November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a good Thursday, and yes, it is Thanksgiving! It is a great day to remember the goodness of our God and to give Him thanks and praise for His eternal attributes, and His faithful and abiding presence in the lives of His saints. He is good, so very good to us! He is good!

I woke up this morning feeling well. I had a slight sinus pressure headache, but overall, once I got up and started moving about, the pain and pressure subsided on its own. I've been busy at the computer, spending time on social media as well posting final grades for one of my courses at Grantham. I also put our casserole in the oven along with the sweet potatoes, and now I am munching on some Chex Mix while blogging.

Overall, it has been a good morning. I am rested and thank the Lord, I feel better today than I have in recent days. More so, I feel better than I have in several months, and I attribute that wellness to the fact that I have had six days off in a row. In truth, I am seeing the blessing of resting physically, and despite my heavy grading load, I have been able to rest during the day and evening simply because I am not running back and forth to campus.

I blogged about my rejection from GCU a couple days ago, and prior to that, I said that the longer I had to wait to know "yea or nay," the more time I would have to consider my own needs and whether or not I even wanted the position. Today is a good day because I realized that while I was partly disappointed, I really wasn't that disappointed. In fact, I am not disappointed at all. Instead, I am thankful to the Lord for His sweet mercy. So while I don't know what will be for spring 2018, one thing I do know is that I will have plenty of time to rest -- like really rest! He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!


Plans, Plans, and Plans

So today is November 23, and it is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow marks the start of the "holiday season," and with the holiday season hitting full swing, I am starting to think about my next steps. I mean, technically, there are 38 more days until 2018 rings in, and well, that means I need to get my "house in order," so to speak. I need to map out my year, make plans for what to do in case of emergency or unforeseen events -- you know -- contingency planning I mean, so that I am well prepared.

First off, I am going to get in shape. Yes, I know. I say that all the time, but once school is over and I know that I will be free during the day to workout in the spring, I am going to join the local fitness center near my home and begin to really work out. I need to drop this extra weight I've been carrying around since 2013, and with some concerted effort, I should be back to my normal 145 pounds in just a couple months.

Second, I feel convinced that the Lord does intend to move me, and with His movement in mind, I want to be prepared to go when He opens the door. I need to downsize, pare down my things, and then be ready to pack and go.

Third, I need to take care of my parents better. I know they are responsible for their own care, but just today, my Mom said her mind was "blank" when it came to how to make the sweet potatoes. My Mom has been making dinner for 75 years, and today, she couldn't remember how to work the can opener. Her CLL has spiked again, but the doctor doesn't want to do anything more than what he is doing now, which is to watch it. Mom does take a pill to help her red blood count, but no chemo at this point in time or in the near future.

Last, my son is planning to attend Berklee School of Music next fall, and I need to help him figure this graduate school plan out. He needs to do the work, of course, but I have been absent and not able to really sit with him to help him know what to do. I want to be his supporter in this venture, and hopefully, Lord willing, he will be accepted to this very prestigious school for fall 2018.

As I think about all of this planning, I am reminded that while I make the plans, it is the Lord who etablishes them. I do nothing without His blessing and provision, and I wait until He tells me what to do, what steps to take, and then I watch as He provides the light to see what I am going. He is good in that way, and I love Him so deeply, so completely. He is good to me, so very good to me! Praise God! He is so very good to me!

In closing, I give the Lord thanks this good, good day. I rest in His comfort and care, and I trust and rely on Him for His provision of grace and mercy. I can do nothing to please Him, and I can do nothing outside His will. I am all in as they say and that means that I wait on Him, I watch for Him, and when He says, "Go," I go!

November 22, 2017

Wednesday, Wednesday!

Great is the Lord and Greatly is He to be Praised!

It is a lovely afternoon here in Phoenix. The sun is out, and the skies are warm, yet still mild. The air has that wonderful fall scent to it, but the temperature is still a bit on the high side for me. I am sitting at my desk, with my trusty pal, Winston, at my side. The window is open, and if it weren't for the sounds of the cars rushing back and forth on Greenway Road, the office setting would be peaceful and calm.

My parents are out to lunch with my brother and sister-in-law today. My brother drove over yesterday, and they have visited with us for most of the day. They head off to Prescott tomorrow for Thanksgiving with their son's girlfriend and family. It is a busy holiday for us all. My other brother is in town for business so we will spend tomorrow with him and our good friend, Barb, and her son, Steve. It should be a good day all around.

I am not feeling well today. I cannot put my finger on it, but my head periodically feels like it is going to explode. I think it is stress, well, I know stress is to blame. I am in this weird place, a not so happy place, today, and I honestly do not know what happened to me. It was like just a day or two ago, I had this complete sense of peace. Today, I feel panicked, drawn out, and as if I am about to face down a firing squad.

All I can think of is that I am beginning the anticipated change that I have believed would come to me at some point during the year. As I have moved closer to the end of the year, I realized that the oncoming change would happen sometime before or after the new year rolls around. Now, I am thinking that it will be very soon, very soon indeed. I am not anxious about this change because I have seen the signs, watched it come closer and closer to me. It is more so that I am feeling pressured today to complete tasks that have simply upset my routine. I have a plan of action, and I know what needs to be completed by the end of the day. Yet, I feel as if someone is pushing me harder than needed, and with that pressure to rush, I am feeling panicked because I am afraid of making mistakes. Still, despite the feelings of unwellness, I know that my life is in good shape. I am well-cared for and provided, and I have a solid future plan. I am in this very safe and secure place, despite the pressure to perform, the pressure to achieve, and the pressure to go and do something I really do not want to do.

For one thing, I believe that the Lord may be sending me to a place that is not of my choosing. I have said repeatedly that I would go wherever He sent me, but I assumed it would be a good place, a place I would want to go to if that makes sense. But, last night, as I was dreaming, I heard this voice in my head, in my dream I mean, say to me, "Carol, you will go to a place where you do not want to go. You will not like what you see, but it is a good place. Trust me." I woke up shortly after with a pounding headache and the feeling that wherever I may go, I will not want to go there initially. I know, I know...perhaps it was just a dream. I get it, I do, but I also know that sometimes what I hear in my dreams actually comes to pass, so part of me thinks that I may have received some knowledge to help me understand the change occurring in my home today. I am resting in the knowledge that the Lord has me so well covered. He has me so well covered. I thank Him, and I lift up a sacrifice of praise today because He has made a way for me to go. I may not know the way or even how to find it, but I know that He goes before me to prepare the way. He always leads me, guides me, and provides for me. Thus, while I stand here today in this weird unknown place, I am comforted by the truth that my God is with me. He is always with me, and He loves me so deeply, so completely.


In Conclusion

In closing today, I think about how far I have come in just 10 years of time. My life is vastly different, and I am in this pattern of growth whereby I am moving closer and closer to the Lord and to doing His work 100% of the time. I am no longer my own person. I am no longer my own. I am His bondslave, and as such, I no longer go where I please, but I go where He leads me, and I go with His grace, mercy, and goodness. He provides. He guides. He leads me. I give Him praise and honor this good, good day. I give Him all the praise and honor this good, good day! Selah!

November 21, 2017

Good Tuesday!

It is a good Tuesday here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air temperature is mild. It is so pleasant, so nice outside right now. I am, of course, sitting in my home office, thinking about the blessing of being at home, doing the work I love to do, and resting all the while. I cannot give the Lord enough thanks for His provision, and for the work, the good practical work, He has given to me. I am in this very safe, secure, and wonderfully blessed place, and I know it. I know it. What is more is the fact that I know the plan the Lord has for me life, and I know that I am right in the middle of His marvelous will, and that I am doing exactly what He wants me to do.

Today is a good day! I am giving Him praise, thanks, and of course, adoration for His goodness toward me. I cannot explain it, but God has clearly shouted out to me to show me the way to go, and with His confirmation, I know that His plans trump all other plans. He is good to me, so very good to me!
Making Plans and Now Moving

This morning, I wondered when I would hear from GCU regarding the job interview from earlier in the month. I had been almost 20 days, and more than two interviews later, and there was still no word. I had committed to praying over the opportunity as either an "open or closed door," and in this way, I asked the Lord to clearly open or close the door so that I would know for certain what plans He had for me. Well, this morning I received the email that basically did just what I asked: I received the rejection email from GCU telling me that they moved forward with another candidate. In many ways, I am relieved, but there is part of me that does feel rejected, to be passed over (again), and to be considered as "not good enough" or not "worthy enough" to be hired full-time. I struggled some this morning, and I shared the news with my parents, all the while trying to keep a happy face on. Then, after a time of reflection, I did what I had promised to do, and that was to lift up a sacrifice of praise to thank the Lord for 1) closing the door, 2) allowing another person to be selected, and 3), releasing me to pursue online teaching opportunities. I had asked the Lord to do all of the above, and I said that I would welcome the rejection because that simply meant that He had chosen another path for me, and that this position was not His will for me.

It took me a bit of time to remember what I had said, but God be praised, I did, and well, those feelings of rejection, while they still sting, simply were replaced with relief and with joy in knowing that God has a better plan for my life, and that He is faithful to show us, to tell us, and to make us KNOW for certain what that plan is to be.

Now that I know what I am to do, I also know that I must rest in Him completely. I must rest in His abilities to provide for me, and I must look to His hand of blessing to meet all my needs. I can no longer look to any school, any company, any person for my sufficiency. I must look to Him alone.

The good news in all of this is the fact that shortly after receiving my rejection email from GCU, I received a request from Liberty to send them my transcripts. As the saying goes, "when God closes one door, He opens another." Yes, it appears I have passed through the various levels of signatures to begin teaching for this school. This means that beginning in Spring, I will have four online schools to provide for my daily work. I will not be full-time at any of them, but I will be adjunct and I will be paid well. I will be able to make a decent income, and I will be able to enjoy working from home again. More so, I will have the freedom to help support my parents, and I will have the downtime to rest, recuperate, and reconnect spiritually, mentally, and physically as the Lord prepares me to move.

In short, the closed door along with the open door tell me that my feelings of movement were spot on. The Lord intends to move me soon, within the year, and He intends to provide for me in a way that allows me to work from home -- anywhere -- He chooses to plant me. This means that I am now employed full-time in the Lord's work. I am no longer working for this school or that school, but as an independent contractor, I am free to take whatever work the Lord chooses to bring to me, and that means I have effectively opened the door to unlimited provision. I can work as hard as I choose, for as long as I choose, and I can make as much money as the Lord deems necessary. I am not bound to any school program. I do not have to jump through anyone's hoops, and while I do have policies and procedures to follow, contractual obligations, I can, in essence, "come and go as I please." I am a free agent, so to speak, and from this point forward, I am going to remain as such. I have stepped out of the rat race, the tenure track, and now I am simply going to devote my time to being a good teacher, a good scholar, a good minister and mentor, and the rest, as they say, "is none of my concern." I will do as He asks me to do, and with this hopeful outcome today, I believe that I will find sweetness, peace, and complete freedom as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good to me! He is so very good to me!
In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am giving Him praise. I am still feeling the twinge of rejection, but the more I think about the good door that has just opened, the more I see that He is simply saying to me, "Go this way, Carol," and I know that He understands me. He knows what it feels like to be discounted and overlooked. He knows what it feels like to be let down, but He also knows that better days are ahead, and that those better days include plenty of positive and wonderful experiences that I could only enjoy as an adjunct instructor teaching online courses. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

November 20, 2017

Preparing My Mind for Worship

It is a good day today. It is Monday, the first day of my week off, and well, I am feeling good, really good. In truth, I am battling some little tummy bug, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I am feeling so very good, so very good. In fact, I would say that today, November 20, 2017, is a really GOOD day.

First, I completed my 7-day word fast. I've never fasted before, and when I have tried to do it with food, I only made myself ill. Last week, however, as I completed one of my 12-day Bible reading plans, a 7-day word fast came up on my reading plan list of suggestions. I thought it was an interesting idea, so I started it and found the approach to be something different, yet still satisfying. I cannot say that the entire week I thought about my words, per se, but I think I did recognize the fact that my words have power, and that I am responsible for the words that come out of mouth -- for good or for bad.

If you are interested in trying it, you can find the 7-Day Word Fast online through YouVersion. The actual book that the 7-day fast was developed from can be purchased through online bookstores like Amazon. It is called "The Forty-Day Word Fast," by author, Tim Cameron.

Second, if anything, I believe that I am more sensitive to the fact that I can control my mouth, and that it is not the words I use, but rather the intention of those words, that matters most to the Lord. For example, words that heal are preferred to words that harm. Thus, it is not about speaking positive thoughts all the time, but it is about using words to bring healing rather than words that will cause deep wounds and harm to another child of God.  Consequently, I am more aware that I can choose the outcome by walking in wisdom instead of haste. I can be a wise person, a person who stops and thinks before she speaks, and in this way, I can make sure that my speech and my conduct are uplifting, encouraging, and spiritually nutritious to other people. Yes, I can feed people words that bring hope and healing just as easily as I can feed them junk food (words that have no spiritual value).

Lastly, I realized why I have been so somber, so reflective, and so cautious with my words. In fact, I was speaking with my Dad yesterday, and I said something that made no sense. I laughed and then said, "My words are not working correctly, Dad!" He laughed as well, but later in the day, I was with my son out at Ikea, and I felt so constrained, so quiet. I prayed about it, and I asked the Lord why I felt the way I did. Normally, I am pretty talkative. I assumed it was because I was so tired. Yet, today, I think it was the Holy Spirit doing what I had asked Him to do all week -- control my words. My speech was constrained, and with that measure of control, I spent more time thinking about my words and less time actually speaking them. I didn't realize this fact until I finished my reading plan today. It dawned on me that my word fast really produced positive effects in my life. My prayer today is to continue practice word fasts, and to grow spiritually wiser as I stop and think carefully about the power of my words and the influence my words can have to bring hope and healing to a very hurting world.

Preparing Takes Planning

After I completed the word fast, I spent some time looking for another reading plan. I normally choose short plans, like 7-14 day plans, simply because they are easier for me to read and stick to them. But, this time, the Lord placed the desire to read through the Bible on my heart, and rather than choose a yearlong plan, He asked me to complete this reading in 90 days. I know, impossible, right? Well, not really. It just means that each day, you have to read somewhere between 10-12 chapters from the Bible. It seems like a lot of reading, but with school ending, and my December free as well as my springtime open with online teaching, I feel empowered to do it. So starting later today, I begin my 90-day reading plan, and I intend to read through my NKJV Bible between now and the end of February, 2018.

As I begin to prepare my mind for worship, several things present themselves as worthy of consideration.
  1. The Lord intends to cleanse my mind to prepare it to receive some new knowledge from His word. This means I must declutter my thoughts, remove all thoughts that are not producing good fruit, and replace those thoughts with ones that will produce a harvest of blessing.
  2. The Lord is preparing me for His work, and in order to do so, I have to be reoriented back from worldly pursuits so that I can focus 100% on spiritual matters.
  3. The Lord plans for me to complete this "preparation" in a short time frame, rather than to take a year or longer to do it. This means the "time" is now, and that whatever change He has in store for me, I need to be ready to receive it within a very short amount of time (days, rather than months).
  4. The Lord is moving in my life, and in order for me to be ready to "go" where He sends me, He needs my full attention. I need to reduce the confusion, eliminate the chaos, and streamline my commitments so that I have one project to attend to instead of several. This means, reducing all influences and monitoring any interests so that I am only seeking one outcome -- His.
  5. Last, with all this focus on His word, I am reminded that when the Lord prepares us to move, He knows exactly what must be done ahead of time so that we are not caught off guard. He is doing that now in my life, and with my focus on His word for the next 90-days, I believe that great growth will occur as a result.
The Lord has spoken clearly to me to tell me that I am to be "prepared" to move. I have thought that this moving was physical as in "move house," but then I came to the understanding that it was more about me moving mentally, shifting my perspective, and agreeing to His plan of action. I was to move along with Him, and not continue to stand in His way. Sigh! Once I figured that out, I also felt as if He was saying to me that I needed to prepare to move physically as well as mentally, and then two week's ago, He asked me to write on my task sheet the words, "Prepare for move" and "Begin process to downsize."

I didn't do much last week, simply because it was the last week of campus courses before break, and well, I was really preoccupied with interviewing and teaching my courses. However, as I have blogged previously, it appears when the Lord intends to move in a big way, He gives me confirmation, and often that confirmation includes something my son will say or do that aligns with what the Lord is asking of me. So for example, a couple days ago, my son came in and said he was going to clean his room. Yeah, not a big deal, right? Wrong! My son never offers to clean his room. Mostly, he says, "Mom, don't worry about it." I know he prefers a clean room, but with his gear and music/computer stuff, he has no real space to live except on the floor. So for him to say he was going to do it, and then actually do it, well, that made me wonder. When I pressed him, he said he needed to downsize, be more compact in the way he uses his space (his words). I didn't think much about it until we went to Ikea yesterday. We were looking for organization help, and we left the store with four of their Kallax storage units. We also revisited the idea of another loft bed, this time, a big one where he could go up rather than out. In short, my son is preparing for his next season as well and in this way, he is starting to clear out, declutter, and revisit ways to better use the space he has now, but to also plan for the space he will have in the future.

This morning, thus, I was reminded of the Lord's directive to "be prepared" for change. I really didn't connect the dots until I sat a while and thought back over the past two-three weeks where I have been pressed to consider ways to better use my space. In fact, I remember that I said to my Mom a couple days ago that I wanted to clean my storage unit out now that the weather is cooler. More so, I felt the Lord say to me that this week, during my week off, that I would clear my closet and donate all my clothes and shoes (with the exception of the ones that I need for work) to the poor or those who have need. In addition, I felt that He has been pushing me to clean my room (not that it needs it, but it feels cluttered) for awhile now, and that part of this "clearing process" is to prepare my things (those that remain -- like my sheets, towels, and other items) for use. All of this talk of moving simply is to say that I believe the Lord is preparing me -- in many ways -- to move. I may not have gotten the interpretation part right, and often I stumbled trying to understand what He was saying to me, wanting me to do, and pressing upon me to think and consider, but now I think (more clearly) that the movement the Lord has been speaking of includes not only my mind but also my physical life (my goods, to be specific).


In Closing
 
So, here I am sitting at my computer, thinking about all of this "move" business. I am ready, I know it, but I still do not know or understand where He will move me or wants to move me. I just know that I am to be ready to move. I am to be ready to go at a moments notice, and that means to have all my good sorted, organized, and packed in easy to shift containers. I need to be ready to go, and my time of preparation has finally arrived. I have waited for so long to move, to go, to find out where He wants us to live, to do work, and to engage in ministry, and while I have guessed at many places, tried to ascertain where the Lord would move us, I never quite figured it out. I still don't know.  However, I have strong feelings toward certain places, but without immediate provision (like money set aside), I really haven't been convinced that this would be His plan. Now, though, I am not sure. I am not really sure. I mean, I believe in faith that He can pick us up and move us wherever He chooses, and in this way, He is able, more than able, to make my life good in any place He sends me. For now, I understand that the next 90-days are preparatory days, so I must be about this business. I have classes to teach, courses to conclude, and generally, plans to go and do and see things during the holiday season. But, I also have this reminder that the clock is ticking, and I must be ready to go when He says, "Go." I am excited. I am deeply convinced of this fact, but I still have no real knowledge of what to expect or how things will work out. The good news is though that He does, and He has every detail of my life noted, jotted down, and the order of events is set. It is fixed. I can rest in this knowledge that my God is moving me, leading me, and that in and through all the movement, He will guide me and provide for me. I can rest in this fact. I can rest today knowing that whatever comes my way, it will be good because He is so very good. He is so very good to me! Selah!


November 19, 2017

It is Good to be Home!

It is Sunday, and I am at home. Yes, I normally am at home on Sunday, but today is November 19, and well, that means that I am "officially" on Fall Break from GCU! I am so blessed to be home, and I am thanking the Lord for the rest I have this week -- a whole week off -- to catch up on grading, to rest and decompress from my semester, and to spend time with friends and family members. I am so happy to be home!

Today is a down day for me. I finished almost all of my grading at ASU, Regent, and Grantham, so today is low-key, easy-peasy, and really just a good day of rest! God is so good to me! He has given me the strength I have needed to finish strong. I cannot believe I am saying this, but today, I look up and give Him praise because He has given me great strength, determination, and ability to stay the course and to finish this race with power! When I stop to think that I have powered through teaching nine (9) courses in one semester, it is a miracle of God that I am still in one piece (LOL!) Yes, I did it! I taught (4) campus-courses and (5) online courses, and for the most part, my students have all thrived and survived! I give Him praise today, all the testimony because there is no way, NO WAY, I could do this much work AND still care for my parents and my son. He is good to me, so very good to me!


Knocking Down Barriers and Walls

The good news is that this semester was a proving ground for me. I did more work than realistically possible, I mentored students, poured my life into them, and as this semester draws to a close, I take heart in knowing that I did, indeed, make a difference in their lives. Not all my students' lives, mind you, but in a significant number, and with that testimony, I lift up a sacrifice of praise to God. I did what I set out to do this year, and that was to impact and influence my students to know that someone (me) cared enough about them to be there for them, to encourage them, to help them, and with that thought, I am able to say, "Yes, Lord! This has been a GRAND semester!"

Now that I am looking toward to the close of this semester, I also think about what will be for the next semester and for "here on out" as they say. I have made up my mind to stay put, as in "stay the course," and with this decision, I am saying that I am not going to seek full-time work anywhere at all. Instead, I am simply going to remain as an adjunct for as long as the Lord chooses to keep me in this role. You see, I believed that the Lord was going to promote me, and now I understand that He has done just that for me! However,  I thought He was going to promote me into a position of authority, like a faculty position, when now I believe that He intended to promote me spiritually as a mentor, leader, and guide. It is weird how the Lord sometimes uses words that we think mean one thing, but in His understanding, mean something different. For example, the word, promote, means to "advance or raise (someone) to a higher position or rank" (Dictionary.com), and most of the time, when I think about being "promoted" this is what comes to mind. But the dictionary also says that "promote" means to "Further the progress of (something, especially a cause, venture, or aim)" or to "support or actively encourage" (Dictionary.com). Thus, when I heard Him say to me, "Carol, I am going to promote you" or "Carol, you are ready to be promoted," I naturally assumed He meant to be offered a better, more substantial or more elevated position at work (e.g., as faculty). Yet, I clearly see that over the past three-four months, I have been promoted in other ways. I have made great progress toward understanding the Lord's will for my life. I have seen the Lord's encouragement and support in multiple ways as I do His work. In all, He has given me farther reach, greater inroads, and a better approach to teaching my students, and in this way, I truly see that He has promoted me or lifted me up in my role as an adjunct faculty member. 

Sure, I wanted to be promoted to a full-time position, too. I wanted the title, the office, the salary, etc., but when it all came down to it, I had asked the Lord to enlarge my borders, to increase my territory, not to gain wealth or fame, but to do more significant work for His name and for His Kingdom. He has honored my request, and without giving me a fancy title, a better office, or even room to be promoted in traditional terms, He has promoted me from within His economy, His standard, and in this way, what I have achieved is really outstanding considering my limited abilities and time. Yes, He has promoted me to a position of leadership within my own realm, within my own boundaries, and with His promotion, I see now that nothing is impossible for Him or for me. I can do all things He asks me to do, and I do them in Christ's strength. I can attempt to teach multiple courses at multiple campuses, and with His provision of grace, mercy, kindness, and goodness, I can do this work well -- to His good pleasure -- and as a result, I can live a very comfortable, albeit routine life. I can be happy, completely content, and in such good physical and mental status, that I can clearly see how to focus my time and my attention on His blessed work. I know today that I am right where He desires me to be, and for the first time in a very long time, I feel absolutely content to say that I desire nothing else, nothing else, but Jesus and His marvelous work and ministry of reconciliation. I am in a position of power, authority, and I can impact and influence my marketplace for His good, His kingdom, and with His power in and through my life, I can achieve everything He asks, wants, or desires for me. I am in such a "sweet place" and in this sweet place, I am choosing to remain, to not move to the left or to the right, but to remain where He has me for the duration of my days. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

As I process this good news today, I am ready to accept the following as conditionals to my life and livelihood.
  1. I am to do His work and no other. This work is complicated, but it includes teaching as practical good work (daily living work) and ministry-specific work (communication in the church). I will do no other work. No other jobs, no other attractions, no other focus but this bifocal view of "work" for the rest of my days.
  2. I am to live where He tells me to live. This means that I am not to seek to live anywhere else, both in a spiritual sense and in a physical sense. I am to remain fixed on His will, His work, and His way, and in all things, I am to live exactly as He has called me, equipped me, and trained me (prepared me) to live.
  3. I am to go where He sends me. This means that I am to go and do good practical work wherever He sends me to do it. Today, I teach at four schools, three of them are online, and one is on campus. In spring, I hope to teach at four online schools only. I go and do the work He provides for me to do, and I accept the teaching contracts that come my way. I heartily work unto the Lord (Col. 3:17, 1 Cor. 10:31), and I treat eat opportunity as a gift from Him. I look for no work outside what He provides, and I rest in His sufficiency. He is enough, and He provides enough work to me.
These conditions produce the best results for my life. I have found that when I remain as I am called, and I do the work He provides to me, good things come to pass. I enjoy His marvelous blessings. I enjoy prosperity, goodness, and I have rest -- plenty of rest -- to where I can recuperate and where I can enjoy my life. Every single day, I can enjoy my life. I will be busy, and I am not really talking about the actual "doing" bit of busyness, rather, I am saying that I can find joy in my work, and I can do it heartily as unto the Lord. This has been my prayer for years, to work unto the Lord, to be focused on producing good work for Him and His name. Now, I am seeing this attitude and application produce amazing fruit, but not so much fruit in my life, but instead, fruit in other people's lives. I am seeing the blessing of God as it was initially extended to me be extended to others, and with that outreaching, I am seeing the blessing move and change lives. It is a miracle of God to see lives changed, and I consider it an honor and a priviledge to be a part of that miraculous work. He is good to me! He is so very good to me! Selah!

In this blessed way, I am sitting here today, thanking the Lord for the work He has provided to me. Yes, I am saying "Thank you, Lord, for opening your storehouse and providing so much good practical work to me!" God is good, so very good to me!

Now, I know that where He goes, there will always be plenty of good work. I no longer live or dwell in "Lack" land. Instead, I live and dwell in abundance and goodness, in the land that the Word says, "flows with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8). Though this is figurative language, I can see how it applies to my life this good day. The Lord has promised to bless to those who keep His commands and statutes, and to His children (all children including those who are grafted in) He has said there would be prosperity, safety, and victory in all areas of life. But, the promised blessing only comes through obedience to the Word of God, and it is experienced only when we forsake all others, all idols, and hindrances, and we make the Lord, our God, LORD over every area of our life. 

I am in this place today. I am in this profound place of blessing. I have everything I want, need, and desire, and though I don't have all the material things most people think they want, need or desire, I have every spiritual blessing from heaven, and my "basket and kneading bowl" is not empty (Deut. 28:5). I have every blessing -- material, physical, spiritual, mental, emotional -- possible. I am in this very good, very special, very blessed place right now. And, what is more, I intend to not shift from it. I intend to stay put, to STAY as the Lord has commanded me. I will REMAIN where I am, and I will not seek to alter my way one "iota" because right now, my way is blessed. It is good, I am good, and my life is good. He has said it is so, and therefore, I believe His word to me is true.

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I sit here and I marvel at the goodness of God. I mean, "Who am I that He should think about me, care for me, want to help me?" I deserve neither His good favor or His good blessing, and yet, I have received both. I have received His favor and blessing, and what is more, I have been given dynamic, wonderfully good practical work, and special-enriched ministry work whereby I will be used in ever increasing and valuable ways. My life is full to overflowing, and with His blessing on my life right now, I can honestly say, "Lord, I need nothing more. You have enriched my life in ways that I cannot even bear testimony, and I am filled with every good thing from your blessed and rich hand!" In truth, I need nothing else. He has provided everything to me, and what is more (can there be more), I know that in the days and weeks to come, I will see His hand move over my life as it moves over the waters, and in this way, I will know, really know, that I am right where He wants me to be. I am right where the Lord of the Heavens determined it is best for me to be. Selah! He is good to me, so very good to me!

November 17, 2017

I Made It!

It is a good Friday in cloudy and cool, Phoenix! The skies are gray, and the air is cool. It is so "fall like" today, and as I sit here in my home office, I cannot help but thank the Lord for this blessed bit of goodness. More so, I am giving Him thanks, today because it is Friday (yay!) and it is the last day before fall break at GCU. I am so excited that it is the end of Week 12 (of 15.5 weeks), and that after next week off, I will only have 2.5 weeks left for my on-campus courses.

Additionally, this week is the close of my first online course at Grantham. My students are completing their assignments, and they are finishing up the final draft of their essays. On Tuesday, that course, ENG 101, will be finished, and then on the following Tuesday (11/28), the second course, ENG 102, will be finished. These past 8-weeks of teaching for this school have been so difficult, but praise to God, I did it. I hung in there, handled so much error, and now I am set to begin another series of courses on November 29 (next Wednesday). I know what to expect with the one course, ENG 101, because I just finished teaching it. I don't know what to expect with the second course, ENG 302, American Literature 1, but I am hopeful that whatever happens, it will be a good experience for me and for my students.


It Seems to Make Sense Now

All of this is to say that I am very happy to be right where I am. I mean it; I really am happy to be right where I am this good day. I am engaged in so many options for teaching, and with each option, I have oodles of opportunities to impact the lives of my students. I love this fact! I love that I am teaching so many students, in such diverse situations and populations, and God is to be praised, I am successful at it. I have colleagues that tell me how much they do not like teaching in multiple venues. They cannot handle the different learning systems or the changes in curriculum. I am like, "Oh, bring it on, baby!" I love the challenge, the changes, and the constant connections that force me to be available to work with struggling students. Honestly, struggling students are my best demographic! I love the adult learner, the student who has been away from school, the working man or woman that wants to succeed in their career. These are the people I love the most, and I feel that my gift of mentoring and teaching is best suited for this group of students. I digress!

In truth, I feel really good with the fact that since I do not have any "new" knowledge about the full-time position at GCU, I pretty much need to remain content in what I do know. By this, I mean, I know that for spring, I will have the following teaching opportunities:
  • Three courses in Survey of Western Literature (Regent)
  • Two courses in English Composition I/II (ASU)
  • Two courses in English: one in Composition and one in American Literature (Grantham)
  • One-Three courses in English (some variety) (Liberty) 
If I add all that up, I am looking at teaching anywhere between 7-10 online classes. I know that seems like a lot, but I can easily do this full-time from home. I will not be, technically, full-time, but I will have the equivalent of full-time teaching between all of these schools. Thus, adding on-campus teaching simply doesn't make sense to me. I can certainly do it, and I have accepted three campus contracts at GCU, but I am strongly leaning toward dropping them in favor of 100% online work.

Right now, I see my life as steady-on. I see it as "more of the same" and for the first time in a very long time, I am content with that fact. Sure, it would be great to be promoted to a position of full-time faculty. Sure, it would be great to have a "real office." But, part of me simply looks at this other avenue as being "better suited" to my needs. This isn't saying that it is better, but rather, it is simply saying that it is better for me. At the least, this is how I feel right now.

The Lord has opened up a door for me to interview at GCU, and I did that to the very best of my abilities. I haven't heard back, and it has been 9 days. In truth, the dean said that I would hear within the week. Okay, so 9 days is not that off the mark, but the longer this takes -- the notice, I mean -- the longer I have to think about the reality of my life. What I am saying is that the longer GCU takes to make up their mind whether or not they want me for this position, the more time I have to consider my needs here at home, and my desires for the work I believe the Lord is calling me to do. You see, I am in this difficult place right now whereby I believe the Lord desires that I focus almost full-time on His work. His work is communication work, teaching the Church, how to communicate. This is my calling, my mandate, and my ministry will be built over the course of these next 10-15 years. I need to get to work on this important task, but I cannot do that and work full-time on campus and full-time online. I need to let one go, and the online work is lucrative and it allows for freedom so I can truly work from home.

It is funny, but a few weeks back, I was speaking with the Lord about how I used to work from home. I didn't like selling my services, and in many ways, I felt like a prostitute (I hate that word, but there you have it) because I was pandering to people in order to get them to try my services out. I had to really prostrate myself in front of people, and persuade them to try me. I hated that because I felt that many of these people didn't deserve the work I did (or would do for them), and many times, I hated the work I actually did produce. So as I was speaking with the Lord, I said that I missed having the freedom of working from home, but not the demand for work, the constant selling part. Today, as I sit here, I think about what I said to the Lord, and how in many ways, He has made a way for me to work from home, have that freedom, but not have any worries about how I will make ends meet. Yes, in many ways, the Lord has given back to me a way of life that suited me so well, for so many years, but that now has a new Manager, and that Manager, knows me, loves me, and cares for me in such a way that I can rest, trust, and rely on Him for all my needs.


Resting Easy and Knowing What Will Be

This morning, as I was laying in bed, I was praying about my life, these various options, and the path that seems to be clear to me. I was asking the Lord for His input, and all the while, as I rested in His presence, I realized that the path I am on is just one of many possible paths. I am not sure why I started to think of hurricanes, but I did. I guess I was thinking that when a major storm is forming, all these scientists rush to look at "predictive models" as to where the storm could make landfall. In a like manner, I was thinking how the path I am on is like one of these predictive model paths. It is path A, for example, and the model shows that should my life stay on this course, my projected "landfall" will be at X on the map. I was thinking how I always want to know what will be in 6-9-12 months of time, and in many ways, I think like this scenario. I think that if I just stay on this course, I will arrive at my destination in X number of hours, days, weeks, or months. I guess I am just linear in my thinking.

But, as I was speaking with the Lord, I realized that within the "cone of probability" as the weather professionals say, the storm could be "bumped" to the left or to the right and miss the "landfall" mark. Thus, in a like manner again, the storms of life could alter my projected path somewhat, and I could end up slightly off-course. However, so long as that bump keeps the storm within the cone, the path the storm takes will still arrive eventually where the forecasters predicted it would. So, I started to think about these various options, and how in my life, I have several paths to choose. I can remain on path A, doing adjunct work, teaching from home, and simply go where the "winds" move me. Or I could change tracks, move to path B, the path for teaching on campus. This path seems like a better option, longterm, because it provides for some specific needs (salary, benefits, retirement, for example). But path A, the path I am already on, seems to be clear, open, and the drift is easy. I am able to rest in this work, to do good practical work, but not overload or overtire myself. Furthermore, while there is no guaranteed salary, benefits, or retirement, I have this dependency on the Lord for those things. I am in His debt, and as such, I am wholly relying on Him for the outcome. I like being in this submissive position, humbling seeking His hand of blessing, rather than relying on my own abilities or even the security of a major institution for provision. But, more than this, I know that within this path, I have freedom. I have total freedom. I can go where I please (or He pleases), and I can work the hours that suit me best. I can work late into the evening or early in the morning, but I can also take time off to be with my parents, to care for them, to help my son, etc. I can go and do as I am needed, where I am needed, and with this freedom, I can work as the Lord leads, guides, and provides. Sure, there is no security outside of Him, but that is okay. I want to see Him always as my security, my hope, my future. He is my everything, and in this way, to remain where I am spiritually AND physically, I am in this very good place, this very sweet place, this very warm and safe place.

I guess what I am saying is that over the course of many months, the Lord has said to me that I am to remain. This was the word of knowledge I received: REMAIN. I thought it meant to physically remain in Phoenix, so that is what I have written about and considered as His word to me. Then I thought it meant to remain spiritually where I am, and I thought, "Of course, Lord! I will remain as I am -- wholly dependent and devoted to you!" And while I believe this is true, I also believe that the Lord was saying to me that I was to remain as I am materially, AKA, as adjunct. I felt so sure of this a couple months ago, that I stopped looking for work, and simply accepted the contracts I had without question. Now, I see that all three of these contexts were true and accurate. The Lord desires that I remain physically where I am now so that I can take care of my parents and my son. He desires that I remain spiritually dependent and devoted to Him so that He can provide for me and keep me safe. He also desires that materially, financially, and professionally, I remain as I am so that my life doesn't lose perspective, and I don't focus too much on worldly things and not enough on spiritual/ministry-related things. Lastly, I believe He desires that I remain focused mentally on the work He has called me to do -- ministry work, communications work, and church work -- and while I must complete the practical work too (teaching), I am not to lose mental focus of the task at hand. I am to do His work and no other.

In this way, with all of my life choosing to rest in Him alone, I can see now that I am to remain where I am because it is good for me to do so. The Lord has said that I am in a very good place right now, and while I believed this was true, I simply didn't understand how true it was. I am in this very, very, very good place in every area of my life, and emotionally, while my feelings seems to be leading me up and down, I realize that in order for my emotions to settled down, I must rest now in the knowledge that I am not going anywhere at all. This doesn't mean that I am not moving, leaving Phoenix, it simply means that whether I physically go, I am to remain fixed on this path, Path A, and as the predictive model suggests, in doing so, I will arrive at my eternal destination exactly when, where, and how He planned it to happen. I am in His hands now, and I rest in the knowledge and security that I am good. I am very good. It is all good because He is good. He is so very good to me; He is so very good to me.

November 16, 2017

Happy Thursday!

It is a great day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air temperature has a bit of chill to it! Our highs today are still in the 80s, but we are hoping to see those temps drop into the 70s by next week. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, but there is a major weather system heading toward California, so who knows! Perhaps we might even get some rain! Woohoo!

It is a good day, though, despite the sunshine and warmer than normal temps, simply because I am in this very good place, this very happy and content place, and I am resting in God's sufficiency. I am content to remain as I am and to consider that the Lord very well intends to keep me just AS I AM. I haven't heard any news on my interview from two weeks ago (and audition last week). It is now over a week without any update, and while that would be normal for most businesses, schools tend to let their candidates know the status of the process. I was told to expect news within the week, and that "week window" passed yesterday. I am guessing that the process to review, interview, and audition other candidates has bogged them down. I get it, I really do. But, the wait for me, while a bit frustrating, really has benefited me in other ways.


Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.

First, I have had time to decompress. What I mean is that I have had time to reflect on the position, the interviews, even the short group meetings, and the longer it takes for the school to make up its mind, the more I am comfortable letting this job opportunity pass to another qualified individual. In truth, the longer it takes, the surer I am that my life, as it is today, is exactly how the Lord intends to keep it.

Second, I had asked the Lord for some confirmation earlier in the week. He assured me that I would receive confirmation by Wednesday. I assumed it would be that "yea or nay" email. Instead, the confirmation I received was anything but closure on the job. Monday and Tuesday, I had several chats with students, and the entire experience left me very uplifted. I felt so confirmed in my role as a teacher. Then, yesterday, I received contracts from Grantham. I had thought that perhaps they would not offer me more work. After all, their 48-hour turnaround time has been really challenging for me to make. And, the student population is such that most of the writers (about 50%) are functioning at low high school levels. I've been stretched, and with their curriculum design (sort of funky), I wasn't very happy about the program itself. What is more, I felt that I wasn't getting paid enough (not as much as at my other schools). In all, I had pretty much chalked them off my list as a potential income stream. But, after some conversation with the faculty scheduler, I saw the potential there. In January, they are moving to a monthly start date, which simply means I could teach any combination of courses, 1-4 each month, and with 8-week courses, this really means that my income from this school will add up. As I processed that thought yesterday, I realized that with my schools now and with Liberty coming on (prayerfully hopeful) for January, I will make more money teaching online. I can stay at home, and I can earn more than what I would earn teaching full-time, on campus.

Moreover, I met with a student last night to discuss her plans to become a high school English teacher. As she asked me really good questions, I gave her my best advice. I think she felt very confirmed in her path, but as I was leaving, I couldn't help but think that God used this young lady to convince me of my path as well. You see, I have always believed that my Master's degree in English was for work, and my Ph.D. in Communication, was for ministry. I have been very successful teaching English on campus and online, and right now, with my online schools, I am an English teacher. This is what I do. It is my desire, my passion, to teach students how to write well. I do enjoy teaching communications, but I love to teach writing. I cannot really explain it, but after I talked with this student, I left thinking to myself, "This is what I do. I am really good at teaching English."

All this is to say, that today, I feel confident that I am to remain as I am. Perhaps I am wrong in this whole process. Perhaps I will get hired full-time. Perhaps the Lord intends to move me into this faculty position, but as I mentioned yesterday, the problem is that I still have this unresolved issue with my parents, caring for them, I mean. I still believe that it is best for me to stay at home. I believe this is true. I really believe it is the best thing for me at this point in time and for the next season of my life.

So what does this mean for me today? Well, I really think that the Lord confirmed to me that I am good, just as I am, and that I don't need a full-time faculty position to provide security to me. He is able to provide as much security as I need, and in this way, He will help me to prepare, plan, and produce the good work He intends for me to produce. I can do this work from home, while at home, and I can do it as a part-time instructor, teaching from home, with His help and with His provision.
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Thus, today, I feel good about making the decision to stay put. I am going to remain as adjunct, not seek anymore full-time opportunities, and in this way, I am going to do my best with what the good Lord has provided to me. I will not complain, grumble, or be dissatisfied in the options that are available to me. I will wait, be patient, and trust that He does know what is best for me. I will be happy in all of this, and I will be happier when I see my colleagues advance in their careers, move into positions of authority and leadership, and when they receive awards and other career advancement. I will not be jealous or envious of their blessings; rather, I will simply be thankful that the Lord has blessed them, and I will look to my own blessing as a reminder of His deep and sincere love for me. He is good to me, so very good to me!

It is a Choice

Daily, I am convinced, that we must choose our attitude and our behaviors. We must choose to be happy, to be content, and to accept what God has provided. There is nothing wrong with seeking a better job or a better house (if that is the need). There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your lot for yourself or your family. But when we seek these material things to solve problems or to create a salve for a wound that will not heal, then we must stop and remember that our sufficiency is in Christ alone. He is the only One who is able to meet all our needs, and while we may need tangible things -- money, food, clothing, etc. -- God's word tells us that these "things" are given to us by God and we are not to worry about them.

I have realized that I still see money as the source of sufficiency for my needs. I see it as a "means to an end" when I should just look at it as a blessed provision from God. I need to stop looking for solutions in practical ways. I mean, I need to see the solutions as they are presented to me, but I am not to seek these solutions as though they are the "salvation" I need. I do that still, and I know I do it because of all the years when I lived in poverty and pretty much hand-to-mouth. Now, though, the Lord has graciously provided everything I need, and I have learned to seek what I need from Him directly. He chooses how to bless me, and He provides what I need. I still struggle with wanting more than I need, just to cover me, when I know that through Christ supplies all my needs. It is a mindset issue more than anything else, so today, I am choosing to commit to a new mindset, one that sees Christ as my sufficiency, my ALL IN ALL, and I am choosing to let go of my desire to money, provision, success, etc.

As I close this blog post, I am reminded that Christ alone is my sufficiency. He is my everything, and as such, when I seek to satisfy any need with any other measure, I will come up empty, so to speak. I will come up short. My prayer today is to receive the blessing of God in whatever means He provides to me. I will choose to accept His gift of love, and know that as it arrives in my hand, it is purchased and picked specifically for me this good, good day! He is good to me! He is so very good to me! Selah!