May 19, 2012


Last night, my son and I went to see "Alice: A Wonder-full New Musical" at the Mesa Arts Center. The production was staged by our local Christian Youth Theater (CYT). One of the young ladies in my chamber group was stage manager, and since she is graduating from High School this year, we went to see her last production. We had a blast. It was such a delightful story, sort of a retelling of the Lewis Carroll story, "Through the Looking Glass." The lead actress did a fine job, as did the rest of the cast. It was such a nice evening out!

I am tired from last night and my long week, though, and I am trying to take it easy today. I got up at my normal time, thanks to the boys, but with my headache and sinus pressure (thanks -- AZ heat), I went back to bed and slept until 8! I guess I needed the rest because I do feel better.

Today is my mother's birthday. She called me early, around 6:30, but I let it go to the message. I did call back, spoke with my Dad, and just said to tell Mom I would call her later. I love my parents, and I have depended on them far too much over the past fifty years. I am trying to be established, on my own, and at times it is difficult to do that well. They need me too, so it is a give and take relationship. I am blessed, however, to have such wonderful parents, and I am glad that I am able to be the one who takes care of them.

Later this evening we are celebrating Mom's birthday by going to Black Angus Steakhouse. Mom has a free birthday dinner -- so we are going to redeem her dinner -- and enjoy some great food at a very nice restaurant.


I have done some thinking regarding my career progression at work. Nothing major as far as changes yet, just some fine tuning to the plan for my future.

First of all, I know that I want to teach. I was sitting at my desk yesterday, making my "dials" and thinking that I needed to find some other kind of work to do. I called over 100 people -- close to 500 for the week -- just to see if they were still interested in going back to school. I spoke with perhaps 20 who said "not interested," and I actually assisted about 10-12 who were "semi-interested, but not ready to make a decision." All in all, my week was slow, boring, and the tedium of staying focused proved difficult.

I did send my resume to a friend at work -- she is from another group -- just to see if there was any interest over there, any openings. I didn't hear back, but I did find out that some inquiries had been made regarding my availability. I guess that is a good thing. I'm not sure I want to work in her group, and I am worried that the job over there may be just like mine -- same type of work, just a different target group (businesses versus students).

I am also thinking that I really want that flexible schedule, and that I want my summers off. I worked very hard to get my Masters degree and now I want to use it. I know that the likelihood of being hired out of college is slim, but I still see myself as a teacher.

I don't want to give up that dream, not just yet, but also I don't see a way to make that dream come to pass. I need to get someone to give me a teaching opportunity. Where, when, how -- I don't know. I see it, though, just like I did with my getting a full-time job. I needed someone to give me a job, a new start. Macy's did that, they hired me, and I worked for them for one year. Then I moved to UOPX, and I have worked for them for about a year (come July). So if things follow in this same progression, I need to start small, some place where the requirements are less stringent, and then in a year, I will get a full-time teaching position.

Is this the way the Lord works? Perhaps He does work this way. I know the Word says this: To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability." Matt. 25:15 NIV

Within this parable there is the teaching of our Lord on how we are to use our gifts and abilities. The Lord gives us all abilities, some more, some less -- but He expects us to use our gifts wisely and to reproduce them so that when He returns there has been a "return on His investment." I believe that my gifts, both natural and spiritual, are to be used in my day to day life. They are for ministry, of course, but they are mine and they are part of my abilities so therefore I have access to them daily. As I work, I use my skill in administration, leadership, helping, etc. to benefit others. Yes, some of these people I work with are not believers, but nonetheless, I use my skills to help them.

I need to learn how to teach. I never completed a teacher training program, and I never worked in a regular classroom. I have volunteered -- years and years and years -- of volunteer experience. I have no practical classroom training, no demonstrated experience. And, in this day and age of competitive hiring practices -- no one will hire you without experience.

So what can I do about my lack of teaching experience? Well, I believe the following:
  • I can find a job where I can "learn on the go" -- be trained on the job
  • I can find a job where I can observe others teaching, and learn by example
  • I can go back to school and complete a teacher training program whereby I will get practice and also be assisted with placement in a job
  • I can continue to work where I am and let go of this dream
I am struggling with letting go of this dream. I want to do this, but I don't see a way to do it. I have looked at some teacher-in-residence programs, but they are far away from me (like an hour one way). I have not found any other jobs that will allow me to work and learn on the job. I did sign up for a teacher preparation program, but it was for High School, and those jobs are not as available -- plus the pay is very low. My preferred job is to teach at the Community College. The CC wants 3 years experience. I have all the other required skills -- knowledge, technology, online schooling like Blackboard. I just lack the skill to teach in the classroom.

If I choose to stay at UOPX, my path is difficult. It is not impossible, but I have to remain where I am for some time to come. This means another year in my current job, and then possibly moving into a new group. I can do that most certainly, but at what cost? My job is mundane, it is tedious, and I am under challenged. I need something that is more suited to my skills and abilities, something that challenges me, but doesn't overwhelm me (oh my! I used to tell people that when they were considering placing their child in the Ambleside Online curriculum). What a reminder of good wisdom? I advised parents who were new to the curriculum to place their children in a grade level that would offer them challenge, but not be so difficult (on parent and child) as to make the experience unbearable. Now, I am listening to my own advice, and I am saying to the Lord, "Lord, place me in a job that will be challenging, but not overwhelming to me."

As I consider my options for career progression, this is what I know today:
  1. I can remain where I am and continue to work in a job that is under-challenging and overwhelming (stress and tedious)
  2. I can wait for another opportunity to move into a different group 
  3. I can look elsewhere for a job that will fit the criteria stated above
What do I know is that remaining at UOPX for the interim is all I can do. I need the paycheck, I have bills to pay, and I have to keep a roof over my head. I know that staying there long term is an option. I am well-liked, I have opportunity, but the path is uncertain, and the timeline unknown. I would have to do my job for at least another year, and that requires incredible discipline on my part just to keep my attitude up (cheerfully doing difficult work). I can do it, certainly I can. Moreover, I also have access to taking classes for free, and I could enroll in a program for the next 6-9 months, and take another certificate program or single courses. I can still enroll at UOPX in the PhD in Higher Education Administration or I can wait and enroll online through Regent or go in person to ASU. There is no looming deadline of sorts -- I have to apply to Regent and ASU by the end of the year. I can enroll at UOPX from now to then and take classes up to May-June timeframe in 2013.

I also can take advantage of the career progression training, gaining good instruction in business and professional skills while I am waiting. I can structure my day so that I do all my tedious work in the am, saving my afternoons for training. The big issue is performance. I can make the dials, but if I don't enroll students, I will not be promoted. Now, I was enrolling between 6-10 each month. I have had a 0 May, and that is not looking good for me. I have a strong June, and some regs' in July and August -- but is that good enough? No. I need at least 5 enrollments each month and work towards 10 to get that promotion.

My friend at work gave me really good advice the other day. I was frustrated with my performance, lacking confidence in my abilities, and questioning what I was doing wrong. My friend is such a good listener. She is so good at her job as advisor, and I rely on her steady advice to help me figure out my way. It is really funny because I know she looks up to me, and she wants to be like me. Yet, I look at her and I see this incredibly wonderful person -- someone who is kind and caring, so very funny, and really good at her job. I know she doesn't enroll as many students as she would like, but she is so amazingly good. My boss doesn't see her the way I do, I know that, and he needs to start looking past the numbers, the way to say things, and focus on the person. This is what I do, I look at the person, and I see what is real and what is good about them (thank you, Jesus!) 

Anyway, my friend was counseling me, and she said that the reason I wasn't doing well was that I didn't believe the message anymore or I was trying so hard to do what the company wanted (conforming to a standard that didn't fit me). I thought about it, and while I am trying to do what they want, the bottom line is that I don't believe the message. You know, I cannot support something I don't believe in, and that is the crux of my problem. Somewhere between last Fall and January, my understanding on the job changed. I think it all started with SSP. I was resistant to it, it looked like sales to me, and frankly, I was fed up with "sales training." I had spent 20-some years hearing to sales training videos, CDs, and teaching that I wanted no more of it. I am not a Sales person, and I hate pressured sales training. 

SSP wasn't really that at all, but it was a watered-down version and dressed up as a tool to enhance customer service. It was really just Sales in a new outfit. I tried my best to use the technique, to do it, but I reacted so violently to it, that I sabotaged my efforts every time I opened my mouth. My old boss said "do your best, Carol," and I did. He was low-key, let me do my own thing so long as I said my name, my role and talked about the student's experience. It was sort of a way to get around SSP. My new boss is more company manager material and he expects 100% conformance. I do that, again my best, but the more I use it, it sours me, and I struggle over it. I know he has also said to "make it my own," but that really means use your own words -- just make them fit the outline.

On top of that, I do not like some of the internal policies the company has unveiled and the new push for recommendations in every call. It is so SALES and I just don't like it. I am pushing back, and my performance is suffering as a result. I cannot see myself performing in this job again. I can hold my own, do the minimum, but then I am not using God's gifts. I can use my gift of Administration to make sure my lead base is under 30% OOP (out of policy), but I cannot use my speaking gift (the gift of Prophecy) to sell something I do not support nor believe in. That is not what that speaking gift is for, and I will not use it to sell something I do not believe in. My gift of helping is used regularly as I do help students with school decisions, but again, I use it only when the student is willing to be helped. Therefore, my performance has centered on my Admin ability, and that is just not enough to satisfy my employer.

I see this as a no-win situation. I don't believe anymore, and I cannot sell something I don't believe has value. Now, I do believe in education, and in getting a better education -- I am all about self-learning, and the empowerment that comes from learning. I just am not into selling education.

The long and short of it is this, and I think I finally get it. I cannot do this job because the focus on the job has gone from helping students get into school to selling education. Yes, the job always was about selling education, but for a time (when I was hired) it was dressed up to be HELPING students. The company paid big money to dress that pig up in a fancy outfit. Now that the pressure is off, they have returned to selling education. I don't want to sell education, and I don't want students to take out massive debt to get their degrees. Yes, I have a big debt, but my debt is a result of a call by the Lord. I know that He will provide a way for me to pay that debt off. I don't know that about other students, and I don't like that they start a program, fail out, and then are stuck with debt.

I think this is what hurts me most. I have enrolled about 35 students, and lately some of mine have dropped out. This is probably true for all advisors, but it hurts me. I encouraged these students to enroll, and they said they could do it, but in truth, they didn't know how to do school. They simply didn't have what it takes to do school. Now they are stuck with debt, all because of my words of encouragement. I cannot do this, I cannot be about this -- it is a personal hurt, and I don't want to help students get into debt.

Well, that is the problem, is it not? I am using my gifts to hurt people, and I cannot do that anymore. My internal sense of justice is reacting to changes in policy and program efforts, and while I don't have an issue with the way the school conducts its business -- I cannot continue to help it do that, not with integrity, not with a full heart. I cannot, and I will not do it anymore.

So where do I go from here?

May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

With special love to my Mother and my Mother-in-Law

 I just got back from dinner with my parents. It was a quiet Mother's Day, but that was OK by me. My day was pretty full, what with church, and then homework to do. I took a nap mid-afternoon, and then had a lovely dinner with Mom and Dad.

I am home now, and I took another leap of faith and submitted my Thesis without any additional changes. I had sent my Thesis paper off to my Advisor two weeks ago. I never heard anything back regarding changes to the document. I was going to make some minor changes, but today, the Lord just put it on my heart to send it as is, so I did. I am not worried about it, I know the paper is good. Is it my best work, probably not. I wrote a couple excellent papers at Mercy, both of which are forever lost thanks to a hard drive failure. I would have liked to have kept copies, but they are gone, and well, so be it.

This paper was good. I wrote on a topic of interest, and I decided that I had enough to do with my other assignments. I had to write four essays on my readings for my Humanism course. They are due this week, so I made sure to submit them this weekend. I am finished now, I have turned everything in, and I have posted online a couple times. I have to let things be. I don't want to stress over my courses any more. I want to do my best, but I can no longer have this semester hanging over me, and causing me such worry and doubt.

God is Good, and I trust Him. I believe His Word to me, and I know that He has everything in His hand, and under control. I am looking for His provision of a different job, and I want so very much to do something less stressful, less intensive. I don't know what that will be, but God knows. He knows exactly what kind of job will suit me, and accomplish His will. I am asking for this now, in the Precious Name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

More Fine Tuning

God is so very good to me. I cannot tell you how consistently faithful He is toward me. I stray, He is always there -- He never leaves His place -- and I can always know where to go to find Him. I love the fact that no matter what I do or what I think, He is the same.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8 NLT

Yesterday was a day of crisis for me. God stood by me, gently reminding me that whenever I look to my own hands, consider my own way, I will feel overwhelmed. If I would only remember to look to Him, then I would see the hope and possibility of future reward.

I was stuck, really stuck, and I was going no where fast. I had one essay completed, and I needed to write three more. The deadline was looming and I knew that if I didn't get my backside in gear, I would be out of luck come Tuesday (the last day of the semester). I had been ill, not deathly or violently, just ill enough to make you want to stay in bed all day. I couldn't afford to take the time to be sick, and I had to make the most of my last weekend off from work to complete all my assignments. The price was too great -- the cost -- my graduation from Mercy College. I had to pull myself together, pick myself up off the floor, and do the required work.

The problem was that I was not able to even do the minimum required to get myself going again. I have blogged about my CFS acting up, and the heavy pressure I feel at my place of work. All of these coincided with my end of semester cramming -- something I try so hard to avoid doing. I was a mess -- no strength, no victory, and a "mountain" of school work to complete. I couldn't do it, and to compound matters, I was second-guessing my every thought, my every move.

Satan had me trapped, caught between the proverbial "rock and a hard place" and I couldn't see any way out. Every time I tried to advance, I was knocked down. Every time I tried to get up and stand -- just stand -- I felt the pressure of the requirements for graduation weighing down on me.

I was crumpled up, used up, and worn out -- and I needed rescue. Thank the Lord for His Marvelous Grace and Mercy -- My HERO showed up to pluck me from the pit of despair -- and set me high upon His Majestic knee. I could breathe again, and from His vantage point, things didn't look so bleak. I could see the time remaining, and the tasks at hand. I could grasp the scope of the work, what really needed doing, and what could be set aside. I could see the path to take to complete these assignments and to find success.

The Lord set me down, refreshed my soul, and gave me the guidance to complete the tasks, to finish my school work. I did it, and in doing so, I felt this wonderful sense of accomplishment. I felt the heavy burden lift, and I felt empowered to do more. So I did. Not only did I complete the second essay, but I completed all four required and I turned them in (after spelling checks, style corrections and plagiarism review). I did my do-diligence, and I turned them in. Check them off the list -- hurrah!

I even put in some time on the boards, making extra comments, and adding in my own thoughts on several readings that I had neglected to comment previously. In short, the Lord enabled me to get myself caught up with my last course, and gave me the direction and focus needed to do all the work required for graduation.

I still need to finalize my thesis, but that is a task set for today. I plan on adding some additional commentary to the boards today and tomorrow -- just for good measure -- and then I will sign off Mercy Blackboard for the rest of my academic career. I cannot believe I am saying good-bye to Mercy, but after Tuesday I will be an Alumnus of this school. I will no longer be a student in residence, and I will be graduated with my Master of Arts in English Literature.

Why is God so good to me? Why is He always there for me?

It is His Nature, and His Nature bespeaks His Goodness toward mankind. Yes, I am saved. I am born again, and I am in a Grace-based relationship with my Lord. I thank God for His Grace, and for the privilege to remain in this state of Grace. It is beyond my abilities to save myself, and it is beyond my abilities to stay in His Grace. He has done this for me. He saved Me, and He continues to save me through His Blessed Grace.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4:13 NLT

Now I must consider my next steps. Where do I go from here?

I have prayed over my options, considered so many possibilities, and nothing has seemed "right" to me, good to me. Well, let me put it this way -- nothing has seemed like it was the best fit. Yes, every option sounded good. Every course seemed sure. There was just something that seemed off.  I thought it was me, I mean my not wanting to humble myself and do the Lord's will, but now I think that it was the timing of the matter. I was ready to go, but the task still to be completed was my graduation from Mercy.

The Lord had told me clearly that my first priority was to graduate. This was my goal, my focus, and my intended outcome. I had to graduate, and that meant focusing on the tasks still waiting for completion. I didn't want to do them -- as stated previously -- and every time I tried, that spirit of procrastination came upon me. I gave up, I gave in, and I wrestle with it instead of standing my ground, and casting it out in the very Name of Jesus. I languished for months with the deadline ahead, and the pressure mounting. Had I only stood up and lifted my shield of faith -- those fiery darts would have been vanquished.

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. ~Ephesians 6:16 NLT

I succumbed to the overwhelming feelings inside, and I sat down in the dust, defeated, dejected, and filled with despair.

God be Praised! My situation is different now. I am ready to go, I am ready to complete the last check box, and graduate.

I can begin to plan Phase 2 of my life, my career and my schooling. I can seriously take the steps needed to go on to advanced studies. Before this point, I could only consider what to do, to check out, to research options. Now I can actually apply or finish applying. I can take the GRE and I can collect all the necessary paperwork to go to the next level. I could only dream about it, worry about it, fear it. Today, I can look at that road and I can see the viability of it. I can walk on it. I can start walking on it and I can look around, test it out, see what lays ahead for me.

It is a very good thing, indeed. The road ahead is long, three years of studies plus a dissertation. I can do it, I have confidence in God that I can do this, and do it well. I know I cannot do it in my own strength. I know I cannot do it without His Grace, and His Blessing of Mercy. I cannot do it without HIM, and I don't even want to attempt it. I need Him. I need His Help. I need His Steady perspective, and His ability to see past the test, past the essay, past the courses -- to the very end.

Dear Lord,

I ask now that you would open the door to advanced studies. I have considered all the options, looked over the requirements, and discussed the viability of each school. I have made tentative decisions to go here or there, changed my mind, and then changed it back again (many times). I realize now that I am to go only to the school of your choosing, your provision. I am to go where you send me for advanced studies, and you will go before me and you will prepare a place for me there. I will not go anywhere else for the work I do is your work. It is for your Name, for your Glory, and to bring you Praise. I ask now that you would make this way smooth, make it doable, and provide everything required for me to accomplish these tasks. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, knowing that your will is everything I need, and that I am committed to accomplishing your will through Christ. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

May 11, 2012

I Am Good

I am good. I am really good. Yes, it is true that I am feeling a bit under the weather, but in general, I am very good indeed.

God is good all the time, and God brings good into our lives. He works things out so that the good we experience gives testimony of His Goodness (the character quality that He is). He causes things to work together for our good (so says Scripture), and because He is Good, we can experience that Goodness (the character quality) in every area of our life.

As I wrestle with His Goodness today -- thinking how crummy I feel right now, and wanting so much to feel better -- I realize that regardless of how I feel (or think), God is always the same. His Goodness never changes, and the good He works, is always for our blessing and benefit.

I looked back over my blog and I read a post from July 2011. This was the day before I was to start my new job at UOPX. I was giving God the praise, and I thanked Him for the good, practical work He was providing to me. I thanked Him for the good work He provided through Macy's as well. I thanked Him for His Provision of GOOD WORK.

Now I am looking to His provision again, but this time I am asking for a different kind of work. I want a job that is satisfying, that will challenge me, and that will keep me engaged. I am no longer thinking only of good practical work, but good satisfying work. I want a job that I can do long-term, that won't burn me out, and that I can enjoy every single day of my working life. I want a job where I can impact the lives of other people, where I can demonstrate God's love to them, where I can feel valued,  and where I can function as a contributor to other people (or students) success.

Sure, my current job as Advisor offers me the opportunity to change lives -- but in such a small way. I enroll students; and, for a short time I serve to assist them, and advise them as they START their journey to success. After their first course, they are handed off to Academics, and then I am only able to call to ask them how they are doing, if they have any problems or concerns. This is not the kind of life changing impact I want to have on a student. I want to see them grow, see them develop, and see them change. I don't get to do that because my students live far away from me, and they only know my voice (not my face, not me personally). I want that personal time that comes with walking the long road, joining the journey, and helping to carry the load. This is Biblical and this is the kind of relationship I want to have with those I mentor and I help.

I've given teaching a long hard look, and I understand now, that there is no other discipline where I can affect change and then participate in the outcome of that change. I understand that I have the opportunity to participate in the learning adventure, and that I can do this with my whole being, not just my voice, not just my "talk time." I am ready to start this adventure, but I need some employer to look favorably on me, to give me a chance.

I was in this exact same position last year, looking for a chance to prove myself, to demonstrate my abilities. I got that chance with the UOPX, and I have made the most of it. I have worked very hard there, made a name and a good reputation, and now I am ready to move on. I am ready to let it go, to walk away, and to embrace the future job that the Lord has lined up for me. I am ready to trust God to provide -- again. I am ready to wait for His provision and to then give Him thanks for it. I thank Him now for the opportunity to do good work, to be faithful and loyal. I thank Him for the time to complete my education, and for the blessing of graduate school. I thank Him for the open door that waits for me to walk through so I can do the next job -- to be a teacher -- to train up young and old minds, and to impact these students in ways that will enhance their journey, develop their skills, and open doors for them. I am ready to go. I am ready, and I am willing to go now.

Faith Works!

"Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having gird your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--"Ephesians 6:10-18

I prayed yesterday and confronted the spirit of procrastination demanding in Jesus' Name that it leave me alone, and it did. I had felt this oppression settle over my mind, and it seemed like the past three weeks, I had absolutely no interest in doing anything. Every time I thought about tackling some job or some task (like writing my essays), I would become lazy, tired or unfocused. Hours would rush by before I had realized just how much time was wasted, with little to no progress. But yesterday, I stood up, lifted my shield of FAITH and picked up my SWORD OF THE SPIRIT. I stood upright, ready for battle, and proclaimed victory in Jesus!

My mind cleared, my focus returned, and I completed a 9-page essay in about four hours last evening. I still need to proof and edit it, but it is done! KA-CHING! I have one other essay to write today, and then I need to finalize my thesis before Monday. For all intents and purposes, I am 98% done with my graduate courses this semester, and on my way to graduation day on Wednesday, May 23rd. Hallelujah! I am done (almost)!!

I am sorry that it took me so long to rescue myself from the oppression of a procrastinating spirit. I wish now I would have stood up and defended myself three weeks ago. I could have rested and enjoyed my April-May, and gone into the summer less pressured and rushed. Time is always an excellent magnifier of what was, and what might have been -- but so be it -- I did what I did, and I am done with it.

Now I am ready to take the next step, to go out and do what the Lord has asked me to do. I cannot believe that I am going, really going...I am poised and ready to go! I know that I will come up against opposition again and again, and I know what to do. Now may I "just do it" as Art Williams said (see previous blog post with this motivational clip). I need to put on the whole armor of God, and be prepared for the enemies assault.

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

I don't want to be devoured, and while I know that the Holy Spirit of God is far stronger and better able to defend me than any thing I could do -- my enemy still seeks to attack me and keep me from accomplishing the will of God through Christ Jesus. BTW - the enemy knows the power Spirit of Christ too, he just tries to attack us when we are weak or weary (not alert as Scripture advises).

I am contented today to know that my God reigns, and that I am right where I need to be. I am no longer worried about what tomorrow will bring. I don't know for certain that things will be this way or that, but I do know that in all things I am able to overcome because Christ has overcome them for me. I rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I put my faith and trust in the One who has finished the work, and who is coming again to vanquish the enemy once and for all. I know that I am set free, that I do not live under the power of this prince. I live under the authority and testimony of Jesus -- the WORD OF GOD. I live in freedom, and I am able to do all things abundantly well through the power of His Name.

Praise to God forever and evermore. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done.

May 10, 2012

Can I Really Do This?

Can I really let go of what is holding me back? Can I do this today?

Letting go is hard for me to do. I have said I am ready to let go, but I am not. I know this, otherwise, I wouldn't be in the position I am in today (exactly the same position I was in three weeks ago). Nothing has differed in any way. I am still putting off the inevitable, and I am blaming myself for my lack of discipline, my unwillingness to do the hard thing (and "just do it.")

At work my manager played a video clip of a motivational speaker who's whole message was summed up in this phrase: "Just do it."

No matter what is holding you back, no matter how difficult or how trying the task may be -- if we just do it -- it will get done.

noun: the act or habit of procrastinating,  or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

I am a procrastinator, no....I have allowed a spirit of procrastination to sideline and derail my efforts in school. I blamed the lack of interest on my class, on my hectic schedule, and on my crazy Spring (and everything I went through from January-March). The truth is that I allowed this spirit to gain a foothold and I have not been able to shake it off. Whenever I start to think I will do something about it, I become tired, I think of other things to do. I have allowed this to take a priority in my life, and I know what I must do.

I am ready to do the Lord's work, and I know that with that work will come hard times, difficult tasks, and challenges that will mentally and physically assault me. I know that I can do these things because it is not I who will do them, but the Lord who will accomplish His will through me. I confess now that I cannot do anything that the Lord asks of me. I can only submit to Him willingly, and let His Blessed Spirit do these things through me. I relent, I turn around, and I confess now that I am wholly devoted to the Lord, wholly devoted to doing His will, and to going His way.

I am ready now, Lord, to JUST DO WHAT YOU ASK ME TO DO.

Taking a Deep Breath

You remember how it felt when you jumped into that cold lake or first dip into an early summer pool? You stood at the edge, bracing yourself for the shock of the cold water. You wanted to jump in, but something held you back. You weren't afraid necessarily, it was more of knowing that you would be jolted by the coldness of the water, and that you would come up shivering! Moreover, you knew that as you jumped in, you would silently pass from normal to extreme, and that change was something you were not used to because it was so abrupt.

This is how I feel right now. I feel as though I am standing on the edge of the pool, wanting to wade in, or stand on the first step. I don't want to experience that jolt, that sudden change. I would rather have the change come on me slowly, even though I know that in a cold pool or lake, the change doesn't come that way. You still feel the cold creep up to your stomach, your shoulders and then finally to your head. No matter how you put it off, the cold will get to you. It is better to jump in with both feet than to try and straddle that fence and wait.

I have waited now for quite a while. I have stood on the step, wading in and around, but never really immersed myself in the pool. I have known that I needed to jump in, but I was afraid. I was afraid of the change, and what that change would do to me personally. I have had enough change in my life recently -- separation -- living in my own home, new job, etc. It is too much for me, and I don't think I can handle any more change.

The Lord knows me well. He understands how I refuse to accept change into my life, how I hold on to things so tightly, even when I know and believe it is best to let them go. He also knows how I feel when I do let them go, how the freedom swims over me like a warm bubble bath, how I relax and how I sink deeply into a state of blissful rest. Oh, how I resist change. Oh, how I love things to stay the same, even when they are not in my favor nor are they the best for me.

Can I -- no -- will I ever learn to let go of those things that are not in the best interest of my life, and embrace the coldness of change?

Change:  to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

I am being asked to change courses, to change the way I think about my life, and to change the way I see things. It is too much change for me right now. I want to stay put, to remain on the path I am on -- even if this path is not a good one. I don't want to give up my job, my income, my benefits -- unless the next job will provide more for me. But even then, I don't want to have to start over, to learn new tasks, to figure out how to get to a new job, where to eat, what to do. I just don't want to change my life right now.

This is why I cannot finish my school work assignments. This is why I keep putting them off. I know that when I graduate I will have no excuse for not pursuing a teaching job. I have told everyone in my family, all my friends and co-workers, that I would teach once I had my Masters. I am afraid of teaching. I am afraid of not knowing what to do, how to plan a lesson, how to answer student questions. I am afraid of what it means to my life -- to finally have a career -- after so many years of doing odd jobs and whatever came my way.

I am a grown up now. I have my own life, my own place, my own car. My child is grown, and will be a Junior in college. I am, for all intents and purposes, no longer a SAHM. I am a single-Mom, a working woman, and someone who is twice graduated from college. More so, I am going to be a College Instructor, a Professor (Lord willing) who will someday have a third degree -- a PhD.

Why can I not grow up? Why I am so afraid of moving forward? Of going?

Step Two

Ok, so this has been the story of my life since February. I have been walking on the hard, the rocky, and the difficult path of resisting the Lord's will for my life. In my heart, I am 100% for the Lord's will. There is no other place for me -- it is my home. It is where I belong, where I want to be, and where I am determined to stay (to rest) for all of eternity. How in the world, then, did I get on the wrong path?

Well, I believe it was simply not doing what I said I was going to do. I made a promise, and then I failed to keep it. The Lord takes us at our word. He expects us to do what we say we will do. He knows that in our humanity, we rarely will do what we say -- He forgive us -- but He doesn't let us off the hook. No, we must obey. We must do what we promise Him. It is all about building character, and we are to be like Him in all things, most especially in character.

So here I sit, blogging today, getting over some flu bug, and feeling pretty crummy. I wish I felt the way I did last week when I was pumped up, and ready to tackle bear! But, no, I am feeling awful, depressed, and worried. I am tired as well, and I want to go lay down. I am glad I am home today, yet the clock is ticking and I am blogging -- not doing my last assignments for school.

Yet, despite all of this truth, I have actually made some giant steps forward.
  • I applied to Rio Salado for teaching preparation courses
  • I applied for two teaching positions, one at South Mountain Community College, and one at Brookline College
  • I have recommitted my way through ASU's Rhetoric program
  • I have considered working part-time while doing this program
  • I have considered working two jobs to make ends meet -- just so I could do this program
I have the following tasks set before me,
  1. Write four essays (5 pages) on the selections we read in my Humanism course
  2. Study for the GRE test
  3. Apply to ASU for admissions in Fall 2013
  4. Contemplate either taking four semesters of French now or waiting and taking them at ASU
  5. Take Old English and Middle English -- and waive the language requirement
  6. Complete 14 credits of Education courses -- just to get me comfortable with teaching
  7. Prepare on my own for teaching Composition by using IEW's Intensive Writing Course C, Jensen's Grammar and Punctuation, along with the Elegant Essay (I have used the latter only)
  8. Graduate from Mercy next week (well, the 23rd)
  9. Turn in essays and a re-write of my thesis by Monday, May 14th
  10. And lastly, consider leaving UOPX at the end of May, Lord willing, and going to a new teaching position.
Some of these items are for certain, while others are potential possibilities. I will graduate from Mercy. I will turn in my assignments. I will take the Education courses next Fall and Spring; and I will enroll at ASU for fall (Lord willing). I will more than likely use the home school curriculum listed for teacher prep, and I will probably take French and attempt the Clep exam. I will more than likely just do the OE/ME sequence for grins and giggles -- because I want to do them -- or I may not, if credits get tight. Will I get a job teaching? I believe so. I hope so. I know so. When? I am unsure.

Today my faith rests in the Lord to show me the way through these items. I ask for Grace to do them all. I trust Him to provide. I look to Him for His solution and for His way. In His Name, I ask all of this because I believe in Him. I love Him and I know He loves me. So be it, Lord. So be it.

Next Step of Faith

Well, I am still not feeling 100% today. My stomach seems to have settled, but I still have a slight headache. Now I feel a sore throat coming on, and generally feel sort of worn down. Not surprisingly for me -- with so much going on right now -- it is a miracle that I haven't been ill sooner.

I did eventually drag myself out of the house for about an half-hour, just so I could get some needed supplies today.  I am now back home, resting, and considering getting to some home work. I have been thinking more about my situation and the steps that need to be taken to get me to where I believe the Lord is leading me. I have never had to do this before -- walk on in faith. In the past, the Lord has led me, and I have just followed Him. I liked it, I crumbled a bit, but generally it was easy for me to do. I am a good follower (well, sometimes).

This time, though, the Lord has told me to "go" do certain things. I didn't go in the past, when I heard His voice telling me to get up and go. I regret not going back then because I know that things would have been much better for me. However, as things are, the Lord has graciously brought me to this place, and He has provided for me. Now, He is telling me to go -- to go and take possession of some things. This is new for me, and I am scared to do it. I don't want to fail. I don't want to mess things up like I did before when I didn't go.

As I spend more time with the Lord, I have come to understand how He works in our lives (well, in mind, anyway). The Lord didn't send His disciples out on their own for a long while. He first had them follow Him around the region. He taught them while they followed, and He gave them instruction on what to do and how to do things His way. Eventually, He sent them out on a short trip, on assignment, so to speak. They went out and came back with their report of all the blessing and power they experienced during that short trip. Later on, He sent them out again, but this time they were on their own. They were to rely on one another because He was leaving them to go up to Heaven. He would be with them in Spirit, but they were in essence to do what they had done before -- trust Him, and go where His Spirit was leading them to go.

I think my life has followed a similar plan. When I dedicated my life to the Lord a couple years ago, there was much work to be done in my heart. I was broken, and I was wounded so deeply, that the Lord had to spend a great deal of time healing my mind and my heart so that I could be useful again. During that time, I came to know Him better, to lean on Him, and eventually to trust Him as Lord over my life.

Once I was healed, and fully functioning as a mended person, His Word came to me and I was called to a specific ministry. I was called to "go" where the Lord was directing me to go -- into International Ministry. The Lord helped me understand that to do this work, I would need to study and be prepared for it. It meant going back to school, getting an advanced degree, and studying multiple languages. It also meant living in a foreign country, and learning how to live outside the USA.

I understood that the physical going was far off, down the road, but because there was much preparation work to be done, I needed to get started accomplishing certain tasks.  I enrolled in a Masters program. I learned to play the cello. I started my foreign language studies. I developed a new attitude towards learning, and I understood that all of this learning was for one purpose -- to do His work (not build a career, get fame or find fortune).

Also, while preparing for ministry, I spent a great deal of time learning how to be a disciple. I learned to look outside myself and to think about His plans, His way. I stopped focusing so much on me, and my needs, and began to see the world out there -->. As with before, the Lord sustained me, trained me, and prepared me to "go" where He was leading me. However, I didn't physically go at all. I had opportunity to physically go, to relocate, but I was afraid of leaving my life, so I stayed put.  Had I actually gone, who knows what might have been, what my life might have come to in another city or town. I regretted not going, and while the Lord graciously forgave my stubborn heart, I also came to learn that my heart was not 100% set on following Him. I clung to many things, to my way of life, to my relationship with my parents, to my son, etc. I had more work to do, more trusting to do, so I continued on in Phoenix, remaining and completing the tasks I started.

I am now at the turn of the phase, leaving step 1 and moving to step 2. I have all but graduated with my Masters degree. I am ready to apply for my PhD, but there are some issues to be resolved. I was ready to study at Regent University, all set, application in, etc. Yet, Regent wasn't a perfect fit for me. The program was interesting, and it was online. The commitment was less than some of the other programs I looked at, but there were other factors. Starting Regent was a challenge with my existing financial aid. It also required a residency each summer, typically in May-June. This would be difficult with working full-time. I wanted to do Regent, to go to a Christian University to study God's Word and to be prepared for ministry -- but I had second thoughts. I didn't want to give up getting my PhD in English -- even though I was tired of Literature, and didn't want to study more classical periods.

Then the Lord showed me ASU's Rhetoric program. He had me contact the program advisor who kindly replied with encouraging news. However, the program required full-time enrollment as classes were not offered online nor always in the evenings. They did have financial assistance -- fellowships and teaching positions, but the path seemed confusing to me. How could I give up full-time work to do this program? How would I live?

Then came the call to "go" and once again I faltered. I said "yes," but I didn't go. Nope, I stood still and I scratched my head, and I refused to consider that the Lord would provide a way for me to go do His work.

In the interim, I looked back at the University of Phoenix, my place of employment, and I tried to see if I could go there to school. It had been an option once, a good choice. That was before SSP, and all the pressure to perform. In the past couple months, the door seemed to close on me. First came all the difficulty with the job, then the career progression challenge, and finally the requirement that PhD students work two years in higher education in a management position. The door slammed shut on me, and I knew that this way was not to be.

I turned back to Regent, committed my way to go there --> but it didn't bring peace to me. I cried to the Lord, what is wrong, what is happening to me? The Word came back --> "You said you would go, but you didn't go. You didn't do what you promised me." Yes, Lord, it is truth. I said I would do this program at ASU, but I got scared at the thought of having to work and go to school full-time. I worried about money, about losing my home, etc. I worried, and I gave in. I gave up.

The past couple weeks have been difficult -- I have blogged as much. I couldn't put my finger on what was the issue, and I blamed my work for everything. In truth, the problem was me not doing what I promised the Lord. I made a covenant with Him -- yes, I used those exact words -- and He asked me to keep my end of the deal. You know, God takes covenants very seriously. He always tells me to be certain whenever I say "I promise you this..." He knows I cannot keep my promise, and yet, I promise Him all the same. The difference is that the Lord doesn't just laugh it off. Nope. He forgives you, then He expects you to do what you said you would do.

In my case, I said I would go to ASU and study Rhetoric. I said I would do whatever teaching job the Lord brought to me, and I said I would trust Him to provide. I said I would do this, and I said I "meant it." I gave my word to the Lord, and then I shirked back and changed my mind.

Well, here I am today having to take back my words. I am having to reconsider what I said I would do. I realized that with the Lord, His Word is everything -- it is His very Nature and Character. Therefore, we are to be like Him, and our word needs to be kept.

Dear Lord,

I understand that I promised you that I would go to ASU to study this program. I said I would do this, and then I got scared when I saw the lack of courses, and heard back that it was difficult to do this program unless you were full-time. I know now that your plan was to provide a way for me to do this program. I understand that when you told me to go, you meant for me to literally go there, to study there, to do this program. I also understand that all of this has been dependent on my finishing Mercy College. Two years ago, you told me that I would have to wait for a good job, that once I had my Masters finished, I would find a good job. I thought UOPX was the right job. It sure seemed like it, but as you told me in January -- it was not "the job" you had in mind. It was a temporary solution to help me be established. Now, I see it all. I see what you are doing, and how you are going about it. I understand that I have to keep my promises to you. I have to do what I say I am going to do. Forgive me, Lord, and give me the Grace so that I can finish Mercy well, graduate and find work as an English Teacher. I ask this now in Jesus Name, Amen.

Struggling So On the Inside

Yesterday was difficult. It was one of a series of difficult days at my place of work. I am struggling to keep my attitude in check, and to not allow the stress of the job to get to me. Today, I succumbed to that stress, and called in sick. I woke up in the middle of the night with a massive migraine headache. I know that it was stress-generated. It wasn't food borne (I am sensitive to additives and they often trigger headaches) because other than having a salad for dinner, I didn't have anything out of the ordinary. It also wasn't for lack of sleep this week -- even though I was really tired yesterday. I fell asleep last night and I slept the entire evening (from 7:30 onward). Except for the headache in the night, I did seem to sleep well. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I rolled over and knew that I had to make the choice to get up and get ready for work or stay at home. I fed the cats, made my coffee, and took more Advil. I felt worse the more I was up, so I called in sick. Immediately after making that call, I felt better. I still have a headache, and I am sick to my stomach, but it is subsiding.

In all of my year working at Macy's, I was sick once. I called in sick when I fell in my kitchen and stress-fractured my femur. I took off two days, one calling in sick and the other at my bosses insistence that I take the next day off to rest. I did, and then I returned to work (limping and hobbling around) for the next three-four weeks. I worked hard at Macy's, and I endured their coaching me to open more accounts.

Generally, their coaching sessions and weekly status updates are a lot like UOPX. They are meant to help you achieve success, but they tend to weary you with a constant questioning of "why aren't you doing better?" It is this stress on perfecting the technique that really weighs me down. I know that my supervisor, directors, etc. don't see it that way. I am sure they don't -- they all seem like really nice people. I happen to be a perfectionist, so I am well-aware of what I can and cannot do. I mean it. I know if I am being lazy. I know if I am being a hard worker. I know the difference because I hold myself to an incredibly high standard. I don't expect it of others, but I self-regulate so that I always know when I am performing at my best.  It is the mark of any good athlete to know their limits, to push themselves when they know there is room to move higher, go faster, do better.

The problem is that I struggle with other people pushing me. I have never liked it. I have never been a willing participate to the group push! I see the reality, I know this is how it is done in business, but I never have bought into it or liked it. I will do my best for my own reasons. I will empower myself, no one needs to stand behind me to do it for me. I don't like it. I don't like the pressure. I don't like the attitude that says what you are doing is not good enough, you must do better.

My biggest issue is when you are doing really well, I mean really well, AND the attitude is still there telling you that you can do this well every month, all the time. This is not always the case, and to expect that is unrealistic considering the variables at work and play. I guess I am old-fashioned in my thinking. I remember that if you were doing a good job, your boss or manager would say that to you. If you were not doing a good job, your boss or manager would call you aside and tell you that as well. Then he or she would meet with you to help you do better. You know where you stood -- I need to do better or I will lose this job. I am good where I am at, so I need to maintain this level to keep my job.

In today's psychologically-driven business, it is about demonstrating behaviors that determine your success. These would be things like strong work ethic, honesty, integrity -- these are all behaviors I uphold naturally. I am all about doing my best, being honest in my dealings, etc. The fuzzy area comes in when these behaviors are use to judge your abilities as a worker. In truth, you cannot judge a person on these behaviors because they are internal and often do not show in quantifiable ways.

Sales numbers, on the other hand, can be charted. This shows performance, and performance can be judged. The problem is that many companies are trying to get away from performance driven reviews. They feel that it singles-out people, draws distinction, and makes employees uncomfortable. It separates the achievers from the non-achievers. Ok, so call me outdated, but truthfully, isn't that what life is all about?

In my place of work, my performance is down-played out on the outside, but on the inside, it is everything. Make your numbers every day, and you will do well. It is a round-robin of sorts because you are told to not focus on the numbers (we cannot supposedly due to the Government's regulation on higher education for for-profit companies), so we are coached on competencies. It would be far easier to be coached on performance because that is a measurable standard, kwim?

My performance is suffering due to a couple reasons:
  • lack of quality leads
  • overemphasis on the process of conversing (not my way, but the new way)
Every call that gets recorded is thoroughly reviewed to see if I am saying the right things. If I am not, then I get a note and more coaching on how to do it "right.'

If I am not making 100 dials or being on the phone for 3 hours *talking* each day, then I am told I am not working hard enough. I am misusing my day. It doesn't matter if I am clarifying my database, cleaning it up or making it viable. No, those things don't show up on a report, so they do not count.

I have decided that I can no longer live this way. I want to do a good job, to be a good employee, and I use my customer service skills every day to work with my students and build rapport with my peers. I simply am tired of the pressure to perform, and the constant coaching to say the right things. I am not excelling at my job because I focus on these details every day, worried that I will be called up, let go. The stress of losing my job weighs so heavy on my mind, even though I know that the Lord will not allow this to happen to me. I allow the stress of this job to keep me from doing the things I need to do -- like finishing my papers, graduating from school. In short, my priorities are all messed up.

Dear Lord,

I get it. I see that my priorities are not aligned with yours, and this is why I am feeling so badly. I realize that I am here to do your work, and no one else s. I am here to focus on the tasks that you assign, and not get fixated on anything anyone else asks me to do.  As I consider my options, I understand that I need to let go of the responsibility for the tasks associated with this job, and let them be. I work very hard, but if I try and do everything my manager wants, then I am placing him above you. I cannot do this. You are my King, you manage my days and my weeks. You are my Lord. I confess to you that I did this without really considering the affect on me and my abilities to do your work. I ask now that you forgive me for making this be all about the job, when it should have been all about you and your work. I ask now for you to show me what to do so that I can walk on, and continue to do what you want without getting sidetracked all the time. In Jesus Name I ask this now, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

May 9, 2012

I'm so Frustrated

I went into work today, hopeful that it would be a good day. Instead, it was just like yesterday -- difficult and boring. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for this job, considering the fact that I was without work for so long (almost 18 months). I feel as though there is nothing I can do correctly in this position. My team and my supervisor are nice, and I like working with them -- the downside is that I am so bored all the time. Today was a double-whammy in that we had our weekly meeting and the rubber hit the road on how to be "productive" in our day. Basically this means that if we are not on the phone talking with students, we need to be prospecting in our databases. My lead base has over 3800 names, and most of these are old dead leads. I work my uncontacted leads every single day, and short of calling the same people day in and day out, I have run out of names to call.

The bottom line is that unless I make 100 dials each day, I don't look like I am working. If you are not working in this way, then you are susceptible for "coaching" to help you do a better job. My problem is that I am so tired of the job. I cannot do anything more than what I have done previously, and because I am not keeping my numbers up, I am worried about losing my job there. Now, I want a different job, but until I get that opportunity, I have to remain and wait (per the Lord's command). I am waiting Lord, I am waiting -- please release me to go to another job -- another kind of work where I will be more challenged, but also have more freedom in my day to do what I need to do.

I came home early, just in time for a rain storm (unusual for this time of the year), but a very nice refresher. I am sitting here now enjoying the grey skies and wearing my slippers and comfy sweater. I am so tired of this whole process, and I want -- no, I need to rest. I need to rest. I am so very sleepy and so very tired. I need your help Lord. Please help me today -- help me to know and understand what I must do so I can graduate and then give me the grace to do it. I need to get a teaching job, and I need my Masters degree to do it. Please Lord, please help me today!

May 8, 2012

Confused, So Very Confused

Today has been a difficult day. In fact, today was the second difficult day of the week. Not a very good average if both Monday and Tuesday proved difficult for me. I am struggling so to keep my head above water, and to finish my studies at Mercy College. I am not into the work, and I have a week left to get everything done. I know I will, but I am not motivated to do anything. I want to be done, to rest, and to take a long break. Yet, I am contemplating taking some education courses at a local online college that offers Teacher preparation courses. I am afraid I will be bored with having no classes to study for and work towards completing. I wish my doctoral program started in August, but it doesn't start again until next year. I need to take care of myself this year, and rest up for the work ahead. I am finding all this change difficult to process, and that stresses me out.

On top of things, my boss at work thinks I am upset with him. I guess I have been kind of out of sorts, and perhaps I gave him that impression. I didn't mean to do it, I have just been so stressed over this "process" and not performing well. I want to do well, I want to be an achiever, and I hate losing out when I can control the outcome. I hate being left behind, and I feel like I am sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else get ahead. I am tired, and I am cranky, and I want to be done with everything, everything, and everything.

I hope that makes senses -- I cannot really explain it other than to say that I am fed up to here (^) with my life, with the way things are going right now, and with the feeling like I am spinning round and round. I feel like a top, just spinning on the floor -- not really going anywhere but round and round in circles. Perhaps if I stop spinning, then I can sit a while? Not sure how to do that because it is the Lord who has set this in motion. He prepared me for the change, said that things would be changing soon, and that I would need to trust Him. I promised I would hang on to Him, and here I am crying out and asking Him to stop moving so quickly. Oh, I am ashamed for feeling this way, for feeling lost and confused when I know that my Lord is doing some things in my life to make things better for me. I guess I am used to things standing still, to not moving very fast, and this whole shift has caught me off guard. I knew it was coming, but I didn't take Him at His word to me that is would knock me off-kilter. He always tells me the truth, and I know I can trust Him. I believe His Word. I believe Him. I don't trust myself, and I don't rely on Him when things set themselves spinning. Oh, why do I do that? Why do I fail so miserably all the time?

As I sit here typing tonight, I am trying to stay focused on my life, and the changes the Lord is planning for me. I am not sure where I will end up, but I said I would go. I am not sure how things will work out, but I said that I would trust Him. I promised. I gave my word. I made a covenant with Him, and He promised in return to keep me safe and to provide for me. As soon as things began to move, I felt ill. I felt as though I was no longer in control, and I cried out for fear. I cried to the Lord, asking Him to help me, to steady me, and to make me feel better.

I am better, but not feeling 100% yet. I am tired of all these changes. I want to settle a while, to rest, to recuperate, and to start enjoying my days. I don't see any vacation or rest in my future, and that scares me. I am happy for the work, but truthfully, I feel used up, and very worn out. Oh, Lord, how can this be? How can I do anymore? I feel like I am at the breaking point, and I want to lay down for a good long rest.

Help me today to see how all this change fits into your plans for me. Help me to accept what you are doing, to not shirk back, and to rest in your provision. You are faithful. You are true. I trust you today.

May 7, 2012

I Barely Slept Last Night

I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn't. This is not like me. I never suffer from insomnia. I think I finally drifted off to sleep around 12:30 am, and when my alarm went at 5:30, I actually opened my eyes and then got out of bed. Normally, I am dragging myself around, dazed in the morning, but here I am bright-eyed and wide awake.

I am heading into the office today around 7:30 so I have a little time to blog, and get my day started. I am looking forward to today, and I believe I will know my answer on whether or not this is the path I am to follow either today or tomorrow. I have total confidence in the Lord, and for the first time I feel really good. I mean really good. I cannot explain the way I feel, I just feel as though nothing can stop me today. I am not weak, I am not afraid, and I am very contented to be on this path.

This really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, because I have asked the Lord numerous times if I could teach High School. His answer has always been no. I asked him again if I should get my AZ teaching credential, just in case, and He said no. I put teaching anything but college out of my mind, and concentrated on applying for teaching positions at local technical, vocational, and community colleges.

Now all of a sudden things are different. The only thing I can think of is this: the state board of education has changed the requirements for candidates for credentials. The last time I looked at the requirements, I still needed my Masters ALONG with student teaching (practicum hours) and all the course work. It seemed like it would take me twice as long to be qualified to apply. Now the state is awarding what is called an Intern certificate which allows you to teach while you are enrolled in a program. I am guessing that more states are doing this now, in an effort to recruit highly qualified teachers. What this means for me is that I am now considered highly qualified simply because I have my Masters degree. Moreover, if I can get hired, then I can do my entire practicum in my own classroom (I still need some supervision). Plus with that subject level Masters, I don't have to complete all the required EDU courses. I could if I wanted a second Masters -- since I don't and I will be going for my PhD -- then it will not be necessary. I am stoked!

As of today, my path has altered to a side avenue from where I was on Friday. These things have changed:
  • Accepting Regent University as the Lord's provision for advanced studies (comment later)
  • Applying for a 9-12th grade position through a local Charter High School
  • Planning to pursue a teaching credential -- should I get hired as an English teacher
  • Planning to get a finger print clearance card (will do that regardless, just to have it)
  • Applying for an Intern Credential after clearance card once I hear back from Rio Salado College
  • Attending a Community meeting for prospective teachers where you can meet and interview with districts that are hiring new teachers
  • Considering my options for remaining at UOPX
My goal is to be offered a teaching contract for 2012-2013. I am willing to complete the required courses and practicum this year so long as it doesn't delay my getting accepted and started at Regent (May/June 2013). I am set to graduate next week, and my degree should be conferred in June. I am trusting the Lord to make sure there are no hitches in that process. So far everything looks good to go.

Lastly, as I sit here today, I am in awe of my God who provides not only what is necessary, but what is GOOD. My Lord has chosen to reward me with opportunity to do something I have wanted to do since I was in High School. I have had so many missed chances, so many bad turns, and I have made so many bad decisions over the course of the last thirty years. My Lord has chosen to bless me regardless of my work, of my hands, and of my abilities. Instead, He has chosen to bless me because of what He has done. I am in awe, I am in awe.

May God be praised today and forevermore. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

May 6, 2012

When The Lord Moves -- He Really MOVES!

After I posted this afternoon, the Lord asked me to visit some websites I had bookmarked. I was uncertain why I felt Him leading me here, but I obeyed and followed His calling. As I got to each site, the Lord prompted me to make some changes -- both were schools, both were programs I had considered as necessary to help me transition into teaching. The first was TESOL. I had visited TESOL a couple weeks ago, and spent quite a lot of time browsing their pages. I had felt the Lord leading me to sign up for a summer-fall course in teaching non-native speakers English. Not a full-on SEL program, but a 130 hour curriculum designed for teachers of non-native speakers. I enrolled, but hadn't heard back if I was accepted. The second site was for Rio Salado College. I had already applied to RS to take foreign language courses in the fall, but now the Lord was asking me to drop those classes and instead read about their in-service Teacher Preparation program.

Ok, so all of this aligns with my time spent yesterday as I was considering the teaching preparation I would need should I be hired by the community college to teach developmental writing (my application is still active, but no movement on the job post yet). The Lord led me over to some curriculum, curriculum I had previously reviewed for home education. I knew that I wanted to study this curriculum and really get to know the ins and outs of teaching it. The Lord showed me that this curriculum (a combination of language arts programs made for home education, would prepare me to teach entry level college courses). I now see that it would also well-prepare me to teach high school students.

I didn't really have time to pursue much on the RS website, as we were heading over to my parents for dinner. When I got home, though, I went to our state department of education to see what I would need to do to be certified to teach 9-12 grades. I reviewed the requirements and was surprised to find out that because I hold a Masters degree in my subject area, I am considered "Highly Qualified" by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This means that all those teaching positions I saw posted on that said "must be Highly Qualified" were actually positions open to me. I assumed that HQ meant experienced. Now some did say preferred 3-5 years teaching, but most just said must be HQ.

After studying the requirements for teaching here in AZ, I went back over to RS and began to look around again. I wondered if I would really have to take two years to complete my teacher preparation. I emailed the staff to ask their advice, and I am hopeful that the answer will be no.

In the meantime, the Lord had me apply to a charter school to teach High School English. I am not certain whether they will consider me, but I stepped out in faith and did it just the same. I am hesitant to leave my good job with UOPX, but I don't want to miss an opportunity to teach and gain experience.

So there you have it. I went from worrying about graduating today to applying to become a high school English teacher. WOW! I can hardly believe it. I am open to it, and I am willing to consider it. I am agreeing with the Lord that this is a good opportunity, and I am resting in His provision. If this is His will, so be it. I will do it, Lord. I will just do it.

When His Way Triumphs

"When His Way Triumphs there is great joy in Heaven, and great blessing on Earth."

Luke 15:7 NLT says "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!" Jesus was giving us a snippet or snapshot of what it is like in Heaven when one sinner turns around and accepts God's way of forgiveness. The whole of Heaven rejoices at the very moment the heart is bent towards God and receives His merciful forgiveness. In the same way, anytime we agree with God, choose to side with Him, and believe that His Word is true, then rejoicing takes place in the Heavenly realm. The blessing of peace and contentment -- JOY -- floods our souls and we understand, no -- we realize -- that God is always RIGHT (correct in His judgment and determination) and that His WAY is the only way to experience blessing and prosperity. There is no other way to enjoy the Blessings of the Lord, than to agree with Him. Our hearts must agree, we must concur, and we must let go of our own willful and stubborn attitude that says, "No, I am right." Humble submission to His Authority releases us from the penalty of living outside His will for our lives. In one fell swoop, our attitude is crushed, and we are ushered into the Living Presence of the Holy One. We are at His feet, and we know and we understand (the Word says "perceive") the truth of who He is and who we are. The chasm between God and man is revealed and we understand what a great gift we have received -- to be able to stand on the side of the Heaven-lies -- instead of the side of mankind. God be praised, we are forever more free.

Thoughts on the Matter

The time has come to put on my outer garment and take a long journey. I am moving out, moving forward on the timeline of the Lord's provision for my life. I am called to travel lightly, to take only what I need and to be ready to go now or tomorrow or whenever the Lord says for me to "go." Today is the first day of that journey, and I am making preparations. I am gathering supplies, packing my things, and making plans for where to go, and how to get to my destination. I have my map out, and I have my compass, and I am carefully studying the plans so that I don't get lost along the way. I have my camera at my side, and I am looking forward to taking pictures of all the places the Lord asks me to visit. I want to go, and I am ready to take this step of faith.

The Lord has called me to a specific path, a way of life that follows after Him, and places Him first in all things, in everything I do. I no longer think about myself, or say "But what about..." No, I only say "yes, Lord -- I am willing" and then He says to me, "go." I love the fact that all He asks of me is for me to be willing to go. I am willing to go. I am willing to try new things. I am willing to risk it all for His Name, and to be what He calls me to be. I know it is good. I know the plans He has for me are good. I can rest in His care -- for He cares for me. I am ready, Lord -- let's go!

Listening to Music

I love to listen to music, specifically music that has a beat (drum) and that includes stringed instruments. My personal favorite is Clint Mansell's "Requiem for a Dream." I happen to be listening to Escala playing the remixed version called "Requiem for a Tower," which was used as a trailer for the LOTR Two Towers release. I love this music -- it is so moving. Impressive!

As I sit here at my computer, I am reminded of just how much music means to me, and how I enjoy playing music now that I have learned how to play the cello. I long to play the cello well, but unfortunately, I always seem to put practice off, and then regret my progress.

The same is true with my last remaining assignments. I need to complete my course work for my Humanism course, but I am not into the class. There is no reason to do less than my best, but I am just not into the course and readings. Sigh!

Some other thoughts....

As I prepare to graduate, I am struggling with the whole impending "ending" of my goal. I have wanted to complete my Master of Arts degree since 1993, when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I put that dream on hold, many times literally laying it before the Lord with tears of anguish over not being able to complete it. I believed in my heart that I was supposed to go to graduate school. I ached for years, suppressing the feelings, and crying out to the Lord, "Why? Why do I desire it, if it is not your will?" I didn't know then what I know now. I didn't know that it was the Lord's will for my life, and that I would some day actually do it, accomplish it. In fact, in 1997, I quit my job at Scottsdale Bible Church to go back to graduate school. I told my boss, then Pastor of Children's Ministry, how I believed that God was calling me to go back to school. The problem was the timing. God was calling, has always called me to graduate studies -- the timing was off, that was all. I had to humble myself later on and say that because of my three year old son, that I couldn't attend full-time. I had no one to watch him, and my husband blatantly said "no."

That "no" hurt more than anything, and I turned inward and left my hurt simmer below the surface for years. I focused on my son, raising him, teaching him at home, and finding enjoyment in the time we spent together, learning new things. I devoted my time to church activities, and to being a Mom. I wept inside, though, wept for the in-completion of what I knew was God's plan for my life.

And now, I stand on the threshold of the degree, having completed the required thirty credits of core curriculum. I am about to graduate with my Master of Arts degree in English Literature. I am poised, and I am ready, to take the next step of faith.

The sorrow is gone, but to accomplish this goal, to do what the Lord was calling me to do, has taken great sacrifice on my part. First, I had to wait almost 18 years before I could begin the degree. Secondly, I attempted the program AFTER my husband and I decided to separate. He was not willing to allow me to do this degree, to go back to school. He would not allow me to take financial aid, and he wouldn't allow me to quit my job to do it. I could only do it after I sacrificed my marriage to follow after what I believed was the Lord's will for me.

It is crazy really, just to think that one person could keep the Lord's will from coming to pass, but it is true. I submitted my will to my husband's as any conservative fundamental Christian wife would do. The problem was that had my husband been more open to God's leading, my degree -- this degree could have changed our life for the better. I would have worked full-time, in a teaching career, and our money worries would have disappeared. It could have been such a good thing, if only...

The pain and suffering of having to wait for something you believe in is difficult. I believe this is why James tells us that we experience growth when we encounter trials -- the testing of our faith. Waiting for the Lord's promise is a test. It is a way for us to demonstrate our faithfulness in waiting for the Lord to provide His promise to us.

I am now free to take the next step, and I can see a very different future ahead of me. I am ready to begin doctoral studies, another calling of the Lord, and to move forward on a career path that scares me completely. I am not ready to teach students. I don't know how to do this well. I am lacking knowledge, fundamental knowledge, yet I feel His pull on me and here His voice calling me to "go." I am to go forward, to take possession of this career path, and start walking on this path. I am afraid I will fail. I am afraid I will fall flat on my face, or worse yet, never even get the chance to try it out (no one will hire me). I am afraid I will disappoint the Lord. I am afraid that all of this sacrifice was for nought.

New Thinking Abounds....

I think this is why I cannot finish my coursework, why I am procrastinating. I want to fail. I want to have to say to everyone, "I was wrong. This was not the Lord's will because it didn't come to pass." Yet, in my heart I know this is not true. I know I can do this because it is not me at work doing it -- it is the Lord working through me.

My prayer today is to be able to complete the required course work this week, and graduate on the 23rd of May. I am ready, Lord -- I am ready for the next steps. Help me to complete these last tasks so I can move on, follow your lead, and go where you are directing me to go. In Jesus' name I pray this now, Amen.

Personal Communication Style

As I consider why I struggle in my role as Enrollment Advisor, I am faced with the question:

What kind of personal communication style do I have? What kind of personality do I possess?

Personal Communication Style

There are three main types of communication style: Aggressive, Passive, and Assertive. Typically, we all communication in each style, depending on the need of the moment. There are valid times when we must be aggressive, and other times when we must be passive. The optimal style is Assertive, which simply means that one has a solid foundational belief in the value of others, and strives to be fair (to themselves and to others).

I started my life as a passive communicator. This is common for children and teens. Children and teens are used to having others make decisions for them, and whether they like the choice made, they tend to accept it because it came from an authority figure (Parent, Teacher, Police Officer, etc.). Teens go through rebellion to help them learn to assert their feelings, and to begin to make choices for themselves. Parents are wise to acknowledge that this represents a healthy mental development, and that they should help their teens through this period of self-awareness. Healthy parent-child relationships will foster this process, and the teen will learn to understand themselves better, and understand the role their parents play in their development.

Parents who fail to help their teens develop this self-awareness tend to have an aggressive/passive personality combination.  Both parents can be aggressive or passive or they can be split (one each). In either case, the teen is forced to learn how to become aware of themselves on their own, and often the choices the teen makes are unwise (for example, drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, self mutilation and crime). It further perpetuates the downward spiral when parents refuse to learn how to communicate with their children. These children grow up, and often, they do the exact same thing to their children. The cycle continues, and instead of healthy relationships you find a plethora of unhealthy and destructive ones.

My personal communication style is Assertive. I tend to respect others, understand they have rights and opinions, and I am accepting of their own style and uniqueness. My style is reflective, and I am self-aware. I still struggle with some Aggressive tendencies -- the need to be right; and I still choose at times to remain Passive, when I should be more Assertive (allowing others to make decisions for me). This mostly is due to laziness, and my unwillingness to take sides. I prefer balance, and I like to keep everything on an even keel. This aspect of my communication style lead to my divorce. I should have stood up, I should have voiced my opinion, and at times, I should have aggressively stood my ground.

Personality Profile

Recently, I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile test to help me understand my personality better. In doing so, I realized that my personality is firmly set one way, and that while I do have other characteristics (we are not one type only), I am far more logic oriented than expressive.

I realize now that my struggle with the process of conversation is firmly rooted in my personality profile. As an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) personality, I prefer things to be a certain way. I spend a great deal of time on self-awareness. In fact, I would say that I spend 80% of my time thinking about myself -- not as in prideful thinking (I deserve this, I need this -- me, me, me)' but, as in thinking about how I process information, how I understand, how I interpret data. I am always thinking about the world, the people, and the problems I encounter. To put it another way, I am a problem-solver, whether it is my own problem or another persons. I love to think logically about how to do things, how to make them better, and just how they work.

The Thinking part of my profile is very strong. I am introverted, and I like to think. No brainer here -- this has always been the case with me, even from childhood. I am a thinker, and a scholar. Therefore, my conversations are internal, and not external. In truth, I could pass the entire day without talking to another person, and not be upset or feel as though I am missing out on anything. I talk to God all the time, and I listen intently to hear His Still Small Voice. I listen to God. I interpret what I believe I am being told to do, and I converse with Him to understand His will. I read the Bible. I listen to others preach the Word, and I generally spend my time trying to grasp the significance of His will for my life. It is all encompassing, and I love it! I love the time I spend with the Lord.

People, on the other hand, tire me. I listen mostly, but not actively, and I really don't like to listen at all. I put on my extroverted face to deal with people. I smile, and I engage in conversation because it is polite to do so. I would rather just sit and think. I would rather be quiet and contemplative.

My job requires that 4-5 hours a day, I converse with people. It is tiring for me. I put on my extroverted face and go into the job and I converse with them. I am not good at it. I try, but mostly I fail. I come home exhausted. I don't want to talk on the phone or listen to anyone else for the rest of the day.

As I contemplate the ramifications of my communication style and personality, I see that the best job for me to do is one where I don't have to be around people all day long. I don't mind talking over the internet, and I always have enjoyed having friendships with others in my home schooling group, etc. I just don't want to spend hours with other people.

My personality suggests that I would be a good teacher, a professor. It also suggests I would be a good scientist or researcher. I could also be a good engineer.

I don't like math, so ditch the scientist and engineer. I do like to write, and I enjoy teaching others, so that is why I believe that I would make a good professor. I need down time, time away from others -- so a researcher or scholar would work well too.

My education is leading me into teaching. It is something I might enjoy. I don't know, really. I just know that I need to be challenged, and I need to be able to spend significant time alone with my own work. I could be a writer too, and write from home (perfect case!) or I could teach from home (online -- ooh, yes!) However, what is the likelihood that I could do either? Not certain at this time.

So as I consider my options, this is what I see for my future:
  • The Lord has me on a path that takes me to higher education
  • I am graduated (for all intents and purposes) and ready for the next level
  • I like studying
  • I like to write (though I am going through a period where I am struggling to write well)
  • I like teaching others what I know and helping them to improve their skills
  • I want a flexible schedule so I can have quiet time to think and ponder all that God is doing for me
  • I want the freedom to come and go as I please, and not be stuck in a room for 8 hours every day
My goal is to accomplish my PhD within the next 5 years. Three will be for study, and 2 for dissertation. I am confident that I can do this, and with the Lord's help, I will find a job that suits both my conversation and personal style. I can do this, I know I can. The Lord is able to do this through me, and for me, and I rest and trust in His Sufficiency.

Knowing When to Call It Quits

I think I wrote a blog post about this same subject last year. My focus then was knowing when the path you are on appears to be a dead-end, and realizing that all the work you have done up to the point of "knowing" has left you wondering why you stayed so long, kept on trying, and refused to give in. There is nothing wrong with being disciplined. In fact, this is a Godly characteristic that the Holy Spirit develops within us. Discipline is a good thing, but using willfulness in the place of Godly self-discipline is another matter entirely.

Willfulness or stubbornness is anathema to self-discipline. It says "I will do it," even when the odds, the opportunities, and the abilities are against you. Sure, we all love a good underdog, champion story. We love to see the weak triumph over the strong. This is the stuff of good movies and books, and it is the stuff that makes our heart pound and our minds think -- "if they can do it, so can I." In some cases, this is very true. Some times our failures are the result of a lack of self-discipline. In other cases, we can be extremely focused, but it is our plan that is faulty. No matter how disciplined you are, if you are working on a faulty plan, then in the end the plan will not succeed.

However, some people see the plan and assume that what is more important than the details of that plan -- is their own attitude and willingness to do the work. Yes, sometimes we can overcome poor planning and bad logic -- but more often than not -- nothing we do can turn a bad situation around. A bad plan is a bad plan, kwim?

I have experienced such bad planning personally, and I am the first to admit that there were many times when I should have given up and called it quits. My pride kept me in a bad situation far longer than necessary, and as a result, I suffered greatly for that sin.  I learned my lesson late -- and in hindsight, wish I would have been more willing to let go, then to drive on and 'keep on keeping on.' Personal experience aside, I have also seen the efforts of family and friends who work to the bone to save something that really should never have been born in the first place (I am talking about work, livelihood, a business venture, etc.)

Working in a job that goes against your personality and your abilities, is hard work. Not only is it harder for you to do, to be successful, but in the end there is little satisfaction for you efforts. Most of the time, you end up feeling worn out, used, abused, and frustrated.  You see yourself as a failure or the job as too difficult -- when in reality -- neither was to blame.  Poor planning, poor logic on your part put you in a job that didn't suit your skills and abilities. Furthermore, you took the wrong job for the wrong reason. Again caveat here -- sometimes you have to do a job because it is the only job available -- I get this -- I've been there, and I know that this is often the case. However, you don't have to stay in that job forever. You can move to another place, you can go back to school, you can change any number of variables to make your situation better.

Going back to school is an option open to many people, and for some, it can literally change their lives for the better. In the example of the person who has a high school diploma or GED, going back to school to get an AA degree can mean the difference in a pay check or even a career (if they complete an AA in an applied field). For the employee with that AA, getting a Bachelors degree can often open doors for them to move up, take on more responsibilities. It can also start a new career, change a career, or be the next step in the process towards higher education. Likewise, the person who sees a Masters degree as potential income generator can often take that next step and secure a far better job, earning thousands of dollars more each year, just because they hold a Masters level education.

The same is true for other types of job training or skill-based programs. There are so many ways to change a person's life through education and training. The problem is that often people get so focused on completing on task, on doing one thing, that they are unwilling to deviate from the plan. And, those that have been on that same plan or path for a long time, often have become so comfortable that they cannot see themselves doing anything else.

This was me, well WAS me, two years ago. I worked as a website designer, was modestly successful, and did the job so that I could stay at home. I didn't want to work at all. I wanted to be SAHM, and I wanted to raise my son and home educate him. My husband was acceptable to this, but due to his business being up/down, felt we needed more income. My choice was to work from home or go out to work. I chose to work from home. Even though this job was not a good fit for me personally, and it took its toll on me physically, I stuck with it so that I could remain at home. I did my best, but it was a horrible job, and one that I finally came to loathe in time.

When after 25 years, I found myself single again, I had to rethink my career choices. I needed a job that would pay the bills, and a job that would provide stability for me and my son. I looked in my field -- web design -- but found nothing. I looked in other fields, cross overs such as customer service, sales, etc. where I thought I could use my other skills. This proved successful for me, and last year, I was hired at the University of Phoenix solely on the basis of my customer service skill.

I was thankful for the job -- it solved my problem. I had stable work, and a career. However, after a time in the position, I realized that the job didn't fit my personality nor my abilities. I could do it, and at times, I could do it well. But, I am not a sales person. I am not a cold-caller, and I don't like counseling people. These are tasks that are outside my comfort zone, and while I am open to trying new things, these specific tasks are on the bottom of my skills summary (ranked from strongest to weakest). They are in short my weakest links (pun intended). I am not a good advisor, I am not good in this position, and the longer I remain it, the more clearly I see that the job doesn't suit me. Now, there are many Advisors who are excellent in this role. I work with ten others who are better than I am at this particular job.They do a fantastic job, and they love the work they do. I, on the other hand, loathe it.

It has taken me eight months to figure out why I find my job so difficult to do. I realized it last week, after I had my bi-weekly meeting with my supervisor to discuss my performance. My supervisor is great, and he is so willing to help me improve. I appreciate that about him (my former boss was the same). The problem is that no matter what I do, still I struggle with the "process" of conversing. Conversation and I, well, we are not a good fit. I can have a good conversation, but the majority of the time, it is with myself (LOL!) More on this in another post...

The Keys to Successful Conversation

I have realized that to be a good conversationalist, I need to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions solicit a longer response than yes or no. They are conversation starters, and they can make talking with someone new easier, more natural and more friendly/casual. They also indicate interest, so if you want to show you are interested in someone, ask them open-ended questions. Open-ended questions usually start with Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. The most powerful of these typically begin with Why and How. For clarification, Who, What, Where and When are follow ups (to add information).

They say that the mark of a good conversationalist is to be an active listener. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying to you. You do this by focusing on the speaker, nodding or giving some verbal clue such as "uh-huh." You also demonstrate active listening when you feed back what the other person has said to you. An example is to say, "What I am hearing you say is...." You will know if you got the message right when the speaker tells you so. If not, then ask for clarification to demonstrate you are listening to them (a follow up such as "Help me understand what you are saying..."). It is also a good idea to summarize what the person is saying -- at least once, but perhaps several times during the conversation. Finally, don't interrupt, and let the speaker finish before you respond.

I read that the criteria for active listening is listening 80% of the time, talking 20% of the time. Therefore, other than your conversation starter or open-ended questions/follow ups, the majority of the time should be spent listening to the other person. Just think if we all engaged in active listening -- how many relationships would be intact, how many divorces staved off? I ONLY can imagine that the number would be significant.

As I progress through my role as Advisor, and as I consider other career fields, I know that I must learn to understand my own personal communication style, so I can become a better listener and a better conversationalist. Not only will this provide increased opportunities for success, but it will enable me to become more comfortable in my own abilities, in my own skills. I will be successful in relationships -- be it work, personal or other. I will be a good communicator, and I will be a good friend and counselor to others in need.

The truth for me today is that I am not an active listener. I am a strong and persuasive speaker. This is a Holy Spirit area of gifting for me, and He intends me to use it for His Glory. In life and in my work, however, it is paramount that I learn to actively listen when I am not asked or called to speak. This is something I believe I can learn how to do, and that in doing it, my conversational skills and my abilities to listen will greatly improve -- regardless of my work or personal life.

Communication skill is one of the number one job requirements these days. Employers what to know how well you communicate with other people. How sharp are your communication skills? Are you an active listener? Do you ask open-ended questions of your friends, family and co-workers?

I think we tend to shy back from asking questions, feeling that we are prying into someone's personal life. Yet, when we do ask these type of sincere questions, we actually are showing we care, we are interested in them, and in their feelings. It can be an empowering way to begin or start a relationship. I believe it can also save a relationship that is failing. The key is to learn how to ask the right kinds of questions, and how to do so in a non-judgmental way. Active listening requires that we demonstrate we care about the other person, so if we have hard feelings or distrust, then it will be difficult to come across as sincere.

Lastly, I think that we can all benefit from actively listening to one another. I know that I lack this ability, and it is my prayer today that I learn how to listen and not talk all the time. I am going to start practicing my active skills today. In conversation, I am going to consider the other person's words, feelings, and intentions as being worthy of my time. In doing so, I hope to proactively demonstrate that I care about other people, and that through listening, I can share my sincere love of Christ with them.