February 4, 2016

It is a Strange Day Today

It is Thursday, and I am struggling today to overcome these feelings of oppression and depression. I cannot really explain it, other than to say, that I feel so awful, just like this dark rain cloud has settled on top of me. It started on Monday, and here we are at the end of the week, and the feeling hasn't lifted. Yet, that is. I have prayed, confessed, and declared the power of God over and through my life, and still, I feel beaten down. I am sure that this is part and parcel to my upcoming exams. I mean, should I pass my exams and advance to candidacy, then I am on my way to completing this important goal - my PhD! God has purposed and plan this goal for me, and He has seen me through to this point in my program. I am confident that He will see me through to the end, and that I will be successful. However, until then, my enemy seems poised to hit me where it hurts most, and right when I am at my lowest point and when I am feeling most vulnerable. God knows my heart, and He knows my limitations. I am struggling today to keep all my boats upright and afloat. I am praying for His power and might to be poured out upon me, and for this veil of darkness and confusion to be lifted. I ask this now in the mighty, merciful, and matchless name of Jesus, my Lord and my Savior, Amen! Selah!

I also think that I am tired, just bone weary and physically exhausted. I really would like to rest, like take several weeks and rest, but for now, I have to push on through these feelings and stay focused on what matters most. The Lord knows what I can and cannot do, so I am focused on Him right now, and I am drawing on His power, His authority, and His ability to see me through to the end. He can do it; I cannot. He can make this happen; I am unable, impotent, and clueless to do anything good thing. He is God; I am not, and as such, my dependency is utterly upon Him and Him alone. Selah!

Holding On and Staying Strong

My day started off rather weakly, but praise God, I am still in the game, and I am not going down without a fight. I completed my phone interview, and while less than satisfactory in my opinion, it is done and over with for the day. Perhaps the Lord will move to open this door, but if He doesn't, then so be it. I am content and I will wait for His provision in time. After my interview, I received an email from GCU regarding that full-time position for English. I also noticed that they were hiring for full-time Communications faculty, so I wrote a cover letter to the Dean, and sent it off along with my resume. It is a long-shot for me, but I would have regretted not applying since these types of positions come around so infrequently. I am trusting the Lord on this one, and if this is His provision, again, so be it. If not, then I will remain faithful and I will wait for His open door. Until then, I am focusing on my study and exams, and I am looking forward to seeing how He intends to provide for me. Will He provide a full-time ground campus position or will He provide a full-time online position? I am not sure which way He intends to go, but I am sure that either way, it will be the perfect fit for me. For now, I am settled where I am, thinking and feeling that this is best for me. It is good, all good, and I rest in His provision and in His sufficiency.

Today has been a bit of a bust, but then, it is only 2:00 p.m. I am thinking I might just take a nap, but to do that, I would have to give up my chair, and I doubt seriously I would get it back from my cat, Winston. He has been eyeing it since 10 a.m. this morning, and he has that "look" that says, "I am ready and waiting. Please move now!"

As I think about my day today, I wonder how much more of this stress can I handle? I mean, I am about at the breaking point, and frankly, I am worried about being able to write my answers with any expertise come next Thursday. I know the Lord has me well-covered, but still, I am thinking -- oh -- I am so tired of thinking, how will I do what needs doing? I just don't know, I just don't know.

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

February 3, 2016

Giving Him Praise

Yes, it is another new day. I woke up this morning to the cold air streaming through my bedroom window. The outside temperature is sitting at 36 degrees this morning, and my bedroom didn't feel any warmer. I am not sure why I am so cold these days, but I think it has to do with my internal thermometer. Women in menopause often report that they have hot and cold flashes, and while my symptoms are not severe, they do bother me to some extent. Especially, the cold flashes. As weird as that may seem, a cold flash feels like you have been dunked in ice water. It starts suddenly and you feel chilled. The exception is that the chilling effect doesn't go away quickly, it only intensifies and with the intensification, you begin to feel as if you have ice water in your veins. It is an awful feeling, and no amount of covering up helps because you are chilled on the inside and not the outside. The hot flashes are similar, but I seem to be able to tolerate them more easily. Right now, I am having a hot flash, and while you would think "hey, that is a good thing! You are getting warm now!" the truth is that they make you feel miserable and often very uncomfortable. Sigh! The unpleasantness of getting old...

Today is Wednesday, and I am now officially down to 7 days before I sit my comprehensive exams. I know I have focused on my exams quite a bit lately, but I cannot help it. These exams are one of the high points of my program -- if I don't pass them -- I do not advance to candidacy, and I will, in effect, not graduate (even after successfully passing all my courses with a 4.0 average). They are a BIG DEAL, and the stress over them is punishing. I am doing my best to keep the stress at bay, trying to not give into it, and trying very hard to stay on top of my work so that I don't feed the stress in any way, shape or form. But lately, as in this last week, I have found it more and more difficult to concentrate and to FEEL settled. I know I am in good shape, well prepared, but still I feel panicked that there is something I have missed, left aside, or looked over. I have to let this go, to let the Lord lead here, but still it is difficult to not worry about something so important in my life. I am worried. Yes, I am worried.

Letting Him Lead

I have school today, teaching and such, and then tomorrow, I have my interview with Regent University. I am excited to interview, but a bit apprehensive about it. I am in the middle of faculty orientation for Ohio Christian University, and frankly, the orientation has been a bit of a deflater for me. I had looked forward to teaching at this school, but I have come to see the job as less than what I had hoped and expected. I guess it is the idea of teaching online that has burst my bubble. I thought I would really enjoy it because I could stay at home, but now I am wondering just what I will be giving up, you know what I mean? There is something about working with students one-on-one, teaching them in person, well, it just makes me happy. I thought online would be the best of both worlds -- I could stay at home -- and yet still teach. Instead, it is more like being an online facilitator, and while I understand the approach and necessity for the role, it just has deflated my spirit some. I am not giving up at all, it is just that I am realigning my expectations to the job, and in doing so, I am getting a better feel for what this type of work entails.

The Lord knows my needs, and He has me so well-covered, but still I wonder if this is the best way for me to go. Yes, I know it is, I know it is. My life is complicated right now, and working from home offers me the opportunity to be more assistance to my parents. Furthermore, just from an economical standpoint, working from home provides me with extra income, and well, let's just say that any extra is a welcome relief. So I know that this is His provision for me, and I know that He knows what is best for me. I am trusting Him to use these open doors for His name and His praise. I am trusting Him to provide for me. He is good, so very good to me.

Thus, today, I woke up thinking about all that I have to do, and I realized "once again," that I cannot do it all, not in my own strength. I confessed this to the Lord, and I acknowledged that what I have to do -- exams, finish my dissertation, graduate, etc. -- is beyond my abilities. I certainly can try in my own strength, but my strength will fail, and in the end, I will fail. No, I confess that I can only do these things in His strength, and with His guide to lead me through each trial and hurdle in my path. I have been tested and tried, and today, I am starting to feel that twinge in the pit of my stomach that reminds me that His way is perfect, is final, and is the only way to produce good fruit. My way, conversely, is fraught with error, with self-sufficiency, and with shortsightedness, and most often, will not succeed simply because I don't have the necessary resources to achieve the goals He has set for me. No, there is no other way to go but His way, and in doing so, He must lead and I must follow. It cannot be the other way around. I must go where He sends me, and I must do the work (as in ministry and teaching jobs) He assigns to me. He is the manager here, and I am just the worker. I don't get to tell the boss what to do, rather He gets to tell me what is best, and I get the privilege to agree with Him.

My heart and my mind feel the pull, the tension between what He is asking me to do and what I think I can do well. I know the difference between what He is able to do and the limits of my own experiences and capabilities, yet I still try to have it my way. Yes, I want to be in the driver's seat, if only, to choose the way to go. I know myself well, and I know that if I take the lead, I will drive us right off the cliff for lack of foresight. He knows what tomorrow will bring, and He knows where He wants me to go, and how He intends to get me from point A (in Phoenix) to point B (His next provision and place of ministry and work). I must let Him drive me there. I must let go, and I must resist trying to grab the steering wheel, especially now, when we are so close to arriving at our next stop.

I want so much to arrive, to get there, you know, to finally be settled, but I know that until we actually arrive, I cannot open that door. It is like when I am driving my Mom to the store. She will always unbuckle her seat belt before the car has been stopped or is in park. I say to her "Mom, you have to stay buckled in until we are stopped," yet she doesn't listen to me. She will still try to get out before we are safely at our destination. I am like my Mom too, especially when it comes to the Lord's leadership. I often want to get myself out of the door early, to get there so I can run in and start whatever is next on my list of life's to-do's. I have to wait until the Lord says, "We are here! You may unbuckle and get out of the car now." Until then, I must be content to wait for Him to get us there in one piece, and to do it in such a way that we are all safe and sound. I trust Him, really I do, but I guess my excitement and anticipation takes over my good judgement, and I behave like a little child looking into the window of the candy store. I so want to go through that door and start shopping! I can barely stand to wait. Yet, I must wait. I must wait.

As I think about today, I marvel at the patience of the Lord. I mean, look at me, I am a nervous wreck, and here He is calm and in control. Yes, I know, He is God, thus He should or would be in control. I know, I just mean that if you look at the two of us, one of us clearly is not like the other! I am thankful that I am who I am and He is who He is because, frankly, my life wouldn't be that grand if I were totally in charge of all the plans and details. I think I would drive myself nuts with all my stress and striving to overcome the tiniest obstacles. Yet, He mysteriously does it for me, and as a result, I am good. I am comforted. I am in this safe and secure place whereby I am able to overcome things that I never thought possible.

So today, I must let this go. I must look to His hand and not my own. I must begin to realize that from this point forward, there is nothing I can do without His authority, His assurance, and His ability in my life. I must do this work, to His Name, and through His power, and for His glory. I cannot focus on what I want or how I think it should be done. I must do it for Him, and for Him alone, and I must let Him lead me through to the very end, the very pinnacle of success, so that He will receive all the praise.

My heart, Lord, is open to your movement this good day. Whatever you decide is best, I accept and acknowledge your provision. I let all the stress go, and I rest securely in your abilities to lead and to guide me. I trust you, and I look up, waiting, watching, and remaining hopeful for your sweet provision this good, good day. Selah!

February 2, 2016

Moving Forward

It is February, and I am thinking "pink"! Pink is my favorite color now, not sure why, but it is. I love all things PINK. Yes, I am feeling very "pinkish" today. For those of you who don't know what that idiom means, it is used to express a feeling of wellness, of feeling fit or good. While I won't go as far as to say I feel "well" in every way or area of my life (physically, I am stiff and sore -- just getting old), I will say that I do feel well in my spirit and my soul. Yes, I feel in the pink, and as a result, I am giving God all the praise, the honor, and the adoration for it is He who has made me feel this way today. God has richly blessed me in every way, and I am thankful for the treasures and provisions He has brought to my life. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

Just to keep track of things, today is February 2nd, so technically it is Groundhog Day here in the US. Punxatawney Phil didn't see his shadow today so the prediction is for a shorter than normal winter. This means spring is right around the corner. It certainly doesn't feel very spring-like here in Phoenix. I woke up to a chilly morning with the temperature hovering somewhere around 34-36 degrees. Inside, the heater was on, but the house was only at 70-71 degrees and frankly, that is a bit chilly for me. I didn't want to climb out from under my covers. My boys wanted to be fed, and they were not content to remain still for long, so eventually I got up and out to the kitchen to feed them and to get my cup of coffee. Now I am seated at my computer, and well, I am trying to get myself reconnoitered so I can begin my day. I have a lot on my to-do list, but I feel confident that I can do everything that "must needs" be done this good, good day. Selah!

Moving Forward and Reaching Up

It is a good day today. I have a lot on my plate, but I am making steady progress through my study/review books. I am down to 8 days before I sit my written exams, and today, I have to say that I am not really nervous at all. I may be a bit uncertain, for sure, but I am not panicked or nervous. Frankly, there is only so much I can recall, and to memorize 8 classes of doctoral content -- enough to be able to discuss the topic cogently -- well, that is nearly impossible. Thus, I let go of the idea that I would need to recall everything, and instead, I focused on what I thought was reasonable and plausible for me to do. This means that I have been steadily working through material that I felt covered the "meat" of each course. Truthfully, I have no idea what I will be asked, so instead of focusing on what I don't know, I have had to study what I do know. It has been a difficult process, but at this point, I do feel like I know enough to write a two-hour essay exam answer. Praise God!

The process has been grueling, to say the least, and I am tired and ready to move on. Yes, I want to be done with my exams so that I can rest, really rest, and then begin the even more challenging work of my dissertation. I am ready to take these next steps, and I am excited to do this level of work. I just have to hunker down and finish this review process with strength. I know the Lord has me well covered, and I know He will provide for me. He is good, so very good, so very good to me! Selah!

The house is very quiet this morning. My son is at school, and my parents are at the doctor's office. My Mom is having her quarterly checkup for her CLL. Hopefully, she will remain in stable condition. Her last checkup was good, and her white blood cell count had stabilized. This is good news for her chronic condition, so the prayer today is really just more of the same. My Mom's memory is the challenge, and every day it seems we struggle more and more with her ability to remember how to do things. For the most part, she can handle the daily "to do's" that she has taken responsibility for these past 70 years. It is remembering how to do things, dates, and things that just seem to disappear on her. For example, she still remembers that we need to eat at certain times of the day, but often she will forget to make herself something to eat. Or she will forget to take her pills even though my Dad has left them out for her on the counter. She might forget to put things away, food mostly, and she will leave things on the counter. I know this may seem normal for anyone who is 80 plus, but my Mom has never been this way, so for her, this is so not normal. There are other things, the mental confusion, the inability to make choices and decisions (like ordering off the menu) or even shopping at the store. She is unable to process complex details, so my Dad or I have to take care of these things for her. It is not a burden at all, but it can be difficult to manage especially when there are competing interests (like my study schedule or work schedule). So far, the Lord has graciously provided for us to live together and with that or for that, I should say, I am thankful.

Still, I am looking forward to my independence, and to taking the next steps the Lord has in mind for me. I blog mostly about my life, my schooling, and my work situation, but there is another part of my life that I am anxiously waiting for the Lord to begin working in and through for His name and praise. Yes, my love life has steadily been improving, and now that my good friend and I have been in a relationship for almost two years, it is exciting to think about the time when the Lord will bring us together. Yes, I await His next steps for me in this regard. I long for a satisfying relationship, a companionship that will endure through my golden years, and I want to experience this type of deep soul-to-soul friendship so that I can enjoy what I believe is God's design for relationships between men and women. My marriage was not this way, and even though I lived with the same man in faithful union for nearly 30 years, I never had a true friendship with him. I didn't have that "I love you more today then when I married you" feeling. It isn't that I didn't try, but life wasn't good between us, and it was difficult to find reasons to love someone who did things that cut against your core beliefs. I tried my very best, but in the end, I found the relationship difficult, tiring, and draining of all life and energy. I hate to say it that way because I do believe that love is a choice we make, and that we choose to love a person for life. The problem, and I can say this now, is that it is vital that the person you choose to love is worthy of being loved. Let me explain...

Love is one of those amazing wonderful emotions, and we all enjoy that first blush of "love." I know I certainly did, and I still do. However, love is something that is also fickle, and when we love someone or say we do, often what we mean is that we are in "lust" with them. We find them sexually attractive or we find them dazzling to our senses. We form romantic attachments that are not predicated on love, real love, but on fantasy or emotional stability, and in doing so, we set ourselves and our relationships up for a rocky road and rough going romance. You see, love is predicated on selfless and sacrificial service to another. It is mutual, and must be a balance of give and take. It says "I am willing to lay down my life for you" without expecting the other person to do the same. The key, though, is that in true spiritual and loving relationships, the other person IS WILLING TO DO THE SAME. This is what is vital to spiritual health and wellness. Too often couples join and one partner is willing to do everything, sacrifice everything, and the other partner is not. This makes for a manipulative and controlling relationship whereby one person is the giver and one person, the receiver. If this type of imbalance continues throughout the life of the relationship, you will have in-equalization that will simply drain the relationship of all its sympathetic and mutually serving properties.

I realized too late that the man I married wasn't willing to sacrifice for my needs. No, I married a man who had narcissistic tendencies, and who pretty much did what he wanted when he wanted to do it. Furthermore, while he treated me with a measure of kindness on the outside, he wasn't a kind man on the inside. He didn't place my feelings, my needs or even my desires any where near his own. He chose his way, and when he didn't get his way, then he would become emotionally distant. He used his emotions to blackmail me so my response to his withdrawal was to give in, which I did. I spent my life living this way, always giving, but never receiving anything in return. I made the mistake in marrying him because I wanted to get out from under my parents control, and I believed that this man genuinely cared for me. He didn't care for me at all. Instead, he used me for his own delight, and even after I realized that this was all he wanted from me, I refused to walk away (out of pride really, and of course, shame). Yes, I married a man who didn't love me, but who wanted to use me to satisfy his own selfish needs and desires.

Now that I am single, and aware of what I did in the past, I know that I don't want to repeat that scenario again. No, this time, I am waiting for a man who wants me for me, and who is willing to lay down his life to protect me and honor me. I am willing to do the same for him, but instead of "hoping" it is so, and I am waiting to see that it is indeed "so." There is no rush in forming romantic relationships. I am no longer of childbearing age, so there is no pressure due to a biological clock ticking. No, I long for true spiritual companionship, and a love that is predicated on God's will for our lives. I want to live 100% wholly devoted to God, and should the Lord call me to be married a second time, well then I will go into that marriage with the eye on the prize -- God's design for marriage -- above all else. Yes, my desire is to be married again, but to a man who is worthy of my love, my respect, and my mutual submission. I will not settle for second-best, and I will not follow after any man unless I believe that he is the one God has purposed and planned for my life. Selah!

I am fortunate to have found a Godly man who loves the Lord, and who places that love first and foremost in his life. Furthermore, this good, good man, genuinely cares for me. He is a good man, an honest man, and while not a perfect man, he wants to share his life with me. In this way, I think the Lord has placed us together for a reason. First of all, our ministry and calling is similar, yet different. We are both called to preach the word of God, though I am doing it in a different way than he is. Second, we are both devoted to God, and have surrendered our life fully to Him. We go where the Lord leads, and because of our reliance upon the Lord, we don't make decisions that will go outside His will. Third, and most importantly, we both desire to be married, but are content to remain single until the Lord provides a mate for us. This means that we have not had any physical contact with one another in order to "wait" for the Lord to provide a way for us to meet. The blessing has been that we are in a relationship with one another, we are committed to one another, but we are distanced due to factors outside our control at this time. We are learning what it means to wait on the Lord, to wait for the Lord to open doors of opportunity (for ministry, for work, and for life), and in doing so, we are gaining strength to be successful in whatever way the Lord calls us to go. In short, the longer we wait, the more we desire one another, and the more we realize that the other person is "worthy" of that wait.

I cannot really explain it other than to say that I find that as the time goes by, I desire this man more and more, and not just for those romantic feelings I have for him. No, I desire to spend my life with him and to be his companion. This means that all romantic feelings aside, I am choosing this man as my companion, and I am trusting the Lord to fulfill all the desires I have in my heart toward this end. If it is the Lord's will, then we will be together. If it is not the Lord's will, then we will not. The funny thing is that we are not growing a part, but rather we are growing closer together. This has been hard for us, especially as I have had to take time from our weekly conversations in order to focus on my studies. The distance created by not talking to one another has been hard on us, but we are committed to seeing each other through whatever circumstances befall us. This means we stand next to one another, strong in the Lord, and patient in the belief that the Lord will see us through to His perfect end, His perfect measure of completion.

My life, thus, is bound up in one pursuit alone, and that is to serve the Lord with gladness, to relish in His provision for my life, and to surrender all my desires, wants, and needs to His mighty and merciful hand of blessing. He knows me well, and He has me so well-covered, so well-covered. Selah!

Today, then is a good day. I am ready to tackle my stack of study materials, and to continue to push forward and prepare for my exams. I know the Lord has a great and mighty plan for my life, and in this way, I am trusting and relying on Him to see me through to the end of this process. His plan for my life is good. I am thankful, I am hopeful, and I am anxious to see His revealed will come to pass. I cannot wait to see all of the good gifts the Lord has in mind for me, to experience the full-time job He has waiting for me, and finally be able to enjoy spending time with the man I love. God's timing is perfect, and He knows me well. He loves me, and with His great love, I can rest and take assurance that I am so well-covered, so well covered this good, good day!

January 31, 2016

Moving On...Yet Again

It is a blessed Sunday, and I am home and resting. I finally slept well, praise be to God, and I woke up refreshed and ready to tackle my very-full day. It is the Lord's day, and while today, I am staying at home, I have decided that this is going to be one of my last days to miss church. Yes, I decided to cut myself some slack, to give myself a little break, and to focus on what I have to do right now. I am down to 10 days until I sit my comprehensive exams. I need every off day (from work) to prep, and today is the last day I will be prepping before I begin the crush of cramming for the written exams. Once I am through with the written part, I will have about two weeks until I fly to VA to sit the oral part. At the conclusion of my testing phase, I will be advanced to candidacy, and then I will be in the dissertation phase. In the dissertation phase, I will resume a normal work/life schedule -- which just means -- I will be free again (no homework or school work) to resume my normal life! Praise God!

I know it seems weird, and I have to say that I have had some strange conversations with people who think that nothing should interrupt church attendance. I have blogged about this before, and while I agree with this notion, I also know what I can and cannot do -- as in physically and mentally -- in order to keep my ship sailing upright. You see for me, I need my sleep. I always have, and when you add in the stress of working (teaching and standing/emoting) along with doctoral study, well, my physical, mental, and emotional well-being hangs in a fragile balance. I have had to give up, sacrifice a lot of things over the past three years. I have created priorities, that may or may not align with what other folks consider "priority." That's okay, really, it is. I mean, my priorities are not going to align with anyone else's and that is just fine. My life is in flux, temporarily, in this season, so to speak, and that means that I have to do certain things regardless of if they seem right to others. I have to do what I have to do just to maintain my health, my vitality, and my ability to perform at this level. Church attendance has taken a backseat at times, simply because my Sunday has been needed for study or for catch-up teacher work.

It shouldn't be this way, really it shouldn't. If I were only teaching, then I would be able to do everything and still have time to enjoy my life. It is the doctoral study that has taken over my life. No one really gets this other than my colleagues in my program. My friend Jane posted this graphic to Facebook the other day. It represents the life of a doctoral student perfectly. So much of what I do as a student is under the water line, so to speak. It is hidden. No one really knows what it takes to complete a doctoral program unless they happen to be in one. The upper portion, what my family and friends see is simply an illusion. I often hear people say "Oh, I had no doubts you could do this or that thing" as if the thing I was doing was as easy as riding a bike. I know they mean well, but the truth is that often what I am doing is beyond their comprehension. I am not saying this to brag or boast, no sir, it is just that I am saying that no one really gets what is involved, the work level, the stress level, and the time commitment needed to complete this kind of program.

My heart is convinced as is my mind that what I am doing is for the Lord. That may sound so strange to some who would counter, "I am sure the Lord doesn't intend for you to miss church, Carol!" I laugh at that line of thinking because it presumes that someone out there really does know the mind of the Lord! (LOL! Certainly, I don't). What I do know is this -- my mind -- is convinced that the driving ambition He has placed in my heart is working to achieve this goal. If you knew me, my history and such, then you would know that I once was labeled as a "quitter." Yes, I used to quit things when the going got too tough. Now, you would probably characterize me as someone who never quits, who never gives up, and that would be true as well. I would say that I am ambitious, but only for the Lord, and I am driven, but only when He commands me to go. At other times, I am one lazy girl, for sure!

I guess what I am trying to say is this...the pressure to conform is getting harder and harder for me. I am trying very hard to do this work, to finish strong, and to remain steady through these last few weeks. I am being condemned by voices in my head, thoughts and opinions that have no bearing on reality. Furthermore, there is a part of me that struggles to overcome the doubts I already feel inside of me, worry over my future, and the plans the Lord has for me. Even when I feel confident, like really confident, I still worry about what I am to do, and how I am to do it. I think in many ways, this is my thorn, you know, that thing that keeps me from being arrogant and foolish. I can take no credit for anything at all, no achievement, no award, nothing. Everything I do is because of His grace. He has chosen this path, and He has chosen this way for me. I go, I do, and I live in His way -- regardless of what other people might think or say to me. I do it all for His praise, His honor, and His glory.

Today is a good day, then, to finish strong. My to-do list includes finishing my exam outlines, and then resting (at some point). Next week, beginning with Monday, I will be reviewing everything every single day/night until I get to Wednesday, February 10. Then I will pray, take a deep breath, and commit my work to Him. I will trust Him to see me through the two-day written exam, to help me remember all the details I need to write eight solid essays. Then on February 12, I will rejoice that the first part of this grueling process is over. I will take the next 14 days and review my answers for errors or omissions, and I will study again in order to pass my oral exam. Once I finish, and praise be to God, that will be February 26, I will rejoice as loudly as possible. I will know that He has done this marvelous work in and through me, and He has completed, fulfilled His promise to me. He is good, He is so very good to me.

But until then, I have to work. I have to keep moving forward, moving on, and taking those next steps as they are illuminated. It is a difficult thing, but I know that I am not alone, and that He has made this way possible. I cannot imagine doing anything more difficult than this program. I cannot imagine working any harder than what I am doing now. In fact, I would say that I have never worked harder in my life than at present. Even when I was working 60-70 hours a week, even when I was dealing with the stress of nasty coworkers or a downturned economy. No, nothing can compare to what I am doing now. Nothing can compare to it. I am blessed beyond measure, and as I move through these next weeks and months, I am convinced, utterly convinced that God is going to move in my life in a major way. Yes, I believe that once I advance to candidacy, there will be a full-time job for me. Once I begin my dissertation phase, the Lord will move me to the place of His choosing. Once I complete all these remaining tasks, then I will go (physically), and begin the next phase of my life, ministry. I believe all of this, all the work, the pressure, and the challenge has been for one purpose and that is to prepare me to do His work, His specific ministry calling. I am convinced of it. I am utterly convinced of it.

This is my command, He has said to me, "go and do my work." I have tried my best to obey. I have tried my best to be a good follower. I haven't always done what He has asked of me, but I certainly have tried to listen and heed. The process has helped me learn how to be a good follower for sure, and the process has created great change within my heart and mind. Lately, my mind has been moved to be more in step with His mind, and by that I just mean that my desires are changing to align more with His word. I asked this to be so a couple weeks ago, and this is what I feel is happening within me. I am moving away from my own desires, and moving closer and closer to His desires for not just my life, but His Kingdom. You see, we are all called to ministry to the Kingdom of God, and that means to the church as well as the unchurched. We have a dual role to play to build up the body of Christ while we also reach out to the lost souls who are so desperate for the hope we have within us. We are to be inward and outward, and our inner and outer selves should be mirror images. However, for many Christians this is not the case. Their inner life doesn't match their outer life or vice versa. We (as a community) have done great damage to the cause of Christ simply because we have not taken heed to align our inner heart with our outward motivations. There should be no difference between who we say we are and what we believe and do.

My work, thus, is to be an outward manifestation of the inward transformation that I experienced at the cross of Calvary. My heart has been radically changed, and the person I am today is not the person I once was many, many years ago. I have been transformed by His grace, and as I spend time with Him, immersed in the Word, and living and walking with Him in spiritual communion, my outward life is changed just as completely as my inward life. Therefore, my work, what I do or think God wants me to do is predicated, completely and thoroughly on His calling in my life. I am to do nothing other than the work He has called me to do. I can feel it inside of me, and I can see it as it is manifested outside of me -- the two halves are similar and they function as a whole. I am eager, I am excited, and I am enthusiastic in this work. I want nothing else but to be used by my Lord and my Savior to further the Kingdom and to build up His church. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

As I move through my day today, I give Him praise. I look up and I rest knowing that He has me so well-covered. He alone is worthy of my praise. He alone is worthy of my adoration. He alone is worthy of my devotion, my attention, and my love. I give Him this praise today for He has seen to my needs. He has provided richly, and He has cared for me completely. He alone is my Lord, my Savior, and my King. Selah!

January 30, 2016

Feeling Dejected

I cannot believe how poorly I feel this morning. First off, I didn't sleep well at all. I must have dreamed non-stop, and of those dreams, two were fairly frightening. I don't mean that they were evil type-dreams (you know, scary monster things), rather they were dreams that upset me and caused me to cry in my sleep. Weird, I know, but I felt like I was crying in my sleep. I saw myself upset, crying, and then I could feel those same emotions well up inside of me. I hate those type of dreams. You always wake up feeling like you have lived through the war. I just hate it when I dream this way.

I am sure the reason why I am dreaming like this is because of my impending exams. I mean, I am so stressed, absolutely and completely stressed, over the process. I am confident, mind you, and I feel good about the outcome, but my body, my mind, and well, my spirit are overwhelmed by what I am trying to do. I know the Lord has me well-covered, and I know that I am in good shape study-wise, but the overall stress, the pressure, and the looming deadline are all working together to place an extra toll on me physically and mentally.

Second, there is the issue of my situation here at home. I am doing okay at home, but part of me simply wants all this to be over. I mean, over soon. I love my parents, and I have enjoyed our time together, but now I want to move on, to move away, and to be settled in my own right. I want my life, the life God has promised to me, and that life is some where else. I want to be free, I guess you could say, I want out of this cage I feel I am in. I know, I know...I walked into this cage. I did it. I chose to do this thing, and now I feel stuck here. I want to be free to go and to do as I please. I want to travel. I want to live freely. I want to be responsible in my own right, to be a grown up again.

Furthermore, I want some space of my own. I need my own space. I am tired of sharing my life with my family. I always say "I don't mind" but the truth is that I do mind, I do mind. I want my own things, in my own place, and to do with them what makes sense to me. I want to be free from the extra responsibility I bear, and I want to start my life over.

What is His Will

Psalm 91 is a source of comfort to me this good day. Though I feel downtrodden and dejected, yes even depressed, I am reminded of the goodness of my Lord and Savior. This psalm reminds me how well He has me covered and that His promises are sure.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I know the Lord will rescue me. I know He will protect me. I know that He is my help in times of trouble, and I know that no matter where I go, He is there for me. Still, this good day, I feel so awful, so worn out. I feel as though I am living through this veil of darkness, and I cannot see what is really going on, what is really happening to me. 

I want so much to have everything be His will, His way, and for me to abide in Him and His word. I want so much to see His goodness prevail, His glory to be revealed, and to walk in such a way that every day, I am demonstrating to others His grace. Yes, I want to be about His business, to spend my days in His presence, and to know, to really KNOW Him. I cannot explain what I feel inside or how desperate I feel. I feel as if I am about to die, and that I am clinging to a life preserver. I want to be rescued. I want to be set free. I want to go and to do what He is calling me to do, but I am trapped. I am stuck. I am unable to move.

Help me, Lord! Help me to move so I can go and do what you ask of me. Help me to achieve everything you have called me to do. Help me to see your hand now as it rests upon me. Help me to feel your steady pressure as you calm my troubled spirit, and as you remind me that you love me, care for me, and have me so well covered. You alone are God, and I look up, I look up this good, good day.

I think what hurts the most today is the fact that where I am is right where He intends for me to be. I mean, I am doing the thing He has called me to do. I am at the job of His choosing. I am studying for my exams because it is His will. All of this is to say that I am right where I am supposed to be on His plan and His timeline. However, what I feel is oppression, and that means that my enemy has gotten a foothold in my life somehow. Yes, I know what to do -- I must stand and lift up my shield of faith and the mighty sword of the Spirit (the Word of Truth) -- and I must take my place as a warrior to defend against his wiles and attack. Still,  I also know that what I feel is the result of a very long and hard fought war of ideas, of theoretical teaching, and that my brain has contemplated such important thoughts, such important content. This is all vitally important to His work, and I must learn it, understand it, and then be able to use it. This synthesizing is draining me, and that is taking its toll too. It is just the process of learning content for application that wears me out. I must know this material, not just to pass my exams, but so I can use it for His name and His praise. I must do this for Him, not for me, and that knowledge has worn me down. It is a heady thing to be used by the hand of God, and while I take no credit for what I have done, the fact doesn't escape my notice: God has chosen me for this purpose and He has called and equipped me for His work. It is an awesome and mighty thing to be used by God in this way. I take my role, my calling very seriously, and the heaviness I feel is the responsibility He has given to me. Thus, today, I march on. Even though I don't feel well. I don't even feel like marching. I want to crawl back into bed and just stay there for a couple more hours. I want to cover my head and stay inside. I don't want to do the work that I must this day. I want to go home, all the way home, home to where He is and where I will finally be at rest.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The words of Robert Frost well up in my mind (thank you, Dr. John Galm, for sharing your love of Frost with me). I think about these words (and those of Mending Walls) all the time. Frost's poetry often resonates with me, and this one in particular, reminds me of the journey I am on, and the long way I have to go before I am home. There are tasks to be completed, things to be done, and yes, "miles to go before I sleep." I must do this work, and as I am called, so I am equipped. It is a trial at times, a challenge, and often, difficult and dark like those dark woods of this poem. I know I must plod on, and I must continue to fight through to the end. My Lord is with me, He beckons me homeward. I press on, I press on, I press on.

My heart is heavy today, yet I know that what I am suffering with is nothing compared to what my sisters and brothers in Christ suffer daily. The Lord has graciously provided for me. He has made a way possible, and as such, I am able to withstand the pressure and the pain that I suffer. He has made a way for me, and it is a good way, a very good way. Today, I look up, and I look forward. I know that this day will pass just like the previous days have passed. I press on, and I remember that what I am called to do, what He asks me to do, it will be completed in time and through His provision, His guidance, and His facilitation. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

January 29, 2016

Feeling Better

It is a blessed Friday. I am glad this week is over, even though I am beginning the turn into the final two week stretch leading up to my comprehensive exams. I am excited and panicked, all at once, but overall, I feel good about my progress, and I feel confident that the Lord is going to help me through it all. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

I woke up this morning with such a hangover! Yes, I felt like I had a hangover, even though I don't drink (LOL!) I just had that feeling like my insides were hanging on the outside of me. I am not sure why, but between the headache and body aches, I thought "Ugh! Did a truck run over me last night?" I hope I am not getting sick. I don't think I am. I think it is stress and the fact that the past couple weeks I have had a number of not-so-restful nights. I am sleeping, it is just that my mind races, and I typically have one or more unpleasant dreams during the night. My prayer is that all of this goes away as soon as I complete my written exams. My prayer is that it will go away very, very soon. Sigh!

Today is a good day. No matter how I feel, today is a good day. It is Friday, as stated above, and that means that I am at the "weekend!" Hooray! I am ready to finish my study outlines (for my answers), and get to cramming (well, intensive review). The past four weeks have been more about book reviews and analyzing patterns, themes and overarching questions -- all in preparation for what my professors might ask me on the exam. This week and next (coming up), my process is to review my answer outlines and then to work through my shorter notes and note cards as I memorize what I need to know the most. My plan has been to start very broad and work to this point. I may not have done it correctly, but at the least, I did it my way (as the song goes). I tried to study the way others were doing it, and it never clicked for me. I found that at the mid-point, I needed a new plan, and I came up (well, the Lord placed it on my mind) this way where I reviewed my books (at about 6 weeks out), and then began analyzing the questions (at 4 weeks out). I have been working on building outlines that could be memorized because frankly, there is only so much that I can memorize and recall with proficiency.

Some of my colleagues processed volumes of data and then regurgitated it in what they affectionately called "a brain dump." I tried that a couple times, and I failed miserably at it. Instead, I am creating outlines of key areas that are "chunked" into memorable themes. This is allowing me to remember a "ticket" rather than the entire contents of the ticket (if that makes sense). Think of it like a coat check at a fancy hotel or even. You give your personal contents to the coat check person and they give you a claim ticket. They keep your goods safe while you enjoy the event. When you are ready to leave, you give them your ticket, and you reclaim your coat, hat and bag.

I am doing something similar. I am creating claim tickets so to speak, one page outlines of how I would approach the subject and the possible questions about it. I am organizing the outline around key themes so that I can recall a writer and their theme. I may not recall specific quotes, but I can recall what the writer emphasized. This way I can talk about either the writer or his/her theme with some measure of recall.

I knew early on that I wouldn't be able to recall enough "quoted" material to make a dent in this exam, so to try and force myself to do it made me worry about what I would actually have as a product. I mean, what is more important? Quotes or themes? To me, a perfect case would include both, but with limited time, a theme is a better, more robust, and practical. You can work with a theme, but a quote is very specific and it is tied to one piece of thread only (the book, the writer, or a narrow section of a text).

No, my process might not work well for anyone else, and who knows how well it will work for me either. I am trusting the Lord that this is what He wants me to do to, and I am following what I believe is the plan He placed in my little pea-brain. I mean, I didn't sit down and say "Okay, Carol, let's figure out how to do this thing!" Nope, not at all. I did pray. I asked the Lord to guide me and to show me a way that would work for me. Next thing I know, He has placed this idea in my head. I write it down on a piece of paper, and then I start to think about it, play with it, and in the end, create a mini-study system built around it. I give Him all the praise, the glory and the honor -- He has done this -- and in the end, He will receive all the glory for whatever I accomplish.

My process, the battle over the process, has been hard fought. I couldn't wrap my head around doing things this way, but once I gave in, relented, and trusted Him, I relaxed and I started to make really good progress. I started to see how I was able to piece together different books, theories, and themes to make some "whole" out of them. The Lord is good, He is so very good to me. I cannot tell you what it means to me to know that I am not doing this alone. He will be with me. When I go into my exams, He will be right there with me, sitting beside me and holding my hand. I know He will be helping me to recall these outlines and the bullet points so that I can have enough content to actually write an essay answer.

Making Good Headway and Getting Ready for Next Steps

So in all, I feel really good about the path I am on. I am also feeling better about the job opportunities that have recently come my way. I was stressed yesterday regarding the offer at GCU. Well, it isn't an offer, just a heads up to say that there may be an opening in the department. I thought about it all day, and in the end, I decided that should the Lord choose this for me, so be it. However, I do not feel any peace or calm in the idea of remaining here in AZ. No, I feel calm and peace when I think about moving, and I feel less stress over the idea of moving elsewhere. I just believe that while this would be a great thing if it was His will, that in truth, it is not His will for me. Not now, not now, anyway.

I believe that the Lord is calling me to ministry and that ministry is not in Phoenix. I cannot be swayed by the thought of a full-time position if that position will not facilitate His ministry calling. Keep in mind that while I do believe I am called to teach (now for sure), I am also called to do a very specific task and that is to teach the church how to communicate more effectively. This is the ministry that the Lord has laid on my heart for the past 10-12 years, and at this point, I know and I am convinced that this is the specific work I will do for the rest of my life. It is not tied to teaching students English or communications. It is tied to teaching the Church, and that requires a global focus and work that will develop materials and other resources to be used by churches around the world. I know this, I feel it in my bones, so to speak, and this is my MINISTRY. So while teaching is a fulfillment of His call too, my life is not to be about the job. The Lord has been so specific on this point. He will provide a good job for me, but my life is to be about this specific ministry work. I am to GO AND TO DO THIS WORK. Thus, it is really easy to see how a full-time job here could seem like His will for me. It would solve the income problem, provide a way to care for my parents and keep a roof over my son's head. It seems like a good fit. But, it doesn't do the MINISTRY part that I know, I feel deep down inside, is not here in Phoenix. It doesn't meet His specific calling on my life. I know that I am to go and do this specific work in another state. I am to go and do it. Phoenix is where I am at present, but it is not where the Lord intends to keep me. I am certain of this fact.

I know this doesn't make sense, but to me, it does. I mean, I get the fact that for many people, being called to teach is a calling in and of itself. I get this from well-meaning friends and family all the time. Teaching is a noble profession, so being called to teach is the MINISTRY. I have no issue with this point, and while I agree that I am called to mentor, to encourage, and to equip, I see how God is using my job as a teacher to give me plenty of opportunity to experience this gift first hand. But, God has a plan for my life that is bigger than teaching college. My PhD was not to teach college. It was for ministry, for communication, and for me to be prepared to train and equip leaders in the church. This is why He called me to Regent University. If He had wanted me to get a PhD for teaching, I could have gone to ASU or another local school and studied English. I could have completed my doctorate locally if that was His plan. But, no. The Lord put Regent on my heart, and Communications, in specific, because this was the course of study I needed to know so I could do this very specific work. The job will benefit from that degree, don't get me wrong, but it is a side benefit, and not the "whole enchilada" as they say. I am to use my studies for His work only. I am to use what I have learned to benefit the Church, and that means, while I do overlap some, I do teach Communication courses some times, the Lord has given me a job teaching English Composition and a Ministry teaching Communication. Two different things, two different audiences, and two different outcomes.

My life then is predicated on His will first and foremost. I am to go and do this work first. The teaching, the job, comes second. I have always known that the Lord intended to meet my practical needs with a teaching job. My spiritual and ministry needs would be met in a different way, through different means, and through a different plan completely. Therefore, where I go is 100% directed by His plan for ministry, and not for teaching. I am to focus on His way, and that means that my number one priority now is my exams, my proposal defense and my dissertation (and later the defense for it). I still have a year to go, so I must remain focused and fixed on this task at hand. I believe now that the job the Lord has for me will come in time, but not until I am ABD and ready to take on more work. So for now, I continue to trust Him to provide and meet my needs. I continue to look for His open door, and I wait patiently for the door that leads me to the place of His choosing. I look forward to His going before me, making a way for me, and then leading me to that place of wonderful safety, ministry, and calling. He has this all in His good, good hand, and I simply need to rest and to trust Him to provide for me. In His time, that is, in His good, good time. Selah!

Thus today, I look up. I wait, and I watch, and I rest. I know He will do this, He will see me through to the end of every task, every test, and every high mountain. I am holding on to His hand, tightly, and without fear of being let go. I am holding on to Him, and He has me right where He wants me to be -- 100% wholly dependent on Him for His provision, His comfort, and His will. He is good, so very good to me.

The End is Near

As I consider my life today, I realize just how close I am to seeing the end of all things. In less than one year, I will walk in my graduation ceremony at Regent University. I will enjoy the blessing of graduating with some of my colleagues, and I will be finished with this major and mighty task. I am excited to be finished. I am excited to see the end. I am also feeling excited about what lays ahead for me. I am excited about what the Lord wants for me as far as those next steps. I mean wherever He leads me, there is a whole lot of work to be done. And, this excites me. I am filled with eager anticipation about it. I mean, I want to go so badly, to go to where I think He is leading me, and I want to start this important work. I want to see His glory unveiled so I can bask in His brightness, His luminescence, His warmth and His shine. Yes, I want to be hid in that cleft, and to see His glory pass by me. I want to see Him fulfill the promises He has made to me, and I want to cheer as He does it. I want to experience that amazing moment when I see, really SEE Him do all the things He has spoken to me, told me that He would do through me. I want all this to come to pass because 1) I would then be able to bear great testimony to His ability and not mine; 2) I could experience His power and His authority as it is active in and through my life; and 3) I would know that this process, learning how to walk with Him, learning from Him, etc., was practical and fruitful. Yes, I want to see the end of all of these things come to pass so I can say, "Yes, Lord, You did as you said you would do!" In this way, my praises are not out of relief, which is how they are so often, but rather, they will be out of exclamation bearing testimony to His goodness, His way, and His will in and through my life! Selah!

With this in mind, I say that I am good. I am so very good. I may not have everything I need today, but I have a lot of what I need. I may not fully understand what the Lord intends to do through me, but I know that He will do His work. I am so ready to do His work. I am so ready to take these next steps. I am so ready to follow Him wherever He leads me. I want to go, I want to do this thing that He has laid on my heart and placed into my mind. I know His plan is good, and I know that I can trust Him to bring it to pass. I think now what I struggle with the most is His timing. I get impatient still, far too often, and that works to pull me off track at times. I have to stay fixed, firmly fixed on these three things:
  1. My studies at Regent
  2. My job as a teacher
  3. My hope for a future in ministry
These are the three things I am most certain of in my life. I am to finish my PhD and graduate. I am to continue on this path as a teacher for the rest of my working days (until 70). I am to look to the future for a life of full-time ministry (starting soon and lasting well until my elder years). This is what I know. This is what I am confident will come to pass. This is what I look forward to and what I am waiting for Him to provide to me. Until they come to pass, I will remain on the path I am on. Never deviating, never looking to the left or the right. I am focused -- dead on -- until He brings these things to pass in my life. 

Dear Lord,

I ask today that you clear my mind from all the extraneous clutter that is causing me to be confused over your way and your will for my life. Remove any thoughts that are not aligned with your will, and confirm to me my way. Let me see that what I am doing and thinking is your WILL. I want to know for sure, for certain that the way I am walking is 100% your WAY. I ask now that you will remove all people, all passions, and all poisons from my life -- everything that is not working together to bring your good into my life. I ask Lord that you will provide for every need, and that you will keep your promises to me. I know Lord that I must remain constant, not change my affections for anyone or any thing, so I ask that you will reorient my heart, my mind, and my will so that it matches your will. I want to walk in your way, keep your will, and abide in your word. I want to go where you send me, do the work you have prepared for me to do, and live in the place of your choosing. I want to be 100% wholly devoted to you, and to you alone, and in doing so, I want to experience your goodness in every area of my life. I love you, Lord, and I adore you, and I worship you this good, good day. Amen, so be it. Selah!

January 28, 2016

Sensing Movement and What May be Next

It is Thursday, and I am at home resting. Yes, I am thanking the Lord for this blessed day. It has been a challenge for me lately, just to keep all my little balls up in the air and to do everything that "needs doing." I am struggling some today, just because I am faced with some choices that have recently come my way. As weird as it may seem, I am feeling uncertain about a couple possible "open doors." You know the saying that goes,

When God closes a door, He will open another.

Well, lately it seems that the Lord is opening doors for me. At the least, I think so. Let me explain...

Late last week, I received an email from Ohio Christian University asking me to complete their next step in the hiring process. I started Faculty Orientation on Monday, and I have until February 5th to complete it. After that point, I will assigned to a class with a mentor, and I will be reviewed as to my ability to facilitate online courses. I am happy to have this teaching opportunity, but now that I have been immersed in the online experience, I see how much work is involved in facilitating courses. I realize that the class structure is very specific to this school, and while I am thankful for this opportunity, I wonder if it really is a good thing for me (time-wise). Still, I believe God opened this door for me, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Yesterday, while on my way to my last class of the day, I received an email from Regent University asking me to interview for an online adjunct position. I had applied back in December, and it has taken some time for my materials to get to this point. I am ecstatic to think I might get to teach at my alma mater, and the opportunity clearly seems to be of the Lord's doing.

Then, earlier today, I received an email from my department mentor asking if I would be interested in applying for a full-time contract position at GCU. This is a job that hasn't been posted yet, but apparently it is for fall 2016. I would love to teach at GCU, but it seems odd that the Lord would be putting on my heart the desire to "go" and then provide a reason to "stay" put.  I am not sure what to do, or whether this position is of His choosing or not. It is very odd that they would contact me about it since they rarely have department openings in English. Still, the thought is warming to me -- I really do like to teach at this school, and I do enjoy the English department.

I guess the problem is that I feel so certain that God is calling me to move. I mean, I have felt this way for almost 10 years, and now it seems like He is asking me to stay for a while longer. There are many good reasons to stay put. I mean, my parents need me and my son has one more year of school. I can see positives to working full-time, after all, this is what I have been saying I wanted. Now, the Lord seems to be opening this door. Is He? Or is it just circumstance? I don't know, I just don't know.

Moving or Staying Put?

I have gotten used to the idea of moving, and I have come to look forward to the day when the Lord would choose to move me to another place. I have been hoping that place would be in the East, somewhere south or mid-central (not East coast), where I could experience a four-seasons climate. I also would like to live some place more moderately priced, where I could stay for the rest of my life. I don't want to up and move again, and the idea of moving several places has never really sat well with me. Now, I have to think about staying put, and well, I am not sure I am really happy about that at all.

I have said that I would go wherever He sent me, and I have always said that if He wanted me to stay here in Phoenix, well, I would agree to it. I have been here 20 years, and while the heat gets to me often, the truth is that it is not a bad place to live. Really, it is not a bad place. There are other places I would rather live, especially in the Midwest. I mean, I have a strong desire to live on a farm (a small farm), and to live in an older farm house. I am not a farm girl, per se, but I am open to it. I know that I need a job, and in fact the Lord has said to me very clearly, "Carol, you cannot move until you have a full-time job." He is right, of course. I mean, I cannot go anywhere without the resources to move. I need to take care of some business here before I could be in any position to move.

I was thinking about this very thing today. How for me to move anywhere, I would want to have my credit cards paid off, my student loan debt reduced, and some money in the bank. After all, if I wanted to purchase a home, my financial picture needs to look bright. I need a full-time job to cover me, and I need savings set aside (a down payment and some cash for expenses). Furthermore, if I did move someplace where there was snow, let's say, I would probably want to trade in my car for a small SUV. Other than these things, I think I could easily move to another state so long as I had a job there.

Lately, I have been feeling a pull toward the Midwest. I know, weird as it seems, the Lord seems to be putting Ohio on my heart. It is for ministry, not for teaching. It is where He would like me to do ministry, to build a ministry organization, and to minister to the "nones" that live there. It sounds weird, but I have this great sense of peace about going to Ohio. I know it snows there. I know practically no one there. I would be going to a place by myself where the Lord intended to start a ministry organization. Seems weird. Seems implausible. It sounds just like something He would do.

But my heart is tied to Phoenix and to Alabama, and how does Ohio fit into the mix. I don't know. My parents and son are here. My love lives in the deep south. Ohio isn't on anyone else's radar. What does this mean? Is the feeling, the sense of peace I have whenever I think about it, about moving there, wrong? I don't know.

I know that I need to complete my studies at Regent, and I know that I have wanted a full-time position for a long while. I mean, adjunct is great, but I cannot keep living on this low of pay. Still, I have to write a dissertation, so I thought that the full-time job would best come at the end of the process, in May of 2017, and not fall 2016. Yet, the Lord has been saying to me to consider working full-time this fall, so I have had in the back of my mind this idea that perhaps it would be August 2016 when He would start me some place as an Assistant Professor. I just didn't believe it would be in Phoenix. Now, granted, there is no guarantee on this job. In fact, I don't even have the spot on requirements so the job is a long shot. Still, it seems weird that the opportunity was advanced to me right now, right as I am starting to plan for next year. What are you up to Lord?

What I Want and What He Wants

My heart's desire is to be conformed to His image and likeness (character). My heart's desire is to do the work He has for me to do (to be of the same mind). My heart's desire is to always work unto Him, to bring Him glory and praise. Thus, the work I do is all about Him. All about Him. Now, I think that perhaps what I want is different. Perhaps what I want is to move to the dream-place of my childhood, to live on a farm in the Midwest. Why? Well, because that is what I remember most from my childhood visits to Indiana and Ohio. I remember what I thought life would be like growing up on a farm. I wanted that childhood, and while my own wasn't bad, it wasn't that dream of a place in the country, the white farmhouse with the red barn.

Now I think that perhaps the Lord intends to send me someplace similar, where I will finally have that dream, that desire. Yet, then I think how practical is it to think this way. I mean, I need to work, and I need a good job. I am blessed that today I paid my first premium for insurance. I am now covered with benefits thanks to Obamacare. I am not happy about the plan, per se, but I am covered, and Lord willing, I won't need to use it much. My prayer is to get real insurance through my employer some day, but until I do that, well I am at the least, safe should the unforeseen happen.

So in all, the Lord has opened a number of doors for me this January 2016. First off, I have extra work on the horizon in the form of online teaching. Second, there is a possibility of a full-time position locally. Third, I have benefits, praise be to God, and that means I can get to the dentist again for regular cleanings. Last, I should begin to pay down my credit cards, and start to make a dent in my financial portfolio soon. In short, it appears that whether or not this position comes to pass at GCU, the Lord is moving in my life, and He is preparing the way for me to go...to wherever He plans to settle me. I am trusting Him, and I am resting in His provision. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!