November 30, 2013

Starting Over Again

Thinking today about starting over - again! I know I have written blog posts with this same title before, probably a couple times over the course of the life of this blog. I guess I agree with what F. Scott Fitzgerald says -- "it is never too late or too early to be whoever you want to be." I like that he reminds us that there is no time limit, and that you can stop doing what you are doing at any time. There is no rule or police to say "no" to you. You can decide today to make a change, any change (thinking here diet, lifestyle, work, etc.) You can change your attitude, your preference, or your mind (I do it all the time, just not with purpose).

Now I am thinking about Rick Warren and his "Purpose Driven Life." I am thinking about what it means to be purposed, to be driven, to have a goal in mind, and work toward that goal. I am considering how purpose helps provide framework to our life, how it gives us confidence to keep on walking in the direction of our life. I am also thinking about how a life without purpose is like a ship without a rudder (James 3:3b-5 has just popped into my head):

"When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."

Yes, James is reminding us about the power of the tongue, but in larger context, I am thinking that the same principle holds true for our life. Without a rudder to guide us, we are like a ship drifting out on the open sea. No matter how hard we try to steer our life, we will end up floating this way or that -- simply at the mercy of the current. I pray that the current in your life is that of the Holy Spirit, and the rudder, is His Word!

As I think about starting over today, I am reminded of where I have been, and where I am headed. I am moving forward in my life, toward what I believe is the will of God. I am working, and I am growing, and I am learning how to live my life His way. It has been a long journey, and learning how to live God's way or the way that He wants us to live, has not always been easy. In fact, I would say that learning to live God's way has been difficult and frustrating. Not because He is a hard taskmaster or that He demands I do this or that, but rather it has been difficult and frustrating because my will is so strong, and my head (my mind) is firmly fixed on my way. Yes, the truth is that God's way requires a yielding of our will, a humbling of our spirit, and a willingness to trust Him regardless of what "looks" or "appears" to be happening all around us.

Yes, I am reminded of what Micah 6:8 says to us. I am reminded that God asks us to act a certain way, and to humble ourselves before Him. We are to do justice (to be accurate or fair -- to represent someone or something with accuracy, as it truly is), love mercy (to be kind, forgiving), and to walk with God in humbleness (without pride). What great advice for our daily life? Oh, how I pray that I may do what the Old Testament prophet declared -- to live in such a way that I accurately represent the One who called me, and who saved me from a life of sin. In turn, may I treat others with kindness and with forgiving spirit. In all, may I remain humble before God, remembering who He is, and who I am.

God knows me so very well. He understands the struggles I have in my life, and His mercy is new every day. He loves me unconditionally, and with this love comes a wealth of understanding - true understanding of my nature, my heart, and my mind. He knows me.

I sit here today and I consider that fact, that the God of the Universe knows me well. He understands me, and He accepts me -- just as I am. In turn, I devote my life to learning more about Him, to learning His ways, and to trusting Him for every need. He provides for me, He loves me, and He cares for me.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~1 Peter 5:7 NIV

My anxiety, which often controls my thoughts and my feelings, has to go. It has to be put to death along with the other sins and shame I bear. I am an anxious and fearful person, a perpetual worry-wart. I am ready to start this new day, this new way, this new walk without the burden of fear, anxiety and worry.

Dear Lord,

Cover me with your blessings this day. I am ready to trust you, to let go of the anxiety that controls me and often causes me to doubt your provision. I let go of my fear, and I rest in you completely. You are God, and I trust you as such. I represent you accurately and fairly -- you are God. I will live my life in such a way that others will see that I trust you, that I believe in you, and that I am following after you. I ask now for the grace to follow you, to walk humbly with you, and to live in harmony with your plans and purposes. I am purposed. I am driven. And, I know that you are leading me through these choppy waters, with the skill of your hand upon the rudder of your Word. You are my God, and I humbly confess this today, trusting in your Name, and believing that You ARE all that you say you ARE, and as such, there is nothing that will come to pass today that has not been carefully sifted through your merciful hands of Grace. Thank you, Lord! I ask this now in the Name of Jesus - Amen! So be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it!!)

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

It is hard to believe that another Thanksgiving has passed by. There are only 26 days left until Christmas 2013! Oh my goodness!! This year has flown by and so much changed has happened. I am thankful for my life, of course, and for all those changes. I think 2014 looks awesome and I see opportunities on the horizon that I never considered 3-6 or 9 months ago. Today is a good day to reflect on the blessings of the Lord and to take the time to thank Him for His Goodness!

November 27, 2013

Good to Go!

It is Wednesday, November 27, 2013, and I am sitting in my home office typing out a blog post. Yes, I am at home, thankfully, at home! God has provided a good opportunity to me to return to Grand Canyon and teach in the Spring. I won't be teaching three classes as I had hoped, but I will be teaching one Literature course (more than I hoped). As a result of this offer, I was able to go into my job at NurseWise and submit my notice yesterday.

Submitting a notice is a tricky business. It is awkward and it is difficult. You never know what the reaction will be or how your boss or colleagues will respond. Still the deed has to be done, and the notice must be given.

I was hesitant to tell my boss that I was leaving. I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't want to appear as ungrateful for the work opportunity I was given. Yet, in my heart, I knew that I needed to leave this position, and that I needed to move on (or back) to where I felt that peace, that sense of belonging.

I think the worst part of the whole thing was when I tried to explain why I was leaving. How can you say that you feel that God was leading you elsewhere. I had no knowledge of whether my boss was religious, and normally, I do not bring my faith into any conversation at my place of work. I have learned to keep my tongue and not say anything unless someone personally asks me, and then, to reply only if I feel that I am being prompted to do so. I believe in relationship building and in establishing a friendship before I share anything about my faith journey. Even at that point, I may share encouragement or advice, but not my personal walk. I have found that often seekers need comfort and they need to know that someone cares about them. They don't need a testimony unless it directly bears upon their circumstance.

I did my best to give my reasons for leaving, and I think what made it all the more difficult was that I had made my decision and it was final. I read online that communication with your boss is critical, especially if you feel that your job is not what you expected. I regret that I wasn't more forthright about the job. I should have been more bold and upfront with my boss regarding the lack of work. However, to my credit, I did tell her three times (once per week for the three weeks I worked there). I thought I was being clear, but perhaps I wasn't as clear as I needed to be (note to self).

In my defense, I assumed (wrongly) that the visual fact of me sitting at my desk all day, eight hours a day, with nothing to do would be "enough" testimony for anyone to see that I needed more work. Moreover, I assumed (wrongly) that when my boss checked in with me at the end of the day and apologized for leaving me unattended was testimony that she recognized my plight. In short, I assumed that my nonverbal behavior (visual appearance of sitting with no work) was enough. I assumed that my verbal conversation with my boss each week where I said that I needed projects to work on was enough. Apparently, my cues weren't clear enough to prompt any action.


I struggled to articulate my reasons for leaving with my family as well so I do take some of the blame (if there can be any) for the failure of this position. I tried to explain to my family why I was unhappy at the job. I blamed the lack of work, purposeful and useful work. I said I was bored and I sat all day long with nothing to do (true). I said that I didn't like the drive (one hour each way -- true). I said that I didn't like the isolation of being alone all day long (true). I said that the nature of the job, the type of position, didn't fit me well (true) and that I decided I didn't like the role of business analyst (true).

All of those reasons were well and good, but my family struggled with the knowledge that I would give up a perfectly good job with a perfectly good salary and benefits on the basis that I didn't like the work, didn't have enough work, and didn't like the drive. To them, I am sure, my motives were selfish and rash. After all, it is better to have A JOB than NO JOB. There are oodles of people out of work right now and any of them would jump at the chance to have the job I just left. Of course, this is a blatant generalization aimed to make me (or anyone in my  position) feel guilt over leaving it. In truth, and I say truth, not everyone is qualified to be a business analyst. Not everyone unemployed has the credentials and experience to work in this role. So if you want to mince words -- I would agree that any unemployed business analyst would jump at the opportunity to take this job. I believe this is the case. I also believe that given 3-4 weeks, they would agree with me that there was no practical work to do because the job itself was poorly designed and poorly administrated. Enough said on that score...

As I sat in my office the past week or so, I had plenty of time to reflect on the real reason why I wanted to leave this job. All of the above reasons were true, they were part of the package. Not one single reason among them was justification enough, but rather it was a combination of reasons that lead to my decision to leave this company. The real reason, the main reason was that I was not happy with the path I was on, and I wasn't fulfilled in the work itself.

I have worked in a number of jobs over the course of my professional life. Most of these jobs were ones that came to me through friends, temporary agencies or paper ads (more recently, online jobs boards). In my early years, I took whatever work was offered to me. I interviewed and if offered the job, I said "yes." I didn't think about it much, and in fact, I think the only job I really thought about the specifics (commute, style of work, etc.) was the job I had at Britton Lee some twenty years ago. I took that job because the office was 5 minutes from my house, and the job itself was working with computers (technical in nature). The other jobs, even the most recent jobs, were more about whether I could do the work (type of work), and whether the job paid enough money to live on.

Grand Canyon was an exception, and really, it was the first time I took a job based on desire and not need. Grand Canyon in no way could ever meet my financial need nor my security need (permanent, benefits, etc). I took the position as IA for one reason -- it was a doorway to teaching at a college. The pay was hourly, $13 per hour, and the work was mundane and boring. However, the process was what mattered. Work a semester as an Assistant and they you can teach classes. It was an open door to becoming an Instructor, and I took the position because it was the only way I was going to get teaching experience and potentially move into a career as a college instructor.

I made the conscious decision to give up pay and benefits for the prospect of teaching college. I decided that my future hope of a career as a professor warranted this move. I took the job, worked two months, and in a moment of panic, chucked it in favor of the safe corporate job. I believed that the hope of teaching was unfounded and that I would be lucky to get one teaching job (not enough to live on). In short (my favorite transition), I walked away from my faith -- my faith that said "I believe God will provide for me, and that He has a plan for my life." Yes, even though clearly I saw the hand of God on Grand Canyon, and I felt His favor as I interviewed and was selected for a position, I walked away from it. Even though I had received such testimony from teachers telling me that I could do this work, and that I was "ready" to do it -- I walked away. Now granted, GCU needs IAs and pretty much anyone can be hired to assist in the classroom (if you need part-time hourly work). I see this now. I see that God used a desperate need at GCU to get me in the door. Still, the promise for teaching held out, and as of Spring 2014, I will be teaching at GCU.

To sum up -->

I left a good job at NurseWise to return to what I feel is God's intended path for me, teaching college. In spite of all the other reasons for leaving, my primary reason was that I feel called to teach at GCU. Note that I am not saying that it is my calling to teach because this is not the case. I never believed I was called into teaching, but rather, I do believe that God called me to follow after Him, and in doing so, I was given the opportunity to teach as a career focus/professional line of work. In reflecting on my past, it is true that my intention initially was to become a teacher (of Art). I started on this path when I was 18, and I left this path when I got married at 21. I have regretted not following what I believed God called me to do, teaching included, and I have lived with that feeling of disappointment.

Began college with hope of becoming a teacher -->life interrupted, new path-->Back on path to teach

Yes, it seems that I have come full-circle now. I am officially an Adjunct Instructor of English Literature at Grand Canyon University. I don't have a salary nor do I have benefits. I am not earning a living wage, and I won't earn a living wage for a while. I am teaching, PTL, and I have been given a very unusual class (Short Story) and unusual gift (normally, new teachers do not get Lit courses). I wonder how I will make ends meet. I am a full-time doctoral student, and I am receiving financial aid (tuition and some living expenses). I will need my financial aid to help offset my living expenses, at the least, initially. However, I do have some part-time prospects for communication consulting work.

I am leaning on the Lord, trusting Him to fulfill His promise to me. He has promised that He will never leave me nor will He forsake me. He has promised good to me, and I am relying on Him to keep His word to me. He is good. He is faithful. He is trustworthy.

November 23, 2013

Interesting Turn of Events

I haven't posted anything in a while, partly due to my new job, and partly because I didn't have anything at all to say (weird as that may seem, it is the truth!) I am a writer, a scholar, and a would-be educator who normally is able to write a three-page essay in under an hour. Yet, lately, my desire to write has waned, and I have suffered through a writers block that seemed to be unending. Now, though, I feel the insistence to write (to blog), and I believe it is because of a prompting by the Holy Spirit. Not that anything I write will be inspired, so to speak. Anything that comes out will certainly benefit me because I find writing to be cathartic and helpful to my understanding. I write when I am confused or confounded or when I need clarification. I write to help me process details so that I can grasp the significance of my words and feelings and then make a decision or take some action. Often, I write to convince myself, to convict my heart, or to commend Scripture -- to remind me of something from the Word of God. Usually, writing helps me figure out my life, and understand whether I am going the right direction, and if I am following after God's will for my life. It is a good thing, and I am blessed by the process and action of it.

As I sit here today, I think about the past three weeks of my life. My last significant blog post dealt with my leaving GCU for a "real" business position. I was frustrated at the infrastructure issues at GCU, and I was overwhelmed with the extra grading work I took on (and should have not). I left GCU, hoping that I would transition back into business and pick up where I had left off when I quit my job at CVS Caremark. I had such high hopes, and such visions of prosperity and performance.

A lot has happened over the past three weeks. I have changed my mind, I have retracted my actions and decisions, and I have turned around and headed back to where I was at GCU. I made the decision to follow my heart and not my head, and to choose a path that is laced with uncertainty. I decided to follow the Lord, and to trust Him to provide for me (everything - income and benefits as well as good productive work). I admitted my error and my arrogance, and I humbled myself before the Lord, and I asked Him to fix whatever was wrong with my life. God is good -- all the time -- and He loves us so much. He inclined His ear to me, and He heard my prayer. He reached His hand down and He rescued me, He rescued me. I am turned around, and I am walking in a different direction, and God be praised, I am relieved. I am happy. I am content. God is so blessedly Good to me, so very Good to me!

Let me explain...

Three weeks ago, I began a new job with a small healthcare services company in Tempe, AZ (about 18 miles from my home in North Phoenix). The position offered to me, Product Development Analyst, was a good one. It came with a good salary and benefits package as well as with the potential for growth within the company. In all, it was a good opportunity, and I took the job for a number of reasons (salary and benefits being priority one).

I had interviewed back in October. At that time, I was employed by GCU as an Instructional Assistant. This was a part-time, contract position (term by term). I took this position because I was told that after a semester of working as an IA, I would be eligible to teach adjunct (again, contract and term by term). It was an offering to help me become a teacher, and I saw the hand of God upon this position. There were great negatives to the work. The pay was typical for a grad student ($13 per hour), and it was boring work (grading papers, helping students in glass). For a grad student, it was easy work, very easy work. For a person used to running her own business, working in a high profile position, and always controlling outcomes, it was a silent killer (boredom mostly). However, it was what it was advertised to me, and I took the role willingly, knowing that I would be paid next to nothing, have no benefits, but I would be working towards a teaching career.

It took me all of two weeks to realize that I took a bum steer of a position, and that I was over-qualified and ridiculously bored with the work. However, I liked the teachers I helped, and I enjoyed working with the students, helping them with their writing skills. In general, I liked parts of the job, with other parts (mostly the extra grading) being less than exciting and agreeable to me. I stuck the job out for two months until I believed I had been saddled with extra grading (in truth, I had been given extra work, but I didn't handle the situation well).

I started looking for outside work, believing that teaching was not for me, and that I was too old to assume the role of adjunct instructor (it was good for part-time work, women with full-time salaried/benefitted husbands, or newly graduated students). I told myself that the time for teaching was past. I had that job opportunity 20 years ago before I became pregnant with my son, and while the desire has remained within me, the timing was off. I told myself to get on with my life, to go after the "big bucks" of business, and to forget the past, and move on to the glorious future of working in Corporate America. I relieved my days at CVS, and while I was mindful of the out of balance work/life, I told myself that I was worth more than $13 and hour, and that I was wasting my time teaching at a college.

I grumbled and complained about GCU. I fretted every day that I drove the 13 miles to campus and back. I listened to well wishers and naysayers who advised me to "stick it out" and "chuck it in." In all, I listened to everyone EXCEPT the Holy Spirit of God who kept telling me to REST.

At the point of breaking from all the contention and conflict, I applied to NurseWise. They called me to interview and I went and met with the lovely Director who was looking for someone to help her with Product Development. I liked her right away. She was nice, and oh so very competent. I thought the job was far away (a long drive), and the office was very quiet (too quiet). I downplayed the significance of the fact that I would be one of two people working in this office (the rest are call center employees, with whom I would have contact but not a working relationship). I thought the quiet would suit me, and that I wouldn't mind being on my own all day long. I also downplayed the role which was clearly marketed as a business analyst. I told myself that I wanted to be a business analyst without really checking into what business analysts do all day long (workflows and charts). I told myself that the money and benefits were what mattered and that the work would be interesting/different for me. I sold myself on this job opportunity, and when offered the role, I took it. I left GCU quickly, glad to be out of the conundrum I was in, and happy to be going back to a normal life and paycheck.

Zoom forward three weeks...

The job turned out to be exactly what was offered to me. I am a business analyst. I sit in a cubicle all day long. I interface with the Director whenever she is not busy or on the phone. I have no work to do because the job is so new and there is no real "work" developed for me to handle. I wait for work to come to me, I spend hours looking on the Internet and through internal systems in order to "get updated and informed." I am a savvy tech learner so what might take someone non-savvy a while to process and learn has taken me one week at most. I spend 8 hours trying to keep myself busy and occupied without much success (there is no Internet use outside of work, so I cannot do my schoolwork or other work). I am stuck in a cubicle and stuck in a job that is boring and has very little prospect for improvement (perhaps in 6 months, but not now).

It took me about a week to analyze the company and the needs of the department. The Director is savvy, and well-intentioned. She is plugged in and connected and a vital part of the upper management structure. She is tasked with things that are outside her job, and while she is clearly over-worked, she also likes what she does (people who do this often like being in the center of everything and they choose to remain in the mix). I see her work, and I listen to her explain what she wants to accomplish. She can do it on her own. She doesn't need me.

I expressed my frustration to family and friends and the advice I received back was to "hang in there because it will get better." Unfortunately, I don't see this happening. When I share my analysis of the situation, I am cautioned that I am being negative and that I don't know what will happen (right and true). I am reminded, however, that I am an analyst and that my number one skill is to research and identify problems, propose solutions, and project outcomes -- this is what I do -- this is my skilled area. Friends and family who tell me that I am being impatient with the job or that I should wait this out are not skilled in this way. I accept their good intentions, but in truth, they do not know what they are talking about.

I spent nearly 15 years working in web design and development. During that time, I met with a lot of clients who wanted to hire me, but clearly didn't need my skill or experience. I learned how to sum up a situation quickly, to propose solutions to help a prospect, and to develop complex plans that would meet a client's needs. I am a pro when it comes to analysis, so when I say that there is little prospect for work to develop, I do know what I am saying.

Yet, I trust friend and family advice. I need supportive encouragement and I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I misjudge situations all the time, and I often overlook issues and concerns when I focus on the bigger picture. My ability to laser in on certain criteria stands me well, after all, it is key component to being a researcher (part of my PhD program). It is also good to understand the big picture, and to see the outcome of events. I can do both well, but there are times when I become impatient and I forget to balance my needs. I forget to consider both ends of the spectrum.

The Decision to Turn Around

Clearly, I took this job because I believed the Lord opened the door for me to do so. He facilitated this role, and He gave me great favor (I got hired after all). Interestingly enough, I believed the exact same thing when I interviewed at GCU. The hand of God was all over that position, and it was obvious that He opened the door there as well. How could I find myself in two God-given positions and yet feel so out of sorts over both? I was confused as to what was happening to me, and I was confounded about where to go next. I didn't want to make another mistake (as in GCU was a mistake; NurseWise was a mistake). I was afraid I was stuck in a series of bad decisions, going nowhere, and feeling the stress of being in a bad place.

The entire week I prayed, I cried, I lamented my decision to take this job. Everyday I cried out to the Lord, all the way to work, and all the way back home. I begged, I pleaded. I wanted to know what I had done, and why I felt the way I did. I was miserable for certain, and I was not seeing any improvement in my attitude nor my circumstances.

Mid-week, I humbled myself before the Lord, and I confessed my arrogance at wanting my own way and in my insistence that I follow my own lead. Granted God opened the door for me, but I wanted out of GCU. I wanted to be free, and I wanted work that would pay well, and provide opportunity for me. Truthfully, what I wanted was what many people want. I wasn't asking to sin nor was I asking for a million dollar salary. I wanted a good job, with good income, and good benefits. I wanted to be safe and secure, and well provided for so that I could live well, and take care of my parents (and son). I wanted a normal life, a good life, and as far as I know, there is nothing in the Bible that says this is wrong to desire or seek.

The problem was, of course, that what I wanted while not wrong, was not what the Lord wanted for me. I came to understand that there are times when the Lord's will covers a myriad of situations and circumstances, and that often He blesses us in a general non-specific way. What this means is that we function under the banner of His will, and in that place, there is blessing overflowing, and we are free to choose direction and path so long as it remains within this bubble of His will. Sometimes though there are choices that are less than best for us. They are still within His will, but they are a 5 instead of a 10 (on a scale of 1-10). I believe that God gives us free will for a reason, and that our best choice is to align with Him on all things. He knows best for us, and He is available to guide us in our decision-making process. He wants us to grow up and trust Him, to depend on Him, and to live in a relationship of mutual respect. However, He also wants us to learn how to rely on Him for our judgment and to hone our skills so that we can consistently make good choices for our lives. I believe that this is God's way of educating us and training us up for ministry. We must willingly choose to abide in Him, and to REST in His provision, even if it seems to be "less than perfect" to our human eyes and understanding. We must say "God knows best" and mean it.

In my experience, I said one thing but I did another. I said I believed that God knew best for me, but in truth, I believed that I knew better. I didn't see what God was doing at GCU. I believed His word to me, and I trusted in Him (in general) to provide. But when the pressure mounted, and the work increased, I doubted His provision and His security for my life. I said "No, Lord -- this is not what you promised me, and I want a real job where I don't have to worry about money, where I can be in control, and where I can direct the outcome."

In God-like fashion, He listened to me, and He gave me what I asked for -- a job that met my criteria for success and prosperity. I was sunk, and I knew it. I got wind of it within the first couple days of the new job, and I knew I had made a mistake. In fact, I felt uneasy from day one, and no matter how hard I tried to adjust my attitude, nothing I did, worked. I did try, honestly, I did. I smiled, I propped myself up, and I gave myself pep talks to encourage a new way of thinking, an excitement about the work, and the path I was on. Nothing I did mattered, nothing changed for me, and I was miserable from the get-go. Clearly, I was somewhere within His will, but not where He intended me to be.

I think the hardest part for me was accepting the reality of the situation, and acknowledging that I had asked for something "good" when God had already given me His "best."

Lesson Learned

As I reflect on the past two days, I am convinced that this experience has been profitable for me. I have learned a valuable lesson and while this lesson may not be universal (not for you), it was definitely marked out for me. I learned that God gives us REST from the worries of this world, and that He provides what we need. Sometimes He provides ample food, clothing, and shelter. Sometimes He provides opportunity, that for the short-term seems limited, but in the long-term will be significant. Sometimes He asks us to Trust Him in and through the difficult time so that we can learn to rely on Him, not to look to human hands or ways, and not to trust in our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6).

Thursday afternoon was the turning point for me, the pinnacle of the lesson, so to speak. I had spent the entire day on my own, with little to no work to do. I read, I surfed the Internet, and I engaged myself in the limited work provided (all with good attitude). In the afternoon, my boss came out of her office, and said that she would like me to work on two projects while she was out of the office (Friday and Monday). I was thankful for the work, and I took down the notes related to the tasks. I realized that the tasks would take me all of an hour to complete, and that before the day ended, I would have completed them both. Still, I smiled and thanked her for thinking about me, and for providing something for me to do. Then she said that she wanted me to attend a conference on project management. As the words settled into my head, my heart leaped up and I felt this sinking feeling, a feeling like I was being pulled under the water. I am a good swimmer, mind you, but this was a feeling like something had my leg and I was being pulled down further and further. I smiled weakly, and said "OK." In my heart, I was saying "no" and in my head the words were forming, "Lord, please no..."

After our brief meeting, I got up and I took a walk. I had already taken two walks that day, and one in particular (over to the University of Phoenix next door) produced a new thought. I found myself thinking that perhaps I could go back to GCU and either work as an IA again or teach.  I remember saying "Kristi will help me, I know she will help me." Kristi was one of the professors I worked for at GCU. She was a big supporter, and she was an awesome teacher to work with and to observe. I learned so much from her, and I respect her as a teacher/mentor. I asked the Lord -- "should I do this? Should I email her to ask about coming back to GCU?" Silence. Nothing. I walked on.

I should backtrack slightly to say that on Wednesday, I had a big to-do with my family over my frustration at the new job. I had complained at dinner, and I was shut down by a remark made by my Dad. He was frustrated as well -- tired of my complaining -- and he let me have it. He asked me in a harsh and judgmental tone "why did you take this job in the first place?" I held my tongue even though my head was screaming back at him "to take care of you and mom!" I gave him the silent treatment all night long and well into the next day. I was mad at him, and I was mad at myself. He was right of course. He had a right to ask me why I had taken this job if I really didn't want to do the work. As an aside, my Dad is 80, and he worked for 50 plus years before a stroke forced him to retire. My Dad was a good provider for our family, and he never was without work (once I think, but for a short time). He retired as a Director of Engineering Services, and he spent the majority of his life in work that he loved, and work that was profitable for his company.

My Mom, on the other hand, was sympathetic to me. In fact, she started prompting me to look for another job as early as the previous weekend. She wanted me to go back to CVS Caremark. She encouraged me to write to the manager of my old team to ask if there was a job for me. I didn't want to go back there, and I felt that it was the wrong way to go. I prayed about it, and with the Lord's approval, I sent an email to the manager.

Thursday morning I received an email back from her saying "thanks for asking, but we have hired everyone we need right now. I hope you are well." The email was her way of saying to me, "Not interested" and while I was hurt initially, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was God showing me that the door there was closed (permanently). I wrote back and thanked her for the information. I silently wept, thinking all the more that I was stuck in this place, stuck in this awful job. Then I walked over to UOPX (my former, former job), and I started to think about my life, and where I was meant to go. I started to ask myself what I wanted, what kind of work I wanted to do, what made me happy, etc. As I began to ask myself these kinds of questions, I heard myself saying that Regent made me happy, that ministry work was what I wanted to do, and that I wanted to do work where I could help people (directly with hands on, not through products or service development). Then GCU popped into my mind, and out came that question about Kristi and whether she would help me.

Later that afternoon, I looked at the GCU website and I saw that not only where they hiring adjunct to teach English, but they also wanted adjunct to teach Communication (my field!) I felt a rise in my heart as I thought about teaching classes, and I thought "perhaps this is the way to go." I asked the Lord if I should email Kristi, and with His permission, I sent off an email to her. I got a lovely response back with encouragement to me to email the Assistant Dean and ask about positions. I took her advice and emailed with my resume. I felt hope once again, a door opening up for me, and the light streaming in.

Friday arrived, and I drove to work in the rain. I knew I would have no work to do, and I came prepared to read my Regent school work (which I did). I prayed on the way in to work, asking the Lord to open a door for me at GCU -- but only if it was His will for me. I was ready to go His way, and to follow His plan. I wanted out of NurseWise, but I wanted to go to the place of His choosing. 

I took two walks to help break up my morning. As I walked around UOPX and Western International University, I felt at ease. I remember why I wanted to work in higher education. I wanted to work with students and help them make decisions about their education. I wanted to teach and/or be an academic advisor. I took the position at UOPX thinking that I would be advising students, when in reality I was enrolling students only (sales). Still, I made a difference in the student's lives that I worked with, and in all, I did feel as though my work was useful. I didn't like the sales aspect, and I was thankful to leave, but walking around those buildings reminded me of my path, my path through Regent and why I am getting my PhD.

My PhD is not to boost my career or to give me job opportunities. I am studying Communication at Regent so that I can be prepared to do the Lord's work. I am learning about media and how communication is changing -- I see a direct correlation in this study and how the church needs this information. In short, I know my path. I know what I am doing, and why I am doing it. I never could quite fit the job into that picture, and I have struggled with this miscue for a long while.

I came back to my office with new insight, and with a new opportunity (or hopeful opportunity). I knew that this time, the Lord was going to have to move me. He was going to have to make a way where there seemed to be no way (as the song goes). And, around 1 p.m. He did.

I got a call from someone over at GCU asking me to come into interview with the Dean on Monday. I said yes, of course! I will meet with the Dean to talk about me teaching adjunct classes starting in January. I don't know if this is His will, but it certainly appears to be so. It is a direct answer to prayer, that is for certain. Now it is up to God to open that door, and to prepare the heart of the Dean to say yes to me (God did it before, and I believe He will do it again).

I am joyously happy today. I am overwhelmed by God's provision (time and time again), and with the fact that no matter how much I mess up, He is right there to rescue me. He is good, so very good to me. I am blessed, and I am in awe of Him. I know this time that I will follow, without hesitation and without fear. I may falter, and I may still doubt, but lesson learned -- I am trusting God, and I am RESTING in His Provision and Sufficiency. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Dear Lord,

I look to you this day to provide for me and my family. I rest in your provision knowing that you know my needs well, and that your will is perfect. There is nothing for me to be concerned about, nothing at all. I know that you have my entire life, from beginning to end, covered. I am covered, and that means that there is nothing that will happen to me this day that will overtake or surprise you. You know what will be tomorrow, and what my future holds. I ask now that you will provide for me through your presence and your provision so that I can remain at rest, perpetually resting in your care and in your command. You are God, and I am flesh, created flesh. I thank you for your grace and your mercy which is new every single day. Thank you for forgiving me today, and thank you for making a new way for me to go. I trust you now to provide for me, and I let go of the worry and the doubt because I know that I am trusting in You, the One who is above all things, through all things, and in all things. You alone are worthy to be praised this day. Amen, amen, amen.

November 17, 2013

Praising God

I love this Psalm, and I look forward to the day when I will go into the House of the Lord (into the inner tabernacle) to see my Lord face-to-face. May God be praised today and forevermore! I thank Him for His Goodness toward me and my family, and for providing a good job for me, and the security that comes with full-time employment. I am blessed, and I am good. God is Good all the time, and all the time He is Good!

November 16, 2013

Countdown to End of Semester Two

I can hardly believe it, but I have only four weeks to go until I complete my second semester at Regent University. Semester two has been great so far, challenging and difficult at times, but overall it has been exactly what I envisioned. Doctoral coursework is hard, very hard, and as a student, you are challenged to think outside the box all the time. I struggle with the assignments, just the timing of them, and with all the reading, but generally the coursework and discussions have been excellent. It is not easy to work full-time and go to school, especially not at this level. I face constant doubt and uncertainty about my abilities to do this level of work. I find that I often do not understand the greater context of the books we read nor am I able to really contribute anything substantive to the discussion. My colleagues are more adept at this than I am, but since we are all different, and we all bring different attributes to the table, in some ways, it all seems to work out right. I wish I could say that I love my studies, but that wouldn't be 100% accurate. I enjoy my studies, and I often find that I am short on time to complete them. I don't love them, but I am learning a lot that is practical and useful to ministry and to professional work. In all, my decision to go to Regent University and study for a PhD has been a good one. I am blessed to be a student at this fine University and I look forward to each new semester and the challenges I will face as I learn to become a research scholar and a Christian communicator. God is Good -- so very Good to me.

It has been three weeks since I started my new job at NurseWise in Tempe, AZ. It has been a difficult transition for me, simply because I do not have a well-defined role nor do I have a set of responsibilities yet. The position I am in is similar to a Business Analyst, but without a specific area of expertise. This gray-area of work has left me feeling as though I have very little to do each day, and that sense of unknown is causing me to second-guess this job opportunity. I have been patient these past couple weeks because I felt that there was a "breaking-in" period where I needed to get comfortable with the company, and my direct supervisor needed to get to know me and my work style. I felt initially that we were a good fit for our work styles, but now I think that my new manager is uncertain how she and I can work together. I am much more of a "get to it" type of person, and she is very big picture. I think there is hope, but we need to come to some sort of agreement on how to proceed. My VP is in town next week, so after she leaves, I think I will sit down with my boss to ask her for some direction. I cannot continue to sit without actual work to do, and I doubt that she wants me to do that, so hopefully we can agree on a plan to move forward and a way for me to be productive in this very different kind of work environment.

November 9, 2013

Two Week Check-in

I completed my first two weeks at my new job. My experience was typical - a lot of information to process, people to meet, and routine to be set. Overall, I think it went well.

There are many positives to this job, and one real negative. However, the negative is something I cannot overcome or change, so I am having to learn to live with it and adapt to it. I work approximately 23 miles from my home. On a good day the commute to work takes me 30 minutes door to door. The commute home takes about an hour. On a day with traffic accidents, that time can easily be doubled. So far the traffic has been hit or miss with there being no real rhyme or reason to why the commute home takes me 1.5 hours. I have shifted my start time down by a half-hour and there seems to be no difference, so I have decided to stick with a 7:45 to 4:30 shift (with half-hour lunch). This gives me the best opportunity to avoid traffic jams. I am also going to try going up and around Camelback mountain rather than stick to the freeways. I have tried it twice and the first day my commute home was 1.15 hours long. Yesterday, my commute was 45 minutes. I think there is a shortcut I missed the first day, and accidentally found the second day. Anyway, my plan is to try taking Tatum Blvd to 44th Street to Priest to Fountainhead Parkway next week (both going and coming) to see if the drive is any shorter. If it turns out to be normal or falls within normal parameters I think I am going to stick with it because it is a pretty drive and the traffic moves at 30 MPH versus the stop/go of the freeway.

Other news is scant today. I don't really have much to say because the last two weeks has been focused on getting used to the new job. I am winding down with my courses, and I have about 4 more weeks to complete my final projects. I am hopeful that I will get As, but I will have to wait to see if I can do well enough from this point out.

That's it for today. It is a good day, warm and sunny, and I am feeling OK. Oh yes, my weight loss update. I was able to lose 12 lbs on Atkins. I have stayed at this weight for a month now and I am planning to do Induction again starting next week. I still have 20 lbs to go, but for now, I am pleased to be down one full-size.