May 19, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It is Saturday, May 19th, and today is my Mom's 85th birthday. I am sitting here at home, waiting until it is time for us to head to Longhorn for dinner. Mom is doing pretty well today, though she told me earlier that she felt "old." I told her that she looked "GREAT!"

It has been a good day, nonetheless, and while I wait for our birthday dinner, I am reminded that the time I have been given to spend with my parents is precious. Several of my colleagues have lost parents (one or both) within the past year. I cannot even imagine how difficult it is to lose a parent, but I know that someday I will. My folks are getting up in years, and though they are in good shape compared to some of their peers, they struggle with health and mental challenges. Some days are more difficult than others. I am glad I have this time to spend with them, to help them, and to care for them. I know that this God's will for my life, and that He has given me the grace and ability to do so.

As I sit here, I cannot help but think about the past 10 years or so and how much of my life has changed. In fact, earlier today, I was praying about my situation, thinking about moving (yes, again!), and wondering what the Lord was thinking toward that end. I felt Him press on me to review my blog, and as I did, I marveled at His goodness. I read some old posts from 2008, and one in particular, recounted the day I felt the Lord say to me that I was to return to graduate school. I didn't think that this happened in 2008, and it was good to review my thought processes as well as my experience and to read about the motivation to return to school. I was thinking about the fact that I had this experience in 2008, but I actually didn't return to school until August 2010. There was a two-year gap between the time when I felt the Lord was pushing me to go -- go back to school -- and when it actually happened.

More so, as I continued to read and reflect, I remember a post from 2012 where I discussed my situation, and I was recounting the fact that my parents were downsizing, selling their home, and preparing to move into an apartment nearby. I was working at CVS then, and I was not really happy in my career. I remember writing that my heart's desire was to be a college professor, but that the desire to do so was put away, and that I had pretty much given up hope of becoming a teacher. I was complaining about my life, the hard work I was doing, and the 9-5 grind. It was eye-opening, really, to think that 6 years ago, I was on the brink of change -- moving from working in the business world to teaching students on campus and online.

WOW! So much has changed, so much of my life has been rearranged. I mean, I now have my Ph.D., and I am a college professor. The two things the Lord said would come to pass, have come to pass, and while I am living with my parents, sharing a rented home, I think about what He has done to make all these details work out for me. I am now doing the very thing my heart desired, and what is more, I am living the life I longed for, hoped for, and wanted.

All of this is to say that while I am sitting here, I am remembering the faithfulness of God. He has moved in great ways to help me become the person I am today. He has provided abundantly for my welfare, and my care, and now I am the recipient of His good favor. I am doing what He has asked me to do, and while I still think I don't understand His will or the plans He has for me, I do know for sure that I am right where I am supposed to be, and that I am waiting patiently for His approval and permission to begin the next phase of my growth and my journey.
In Closing

Therefore, as I close this short blog post, I am reminded that God's timing is perfect. Nothing happens outside His perfect will, and nothing happens without His blessing and favor. I am good today because He is good and He has chosen a good path for me to follow. I am good because He cares for me, provides abundantly for me, and loves me so completely. I am good today because He is my God, He loves me, and I can rest assured that His love will continue to keep me and enfold me all the days of my life.

May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! It is May 13, 2018, and I am sitting at my computer, blogging and snacking as I wait to prepare dinner to celebrate my Mom today. It has been a good day so far, and though I haven't done a stitch of work, I am actually having a good, calm, and restful day.

Preparing for More Changes

This morning started out a bit rough but after some alone time, I was able to reconnect and begin to feel like things are starting to move forward in a good way. First off, I woke up after a really uncomfortable night. I didn't sleep well, and for most of the night, I tossed and turned with a quasi-headache that simply didn't want to relent. I finally fell asleep around 2 a.m., and then I didn't wake up until nigh on 9 a.m. I guess I needed the sleep because when I did wake up, I felt better -- my headache was gone -- and I felt rested.

My folks and son were out at church so I settled into my normal Sunday routine. I had planned to attend Saturday services, but instead, took my parents to dinner at Olive Garden. Sunday came in a rush, and rather than hustle to get over to campus, I decided to do online church. I am glad I did because I ended up having some blessed friendship time prior to church, and well, I received some confirmation on an idea I have had for some time. Let me explain...

Several months ago, when I was preparing my taxes, I asked the Lord how I would deal with the increased tax burden once I am working steadily as a contractor for Grantham University. In 2017, I earned just a small amount of self-employment income (classified differently than part-time income). My taxes were bumped slightly, but the big burden was due to other factors and not my working as an independent contractor. Still, I wondered what 2018 would look like once I earned a full-year of salary as a contractor and how I would manage my taxes and liabilities. As I was praying, I felt the Lord suggest that I start a business as a consultant. This business would be my covering for my taxes and it would also allow me to claim some relief because I would have a full office and be employed under my own name. I thought about it, wondered if I could do something like this, and then shoved it aside as I had to focus on teaching and taxes and all the hub-bub of the springtime.

I guess it was a couple week's ago when I prayed over this idea again, and I asked the Lord what type of work He would want me to do besides teaching. I mean, I don't need the work. I don't need the pay, but I feel like I need some covering, so to speak, some protection long term as I am set to earn significant income as an adjunct professor. As I thought more and more about it, the idea came to me that I should offer my services to help businesses, mostly Christian ones, market themselves online. I should set up shop doing what I do best, technical communication, and in that way, I could easily run a small business from my home where I could not only cover my W-9 status at Grantham, but I could also engage in business as the Lord provided.

I really haven't done anything about the idea, other than think it over a couple times, but last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I felt the Lord say that He was moving in a new direction and that I needed to be prepared for what changes might come as a result. I often feel that He speaks to me right as I am falling asleep or waking up, but last night, with my headache and all, I didn't feel much like praying or even thinking about what He was saying to me. Instead, I fell asleep and forgot most of what I thought He wanted me to know.

It wasn't until this morning, right around 9 a.m. that I received a text message from a colleague of mine asking me if I would be interested in some part-time work. I won't go into details other than to say that the type of work needed was EXACTLY the work the Lord spoke about as a possible covering for my needs. It is not a lucrative job by any means, it is more so, the KIND of work the Lord suggested I do as a consultant. So here I am lying in bed, half awake, and thinking to myself that the Lord must have been telling me to get my head in gear because He was moving and that as a result of His move, doors would be flying open for me very soon.

All day today I have thought about this door, and I have wondered how I could possibly take on more jobs. I mean, I am well-set. I have more than enough work to do, but whenever I pray about this opportunity, the Lord seems to say "Take it!" So, here I am thinking, wondering, and trying so hard to imagine being a communications consultant again. I mean, for 13 years I worked as a website designer and while the job was good for me and allowed me to work from home, I hated the job itself. But, now, I teach technical communication, and I find that all that skill comes out when I am helping my students produce their own mock proposals and business plans. It is like I am using all the skill I learned years ago, but I am in a very different role. I am a teacher, not a producer. However, the Lord seems to be asking me to take on the role of producer, in a part-time capacity, as a means to cover me, to provide for me, and to help me prepare for His eventual ministry work.

I am still unsure of the exact nature of what the Lord wants me to do, but I feel confident that this His will, and that He is moving things around, preparing me for this new work. I don't know what I will do, how I will do it or even where I will do it, but I feel that He is making a way, and that way will definitely be a covering of sorts, a banner over me to keep me safe, to help me pay my taxes, and generally to give me good work to do that will somehow develop me or position me for the ministry work that He has said I will do when I retire from teaching.

In Closing

What is most weird, if I can call it that, is the fact that so many doors have closed on my life recently. I have moved out of the rut where I was stuck, and with the Lord's help, I have allowed several past relationships to end, and I have seen new territory and doors open that seem to be calling me forward toward very new and very green pastures. I am following His leading, relying on Him completely, and taking shelter within His providental care. I believe that whatever comes to me next, it will be significant -- LIKE HUGE. I believe that I will be given work in teaching and consulting, and I will be moved to a place of my own (a home) where I can run a proper business and have a proper set up (not in my room). More so, I believe that the Lord is opening up doors to take me to a place where I can live very comfortably and where I can start fresh -- over -- and be able to build new friendships and relationships that are all about His good work. I don't have the details, as I said before, but I feel that this is what He is doing, and I am simply being asked to HOLD ON TIGHT! It is the Lord who goes before me, and as He leads, I follow. He is good to me, and with His grace and mercy, I am beginning to realize that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE with God, and that as it is written in Luke, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD.

May 12, 2018

Thinking Past the Mistakes

Happy Saturday! It is a great day in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are blue and clear, and the air temperature is just about "right" for this mid-May day. Yes, it is the 12th of May, and tomorrow is Mother's Day. I am not sure what we will do for Mom, but I am thinking we will have some dinner for her either tonight or tomorrow night.

I am sitting at my home computer today, wistfully thinking about all that has passed these many months. In truth, as I reflect back on the past year, so much amazing work has been completed. Not only did I graduate from Regent University, but I wrote and defended my dissertation on mediated communication in the American Megachurch. It was a good research project, and it took a lot of time to analyze the collected data. I passed with flying colors, and my graduation weekend was so amazingly blessed. Since that time, I have hunkered down and taken on more teaching contracts, working almost two-full time jobs at now four wonderful schools. I am busy, to say the least, but I love the work I do and I am blessed beyond measure to see that my hard work and effort to excel has paid off. Yes, I am no longer a starving student or starving adjunct, but I am well paid for the work I do, and to boot, I am doing the very thing I love. God is gracious and good to me. He has made this way possible, and today I lift up my voice to praise and honor His amazing work in and through my life! Selah! It is done!!


Right now, I am thinking to myself that despite so many hardships early on, I have survived to the point where I can actually look back and say to the Lord, "Thank you for all that you allowed into my life." Yes, I can say with confidence that all the hurt, the hardships, and the residual hang-ups have worked together for my good to create the person I am today. I am who I am because of my circumstances! I have strength, courage, discipline, fortitude -- all because of the events that I endured over the past 55 years of my life. I am blessed to be who I am today, and I love my life -- all of it -- and I love who I have become. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes continually, but I am really HAPPY to be me. I mean it. I see nothing wrong with my life, no lack, nothing missing or needed. I am filled to overflowing today, and I give God all the glory, all the credit, and all the praise for His amazing and wonderful work in my life!

I titled this post, "Thinking Past the Mistakes," because it has taken me so long to get to this point in time. For many years, I have lived with regret. I have felt ashamed of my status as a divorced woman, and I have recounted the misery of my childhood and teen year abuse. More so, I have spent much time revisiting the pain of my failed marriage, feeling the hard rub of abandonment by my ex-husband, and thinking that I was so much at fault, that I felt the guilt for letting my marriage fail. Now, though, I realize that while I am not negating my role in any of the events in my past, I am accepting them as part of the testimony the Lord has provided to me. I share my story willingly, and I know that I am a survivor of abuse, but more so, I am victorious in that I overcame so much adversity to get to where I am today. I have arrived at the pinnacle of success in my career, and though I don't have a full-time faculty position, what I do have is a wonderful collection of work whereby I am constantly called on to reinvent, to reconsider, and to realize new ways of thinking and of doing. I love the fact that my life is in flux, always changing, never staying still. I am on the move, and whether that is literal or figurative, I simply mean to say that I welcome change and I look forward to the fast-paced lifestyle the Lord has chosen for me. He has made me ready and fit to do a multitude of work, and I am able to handle more work than most people my age. I love the diversity, the constant change, and the fact that my work is practical and good. I am in this wonderfully secure place, and with His constant presence and continual love, I am well-covered, well-set, and well, just content and happy and filled with His peace and His joy. I am good, and today, I can say this with all my heart. I AM SO VERY GOOD!

I don't mean to boast in what I have achieved; may it never be! Rather, I boast in the Lord and the work He has done to perfect my life. You see, I wish I could take credit for what has transpired, but I cannot do that at all. I mean, I wish I could reverse the clock, "turn back time," as the song goes and be back where I was some 10-15 years ago. I wish I could have saved my child the difficulty of divorce, and I wish I could have done the work I wanted to do -- to teach children -- as a professional educator. But, that simply cannot be. I am living out my days as they unfolded, and while I wish some things would never have happened (the divorce for example), I also see that God allowed these challenges to come upon me, and through those experiences, I found my faith again. I came back to God with a vengeance. I chose to follow Him as a moth flies into the flame of the candle. I wanted to be consumed by His presence, to love Him so deeply, so completely, that nothing else mattered to me. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to know Him as Paul described -- intimately and with passion -- and I wanted it more than I wanted life itself.

Now, I am here and this is the passion I have in my heart for my Lord. He is my everything, and as He has recovered and restored much of my former life to me, He has also chosen to let some things die, some relationships remain untouched. He has permitted me good fellowship with my ex-husband and even gave me the grace to accept his girlfriend, with whom he lives, as a part of my extended family. It was not easy, but He gave me the ability to look past my hurt and to consider the needs of another. Now, I am no longer pinned to the fear or the hurt; instead, I am free to love, to let go, and to allow the Lord to use me as His minister. I am ready to minister. I am ready to be used powerfully as a communicator, and I am ready to go and do His marvelous work wherever He chooses for me to do it. Be it here in Phoenix or there in Illinois, I will go and do this work. He will provide a way, and I will follow Him, trusting and relying on Him, and remaining securely attached to Him. I will follow as He leads, guides, and provides for me. I am ready to go, and now I simply wait for His permission to take the next step and begin the moving process.

Moving Past Hurt and Into Freedom to Love Again

I think the greatest challenge I faced was moving past the hurt and allowing my heart to fully heal so I could envision loving again. I don't mean to suggest love in the physical sense or even in the romantic sense; no. What I mean is allowing my heart to love in its entirety, as a measure of His agape love. He is full of love, and His love is so great that it covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). In order for me to truly love another human being, I had to experience the type of love that the Father has for His children. You see, I had to experience what it feels like to love someone who has hurt you deeply. I had to experience what it feels like to be abandoned, mistreated, castoff and replaced with another. I had to experience this type of deep emotional hurt so that I could understand His mercy. I had to have compassion, and the kind of Godly compassion that is needed for ministry can have no inkling of retribution. There can be no "payback" desired. My heart had to be purged, and that purging process was difficult and painful -- almost as much as it was to experience the initial pain.  However, once I completed that process and I found the healing finalized, I moved into a new realm of love. I was able to grant forgiveness, mercy, goodness, and kindness where before I could only marginally accept the mandate to love unconditionally.

I don't want to sound "holier than thou," but what I am trying to say is that I have come to a place where I can move on, truly let the past go, and in this way, I can begin to minister now with His intentional love. I can grant mercy, kindness, and justice to those who may not deserve it. I can accept people on the basis of one condition only, and that is that they are a child of God -- created by Him for His purpose -- and no matter their wayward stance, I can still love them unconditionally and with an open heart and an open hand. I can love as God loves me, and for that blessing, I am truly thankful. He has done this in me, and it is not something I can boast of as my own achievement. I didn't do anything special; rather, He chose to heal my heart, close the wound, and let the skin return to its pre-state of normal. Yes, I believe my heart has been restored to the way it was BEFORE the hurt began. I am free now, free from the past pain and free from the emotional baggage that I once lugged around with me.

Now, I am ready, really ready to go and do His work. I have been tested and tried. I have failed numerous times, but He has rallied, and He has helped me to keep on trying to do my best. In the end, His hand of mercy was so securely wrapped around mine that I couldn't fail at all. I may have stumbled, but He carefully and with His determination, helped me to move on. I am in this wonderfully amazing place, and God will be praised, I am ready to go and do whatever He asks of me.

Psalm 122

Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
A Song of Ascents, of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,

Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;

To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord—
An ordinance for Israel—

To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there thrones were set for judgment,

The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.

“May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”

For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

My homegoing preparation is complete. Thus, while I tarry here for a time, I am ready to go home at a moment's notice. I am ready to do this wonderful work that He has called me to do, and I am ready to take on whatever burden He has required of me. I will go and gladly shout for joy as my heart prepares for His next steps. I shout for JOY to the Lord! He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

May 11, 2018

Taking a Turn

It is a beautiful Friday here in sunny and mild-warm, Phoenix. Yes, the skies are clear blue, but the air temperature is mild with quite a blustery breeze! I think our expected high today is going to reach 89, which thankfully, is about 10 degrees shy of normal for this time of the year. I am enjoying the blessed weather, and I am thanking the Lord that He has provided such a good solid and stable life for me.

It is a good day, as I mentioned in my opening. It is Friday, so I have survived another close to the week. What is more, this is my second to last day teaching my two online courses at Regent University. My double-dose of Western Literature is coming to an end, and I feel good about the progress my students made as they read some of the best literature of the Western hemisphere. My next series of classes begins on Monday, so there is no rest for the weary. I am not sure why this is so, but God is good, and He has me so well covered. I have two courses -- Western Literature again and British Literature -- so I will be busy with lit discussion through the end of June. In all, I love my teaching duties at Regent. This is one of the few schools where I am regularly assigned to teach literature, and for that blessing, I am thankful!

Giving Witness

In other good news, I have been fairly consistent with my weight-loss program. I have been following the old-style Weight Watchers Points program (here at I haven't been as consistent or ruthless with points as I could be, but I have stayed within range, using my "extra" points only 2-3 times per week. In all, I have lost about 7 pounds since April 9, 2018. I still need to drop another 18 pounds, but I am on track. My loss is about 1.5 pounds per week, which is very good considering my age and the fact that I am in menopause. I am guessing that I need to stick to my diet for the next 12 weeks -- but in truth -- I plan to stick to this way of eating from now on. I am eating pretty much what I want but in moderation. I am choosing less fat in the late evenings (after dinner), and I am definitely eating smaller portions. It is calorie-in and calorie-out, and while that is not rocket science, it is working. I am grateful to God for His blessed help in this endeavor. I have tried to lose this weight since I gained it back in 2016. Now, my prayer is to stay steady and keep on keeping on, as the saying goes. I know I have the strength, the discipline, and the ability to do this work because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Selah!

My prayer over the summer is to begin working out to help tone up the flab. My legs and arms are not as toned as I would like, and I have sort of a misshapen figure. Though I am not trying to become a weightlifter, I definitely will see some improvement once I hit the gym and start lifting weights and using the good Stairmaster and elliptical training machines.

I am ready to get into shape, to lose these extra pounds, and start living my life to the fullest. The past year has been really difficult for me. First, I graduated after working on my doctoral studies for four years. The pressure to complete such an advanced degree really took its toll on my body. I overate to compensate for late night hours, and I stressed over lack of pay and the volume of work, which simply drove me into comfort eating late at night. Second, the stress of moving in with my parents, which started out as a blessed thing, has turned into more of a caregiving role. This role, coupled with my already difficult teaching load has caused me to skip meals and generally eat foods that work for my parents, but not necessarily for me. Third, because my folks must eat, I find that my natural eating routine (two main meals per day) ballooned into four meals with desert simply to keep my parents happy. In all, my lifestyle has changed drastically, and now that I am steadily employed, I am ready to rein in all that out of control behavior so that I can focus on my own health.

More so, my personal life has had some ups and downs as well. I was active in an online relationship for two years, hopeful that perhaps something more would develop. However, that never happened, and after some time, the relationship simply ended through no one's fault but distance and time. My work life kicked into high gear, and I didn't have time to devote to phone calls and such. I think the nature of LDR proved true -- that unless an effort is made to connect physically -- there is little hope for sustaining such a friendship. Now, I am good as I am, and I am content to remain single for the rest of my life. I guess I knew that this was my "lot" all along, but I really did feel the Lord wanted me to test the waters, so to speak, to try out a new friendship just to see if this was what I really wanted. I learned so much through this friendship, and I came to see just how stuck in my ways I really was and how unwilling I was to bend and to conform to another's desires or needs. In short, I came to see that after 30 years of a difficult marriage, I didn't want to go that route again. I enjoy being in control of my finances, my life, my comings and goings, and I didn't want to go back to being a wife again, despite the fact that I do miss some parts of being married quite a lot. The Lord gave me time to get my head straight, and to decide what path I wanted to follow for the rest of my days. I chose Him and His way over a physical relationship, and I am content to say that I can see now that I made the right choice for me. I made the best choice for my life, and I am happy to say that I am good with remaining single for the rest of my days on this Earth.

As I factor in my status -- single -- I also realize that as a single person, I am free to move anywhere I desire and to live in any way I choose. Of course, I plan to follow the Lord's will in all matters, but basically, I am free to go and do what the Lord asks of me. Just the other day, I started to think about moving to the midwest again. I have been so content to remain here, and with my son's good job prospects, the thought of moving away simply started to vanish. Then, out of the blue, the Lord asked me to consider moving to IL again, and this time, to consider it as a strong probability. I was agreeable, but not necessarily willing to consider it. I mean, I am agreeable to following His will, but after looking and hoping and believing I would go there, and then finding that the plan had changed (too many times), I stopped being willing. I pretty much said "yes" with my mouth, but "no" with my heart.

I spent the better part of this week thinking more about my options for a good lifestyle. I can remain here in Phoenix, but to purchase a home, I am seriously looking at plunking down close to $700K, which I don't have. More so, while I can find lesser priced homes, most of them are not in the best areas in town. Thus, to purchase a home that I can easily afford to keep and maintain, the Lord would have to bring me a boatload of cash to do it. I've thought about relocating to the midwest since 2012. I looked at Northern Illinois, northwest of Chicago, most seriously for the past 3-4 years. I have scoped out Crystal Lake, Woodstock (home of the movie "Groundhog Day") and Dekalb (where NIU is located). The biggest issue with moving to IL is the property tax rate, which is almost the same as a mortgage. But, there are some cities with lower taxes and the cost of a home is not out of reach. The key is to pay cash so that the only payment each month is for taxes and insurance. I find that thought repugnant, but if the Lord chooses to plant me back in my home state, then so be it.

Right now, the decision to go or stay is in His hand. He may choose to move me soon, like the end of summer, or He may choose to have me go ahead and remain here for a time. I don't know. But what I do know is that once again we are looking at taking a different route to get to His planned destination. The map He has me following has a number of marked paths, and as He has said to me, I am free to follow any of them. They will all end up where He wants me to finish my course of life, so neither is better or worse for me. They are simply different.

My prayer today is for the Lord to reveal which path He wants me to follow next. I have two strong contenders at the moment, the path that keeps me in Phoenix and the path that takes me back to the midwest, to live near my family and friends. I am okay with either path, but I would like to know which one so that I can begin to plan for it. I would like to go with assurance and with provision so that I can really dive into the life He wants for me. However, I don't want to push my way through this decision, thus I rest today, and I let Him move all the pieces into place for me. If this is His will, then He will make it happen. He will make a way where no way exists, and He will go before me and behind me to see to it that I arrive safely and with His good and full blessing and provision.

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I sit here and thank the Lord for opening up options for me. My work is set now, and it is steady. My life is moving slowing, inching forward, but until He really gives me a good hard shove, I am content to remain right where I am today, right here in Phoenix. So, Lord? Will you give me a good push?

May 8, 2018

Making Progress

Happy Tuesday! It is a blessed day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The air is filled with sweet scents as the trees continue to bloom right near my bedroom window. It is a warm day, another 100-degree day, but that is not unusual for May in Phoenix. The skies are clear and blue, and well, it is going to be just another sunny and warm day in the desert -- in the Valley of the Sun!

I was up early this morning. I woke up to the sound of my parents arguing, well, not really arguing, more so talking very loudly. Mom will be 85 next week, and Dad is following close behind her. They have started speaking really loudly to one another, and while I normally do not mind it, at 8:00 in the morning, the sounds of their voices filter down the hallway and disrupts my sleep.

After a bit of a fit, trying to get back to sleep, I finally got up when Ike, my cat, decided to cough up a fur ball. No such luck -- just an icky mess to clean up! Now, I am sitting at my desk, drinking my coffee, while Winston, my other cat, lounges nearby. It is a good day, despite the fits and starts, and with the bright sun outside, I think today has the possibility of becoming pretty amazing!

God's Providential Care is GOOD!

Right now, I am enjoying the peace and quiet of my home. My son is asleep in the next room, my parents are out to doctors appointments, and I am fixing to get moving on my short, but power-packed to-do list today. I just reviewed my tasks, and while I only have two associated with teaching, I do have some pretty big things to accomplish today nonetheless.

First on my to-do list beyond grading includes revisiting the "dreaded ObamaCare" debacle of the spring. I blogged about my IRS fine for making too much money in the fall of last year and throughout the spring, I have had to deal with the fallout of that blessed experience. I mean, I was blessed with increased income, and I was blessed with more vital work. I suffered the hard rub of the law that said that if I made one "sminch" more than I forecasted, I would have to repay the entire subsidy to the government. Well, as luck would have it, I made more. Now, I have a very large tax bill that must-needs repaying. I am waiting for the final assessment -- which was supposed to come to me mid-May. Instead, I received a letter saying I reported "said" numbers incorrectly. Now, I need to resend another form, and only the Lord knows when my return will be processed and the fine correctly assessed. In the delay, of course, I am being fined more money. Of course, there is nothing I can do. I can make payments now -- not knowing what I owe -- and hope they will refund what I "overpay" or I can wait. I chose to wait to see the final bill. Hmmm...did anyone say that there is "no winner" in this scenario? Yes, only the Federal Government and the crappy lawmakers who made this intentionally punitive healthcare law that crushes low to middle Americans for actually being prosperous and providing well for their families. Sigh!

Second on my list is to write a short essay of 1500 words describing some of the challenges I face as an online instructor. I need to submit a draft for possible review by May 10th. It would be super sweet to be accepted for publication, but while I am not overly hopeful, I still want to try to submit something so at the least I can say I am writing SOTL research (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). I also need to write a short 500 abstract for a possible book chapter, but that is scheduled for tomorrow. The Lord will have to dictate to me because really my brain is on fumes and I don't have much "content" to share at this point in time.

Last, as I prepare for my summer work, I am thankful for several new opportunities. I am already scheduled to teach two small classes for Regent, my Alma Mater. Then, I have a summer class set for ASU. Grantham has come through with a large contract for me -- 39 students -- and I am happy to say the class is in Technical Writing, my new favorite course to teach. I am still waiting for Liberty, but the good news here is that I am getting closer to teaching for them, and I have a strong sense that when I do, I will teach upper-level COMS courses or even graduate level classes. I am open to teaching any combination, but for now, it looks like I will teach 101 and then whatever other courses are available to me. I think now that I will not begin teaching until July, but more than likely, I won't start until August. I am thrilled with that thought, and since my summer is well set, I feel pretty confident that I will be in good stead come August 2018.

In all, I am blessed. In Deuteronomy 28, we read about the blessings at Gerizim, and one of the blessings spoken through Moses was this one: "Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed" (verse 6). More so, in the previous verse (5), we read: "Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed." The idea here is that the blessing of God is complete. It lacks no good thing, and it covers the believer in Christ so fully that there is no lacking any good thing. In truth, I am blessed in all I do. I find that my work is blessed in its completeness. I receive high marks of praise from my students as well as faculty. I receive multiple contracts to teach at good schools, and these contracts come without my asking for them. I am steady-busy. I have more work than I need, but not more work than I can handle. The Lord supplies me well, and with this good practical work, I am well-covered. My needs are met with his sufficiency. Thus, I can say that my way is blessed, from beginning to end and with total sufficiency and plenty. I am experiencing the full blessing of God in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.

In Closing

As I close out this blog, I sit here and give thanks to God above for His glorious provision of work and pay. I am in this very good place because He has made it so. I take no credit for it, and I do not plan, scheme, or devise any way to make good work come to me or to receive more than what He has determined I need. I rest in this matter. He brings me the work, and I accept the contracts. I don't turn them away, and I trust that He will enable me to be faithful in the work I am asked to do. I don't seek more work, and I don't waste the work given. I do my best, and at times, I need His best to cover me. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the load, but He always provides a way for me to carry it. I work hard, most days, long days, but in the end, I rest with complete satisfaction. I am doing good practical work, and I work unto the Lord as though He was my earthly Master. I trust Him, I rest in Him, and I wait upon Him. He leads me, He guides me, and He provides for me. I am wholly, completely, and wonderfully dependent on Him for my every need, and in His good pleasure, He graciously provides more to me than I imagined possible. He has made this way good, and for this truth, I bow before Him, and I give Him my praise, my honor, and my adoration! He is good to me, so very good to me!

May 6, 2018

Today is the Day!

Happy Sunday! It is a blessed day today, and I am feeling less than my best. I am beaten to a frazzle, but praise to God, I will overcome. This past week has been so trying, so difficult, and despite some wonderful joy with my son's graduation from college, I have been simply run-over with too much work, and frankly, not enough time to complete all my tasks! It is the end of the semester with my course at ASU, and today is the DAY I will grade final projects. Yes, I will grade them all, and with the Lord's help, I will overcome this mountain of assessment, and end the day with VICTORY! I am so weary, and my eyes are giving me extra problems. I simply cannot see well, and my eyes feel like they are filled with grit. Yuck! I know the Lord has me well covered and that He will provide clarity of vision and enough energy to finish everything on my list. He is my Good Father, and He knows that I have to finish everything today. Final grades are due by tomorrow at 3 p.m. I need to finish this last big task, and then I can rest! Sigh! REST, yes I need to rest!!

Looking Forward

As Psalm 118 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." I am choosing today to REJOICE in the Lord! This is His day, and it was made for His glory. I rest in His ability to shelter me, move me, and keep me safe. This is a good day, and while my to-do list is so long, so heavy, I know He has me well-covered. I am good because He is good. I am safe because He shelters me from the storm. I can do all things because it is His strength and ability that enables me to do so. As I stop and consider all the works of His hands, I marvel at them, for I know that nothing is too great for my God. He is able to do all things, and what is more, He will bring His plans to pass. Nothing will prevent the will of the Lord from coming to fruition. He will make His way viable, and all I need to do is rest, trust, and allow Him to move me into position -- the position -- He has for me. I will go and do His marvelous work, and I will rest in His sufficiency to provide for me. He is good to me, so very good to me!

Today, I think to myself, "Lord, what are you doing?" I mean, I feel so panicked, so stressed, and so very overwhelmed. I know that He has me in His hand, and the way I feel is part of His movement forward in my life. Whenever the Lord moves in my life, I feel this temporary upset, this sense that I am about to fall into trouble or that I have done something to move from His merciful will. Yet, I know that this is not the case, thus, I have to believe that this part and parcel of His plan for my life.

The good news is that despite how I feel, I can still believe what I KNOW to be true about Him and His nature. You see, He never changes. Thus, when the word says that Jesus is the SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW, we can rest in this very truth. He never changes. He will not stop being the way He is on account of anything I do, think, will, or process. He is dependable and as such, I can rest in this knowledge. My feelings change daily. Hormones cause my emotions to swing right and left, but God is steady. He holds me by His right hand, and He tells me that He is not going to let me go. More so, He is not going to let anything happen to me. I can be assured that His calm voice is telling me the truth.

Conversely, my enemy simply revels in my panic attacks. He wants me to freak out, and to remain freaked out. He doesn't want me to accomplish any good work, and in specific, the Lord's mandated work. So, my choice today is to choose to rest and trust in what I know to be true or continue to doubt and allow my emotions to sweep over me. I choose the former because I know that with God, all things are possible, and with God, no one will stand against His perfect will for my life. I am safe. I am secure. I am good. Selah!

In closing, today has been a good day overall. It is now 9:35 p.m., and I completed all my to-do tasks. I am ready for bed, and I am ready to take on the new day that the Lord brings to me tomorrow. I know He will help me tonight to rest well, and tomorrow will be just as good as today was, and what is more, tomorrow will be a new day that is filled with wonderful opportunities and good, good things!

May 4, 2018

Some Things Are Changing

Happy Friday! It is a good Friday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear blue with nary a cloud in them. It is 10:50 a.m. right now, and besides getting out of bed and fixing my coffee and a bowl of cereal, I haven't done much else! Crazy to think that this is the sum total of my day! Ack!

In truth, I don't have a lot on my plate except to grade and to attend my son's graduation from college. I can imagine that he is really excited for this day and that he will be glad when he is finally finished with his bachelor's education. For me, I am just pleased he has made it this far and that he is ready to begin his new life as a teacher (adjunct) and sound engineer. He has a good life plan, and he is doing such great work for his school (ACU) and the church he plays at each weekend. He is really maturing into a good man, a godly man, and a young man whom I am so proud to say is my son! Yes, he is such a good man! God be praised and thanked -- He has done such a wonderful job raising my son to manhood. I am blessed, beyond blessed, and today is a day when I can say "Hallelujah it is done!"
Thoughts on Moving House

So, I've tried not to think about moving for a while. I have still spent too much time focusing on finding a new place to live, but that process has only aggravated and frustrated me. I finally gave in earlier in the week. I was so disgusted with my effort, and I was really thinking I had gone over the edge into idolatry. I mean, I was consumed by the process, and I was trying so hard to figure out what the Lord wanted me to do, that honestly, I simply lost control. In the end, I set it aside with the hope that some distance might actually deliver me peace. It didn't, but the good news is that I am now more than ever convinced that the Lord intends to move me somewhere soon and that somewhere is not where I think or feel it will be. Let me explain...

Last year at this time, I was preparing to graduate from Regent University. I was in VA Beach, and I was in my hotel room, enjoying the blessed festivities of graduation. At my school, graduation is a BIG deal, and it is a three-day event for Masters and Ph.D. students. I had already spent my Thursday being dedicated by my faculty, and it was a lovely and moving experience. On Friday, I was preparing to be "hooded" with my Ph.D. hood. This commissioning service also included anointed prayer where the faculty prayed over your work -- the work you would do for His kingdom -- as well as the practical work you would do as a faculty member or business professional. The following day was graduation, and well, that was just a whole-lotta hoopla!

But, it was early in the morning when I heard the voice of the Lord speak into my dream. I cannot really say what it was that I heard, but clearly I received a message that said something like this to me:

  • I was to remain
  • I was to be commissioned for His service
  • I was to patiently wait for His provision
  • I was to go where He would send me to do His work

Of course, that is the summary or gist of what I remember. I just recall waking up and feeling very confident that the Lord's plan for my life was being revealed and that I needed to walk through the remaining days at Regent in order to be made "ready" for my next steps.

I enjoyed my time on campus -- the last for some time -- and as I was driving around VA Beach, I thought about my experience at this school. God had opened the door for me to attend Regent. He made it possible for me to be given scholarships and to be accepted by this prestigious school and faculty. I didn't fit in -- as an English wanna-be teacher -- and I really never felt so strongly about communication or studying it prior to attending. But, I believed that God called me to Regent and that His calling was designed to prepare me for my specific work or task (His mandate). I received His mandate while in my doctoral program, and since that time, I have been convinced and confirmed in it.

Since that time, the issues I face daily now, have been mostly practical in nature. I mean, I know the work He has called and mandated that I do. I know it. I am convinced of it. But, for the short term, I am to remain as He has me, which simply means to teach English and be content to remain as an English teacher. More so, I am to "remain" humble, submitted to His will, and to keep myself focused on the work I do (both practical and kingdom-oriented). I am not to move to the left or the right, but I am to remain fixed on His calling and His mandate, even though I know I must wait many years before it will be made manifest to me. I am clear on this point -- I am to remain as I am and to remain where I am (as in doing the work He has assigned to me).

My time at Regent last May came to an end so quickly. I was dedicated, commissioned for work, anointed and prayed over, and in the end, I graduated from this wonderful school. I walked away with my coveted Ph.D. degree, the degree I waited some 17 years to complete. After my worldwide trip, I returned home, set up shop as an adjunct teacher (remaining in the work prior to graduation), and subsequently developed a persistent bout of depression. Yes, contracted a common malady that many graduates contract -- post-dissertation depression (PDD). It is a real phenomenon, and for six months after graduation, I felt so let down, so left behind, so worthless as I taught online, and saw myself as mostly a glorified grader. What was harder to take was the fact that all of my other colleagues received great job promotions as a result of their degree. They all received some bonus to their completed education. But, for me, there was nothing, no fanfare, no celebrated job.  Instead, I continued to grind away, teaching in obscurity and feeling so undervalued and unwanted. The depression was really difficult to handle, but after 6-7 months, I finally felt the darkness leave me, and I started to feel better again. I should say that my position hasn't changed any, but I have stopped feeling so lost and lonely.

I credit my recovery to God alone. He has remained with me, though. He reminds me that He has such a good plan for my life, and while I am not being promoted, lifted high or given opportunities to do great things, I am performing good work for His namesake. I am doing what He has asked me to do, and He says to me, "I am well-pleased!"

So all of this is to say that as I sit here today, I marvel at His goodness toward me. My life is pretty boring, to say the least. I grade non-stop, and I do this very demanding work. I care for my aging parents and I deal with the struggles of sharing a multigenerational home. It is not fun most days. It is difficult and I struggle just to understand and cope. Yet, He is with me, and as such, He has me so well-covered; so well-covered.

Moving On and Making Ready

With this in mind, I note that while I have stopped looking at houses here in Phoenix, I have simply accepted that my next steps are to be revealed to me shortly. The Lord has this well in hand, and while I want so much to be in the know, for whatever reason, He has decided to spring it on me. He has chosen a way for me that includes a relocation to a place I have not considered before. How do I know this? Well, in all my research on places to live, I have always felt sure that the Lord was giving me the OK to consider them, but not the OK to actually move there to live. You see, I felt that He was saying it was OK to look at these houses, study the place, learn about it, and so forth. But, when the time came, He would choose the location, and I would simply be asked to go there.

I feel that I am at this place now. I am being made ready to go, and there is no more time to "look." I simply must agree to go, and let the Lord lead, guide and provide for me. He may choose Phoenix, for all I know, or He may send me to the south, the east, or even the Midwest. I just don't know. I have scoped out all the territory, checked it out, considered it, and even imagined what it would be like to live there. Now, the choice is His and He will make a way for me. I let go -- or should I say -- I have let it all go. I can say now that I don't care where He moves me because I know He will go before me and prepare my way. He will walk with me as I journey there, and He will provide everything I need to be happy and content -- settled -- once He establishes me there.

I am ready to go, but I must wait for His open door. I am no longer afraid of going and I am no longer unwilling to go. I know there will be difficult days, times of deep trust, and a lot of pressure and worry. But, He has me well-covered, and when the time is right, He will show me. He will make His will manifest to me, and I will say, "Yes, Lord. I am ready. Send me!"
In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I rest in this fact. The Lord doesn't relent. He simply will not give way, no matter how hard we test Him, try Him, or hope to get our way with Him. I have done all three, and while my heart's intention wasn't to be this way, my flesh prevailed and simply refused to give up. I struggled. I suffered, and in the end, I relented. I let go, I stopped wrestling, and I rested in His presence. He will have His way in my life, and He will bring to pass His plans and His desires. I will simply abide, rest, trust, and go where He sends me. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah! It is done! Amen, so be it!