April 30, 2014

Defying Gravity

Oh, I love this musical! I never thought I wanted to see it, but then my son (the performer/musician) started to listen to the soundtrack and I just fell in love with the music and the lyrics.

I guess that is the weirdness about me and my son. We both love musicals! He is probably the more fanatical about it than I am -- I am sure it is because of his interest in music and performance.

I remember taking him to see "The Phantom of the Opera" when he was 10. He had just started taking piano lessons and he was obsessed with this musical. He loved the organ (he still tells me he wants a pipe organ when he grows up! LOL!) and begged me to get him one. He got a piano instead.

I think this is partly why he enjoys studying Theater Arts too. He enjoys the technical aspects of theater as well as acting and singing. He is currently working as a substitute at Phoenix Theater this week. He is running the spot light for their performance of "Les Mis." He is also set to be Stage Manager for the summer musical at PV Community College.

I am really glad that he decided to trust me and check out ASU West's new degree program, Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance. I found it while searching online and I knew right away it would be a good fit for his interests. It is experimental and combines his love of theater, musical, sound engineering, and design. I don't know what he will do for a job, but for now, this program will help him figure out what he really wants to do. At the least, he can always get a job as a Stage Manager.

So back to "Wicked." The touring company is coming to ASU Gammage in January 2015. I am definitely going to go. I have already put it on my calendar.

Blessed are the Meek

I was reminded about being meek today (LOL!) A colleague texted me with the message,  "Blessed are the meek," as an aside to an email from our COM 702 professor this morning. Our professor sent out an email to our cohort reminding us that we shouldn't be focused on grades and GPA, but rather we should be happy with program content and doing our best (his words, "it doesn't matter whether you get a B or an A"). It was signed by all three main professors in the program, and it came right as final grades are being sent to the registrar's office. My gut tells me it was to prepare us for the final grades, and to caution us about being overly focused on numbers. Some of my colleagues are upset over the email. I am sure a couple are upset about their final grades in his course, but others are upset about his "grades don't matter" remark. I get it, really I do, and I agree with him in theory. But, for most of us grades do matter! GPA's may not count after you graduate or when you are applying for jobs, but financial aid and scholarships/foundations do consider GPAs when deciding on how much money to lend or award. I digress...

I am thankful for my grade in COM 702, even if it is not my normal "A." I know how hard that final was and I know that several of my colleagues didn't do as well as they hoped on it. I also have had this professor before (last semester), and I know how he grades. I know that he has these ridiculous finals, and he is nit picky when it comes to formatting on papers. He is a super tough grader. I had the advantage of knowing what to expect, and while I don't like that he grades us like undergrads (with points, quizzes, and exams), I also known that he does it so that we have no excuse for our final grade. If he posts accumulating points, then you, as a student, always know where you stand throughout the semester. In short, it is difficult to squabble over a grade when you see your point total and know immediately how well you are doing in the class.

So as I consider "meekness" today, I am thinking about my attitude toward my grades as well as they way I talk about my achievements. I know that some people think I am arrogant (I have been called that before and while I disagree I do understand how I could appear that way). I guess I have never considered myself as arrogant because I never believed I was good at "doing" anything in particular. As a child, I did not achieve success or exhibit any natural ability or talent. I was not a good student in school (my teacher's wrote "she is such a sweet girl" or "she is such a delight to have in class" and then they would add "she needs to not talk so much and focus more on her work!"). My friends from school would tell you that I wasn't a good student (average only), and that I was very clumsy (I walked into walls, tripped over my own feet, and generally was clueless most of the time). I was also not good at sports. I wasn't beautiful, and I didn't have a beautiful figure. Nope, I was very gangly, homely, and klutzy.

I didn't really discover any hidden talent until I was a junior in high school. I took Art for the first time, and thanks to my parents moving across country and a new school that required more credits to graduate, I found a passionate interest (the first!) I loved drawing as a child, but my 6th grade teacher told me that I had no talent and should give it up (Yeah, he was mean!) I didn't excel in 7-8th grade Arts and Crafts either. But for some reason, I took to painting and I found that I was very good at it. Moreover, I found that I loved pen and ink drawing, and my Art teachers recognized "something" in me. It was the first time (besides my 7th grade French teacher who told me I should study French in college because I had a natural accent) anyone recognized me for any kind of special ability. I loved drawing and painting and I loved producing art work. However, I never believed I was good enough to be a fine artist. There were students in my classes back then who were so good. Oh my! They were awesome artists and I knew then and there that I was just average. That was me in a nutshell -- only average.

My grades in high school were average. I didn't excel in writing, in scholarly study, in academics. I was glad to graduate and finish school. I didn't even want to go on to college. My parents said I had to go so I enrolled at the Community College. I was accepted to SJSU but after seeing all the really GREAT Art students during a campus tour, I quickly changed my mind and went to the smaller CC.  I learned that I was just average at the CC as well. I didn't stand out as an artist in those early art courses. I was just OK. I also didn't stand out in any other class. My grades were poor to fair, and generally speaking, I loathed the CC as much as I loathed high school.

I worked in a number of jobs after community college. I was a Technical Assistant (a glorified title -- I made Blueline copies of engineering drawings -- I am lucky I have brain cells left due to the chemicals I inhaled 8 hours a day!!) I left that job and took a position as an Administrative Assistant at CompuServe. After that position, I worked as a Admin Assistant again, but this time for Britton Lee/Share Base/Teradata Corp (where I learned how to be really techy!). I was laid off and then I went back to school (at age 28) to get a BA degree. The first real success in college came at SJSU after I had worked for six years in thankless positions. I learned so much from the "school of hard knocks." I learned how to be dependable, how to turn in projects on time, how to show up on time (a biggie), and how to be responsible. I learned how to get along with others, to work in a team, and to take control of the tasks assigned to me. I took those skills and used them in school, and I earned good grades. I never was late. I went to every class. I met the Professors and I made sure they knew my name. I did all the things I had learned in corporate life, and I reaped rewards. I was a Dean's Scholar first, then I was a President's Scholar. I earned accolades and I was given opportunity to go on to graduate school.

So why do people think you are arrogant when you demonstrate pride in your accomplishments? Why should you feel bad about doing well, working hard, and succeeding at something you have focused on?

I think the reason is that most people do not focus at all. Most people slide by, and they wait for achievement to be handed to them. Yes, I think the years of self-esteem-ism in the schools has created several generations of people who believe they are entitled to rewards without having to work hard to earn them. I can remember colleagues at work who thought they were entitled to a raise just because they showed up to work every day. They were not doing exceptional work nor where they providing excellent service/support. They just believed that they should get a pay raise for being an employee of the company.

For me, humility is not self-deprecation. In fact, deprecating oneself (to express disapproval) in my view can be sinful behavior. There is a fine line between being humble about yourself and using negative words to tear yourself down. In my opinion, the key is in how you handle your own achievements. I think it is fine to take pride in your hard work. After all, you worked hard! You overcame obstacles, and you experienced victory! It is another thing to constantly talk about yourself in the negative, to put yourself down, and to think so lowly of yourself that you do not express any value in your life.  This is where humility ends and sin begins (again, just my POV).

God has created you for a purpose. You are perfectly formed and made in His image. Yes, sin has marred that perfection, and yes, you struggle to overcome sinful temptations and to live a holy, God-honoring life. However, if you are born again, a believer, saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, then you have no right to put down that with which He has created! Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Therefore, how can a person who trusts in the Lord for everything good in their life be arrogant? It would be impossible to do so because the Holy Spirit would be working over-time to keep that pride in check, to make sure that humility is not trumped by arrogance. Personally, I think the issue stems from a healthy God-centered opinion of yourself. If your worth comes from God first, then you are free to believe in yourself, to see value in your abilities, and to understand your strengths and weaknesses. The Bible calls us to have a "right estimation of ourselves," which just means that you should be able to speak freely about your accomplishments without taking on a prideful tone because you understand from where your "righteousness" comes (PTL!).

Well, that is what I believe anyway...

OK, I am stepping off my soap box now, and I am moving on...

Today is a good day for me. I am feeling good, feeling well (hooray!) and I am working hard to grade my remaining student research papers. I am enjoying my days off this week, and I am feeling confident about starting classes again next week. In truth, I need school to keep my mind occupied. I was so BORED last night. I tried to find a good movie to watch on NetFlix and Amazon Instant Video, and I couldn't find anything worth watching. I ended up going to bed at 9:30 p.m. UGH!

I think boredom is my Achilles heel. When I get bored, then I get into trouble (LOL!) My son is the exact same way, and I always knew I had to keep a sharp eye on him whenever I sensed he was getting bored. I always made sure he had plenty to do (work) as well as plenty of interesting things to think about (school). I am just as bad, and the worst part, is that I should know better. I really should know better. I mean, next week begins another semester of doctoral classes. I will be slammed come this time in June, and I will be reeling from the workload. Yet, here I am, with free time abounding, and I am loathing not having anything to do (shame on me!)

I did adopt my nephew's goldfish...(digression!)

His girlfriend gave him a gold fish a couple months ago, and Lenny (the fish) has survived since then. Well, Lenny wasn't going to make it home to Simi Valley, so I said he could stay here in Phoenix until school starts in the fall. The tank he is in had a broken filter and the water smelled horrible. I spent the better part of Sunday cleaning his tank and trying to get the filter working again. Yesterday, I broke down and went to WalMart and bought a new filter for his tank. Lenny is very happy today. The water cleared up and he is actively swimming around. I have decided that if Lenny lives until next week, then I am getting him a girl fish. I saw a very cute little one (not really sure if she is a she) that would make a nice companion for him. I am going to call her "Fiona" because that would sound good -- Lenny and Fiona. I am also going to find one of those little hiding places so that Lenny and Fiona have a place to hide (especially when both Ike and Winston get on the counter -- up close and personal -- and check them out!)

So there you have it -- I am so bored that I am vicariously living through goldfish! Lord, help me now!!

Lastly, and this is a very good thing, I am feeling better about the whole marriage thing. I have decided to stop talking about it, and to let the Lord do His thing. He is very capable of handling my emotional needs. He has given me such peace of mind today, and He has filled me up with His goodness. I feel good. I feel really good about whatever the Lord has in mind for me -- today, tomorrow and in my future. I know He knows me well. He has my needs in mind, and they are important to Him. I understand that my whole being -- my mind, my heart, my soul and my strength -- belong to Him. He has me covered, well covered. If He determines that I go this way, then I go this way. If He chooses for me to go that way, then I go that way. I am flexible. I am movable. I am adaptable. I go where He sends me, I do the work He has prepared me to do, and I live where He tells me to live. I am good. I am happy. I am content.

God is good, so very good to me. Selah!

April 29, 2014

Some More Stuff

My final research paper grade has been posted. I am pleased. I normally would find fault with 95%, but in truth, I worked so hard on this paper, and I think I did the very best I could possibly do. I got good feedback on my paper, mostly some technical issues only, formatting, and some style/layout weirdness.

Now, I need to wait on the extra credit lab I turned in to see if I end up with a "A" or an "A-" in the class. I would be OK with either, but keeping my 4.0 would be sweet. We will see what the end result is later today or tomorrow.

So I made the decision not to drive my nephew home to LA. Good thing too! I woke up this morning with vertigo. It just started about an hour again, and while not incapacitating, it is bothersome. Every time I turn my head, the room spins. I think it is allergies because I don't feel sick. My head is a little stuffy this morning, so perhaps it is just an inner ear imbalance due to fluid levels. Hopefully, it will go away on its own. I have papers to grade today, and right now, I feel like I need to lay my head down instead of reading student papers.

It has been nice having my nephew here for a few days. He is such a nice guy. He helps my parents out whenever he comes to visit, and always is so polite. I will be glad to have the house back to normal, though. It gets messy with extra people in it and being the Type A person that I am, I find that I am constantly cleaning up and putting things away. I am not a neat-freak (well, sort of) per se, I just don't like to have to wade through a mess.

My Mom and I get along well because we both like to have things put away. It is funny really when you think about it. When I was growing up my Mom was always on my case about cleaning up my room. She always tells everyone how messy I was when I was young. However, it is not really true. I can remember my bedroom from early on (age 6 or so) right up to age 16. It was always very neat and clean. When we moved to San Jose from Chicago, my new room was very small. I went through a messy stage for a short time period. I think it was because of the move, leaving my childhood friends, and leaving my school.

Later on, after I bought a waterbed (I had one of those pine carved Queen sized beds), I kept my room very neat and tidy all the time. I didn't have much room. The bed took over the entire space. Oh, I loved that bed. I slept so well on it -- and I loved the heater. I think I kept the water temperature right around 90 all year long. My cat, Snowball, loved it as well. She always slept on that bed.

I get frustrated when I don't have enough room to store things properly. I have lived in very small houses for a lot of years. I don't like to have junk around me. Right now, I moved my entire house into this shared home with my parents. I am living in one bedroom. It is tight, but it works. I got rid of a lot of my things before moving in with them. I have a storage shed in the side yard, and most of my special boxes are in there (like Christmas decorations, mementos from when my son was little, etc.) It is weird to downsize like this but the good thing is that if I ever do move again I will have almost no boxes to pack up and take with me (LOL!) Plus I figure that if I move out or in with someone else, I will just buy new things :).

This morning I had to confess to the Lord (once again) my failure to believe His word to me. This is getting to be old, really old, so I need to stop doing it (not confessing, confession is always a good thing -- it is the not believing His word!) The Lord has promised me good. He has provided abundantly, and He is faithful to keep His promises. As I sit here today I see His mighty hand upon my life and I see His fingermarks upon every decision I have made. He has orchestrated everything. He has moved me into the place of His choosing. He has made my life rich and rewarding. He has brought me good, and He has shown me the way to go.

There are some things He has promised me recently, things that I thought would never be possible in my life. These are things that I believe He desires for me. His Word in Psalm 37:4-5 says:

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.  Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.

I believe, and I have believed for a number of years now, that if you take delight in Him (make Him your center, your whole focus) then this verse is His promise to you. He will give you the desires of your heart.

In my case, it has certainly proved to be true. The Lord has given me the desires of my heart over and over again. Often, the desires I have are new to me -- meaning that they are not necessarily desires that I have harbored for a long time. They are new or seemingly new. They appear in my heart one day, and after some time considering the feelings associated with them, I accept them as His desires for my life (His perfect will).

I know that the desire to go to graduate school, to get my PhD was a desire He gave to me in November of 1992. I remember the day when I first began to think about getting a PhD. I was meeting with one of my professors from SJSU and she casually asked me if I had thought about getting a doctorate and becoming a professor. I said that I hadn't thought about it because I never considered myself to be that good of a student. She told me that I should think about it because I was that good of a student. Her words sat with me for a couple days and I marveled about them. They seemed inconsistent with reality. I was not a good student. I was a C-student, average, and that was on the best of days. Yes, I was keeping a high GPA at SJSU, but my community college grades were not that good. I wasn't graduate school material.

Yet, something about that desire stuck with me. I found that I wanted it so badly. I remember thinking that I would die, literally die, if I didn't go to graduate school. It was like this desire came out of no where, hit me broadside, and left me reeling from the sting of the smack. I had to have it, I had to do it, and nothing, nothing, was going to stand in the way of doing it, of accomplishing it.

Of course, that didn't happen. I made choices that kept me from following after that desire. The desire, however, never dissipated. I can remember asking someone about desires and how to know if they are from God. This person, an older and Godly woman, told me that if the desire was from God, it would never go away. It might simmer on the back burner until the timing was perfect, but it would not go away. Other worldly desires, fleshly desires -- these she said -- would go away in time.

As I think back on this particular desire, I can truthfully say that it never diminished for me. It did simmer a long while, but it was always there, always part of me.

Now I have learned that Godly desires, the desires He places in your heart, are His promise to you. They are there for a reason and He has given them to you because they fulfill His will in your life.

In my life, I have few desires. Truthfully, I am content where I am at right now. I love my life, I love my family, I love my teaching job, and I love my schooling. I know the plans He has for me, future plans for ministry work, and I love the new ideas, new thoughts, and new desires that He puts in me that are part of His will. I don't really desire anything outside His will for my life.

Worldly, fleshly desires are scant in my life. I have enough of everything, and I am well-cared for where I am now. There are things that I miss, friendships, companionship, etc. but these are not so much desires as just experiences I used to have and enjoy.

There is one desire though that is new for me. It is new and it is not something I created. I believe it is His will as well, but I am struggling to understand it right now. I am content to be solely devoted to Him. I am content to spend the rest of my life alone. Yet, recently, He has put the desire in my heart to seek out a companion, someone with whom to share my life going forward. He knows my situation. He knows that I am living in this weird quasi-separated-married-not divorced state. He knows my heart and how much I loathe divorce. He knows that when it comes to His Law, I am fixated upon it. I love His LAW! I love His Word, and I take His words very, very seriously. However, there is this desire in my heart, a new desire that will not go away.

It started about four weeks ago I guess. I was driving home from GCU and I was talking with the Lord (I do this all the time and I am sure people in the cars next to me think I am so weird!) I was talking through the plans, school status, work status, ACU, etc. I was just going over where I am right now, sharing my doubts, my worries, my fears -- you know -- just praying out loud in a conversational-like way, when I heard these words come out of my mouth:

"Lord, what am I going to do about David?"

David is my husband. I then said, "Will we be divorced?"

Yeah, not anything earth shattering, but it was just weird that the words popped out like that because I have not really asked the Lord about divorce in a really long time. It is not that I haven't thought about it. We are living separately and he has moved on with his life. There is no reason to keep on being married. I will not go back with him. I will not return to him.

My issue with divorce is wrapped up in the LAW, that is all. I have an issue with it, and as such, I have been unwilling to start the process, to initiate it.

I am not sure what the Lord said to me, I don't remember the exact words, but I do remember hearing me say "I will be divorced, Lord. I will do this if it is your will."

Like I said, nothing earth shattering really, but something happened to me once the words came out of my mouth. I felt this sense of relief, as if I had been holding on to a piece of paper for far too long. The only thing binding me and David together was this little piece of paper.

Over the weeks, after that conversation with the Lord, I began to notice a change in my heart. I also began to notice my feelings toward David change. We are reconciled, we are friends, but not lovers. There is no love there, and there is nothing that would make that love be there except for a miracle of God. A couple Sunday's past, as I talked with him, I began to see him differently. I began to think that there was nothing left between us. It was like he was there but I had absolutely no feeling for him whatsoever. I mean, I like him, but only because he is DJ's dad. I don't feel anything for him anymore.

Then one day about two weeks ago, I was praying again, about stuff (school mostly), and I asked the Lord if I could be married again. WOW! Like this was out of the blue, but there you have it. I just blurted it out, and I remember thinking that it would be nice to be married again. I can tell you that this was not some wishful thinking on my part. Anyone who knows me knows that I have said in no uncertain terms that I was going to be single the rest of my life. I was NEVER GETTING MARRIED AGAIN!

The words just came out of my mouth and then this feeling came over me. I felt excitement at the thought of it. I started to think about it more and more, and frankly, I have to say I have been obsessed with the idea of it.

This is SO NOT ME!

It is not like I am looking for anyone. I cannot look. I am still married. I see guys walk past me and I honestly do not look at them. I don't check them out. I am oblivious to them. 

At first, I thought it was the feeling, the rush, of making a decision to pursue divorce after holding on for so long. But then I know myself well. I know that I am not like that, I don't do "rushes." Now I am thinking that the Lord has put this desire in my heart for a reason, and that it is His will for me to meet someone and to be married again.

What do I do?

My brother just signed up on Match.com. He has been divorced about four years, and he is looking for someone. He told my Mom he had signed up and that he has had like 40 'interests' or whatever you call them. My Mom thinks I should do this too. I said, "NOT!"

Then there is my cousin who met his wife on Christianmingle.com. He was divorced for years, and never was able to meet anyone through normal channels. He actually met someone from his own town on an online dating site!  My Mom thinks this would be good too. I said, "No thanks, Mom!"

I have heard horror stories about dating websites. I worked with a girl who was on them a lot, and who had quite a few dates with very strange men. Her stories of dating sent shivers up my spine.

Oh, I am so not doing this, I am so not going that way. I am NOT signing up on a dating website, that is for certain! I would die, literally die, if I had to put myself out there, hang the shingle out and advertise that I am looking for someone! I don't even think I could "date" a person. I mean I hated dating when I was single so why would I like it now? Men scare me (LOL!) Yeah, it is true. I like men, I like them a lot. I like them as friends, and I have always gotten on real well with men. I like men as bosses, as co-workers, as colleagues and peers. I just don't do the dating men thing very well. In fact, if I were to be honest (and I am ruthlessly honest), I have only dated six boys/men in my entire life. I only had one boyfriend (high school) before I met my husband. I dated my husband for two years before we married. Most of the in betweens were one date only. I went out once and ran as fast as I could away from these guys (they were all nice guys too!) Men are just weird. They scare me, and I freak out whenever I am in a dating type situation.

I guess the problem is that I only know two ways of being affectionate. There is the sister-me and the wife-me. I don't know how to handle myself in between. It is off or on, and there is no middle ground. I think in some ways that is Biblical. I do not seek male friendships, in fact, I have many male "friends," but we are not friends at all. We have conversations in groups, laughing fun, but never alone. Nope, I am too straight arrow for that kind of thing (I know some women who have very close male friends -- that just doesn't sit with me at all).

So there you have it. I think I am a lost cause. I do not date well, and I do not do the "dating" thing at all. I don't even remember how to date, you know, what to say, how to do it, where to go. UGH!

My only hope is for the Lord to find someone and bring him to me. I need the Lord to do this because I don't trust myself, and I don't want to meet anyone who is not approved by Him. Plus, I think I need to meet someone as a friend first. I need to meet someone who will be patient with me and understanding and just be a friend. I think that would be best. Oh well, if this desire lasts, then I have to believe that the Lord is working behind the scenes to bring this desire to pass. If it wanes, then it is just a fleshly thought that will be replaced by some other thought.


You know me so well. You know my life, and you know my thoughts and my feelings. I trust you this day to do your will, plain and simply, your will. I want your will in every area of my life, and I look to your hand of provision. You will do whatever you think is best, and I will rest in your sufficiency and your provision. I praise you this day, and I thank you for my grade (grades). You are God, and I love you, I worship you, and I praise you! Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

April 28, 2014

He Hears Me When I Call

I just downloaded my syllabus for COM 652: Crisis Communication. This is an 8-week course that I am taking alongside the required COM 703: Qualitative Research Methods course. The latter includes my summer residency, June 9-13, 2014, on campus in VA Beach, VA. It is also one of four required core research methods classes for my program (COM 701: Historical/Critical Research Methods is scheduled for fall 2014 with COM 704: Advanced Theory for spring 2015).

Crisis Comm should be a good class. One of my favorite Regent professors teaches it. He is such a sweet, wonderful, Godly man, and he is so brilliant. I feel like I learn so much in his classes. I am a little concerned about the 8-week format. I have never taken a short course, so I don't know quite what to expect from the reading/writing load. Oh well...such is the life of a doctoral student!

On another front, it looks like I might be tasked to take my nephew back to LA this week. He is trying to get a ride with his friend or take the bus home, but my SIL told my Mom that "Carol is bringing him." I was like "Well, that hasn't been decided yet!" I would like to know for certain because my INTJ brain doesn't handle spur of the moment trips. I need to do laundry and I have to pack. I cannot jump in the car and drive 6.5 hours without a little bit of planning.

If there was a good week to drive west, then this would be it. I have GCU student papers to grade, but since my Regent school doesn't start until next week, I am "technically" free to loaf around. I wouldn't mind driving over to LA, it is just that I will be driving back solo. Now is when it would be nice to have a friend to go with me. Most of my friends from work are working -- so that let's them out. My teacher friends live in other states so it is just me and my parents (DJ has to work or else I know he would jump at the chance to go with me). Mom cannot go because she has an event on Saturday, and I told her she cannot leave my Dad alone for a couple days. He is OK, and he can take care of himself, but he also will have to feed the cats and clean the litter box. She NEEDS to stay (for other reasons -- see below!)

Oh, drats! I just got an email reminder that final grades for GCU students are due. My students just turned in their final papers yesterday! Give me a break! Well, it looks like my plans for today just flew out the window. I am going to be grading research papers all day long!

Winston is being weird today. He is biting my hand and trying to bite my face each time I talk to my Mom and Dad (they are out in the kitchen and I am in at my computer). He does this when he gets upset. He doesn't like it when I talk loudly to them. He was pretty rotten last night too. I heard faint scratching noises around 4 AM and when I got up to check it out, Winston had locked himself in the bathroom. He does this -- weird kitty -- where he pulls the towels off the bathroom door. They will fall right behind the door and then when he tries to go out, the door closes shut. I don't know how long he was stuck in the bathroom last night, but I am thinking it was probably a good long while.

OK, I need a break today. My parents are driving me crazy. I love them, I really do, but they talk loudly to each other and they do it starting at 7 AM. I need some quiet right now. Perfect example, my Mom is talking to my Dad who happens to be in the garage working. She is standing at the garage door talking to him in this loud voice. I mean he is all of five feet from her and she is talking like he is 20-25 feet away. Now he is yelling at her about putting stuff away in the kitchen. Oh, this has got to end soon. I love them, of course I do, but there are days when I miss my quiet home. I miss my home!

The Lord knows what is best for me. He knows that my parents needed my help, and that I needed to work part-time this semester so I could complete COM 702. I couldn't have completed it and worked full-time. There was just no way possible, and I know it. My parents and I do get a long well, it is just that I miss being alone, and I miss having my own home. I miss my things around me, and I miss being able to do what I want to do. It is very hard to move back in with your parents, especially after you have been away for 30 years! God is good. God is good. I know He understands this is a sacrifice for me, and that He has a way out for me. His timing is perfect, and He will provide a full-time job at some point and then I will be back on my own again. I know He knows my heart, and He understands my needs.

It is now 10:36 and I am sitting here in my PJs. I have had my breakfast, and my coffee (Pikes Peak - our friend Barb brought a box of it for Easter -- Thank you, Barb!) for the morning. I am going to go hide in the bathroom. I need to get showered and dressed, and I can have some peace and quiet as long as I am in there. Oh, this is sad, so very sad.

Dear Lord,

I know that you orchestrated this arrangement so that my parents would have the help they needed, and I would have the support I needed while I started my PhD program. You know that I love my parents and that I think the world of them, but I am starting to suffocate here at home. I need some time away. I need some trips where I can go by myself and get away from the noise, the loud voices, and the tension of being four people in this one home. I ask Lord that you provide some respite for me, some time away. Even if it is just for a day or two, I ask for an opportunity to be released from this situation so I can have some downtime all to myself. I thank you for your provision, for your goodness toward me, and for the plans you have for my life. I ask now in Jesus' Name for this opportunity to be able to be a grown up again (at 51 I should be grown up, right?) Thank you for everything you have done in my life, and thank you for everything you are doing now. I trust you, and I rest in your sufficiency this day. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah (pause, and think about it calmly)!

April 27, 2014

Good Sunday Morning!

The Lord is good and His love endures forever (Ps. 100:5). Yes, I believe this is true. The Lord is GOOD and His LOVE endures forever.

I thank you, Lord, for your goodness toward me this day. You have made my life good. You have showered me with your goodness, and you have made all things new. My life is good. The plans you have for my life are good. I rest in You. I rest in Your Name, and in Your Provision. I love you, Lord, and I rest in You this good day!

I must be decompressing from my stressful semester because I overslept and missed church today. I cannot believe that I actually did it, but there you have it! I know my body well, and when I get worn down, this is how my body reacts. My parents usually go to the first service so they are up and out of the house early. My nephew and his girlfriend are here for a couple days until they can get rides home. I didn't hear anyone stirring until my Mom came into my room and said "Carol is still asleep!" I thought "Oh, Lord, have I really missed church again?"

My son is working as a spot operator at Phoenix Theater this week and next so he wasn't up and moving either. He normally is out the door before me because he plays as part of the worship band at church. This week he is off, so of course, I had no one to remind me to get up. And, of course, I didn't set my alarm either!

The boys were good, which is unusual, so I think God wanted me to rest this morning. Well, at the least, this is how I am thinking about it.

As I sit here today, I am reminded of how good God is and how faithful He is to keep His promises to us.

I am humbled by the fact that He has kept His promise to me. I am humbled by the truth and the realization that His Word is TRUE. He is faithful, and He keeps His promises.  The Lord has promised good to me (to us), and He is active at keeping that promise. Not a day goes by where I do not see His hand of goodness. Not a day passes where I am not reminded of His presence in my life. How can I NOT trust Him? He has demonstrated His faithfulness to me and He is always there to show me His way and His will. The Lord is good, so very good!


I confess to you today that I have not believed your word to me this past week. I doubted you when it came to my COM 702 final. I doubted you when it came to my overall grade in Family COM. I doubted you in so many areas of my life, in so many things, and everything you have said to me has come to pass. You have given me hope, and you have promised that certain things will come my way (ACU contracts, for example). You have told me to rest, to be patient, to wait, and I have not done what you have asked of me. I have been so unfaithful to you, I have doubted you, and yet you have fulfilled your word to me. You are gracious and merciful to me, and I do not deserve your mercy. I do not deserve all the good you bring into my life. I constantly fail you, I forget what you tell me to do, and I forge ahead following after what I think is best. Why can I not rest in YOU? Why must I try to have my own way? Why must I look out and figure out what I think is best when you have already told me where to go, how to do things, and what you want me to do? I confess now in Jesus Name that I have been wrong in my thoughts, my feelings, and my interpretation. I trust you Lord and I rest in Your Name this day. Your word is truth, and I believe your word to me today. Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

April 26, 2014

Happy Day!

The sun has come back out! It was so nice this morning -- we had rain and wind and more rain! I know, what's the big deal, right? Well, for those of us in the desert, rain is such a big deal. We have so many sunny days, cloudless skies, filled with no rain. I love the clouds, I love the rain, and I love storms! We do have pretty awesome summer storms, but the rest of the year it is "perfect" here. I know a lot of people who have moved here from colder parts and they love the "perfect" weather we have here. I miss the changing seasons, and I miss the variable skies. I love sun too, but it is the same thing day after day after day. LOL!

I spent this morning catching up with email and Facebook posts, and then I took my Mom to the mall so she could find a new top for next week's GFWC International meeting. Mom has been a club member for 14 years, and one of our good friends is being installed as the AZ State President for 2014-15. They have a big meeting here in Phoenix, and Mom is going along with some of her lady friends. Anyhoo, we just about got blown away at the mall. It was so windy out and Mom is getting frail. Thankfully, we got to the car without any incident.

I am back home and now on the computer for a little while. I really want to rest, but one of my colleagues needs my help finishing up her research project. I will probably assist her for a little while, and then take a nice afternoon nap Oh! I love naps -- that is if I can find a quiet spot on the bed! (Picture left - Ike is on top of the covers, and Winston is under them!) The boys tend to take over my bed whenever I get up in the morning. I know I should just move them off the bed, but they are awfully cute when they sleep this way. Plus they give me those big eyes and meows that just melts my heart and makes me relent. I do kick them off the bed during the night -- I make no excuses when it comes to sleeping at night. I own the bed, and they know it! 

On another note, my nephew and his girlfriend are here at the house. Both are students at Grand Canyon University and they are staying with us for a couple nights until they can arrange rides home. GCU lets out early for summer and they make all the kids in the dorms and apartments move out by noon on the last day. 

They are very sweet kids, and it is nice to have them come over. They help my parents with whatever they need, and they always are so polite and kind. My Mom and Dad love the visiting -- I am in my room on the computer being rather anti-social right now. Really, they know where to find me, and they are welcome to come into my room and visit. I just don't want to go sit in the kitchen and talk right now. My brain is so fried from the past couple weeks study that I am finding it difficult to make words, to speak in full sentences, and to be coherent (LOL!)

My nephew lives in So. California and he may not have a ride home next week. I am thinking I might drive him since I do have the week off. I am not sure if I want to spend the money on gas. He has a ride with a friend, but found out that the friend might not have room for him. My brother will buy him a ticket home, but we will see what happens. I am thinking it would be fun to drive over to the beach and see my brother and sister in law (it is about a 6.5 hour drive).

OK, my eyes are getting sleepy and I think I am going to lay my head down for a little nap. We will see if I am able to find room on the bed or not...

It is OVER!

It is done, I am finished -- my semester is over.

I spent the better part of yesterday working with my colleagues on the final exam for our Quantitative Research methods course. The word on the street (from former students) was that the final exam (worth 200 points) was a killer, likened to the GRE test, but more difficult because you were answering statistics questions in an online and timed format. The most frequent comment shared, when asking about the exam, was "I bombed it." In today's slang that might be a good thing, but for those of us who have been around a while, well it is assumed to be "tanked or flunked." Yes, this was the information I had going into yesterday's exam and truthfully I had an ominous feeling that the result, my result, would be the same as everyone else.

I spent four hours yesterday afternoon in conference with three other students. Two took the exam earlier in the day because they were on the East coast. I was waiting to take it with my friend who lives in CA. The two who took it early passed with a 68% and 70% (137/140 out 200) respectively. Mind you, these are students with 4.0 GPAs coming into the program, and 4.0 GPAs IN the program. To say this class was difficult would be an understatement.

I was devastated by their news. I had heard from several other students who took it on Thursday that they also were disappointed with their scores (they didn't reveal what they actually scored, but from the tenor of their post, it was clear that they were not happy with the result). I stewed all afternoon and into the evening, worried about how I would do. I know, I know, I am such a [insert word for a control freak] over my grades.

Last evening, we were supposed to begin the test at 7 pm. Instead, my friend and I decided to review one more time, just to go over topics we thought we were unsure of and to focus on language (how the questions were phrased in the study guide). I am so glad we did. We finally sat the exam at 9, and we completed the 67 questions with about 10 minutes to spare (2 hours max). Our scores were equal (hooray!). We both got 161/200 or 80% (a B!)

Normally, I would not be happy with a B. But in this case, I am relieved and overjoyed. I completed the extra credit lab worth 30 points so that should bump my grade into a solid A range. The only item left to be graded is my research paper. My prayer is that I get a solid grade on it as well, but I know this Professor and he is ruthless with formatting and methods.

As I sit here this morning, I am humbled by the fact that I worry incessantly over minor details. I know I could justify my worry -- after all -- my scholarship requires a minimum GPA of 3.9. I am still waiting to hear if I was selected for the Dean's Scholarship, which provides up to 100% tuition coverage. The GPA requirement is 4.0. When it comes to money for school, let's just say that I am justified to worry over my grades. It is a matter of where the money comes from -- out of my pocket -- or from a scholarship at Regent University. I am praying it is the latter, and God knows how much it matters to me.

Yet, as I think about my life, and the plans the Lord has for me, the only thing I can do is fall on my face before Him and give Him praise today. He did this through me. I can tell you that I went into that exam with an empty head. Truly, there was nothing in there (empty, empty, empty!) I am notorious for not remembering details after I no longer need them. I have a mind like a steel trap, yet often I forget minor details. In the case of this class, I couldn't remember the difference between Multiple Regression and ANOVA. The Lord provided clearness of mind, and calmness of spirit, and He got me through this exam. All the praise, the honor, and the glory belong to Him, and to Him alone!

I have this weird feeling today. I have nothing to do, and it is freaking me out! WAAAH! I so desperately need a real life. Lord, I need a life outside of school. I know this is your will (school), and I know that I am working towards the plan you have for my life, but truthfully all this school work is draining me. I need some fun times, some silly times, and some good laughs!  I know you know my needs and I am trusting you to provide for me. I thank you for my sweet soul-sisters who support me in this program. I thank you that we laugh together (A LOT) and that we cry together (A LOT). I am so thankful for your provision of friendship. I couldn't survive this doctoral program without my good friends!

God is good, He is so very good. He loves me unconditionally, and He knows me well. I rest in His sufficiency, and in the fact that He is sovereign. He is good. He is good. He is good.

April 25, 2014

COM 702 D-Day has Arrived

God is so faithful, so very faithful! It is another beautiful day in Phoenix. The weather this morning is lovely, the temperature hovering right around 64. The sun is shining and the expected high today is 90. Right now, there is a breeze, and it is perfect outside. This is the reason why I live in Phoenix. The spring and fall are lovely, and well, you cannot beat winter. Summer....ahh...well that is another story altogether! Summer is not for the faint of heart, and for those of us who can stand the 110 degree plus days, well there is sweet reward (aka, the other times of the year!)

So my final exam is today. Yes, it is D-Day, and I am doomed (LOL!) I have heard from two other students that the final exam is a killer. In fact, I have heard from students in general that most fail the exam.

Today's plan includes study time to review the exam guide. At this point, I am not sure I can study much. I have scored between 26-30 in every lab (30 is max). My average score has been 29.25, which is not bad for this course. I just finished the extra credit lab, worth another 30 points. We will see how well I did on it (praying for 26-29 points) so that my exam will be covered.

God has been so good to me. I can remember how panicked I was last summer. I sat in my first doctoral class, in residence at Regent, and listened to 2nd and 3rd year students give advice on what to do, what not to do, how to study, etc. They patiently answered all our questions and provided good feedback for us. I can remember when the topic of this class came up and a question was asked about how difficult it was, etc. All three students on the panel hung their heads and sighed! They all agreed it was a humbling class, and that Type "A" perfectionists would suffer the most!

Well, I have to admit that it wasn't as bad as I had imagined it would be. It was challenging and at times very frustrating for me. I struggled, and I studied, and I worked my little backside off to get the lab work completed on time. Overall, though, I felt it was an interesting course, and I learned a lot about statistics.

Now it is my turn to take the final exam. I am praying I do well. I am praying my extra credit covers the 30 or so points I know I will give up due to wrong answers. God is good. He is faithful, and He has me covered, well covered.

April 24, 2014

Sometimes Things Work Out

I just checked my email and praise be to God, I received my paperwork for ACU. I am thanking God for His provision for another adjunct position starting this fall. As I reviewed the paperwork, my heart sank a little bit regarding some of the forms I am required to sign. It's not that I didn't expect to have to sign them because when I interviewed with the Dean back in March, I decided to be truthful about my marital situation. I couldn't work for a school without being up front about my current lifestyle.

ACU is a conservative Christian school, and I wholeheartedly support their Biblical model and their emphasis on marriage and divorce. They are gracious of course and understand there are always extenuating situations (adultery, for example), but still the whole "divorce should not be considered" mindset is the very legalism I came out of after 25 plus years of marriage. My heart is so sad because it just reminds me of what my life used to be like, and that while I believe God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman, I guess I have a far more liberal understanding now. I believe in grace, and I thank God that He saved me from that legalism, and that He loves me just as I am. He understands my heart, and He knows me well. Still, my heart smacks with the sting because of this kind of limited Biblical view...UGH!

So back to my convo with the Dean -- I had friends who said "just go along with it, Carol. You need this job." I couldn't do that because I am not good at lying. In fact, I am so horrible at it that I LITERALLY CANNOT LIE. Now, I am not perfect -- I lie -- I am human. I just mean that you only have to look at me and I will start crying. I cannot do it and I have learned that it is best to be honest -- less explaining later on! Besides, and more importantly, what would the Lord want me to do? I decided it was best to be honest. The Dean was very kind to me and he explained that I would have to sign a paper saying I agree with their view.

Just an aside: Does anyone really understand what it feels like to be in my position? I mean, to really consider what I feel about this situation? I am so tired of people assuming that I wanted to be divorced, that I didn't try hard enough to keep my marriage together, and that I am somehow at fault. In truth, the only people who do get it are those who are divorced. Christians who are happily married, and I know a boat load, simply do not understand the brokenness and heartbreak that comes when a marriage is torn apart. They just do not understand the grief that comes with this type of fractured relationship.

Anyways, I have nothing to hide, mind you, it was just that I didn't want to have to explain after-the-fact that I am married, but living singly. I thought it was best to get it out on the table, and to be clear about my life. I mean, really, it is awkward enough to have to explain to anyone how it is that I am single, but not divorced yet. Everyone I know either assumes I am married or that I am divorced. When the question comes up, I tend to shift into that awkward stance and as hard it is to believe, I end up with a lack of words (LOL!) AGH! It is so hard to be in this weird place. I hate it, and I want it to be over.

My heart just struggles so with CHRISTIANITY some days! I read an article published in Today's Christian Woman magazine that was entitled, "What You Don't Know About Divorce." The author was trying to encourage women not to divorce AT ALL. I read the article and while I agreed with some of what she said, I ended the article with a heart ache. It was like "you will not be happier after you divorce" and I was like "but I am." She said "you will be lonely and regret leaving your husband" and I am saying to myself "Yes, I am lonely, but I don't regret the decision."

I couldn't wrap my head around her POV. I guess she was coming from the view that many people, men and women, divorce for "we are no longer getting along, we are no longer in love, we are no longer [insert word choice]." The problem, in my opinion, is that this kind of writing simply promulgates the belief that divorce should never be considered in Christian marriage regardless of the circumstances. I read the comments from some of the women who read this article. At least three of them came out of abusive relationships. I just thought to myself "why do we do this to people?" Why don't we love them in-spite of what has happened?

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"John 8:7 NLT

Let's be real folks. If I could see inside your head, inside your heart, and hear your thoughts, would I think you were righteous enough to cast that first stone? I can tell you that in my head, in my heart and in my thoughts, there has been so much sin. I cannot stand before Him, and I possess no righteousness of my own. I am wholly dependent upon Him for His blood and His cleansing flood. I stand free in liberty because of the price He paid for my sin.

OK, enough sad song. I am over it.

I am giving the Lord all the praise today because He is faithful to keep His promises. I am resting in Him completely believing that He is good, and that He is in control of these details. My glass is half-full, and I am praising Him for His provision of a second teaching job for me. I am not looking at ACU as a permanent position anyway. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach there, for that open door, but I am believing that God will move me to the position of His choosing. I am not really ready for a full-time job right now. I think it is best that I work part-time for a while. I have some difficult doctoral courses coming up, and it is nice to have the flexible schedule and freedom to take a reduced load if I need it. God is good. He is so very good!

Down to the Wire

It is a GOOD Thursday morning in sunny Phoenix! I am loving the fact that my summer break has started, and that I don't have anything to do except REST and finish my final exam for COM 702: Quantitative Research Methods.

God has been so amazingly good to me this year. It is hard to believe that it is almost May. My life has taken such a 180-degree turn since 2010. I am living a completely different life now, and I am loving every minute of it!

I was just thinking about May 2011. My son and I traveled with my parents back to Indiana for my Dad's 60th high school reunion (Rockcreek Township High School, near Bluffton). I was working at Macy's then, and I had just started my Master's program the previous fall. I was working towards a career change, leaving Web Design for college teaching. My husband and I had separated the year before, and I was uncertain as to my future -- what would it hold, where would I go, what would I do? 

My parents wanted my son and I to go with them because they needed help through the airports, etc. I wanted to go to get away from the troubles at home, and my son wanted to go to get out of Arizona (his favorite excuse!) We spent a wonderful 10 days visiting family, seeing the old farm, walking the cemetery at Emmanuel Methodist Church (now closed - so sad - such a beautiful old stone church). The weather cooperated and it was so lovely to be back in Indiana during the springtime.

Just thinking about it makes me want to take another visit there. My Aunts are a little older than my Dad, and they are getting to that point where illness is catching up with them. I enjoyed spending time with them and with my cousins. It was such a nice time to get away and to enjoy the freedom of resting without worry or without fear.

Zoom forward almost three years later, and I am now teaching college (part-time), and I am working on a doctorate in Communication. I am living as a single person for the first-time in nearly 30 years, and I am enjoying the freedom that comes with being single. I go where I want to go, I do what I want to do. Don't get me wrong, I do miss the companionship and the fellowship of sharing your life with someone. It is hard sometimes, really hard, to be alone. I get lonely a lot, and I miss being with a friend, hanging out, going places, eating together, etc. I miss "doing life" with that special someone. I miss that part of being married that says to the world "you are the one I have picked to spend the rest of my life with and I love being with you!"

Until the Lord determines otherwise, I am single, and I am to remain single. I am content with being single for the rest of my life, if that is His will. However, I wouldn't mind finding someone special, if that someone special exists out there for me. Right now, I think there is no one out there. I mean I am not the easiest person to get a long with and I have some major quirks to my personality. I know myself well and it would take a God-chosen person to be my other half. Yes, God will have to find that person and bring them to me because I cannot be trusted to find him. Truthfully, my track record has not been that good, know what I mean, and I do not want to mess this up again (not that I did the messing it up, but I am also not naive to believe I didn't play a part in the whole demise, etc.)

God is good. He is good. He knows my needs, and He understands my wants. I am resting in Him, completely trusting Him for His will and His way in my life. If He chooses for me to be married again, so be it. If He chooses for me to remain single, so be it. I believe He is able to decide what is best, and I am resting in His ability as my Lord, my Master, my Ruler and my Savior. 

I am still waiting on contracts from Arizona Christian University. The Lord tells me to be patient and I am trying to do it. I get impatient a lot, but I also understand that it is the end of the semester for ACU and the chair and staff have a lot on their plates right now. I believe the contracts will come, and I will be set for fall teaching. I would like to have it over, you know, officially set in stone. My son laughs at me because it is so "INTJ-like" to need to know everything. I need this to be done. I need to have this part of my life planned, documented, done! See -- who would want to live with me? I would drive them crazy with my planning and organizing. Everything has to be just SO or else it drives me crazy. My son says it is part of the INTJ's need to be in control. I guess that is what it is. I am not a control-freak by any means (well, I guess I am! LOL!) I control myself and my responsibilities -- not people. I am not into controlling others -- I need that to be said! I just need my ducks to be in a row, all lined up nice and neat so that I can stop worrying over them. It is just part of my quirky personality.

Just an aside: one of my first bosses gave me a puzzle for Christmas. It said "Neatness is a sure sign of a crazy mind!" He always made fun of the way I organized my desk. I am UBER organized and I do not like it when my stapler or tape dispenser is all catty-wampus. I know there were guys in the office who would do that to me. They would just move things on my desk to make me freak out. Yes, note to self, do not disclose to anyone that you have slight OCD tendencies!

It is true, however, I am a picture straightener, and a liner-upper. If I walk past a wall of pictures in a restaurant and they are skewed on the wall, I straighten them up. I am not overt, not like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory or Monk in the TV series, Monk. Nope, I can walk past them without straightening them, but I have to control the urge to do so. Agh! I digress...

So back to the business of ACU. I am going to be patient to wait for them to send me the contracts. I don't want to bother them considering it is the end of the semester. I believe the Lord is faithful in this business, and I will wait upon Him.

On other business, I have to book my flight and hotel for VA Beach soon. I looked at airfare a couple weeks ago and I could get a round trip ticket from Phoenix to Norfolk for about $300. I have a feeling that price has gone up. I plan on staying 8 days like last year. This summer, I want to spend some time at the beach. I didn't even get to the beach last year. I did try to drive there, but navigating Atlantic Blvd during summer break in VA -- well -- it is about as bad as driving down Highway 1 from Malibu to Santa Monica, CA. You hit every red light and stop for pedestrians crossing the street (anywhere, not just at the cross walks). This year, however, I am planning ahead and I am going to find where the off-street parking lots are located. Then I will walk to the beach (good idea!)

I am also going to be working on my beach body (HA! LOL!) between now and then. Oh, don't laugh at me. I really do need to work on it, and I finally have time to do it. My friend, Marie (a doctoral colleague) has a Fit for Life group in Alabama. She has allowed me to join via the Internet even though I cannot do the weekly weigh-ins in her barn (OH! did I say how much I love barns and tractors??) I have been really good with my diet (not really a diet, just a healthier eating plan), but I haven't made the time for fitness. So starting Monday, I am going to work out. My goal is to get back into running. I used to run all the time, well when my son was little, and I had free time during the day. I haven't been running or even walking much (though last semester I had to walk across campus two-three times each day and I purposely parked on the fifth floor of the parking garage so that I would have to walk up the stairs). Anyhoo, now that I am on summer break, I am making fitness a priority. I need to get into shape, build some endurance, and start living an active life again. I spend so much time at this computer, and the only exercise I am getting is walking from my car to class and back again. It is the sad and sorrowful story of a lonely middle-aged woman (who lives with her parents and has two cats!) AGH!

Other good news: I got approval to take COM 507: Social Media and Internet Marketing this fall. I asked if I could take this Masters level class to help prepare me for teaching undergrads. My mentor said "Yes!" and I am so happy. This means that I will have a relatively normal school load this fall. I am already registered for COM 701: Historical/Critical Research methods, and I have been told that there is a lot of reading and writing in that class. Adding an elective like 507 will balance my study load and make it easier for me to teach four classes. I am panicked a little bit over teaching so many classes and taking two doctoral classes. The Lord assures me I can do it, and I believe Him. I can do it. I am a classic overachiever and I have a propensity for being a "Type A" personality. Yes, I admit it, I am Type A. I am not satisfied with my 97.5 percent grade in my statistics class right now, and it bugs me that I did not do better on my last quiz. Sad, sad, sad. I know "get a life, right?" Yeah, well this is the only life I have, and while I may be fixated on things that don't matter in the big scheme of things, I do think I have my priorities straight. I am focused on Him first and foremost, and I am doing what I believe is the Lord's will and work. If He has forgiven me, and if He accepts all the weirdness in my personality, so be it.

Anyhoo, as I consider the Fall, I am really blessed. I think I have a good schedule at Regent, and I think my teaching load is going to be manageable. Right now, I should have three English Comp classes and one communications course. The ENG classes should be low-key since the students spend all their class time writing. The COM class should be fun, and I will need to prepare some interesting things to keep them involved. Overall, I am really excited for these new opportunities.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the way you have covered my life with blessing. You took what I thought to be devastation and utter despair and turned it into something beautiful. You have provided a new life for me, a fulfilling and blessed path to follow, and a future filled with such hope. I thank you for everything you are doing in my life this day, and I pray for your continued favor and blessing as I follow your way and submit to your will. I ask now that you provide confirmation on those teaching contracts, and that you help me with my final exam (which I just heard from a colleague was not so fun!) I am trusting for your provision this day, and I am believing your Word to me. May your Name be praised today and forever more. I ask all this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

April 23, 2014

Bittersweet Moments

Today is my last teaching day at Grand Canyon University. I am filled with such bitter-sweetness right now as I am happy the semester is over, but so very sad that I will not see my students again. I never thought it would be so difficult to say good-bye to these awesome young adults.

As I consider the past 6-9 months and I think about all that has changed for me, I am filled with awe and wonder at the way God has orchestrated the details of my life.

Last July, I made the decision to follow my heart and leave CVS Caremark (to leave a very good, but incredibly stressful analyst position) for teaching. My heart has wanted to "try" teaching since I was an undergraduate at SJSU. I believed then as I believe now that I was meant to be a teacher. It wasn't my calling, but rather, it was a chosen profession for me. It was something I would do, would be good at, and would do to provide for myself (a career for me). Of course, I never followed through on becoming a teacher. I have blogged about this before, about the choices I made, which took me in a completely different direction. Now that I think about it, I recall that I really felt the push toward teaching when I was still a student at Evergreen Valley Community College. I was so lost back then, such a baby, clueless as to the ways of the world. I floated through those years, doing the bare minimum, trying to make sense out of my emotions, my thoughts, my wants and my dreams. I changed majors too many times to count, and I ended up graduating with an AA degree in Liberal Studies (art concentration). Still, I can remember thinking that perhaps I needed to transfer to our local Christian school, a Bible college, and complete a BA in Education. I thought about teaching elementary or high school education and using my art background as a secondary subject area. Instead, I ended up getting married, going to work in the high-tech industry, and putting off "college" for a good six years.

When I did return to school, I was much older and much wiser. The second time around mattered since my parents were not paying for my education. I was responsible, and I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could be a good student. I did just that -- becoming a President's Scholar -- and graduating with a much improved GPA. I also graduated with the new idea of becoming a teacher. This time though the idea was not to teach education at elementary or high school, but to go on to become a college Professor.

My son's birth interrupted that plan as did the fact that my husband didn't want me to continue on at school. He was tired of spending the money for me to go to school, and he didn't support the idea of me becoming a teacher. I firmly believed that God wanted me to follow this path, yet in submission to my husband, I chose to be a SAHM. I dove into the role of Godly wife and mother, and I devoted my time and my attention to being the best wife and Mom I could be.

In my heart, however, I never forgot that pushing of the Holy Spirit. In fact, at least once every couple years, I would find myself weeping uncontrollably over what I believed was a failure on my part to follow His leading. I would cry it out, surrender it to the Lord, and then move on. The blessing was that each time I laid my hearts desire at His feet, He gave me the strength to pick up my cross and bear it.

I would never have thought back then that there would still be hope for me to become a teacher. I would never have even believed that someday I would return to college and graduate with a Masters and a PhD degree. Yet, here I am today, well on my way to doing just that amazing feat.

Last year, it was so difficult for me to trust the Lord. I knew I needed a different job. CVS Caremark and Regent were not going to mix, so early in April 2013, I began looking for a new position. I tried to find internal jobs and then later began to search externally. I considered going back into Web Design for a time, being self-employed again. I also thought about going back into higher education. I tried unsuccessfully to find teaching jobs. It seemed all the schools wanted 3-5 years of experience and even with my Masters and my good grades, I didn't make the cut.

In July, I took a chance and applied at GCU. I was surprised when I received a call to interview. I went to that interview and while I didn't get a teaching job, I did get a IA position. The pay was $11 per hour, and I was told I could help teach in 3 classes. I thought this was impossible -- how could I live on $11 per hour? I had a car payment, a townhouse, and bills to pay. How could I leave a salaried position for an hourly wage?

I took the job because clearly the Lord opened the door. I mean it was a weird "supernatural" experience to walk in, interview, and be hired on the spot. I thought "the Lord wants me to do this" so I said yes and was hired that same day.

I started at GCU last August with the intention of assisting for one semester. The experience was less than satisfactory, and mid semester, I left for a position as a Business Analyst. I needed the money or so I told myself, and I needed stability. I couldn't live on hourly pay.

Three weeks into that job, a well-paying and good job, I left it. I knew it was the wrong place for me and I was miserable the entire time I was driving to work, at work, and driving home from work. I spent the day in tears -- literally in tears -- crying out to the Lord because it was SO wrong for me.

GCU was gracious and they accepted me back. This time as an adjunct teacher with a contract for one class in the Spring. I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that I couldn't live on adjunct pay either. I made one mistake before, in not trusting the Lord to provide, and I was bound and determined not to do it again.

So I have completed my one semester contract, and I have lived off my savings and financial aid. It has not been fun for me -- I am so desperately dependent on income -- by nature a planner and secure analyst. Still, I believed that God knew what He was doing, and that He opened and closed doors to help me see His plan for my life.

Last month, I interviewed at Arizona Christian University. It was a whim, a chance encounter divinely ordered, and I ended up with a teaching contract for Fall. I am blessed, doubly blessed, but still uncertain how I will make ends meet through the long and very hot summer!

With all this in mind, I think back on those tentative days when I was afraid of everything. I remember how I ran because of fear -- away from God's plan for my life -- and hid among the safety net of a good paying job. Yes, a good paying job is a wonderful thing. I would welcome a good paying job any day. But, when the Lord desires you to do one thing, and you desire another, it can make any good paying job into a seriously miserable experience. Such was my experience, such was my case.

Today, I go into class for the last time. I wish my students the best of success as they continue on in their careers. I will pray for them, and I will remember them fondly because they were my first students ever! My very first students! I will love them always, and I will cherish their comments, their disapproval, and their disinterest in reading these stories. I will use this experience as a stepping stone to move into a full-time teaching career. I will take everything I have learned from GCU, and this one class, and use it to be a better teacher next semester. Lord willing, I will become the best teacher I can be, and I will do the will of the Lord. He leads me, He guides me, and I go where He sends me. I am His, and He is mine. I can think of no better ending to this story then to say that I am where I belong -- finally -- after some 30 years in the making I am a teacher. I am proud to say that I teach college. I am blessed, and I am loved, and I am good.

April 22, 2014

When to Say it is Enough!

I found this picture online this morning as I was thinking about limitations and knowing when to say "it is enough!" I thought the philosophy behind the writing was crazy. I mean to know your limits but never stop trying to exceed them just seems really, really crazy to me!

I get it, really I do. I see the optimistic/new age believism in this photo. It is just that I also recognize that this is one of the greatest problems humans experience. I mean -- don't we exceed our limits on everything -- time, energy, commitments, credit, etc.? It seems that we don't know when our cup is full and overflowing, so we keep on pushing and pressing forward to get more. It is the "I can't have too much" syndrome and it part of our fallen nature and our postmodern culture.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said:

"What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." Eccl. 3: 10-14 NIV

King Solomon, a man who had access to everything a human could want or desire, reasoned that "everything is meaningless" (3:19). He writes,

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." (3:1)

God created us with a capacity to enjoy the good gifts of his creation -- however we were not created to live without boundaries. God gave us six days to work and one day to rest. There is a natural stopping point to our day and night and our work is to be contained as well. Moreover, our natural limits are bounded by age. The Bible tells us that the age of man has been reduced to less than 120 years (Gen 6:3). There is an end point to our living.

As I consider this photo, I cannot help but think that "striving after the wind" (Eccl. 1) is a useless endeavor. Our popular culture would say otherwise, but for me, I think the Bible has this one figured out. There is nothing wrong with good effort and toil, but at some point you have to say "it is enough" and rest. Oh to rest, what a glorious gift it is to rest.

To rest normally means "a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities." However, it also means:
  • peace of mind or spirit  
Rest comes from Old High German, "ruowa," which means to be calm. Calm denotes:
  • a quiet and peaceful state or condition
  • a peaceful mental or emotional state
Therefore, what resting means is to be calm, to have a quiet and peaceful mental and emotional state. I think it also means, to a greater extent, to cease from our labors -- all our labors. More so, "labors" is not just defined as the job (task, career, profession) we do, but ALL the work we do. 

Labor (noun):
a. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work.
b. Something produced by work.

It is physical, mental, spiritual and emotional work. In God's view, ceasing from our work really means to TRUST Him for all our needs, to let go, and to accept what He has given to us as provision. It incorporates physical resting (restoration and recovery), mental resting (peace of mind), emotional resting (quiet and calm levels), and spiritual resting (trusting and believing -- e.g. faith).

The world tells us that we must toil, strive, and fight for what we want. We are not to give up, never give up, but keep on striving for whatever it is that will FILL us up. Perhaps it is a job promotion, a new house or car, a spouse, a child, or some other THING that we think will provide that missing happiness in our life. We toil and strive, some times without thinking about it, and we find that we never can rest. We cannot stop seeking, stop searching, and stop striving -- in the hope that we will find what we need. The Biblical truth is that God has given us everything we need in Jesus Christ. There is no reason to continue to search for what we need because God has already provided it to us.

"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3 NLT

Yes, I understand that this is not a blanket statement saying that all our material needs are met immediately (Phil 4:19). I know what it feels like to be poor. I know what it feels like to be lonely. I know the sorrow of a broken heart, and I know the sadness that comes with loss. I know the thoughts that run through the mind especially when we are faced with hardship, trial or significant difficulty:

"These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." Matt. 6:32 NLT 

Yet, the Lord does promise to meet our needs, abundantly and with sufficiency:

"And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others." 2 Cor. 9:8 NLT

The root of the issue comes down to one question: in whom do we trust?

Am I trusting in the Lord to provide for every need that I have? If yes, then I am to rest and know that He is faithful and He will provide. If no, then I need to consider my relationship with the Lord to determine why I am not trusting Him completely. The latter is easier to overcome than the former. In truth, if the answer is no, the solution is to spend more time getting to know the Father as Provider (Jehovah-Jireh), and to spend some quality time in the Word so that you can receive instruction to help you come into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Him.

If the issue is the former, a matter of trusting and resting in the Lord, let me encourage you this day to remember that there is power in the words you speak. If you speak words that go against the Word of God, then you are not speaking "life" into your situation (John 6:63). You must speak the Spirit's words and let them bring life and power into each need.

Speaking words filled with the Holy Spirit will empower you IN your circumstance. What this means is that you will find peace and contentment to remain where you are or you will find inspiration to move to where He wants you to be. I found this to be true in my own life. For many years, I lived in the shadow of doubt. I wanted so badly to believe that the Word of the Lord was true. But for me, I never experienced change that moved me in positive directions. I seemed to be stuck in the same rut. The world screamed at me to pick myself up and try again, and again. I followed the voices that said "you can do it, Carol," "don't give up, don't give in," and "keep on striving -- you will overcome through your will and determination." Yeah, well, I can tell you that I had little success and in the end all I experienced was a sense of weariness.

It took a long while, and a lot of heartache before I was able to recognize what the Lord was telling me to do. Once I did, and I let go of my own efforts, I found that His way brought sweet peace, a contented mind, and the ability to "see" His hand in every area of my life. Moreover, I became inspired by what I believed was His plan for my life. As I learned how to trust Him, I became dependent upon His Word for guidance, and I began to seek Him in every area of my life. I had to do a lot of letting go -- most of it was painful for me -- but the outcome was a CHANGE in my outlook, my attitude, and my actual circumstances.

My prayer today is for you, my blog reader (if anyone is really out there reading this blog, LOL!), is to come to that place where you can rest in His will for your life. I pray His grace upon you this day, and that you will find exactly what you are looking for in Him.

April 21, 2014

The Final Stretch

It is a good Monday here in sunny and warm Phoenix! This is my second to last day of the semester and I am feeling the lag in energy as I head into the final stretch.

Last week took its toll on me. I worked tirelessly on my research paper, and I tried to keep on top of my other class (Family Communication) as well as my teaching responsibilities at GCU. This week I have light teaching duties, but I have a final exam for Statistics and frankly I am feeling uncertain about my performance. I was disappointed with my quiz grade, 93%. I worked so hard on that quiz, and I really felt I should have scored in the 96-98% range. There is nothing I can do about it. I have tried to ask my professor to clarify on answers and he tends to just iterate the same response (UGH!) I know I should be pleased - I mean - 93% is an A- in this class (and it is ADVANCED STATISTICS after all!) OK, slap me -- I admit that I am a perfectionist!

(Yeah, using the kitty divider this morning - in honor of my cats!)

I spent a very restless night last night. I had a statistical nightmare (really I did!). I dreamed I was trying to solve some problem, and I was so frustrated over the results of the data analysis. I woke up four times, and each time I went back to sleep the dream repeated itself. I am calling it a "repeated measures dream" (just some statistical humor).

Sometime in between that dream set and the other weird dream (with a Northern Pike - don't ask!), my cat Winston took to pounding on my son's bedroom door. I woke up around 1 AM, and considered throwing my slipper and my pillow at him. He finally heard me whispering his name (trying not to wake up my parents) and he came in to bed with me. He does this pounding bit to let my son know that he wants in his room. DJ generally doesn't let the cats in because 1) his room is a mess, 2) he has rubber bands and hair bands (for his long gorgeous hair) on the floor, 3) he has wires, cables and papers on the floor, and 4) his room is a mess (oh yes, double-emphasis on that one). Winston is his cat, always has been, and he loves DJ. If he does get in his room, he heads straight up to the loft bed and will curl up on top right where I cannot reach him (smart kitty). So anyway, I was glad he listened to me and left the pounding business. Still, I feel like I spent a night of tossing and turning and problem-solving. I am exhausted!

Today I am prepping for my afternoon class, and I am trying not to think about the final exam coming up this weekend. I have a study guide to complete (my portion) and extra credit lab questions to answer. I also have 24 student essays to grade -- supposed to have them graded this weekend -- but couldn't do it all. I will get those graded tonight so that I am free from grading duty for the week. In all, my week is pretty busy. I will be so very glad when Sunday arrives and I am finished with teaching and school!

Then, PTL, I will have one week off before summer session begins at Regent. I am looking forward to my next two courses: Qualitative Research methods and Crisis Communication. I am a qualitative gal so I am excited to learn how to conduct this kind of research. Plus this is the type of research I hope to do for my dissertation. The Crisis communication course will be good too and it will help prepare me for ministry with churches and other non-profit organizations. Crisis communication is so vital to the health of the organization. When crisis occurs, you have to have a game plan in mind or else you would quickly lose the perception battle.

Lastly, I am thinking about the next month or so (planning ahead). My son jokes that as an INTJ personality type - I have the next 33 years of my life planned out. Yeah, he read this somewhere during his time researching Jungian archetypes and the Myers-Briggs profile test. INTJs typically plan their future an average of 33 years in advance. The funny part is that most of the time our plans come to pass. We are atypical from most personalities in that we need to have a plan or else we lose focus and control over our mental processes. I am flexible to some extent, meaning that if it is not a "do or die" situation, I can go with the flow. I am a "whatever" type of girl. If you say, "hey, lets go here for dinner," my response will be "sure!" I really do not care that much. But if you say, let's move here or uproot ourselves to go there, then my INTJ brain kicks in and says "whoa -- we have to do analysis on that idea before we make any decision." I will put the breaks on when it comes to my work, my future, my plans or God's will for my life.

Long digression there, but the short of it is (ha -- that is so funny -- dualism, I love it!) that I do like to plan out my life. I have all my little boxes set on my shelf, one for each aspect of my life, and they are self-contained, in order, and very logically and critically analyzed for flaws, issues or concerns.

Right now, I have summer plans that include school (Regent) and a trip to VA Beach for my summer residency (June 9-13). I was invited to spend a couple days in the Outer Banks, but not sure if I want to do that or not.

In July, I am taking my parents and son over the hill to San Diego. My brother has wanted us to come for a visit and we tried to do that last year, but couldn't get our schedules coordinated.

In August, I have lesson planning to do (four classes -- Oh, Lord, what are you thinking?) and then school starts for me (Regent, GCU and ACU).

In October/November, I am thinking about taking a trip to Indiana to a writer's conference at Anderson University. I found this conference online and the focus is on faith stories. I am thinking about writing about faith stories for my dissertation and I was Googling for information. This school came up on Google, and they are hosting a conference. I thought that I might see if I could visit my Aunt in Berne (near Ft. Wayne) at the same time. I am not sure I can swing the cost of travel, expense for staying a couple nights, etc. Still, I think it would be interesting to listen to the speakers. The emphasis is on creative writing more so than research, but it might prove a good exercise to prepare me for scholarly research on this topic. We will see -- the Lord has to provide a way for me to go -- and the resources so I can go there. Just an aside -- Indiana in the fall -- that brings back so many sweet memories of my childhood. I can see the leaves and smell the wonderful crisp clean Fall air!

November/December hold no special plans, just the normal family stuff.

There is my life in a nutshell, boring as heck, and with little excitement to boot. I am all about school, school, school! God be praised, however, He knows me well. He has great plans in mind for me, and I am resting in His provision and sufficiency.

Dear Lord,

You are GREAT and your way is amazingly smooth. Your word tells us that you will direct our steps (Prov.) and that you will guide us to a smooth path. You have done this for me, and I am thankful! Thank you today for all you have done this past week. I didn't think I was going to make it and you settled me so I could focus and complete my work. I ask now that you continue to focus me as I complete these last remaining assignments. Let me finish this semester strong! I ask all this in your matchless and merciful Name, Amen! So be it, thy will be done! Selah (pause and calmly think about it!)