September 18, 2017

It is Monday!

Good morning, blogosphere! It is a good Monday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. I have been absent from my blog for almost 10 days, mostly for good reasons. I have been swamped with work, and I simply have not had time to sit and write a word down as a reflection on my experiences. Several things have happened, all good, but needless to say, I have had to put my blog on the back burner for a short while. Hopefully, I am in good shape now, and I can get back to the business of writing again!

So, it is Monday, and it is September 18. I cannot believe that in three days my only child will turn 24. Yes, my precious boy will celebrate his 24th birthday! God has been so wonderful to me, and I cherish this child more than I can express. I mean, he is my life, always has been and always will be. I love this young man more than words can say!

As I think about my life and the blessings that God has showered upon me, one thing comes to mind, and that is how unworthy I am to receive anything good from His hand. I mean, as a sinner saved by grace, the only reason I am able to enjoy my life is through the reconciliation of Jesus, my Savior, who died to take my sins to the cross. I am saved, set free, and sanctified now, and as such, I experience the goodness of God day in and day out. I do not deserve this goodwill, no way or no how, yet the Lord has prevailed, and in His amazing love, He graciously shares blessing upon blessing with me.

Today is a good day to remember this fact. God is good. All the time, He is good. I am in this blessed place simply because my Good Father has chosen for me to be right where I am. I mean, I have plentiful work. I have good practical work, and in the work I do, I experience great joy and thanksgiving. I have a lot of tasks associated with this work, and sometimes those tasks are too much for me to handle, but through His grace, I am able to do everything assigned, and I do it all within the timeframe given. How can that be? I mean, I haven't missed a deadline, a due date in nearly 10 years?

I do not deserve His favor, His goodness, or His blessing, and yet, He freely gives it to me. My God is an AWESOME GOD and He reigns from heaven above! He reigns, and I am in awe of His goodness, His mercy, and His grace! Selah!

Making Changes Now

This past week was a bugbear of sorts. I was slammed, crazy busy, and overwhelmed to boot. My courses at GCU were in swing, but they were faltering some. My online classes were processing smoothly, but I was struggling to make connections, and some of my students were simply overwhelmed at my instructions. Thus, I was in this moody place. Thankfully, I had some wonderful student moments, and in these student moments, I felt His presence more than ever before. More so, we had a scare with my Dad's health on Wednesday, and my whole life seemed ready to careen out of control. Again, God's grace prevailed, and my Dad recovered, and well, I gave praise and thanksgiving to God for that blessed gift.

This week, I am in better control. My teaching course at Grantham is underway, and this week should wrap up that extra duty. Unfortunately, I am seeing how time-consuming it is to teach for this school. I am not sure I will be able to meet their standard (48-hour response). However, so be it. If the Lord chooses this for me, I am willing to do what He asks. I will do the work assigned to me.

Consequently, I am thinking now -- well -- really praying now for a new direction. I guess taking this online qualification course was a good thing. I needed to see how much work was required to teach online at some schools, and with this experience, I now realize that while I do like online teaching, the workload is intensive. I love the freedom of working from home, but I am working round the clock. I need some downtime, and with online classes, there is no downtime at all. My prayer this weekend has been to ask the Lord to provide a new way for me. I am set on teaching, of course, but now I am back to thinking that perhaps the best approach is the traditional classroom whereby I would teach 3 classes each semester. I mean, full-time faculty typically teach 3 classes. I teach 7-8 and I am sinking under the workload. I make good money now, and I am thankful for every penny I earn -- but -- I cannot sustain this pace. So this weekend, I asked the Lord to bring me a campus job where I would work full-time, earn more money, have retirement AND still have a life to enjoy in the balance.

My heart says this is His will, and as such, He will provide for me. I am patiently waiting for an open door, and until one opens, I will do the work He has provided. I will trust Him to provide, and I will look to His hand for all source of provision. Selah!

More so, as I think about my life, where I am headed, I realize that I need to be ready to go. You know -- I have blogged oodles about going and staying, but the past months (and years), I had little knowledge of what work I would do or how I would do it. I knew I would teach, but for the longest time, I thought I would teach on campus. Then there seemed to be no jobs available, so I looked to online. I thought the answer to my needs would be an online position. Now, I see that the answer is always His best, and while I do enjoy online teaching, I realize that I have to do the work He provides to me, and that might just be a campus position. I am cool with it. I am open to it. But, I am also knowing that I cannot teach 5 classes on campus just as much as I cannot teach 8 online classes. I need some rest. I need to slow down. I want to enjoy my life -- have a life -- I should say.

I think this is what the Lord has been telling me, but I was so bent on trying to make things happen as they seemed best to me. I wanted to make a way so I could stay at home, help my parents, and such. He said I would teach full-time on campus (always been the word I received). He said I would not teach full-time online. Yet, I thought the latter was best. After all, I would come home in tears from campus teaching, worn out, and unable to stand. How could campus teaching be in my best interest?

Well, this week, I figured it out. I mean, I am managing to teach 3 online classes right now, and while they are going well, I have made some mistakes in them. More so, I have made mistakes in my campus classes. I learned my limit, so to speak. I figured out what is good for me, how much is too much, and so forth.

Now, I realize that in order to find a campus position, I will have to move elsewhere. There are no campus jobs in my area, so the decision is moot. There is no staying put because there is only one way to do it, and it is the way I am doing it now. I am working myself to a frazzle. I cannot continue to do it. More so, working on campus is the only option that aligns with the word I received from the Lord, the word that said I would teach full-time, English Composition, and I would be an Assistant Professor (tenure). So, if the Lord speaks the truth, and I believe He does, then I have to believe that this will come to pass. I don't know when, of course. I don't know where or how, but I know that His word doesn't return void.
In Closing

As I move on, I realize that the Lord always has the final say on matters. I appreciate the life lesson this week, and I appreciate the fact that I am right where He wants me to be. I appreciate that while I thought I knew best, in truth, I didn't know best at all. I had some inkling, some idea, but in the end, His word prevailed, the truth was revealed, and now I know -- like really know -- what is best for me. I can see this coming to pass, and what is more, I can feel it coming to pass. I have a sense of peace, but more so, I have this confidence, this complete confidence that says to me, I know where I am to go.

It is like a light bulb moment when you just go "AHA!" I have had that moment, and now I simply know that while I want to teach online, and I think I will continue to teach online at one school, I cannot maintain this pace, this grueling pace for long. I have to have another way. There has to be another way. There has to be another door for me, and until the Lord opens it, I will wait right here for Him. I will wait as He prepares this opportunity, aligns it with my skills, and then shows me where to go to apply. Until then, I sit. I wait. I endure. I rest. I know He will show me. He will open the door soon, and then I will go.

As I close this blog post, I sit here and I marvel at God's goodness. He has been honest with me. He has been faithful with me. He has stood by me, and when I thought it was hopeless, and I was so afraid, He simply said to me, "Trust me, I know what I am doing."

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness today. Thank you for your sweet mercy. Thank you for your abundant provision, and thank you, Lord, for your abiding presence. You are all I need, and today, I know this is true. I need nothing save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified this good, good day!

September 8, 2017

Happy Friday!

It is Friday, and well, I am ready for the weekend! I have had a very short, power packed week, but it was a good one. I am ready to rest, really rest, and I am ready to chill some with my family. I feel like I have been running non-stop since school began last week. Even with the holiday, I have been rushed off my feet. The good news is that things at my school (GCU) are starting to settle down now. We are heading into week 3, and that means that drafting, revision, and submission are only 3 weeks away. The hard part of teaching content is mostly past, so I can focus on writing workshops now, and simply helping my students write better content.

My thoughts and prayers are with my family in Florida, though. My aunt and uncle and cousins are in Jacksonville. I have another cousin in Tampa, and several good friends/colleagues in Orlando. Hurricane Irma is bearing down on them, and well, the forecast doesn't look good at all. My heart goes out to the evacuees, and I pray that everyone is safe and the devastation is not too horrific. I remember Hurricane Andrew some 25 years ago, and the damage that was done to south Florida. I pray this hurricane stays left or right so as to send the brunt of winds and water out to sea. For now, the models seem to show a direct hit. God is good. He is in Heaven, and He reigns. I am praying for grace, mercy, and of course, safety for those I love as well as the other residents and visitors to the "Sunshine State."

As I sit here today, I marvel at the goodness of God. I always marvel, but today, I am more reflective I guess than ever before. I received my credentials from Grantham University yesterday, and after I complete a two week online class on how to use Blackboard, I could get assigned to teach any number of Communications courses. Right now, that thought scares me, but I also know that this is the Lord's will for me. He has been consistent in saying to me that I needed to be patient and to wait while Grantham figured everything out. I was hesitant because it seemed to be taking so long to be approved, but in the end, everything came to pass just as the Lord had said to me. This tells me that often I do not listen with intention; rather, I listen with half-heart belief. What I mean is that I listen with an ear that is turned toward the Lord, and with one ear that is turned toward self. It is as if I am saying, "I will believe it when it comes to pass." This is not listening with faith, but listening with doubt. The Lord is faithful. He is true. He speaks words that come to pass. It is in my favor to listen with ears of faith and not doubt. I learned a valuable lesson this week, and even today, I am marveling at how gracious our God is. I mean, He could easily have said to me, "Carol, you doubted. I am not going to do what I promised because you didn't believe me." Instead, He keeps His word in spite of my actions. What an amazing God we serve!

I don't deserve His grace. I don't deserve His favor. I don't deserve His best, yet He always gives me grace, favor and His very best. He is good to me, so very good to me!

More Thoughts On Next Steps

Now with Grantham almost on board, my mind is swirling with thoughts about my next steps. I was telling my parents last night that I will have to make a decision on whether to stay at GCU in the spring or to work fully online. My prayer all along as been to work online as I thought it would make it easier for my parents and for me. Now, I see that the Lord has kept His word to me, and He has brought this school to pass. I am set to work full-time online, and that thought just settles me. I can see how my life may work out, and with this new job, I feel more confident in stepping away from GCU. Don't get me wrong, I love GCU! In fact, my faculty mentor asked if I wanted to be full-time out there. I said, "yes." It is not that there is an open position, but frankly, I feel like the Lord is calling me to do work in another way. I really feel confident that this IS my next step.

With three online schools, I can comfortably make a living (Lord willing). I have to hope that these schools need me -- consistently -- I mean. There is no permanency, but my sufficiency and security are not in the schools, but in the Lord. Thus, I rest in His provision. I trust Him to provide for me. I know He will care for my needs. He always has, and He always will. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

I guess my next step, after being approved to teach at Grantham, is simply to focus on my contracts through the end of the year. As far as moving, finding another home, etc., that is just thought for now. My parents are comfortable here, and we are well-set. I think my desire to move is driving the thought process more so that the reality of the situation. I know long term, we need a better solution, but for now, we are good. God has provided a good home for us, and we are content to remain in it. After all, come March, we will have been in this rental home for five years. WOW! Hard to believe that this is the case, but it is and so be it. I am thankful, grateful, and blessed with the provision of such a good home!

In closing, I am grateful today for the good favor the Lord has granted to me. I don't deserve it, but I am thankful for it. I give Him praise today for His blessing and provision. I am well-stocked, as they say, and for that very reason, I lift up a sacrifice of praise because He has done this for me. He has made all this possible, and I am simply a recipient of His good grace and good favor. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

September 6, 2017

Blessing and More Blessing

Happy Wednesday! It is a good day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the sun is warm -- it looks to be another typical late summer day. My heart is with the good folks in Florida, who are evacuating from the state due to the arrival this weekend of Hurricane Irma. Irma is now one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in history, and it looks to be moving directly toward Florida or the eastern seaboard. It is at times like these when I thank the Lord that I am landlocked, living in this desert place, and fairly safe from most of what "Mother Nature" throws at us. I mean, we do have wildfires, and we do get torrential rain during our Monsoon, but other than these two extremes, rarely do we have any other feats of nature or natural disasters like some of our neighboring states. I guess I am saying that my heart is concerned for my friends and family who live in FL, but I am also grateful to be where I am today -- stuck in the sand, the dirt, and the western wilderness of Arizona.

More Thoughts on Staying Put

So it has been about a week since I started to feel like the Lord was asking me to stay put here in Phoenix. I have blogged about how I wanted to move, to go to another state, some place less hot, for months now. I really do miss my childhood home, and I miss the variable climate of San Jose, California, where it could be hot and cold all in the same day. I miss the skies filled with clouds, and the rain and snow, that could be counted on for a nice change of seasons. Yet, despite my desire to go, the Lord has regularly asked me to consider staying.

At first, it was more so out of necessity. I was working on my degrees, and well, my son was enrolled in school here, so really seemed like a "no brainer" to stay put until he graduated. His goal date for graduation was 2017, just like mine, but due to some changes to his major emphasis, he ended up staying longer than anticipated. Second, I live with my parents, and since we share a home and they really cannot live on their own, the rationale of leaving just never made sense to me.

My goal of graduating and being employed full-time at a college or university did come to pass. The first part, for sure. I graduated in May, and while I didn't get hired to teach full-time, I did an interview at ASU, where I was not selected due to heavy competition.  I was offered other opportunities for interviewing at schools elsewhere, but none of these seemed like the Lord's will for me or were they attracted to me (all had some downside that just made them not the type of job I really wanted long term). In short, the only work I have been offered has been contracted, so while I am thankful for the contracts, I have not received a full-time offer as of yet.

I am okay with working part-time at multiple schools. It is the new "adjunct way," and that just means that it is possible the Lord doesn't intend to bring me one school for work. He may, of course, but as the nature of higher education seems to go this way, as in hiring adjuncts over full-time, it really looks like I am set to do this work until further notice. This simply means that while I have three online schools now (Grantham finally came to pass, hurrah!), I really don't have any prospects that suggest one of these part-time schools will ever go full-time if that makes sense.

More so, I am set at GCU for another semester. More than likely, I will remain there for awhile, but I am thinking seriously of switching to Communication in the spring. I am tired of teaching writing on campus, and the opportunity to teach COM courses appeals to me -- now, I mean -- that I am graduated.

In all, the job front seems settled. I will teach adjunct until the Lord says otherwise, and I will remain in this home with my parents until they decide that they need more care. My son has this last year to finish school, and then if the Lord provides, and I think He will, my son will head off to Spain for a year at Berklee College Music. Thus, staying put really seems the right course of action, at the least, for another year or longer.

Letting Go Means Embracing My Life

In some ways, letting go of my dream to move east simply is a way for me to embrace the life I have today. It is a way to say goodbye to a childhood memory and dream vision and hello to a life that is practical and good. Yes, it is letting the past memories go all the while embracing the future as open doors of opportunities. It is really letting the Lord lead me as He desires, and it is knowing that whatever He provides it will be 1) good, 2) satisfying, and 3) enough. It will be good, satisfying and enough, and as such, I can let go and embrace the life He has given to me this good, good day.

I have blogged about being in transition, how my life was upended by my divorce, and how in between that time of being married for 30 years and being divorced for 3, I have reinvented myself. I went back to school to become a teacher, and praise God, that is what I am today. I left the corporate business for higher education, and I have been steadily employed since. I have changed my life around to suit, and as a result, I now do work I enjoy, look forward to, and really love. It has been a good transition -- difficult at times -- but good.

More so, I have had some final closure to my life. Last weekend, my ex and I met over rather sad circumstances, but we had a good chat, a good visit. Many things have changed in his life, and well, he was thoughtful, reflective, and deeply moved to meet with me. It was such a good feeling to finally have some closure in that part of my life. As that door closed, and the Lord gently allowed me to experience restoration, I came to see how much of my life was the result of another persons' actions and intentions. My life today is the result of my own action, and interestingly enough, the good I have, which I attribute to the Lord alone, has come as part of my action, my decision to do something I love and enjoy. Yes, my forward movement toward getting a Ph.D., moving into teaching, and really moving to this house that I share with my parents -- all of this movement -- has produced great results.

For example, I live in a really nice home. My parents and I get along well, and while we are a bit cramped for space, I am comfortable here. My son is doing well. He has a nice space to crash, and while he needs more music space than what he has, he is doing OK, making the most of it. My work at GCU and my other schools are really good. I like my life, and in this way, I can seriously say that the decision to return to school, to pursue teaching, has been a monumental success. It has been a good thing, you know, a really good thing.

I am ready to set down roots, to really start living again, and praise God, I am ready to do this now right here in Phoenix. I am ready to begin my life, to live my life, and to enjoy my life -- all without moving an inch. God has made a way for me to be content, and for that blessing, I am really thankful. I am good. My life is good. I have a prosperous future. I have big dreams, a lot of hope, and my heart is filled with joy simply because I realize today that everything I have has been handpicked by Him for my well-being, my good, my future best. He has this life worked out for me so that I will grow to maturity, and that I will be made ready to do all the work He has in mind for me. My heart is set now on one thing and that is to make sure I please Him always. Nothing else matters. Living in the desert or the snow doesn't matter. Living single as I do and coming to accept it doesn't matter. I no longer desire anything other than what I have, and I am content to remain as I am for the rest of my days simply because He has said it is good to do so. He has determined my days, my outcome, and thus, I conform my ways to His plans, and with His blessing, my hand will produce good, good results. Selah!

Blessings for Obedience

In Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (AMP), we read about the blessings for obedience. Moses records the Lord's commands to the Israelites in this way,
“Now it shall be, if you diligently listen to and obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all of His commandments which I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God. 
 “You will be blessed in the city, and you will be blessed in the field. 
“The offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your animals, the offspring of your herd and the young of your flock will be blessed. 
“Your basket and your kneading bowl will be blessed. 
“You will be blessed when you come in and you will be blessed when you go out. 
“The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way but flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your storehouses and in all that you undertake, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy [and set apart] to Himself, just as He has sworn to you if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk [that is, live your life each and every day] in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will give you great prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your livestock and the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good treasure house, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. The Lord will make you the head (leader) and not the tail (follower), and you will be above only, and you will not be beneath, if you listen and pay attention to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, to observe them carefully. Do not turn aside from any of the words which I am commanding you today, to the right or to the left, to follow and serve other gods.
As I read this passage of scripture, I am reminded of what it means to be grafted in. Paul uses these words to help explain how Gentile believers are made part of the Abrahamic covenant, and how as newly grafted brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, all the blessings of the Old Testament are passed on to New Testament followers. Obedience is the same. The blessing is the same. The difference, of course, is that as New Testament followers of Christ, we no longer live under the law as a means to walk in obedience to God's statutes. Instead, we walk by the Holy Spirit, and with His indwelling presence, we are able to live in peace and continued fellowship so that we can be obedient and keep His commands to us.

Thus, as I read these words, I am reminded that:
  • I am blessed in this city (Phoenix)
  • My offspring is blessed as well
  • My basket and kneading bowl are blessed
  • My way has been blessed, in going and coming
  • My enemies no longer rise against me
  • My storehouse is blessed and is full
  • I am being established where I live
  • I am experiencing great prosperity
  • The work of my hand has been blessed
  • I am beginning to take on more leader roles (head) and fewer follower roles (tail)
I can see this blessing in my life, and I can see how continued obedience will produce similar results. I will see the blessing of the Lord as I follow in His commands, I listen and obey His voice, and I do what He asks of me. I am seeing this now, and because I can see these results, I have full faith and confidence that I can experience this continual state of blessing as I move forward in my life, walking along side the Lord, and attending to all the tasks and request He makes of me. 

It is a good thing to walk side by side with the Lord. There is no other place I would rather be than to be walking with Him, hand in hand, and knowing full well that I am in the most secure, most safe, and absolutely most blessed place possible. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I marvel at the goodness of God. I mean, His word is clear on this matter. Do these things and blessing will follow. Don't do these things and cursing will follow. Obedience is what the Lord asks of us, and whether we lived during the time of Moses or the time of Trump, we are called to be obedient. I cannot stress it enough. I believe that the gospel of grace is a marvelous thing. We are under grace, praise be to God, but in our state of grace, we have somehow bought the lie that we can walk anyway we like without regard to the consequences. God forgives us, yes! But as Paul said, we cannot use our new found freedom as a license to sin. I think many New Testament followers do just that and nary give obedience a wink because they have been taught from the pulpit that we are no longer under the law. But, the law has not been put away. It has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus, but the law remains until He comes again. Thus, there is behavior that must align with the law, and in that way, the heart must bend, submit, and yield to the Lord in all areas of life. We must consider the walk of faith as a walk of obedience, and in this way, we must understand that blessing follows obedience to God and no other master.

September 5, 2017

Tuesday, Tuesday!

It is a beautiful day in sunny and warm, Phoenix. I slept well, and I woke refreshed today. I am feeling apprehensive this morning, but only because I am anxious about my second class today. My COM course went well on Thursday, but today will be telling. I have to move my students from the introduction and welcome part of the course to the main content, and well, I am always a bit anxious about that task. I am praying today for the Lord's grace and goodness to cover me as I do what He asks of me. I know He will see me through, and He will help me to handle all the challenges I face this good, good day.

In all things, I am resting or at the least, I am trying to rest. I am thinking about Jesus as the GREAT I AM, and with that thought, I am trusting in the fact that as Creator God, He has my life well in hand. I shouldn't be worried or anxious about anything because I know that the Lord has me well-covered. If anything, I am anxious simply because I am afraid of failing my students, failing at my work, and turning in a poor performance. I feel this way every start of the semester. It is a fault I have, something that is part and parcel with my INTJ personality and my need to be in control. I want to do my best, and I cannot help but think that I am "there" to perform. This is not the case. I mean, I am not there to "sell" anything to these students. I am there to facilitate learning, but it is hard to wrap my head around what that means and then to actually change my mind so that I no longer "sell" but I "help" learning to take place.

The Oxford dictionary states that the word, facilitate, means "to make (an action or process) easy or easier." When this word is used as a metaphor for teaching, the idea becomes clear. The teacher in the classroom is there to guide the learner and to provide help so that the material or assignments are "easier" to understand. In this way, my role is as a facilitator whereby I provide extra content that can help to make connections to difficult or abstract concepts and where I show learners ways to process understanding that can help them to develop a deeper and more appreciative stance toward the material or subject matter.

For example, in my Communications course, my role is not to teach them Organizational Communication. The textbook we use is really good, and it has far more information in it than I could ever distill to these students in several semesters worth of time. I do teach my students, but I honestly cannot teach them much about this subject other than what I know first hand, which in truth, is slim compared to the writer of our text book.

The word, teach, as a similar meaning to facilitate, but it connotes a much different action. Merriam-Webster says that to teach means, "to cause or help (someone) to learn about a subject by giving lessons." Often, I create lessons to help my students learn a concept. I would say that my lessons are more to facilitate learning than to actually teach anything. Though, I would agree that I probably do a bit of both in my lesson plans.

My lessons often present the main content in different ways. I give examples of the content. I create scenarios of the content, and I often create an application to the content. I will create activities based on the content to demonstrate connections, and my hope is that my students will learn by reading the material, listening to lectures about the material, and by an application where we work through real-life examples, personal reflection, and partner or group role-playing with the material.

The process of learning is complex, and teaching content often requires multiple approaches to the subject and the ability to be flexible to design a curriculum that not only provides ready access to key content but that it includes plenty of time working (in multimodalities) with the content. It is not easy to do these days, and due to the changing nature of education, the fact that many students suffer from learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other afflictions, the studies that show that teachers are responsible for social work as well as lesson planning and delivery is so true. My work is complex, and I am never satisfied with what I do even when I do it well.

I do my best, but I often feel as though I fail my students. I see their disappointment, their disapproval, or even their disinterest, and it hurts me greatly. I feel like what I have prepared isn't good enough, and though I deliver it with my best desire and intention, I often leave the classroom feeling like I have missed the mark. It is a difficult fine line to walk. I know that on the one hand, I am very good at what I do. But, day in and day out, I simply struggle to pat myself on the back and say "I did well!" I receive very little response back from my students during the semester, but thankfully toward the end of each 15-weeks, I typically do hear comments about how much they enjoyed my class, learned, or felt that they had improved in their knowledge of the subject.

Yet, despite the lack of congratulations and approval, I do feel that this job is my calling in many ways. It is not the best fit for me, for my analytical brain, but it is something I enjoy doing, and something I think I am good at doing.

I guess I am my own worst enemy. Yes, I shoot myself in the foot day in and day out because I hold myself to a standard that is impossible to meet. I want to be the best teacher I can, and sometimes, I overlook the work I do simply because I feel that I am not performing as I should perform. I have been convicted of this fact lately, and in truth, I am tired of dealing with these emotions again. I mean, this is the 8th time I have taught campus courses, and frankly, the pressure, the painful feelings, and the emotional path are taking its toll. The pendulum is swinging wider and harder than ever before, and I am feeling the ill will of that swing. I want to get off. I want the pendulum to slow down. I simply want to stop these feelings, these thoughts that can so easily cause me to stumble.

I often ask my students, "What is Truth?" I know the answer of course, but I ask them to tell me what they think the truth is. The answer varies with perspective, and while I believe in absolute truth, in God's word as truth, in Jesus as the "way, the truth, and the life," I know my students will tell me just about anything they consider to be true. It is one of those "no answer" questions. In my case, however, I feel like stating the truth with evidence will help me to finally let go of these doubts.

I am a good teacher because...

  • My students tell me personally
  • My students tell the school (through evaluations)
  • My peers tell me and the school (through evaluations)
Consequently, with these three reasons in mind, I can provide empirical support to justify my claim. For example, every semester I have students that tell me how much they love my classes. Furthermore, I will have students come up to me from previous semesters and tell me how much they miss my class, miss me, and wish they could take another class from me. Moreover, my student evaluations are always rated above 4.5 on a 5-point Likert scale. Generally, I score somewhere between 4.5-4.7 consistently, and that includes both online and on campus courses. Lastly, my faculty evaluations are always very high. My performance is ranked as "meets," which simply means that I am doing everything I should be doing in the classroom. My peers cannot give me "exceeds," simply because they consider "meets" to be the standard of excellence in the classroom environment. Thus, I demonstrate to them that I am sufficient in the classroom, that I am doing quality work, and that I am representing the university well.

So why then do I feel so anxious, so worried, so fearful?

I honestly believe it is because my enemy seeks to destroy any joy I have, and he desires to steal my happiness, contentment, and good feeling just because he knows he can. Yes, my enemy wants to make me miserable because he knows he cannot keep me from obedience, faithful execution of God's will, and my wholehearted dependence upon God for every need, want, desire, or thought. Yes, my enemy hits me where he knows he can hurt me most.

My job is to stand and defend myself against his attack of words. He accuses me of failing my students, of being a crappy teacher, of being overworked and not focused, etc. I stand at the ready with my shield of faith and my sword of the Spirit, and when he attacks me, I simply respond with, 

"Not today, devil! Get thee behind me, Satan! My God is bigger, badder, and more bodacious than any insult you can sling at me! He died to save me and I am no longer condemned in His eyes. Your taunts are just useless taunts of a LOSER and soon be squashed and French-fried evil being. Yes, your taunts are fruitless, and some day very soon you are going to roast in that lake of fire where you and all your minions are destined by God's judgment and WORD to spend all of eternity. My faith rests in the RISEN AND EXALTED JESUS THE CHRIST. It is in His Name, and with His power, and through His authority, that I stand and I defend myself against your pitiful and pathetic attack."

I know what I need to do to defend against his assault on me, but often I let him attack me just the same. I let him steal my joy, just like a thief, instead of pulling out the BIG GUN of the WORD of God. Why do I do this? I think I do it because I am tired, I am worn out, and I am overwhelmed by the dailiness of life. He knows when I am low, I am vulnerable. Thus, I need to remain fully armed, clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6), and that in my battle dress, I am able to withstand his charge against me. I cannot do it without defense, and thus, I must always be prepared -- dressed for battle -- because my enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to devour whomever he can. I know this truth, I know that he has one desire and that is to see me destroyed. He cannot keep me from heaven, from pleasing God or from being obedient to him, so he just settles for stealing any and all happiness from me. The Word says it this way,

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

My King gives me life, and He gives me life in the fullest sense of the word. I have an abundance of life, of joy, of peace, of goodness, of happiness and so forth. He has given me the best of everything, and in this way, my needs are met to the full in and through Jesus Christ.

So today, as I close this blog post, I remember that while I am overwhelmed and undone, I must still stand ready for battle. My enemy will not cease his assault until the day Jehovah God sentences him to utter destruction. Until that time, I must not give up or in. I must stand in my God's strength, power, and ability. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and this day, I can stand in His Name, and with His power, and because of His authority, I can be victorious.

September 3, 2017

Blessed Sunday!

It is a great day to be alive! I am giving the Lord praise for His goodness toward us. He is GREAT and He is GREATLY to be praised! Selah! It is good to praise the Lord, it is good to always praise His name!

Happy Sunday! I woke up this morning thinking it was Monday, LOL! I had that panic feeling like I had forgotten to prepare for my week of teaching. Once I woke up, I realized that it was Sunday and that tomorrow is a holiday (Labor Day!) Such a relief! I was so relieved to remember that with the Monday holiday, today really is another good day of rest for me. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for your blessed provision of rest! He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

Fall Is Around the Corner

Strange as it may seem, I feel fall coming on strongly. I guess it is the fact that school is back in session, but I simply have this giddy feeling that fall is soon to be upon us all. My good friends who live in the Midwest and east are already wearing sweatshirts. We, of course, are sweltering in 100 plus degree weather. Even my poor California family is suffering! The temperatures have been well over 100 in LA and near that mark in San Diego (at the beach). Oh my goodness!

I am used to the heat, and while I don't like it very much, I guess it is a way of life. I mean, I complain about it, but really, I just deal with the heat. There isn't anything we can do about it, so we just accept the fact that it is hotter than you know what, and move on. We just move on.

Speaking of the heat and Phoenix, my son came into my room last night to chat about options for his life. He has been mulling some choices over, and he mentioned the possibility of a job right here in Phoenix. I assumed this might be the case since he is so in demand with his music, performance, and technical ability. Still, I was hesitant to discuss it simply because I have been struggling myself with the idea of staying or going. You know, do we move or do we stay put? I sort of thought the people he works for now would want to keep him permanently, but as it turned out, he was offered another position, something that I thought might be an option down the road. He was pretty much assured that he would have a job after graduation if he wanted one. My heart leaped for a couple reasons. One, I want him to be employed in a job that he enjoys doing. I don't want him to do what I did and flit and fly around for years before he really figured out what he was passionate about doing for his life work. Two, I want him to be settled. He is such a dreamer (not like a fantasy dreamer, but someone with big ideas and big goals), and he wants so much to go and see the world. I have promised him that he will travel all he wants, but he so doesn't want to be settled here in Phoenix. He wants to see more of the world and determine where to be settled after he has spread his wings some. Last, I want him to develop his skills and potential not for purely monetary reasons. I want him to become the person God needs him to be, and in that way, I want him to follow the Lord's will completely.

As we chatted about some options, I could tell he was disappointed. He really was looking forward to moving away from Phoenix. I reminded him that perhaps this plan of the Lord's is really GREAT. Never does God keep something back from us to spite us. So while our idea may seem plausible, good, and even exciting; God's idea is far better, better than we could ever hope, dream or imagine. If the Lord wants to keep us in Phoenix, then the outcome He has in mind is pretty spectacular. At the least, this is how I see it.

So what does this mean for me?

Well, as I have shared previously, I believe that my life is tied to my son's life for a number of reasons as well. First, we are unique in our passions and driving desire to achieve. Second, we both are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and we both desire to do the Lord's will. Third, we are alike in mind, though different temperament. We think in similar ways, but we act differently. In this way, we get along really, really well. Our lives seem intertwined, and since childhood (his), I have had this connection (not a weird, overly motherly type) to the plan the Lord has for his life. I sorta feel like I am to remain his guardian until the Lord asks me to stop. Until that time, I am to mentor, guide, direct, equip, provide, and shepherd him -- all under the Lord's banner of grace and provision.

The funny thing or odd thing, depending on how you look at it, is the fact that the previous night, as I was praying, the Lord spoke to my heart and mind and suggested I think about remaining in Phoenix. I was like, "what?" I mean, I had just let go of Phoenix and set my heart and mind toward moving elsewhere. Yes, I had sorta settled on a particular place because it seemed like the Lord wanted me to consider it. I considered it. I agreed it was good. I made up my mind to go there should the Lord open the door. Then, wham! Now, I am being asked to remain, to stay put, to consider this as an option again. Oh, Lord, not another turnaround?

So as I was laying in bed thinking, meditating on what the Lord was saying, I honestly was so lost. I was like, "really? Do I have to think about staying here? I so do not like the heat...". I fell asleep thinking about the possibility of staying put, not really knowing that the Lord might have a reason, a good reason for asking me to give up my dream of a four season climate.

Then, the bombshell drops, and well, I get it. I get what is going on. I understand that the Lord is asking me to remain for my son's benefit. I thought more and more about my life, how I am in this transitory place, how I want so much to be settled, to put down roots, and to be assured that there is just "one way, one place, one location," yet the Lord never gives me that satisfaction. He asks me to trust Him. He says He will provide for me. He says He will carry me, cover me, and complete all the work He has asked me to do. I simply need to rest, to abide, to trust Him to do it.

I so struggle with trust. I find it so hard to rest. In fact, just yesterday, I struggled the entire day as I tried to do "no work." Yes, my son says I am a workaholic. He says he has never met anyone like me who works non-stop. I spent the day forcing myself to rest. In the end, I felt like I wasted the entire day. But I know the Lord wanted me to rest because I tend to go, go, go without ever taking some time off.

He asks me to rest physically so I don't become depleted. He asks me to rest spiritually so that I don't lose my hope. He asks me to rest mentally so that I can be refreshed. And, he asks me to rest emotionally, to trust Him to guard my emotions, so that my heart is kept safe. In all these ways, He asks me to rest because it is good for me to do so. He knows me so well, and as the keeper of my heart, He looks out for me. He wants my best, and He knows when it is time for me to let go, stop my work, or simply stop trying to control my life the way I like to control it.

Yes, I am a controller. I control everything -- all the details -- the little wiggly things that are out of alignment. But in truth, I cannot control this outcome. I cannot control the end of my life, my work, and His will because it is all wrapped up in His perfect plan for me. I have to let Him lead me. In leading me, I have to trust that where He leads me I will find good pasture to bed down. I have to let Him guide me, and in doing so, I have to trust that His judgment is better than mine. I have to believe that in all things He really does know best. And, I have to let Him provide for me. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, and as such, He is the One who opens the door for me, who provides the manna daily, and who ensures that my bread bowl and kneading basket never run dry. My oil is full to overflowing, and my lamp is not running low. He is good to me, but I must remain in His care, allowing Him to lead, to guide, and to provide for me in His way and not my own.

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I am in awe of the Lord yet again. He has confirmed to me and to my son a way to go, and through this dual confirmation, I can take heart and KNOW that this is His will for me. I may not be happy about staying in Phoenix, but I can be happy in knowing that God thinks it is a good idea, and that He has a good plan in mind. More so, I can be happy in knowing that despite my opinion, He really does know best. He has this figured out, and as such, He has a way for me and for my son that will fulfill His calling and His plan for each of our lives. What we think, want, hope, or dream may or may not come to pass, but we can rest -- really REST -- in the knowledge that the Lord's will is at work in us and through us and as such, His will is coming to pass today. It is truth! Selah!

September 1, 2017

It is Good

Happy Friday! My first week at GCU is almost over. After my afternoon today, I will have survived the first week of school. Thankfully, not too much harm has been done, at the least, I hope that is the case. I tried my best, I showed up, I did what I could, and well, we will just have to wait until the end of the semester. One thing is for sure, though. I have decided to please one person, and that is my heavenly Father. I have decided to please one person, and that is my King. I have struggled with pleasing people my entire life, and while I have gotten pretty comfortable being my own person, and standing my own ground, I fall into the dumps at the beginning of every semester because I want my students to like me. I want them to like what I am doing in class. But as the semester begins, I always feel this sinking sensation, this feeling like I am failing or a failure. I've reasoned that this is due to the fact that I desire my students to be pleased when I really shouldn't care that much about their feelings (in that way). I am their teacher, not their parent or their friend. Still, my heart always is pulled between ministry and work, and I struggle to separate the two. So, God has placed on my heart this year a different approach, and that approach is to remember whom I serve. In truth, I am called to serve God first, and others second. This means, that I must always serve God with my whole heart, my whole mind, my entire being. Serving others is a natural extension, but I cannot serve man more than God or things will quickly get out of sorts. No, I must remember who I serve and then allow my service to God to be filtered out to others whom God brings to me. Selah!

With that in mind, I have made some mental notes to self, so to speak. I have decided that I will show up and do this work (teaching) to the best of my ability, but I will not go without a keen sense of humility. I will fail. I have already failed twice this week. Furthermore, I have failed online several times in one class alone. How is that possible? Well, I failed due to technical difficulties (online) and through student interaction. Neither were within my control. I did my best, but the computer and interface didn't cooperate and my grade book was messed up. I had a prickly student in one class and his prickliness caught me off guard. I failed in the way I reacted to his questioning. In other instances, my failure was a result of having to cobble together a curriculum in less than a week. Moreso, my failure was in not testing curriculum previously (using another person's idea and work and seeing the holes in their design after deployment). In all these scenarios, some were of my hand and somewhere unknown situations that presented themselves in action. I was swimming with the current during this week, and well, I got swept aside a couple times. The life lesson here, and I think it is a big one is that teachers are not perfect. They are not meant to be knowledge dispensers. They are human, they are flawed, and they make mistakes! We do what we do because we love to see students learn. We do what we do because we love to mentor, equip, and encourage. We are not perfect robots that never goof up. We goof up plenty. We make mistakes. It is hard for this Type-A, INTJ, always in control person to work in a role where goofs occur. I don't do mistakes well, and the Lord has graciously allowed me to experience many this week just to remind me to look up, to rest in Him, and to walk lightly and humbly with Him. We will fall down often, but He will always be there to lend us a helping hand. He is good, so very good to us! Selah! Amen!

 Preparing for Today

As I sit here today and blog, I am thankful for the grace the Lord has given to me. I am thankful that He has made a way for me, and that in that way, I am safe and secure. My heart is happy today simply because the Lord has seen to my needs, and He has provided everything to me that I need today as well as everything I need tomorrow. He is good, so very good to me.

Furthermore, as I think about His promises, I realize that I am the recipient of His good favor. The Lord has made me promises of provision, and He has faithfully kept His word to me. For example, I have more work now than I thought possible. I teach online at Regent and at ASU, and I am really thankful for those contracts. Then I have my ground classes, and well, I am thankful for this work too. Moreover, I received an overflow class this week, so I have four ground classes at GCU. Then, coming home last night, I received final verification that Grantham has approved me to teach. It has been 7 months since that whole process started, and with my transcript issue in June, I pretty much gave up hope that they would even hang around. But, as the Lord had promised me, they came through now. This means that coming in spring, I could potentially teaching online only. It has been a promise to me, and a blessing to me, and God be praised, the hope I have held on to for a couple years now. Even if I teach on campus again in the spring, I will know for sure that I have enough contracted income to cover me, to cover all my needs. My debts can be erased, my loans resolved, and praise God, I can hope to enter the new year with a solid investment in my retirement account as well as the complete satisfaction that all my monthly bills will be paid. God is good! He is so very good to me! Selah! It is done, so be it. Amen!

Thus as I prepare for today, I begin to do so with a grateful heart and mind. Attitude is everything, and God is so very good to me. I know He desires that I have an attitude that is open, willing, and agreeable to His will. But also, He desires that I have an attitude of humility and submission. I am to submit to others, to be gentle and kind, and I need to maintain a servants heart and a servants leadership focus. He is my King. He is my Ruler. He is my Head, and I bow to Him. I bow to Him this good, good day.

In closing, I sit here today and I marvel at His goodness. He has kept His word to me regarding work, and I believe that He will be faithful to do the same in every other word of testimony I have received. He will keep His word to me. Why? Because the Lord is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is always, always the One who keeps His covenant. He is a covenant-keeping God, and praise Him for that fact! We can rest in knowing He will keep His side of the bargain.

August 31, 2017

Turning of the Tide

It is a typical Thursday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, the sun is shining brightly, and the day is off to its usual motif. Everything is as it should be for the last day of August 2017. I am finding it really hard to believe that it is almost September (tomorrow) and that in just three short months, we will be working toward to Fall and then Christmas. It is funny how the year just moves on by so quickly. It seems like yesterday, I was so stressed over my dissertation and finishing it by the March 15 deadline. It seems like I was so overwhelmed at the thought of traveling to Regent twice in the spring, once for my defense, and once for graduation. Now, I am sitting at my home computer, thinking about all that has passed, and I cannot help but wonder what is next for me. I mean, what plans does the Lord have for my life now that I am graduated and ready and able to do His work and His will?

Moving On

I have written these words, "moving on," some 20-30 times over the past couple months. In many ways, I should simply say, "still moving," because that is more accurate. I am moving on from where I was just yesterday. I am not standing still but I am walking on this journey, one day at a time. I have no future plan other than to "keep on keeping on," and to wait patiently as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. I am walking out my faith, as Joyce Meyer would say. I am getting up each day, looking up to the skies and saying to the Lord, "not my will this day, Lord, but your will be done." I place my faith, my hope, and my trust in the Lord, and daily He refreshes me. He keeps me. He helps me. He holds my hand, so to speak, and in this way, I keep on trying to do what I think He wants me to do. Some days, like today, I feel so down, so depressed, so unworthy. Some days I feel like I want to give up, throw in the towel, or just hide under the covers. Other days, I feel so strong, so confident, so bold, and while I don't always know from day to day what will happen, most days, I feel thankful, grateful, and definitely blessed simply to be alive, to have good practical work to do, and to know that my God has my life sorted, organized and planned out.

Today, I am challenged, and my heart is very heavy. I am about to start to teach another class, at the last minute, I should say, and that means that I am scrambling to get everything worked out. This is twice that I have been asked to step in when another instructor has bowed out at the last minute. It is a challenge to prep for a class 3-4 weeks out, but a day, one day, simply doesn't give enough time to do a good job. I hate having to create something from scratch, and given my time right now, I am in this place of dread and overwhelm. Just this morning I said, "Lord, why did I do this?" The response was because it was His will, and well, I cannot argue with that point. I just feel unprepared, and I don't like to walk into situations without all my ducks lined up.

I guess I am learning how to do that, how to go with the flow, how to handle problems as they arise. Yesterday, the podium computers would not work, so I wasn't able to load any video. It was a network problem, and my whole rhythm of the of the day was just knocked off balance. Today, I am facing uncertainty again, and I am walking into a class of seniors with little to no preparation. I have no knowledge of what to expect. I will show up with my game face on, and I will do what I can, but my heart and my head worry because I don't want to let these students down. I don't want to let them have a bad experience due to my ill-preparation or my lack of knowledge. Yet, I know that I am good at what I do. I know that I know my stuff. I guess anyone who speaks on stage, who teaches experiences this same agony. I remember my ex-mother in law, who spoke for many years professionally in Christian women's groups, conferences, etc., would literally have an anxiety attack every time she finished speaking. The guilt, the panic, the anxiety is overwhelming to public speakers. We put ourselves out there, open ourselves up, and when we make a misstep or mistake, it is like target-season. We are hit left and right with commentary, all-guns barrelled. It really is part and parcel with our contentious society. We are a people who argue openly, who name call, and generally who act hostile to anyone or anything that is said that causes some disagreement.

I struggle some with my calling because of the environment that I am in at present. I don't like contention. I don't like to be called out, but I have been gifted with the ability to preach the word of God, and as such, I have to preach in season and out, regardless of the crowd's receptivity to me. This translates to the classroom as well. I have to show up, do this work, and trust that the Lord will cover me. He will be my safe guard, standing at the doorway to make sure no one passes through who seeks to harm me.

I never wanted to be a public speaker. In fact, I never wanted to be in the public or the limelight. I never wanted to go on stage. I am an introvert, and as such, I really don't like to express myself outwardly. I like to write on my blog, to think quietly, to be circumspect, but I work in a public venue, and I teach students content and curriculum that is not original -- it is given to me. This means that I teach what I know through another creator's lens. It is a challenge to do this because I don't always know what the designer had in mind. I don't always know what I should do or say. I do my best, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes I crash and burn. It is hard for me to stand bare naked and let other criticise me, analyze me, and scrutinize me. It is hard to handle dissension, disagreement, and controversy.

Now, I know what I have been called to do, and that is to help the church communicate faith more effectively. I know my ministry and my mandate, and I know that the work I do day in and day out is a reflection of that call. However, sometimes I wonder how what I do really affects my ministry efforts down the road. At first, I knew that I had to learn how to be comfortable on stage. I had to learn how to handle large crowds. I had to not panic, but to be able to present information. I still struggle with presenting, and I still struggle with my approach. I worry that it is not effective, that I am not effective. I worry whether my students are getting what I am saying and whether or not they care. My students are fine, I am assured, but I want to know that my daily work is pleasing to Him, and that it matters to Him, and that my effort will be rewarded some day soon.

Resting Without Any Knowledge

So today, I rest without any real knowledge of what the day will bring. I have some personal challenges to attend to this good day, and of course, I have to show up for my first class and jump into that deep pool of worry, but I do so without any assurance of a productive outcome. I have no control today. I have no authority today. I have no prospects and no real hope that the day will go well. I do have faith. I do have faith, and through that faith, I have hope. Not in myself, of course, but in the One who is able to control the seas, calm the wind, and make the ocean surface smooth. My faith rests securely in Jesus, and it is in Jesus, my only Hope, where I know I will find the security, safety, and blessed assurance of a good day. The day may not turn out well for me, but one thing is certain, no matter what happens this day, God is always good. He is good, and I will say it as many times as needed to remind myself of that fact. He is good. He is always good to me.

"Part The Waters / I Need Thee Every Hour" by Selah

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.