January 12, 2014

Sunday with Carol

Psalm 82
A psalm of Asaph.

1 God presides over heaven’s court;
    he pronounces judgment on the heavenly beings:
2 “How long will you hand down unjust decisions
    by favoring the wicked? Interlude

3 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
    uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
4 Rescue the poor and helpless;
    deliver them from the grasp of evil people.
5 But these oppressors know nothing;
    they are so ignorant!
They wander about in darkness,
    while the whole world is shaken to the core.
6 I say, ‘You are gods;
    you are all children of the Most High.
7 But you will die like mere mortals
    and fall like every other ruler.’”

8 Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,
    for all the nations belong to you.

I am thankful this day. God has provided a way for me to earn a living doing something I never thought I would EVER get to do. Yes, God has opened a door, and He has enabled me to earn a living as a college instructor. I am blessed beyond believing and I know that my God loves me and cares for me. In fact, I am so assured of His Goodness toward me that today I am able to cry out to Him with thanks and praise KNOWING that His love and mercy will never end (Lamentations 3:22-23). As I consider His Goodness this morning, I stand in AWE of Him because of His faithfulness and His Love. He is Good all the time, and all the time, He is so very Good.

The Lord has promised good to me, and He has delivered on His promise. 

I am sitting here today thinking about my life and remembering how far I have come over the past 8-10 years. My life has taken a completely new trajectory, and I am on a path that was as far away from my imagination as could be. Let me explain...

I always wanted to be a teacher. I believed that I was suited to teaching, but I never really thought about becoming a teacher until recently. Well, this is not really true. I wanted to be a Kindergarten teacher when I was in the 6th grade. I was a teacher aide in my elementary school (Highlands Elementary in Hazel Crest, IL), and I fell in love with the idea of working with little children. When I graduated and moved over to the middle school (we called it Junior High), I worked with the students in the PreK-3rd grade that was housed next door to our school. I helped with reading, and I worked with the teacher to learn how to be a teacher's assistant. Moreover, I was in a program where I was able to study experimental learning strategies at the same time that I was working in the elementary school. I credit much of my ability to recall facts and figures, and my understanding of chunking data to this program. 

When I graduated from middle school, I moved to the high school. It was at this point that I lost my way for a time. I didn't like the high school environment, and I felt very out of touch with the way the classes were taught. My middle school teachers were generally helpful, and were nice (for the most part). The high school teachers were task masters and they either were out to see you fail or they simply didn't care enough to help you when you struggled. My experience in high school was disappointing, and I suffered greatly -- to such an extent -- that I felt I was not smart enough to become a teacher.

I moved schools during high school, and my second school in San Jose was no better than the first. I felt unprepared for the task of studying, and I didn't like the subjects I was required to take. I did enjoy Art, and I liked working in the Library a lot. However, the other subjects were difficult for me, and I spent most of my time daydreaming and thinking about what my life might be like outside of class.

With all this in mind, it is no wonder that I lost my love of teaching somewhere between middle school and high school graduation. When I went off to college, I was bound and determined to study Art, the only subject in which I found success. I took art classes and I told myself that I would "perhaps" become an Art teacher some day. It didn't take long to realize that I enjoyed the interpretive and impressionistic side of art, but that I didn't like the avant-garde or the postmodern influences. As a Christian, I was appalled by the overt sensuality and nudity I saw in the Art community. I was sheltered and I was struggling to find my home within Christ at that time. Art and I didn't mix well.

Once I had made up my mind that I couldn't pursue Art for religious reasons, I floundered and dropped out of school. I lost all interest in studying, and I pursued relationships instead. I met and married my husband, and I went into the working world feeling dissatisfied and ashamed that I had failed out of school. I struggled to fit in to the corporate environment, and I couldn't shake the thought that I was in the wrong place, and I was doing the wrong kind of work.

Six years after dropping out of school, I went back to college to pursue my bachelors degree. It took six years and the feeling of being pushed to return before I actually acted on it. My friend and I studied together, and we graduated with a BA in Humanities in 1993. The thought of teaching college took over my mind during those years, and I pursued education with that goal in mind. However, in September of 1993, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and my ideas about teaching were put on the back burner.

I devoted most of the next 9-10 years to being a SAHM. I helped in my son's preschool and grade school classroom, and of course, I taught Sunday School, Awana, and VBS. I worked with children off and on for 30 some years, always in a voluntary capacity. I love working with children, and I enjoyed the opportunity to teach them Bible, especially. I still felt ashamed that I never got my teaching credential and that I didn't become a teacher. I pushed aside those thoughts and concentrated on what I was doing, which was raising a Godly young man, and teaching him Biblical truth.

God provided an opportunity for me to teach at home in 2004. My son was having issues in the public school, and my then-husband and I made the decision to home school. I was blessed to home school my son for the remainder of his education. I had a blast, probably more fun than he did, and I learned so much about curriculum, instructional methods, and how not to teach (formally) at home.

In 2010, God provided another opportunity that would change my life completely. I started a Masters program in English Literature with the expressed intention of becoming a college English instructor. My life had suffered quite a reversal, and I was facing single-hood after almost 25 years of marriage. I took the program to heart, and I applied myself believing that this would be the "way out" for me. I would graduate and start teaching college. I could envision a life of teaching, a good pension, and a way for me to have time off each year (more than 2 weeks but a whole summer).

Unfortunately, after graduation in 2012, I struggled to find a teaching job. I took a position at UOPX thinking that becoming an academic advisor would satisfy my need to teach and mentor students. I also was single for the first time since college and I needed full-time work to help rebuild my life, establish myself, and begin to provide a new way for me to live. 

After UOPX, I tried to teach again, but found the way blocked. I couldn't get hired because I didn't have any teaching experience. I applied numerous places, asking for the opportunity to teach, but received no responses back. I took the job at CVS Caremark because it seemed a good fit for my analytical and logical skill. However, the grind of working long hours and overtime took its toll. I was physically worn out, and stressed over the way that my colleagues treated other colleagues.

In late 2013, I had the opportunity to work at Northcentral University, again as an advisor. I didn't want to take this route, but I have convinced myself that there was no hope for me to teach -- no experience, therefore, no teaching contract. I took a chance and applied at GCU, and I was surprised when I received a call to interview there. I went and while I wasn't hired to teach in the fall, I was given the opportunity to work as an IA for a semester to gain some classroom experience.

All of this background history is simply to document my progress from child to adult, from student teacher to college instructor. God has faithfully provided a way for me to accomplish the desire of my childhood heart and become a teacher. It has taken me nearly 40 years to do so, but here I am teaching college English Literature courses. In God's economy there is never any cause to think it is "too late" to accomplish His will. Praise His Name for He is Good and He is Faithful!

I am a college teacher. I can hardly begin to express my gratitude to God for providing me with this position. While I am only teaching one class this semester, I am excited to consider that I will have the opportunity to teach more classes come Summer and Fall. I am also excited to think that once I complete my PhD program, I will be able to apply for full-time faculty positions whereby I can once again have benefits and build a pension (retirement of some sorts). God knows my worries over my finances, and He knows that I am wholly dependent upon Him for His provision of all my needs. I need money. I need benefits. I need stability and I need a solid future whereby I can rest and not worry about tomorrow (all my tomorrows). I am trusting Him, and I believe He is providing everything I need. I know He has my tomorrows covered. I want to work full-time, and I want to be settled, set in place, so I can feel that I am part of a community of educators. I am longing for the day when I can write my name with that Dr. in front of it or that PhD at the end of it. I want to be a Professor, and I look forward to writing scholarly papers and teaching higher level classes (masters and perhaps doctoral). Until that time, I have a lot of work to do. I have to finish my PhD and I have to continue to teach classes, as many as possible so I can build up my resume (a CV in academic circles). God knows this, and I believe He has a plan worked out for me.

One of the things I love about Him most is the way He coordinates every aspect of our lives. He never considers something as "past" as a "forgone conclusion." No, God is a God of second chances, and with God, truly all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). I am happy today because God has reminded me that while I wanted to be a teacher when I was a child, and while I had opportunity to become a teacher in college -- even though I chose a different path -- He never forgot His promise to me. I made the decision to get married instead of returning to school to study elementary education. I made the decision to study art, and I made the decision to drop out of school. I made all the choices back then that took me in a different direction. Even despite my poor decisions and my willfulness to disobey His Word to me -- even despite all of that -- God proved Himself faithful. He remembered His promise to me, and He kept His Word.

I am living His testimony to me now. I am living out His promised fulfillment, and I am the recipient of His Grace. God be praised for He is so Good.

I have achieved the goal of becoming a teacher. I believe that I have been returned to the former path, the path God had in mind for me so many years ago, and I am now experiencing His restoration. He restored to me the desires He had for my future. He made a way where there seemed to be no way. He gave me a career when I thought I would never have one, and He opened doors that I believed were blocked and locked. God is good, so very good to me.

Now I am on this path, and I am moving forward in His will for my life. I am becoming the person He desires me to be. I am thinking like He wants me to think, and the decisions I make now are aligned with His will for me. I am good, so very good, and He is pleased with me. I can feel it. I can feel His good pleasure when I do this thing - when I teach. I stress, yes I do. I want to be perfect, and I hate failing at anything. However, when I start teaching students, I can feel Him move within me. I can feel myself relax and let go, and God moves, He really moves within me. I am in love with Him, and with what He is doing in my life. I can feel His goodness toward me, and I can see the fundamental outpouring of His grace in my life. I have everything I need. I am well-covered, and I am so loved and cared for now. He is good, He is so very good.

Dear Lord,

I give you praise today for you have changed my life and given me a new direction, a new focus, and a new plan. I thank you for your grace, and your mercy, which is ever new. I thank you that I am able to do this work in your Name, and that through the power of your Name, I can overcome all the obstacles I see before me (namely work experience, education, long term financial planning, and benefits). I know you have everything under control and that you have already created a way for me to re-mediate these concerns. I am working at GCU at present to gain experience. I am completing my education at Regent. I will obtain a full-time professorship at some point, and through that employment, I will have salary and benefits again. You have this taken care of and the timing is within your hand. You are so very good, so very good indeed. I ask now that you reveal your will to me, and that you lead me to where you want me to go. I am open and ready to tackle any and all opportunities, and I trust you implicitly as you move in and through my life. Have your way today, Lord, and lead me to the place of your choosing. Thank you, Lord! I ask this now in the precious and most majestic Name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it).

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