May 2, 2016

When the Chips are Down

I am not sure what happened yesterday, but after my early morning experience with the tow truck and getting my son's car hauled to the service center, I pretty much just shut myself down. I mean, I crawled back into bed around 9 a.m. and slept until noon. Later in the afternoon, I ended up asleep again, this time for a couple hours. Then finally, I turned in around 11 p.m. last evening, and I slept rock-solid until 8 a.m. this morning. I know that they say, "your body must have needed the sleep," but I am not so sure. I normally sleep 8-9 hours each night, Lord willing, and I try very hard to go to bed at the same time each night so that I have a regular sleep routine. I am also sleeping with my ceiling fan on in order to help with my night sweats (hot flashes). The fan does help, but I do think the recurring flashes disrupt my sleep to the point where I am not getting a solid amount of deep REM sleep. This could be why I feel so groggy and awful the next day or why it takes me a couple hours each morning to really get into gear. I've thought about hormone replacement therapy since my symptoms are moderate but do seem to interfere with my daily activities. However, due to the fact that my Mom has had breast cancer (as have others in the family), I am unwilling to use HRT unless I have no other choice. Hopefully, these night sweats, hot flashes and cold flashes (they are the worst) will pass soon. Until then, I will continue with my exercise, diet, and supplement routine and pray the Lord gives me the grace to endure this "rite of passage" like all the other women before me.

Tired and Weary

I am tired today, but more to the point, I am weary. I am really worn out and feeling useless this good, good day. I cannot really explain how I went from feeling so up, so good, and so refreshed to where I am today. It seemed like in a moment, my life's hopes and dreams were dashed, and I was left picking up the pieces again. I am tired. I want to go home. I want to rest. Yes, I am bone weary, and I simply want all of this to end today.

As I sit here blogging, drinking my coffee, and enjoying my "boys" sleepy repose, I cannot help but think that my life is stalled for a reason. I get it, I mean the whole "you've got to finish your dissertation" and all, but sometimes I think that this feeling of being stuck is so much larger than my PhD program. I think, and I may be wrong here, but it is more that I have come to the end of a very long, long road, and now I don't know what to do next. Perhaps it is because I have completed such a difficult task, getting a PhD, and learning how to be a professor, etc. that I feel this overwhelming "it's all over" feeling. I never really thought that I might be depressed when my program ends, but that is sort of how I feel. I have loved every moment of my program, every class, every paper, every project. I have loved learning at this level, and yes, I am sad to see it end. So many of my colleagues are excited to be at the end. They will say to me, "I can't wait to get this over" or "I am so over this program now." But, I am like sad, really sad, depressed and disappointed that I have made it to the end. Part of me wants to say "Is this it?"

I know the reason why I feel this way. I feel this way because this journey to the PhD has been in process for over 24 years. I first broached the thought, the idea really, of getting my PhD back in December of 1992. I was about to graduate from San Jose State University, and my professor wanted to nominate me for a fellowship award so I could study without the worry of paying for my education. After speaking with my then husband, who in no uncertain terms said I couldn't continue on and had to get a job, I told her no and I walked away from graduate school. In the intervening years, I never lost the desire for it, and I held onto this little dream of getting my PhD and teaching college (though I buried it down deep). After my marriage ended, I felt the Lord lead me to consider studying again, and with faith in His insistence, I applied for a Masters program. In time, I started to teach college classes while going on to complete my PhD (I am ABD). I will be officially sanctioned as a PhD in fall (Lord willing). I will have accomplished this wonderful dream, this goal, that took so long and so much effort to achieve.

I should be happy. I should be overjoyed. I should be satisfied beyond measure, yet I am depressed, anxious, and worried. I am stressed, and as the days roll by, I feel more and more stressed over my next steps. In truth, I have had moments of angst these past couple years, worry about summers with no income, lack of jobs come fall or spring, etc. But, they were temporary flights of fancy, where I would buck up, and simply forge on. Now, though, I don't know what lays ahead of me. I don't know what to do and that scares me. It really scares me. Do I just say "No worries" and march on? Part of me says, "Yes, march on, Carol" and part of me says "what for?" I mean, what is next? What will I do next? If I cannot find a full-time teaching role, has all of this effort been for naught? Has my sacrifice been for nothing at all?

It is weird to think this way, but again, I think the reason I lean this way is because of my INTJ personality. INTJ's tend to be the most structured and organized of the personality types. We plan. And, when I say we plan, I mean we plan, strategize, and then carry out detailed and crafted orders that lead to a very specific and directed outcome. Typically, INJT's are strategists or they are military leaders so you get the idea here. We look for solutions to problems, we analyze, and then we launch a very sequential and careful attack. We succeed 9 times out of 10, and when we make a mistake (we often do), it is because of an unknown factor that simply could not have been anticipated (even though we carefully considered contingencies). Our plans for our lives can be years in the making, and we analyze the details so thoroughly that at times we get stuck in a rut or in what I call a logic-loop. We spin round and round, retracing our steps, until finally we spot the error or the problem, and then we move on.

I have been analyzing my life now for a good 10 years. This is why I blog every day, why I write down my thoughts as they spill out of my head, and why I often appear to be very deeply connected to my experiences. It is all part of the process of understanding my life, where I have been and where I am going, and as I understand the details, I gain insight into the motivations, the decision-making process (good and bad), all so that I can avoid making the same mistake twice. I avoid casualties by revising, reinventing, and revisiting former plans so that I learn from the past. In this way, I am able to make better plans for the future, for my future. When I cannot make those plans, or when the plans seem impossible, improbable, then I get stuck. I feel this way now, I feel that I am stuck and that I cannot figure out how to get from A to B to C. I know that some of this is simply transition, and that transition is a part of life. But, there still should be a goal in mind, an end-goal, that is motivating and serving as the focal point for all the energy, time, and sacrifice. My end goal is now complete (almost) and I need a new goal to refocus my energies and to repurpose my life.

The Plans

I sit here today and I think to myself, "I need a new goal, Lord." I have had this goal for 24 years, and we are close to completion. I will complete it soon. I will graduate. There is no point in coming to the end and not crossing the finish line -- that would be futile, irresponsible, and frankly, stupid. No, the goal must be completed. The check-list must have every item checked off. I will not give in. I will not relent on this matter. I will see this through to the end, no matter how hard, how high, or how impossible the task seems. I know that the Lord didn't bring me to this point to let me fail. No, I know this is the case. However, I am the problem, not Him. I am the one who wants to chuck it all in right now and stomp off and fret. I want to overcome, I want to excel, I want to achieve -- but I am stuck -- and no matter how I try or envision or even consider possibilities, I find that I am unable to move forward. I feel restrained, completely prohibited from making a step. This bothers me, and I cannot figure it out except to say that the Lord is the One who is holding me back. He has stopped my forward progression for some reason, and until I know why, I have to sit here with my engine in idle. Oh, Lord, why has this happened? Why do I feel the way I do this good, good day?

Psalm 37:7 NLT says, "Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes." This Psalm is my favorite, and verses 4-5 are my life verses. Yes they are the verses I took ten years ago when I made the decision to place my trust, my life, in His hands -- to be wholly devoted to Him. I made Him my delight, and as a result, the Lord gave me the desires of my heart (His heart). My life changed as a result of that decision, and today, I am where I am because I have followed after His desires and plans. I gave up everything so that I could make Him my sufficiency, my Rock and my Refuge. I chose to live a life that was solely and completely in dependency upon Him, and as such, I went where He led, and I listened to His voice and walked in obedience to what I believed were His directives and plans. I was and still am convinced of the plans the Lord has for my life, it is just that over time, especially the past couple years, I feel that I have lost my focus and my desire. I have been confused over details, and I have found myself turned around too many times. My single-minded focus has been replaced at times with an other-minded focus, and as such, I have seen my way muddied. Now, I am trying desperately to get back to where I once was, to reconnect my past to my present so I can make sense of my experiences. I want to move forward, to continue on in His plan for my life, but I am stalled.

Help me, Lord, to see my way clear of this confusion. Help me to navigate through this dark and murky space and enter into your blessed clarity and vision for my life.

I know it may seem weird to some people to fixate on the things I fixate on, but this is just how I am, it is the way I am "wired" so to speak. I wish right now I could let this all go, take that "whatever" approach to life, and be so very Doris Day (as in "Que Sera Sera"). But, I cannot. In fact, I am not able to let go of the little bit of control I have over my life because I believe so strongly in the plans the Lord has for me. I have tried to move forward. I have tried to follow what I believed was the "best" way to go. Now, though I need to know for sure, for certain, and I need to move on in a way that makes good sense. I need to make changes that will influence others and make my life better. Yet, how do I do that? How do I make change in this way?

News and Update

So while I was blogging this morning, the car people called to say that my son's car has thrown a rod. In short, the engine is damaged. The car is dead -- seriously and completely -- DEAD! I am not in a position to get him another car, and I don't have the money to repair this one. I am stuck, royally stuck. What is more? My son is not able to replace his car at this time either. He has some money set aside, but not enough to purchase a car or even make a down payment. I have reached out to his Dad for help, but I doubt seriously that he will be of much help. He has no money to speak of, and he has not really helped in this way before. The solution always seems to come from my hand, thus I feel certain that it will be up to me to solve this problem yet again. Sigh!

In whom do you trust, Carol? In whom have you placed your trust for this situation?

Yes, Lord. I am looking to you and you alone for the solution to this problem. I will not come up with a plan that is of my own making. I will wait. I will patiently wait, and I will endure this trial with your help and your sufficiency. I believe as Paul did that your grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) for this good, good day.

I ask now, Lord, for permission to seek a solution to this need, but I realize that I can do nothing in my own way or of my own hand. My hand is empty, Lord. I have no resources, no help outside of you, and I need you to solve this problem. My faith rests in your provision, and as Jehovah-Jireh, I trust that you will provide manna for this good, good day. If you desire to provide a new car for my son, so be it. If you desire for him to borrow mine for a time, so be it. If you choose to make us both wait for a time, so be it. If you choose to keep me from working part-time this summer or full-time until my PhD is conferred, then so be it. I cannot worry about what I cannot control.

Today, I am choosing to place my faith in the One who holds all the answers. I know that a broken-down car is not a major life worry when you compare it to a loved one dying of cancer or a spouse deployed in dangerous circumstances. Yet, my little worry is still a worry for me and my family. There are repercussions to not having transportation, and frankly, while minor at times, they are still concerns. I am choosing today, however, to let this go, to stop worrying about what will be, and instead, choosing to focus on what is already in process. I mean, I am okay. I have a job for fall, and although I am not sure how I will make it through this summer -- without any major hiccups -- I still know that You have faithfully kept my ship afloat since I started walking in this way.

Now, though, I have to consider what You may be asking me to do. I need to retreat to my prayer closet and consider myself dependent upon You for every single bread crumb, and every single movement forward. I need You to release me to move, and then I need to accept whatever gift You offer to me as a blessed opportunity and not as a curse. You are good, You are always so good to me. Selah!

May 1, 2016

Break of Day

So my morning didn't turn out as planned. No, I was awoken at 7 with a call from my college-aged son who was sitting beside the freeway with his broken down car. Sigh! He was heading out to the west valley to perform for school, and his car started to make a noise so he cautiously pulled off the highway. He turned his engine off, and instead of trying to get his car off to a side road, he just let it sit. He called me to ask for help, so I got up, dressed and headed out the door to check out the situation. I was too tired to think straight, and the car was placed precariously near a busy exit ramp. I simply waited for the tow truck to arrive. I didn't even try to start the car or see if the problem was something simple to fix. Now, the car has been towed to a station in Scottsdale (about 5 miles away), and while I am thankful, there is part of me that is stressing over the cost of this repair (yet another repair). I mean, I am tapped out. I have no way to fix his car now, not now, not as summer approaches. UGH!

I prayed throughout the entire ordeal, and I felt the Lord say to me, "Trust me." Okay, Lord, you know my situation. You know that I don't have the money set aside for another repair, especially not with this car. I need this problem solved, and I don't know how to do it. I am trusting you to provide a way out of this problem, some resolution so we can move forward. My son needs his car to get to school and work, and without it, he will have to use my car. I need my car as well, so I am at a loss as to how to even begin to fix this big UNKNOWN right now. Help me, Lord? Please help me, and show me the way to go this good, good day.

The good news, if there is any, is that on the way home, my Dad stopped at Dunkin Donuts, and I got myself a Boston Cream donut as a consolation prize. Okay, so not on the diet, and not the best thing to eat, but you know, it sort of made up for being hauled out of the house so early on a Sunday morning. Yeah, I'll take it. I will take it any day of the week! Selah!

Plans for the Day

My plans for the day were simple. Get up, enjoy my restful morning, head over to church, be blessed at church, head home. Work on my paper. Rest. Enjoy the family. Praise God for His goodness.

Now my plans are simple. Rest. Yes, I will rest in the sufficiency of my God. I cannot allow this present circumstance to dictate my blessed future. God will provide. He will prevail, and He will show me what to do. I trust Him. I believe in Him. I know He will do it.

Solution-Minded Thinking

The solution to this problem is to get rid of this car. Yes, this is the answer, but the process of getting rid of this car is not so simple. I have spent so much money repairing this car. I was assured by Triple AAA that everything that would fail on this car has failed and has been replaced. Whatever is the problem today is clearly the result of some oversight on their part. They assured me, after I forked over $1000 that the problem -- all the problems -- had been fixed. Now, I am left wondering as to what might be the cause of the issue. Oh, Lord, please help me know the truth in this matter. Please help me navigate this problem with your grace, and provide a solution to me that will work for us. I ask this now in Jesus' Name. Amen.

I had hoped to be able to replace my son's car at some point this year. In fact, I had wanted to replace his car last spring, before all this happened. Now, I am not in any position to do anything at all, and while my son does work, he doesn't have thousands of dollars on him to buy his own car. I could just say "tough luck," but that is not going to help him out. I mean, he is a student, on a scholarship, and as part of his scholarship, he has to perform with the school. He was on a school performance trip today when his car broke down. He has to be able to get to school, and he has to be able to have reliable transportation in order to keep his scholarship.

This is one of those "if only" moments. You know, "If only I had a good job where I was making boo-koo bucks, then I could buy a second-hand car for him." Or "If only I had a good job where I was making boo-koo bucks, I could pay for these repairs and not worry about the cost." Instead, I am a poor adjunct instructor with no extra money laying about. What is more, I am not working now. I am off for the summer, and that means I have 2 and a half months without any income. My savings is set aside to pay my bills. I cannot charge to my credit cards -- they are already maxed out -- so there is no money to fix his car. No money. Nada. None.

This is a miracle moment. I need a miracle. I need the Lord to intervene and save us. I believe He can do it, and I believe He will do it. He will provide. He will make a way. I believe that He will do it. He is good. He is good. He is good.

But, what if He doesn't do anything? What will you do then? I don't see that has a possibility, but should the Lord choose not to provide some solution to us, then I would continue to pray, to patiently wait, and to rest in the knowledge that He will deliver us. In time. In some length of time. We will make do. We will hang on. We will wait.

Panic is not the Answer

Right now, I would like to panic. But, I cannot do that. In fact, right now I am in pain, searing pain. My middle back is aching. I woke up this morning with a backache -- right in the middle of my back, right where my bra strap crosses, and it hurts to breathe in and out. I don't know how this happened. I felt the pain in the middle of the night. I got up, went to the bathroom, and when I came back the pain started. The pressure has been building steadily, and right now, I feel awful. I've stretched already. I have done some warm up exercises to get the body moving. Nothing has worked. I am sure that this problem is related to my posture, to my sitting in one place all day, and to my evening spent hanging out via video chat with my good friend. I am stiff, sore, and feeling stressed. I don't need this today. Not today. Not ever.

I refuse to panic. I refuse to give in to the stress I feel right now. Instead, I am going to rest. I am going to lay down for a while, and take a nap. Everything always looks better after a good nap. Everything always seems better after a solid couple hours of sleep.

April 30, 2016

God's Grace

It is a good day in Phoenix. Yes, it is Saturday, and I am up and about, getting ready to begin chapter 2 of my dissertation. My plan for the day is to get part of my review of literature written so that I can finish it up by tomorrow. I feel pretty confident that I can do it, and I am think I finally have the angle I need to attack this project with boldness and speed. Right now, I am sitting at the computer contemplating my life, feeling a bit sorry for myself, and thinking about how I allowed the enemy to gain a foothold the other day. Let me explain...

It started on Thursday. As I recall, Thursday was a good day. Well, it might have started out rough, but it ended well. I didn't get much work done on my major paper, but I did spend the day researching for more articles, reading about my method (proposed), and then making notes on what I might do differently when I sit down to write my chapter 2 and 3. I also spent some time on the Internet looking for work. Yes, I spent about four hours looking at jobs -- in teaching and in business -- when I should have been focused on writing my paper. My day went downhill from then on...

Doubting God's Sufficiency

In truth, I was doing fine *mentally* until I checked into OCU's online system. I am approved to teach courses online, but I haven't received any contracts yet. I check into their mail system once or twice a week, but so far, I have only received communication that is general to the administration and faculty. However, last week (backing up a bit), I received an email asking me to correct an assignment I posted during my orientation course in February. I went in and made the suggested corrections, and my grade was adjusted. The lady who was grading the orientation was very nice, and was filling in for the chair of the Humanities program. She explained to me that they (the school) were behind in assessments, which helped me understand why I hadn't received any confirmation on contracts. We chit-chatted back and forth throughout the week, and then on Thursday, I went back into the orientation class to read her feedback on my final assignment -- a reflection paper on my abilities to teach online. I wrote that reflection as I was preparing to pass my qualification exams, so my mind was a bit stressed and I was feeling the pinch of a timed-deadline. Her response to me was very kind, but it also sparked feelings of inadequacy in me. Basically, she questioned whether I would have enough time to teach online with all my "other" responsibilities (on campus, school, dissertation, family, etc.). I appreciated what she said, but I couldn't help but take her words as criticism of my abilities to handle the workload. I mean, I understood what she was saying to me, and I took her advice to heart. It was just that I felt as if I was impotent to change my circumstance, to earn a living wage, and to improve my financial outlook. I mean, I cannot live on adjunct pay -- plain and simple -- and I had such high hopes that this job would provide a way for me to earn extra income by teaching from home. It seemed like such a winner, you know, a God-provision, a good thing.

As I considered her words, I couldn't help but think "How can this be, Lord?" How can I work all these part-time jobs and make a decent living? The answer rolled round and round in my head. All I heard was a resounding and very loud, "You cannot." I mean, it is important for me to do good work. I want to be thought of as a highly conscientious worker, someone who gives 100% to their job, and who takes the responsibility of each job seriously. Now, I was wondering if I could do that, I mean, if I could be 100% considerate of each contract I am offered. Can I teach at 2-3 or 4 schools with equal and fair commitment? Her question was worth considering because she clearly could see my situation.

After a while, I thought to myself, "Perhaps, I need to keep looking for full-time faculty jobs" even though I have felt for a while that I wouldn't be able to find one, let alone be hired, until I had my PhD in hand. So I spent the next few hours looking for teaching positions as well as business/industry ones.

As Friday arrived (and passed), I made little progress on my dissertation because I was fixated on finding work. I mean, I thought "It is impossible" for me to work part-time another year. How can I make ends meet if I will be teaching on campus and not online (for extra income)? Of course, I prayed about my situation. I went to the Lord, asking -- no -- pleading for Him to help me understand what I am to do, where I am to go, how I am to get there, etc. All I heard back was "Trust me." Yes, Lord, I will be patient. I will wait. I will trust you.

Sigh. Why can't I just listen and obey? Why can't I just be content?

Relying on God and Not Man

I was reading through Philippians 2 today, and I came across this familiar set of verses:
So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
As I read verses 12 and 13, I was reminded that my purpose is to glorify God, to worship Him with my whole being. I was created to bring Him honor, and my purpose, first and foremost, is to live in such a way that I am always demonstrating His goodness, His character, His love for others. I often struggle with my purpose, and I confuse my calling (how God plans to use me for His work) with my every day life (being in the moment and presence of God). I know that sometimes my life, as I blog about it, seems to take on larger-than-life proportions. I write so frequently about my struggles, my woes, so to speak, that I often lose sight of my priorities, my perspective, and my purpose. Yes, I lose my purpose in what I am doing, in the path that I am on to serve and to honor the Lord.

Furthermore, Isaiah, in chapter 43:7 reminds us of our purpose when he writes, "Everyone who is called by My Name, Whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made." God created us specifically for the purpose of worship. When we focus our energies on man and the world, we easily lose our sense of focus, our well-being, and our desire to do what God asks of us. We can become easily ensnared in the troubles of the world, rather than remembering that we serve a Holy and Mighty God.

Last night, my friend and I had a chat about faith, about believing God and believing that He will work things out on our behalf. I tend to be a half-glass full person when it comes to God's sovereignty. I simply choose to believe that He will do what He has promised. I believe that God not only can intervene in our lives, but that He chooses to do so regularly. I do not hold the view that just because God can do something, there is no guarantee that He won't do it.  I know many Christians believe this -- that somehow God is mean, and He picks and chooses whom to bless or curse. This is OT logic and thinking, and I refuse to accept this as true. I don't mean to say that God acts like a credit-card machine, that He always will do whatever we ask. I acknowledge Him as sovereign, and in that way, I accept that He has the ability to choose when and where to act. There are plenty of scriptures that support the view that God doesn't always intervene in the lives of His creation. But, we forget that there are numerous promises recorded in the Bible where we are told to expect Him to intervene. Yes, I believe in faith in action -- faith that believes not only can He do something -- but that He will do what we ask of Him. Thus, in matters of faith, I choose to believe that He will do what is asked, so long as we ask with the heart motivation that pleases Him most -- humility, obedience, and utter reliance upon Him. I know that some people will say, "But God didn't spare my child, my wife, my husband...from cancer, that car wreck, that loss of job, etc." I still hold true that it takes less energy to believe He will intervene, then to take the "wait and see" approach. I will believe in Him IF He spares my child. Rather, I believe that it is always in our best interest to believe regardless of the outcome. Our faith is tested and tried (James 2) in order to develop strength. There are times when God doesn't intervene in order to develop our character, our witness, and yes, OUR FAITH.

I know that I struggle most of the time when I doubt, when I stop trusting God to provide for me, and when I start to look for provision through a job. I do this all the time, I mean, ALL THE TIME. I hate that I have gotten into this habit, this spiral of doubting God's timing, of believing that somehow it is up to me to save myself, to find a job that will solve all my problems. When did I stop trusting the Lord? When did I stop believing that He would solve my problem, provide a good job, and make a way for me? Has He stopped being faithful to me? Has He allowed me to suffer, to go without, to lose hope? No. He has been faithful to me. He has never once left me alone or asked me to figure this out on my own. He has provided grace, grace, and more grace. He has made my way possible -- all the way -- through graduate school, through a PhD program, and now through a dissertation and defense. He has a plan, and it is a good one. I stand today, at the ready, and I wait for Him to deliver me. He will do it, I believe He will, and I have faith in my God who is able to do more than I could ever imagine or desire. He alone is God, and I give Him all the praise, the honor and the worship this good, good, good day!

April 29, 2016

Blues and Pinks

It is Friday, the end of the week, and I am feeling well today. Well, not “well,” as in great, super, or wonderful, but “well” in the general sense of the word. I woke up this morning feeling more refreshed than I have been lately, so THAT is a very good thing. I slept soundly, at the least, I think I did, and I woke up without the horrible backache like most mornings. I am feeling sound, I guess you could say, and I have a sense of peace, of rightness, and of goodness today, and for that, I am thankful, so very thankful. The Lord has been good to me this past week. I have come through some strange trials, odd circumstances, and unusual experiences, and through it all, He has been my ROCK and my REFUGE. I am in a place that feels “comfortable” right now, and I am sensing that my life is back on track, back to where it should be, and that I am back in the middle of the blessed river of His mighty will. It is good, all good. I am grateful, thankful, and at peace. He is good, so good, so very good to me. Selah!

Preparing for Fall

So spring 2016 is in the bag. Yes, I posted my final grades today (by the deadline, no less), and I am relieved to have this burden off my back. In truth, this past semester has not been a good one for me. Not only was I super stressed about my qualification exams, but I struggled with my performance at my school and with the feeling like I was being watched (critically examined or probed). I understand that our performance must always be evaluated, and in truth, I don't think anyone really likes the process of being reviewed. But, I felt that I was unfairly observed (without warning), and that I was not given any consideration to explain or defend myself. I felt like my department wanted me out, wanted me to shape up or ship out. I don't know if this was true or not, but the way my review was conducted sure felt like it. The worst part is that I received no follow up, no communication afterwards, which only left me hanging on wondering why I was treated the way I was treated. Now, I don't know if I have contracts in place for fall or not. I have accepted three teaching contracts, but I have not received any information to confirm that I am to be back there in the fall.

I guess what bothers me most is the fact that I was assessed on performance without the opportunity to show my best, to do my best. It was like my whole career was approved or rejected in one 15-minute conversation. Sigh!

I know that the Lord has protected me, and that He has given me favor wherever I have worked. I have experienced His favor time and time again. I mean, I have been able to work under the radar, been kept out of the fray, and generally, been allowed to come and go as I please without any real scrutiny. Now, I feel like the harsh light of reality has come down on me, and I am being picked apart like some dead animal at the hands of foraging prey.

In truth, I love what I do. I love the work I get to do every single day. I love working with students, helping them, and being their "go to person" in order to help them succeed. Yet, I feel so harassed and unwanted and that really hurts. I would like to think that the work I do is valuable, considered, and appreciated, and for the most part, I do think it is. Yet, there are times when a kind word, a comforting compliment, would go a long way to soothing those feelings of inadequacy. This is why I believe it is vitally important to always be encouraging to other people -- even people you don't always get along with well. We all need words of affirmation, comfort, and consolation in order to survive what can be a difficult, and at times, very trying process of life. Thus, being an encouraging person, especially as a Christian, can bring hope and light into very dark and difficult places. I am blessed to be gifted with the spiritual gift of encouragement, and as such, I go out of my way to encourage others as I see their need. I keep my eyes open, share readily with them a word or two, and in that way, I spread the joy of the Lord wherever I go. I just wish that other people, other Christians, would do the same to me. I would so love to hear a word of acknowledgement, encouragement, and affirmation right now. It would do this weary body good.

As I prepare for fall, I have several things on my mind. First, I do intend to teach as the Lord's leads and provides. This means that I will be at both campus schools for another semester of classes. However, since I have several applications in process for online teaching jobs, I am available to teach extra classes as those doors open for me.

Furthermore, I also have that application in play at United Healthcare, and for now, I am leaving it be. Should the Lord choose to provide for me through business, I will not look down upon this gift. I will do whatever work He provides for me because I now realize that when I am operating in my gifts, my areas of spiritual blessing, then I am able to do great things in His Name and in His power. I don't have to be teaching to do these things. I don't have to be working in my field to be a blessing to others. I can be a blessing wherever I go so long as I am serving Him first and foremost, and I am seeking to bring honor and praise to His name. I will go and I will do whatever work He provides for me. I am no longer going to see myself as this or that thing, but rather, I am choosing to see myself as a servant, as someone who serves whatever population the Lord needs me to serve.

In this way, I will be about His business today and tomorrow -- regardless -- of what tasks I am asked to do. I think this attitude will allow me to remain in the middle of His grace, right where He can use me most, without placing barriers or boundaries on what I am willing to do for His work and His kingdom. I mean, I must remember that in all things, the work we do is KINGDOM focused, and that means that my work ultimately is about sharing the love of Christ with as many others as possible. There are lost people in my classes just as their are lost people in offices all across this nation. If the Lord chooses to send me to work in a building with business people, then He has need for me to go and minister there. If He chooses to keep me in the classroom, then He wants me to minister to the students He brings to me.

One thing I have learned through this entire process is this -- when God calls you -- He equips you to do the work He needs you to do. He doesn't expect you to figure out how to do the work. He shows you what to do, then if you need help, training or education, He provides it to you. He never leaves you to do the work on your own. This is especially true in ministry. God desires to receive the glory and the praise so He doesn't set you up so that you receive that praise, but rather that He receives the praise through your efforts and achievements. If you desire to see Him praised, then you must remember that all praise given to you must be reflected back to Him. You cannot receive the praise of men without acknowledging His presence in your life or without honoring His work and His power as He has enabled you to succeed.

I am an achievement oriented person, which just means, that I desire achievement. I like to win awards, receive prizes, get special recognition. I enjoy being promoted when I have done a good job. I enjoy receiving praise for my hard work and effort. I have always been this way, even as a child, and as such, I am motivated by earning rewards. So when I don't earn an award or receive acknowledgement of a job well done, I immediately think that I have failed, that I have performed badly or that somehow I am unfit to serve (to work or to do what is asked of me). This need for achievement is why I struggled so when I had my evaluation this past semester. I felt that I was called out, out of the blue, and made to feel unfit for the work I was doing. Had this happened during my first couple semesters, I would have understood it, but since it happened after my sixth semester, it just seemed odd especially since I had received only glowing remarks and compliments previously.

I desire recognition, yet I don't seek it directly as some people do. I am not a "limelight" kind of person. No, I work very hard behind the scenes, doing my own thing, achieving and making my own mark, without all the fanfare associated with rising to the top. I like to receive recognition, but I don't like to be in the spot light all the time. It is a give-and-take with me. I will give my all, and all I ask in return is a compliment, a "job well done." I don't need the fancy applause and such. No, just a kind word of thanks is good enough for me.

Now that I have arrived at the summer break, I am starting to see how my need to achieve and my desire for recognition have been thwarted these past three years. I realize now that when I moved into higher education, I stepped off the speedy track of performance reviews and evaluations that would lead to promotion. Instead, I entered into the "dog fight," the arena where to be recognized for your achievement meant publishing, presenting, and publicly participating in your field. I can do all of these things for certain, but the process by which you begin to do that is time-consuming, difficult, and at times, fraught with obstacles that seem insurmountable. I looked at the mountain of higher education, those steps that part-time faculty are expected to climb in order to be considered for full-time positions. The more I came to see the plausibility for me to climb them, the more I found it difficult to do. I found the whole process to be inconsistent with my need to achieve and with my ability to do so. You see, I am all for being recognized for my excellent, my hard work and my diligence to my job well. But, I am not willing to jump through hoops, climb walls, or scale mountains JUST for the remote possibility of receiving an offer for full-time work. No, I don't play games, I don't do party politics, and I don't schmooze and behave as a bee to honey for any person, any job, or any opportunity. What's more important is that I won't pray to an idol, whether it is a good job or a better paycheck. I won't bow down to any god, king or employer, even if I need the work, the pay, or the position.

Considering the Odds of Employment

So at this point in time, I see several avenues for employment. Yet, none of them appear to be right (as in perfect). Instead, I see options for practical work, good work, and a modicum of income for said work. I would like very much to be employed full-time. Yes, I would like to finally have one job where I can live comfortably and no longer stress or fret over my income and career path. I am content to remain faculty. I am content to work in business. I am content -- pretty much -- to do just about anything the Lord asks me to do. Yes, I am content to DO WHAT HE ASKS even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me right now. I do trust Him. I rely on Him for His provision and His security. I would like to know that tomorrow I have work. I would like to know that in the next six months I will have a job that pays me fairly well. I would like to know that I am moving forward in a career position that will enable me to enjoy success again, achievement as He enables, and opportunities for advancement or growth. I am not content to remain a saddlebag, to sit by the wayside and let the light of each good day pass me by. No, I want to move. I want to achieve, and I want to be recognized for my good efforts, my hard work, and my diligence to focus and to succeed.

As I consider the odds of employment in higher education, I realize that whatever job I finally land, I will not land it as a result of my own efforts. The only job I will receive is the job the Lord has provided to me. The process of finding and securing work as a faculty member is beyond challenging. It is not an easy process nor is it straightforward. In fact, I would say that to be employed in higher education as faculty, the process itself is time-consuming and made to be as difficult as possible. Moreover, it is highly competitive so the field of candidates is vast. The likelihood of receiving a job offer is slim, so to go into the work field with thoughts of accomplishing that feat is as easy as eating cake, well, is naive and ill-considered. I realize that the Lord opens the door for me, and that He prepares the way, and provides favor to me. Thus, in all the jobs I have had over the past 10 years, the Lord has moved the mountain, so to speak, and He has made my way possible. Therefore, as I look for work, I must acknowledge that the door to the job of His choosing only opens when He says it should open. No matter how qualified, how ready, or how good I look on paper, that door will not open until He turns the handle. I have to wait for His leading, His guidance, and then I have to trust that He will turn the handle and open the door. Until that time, the door will remain shut, closed, and there is nothing I can do to alter the outcome.

Over the past year or so, I have considered returning to business, to corporate work simply to facilitate my need for steady income. I have applied to a number of jobs, but like with higher education, those doors have stayed shut. I have vacillated between options -- teaching or business -- and in the end, I stayed put in higher education because it worked well for my time, my studies at Regent. Now, though, I am ready to move on, and ready to start making income again. I would like to have a permanent job, not temporary work, part-time work, etc. I would like to be back on that fast-track to success and achievement. Yet, I wonder if this is the Lord's will for me. I know my passion. I know my love, my heart's desire, and I know what He has provided for me to do. But, there is a part of me that is driven toward excellence, toward achievement, and earning recognition, accolades and promotions, well, that suits the bill as well. I want to do His work, regardless of the forum. I want to be successful in LIFE not just in ministry. I want to get my ducks in a row, to be about His business, and to know that I am doing a good job no matter where He places me. Thus, today, I think to myself -- so what? Let's just do the thing, the job the Lord provides, and trust Him to do His work in and through my efforts. Let's just let Him lead.

Leading and Following

I am a leader. By nature, the Lord has called me to lead. I don't like leading normally, but I can do it well. In fact, I would say that if I had to choose between leading and following, I would choose leading 9 out of 10 times. I like to work behind the scenes, for sure, but I also like to be in control, to be the one calling the shots, and to be the one to take charge. Yes, if I could charge up that hill to take it, I would do it. Why am I not in leadership now? I think the answer to that is simple. Because I have refused to lead when asked by others, and I have refused to take a roll that would put me in contention for leadership. Yes, I have failed to lead when asked, and I have refused to wear the mantle of leadership when it was handed to me.

Now that I am in this weird place, halfway between this and that direction, I see that many times I have chosen to take the easier road simply to avoid being placed in positions of authority or leadership. I don't like to fail. I don't like to be criticized and called out for poor performance, and when you are in leadership roles, you often are the target for open criticism and unwarranted scrutiny. I think my experience this past semester is a good example of what I mean. I was called out, unfairly, and I was placed in the limelight. I didn't like the heat, and the treatment, yet I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that when the Lord places you in positions of leadership, the likelihood of criticism, fall out, and unfair treatment is high, and the probability of it happening regularly, well, is significant (statistically, speaking).

What does this mean?

I think it means that my experience this past semester was fortuitous in the sense that it showed me what was to come. I just now realized that God permitted me to be placed under the heat lamp in order to show me what to expect down the road. It wasn't to humble me, though that did happen, but rather, it was to show me that leadership requires a "thick skin," a tough outer shell that enables you to survive when the going gets really tough. I was pricked lightly, and I took the feedback personally. I am still feeling this way, even after a month has passed. How I handle scrutiny, whether anticipated or not, will determine the type of leader I will become. I know that I must accept this path. I must learn to be a leader even when the leading process is difficult, challenging, and at times, very unpleasant.

My mind is blown. Yes, right now, I am thinking to myself, "Oh, Lord, I did say I would accept a leadership position if you provided one to me." Now, I am thinking that everything that has happened to me was planned and prepared to show me what I must endure. I must be willing to be openly probed, to be looked at cross-wise, and to, at times, linger in the crosshairs of my enemy's weapon. UGH!

Yet, I am not afraid. I may not like the idea of being placed on point, but I know my Lord is there with me. And, what is more, I know that He is well-acquainted with being in the crosshairs of the firing squad. If there is anyone who can train me, equip me, and prepare me for leadership, it is my Lord. He knows what I need most, and He knows exactly how to keep me safe. I trust Him. I believe in Him, and I rely on Him. He alone is good. He is so very good to me.

I feel like this twisted being, almost two-faced in some ways. One face is that of the follower, the person who likes to be hidden, and the other face is that of the bold, dynamic, and authoritative leader, the person who is all "take charge and gung ho!" How can two different types of people exist in one body? I just don't know, but I can say that I have been this way since I was a child. Perhaps the Lord has allowed me to experience both sides of my personality so that I will always keep from being prideful, arrogant and foolish. Yes, my hidden side fears rejection and public failure (humility). My limelight side brushes those fears away and takes the "whatever" position, the so be it and let's "git er done" attitude. What's more interesting is that the leader side of me is the optimistic side, the side that sees the glass half-full. The hidden side only sees the negatives of the situation, the glass is almost empty so conserve, conserve, conserve. The leaders says "step out in faith, be bold, trust the Lord," while the hidden side says "I have enough. I am good. I am comfortable right where I am now."

Which side will win out? Which side will take the bull by the horns and be triumphant?

Personally, I think, no I feel, it will be the leader in me. I am tired of taking a backseat to opportunity. I am tired of being behind the camera. It is not that I want to be in control or to take control, but rather it is that I would like to see what is out there -- you know -- on the other side of the lens. I would like to be bold and go see for myself. What is over there? Where will this path lead? What treasures exist on the other side of that hill? I guess I am starting to see opportunities for exploration, new avenues to follow, new ways to go. This adventure-seeker me is starting to desire adventure, change, new horizons, new challenges and new opportunities to explore. I want to go and see -- to do -- and to experience life fully. I don't want to live in the shadows anymore. I don't want to be bound to my fears and imprisoned to my doubts. I want to be bold, to be courageous, and to trust my Lord to lead me onward as He desires, as He has planned, and as He has prepared the way.

I am ready, Lord. I am willing to lead others. I am willing to lead as you lead, to be a servant-leader, as you demonstrated to us. Now, I ask that you open a door so I can lead -- in ministry, in teaching, in business -- in whatever capacity you desire for me. I ask that you provide a place for me to serve as a leader. May it be done according to your will this good, good day. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

April 28, 2016

Agreeing with the Lord Today

Happy and good Thursday, friends! It is a lovely day here in warm and breezy, Phoenix. The sun is shining, and the air is cool (now). The high today is only going to be in the mid-70s. I am not sure what to think about the weather pattern, but to say I AM LOVING IT, would be such an understatement. Our normal high in May is 95, though often we hit triple digits. Our current weather is more like March than end of April. Still it is so nice to have mild weather. I am thankful to be in Arizona today, just to be in a place where the weather is pleasant. I have come to terms with living in the desert. This is not the place where I want to remain forever, but for now, it is good, and the Lord has provided for me while I live here. My prayer is to be moved to the place of His choosing soon, but until that happens, I am committed to be content, to be happy (choosing happiness), and to be settled where I am for the time-being. He knows the timing of His plans, and while I may not like being in transition, I know that for now I am where I am, and there is work to be done here. Yes, I am resting in the fact that as long as I am in Phoenix, I will make the most of my life and the opportunities the Lord has given to me. Selah!

The Decision to Stay or to Go

It is a good day, then, to be settled. For the past several years, I have felt so uneasy about being stuck in Phoenix. I have felt the Lord's desire to move me, but I have not been willing to go where He was sending me. I liked the "idea" of going, but not the actual process of "going." I wanted Him to just up and move me, like to transport me magically from here to there without doing any of the actual work. I thought, "He can do it. He is Lord!" but not really accepting that in order for me to go someplace new I would have to pack, to leave my family and friends behind, and then physically (mentally, spiritually, and emotionally) go. I wanted to go so badly some days. I wanted to just run away (often), but each time, I would set myself down and accept the fact that I was to stay, at the least, a while longer. Even now, I want to go, but I see so many hindrances, so many "stops" that keep me from pickup my things and just moving on.

As I contend with my willingness of mind to go, but my unwillingness of body to stay, I have to accept the fact that this discontinuity is the result of my own willfulness and disobedience to the Lord's word. I have listened, yet I have not obeyed. Now, I am where I am for a reason, and until the Lord releases me to go, I have to practice contentment, I have to be patient and wait for His timing (once again).

My life is complicated. It is uneasy at times, and it requires patience each day to see the challenges through and to make sense of my days. The Lord has graciously permitted me the opportunity to live with my parents full-time, to help share in their care, and to be a loving companion to them during their later years. My son is at that age where he still needs his Mom, but where he is fairly independent and self-sufficient. I am still Mom, but much of his life comes and goes without any interference from me. He lives his life as part of our family even though I don't see him all the time (usually just in passing). Still, he relies on me to care for him. He needs me to provide stability and steadiness while he finishes out his college career.

Then there is my work, my school, and my personal life. Right now, my work is temporary, and while steady, it is not sufficient for long-term provision. It is good, it covers me, but I need something more permanent down the road. My schooling is complete, and my progress on my PhD is in the final push, the long haul between candidacy and graduation. I am in the process of completing my research, and the end is near (not in sight yet, but very near). My personal life is on the upswing, and is filled with sweet fellowship and friendship. I have many peers and colleagues whom I cherish, and I have a special someone whom I have grown very fond and of whom I am hopelessly devoted. I am in such a good place in my life. I have a nice comfortable home, a well-running car, practical and enjoyable work, provision for my daily needs, a blessed computer that works well, and a bright future predicated on the hope of the Lord's will coming to pass in my life. In all, I am in a good, good place. The Lord has provided for all my needs, He has kept me safe, and He has offered me a stable path to follow. He has brought peace into my life, happiness and goodness, and I am content. I am happy. I am good.

Yet, I still feel the twinge of the unknown lurking around the corner, and I still wonder what will be next for me. Where will you take me, Lord? Will you provide a job so I can live near my love? Perhaps you will -- in time -- when you are ready. Until then, I must be patient, and I must be faithful -- waiting and watching -- as the Lord leads, guides, and prepares me for His going. I am good, Lord. I will wait, Lord. I will be faithful, and I will be obedient to your word this good, good day. Amen! So be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Relent and Let it Go

So I've been off my fitness and diet routine for four days now. I am not sure what happened, other than to say, I ate something bad, and I haven't felt good enough to workout since. Hopefully, this bug will exit my system so I can start working out again. On top of my tummy troubles, I am not sleeping well nor am I feeling rested and refreshed. I thought it might be stress, and perhaps it is, but I don't think so. I think it is all part of the same issue -- the same problem that has taxed me and that has kept me from moving forward. I am feeling unwell because of my own unwillingness to let go and to let God lead me to where He wants me to go. Sigh!

How long will you tarry, Carol? How long will you not relent?

I know, Lord. I know. I will relent. I will let go. I am ready to move on. I am ready to go.

My prayer is that I feel better today so I can get back on the "horse" tomorrow. I need to work on my paper today, and since I am not feeling my best, it is a good thing to be home alone and resting some. God is good to me, and I know He has me well-covered. Until tomorrow, I will focus on my paper, my grading, and generally resting. He is good, He is so very good to me today!

Jobs and Other Stuff

On other fronts, my applications for work seem to be stalled. I have no new news other than to say that my applications are "in process" still. I hope to hear back from Regent University soon, and I hope learn if I have passed step four of the CCU hiring process. I also applied to a school in GA that was looking for an online adjunct teacher to teach dual enrollment courses. I have the qualifications for this role, but I am unsure if this would be the Lord's will for me. Right now, I feel like the only positions He is giving me the "green light" on are in teaching. Thus, it is pretty obvious that this is what I am to do.

It is funny, really, to think that I am the only one who doesn't know what to do when it comes to my life's work. I was talking with my good friend last night and he said to me that he was convinced of my calling to teach. I asked him why, and he said because it is what I love to do, I am passionate about the subject, and I cannot stop thinking about it. I laughed because he is right. I mean, I am all those things and more. I have either wanted to teach or have taught all my life, and now that I am a real adjunct instructor, I am struggling to accept that teaching is part of my calling in life. Weird. Really, weird.

As I thought about his words to me last night, I couldn't help but hear myself say the exact same thing to my son some 5-6 years ago. My son is finally studying music, but not after spending a lot of time pursuing other avenues. Everyone who knows him KNOWS that music is in his "blood." He eats, sleeps, thinks, and wakes -- music. Yet, when it came down to choosing a path to follow for college, he vacillated and chose a different route. He studied other related disciplines such as audio engineering and theater. He was pretty miserable, even though he enjoyed aspects of those disciplines. In the end, and with a sigh, he accepted a scholarship to study music at one of our local schools. He has one more year until he finished his Bachelor's degree in Music. The funny part is this...whenever he would say to people that he didn't know what to study or what he was supposed to do, the response would be "music!" He would grimace as if he didn't want to hear that answer. When I would talk with people, they would all say the same thing -- it is his gifted area, he is so talented, he is so good -- yet, for my son, he would only be confused about the path. It was as if everyone could see it plainly, but for my son, he was uncertain, unsure, and unwilling to accept what was right in front of his own eyes.

So here I am, doing the exact same thing. Everyone I know has told me, "You should be a teacher, Carol." I loved the idea of teaching, and I wanted to do it, but whenever I had to chance to do it, something always got in the way. In the end, it wasn't until the Lord opened the door for me to go back to school that I really considered it a possibility. Now, I am in my fourth year as a college instructor, and I can say that I love my job. I love teaching, yet I still wonder if this is what I am meant to do. Clearly, the signs say YES. I guess I don't see them because I am so close to the work itself. I just don't see things that clearly.

Knowing Your Purpose

Last night, my friend shared with me something he had read about recently. He had read a book that talked about how we can know our purpose by the desires God has placed in our heart. He was saying that when we know our calling, usually it is because we have identified the passion that drives us, fuels us, and sparks us on. I know for me that it is teaching that drives me. I love to study, and I love to research. I love to think about curriculum, design, and how to improve in my abilities as a teacher. I love the whole pedagogy thing, and I love what I get to do each day, each week, and each semester. God has given me a purpose, something good to do that makes me very happy and content. I struggle often with accepting this path, accepting this way simply because the path is not an easy one. The path is not lucrative so the choice to look elsewhere is very tempting. I don't want to follow the money trail, but often I find myself doing that very thing. I look for jobs that would pay a better wage, yet whenever I do, I never feel like they are right for me. They are good jobs, don't get me wrong, and I could see myself doing them (the work, I mean). But, I don't think I would be happy in them. I don't see myself as content in these other lines of work.

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ― Aristotle

Nope, teaching is it. It is the only job I want to do. I don't know where I will teach permanently or where I will end up, but this one this is for sure: I will teach. I will be a full-time teacher some where and some place soon. For now, I am an adjunct instructor, and while not the most steady or lucrative of jobs, it is good enough for me. In time, He will open a door at a school, and then I will go there, and I will do that work. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me that He has a good plan for my life. I can rest in the knowledge that I am doing exactly what He desires me to do. I am right where He wants me to be today.

Just yesterday, I was thinking about my path, and how I got to where I am today. I mean, I think it is interesting to consider how long it has taken me to get to this place in my life. When I think about it, I have to accept the fact that I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl. I wanted to teach, and yet I didn't follow that path because of the obstacles that were placed before me. My parents didn't support me in my desire to teach. When first in college, they forbade me from changing college majors over and over again so I ended up dropping out of school and getting married. After I was married, my ex-husband refused me to even consider teaching as a job. In fact, he forbade me from seeking positions as a teaching assistant or from returning to school so I could finish my education to become a teacher. Once I did return to school (only by the grace of God), and I realized how much I loved studying English (Humanities), I knew I was meant to become a professor (not a K-12 educator). When I broached the subject with my ex, he threatened to divorce me. I felt so strongly called to go to graduate school that my heart broke when I had to make the choice to give up what God was asking me to do and submit to my husband's demands. In the end, I did just that, and what ensued were many years of pain, of sorrow, and of suffering.

I think what made matters worse was the fact that my ex had a hatred for teaching, especially college teachers, and that he would often remark that teaching college was a profession for liberal elites.  He would often say that only people who cannot do anything else, choose to teach. I remember how he would talk about how teachers are always monetarily poor, always overworked, and always disrespected for what they did for a life's work. But, the rub was that he would go right on and disrespect individuals who decided to teach for a living. I always thought his attitude and behavior was strange considering he came from a long line of teachers. In fact, his dad was a high school principal; his mom taught throughout her life. His cousins were teachers or principals or administrators as well. I didn't understand why he hated the profession until I realized that it was because he refused his calling to become a teacher. He turned away from what God was asking him to do, so whenever I talked about my desires, he would shrug them off, condemn me for even thinking about them, and close the conversation door.

God Blessed Me

Even though I didn't follow the Lord when He first called me, He still gave me blessing for my obedience and my submission to my husband (I believe this is true!) In addition to blessing me with a child whom I love dearly, the Lord provided an opportunity for me to teach at home. I knew I was on the right road when I started home schooling my son in 2004. I felt it. I just knew I was doing the right thing, and this time around, I wasn't going to let anyone's negativity keep me from following the Lord's will in the matter. Yes, I found my place, my calling, in home education. Over the course of six years, I devoured curriculum catalogs, and I learned everything I could about home schooling. I proudly taught my son at home, and even though my family-in-law put me down for doing it (saying I wasn't qualified to teach), I still found the experience invigorating, enjoyable, and challenging (stimulating). Now, I am on the other side of all that negativity, and I am teaching college students the very subject I love most -- English. I love what I am doing, and I love everything about my work. I am fulfilled, I am happy, and most of all, I am content to be finally doing what the Lord called, prepared, and equipped me to do. Selah! Praise be to God! He is good, so very good to me!!

I am now a proud teacher. I am now ready to embrace my calling, fully and completely, realizing that teaching is part of the call to communicate faith in the church. I am teaching English, mostly composition, but I am also teaching argument, debate, and public speaking. I am learning my craft well so that I can take what I learn and use it to help others in the church to speak and to minister more effectively in this post modern age. I am to teach, to write, to develop, to create, and to engage culture at various counterpoints whereby I can use what God has imparted to me -- my study, my skill, and my expertise -- all for His glorious end. He has given me a dream job. He has given to me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4-5) and I am living out the fulfillment of His will for my life. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!!

Where to Next, Lord?

So now that I have finally articulated this statement of fact, that I am a teacher who has been called, prepared, and equipped for God's unique purpose, I can begin to consider my next steps. I think my unwillingness to relent and accept the Lord's will in this matter has been the reason why I am stalled where I am at present. I mean, is not God able to move and to open doors of opportunities for us? I believe He is; I believe He can and He will do whatever He desires, when He desires to do it.  Thus, the only reason why my forward progression has been stalled has to be because He has determined it to be so. Yes, I have tarried. I have been obstinate, and I have refused to accept His good gift to me. Yet, despite all of that, I know that His timing is perfect, and that His plans cannot be thwarted. He will prevail. His will is powerful, and it will come to pass! I must continue to follow after Him and stop looking elsewhere -- for jobs mostly -- or better pay or a different outcome. I must accept that this is my life. It is the life He has chosen for me, so I relent, and I let go. I accept His perfect will for my life, and I accept that He will do what is necessary in every area of my life.

My next steps in this process include:
  • Finishing my dissertation this summer
  • Graduating to PhD in fall
  • Working in whatever jobs He provides for me (temporary, on-campus or online)
  • Waiting for His provision of full-time work (in time)
This means that as for fall, I now accept that I will teach on campus at GCU and ACU. I may have some other online contracts, praise be to God, but if I don't, then I am set to tackle another good year at these two schools. I am set. I am ready. I am determined, and I am content to follow this path through to His end, His outcome for my life.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for patiently waiting for me to come to terms with this path. Thank you for being so kind and for letting me discover this truth on my own. Thank you for the provision of good work now, and thank you for the provision of good work down the road. I know you will make whatever changes are needed today so that I can follow and receive your blessing as it is revealed to me. I ask now that you will do what you think best in and through my life. Help me to finish my work, to do it well (unto you), and to be content in my life now. I want to rest, and to let this all go. I accept your word to me as truth, and I relent and agree with you this good, good day. You are Lord, and I submit and yield my desires, my hopes, and my dreams to you. You are good, so very good to me! Selah!

April 27, 2016

Thinking More and More

It is a good Wednesday, and I am sitting here at my computer "thinking." Yes, I am thinking. What about, you ask? Well, mostly about this day and all the tasks I have to complete. My to-do list is getting shorter, praise God, but I still have some mighty big tasks that need to be completed this week. Mostly, it is my dissertation. I am one step closer to having my proposal completed, but I still struggle with thoughts of inadequacy and incompleteness. I know that the Lord has me well covered, and since this proposal is His idea, I should rest in the knowledge that it will be good, like really good. Yet, I worry. I fret. I doubt. I wonder if I will ever be a scholar in my own right. Or, will I just pass by and move on to other pastures, other hills and valleys in this walk we call “life.” I am not sure, really, I am not. I would like to feel confident that the work I do is valuable, that it contributes to the welfare of others, and that it somehow works out to bring Him praise and honor. At times, I wonder if I am in the wrong place, taking the wrong road, or just standing by the by-way as I watch others pass me by. Where am I going, Lord? Where do you want me to go?

Trusting in Him

I have trust issues. If you are a long-time reader of my blog then you will agree with me. I have issues with trusting God for my well-being, my care, and my provision. I do trust Him, mind you. I just am not always consistent about it. I trust today, but not tomorrow. I trust with a half-heart, and at times, I lack trust completely. Yet, I know He cares for me. Yet, I know that He loves me, cares for me, and that He has a super plan set out for my life.

I would like to have all my little ducks in a row. I would like to be marching forward, straight in line, and see the mile posts pass by, one by one, so I would know I am making steady progress toward my destination, my end goal. But somedays, like today in particular, I just wonder if I am even moving forward. I feel fine today, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel like I am making any real progress.

It is funny, but just yesterday, I texted my friend who is in my program with me. She finished her exams last fall, but she is in the same place as I am with the proposal. She and I were commiserating about our lack of progress. It felt good to talk with another peer who is in the same boat as I am. My other friend (part of my study group) shared with me the previous day how she needed some accountability in order to make progress. I guess you could say that we are all in the same place, doing the same kind of work, struggling in the same way. Misery loves company as the saying goes, and even in doctoral research, the sentiment seems to ring true.

I Can Do This or He Can

As I try to make progress, I am reminded that nothing that is completed in my own strength will bring Him praise or honor. I must relinquish all my worldly efforts in order to do this thing — if I want Him to be praised.

My dissertation is really a gift from the Lord. In fact, my entire graduate education has been because of His leading and provision. I wanted to get a PhD, but I never thought it would be possible to accomplish it at this late stage of the game. Yet, the Lord made a way for me, and here I am today, getting ready to graduate. Now, I wonder -- what has all this been for? I mean, what will I have accomplished at the "end of all things?"

I know that my PhD has trained and prepared me for ministry. I am called to pursue ministry in communication where I can help the church understand how to communicate faith more effectively. This is what I know for certain. How I am to do this, well, that is the sticky-wicket. I really don't know. I have ideas, thoughts about it, but nothing solid or confirmatory. I simply feel compelled to do this work. It is like I know this is what I am supposed to do with my life. It is more than teaching or working in business -- it is a job that I must do -- but I don't know when, where or how to do it.

I guess you could say that I am feeling the push toward ministry simply because He is pushing me toward it. You know, He is giving me the grand heave-ho! I want to do this work, too. That I think, is the really great part in all of it. I just want to be about this business, to be involved in communications in this way, and to know that I am doing the thing He has called, prepared, trained, and equipped me to do.

Now as I consider all things, the long and the short of it, I realize that I am in this place for a reason. I tend to think that I am in this place for a "season" too. I mean, I am in this transitional place in my life. I am mid-way between where I once was and where He intends for me to go. I am not at the passing mark yet, but I am close. I am about to take a turn that will move me further into His grand will for my life. I just don't know what that turn looks like or where it will take me or when it will happen. I just know I am about ready to make a turn. It is like when you are on a roller coaster ride and you are soaring up and down and around. It is fun, it is exciting, but you know that a big hill followed by a big drop is right up ahead of you. You know it is there, you feel it, but you are not sure when you will be in that moment. This is how I feel today. I feel like I am about to be lifted sky high right before I experience that rush that comes with the big drop! I know the drop must come soon, because without it, I will not have enough steam to get me through to the end of the ride. I need that final big whoosh so I can pull into the station with gusto! I don't want to limp along and barely finish this race. No, I want to finish strong. I want to finish what He has called me to do with strength.

Can It Really Be This Easy?

Some days I wonder whether doing the Lord's work can really be this easy. I mean, there are times when the work is grueling. There are other times when it is easy as pie. Even despite the difficult challenges, there is this sense of being pushed and pulled through the trials. It is as if a mighty force simply moves me through from one challenge to the next. I do wonder if this is how it is supposed to be or if I am an anomaly of sorts. I mean, I feel like when the chips are down, when everything is stacked against me, this is when I experience His grace and mercy the most. I feel His push as He moves me through the difficulty and right on into the blessed path of peace, of grace, and of finished work.

I want to experience this final push. I need to experience this push now. I am slacking off, losing interest, and generally fading fast. I need to feel His shove of help right now. Lord, please push me, make me go faster, so I can finish sooner! I ask this now because I need you to do this for me. I need you to make this happen, and for you to accomplish this mighty and difficult task for your praise and your honor. I ask that you do this through me -- use me in whatever way you deem necessary -- but please make this finished, completed, and done so I can move on. I need to move on. I am ready to move on. But, I cannot move on without completing all the tasks you have assigned to me. Thus, I ask that you complete these final tasks now so I can rest, really, really rest. I ask this in Jesus' Name because it is only through His power and His authority that your will is to be done. I am ready, Lord. I am ready.

Now to Get to "Doing"

I sit here today "thinking" and not really "doing" what I should be "doing." I know the drill. When you get to the part where all you do is think about the trouble, rather than working to alleviate the trouble, what you have is just a whole lotta nothing! James 1:22 NLT says it this way, "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." Yes, the Word reminds us that we are to be doers and not just hearers (or thinkers). We are to be active participants in God's grace and in His movement in this world. We are to be His hands and feet, to demonstrate His goodness to the world by reflecting the Light of His Son, Jesus. This means that when the Lord has asked us to do something -- as in a calling or job -- we are to be active about it. We are to take responsibility in the sense of activating our call. This means we must not settle for merely talking about it, but we must be actively pursuing it. We must be moving forward with each task, each assignment, each instruction given. In this way, we demonstrate faithfulness to His call, and obedience to His word.

I am guilty of talking about my calling when I really should have been "doing" it more readily. I realize that I have been in training for a while now, but still, I have known what the Lord asked of me, and I have tarried. I have not obeyed as He has commanded me to do. Now, I see that the delay I have suffered has been the result of my own unwillingness to do the work, to follow after His advice and counsel. I have sought my own way, ferreted out my own ideas and justifications, without really listening and heeding His word to me. Now, I see that I am where I am for a reason, and part of that reason is disobedience and delay. I tarried when I should have moved. I disobeyed when I should have listened to His voice telling me what to do. Is it too late to repent, to turn around, to head to where I need to be this good day? May it never be! God is a God who gives grace and even when we finally realize our error, He is quick to forgive and to restore to us all that He has in mind for us. Remember the story of the prodigal son -- well -- we are all prodigals in one way, shape or form. We all tarry, we all disobey, we all seek our own way -- even those of us -- who have placed our faith and our trust in the Lord. Yes, there are times when we walk in disobedience simply because we are tired of towing the line, tired of following without knowing where we are going, and tired of never having the answers to life's most puzzling questions. We get fed up, we get angry, and most of all, we give in to doubts, to fears, to the big unknown in life.

The Lord is our righteous and victorious strong tower. He is good to us. He loves us, cares for us, and provides for us daily. He is always with us, never leaving us or forsaking us, but always on our side. He is good, so very good to us! Selah!

Resting and Letting Him Do It All

So, I have come to that turn, that point when I am at the precipice of the hill, and I am ready to zoom down and around to my final destination. I am ready to sit back and let Him push me, to bring me to the end, but I have to let Him go, let Him do it. I don't like big drops, but I know I have to go through the dip before I will feel the even pace of the flat track. I have to go now, and whether or not I feel ready, I know His steady hand is on the control. I am trusting Him now. I can let go, and I can let Him lead me home.

April 26, 2016

Resting Now

Happy Tuesday, big world! It is a beautiful day here in Phoenix.The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and the breeze is, well, breezy. Yes, today, is shaping up to be a fine, fine day. I am well, despite waking with a headache (sinus pain) and a stiff body. My spine is aching this morning, thanks to a restless night’s sleep. I need to do something to help my back at night, but so far, using pillows hasn’t really done the trick. I know my pain is related to my scoliosis, but finding the “right” solution is baffling.

The last real “solution” for my back pain occurred some 30 years ago, when I was 18, and sleeping on an old-fashioned water bed. Yes, I bought a water bed shortly after my car accident, and frankly, it was “to die for.” I mean that literally. I set the thermostat to about 88 degrees and just zonked the hours away. I don’t even remember falling asleep on it. I would just way down, and then in the morning, I would wake up feeling so refreshed. My cat, Snowball, loved it too. She was declawed, so we got along well sharing the bed. She loved to sleep on the bed because it always was so warm. When she’d get overheated, she would just climb up and sleep on the pillow next to me. I had that water bed for about 15 years, though the water mattress was finally “popped” thanks to my other cats (with claws). When I moved from San Jose to Phoenix, I sold it at a garage sale. I wish now that I hadn’t done that because I loved the dark pine carved frame. It was beautiful.

Now, I am sleeping on a memory foam topped mattress. It is a good quality mattress (Serta, I believe), but despite the quality, it still causes back pain for me. I know my problem is structural. I’ve always had posture issues, ever since I was a child. Now that I have gotten older, I am more aware of the way I stand, sit, walk, and sleep. I am hoping my workout routine will help with this problem. Building muscle, should help my back feel better. That is my prayer, anyway.

Waking Up to a New Day

If I could say that yesterday was a horrible day, I would say it. In fact, let’s just say it now. Yesterday was horrible! It was a bad day from the get-go. I woke up cranky, experienced a wide range of issues that increased my crankiness, and then after spending the whole day in a foul mood, I finally rested late in the night. My whole day was ka-put, starting with my morning emails from students asking for late grace on their final paper assignment. I don’t mind giving grace, normally, I mean. But it irks me when my students ask for grace after the deadline has passed. I have been adamant about what is accepted passed the last day of class. Still, they seem to ignore me, and that bothers me.

Then after cooling down some, I decided to record my pre-interview with CCU. What a bust! I wasn’t in a good frame of mind, but I wanted it off my to-do list, so I just did it. I am praying it turned out well enough to be considered for the next steps. If not, I understand. I deserve what I get considering the mindset and the attitude problem of the day. Sigh!

Later in the day, I graded students papers, and then toward evening, ventured out to Walmart for some items we needed. It was good to get out of the house. I needed to break away from the pressure, the stress, the strain, of the day. While at Walmart, I really let loose, praying, crying and just venting to the Lord. I am glad that He doesn’t mind it when I do this because I needed it. I needed to vent, BIG TIME. Yes, I let it all go. I told Him that I am frustrated, really frustrated, and in truth, I am frustrated by my own doing. I have made my way “mucky,” and I am not happy about it. It is funny, really, when you think about it. I mean, the Lord didn’t do anything to me — I did it to myself — I made my way miserable through my own hand. Let me explain…

It all began last week. I was finishing up my last week of teaching, and I was thinking about my next steps. I mean, what should I do next…for summer…for fall, etc. My work is always on my mind simply because my job is not fixed, per se. It is not a full-time permanent position, and as long as I work part-time, temporary like this, there is always going to be a sense of “what’s next?” I don’t know what is next so I worry about it. My plans are not fixed, they are fluid, and I am not a fluid type of gal. No, I am logical, analytical, and very structured. I like to know the plan, to know the steps, the detail so I can prepare for every move. I am just like that…

So last week, I started thinking about those awful next steps, and then even took some measure to change up my future. I started to feel the push toward working in business again, and as a result, I started to look for possible “work from home” positions with a large Fortune 14 company. I found a job, it looked promising, and after a quick prayer, I applied to it. It seemed like a good fit for me, and the money would be very welcome. It was a good practical decision — find a good job, apply, pray the Lord blesses it, and then let it go.

The problem, though, is that my life is not my own anymore. No, I do not get to make these decisions. I know that sounds weird, but it is the way it is. I gave my life choices to the Lord, and I surrendered my plans in order to have Him lead me. I believed that my life was to be about ministry, so that meant that the jobs I take have to align with His will for my life, and for His plan for ministry. I cannot just do any job anymore. No, I have to choose wisely, and the job has to facilitate His will for my life, and it has to develop me in such a way that it brings me to that place of His design.

My life has been this way for the past six years. Ever since I started on my own, my life choices have been prayed over, carefully considered, and then only when there was a strong sense of peace, did I step out in faith. It was my desire to ensure that every choice made would be a good one. I wanted to give myself the benefit of the doubt, the best possible chance for good success, and I figured one sure-fire way to do it was to pray about it. I mean, really PRAY ABOUT IT.

In true form, my approach has been successful. Every job I have held thus far has blessed my life. Sure, they were not always peachy-keen, perfect, and peaceful, but they worked for me, contributed to my well-being, and generally, helped me get over the hurdles, the obstacles, and the challenges in my life. I felt that each position moved me forward, one-step at a time, to the next level or path. Each job seemed to leap-frog me one step closer to His will.

Now, I am finishing my PhD, and I am at the point where I can see that I need to get from where I am today to where He intends for me to be tomorrow. I see the place — over there — but I cannot figure how to get there. I have looked, I have analyzed, and I have strategized ways to get me from A to B. In every thing, though, I simply find myself stranded, stuck where I am, without any way to move. Still, I sense this need to go, this urgency, but there is no open door, no magic draw bridge that is preparing my way. So I stand here, looking onward, and wondering how things will be. I am questioning how much longer I can make it here without any change or new avenue to pursue.

Passing the PEACE Test

After panicking last week, taking a step of faith that I now think was in haste, I realized that my decision to apply to a particular job didn’t pass the “peace test.” It was a good idea, don’t get me wrong, and it seemed like a really good opportunity (it still does), but somewhere between applying and living life, my peace, my sense of peace, just disappeared. I started to panic. I started to feel uncomfortable. I started to worry, to doubt, to fear. I lost my sense of peace, of calm, of rest. I began to stir, to fixate on the job itself, and as I did that, I began to feel the pressure to perform, to pursue something that, while not in and of itself bad, just didn’t seem “right” for me.

The peace test is for me the key in knowing that I am on the right track. When I feel that my peace has been lost, I know almost immediately that I have done something wrong. Perhaps it is sin. Perhaps it is a decision that is leading me off-track, down a rabbit trail or into a way that He doesn’t want me to go. If I take care, I can usually right myself fairly quickly. I spot the problem, reverse my tracks and high-tail it out of there. Yes, I run back to where I had peace. I say, “Oops, sorry. Wrong turn!” and I head back to where I had that peace. Joyce Meyer says that there is no shame in admitting you made a mistake. I have done this before, once before (most recently) when I took a job as a Business Analyst, and after three killer weeks, realized that I was in a good job (paid well, good benefits, and offered promotion), just one that didn’t fit me well. I had to go to the Director, tell her of my mistake, and turn myself around. It was an awful mistake, but the truth is that I felt such amazing relief. I knew in an instant that I had hit the skids, and when I confessed it, and I did the difficult work of admitting my error, I was released from the suffering, the torment, and the pain. Yes, I have been there before, and one thing is certain, I don’t intend to go there again (Lord, help me!)

The peace test for me, therefore, is key to knowing whether I am doing what the Lord wants or whether I am doing what I want. It is clearly a way for me to test, to know, if I have taken a wrong turn, if I have gone the wrong way. I can use it, along with prayer (of course, always prayer), to help guide me. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings us peace. The Word says that Jesus is our Prince of Peace, and as such, the Helper brings to us the Peace of Christ daily in order to be comforted in this world. When we seek His peace, His place of peace, then we feel comfortable, safe, secure. Our situation may not improve, but our inner sense of wellness, well-being will take on the shape of His nature and character. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that we demonstrate or show His peace to the world. Thus, in order to do that, we must walk in peace always. This means peace within and peace without — peace — in all areas of our life. I want to be at peace, to be free from stress, to be happy and to be content in all areas. I want to know that the work I do daily (as in my job) is not only peaceful to me, but that it gives me an opportunity to share that peace with others. I want to feel His peace, His sense of peace, as it comforts me. As I am comforted, so then can I comfort others. If there is no peace in my life, then I cannot bring peace to my situation.

Today, my peace is restored. I feel at peace, and I feel comforted in the knowledge that even though my situation hasn’t changed, my attitude toward it has changed. I am in this place where I realize that I am not to do anything to change my life (at this point in time). I am to wait. I am to be patient. I am to allow the Lord to open the right door, in the right time, and for the right purpose. I don’t necessary like waiting, but when I run out and try all the doors, all I end up doing is causing myself frustration. No, I have to patiently wait and to watch and to see what the Lord intends to do in my life this good, good day.

Update Today

As things would turn out, I guess you could say, “I am good.” It has been a difficult week, a very long semester, and now I am beginning what could be the most exciting summer of my entire life. Yes, I am ready to begin my research project, and I am excited to begin the process. I still am unsure of how I will go about doing it, but this week, I hope to get it all squared away. I mean, I hope to wrap my mind around what I am doing and why, and then take that bold step of faith into original research. I know I can do it, I just feel like I don’t really know what I am doing, at least, not yet.

My prayer is to complete my student grading today or tomorrow, post final grades, and then put my semester at GCU to bed. Once this task is finished, I can focus 100% on my dissertation. I know the Lord has me well covered, so I have to release this process to Him. I have put off working on it this entire month. I had my schedule set so that I would be finished and ready to present, but here I am not even ready with my first chapter. I know the Lord will prevail — there is nothing that He intends to do — that He doesn’t bring to completion. I must rest in this process as well. So be it, Lord, so be it.

My Plans - What I Know Now

My plans for fall seem to be fixed at this point in time. I have decided to let this all go, and accept what has been provided to me. This means that right now, I will teach at my two local schools. Should the Lord open these online opportunities up, then I will add in whatever courses He thinks I can handle. Otherwise, I am settled. I am not going to look for anymore work at this time, and I am going to allow Him to provide for me. He knows my needs, my wants, and my desires. Furthermore, He understands my financial situation, and whenever I start to focus on it, like plan or purpose toward it, then I become overly panicked and stricken with fear and doubt. If I rest in His sufficiency, then my peace returns. As weird as that may seem, it just tells me that this is an area that the Lord is handling, and He has not said to me, “Go for it, Carol. Resolve this on your own!” No, He has control over my income and my outgo (expenses). He knows what will be in time, and He knows how He will provide for me. I don’t have to fixate or worry about it. Not now. Not ever.

Furthermore, my plans for summer are fixed as well. My hope was to take a trip to visit my good friend down south. I am waiting to see if this is to be, but for now, I am letting this go because it is something I cannot really plan at this time. If the Lord wants me to visit, so be it. He will provide a way for me. If He chooses to stall that visit, then He has a plan in mind that will be even better for me (for us).

Lastly, I have been really frustrated with my weight loss plan. I am sticking to my diet, and I am working out every other day (giving myself a break in between days). But so far, I have seen little improvement in my weight. I do feel better, overall, and I do see body changes, but they are minimal right now. I have to let this go as well. I cannot fixate on my workout routine, diet, and desires to lose weight when I have other, more pressing needs at hand. Still, I am not giving up or in. I am resting in this approach. Trusting the Lord to provide for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Moving On, Getting Ready

It is funny how some days I write about being so ready to go, and then the next day, I cry out about how I am stressed or feel so unwell that I cannot think straight. Was it like this for the Children of Israel? Did they complain and grumble before the Lord? Yes, they did. I pray that I am not grumbling about this now, that I am trying very hard to remain faithful, to be content in all things. I know I am not, though. I know that I am grumbling because I cannot see His provision, His hand clearly. I feel it. I know it is there, but I am still struggling with seeing the outcome. I want to see the sea part. I want to see His handiwork, and yet I know that I can see His goodness all around me. I can see His grace as it is imparted to me each new day.

One thing is for certain, I am ready to go. I mean, I do feel ready to go. I am no longer holding on to my life here in Phoenix. I am no longer stressing over it. I cannot control it. I cannot make things turn out the way I want them to turn out. I am limited in my abilities. I am limited in what I can and cannot control. I have to let this all go. I have to rest in His sufficiency and in His provision. If He chooses to lift me up, then I will be lifted up. If He chooses to keep me down, then I will remain down. It is up to Him now to move me, to make this happen, to see His will come to pass in my life.

I relent, Lord. I stop trying to make my own way, and I accept and agree to your way. 100% your way. 

Dear Lord,

As I come to this point in my life, I realize that these next steps are planned and purposed by you. This means that I am at the threshold of the door that will lead me to the next phase of my life. But, that threshold comes with a price. I cannot have any control, any authority, or any work in it. I must accept what you offer me, without complaining or grumbling. I must accept and agree to your provision, your security, and your will — there can be no other way now. It is all up to you. I understand what you are asking of me, and I accept the parameters that you have set for me. I am ready, Lord. I am ready to go where you send me this good, good day.