their house in order, so to speak. They had to put aside cash. Pay debts off and some in advance. Buy supplies. Ship supplies. Make arrangements for care, etc. All of these things needed attending to before they could ever get on that plane. Logistics, planning, preparing — all these key steps — were a big part of their missions trip.

As I think about what the Lord is saying to me, I think He is saying the same thing. He is ready to send me out on a missions trip, so to speak. He is preparing to send me to a new field, to a place where I will minister, but before He can release me to go, He has to help me prepare. I have to take care of things here at home. I have to make plans, arrange for care, pay debts, etc. I have to work through the logistics of the move, and in this way, I have to diligently and faithfully allow the Lord to use me in whatever way He sees as best in order to accomplish His will in this matter. He needs to make me ready to go. I may be ready in mind, in spirit, and even in body, but I don’t have everything I need to actually go yet. I am still in need of some provision, and once that provision comes, I will be able to set off on the next phase of my life. I will be able to go where He sends me. I will be able to live where He tells me to live. And, praise be to God, I will be able to do the work He has prepared, trained, and equipped me to do. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah!

In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I think to myself, “Okay, Lord. I think I get it. I think I understand what you have been saying to me.” Of course, I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. I really do think He has been telling me for a while that I needed to get ready to go. I was so focused on the destination, however, that I really didn’t pay as much attention to the preparation and work. I wanted to know what would be over the hill, rather than simply attending to the process of getting my life in order, my goods in hand, and standing at the door — ready — to walk through at His command.

I was like the little child who is so excited to start vacation, but who in all that excitement sits staring at the empty suitcase that Mom or Dad has asked them to pack. Yes, I sat at the figurative suitcase while the Lord waited for me to start packing. I couldn’t go on the trip He planned for me without packing, so as long as I sat there thinking, dreaming, wishing, and wanting, nothing really happened. There was no “getting ready” until I put the first item in the suitcase. I believe that first item was, again figuratively, my degree. I worked so hard to complete my PhD, and while I understood that my training at Regent was more for His work, my degree would help me secure vital employment over the course of my remaining years. I wasn’t willing to put that degree into the suitcase simply because I was waiting to put the full-time job in first. Yet, the longer I waited for the full-time job, the more the suitcase sat empty. I put the degree in, as if to say, “It is going along with me, and the Lord will use it to suit His needs.” In doing so, things began to shift and move. I can sense the movement. I don’t know what will go in next, but perhaps it will be my online teaching positions (those will move with me). Later, it might be my car or a new car or furniture or a house or even my cats. I just don’t know. For now, though, I have started the packing process as the Lord asked me to do several months ago. I started the process, and I will continue the process until my suitcase is packed and I am ready to stand at the door and go.

Psalm 46:1-3 (AMP)

God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],

A very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah.

July 13, 2017

Reflection Moment

Happy Thursday! It is Thursday, and I am here at home, enjoying the last month of my summer. Yes, in just four weeks, I will be on the clock again as school will start at ASU, Regent, and GCU. I am still not sure if I will be out at GCU this fall or not. It will depend on the outcome of my interview last week. I was told that the team would make a hiring decision by the end of the month, so I have two more weeks of “unknown” status until I hear either “yea or nay” on whether I was picked for the full-time faculty position. It really is in His hands, I mean. There is no point in worrying or being upset because there is nothing I can do. The job is either His choice or it is not, and if it is not, then hurrah! I wait patiently for the job that is His best for me. If it is His best, then it will be. I will receive an email telling me as such, and I will rejoice because of His good favor and blessing. Either way, I rejoice. He has me covered. He knows my needs, and He has a great plan for my life.

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day working with my students online. I have to admit that I really love working online. I love staying at home, doing my work from home, and interacting with  my students this way. There is part of me, though, that wonders how I will adjust to full-time online teaching. One thing I know — the school has to allow me to work from home. I don’t want to go and sit in an office all day and do my work from a cubicle. I need the freedom to do my work at all hours, in the evenings and early mornings, and be able to work 12 hours on one day and four the next. I love the freedom of working from home. I love being able to plan my day. I have tried to work regular hours, and frankly, I just don’t do structure like this well. I mean, some structure is a good thing, but too much structure can be confining.

For example, I don’t mind teaching on campus as adjunct. In these cases, I pop in, do my time, and pop out. I know my schedule, when I am in class, and when I am not, and while I may not always get the choicest on campus schedule, I still have a great deal of freedom to do what I like and in the way I like it, know what I mean? This is one of the major reasons why I like being adjunct. There is some oversight, but mostly you are there to do your job. Your faculty lead knows this, and since he or she is just as busy, they leave you to do your work. They TRUST you to do your work, and in truth, that is a golden thing. I mean, there are very few jobs where the boss actually believes in you and trusts you to do your work well. Teaching is one of these places where there is little micromanagement in my teaching, scholarship, or oversight. Some schools are more restrictive than others, for sure, but so far I have found that all of my schools have been really, really laid back. God is good. He is so good to provide environments to me that are low-key and low-stress! Selah!

Since teaching, for the most part, is an autonomous practice (at the college level), it is not regulated or managed the way other businesses are or can be, and as such, generally Academics are free to keep their own office hours, do their own time, write their own articles, present at conferences, etc., without a ton of mingling by upper-ups. This fact among others is the main reason why I love the profession. So…the next step for me is a full-time job.  My continued and consistent prayer is that I am offered the “perfect fit” job rather than just a job that will cause me extra stress and pain.

For now, I remain as I am — adjunct — and I am content in that fact. I have a good “gig” going, and while I am not crazy about teaching 3 campus classes, 3-5 online classes, I will do whatever I have to do to earn a decent living. I know that in time, the Lord will provide. Yes, in time, He will make a way for me that is so good, so pleasing, and so blessed. Until He opens that door, I will be faithful and obedient, and I will look up! I will look up to where He is seated because in His position and from His perspective, He has my entire life planned out. He knows what will be, what could be, and what won’t be, so with His knowledge, and with His ability to orchestrate and plan, I can rest assured that whatever happens will be the result of His handiwork. Selah!

Thus, I can rest in the assurance that God has His hand on my life, and as the Word says, He is directing my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I can rest now because I know for sure, for certain, that the path I am on is His best for me. He knows where He is sending me for ministry work, and He knows what type of work He wants me to do. I am simply to follow Him, agree with Him, obey Him, and stand beside Him while He does what He does best — and that is — to make miracles happen, to make the possible from the IMPOSSIBLE (Luke 1:37). He is able to handle more than I could ever imagine this good day, and while I sometimes feel overwhelmed (like I do now), I know that He has never left me alone, never asked me to figure things out on my own, and never once insisted that I try to make His will happen through my own efforts. On the contrary, He has only ever said that His will, His way, and His work can be completely through Jesus Christ ALONE. There is no other way for me to go, there is no other power, authority, or claim I can make save in the Name of Jesus. In this regard, what will be, will be because of Jesus and Jesus alone. I rest my case, I cease and desist, and I let His blessed plan come to pass as He has ordained it. Like a mighty fountain or river, I let the water wash over me this good, good day. I let Him have His way, and in doing so, I take comfort in knowing that He loves me, He cares for me, and His plans for me are GOOD, so GOOD. Selah!

It Is Not Rocket Science

This morning I woke up with a bit of a headache. This is not unusual since it is almost the summer monsoon season in Arizona. The dirt, dust, and dryness wreak havoc on my sinuses, and as such, I often suffer with headaches during the summer time. Winters are better, and despite the dryness, there is more rain often, and the constant rain helps to relieve the pressure. Once the summer rains start, if they start, I will feel better too. But, this morning, I was thinking about this past June, and about how I spent a week in Indiana with my parents. I had a great time visiting with family, but what I noticed most was that during this time, I had no headaches. I did have a runny nose and some sneezing on one day, but otherwise, I felt great. The humidity was nice and the sun-part-clouds throughout the day was such a blessed change. As a result of my experience and this deep unknown longing that I have had for now on 20 years, I have decided that I want to move back to the Midwest. Yes, I have decided that it is time to exchange the sun, dryness, and the dirt in Phoenix for the variable clouds, humidity, and beautiful grass and trees of some midwestern city or town.

I know, I know. I just said I was content, and I am. I know that I am in Phoenix for a reason, but I am also being honest by saying that I really want to leave Phoenix and go back to a place where there is a variable 4-season climate. I have had almost 21 years of the sunshine and dirt, and I am so sick and tired of headaches, sinus pain and pressure, and the general maladies that go along with living in the desert. For some people, the desert climate is a good thing. I know folks with serious arthritis that need the steady heat. Asthma suffers like me, though, struggle to breathe here, and that is because everything we breathe in is cloaked in dirt. The dust gets to me — dust is everywhere — and I cannot tolerate dust anymore. So what I am saying is that while Phoenix is lovely in the winter, it is intolerable in the summer. I am surviving it as I always do, but each summer, it becomes more difficult to find joy is this place. I want to be happy. I want to be content, and I am choosing contentment today because I know that the Lord has another plan for me. I do not believe the Lord intends to keep me here, not long term, any way.

How do I know this? Well, the more I think about my life, the plans the Lord has for me, and such, the more I realize that my tendency to over analyze events and circumstances has really clouded my judgement. I have vacillated on moving for several years now, but for the past 6 or so, I have had this pull toward the East, and especially toward my childhood and family located in the upper midwest. I have tried to change my mind on the matter. I have tried to analyze myself out of the way I feel. For a time, I did just that. I made myself accept a number of other places, but after a time of thinking on them, considering them, imagining them, I would always come back around to one place in particular. I would come back to my childhood, and the more I did that, the more I would think that I was just trying to run away, return to “Oz” so to speak. I believed that I just wanted to go there because of memories I have tied to that place. But those memories are not sweet or wonderful or warm. There are no rose colored glasses giving me a “Pollyanna-ish” view. No, I think the reason I feel the way I do is because the Lord is telling me that this is the place He wants me to go — permanently — forever.

The past 6-9-12 months have been wearisome for me. I have worked so hard, so hard, and I have accomplished so much. I have dealt with trial, hardship, and stress levels like never before, and while my life was good (as in I wasn’t suffering an illness or family problem), I was mentally and intellectually as well as physically, challenged — consistently — day in and day out, for months (four years, to be exact). My final push through to the end of my program achieved great results. I graduated with my PhD, and I completed a wonderful dissertation project that was a lot of fun for me to do. I am finished with my higher education, and now I am resting, relaxing, and trying to recoup from that long, long, long journey. My future, therefore, is open. I mean, I have no destination, save my eternal one, on the horizon. Once I receive a full-time offer, then this goal will be checked off my “to do” list. But, until that time, I am in limbo land. I have no plans past this one: get a job. I have no “next steps” laid out, and for the first time in almost 8 years, I am in this wasteland, so to speak. I have no direction, clear direction, in front of me. Or, so it appears.

Back in 2010, the direction I received from the Lord was simple. Go to Mercy. Graduate with my Masters degree. Get a job teaching English. Once I completed that goal, the Lord gave me a new one.  In 2013, He pointed me in the direction of Regent University. This time, the goal was to graduate with my PhD in Communication. The rationale behind studying communication and not English was clear — start a communications ministry. I pursued my PhD with diligence, and in May, I graduated. In some ways, I have accomplished everything the Lord asked me to do, but now in the middle 2017, my direction seems to resolve with one final step — get a full-time faculty position. When I stop and think about the end game, I become so restless. Is that it, Lord? Is there nothing more out there for me? I forget at times that my PhD was not to secure a teaching job because that ability came with my Masters degree in English. I forget that the reason for the PhD was to begin full-time communications ministry and to focus 100% on His work. More so, my graduation from Regent was very specific. During my ceremony, I was dedicated. I was commissioned. I will consecrated — designated to the Lord — for His work. Yes, I was not just handed a degree, but I was confirmed in my calling and my mandate. God has a bigger plan for my life than teaching alone, and while teaching is a blessed profession, don’t get me wrong, it is not the end of the road for me. It is just the beginning. Let me explain…

Calling and Mandate Confirmed

I know my next steps include a permanent job as a teacher. I need security. I need good practical work. I need something that is not tentative like adjunct. I have so focused on the job as the “be all and end all” of my life that I have lost my perspective. Well, I’ve lost His perspective, I should say. I have focused on my job as the most important thing in my life, and that without a good job, somehow my life will crumble out of existence. This is a lie from my enemy. He doesn’t want me to do the work the Lord has for me to do, so he has been feeding me miscommunication in order to get me off the track, to forget my calling, to stop pursuing my mandate.

I know this is the case because this past week, I was really suffering with depression and some oppression. I was so focused on going to a place that the Lord wasn’t calling me to, simply because it “made sense” to me, that I lose my sense of balance. I became undone. In fact, during my graduation from Regent, the Lord spoke to me and said that the next couple months (meaning summer) would be difficult for me. He was telling me that I would encounter trial and testing because I had been commissioned to do a specific work. I forgot about that warning until last week when I couldn’t figure out why I was so miserable. I prayed, confessed, and surrendered to my calling and my mandate again, and over the past couple days, I have begun to see clearly again. What this means is that I recognize that my job, as a teacher, is not the only calling I have received from the Lord. I have received three callings, really, to be technical about it. Calling #1 was as a missionary. Calling #2 was as a teacher. And, calling #3 was as a prophet, specifically, someone who speaks God’s word to the Church.

Merriam-Webster defines the word, calling, as “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” With this definition in mind, it is clear that my calling to become a teacher fits. I believe, and I have believed, that the Lord called me to this profession. More so, I have always desired to be a missionary, ever since I was a child. I believe the Lord called me to the mission field when I was 16, and although I didn’t go back then, I have had the desire to go on my heart since that time. Lastly, as a prophet, I have been given a calling to speak God’s word, the truth of His word, to the Church. I have always done this, and I still do, though this part of overall calling has been most difficult (rejection, mockery, and betrayal).

The confirmation of my calling came to me over the past several years. First, it took a while for me to accept that God called me to teach. Second, it took a very long time to get over the fact that when He called me to the missions field, I disobeyed Him. Instead of pursuing both teaching and missions, I turned away, got married, and followed after my husband. I didn’t reject God, but I did reject His calling, and in this way, I suffered gravely for my disobedience. It wasn’t until many years later, after my marriage ended, did I receive His call again. This time, the call was to teach. The call also included a missions-focused ministry, and it included my spiritual vocation as a prophet (speaker of God’s word). So after many years of living in rebellion, the Lord gave me restoration. I repented, and I turned around. As a result, the Lord reconfirmed to me that He still had a great plan for my life, but that plan required that I follow Him and that I do the specific thing He asked me to do a long, long, long time ago.

My calling, therefore, is complex because it is not just one vocation, but really three. However, what has been most difficult for me to grasp is that within that calling, the Lord gave me a mission or mandate. By this I mean, He told me specifically what to do. I think it is best described this way. A young man or woman is called to the mission field, but they do not know where they are to go to do missions work. They feel called to missionary work, but they are unsure — is it local, national, or international?  They may pursue missions, work toward preparation for missions work, but not until the very end of that process will they receive word that they are to go to Europe, Africa or Detroit. Sometimes they know right away, but often, they come to understand the exact mission field after a time of testing, trial, or training. In my case, my calling was pretty clear, but I didn’t really understand what I was to teach, preach or to whom I was to minister until I attended Regent University. Once I was there, I understood that the Lord was preparing me, training me, and equipping me as a communicator, and I was to take my field of communications back into the Church. My mission field is the Body of Christ. My mission or mandate (specific task) is to “help the church communicate faith more effectively in this post modern age.” My calling, my mandate, my life, is all about the latter.

But, I also need good practical work and this is where teaching is the perfect fit. I need a job that will facilitate this ministry, but I do not believe the Lord is calling me to work inside a church (been there, done that already). No, as of right now, I believe that I will work alongside a church, perhaps one that has a well established communications ministry already or perhaps I am to start a ministry where that are other people waiting to participate. I don’t know what will be, but for now, I am to do teaching as my practical work (daily job) and do ministry as my spiritual work.

So, when will I do this? Sigh! That is the part I haven’t figured out yet (or better, the Lord hasn’t shown me yet)! For now, though, I will look up. I will wait patiently for the Lord to open the doors that must be opened. I will wait for the blessed provision that will take me from here to there, and I will seek Him as my only source, my only provider and my only way. There is no other Name than the Name of Jesus, and it is in Jesus’ Name that I commit, confess, and consecrate this plan. In His Name, I pray this good, good day. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

July 11, 2017

Thinking Tuesday

It is a good Tuesday here in sunny and hot, Phoenix. I woke up this morning around 7 a.m., but after getting up briefly for a nature call, I settled back into my bed and read my phone for nearly two and a half hours! Oh my goodness! You may be wondering what could hold my attention for that long, and I hate to admit it, but really it was more about Pinterest than news or world events.

If I am being 100% honest (and I am), in that 2.5 hours, I also prayed, spent time in conversation with the Lord, and generally, meditated on the new day. Yes, I lazed, lounged, and laid about until I couldn’t stand it any longer. My back began to yell at me, so I roused myself up and headed down the hall to the kitchen for a good strong cup of coffee. I am now back in my room, at my desk, drinking said coffee while nibbling on some toast with grape jam. It is a good morning to be alive, and it is an even better morning to do little to nothing but rest.

I am thankful today. I spent the morning thinking about my life, about choices I have made, and also about opportunities for future change, and in and through it all, I simply realized that my life is blessed — uberly blessed — and as a result, I live in this very special and wonderful place. I take heart today because my life, not so long ago, was miserable, intolerable, and headed nowhere. I was in a relationship that was one-sided. I was committed to making the best of my marriage, despite the fact that my ex-husband wanted out. I was committed to keeping my family in tact, yet with every attempt to do so, my actions were thwarted and my outcomes and hopes were dashed. I longed for change, major change, and after praying for change for 25 years, but not seeing anything good come to pass, I can say now that I was relieved when the relationship ended, when my ex-husband decided to walk away from the marriage, and when I found myself suddenly set free. Yes, I can say it now. I was relieved when I found myself at the end of the road, single, and with no real power or provision because it was then that I knew my Lord loved me, and that He had a plan for my really messed up and miserable life.

In hindsight, it was in those long and awful moments, especially when I knew that I had hit the skids, so to speak, that I realized that what looked like the end of my life was really just the beginning of His life for me. I believed that He had me well-covered. Moreover,  I knew that my life was not over (as in ending), but I never imagined that He would give me a “do over,” a chance to start again. As I think back I remember how hard it was for me to see all the possibilities, the opportunities, the outcomes that could come to pass.

Thankfully, somewhere deep inside of me, I believed that God had something wonderful planned for my life, and I believed that He was working behind the scenes to bring His good will and His good plan to pass. Furthermore, I believed that God wasn’t done with me yet, and that in time, He would turn my mess into a beautiful mess (as the saying goes). Yes, I can say today that when I look back on all that mess, at what looked bleak and hopeless with no possible improvement, I can now see how God intervened in my life, and how He called me to a new way of living and of being.  As a result, I can see how He remade me (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and how He remade my life (material, financial, and professional). God turned my life into something amazing, wonderful, and as such, I am truly blessed.
Remembering His Faithfulness

It has been 7 years since that moment in time, since the day I moved out of my shared home and into a rented town home. In the interim, I have collected some new things, but mostly, I have learned to let go of all the old left-overs that I brought with me, all those little things that I held onto so tightly. I have very few possessions today, and in many ways, I have about what I walked away with — my life, my son, and my cats — among other things such as computers, cello, and clothing. Yes, my life in a nutshell is small. I have just what I need, and I am thankful for the gifts, provision, and protection that the Lord has graciously made available to me.

Now, though, as I look forward in my life, I realize that my future is so wide open. There is no “place” that is off-limits to me. The other night, my Dad mentioned again that neither he nor my Mom would “stand in my way,” as I look for full-time work. He was telling me that they didn’t want to keep me tied to this home, to caring for them, to living in Phoenix simply because they don’t want to move away. It was nice to hear him say this, but the truth is that I am not free to move as I desire; no, not at all. I am dependent on the Lord, His timing, and His open door, and in that respect, I am where I am until the Lord says, “It is time to go! Let’s move!”

Yesterday, I considered all the places I have looked at for relocation, and of them all, I feel not settled on any of them. By this I mean, I don’t feel like the Lord is overwhelmingly saying, “Go here” versus “go there.” In truth, I simply feel like all the places I have considered are equal in that sense. They are all good places, good cities and towns, with good opportunities for a good quality of life. Some places are colder than others, but overall, they are about equal — all things considered. So as I laid in bed today, I started to think about Phoenix and whether Phoenix is “equal” in the same way. As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that despite the tight housing market, the fact is that Phoenix is just as good as the next place for life, prosperity, ministry, etc. I mean, it is nice here. Sure, it is blazing hot right now, but in a couple months, it will be beautiful again. Six months of the year, it will be beautiful. Six months it will be hot — intolerably hot — but the rest of the year, the temperatures are blissful.

Thus, as I considered my way, where I am today, where I may be going tomorrow, I came to the conclusion that staying in Phoenix is no better or worse than moving to Virginia Beach. Yes, there is a beach at the end of that town’s name, and there is a physical beach not too far from Regent University. But, VA Beach, is just as nice a place as Phoenix, and the weather, while nice whenever I have visited, has its ups and downs too (tornados, snow, sleet, ice, and hurricanes). Phoenix has dust storms, monsoon rains, and lots of sunshine. We have no earthquakes (like CA), tornados (like the Midwest and East), hurricanes (like the South and East), blizzards (like the Northwest, Midwest, and East). In short, Phoenix has a lot of heat, sunshine, and dirt.

The cost of living here is modest when compared side-by-side to another major metropolitan area. It is not fair to compare the cost of buying a house in Phoenix (mid-300s) to a rural place because that is like comparing apples to oranges. They are both fruits, but of a different kind, know what I mean? What is more is the fact that I am so used to living with high speed Internet — like fiber optic — that the thought of living off Satellite Internet or DSL or Cable with speeds under 300 mps, just does me in. My work depends on access to high speed, and not every place in the US has fiber yet. Phoenix is a major hub for Cox, so the places with comparable speed are few and far between.

More so, I am content to remain here. I am happy to stay put, even with the heat and the sun and the dirt. I would like a pool, though. I would like more space to actual live in, but I am content to teach where I teach, live where I live, and well, not strive for more. I am content.

As I think about my life, and my future as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me, one thing is sure. I have been slow to be cheerfully content. I have been content, but not with a happy attitude. What I am saying is that I have said to the Lord, “Okay — I will stay” as I sighed and harrumphed. This was not the right response. I was agreeing to stay as a result of losing a battle to go. I was willing to stay because I felt I had no other choice in the matter. Rather, as I started to think about my attitude, I realized that the Lord loves it when we are cheerful. The word, cheerful, means “noticeably happy and optimistic” (Dictionary.com). Merriam-Webster adds, “full of good spirits” and suggests that the word stresses an attitude that is able to “dispel gloom or worry.”

Oh my! Cheerfulness suggests that one’s attitude is such that they are hopeful, optimistic, and filled with a sense of merriment (pleasing, delightful, gay). Yes, as Christ followers our attitude in life, in our circumstances, and in our outlook should be cheerful. The Word says that God loves a cheerful giver, but also we are strongly encouraged by the Apostles and the Old and New Testament writers to be hopeful, to be positive, to remember in who we place our trust. If we trust in the Lord, then our attitude and our actions should show the world that we are happy, content, joyful, and filled with a high sense of gaiety (festive activity).

This morning, I realized for the first time in a long time that my attitude did not match my words. I was saying to the Lord, “Lord, I am willing to go wherever you send me. I will live where you tell me to live. I will do the work you have prepared for me to do;” but in my heart, I was not happy about it. I was not agreeable in spirit with high hopes and expectation, with joyous and gay appreciation for the possibility of what the Lord was saying He wanted to do in and through my life. I was acting like I had lost the battle, and as such, I was wimpering, simpering, and basically, saying to the Lord, “Okay, so you have won. I will do what you say.” Yes, and you can add a stomp in there along with a slight turn away motion. Imagine your child, if you have one, giving in to your request with this attitude. What would you do? How would you feel? I can remember when my son would do this to me, and I would send him back to his room to “think about it some more.” There is repentance, an attitude of humility, and a true willingness to surrender that is involved. I had given in to the Lord’s command, but not with a happy heart. I wasn’t cheerful about it. I was passive-aggressive, and the Lord was not ready to let me off the hook just yet.

On Sunday, I surrendered to Him all that I had left inside of me. I confessed my need to be rescued, and in doing so, I let go of my striving, all my attempts to control my life and the outcomes associated with it. But, my heart was still simmering. I didn’t want to give up my way, my wants, my wishes, even though I understood that I couldn’t go any further. I was figuratively and literally standing before a closed door, and the only way through that closed door was to submit 100%, to humbly acknowledge my dependency and utter helplessness to the Lord. I had to leave all of me behind, but because I was still harboring some resentment toward the Lord for winning His way, the Lord said I needed to sit and think a while longer about my attitude before He would let me cross over. Yes, in short, He sent me back to my room to think about my choices, my actions, and my words.

Today, after I spent some time on Pinterest and looking at houses in the Phoenix area, I said to the Lord, “Lord, I have to give up my preferences. I may WANT farmhouse, but it is not realistic to try to make a Phoenix contemporary home look like it is sitting out in the midwest!” Sometimes, I amaze myself with my own commentary. What I was saying to Him in essence was what He had been saying to me for months: “Carol, you cannot have what you want.” I have spent the past 6-7 months decorating homes in my head. I do it as a hobby as I am a frustrated designer at heart. In truth, I always wanted to study interior design, but that wasn’t the direction that Lord had for me to go. Still, I really do love designing, working with colors, fabrics, and styles. So, pinning pictures to Pinterest is a hobby for me, but it also is really relaxing. I have been pinning quite heavily this past winter as a de-stressor for my hard semester finishing my degree. I digress.

The problem in all of this “pinning” business was simply that I really got into the groove, and I realized what styles I like more than others. I got really, really into the design choices, and as a result, I came to understand my likes and dislikes — for the first time ever. But, as the Lord is the One leading me, I cannot force my way. I cannot have what I want. He may keep me in Phoenix, provide a big box contemporary home for me or He may relocate me to some little town in the Midwest and give me an antique home with a really funky and weird layout. I have to be FLEXIBLE. I have to be cheerful whether He provides a little hovel or a mansion. I have to be agreeable with a cheerful heart, and not miserable and miffed because I am not getting what I think I need.

Granted, I try very hard to be flexible, to be agreeable, to be cheerful — but lately — I have been tired, worn out, and well, as a result, my attitude has been grumbly, bitter, and sort of pessimistic. The Lord has called me out on my attitude. He has told me that I am good when it comes to being agreeable to His will, but my attitude and my heart are not always truthful. I am sometimes disagreeable on the inside even though I am putting on a good face for the world. The Word says that the Lord judges the intentions of our heart — He looks on the interior rather than the exterior. He knows when I am dissatisfied, and when I am happy and content. He knows me well. Thus, to hide from Him is futile, and even though I know this fact, I still do it. I still try to hide my displeasure. My  nature is more like Cain than Able. Sigh!

Owning My Displeasure

So, to borrow a phrase, I am “owning” my bad habit, my attitude, and my preferences. I am owning the fact that I need to watch my attitude, and that I often do want my own way. I have confessed my heart to the Lord. I have relented (submitted), and I have chosen to stop being demanding about what I want. It is hard for me, especially because my entire life other people have told me what to do. I have had to relent, yield and submit to others in order to survive. As a free person, the Lord asks me to willingly submit to Him, to choose to submit, and there are times when I simply do not want to give up my free choice. I don’t want to give up my say in the matter.

I know that in order to walk through this door — the door He has for me — I have to give up my free choice. I can no longer have my way. I have to accept all — every provision. The covenant He has made with me includes an “all or nothing” catch. I must surrender, submit, and yield ALL in order to receive what He has promised. I cannot have my way AND His way. It is all or nothing. I said that I was all in, so to speak, but my attitude has been inconsistent. I have been “watchful” rather than accepting fully His authority and His ability to lead, guide, and provide. I have developed a bad habit, and now is the time to replace that bad habit with obedience. I must obey. I must pay my vow, as David said, and I must agree cheerfully to go where He is sending me. End of story. It is all or nothing.

In closing, I have decided that I don’t want to stand at the door knocking forever. No, not when the King has bid me enter. I want to walk in, to boldly go where He is sending me. But to do this, to walk on and into His promised land, I must leave all others, all things, and all possessions behind. I must walk on without anything. I must go through the door with a cheerful — hopeful and optimistic — heart and mind. I must trust Him to provide for me. I must trust Him to bring to me everything I need to be satisfied, successful, and settled. He will do it. I know He will, but I cannot keep holding onto the past, wanting my way, and hoping that He will relent and let me skim by with second best. It is all or nothing, so today, I choose ALL.

July 9, 2017

Waiting for the Promise

It is a blessed Sunday here in Phoenix, Arizona. I am home alone this morning. My parents are at church across the street, and my son is over at the church where he works on Sunday mornings. It is just me and the boys, sitting here in my home office, enjoying the peace and the quiet of this blessed day. I am thinking about my life today, reflecting some, and wondering how I will manage come fall. I am hopeful that I will receive a full-time job offer soon, but as of right now, I feel pretty well set that my life will continue as it has been for the interim. I am hopeful, expectant, and I do anticipate hearing something soon, but I also am well aware that the job market for professors is tight, and that I need to keep focused on what the Lord has said to me (that which I know) rather than speculation or wishful thinking.

Wishful Dreaming

Today, in particular, I am feeling this sense that it is time to be practical about matters. I don’t mean to say I am choosing to accept my lot in life, ho-hum, and so on; no, not at all. Instead, what I am saying is that I believe the Lord likes it when we attend to our business WHILE we wait for His blessed provision. It is sort of like when Abraham and Sarah waited all those years for the promised child. They didn’t just sit down and say, “Okay, Lord — make us pregnant!” And, they didn’t necessarily think that some mystical light from heaven would shine down and Sarah would magically become pregnant. In fact, they both scoffed at the idea that they could bear a child in their advanced age. It was pretty unrealistic to think that they could do the “deed,” so to speak. And, without being graphic here, let’s just say that the “deed” was done — the old fashioned way. Abraham impregnated his wife with his seed the way men have been doing the deed since the garden of Eden. There was no mystery involved other than the fact that Sarah’s dead womb became fertile again. You see, Abraham wasn’t the one with the problem because we know he impregnated Hagar about 10 years prior. His seed was fine. It was Sarah’s womb (her eggs) and the fertile valley that seemed dry and barren (to use a biblical reference). My point here is this: while Abraham and Sarah waited, they did the business of life. They lived their lives, tended to their flocks, and stayed busy with the details of caring for their family of servants. They didn’t just sit around and wait for God to open her womb, and magically implant Abraham's seed in order to bring forth the promised child. They stayed busy.

Working Out Our Salvation

I’ve been thinking a lot about this story lately, in specific, because it resonates with my own life experience. I had a doctor say to me once, “Carol, you cannot get pregnant if you don’t have sex.” I know — rocket science — right there in a nutshell. This little piece of advice came to me back when my ex-husband and I were first married. We wanted to start a family (well, I did), and I had gone to the doctor for a routine visit. He asked me if I was thinking of getting pregnant. Up to that time, my ex-husband and I had been married about 5-6 years, and well, back then (in the 1980s), most women still got pregnant within the first couple of years of marriage, especially if they were young. It is different now, however. Many women I know wait until their 30s and even 40s to have a child, but back when I was first married, if you didn’t have children within 2-3 years, people speculated that there was something wrong. My doctor thought this was the case because we had not done anything toward that end. When I told him that we were “trying,” he gave me this advice. Really, he said if you want to get pregnant, you have to have sex often (not just once in a while).

The point in all of this is simply that for whatever reason, my womb was dry and barren like Sarah’s, and despite attempts to become pregnant, I never did. Not for a long time, I mean. It was 8 years before I did become pregnant, and then once my son was born, I was never able to become pregnant again. I believe the Lord opened my womb, allowed my husband’s seed to be implanted, and as a result, my precious son was born. I know, sort of graphic, but the reason I bring it up, is to illustrate the fact that while I was praying, asking the Lord for a child, I was doing the necessary work to bring that desire, hope, and dream, to pass. But it wasn’t easy. I didn’t become pregnant easily, and what is more, I didn’t do well in pregnancy or in delivery. In truth, I was pregnant once, and in that one experience, both my son and I almost lost our lives (during and after delivery). Thus, the miracle of my son’s conception and birth truly is a miracle. I digress.

This last Sunday, Bryan Loritts, visiting pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Silicon Valley, CA preached a sermon at our church where he used a similar illustration. He was teaching on patience, waiting for the Lord to bring His promise to us, and how some times, the wait is really, really long. He was stressing the “what we do while we wait,” more so than focusing on the length of time. In his analogy, he stressed that it is important to do what we can WHILE we wait. He said it this way: if you are sick, you pray for healing. But, you also take your medicine.

He was talking about the “name it and claim it” teaching that is often found in some TV/Charismatic churches (not all, just some). He said that we need to pray for God’s promised deliverance, His promised provision, but while we are praying, waiting faithfully for God’s timing, we must also use what provision He has provided to us. In this case, if you are waiting to be healed from Diabetes, for example, you don’t stop checking your blood glucose levels or taking the prescribed medication. You use what is provided, but you believe in FAITH for a miracle just the same.

I am not sure if this analogy works as well as my “seed” one or not. He also gave the analogy of the farmer who prepares the field and plants the seed. He is praying for rain to bring forth his crops, but until it rains, he still does the work to prepare for the rain. In this way, what Pastor Loritts was saying to the congregation last Sunday was that some things are simply out of our control. But, other things are not. God expects us to use what we can control while we wait patiently for Him to deal with the things we cannot control.

In my example above, and my opening section, you can see what I am getting at and where I am at present. Yes, I am waiting for a full-time faculty position to come to pass soon. The Lord knows I need full-time work, and now that I have my degree posted, I am ready to be offered a job. I have applied to a couple positions, but nothing has really happened yet. I interviewed last week, and well, I won’t know if I am accepted or not for perhaps another month. This leaves the decision up in limbo. I have no other option at this time but to wait. So, I can wait and be hopeful (which is good) or I can wait, be hopeful, and stay busy (which is better).

Choosing Abundant Life Now

This morning as I thought about my need, my life, and what might be, I started to think what might happen if the position I interviewed for last week didn’t come to pass. I mean, it is highly likely that the school had more qualified candidates. There is no guarantee that they will pick me — no matter how much I believe, hope, wish, want, or dream. There is a 50/50 chance only. Yes or no. I have no control over the matter. Thus, I have to consider what might be for fall, if the job doesn’t materialize.

In doing so, I started to think about my classes for GCU. I am scheduled to teach 3 sections of English 106 again. I picked these three simply because I was so unsure about my life after my PhD. I just didn’t know what my fall might be like, and back when I selected them, I thought perhaps I might not graduate in May. I was thinking I might not graduate until December, so teaching 3 classes that I know like the back of my hand just made good sense to me.

Now, though, I am thinking, “Carol, what did you do?” I mean, I do love these courses, but I am plum tired of the way I am teaching them. I have taught them consistently for the past 6 semesters, and frankly, I need to update the way I present this material. I realized it last year, but I was in the middle of my dissertation, and there was nothing I could do at the time. I had to use what I had. But this morning, I started to think about what I would do differently, and I began to feel excited about making these changes. I started to think about how to become a better teacher, how to be a better composition instructor, and with that thought, I started to see a way to improve my experience here and now. Yes, I started to focus on what is right in front of me rather than focus on what is way off in the distance.

I am thanking the Lord today because I realized that while it is good to keep a heavenly-focused mindset, we are not to be so heavenly focused that we become “no earthly good,” as the saying says. I realized that in my desire to move, I lost focus on the here and now. I became somewhat obsessed with moving, with thinking about what my life might be like, that I became dissatisfied and disgruntled with what I already had right in front of me. I stopped seeing my provision here in Phoenix as good, and began to focus solely on my future provision and how much “better” it would be. I am not saying that it is wrong to focus on future hopes and dreams; may it never be so. Rather, I am simply saying that we can easily become distracted, so much so that we forget to thank the Lord for the daily blessings and provision He has graciously provided to us. In short, we look forward to the manna that is coming tomorrow without thanking Him for the manna He has given us today.

In Conclusion

In closing, I am taking the time today to thank the Lord for the gracious and abundant provision that I have now. I know He has a great future for me, and He has a great plan for my life, but I cannot lose sight of what He is doing today in order to dream about what He will do tomorrow. I need to stay grounded, and well, take my medicine. I need to be busy with the daily business of life WHILE I wait patiently for the Lord to open doors, bring jobs, and move me (if He wills it) to a new and wonderful place. Until then, I will consider the place I am in as blessed, fortunate, and so wonderfully good — because — He is good, and He came to give me life, and for that life to be, ABUNDANT.

July 8, 2017

The Power of Our Words

It is a good day in sunny and hot, Phoenix. I woke up this morning with a sore throat coupled with itchy eyes and stuffy nose. Yes, I think summer allergies are in full swing. I am feeling better now that I have had my coffee, but when I first woke up, I had that awful “head is full” sensation. The good news is that I don’t think I am the worse for wear, so to speak. Summertime in Phoenix is hot, dry, and well, dusty. It is just that winning combination that really sends my allergies off to war.

In other news, our weather is in an unusual high pattern right now. Our normal daily high is 107, but yesterday we broke another record. We hit 118 in Phoenix, and that was the hottest day on record since 1942. I think there were three other places in the state that also broke records, so we are on a streak, I guess. Not saying I am loving the heat, but it is what it is, and well, it is better to be cheerful about things you cannot change than to grumble and complain, know what I mean?

It is a good day, despite the fact that my Logitech Solar keyboard is down. Yes, I invested in this cool solar keyboard earlier in the year. I liked the fact that it was white and that it looked cool with my Magic Mouse next to it. But, I have had problems with it keeping the charge, and other issues with it jumping/skipping when I am in Blackboard. This morning, the solar rating was down to less than 36%, and the only way to get it back up into the “good” range is to blast direct light over it. I bought the keyboard because the promo said it functions in low-light conditions (natural light). My desk is sort of softly lit, and I prefer it this way because of my eyes. However, the low-light in my office is not enough, even next to a window, to keep the thing charged. Oh well! I am back to my former black Logitech wireless keyboard and trusty gray mouse. Yes, I am back to the old stand-by keyboard and mouse combo that worked through most of my graduate program. I have to admit that I preferred the other keys —low profile — to these rather high sticky ones. I am sure I will get back to business and be able to type my 70+ words per minute again soon. LOL!

In all things, I am thanking the Lord for His provision of good — good things — to me. I woke up this morning feeling blue, sort of depressed again (like yesterday), so rather than sulk in my feelings, I decided to take a positive spin on my entire life as it is playing out right now. What got me started was this short clip from Joyce Meyer this morning:

This word showed up on my Instagram feed, and well, it really convicted me. The last part, I mean. I have tried to not sow negative seeds in my life for a very long time, but I haven’t always sowed positive ones either. Joyce suggests the same thing — and her message is on point. It is biblical, and the biblical principle of sowing and reaping is encapsulated in her thesis: what we sow, we reap.

Proverbs 18:21 AMP says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible says this about Proverbs 18:21:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,.... Of witnesses, according to the testimony they bear; of judges, according to the sentence they pass; of teachers, according to the doctrine they preach; of all men, who, by their well or ill speaking, bring death or life to themselves and others. Some, by their tongues, by the too free use of them, or falsehood they utter, are the cause of death to themselves and others; and some, by their silence, or by their prudent speech and prevalent intercession, secure or obtain life for themselves and others; yea, judgment at the last day will proceed according to a man's words, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned", Matthew 12:37; the tongue is the instrument either of a great deal of good, or of a great deal of evil.
Our words have power, and the way we use our words can directly influence the outcome, the success, or the ability to experience the good God has in mind for us. Matthew 15:18 AMP says something similar. We read, “But whatever [word] comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what defiles and dishonors the man.”

Likewise, Gill’s clarifies the intent of this passage by saying,
But those things which proceed out of the mouth,.... Meaning not material things, as spittle, vomit, &c. but, as it follows, which come forth from the heart: are first conceived and formed there, and then come forth from thence, and are expressed by the mouth; as all idle words, foolish talking, filthy jesting, unsavoury communication, and every word that is rotten and corrupt, or which is done in the life and conversation; and they defile the man: the heart is the corrupt fountain from whence all moral defilement flows; and sinful words and actions are the impure streams, which spring from thence, and increase the moral pollution of human nature.
The idea is that the issue is not what goes into the man that defiles him; rather, it is what comes out of the man (and as Gill's says, it is not the material things, but the manifestation of what is in the heart). As a communicator, I am well aware that the words I speak can either build up and bring life (fruit) to myself and others or they can be used to demean and demoralize. Satan, our enemy, seeks to steal and destroy life, and one of the ways he does this is by planting thoughts into our minds that do not sow life, but rather sow death. Paul commanded the Christians in Ephesus, to heed control of their mouths when he said, "Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak]" (4:29 Amplified). Likewise, he encouraged them to "encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing" (1 Thess. 5:11 AMP). The Message translation says, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it."

Clearly, the Bible reminds us that the words we speak can be a blessing or a curse to those around us, but inherent within this teaching is also the caution to be careful with the words we speak about ourselves, over ourselves, and through the circumstances and situations we find ourselves in. Let me explain...

This morning, as I was laying in bed, I was thinking some negative thoughts about my current situation. The first thing that popped into my mind as I laid under my covers was the fact that the weather outside was going to be another extremely hot day. Thus, logically this meant that I would be taxed to remain indoors all day long. I had previously read through my Facebook feed, and I saw all the lovely posts and pictures of my friends in other (not so hot) places enjoying forest hikes, beach visits, and even time at the water/theme park. All the of these visual images reminded me that I live in an intolerable place, with intolerable heat, and where it is next to impossible to spend time outside because it is too intolerably hot. My first thought was to grumble and complain about the heat. My second thought was to be reminded that for the time being, I am stuck in Phoenix, settled here, and without any real plan of action to tell me otherwise, I am positioned to remain here.

My mind quickly created a number of negative scenarios that all worked together to reinforce the way I was feeling in that moment. I was STUCK. I was FORCED to remain. I had to ENDURE hardship. There was NO WAY out. I was UNHAPPY, MISERABLE, and hence, I was DEPRESSED because my life pretty much was not like that of my friends or family members who live in other parts of the country. Yep, you can see how one negative thought simply spawned a myriad of other not so happy thoughts.

Thankfully, before I got too far down this negative stream, I checked Instagram, and I watched Joyce's message. Her words encouraged me, but they also convicted me. They reminded me that what comes out of my mouth is often what is born in my heart. If I am sowing unhappiness, then I am reaping unhappiness. If I am sowing discontent, then I am reaping discontent.

The dictionary defines the word, discontentment, as "dissatisfaction with one's circumstances" (Reference.com). Merriam-Webster clarifies and suggests discontentment is a "lack of satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation." The KJV Dictionary includes "Uneasy in mind," which suggests a lack of peace or a feeling of anxiety or a being troubled or uncomfortable. I think a good word that covers all of these ideas is being disturbed. Disturbed or disrupted is something we can all identify with, especially if we have ever had a sleepless night. It is easy to remember how awful the next day was when the previous night was spent tossing and turning. When we are disturbed, something has caused our normal pattern or function disrupted. In short, we've been knocked off our routine, bounced off course, or simply distracted to the point where we have lost our focus or our way. If you tie all this together, you can see how easy it is to lose our countenance, our peace, our joy, etc., when we entertain negative thoughts -- when we speak them -- give them air and life.

As I processed my thoughts this morning, I realized that while I may not be happy in my present circumstances (for example, the heat), there is little I can do to change my outcome. Sure, I can up and move someplace else, but until the Lord provides for me, calls me forward to do so, moving to simply move, might not be in my best interest. No, the better choice is to change my thinking, my mind, and to let positive thoughts flow more freely, more readily, and with the same principle in mind, sowing positive thoughts will reap positive rewards.

So, before I got out of bed, I decided to look at all the negative thoughts I was presently entertaining, and I simply flipped them around. Instead of saying, the heat is so intolerable (waah!) like I normally would do, I simply said,

Lord, thank you for Phoenix and the life I have here. There is a good reason why I live where I do, and you know that it is good for me to remain here for a while longer.

The same was true with the negative thoughts I had about my home life, the fact that right now I am living out of a 10x10 room and not the entire house I share with my parents. I complain about my lack of space, and at times, the close quarters cause some contention between the four of us. Instead of feeding those thoughts, I simply said,

Lord, there is a reason why you have me living in this home today. I thank you for the good life you have provided to me, and I know that while I cannot see a way out of my situation, you can see what will be down the road. I will patiently wait for your provision, and until that time, I will trust in the fact that you know that my life right now is exactly the way you desire it to be.

Likewise, as I thought more about the job I interviewed for on Thursday, whether or not I would be hired full-time, and so forth, I said these words,

Lord, you have the perfect job set aside for me. If this job (the one I interviewed for) doesn't come to pass, then you have something better in store for me. I expect your best, only your best, and I will patiently wait for you to deliver your best to me. Until then, I will gladly and cheerfully do the work I have set before me, and I will look with excitement and anticipation for your sweet reward of full-time work, in your time and according to your plan.

My plan was to see if I could change the way I was feeling by simply turning my negative thoughts into positive ones. It only took about 3-4 minutes before the depression left me. I started to feel better, think clearer, and generally, have a better outlook after speaking words that confirmed God's plan for my life rather than complain about my perceived lack of His provision. In doing so, I found that I was better able to accept my place in time, and while I am hoping for some good news soon (on the job front), I know that until that word comes to me, my attitude and my response to my situation can be adjusted simply by speaking words that are good, are positive, and affirm God's plan, love, and care for me. Yes, I believe that God does care for me.

Psalm 139 is a wonderful hymn of David. It reminds us just how much the Lord cares for us, protects us, and desires good for our life.

O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.

For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

As I close this blog post today, I am reminded of the words of Peter in 1 Peter, chapter five, verses 6-7. The Apostle writes,

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, 7 casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].

Yes, God cares for me, and when I am anxious (as in disturbed), I am often not thinking clearly, carefully, and with the right heart motives. I am prone to negative thoughts and ideas, and when I give my enemy a foothold to feed me his lies, then I find that I become disheartened and discontented. I know that my first defense is to stand in faith, to demonstrate my faith in God, in His word, and in His timing. Secondly, I know that I can speak words of life, the very words of God, and the enemy will flee. More so, when I speak words that have the power to reap positive results, I am doing myself a favor, I am giving myself a "B vitamin" shot, so to speak. I am giving myself a good boost of positive thinking, and in this way, I am affirming the plan the Lord has for me, remembering to trust Him, rely on Him, and most importantly, to abide in Him. I am resting in His words, His works, and in His sufficiency rather than leaning on my own understanding or allowing myself to be demeaned, depressed and dejected simply by listening to statements that may or may not be true, accurate, or for my blessing or benefit.

Therefore, today, I give the Lord thanks for the power of His word in and through my life. I may not see my life situation shift soon, but I can remain as I am, trusting in Him completely, and resting in His ability to control and to complete the work He has planned, prepared, and provisioned for me to do. He is good. He is so good to me! Selah!