I was over at Walmart this morning, doing some food shopping (I decided I would make dinner for my parents tonight), when this thought came to me:
God has given me a GREAT life!
As I thought about my life, I couldn't help thinking about how blazing hot it was outside. It is pretty miserable right now (July and August are our worst months), and I was thinking about how much I do not like summers in Phoenix. I mean, summers in Phoenix are better than summers in the Sahara desert (if I have to compare them to something -- why not pick another desert place, KWIM?) They are better also, sometimes, from summers where the humidity and heat hit record highs. Phoenix, while not the garden spot of the Universe, is still not a shabby place to live. It is good here (most of the time -- like the 6 months when we have beautiful weather -- LOL!)
So as I was driving over to Walmart, thinking about my life, about the good things in my life, and about where I am right now in my life, I was also thinking about all the things I have to accomplish before school starts in August (a momentary panic came over me, I digress). In general, though, I was thinking about how very different my life is right now, I mean, from what it was like just a year ago. So much has changed for me, so much has happened to change my path, to alter the plans I had for myself. Let me explain...
Last year at this time, I was working for CVS Caremark. I had a very good job. I was well-liked by my peers, poised for a big promotion, and sitting in a good position, financially-speaking. I was finishing up my first year residency class, and I was thinking about how I was going to work full-time and complete doctoral classes. Part of me was panicked over trying to do doctoral study and work for CVS. My job was pretty grueling, and I often worked long hours during the busy season. I had to work overtime from home too. Plus the department I worked in had major drama issues -- lots of heated arguments (I don't do arguments), and not-so-nice contests between people who had personality and control issues. I felt like every day was a battle. I went to work, kept my head down, did my work, and went home. There were happy times, don't get me wrong, fun times when we would all kick back and laugh -- but generally speaking -- the proverbial "%$#@" hit the fan more times than not.
After I came home from Virginia Beach, I started to realize just how much drama was going on at CVS. My week at Regent was blissful. It was a lot of hard work, but the people, the faculty, and the place -- they were magical to me. I spent a week surrounded by spiritual people and spiritual things. My colleagues were exciting to meet, and I loved getting to know them. I saw a whole other side of the world during that one short week on campus. I came away thinking to myself "Is this all there is to my life?"
Prior to starting my classes at Regent, I struggled to figure out God's plan for my life. I had a calling to ministry and missions, but I knew that it wasn't something I would do right now -- it was set for a future time. I was working in corporate business, but studying to be an academic. I was trying to rationalize how I would merge the two together -- merge doctoral study with corporate work. Surely, there was a way to do this? No matter how many times I tried to figure it out, I couldn't do it. It was like they were oil and water -- they mixed up temporarily -- but later separated.
Coming back from Regent and seeing the intense drama at my job convinced me that I needed to do something else. I needed a different job, a job that would align more closely with my study. I thought about my time at University of Phoenix, how I loved the idea of working at a major university. In truth, I didn't like working in enrollment, which was just a fancy name for sales. I did like the school, and I liked helping students achieve their college goals. I had always wanted to work in higher education, to teach or to be an academic adviser. I felt this draw toward academics, and I knew that of all the places I could work, a college or university would be a naturally good fit for my education.
I never guessed that the Lord would open a door for me to teach at Grand Canyon University. I never thought that this was something I could do. I mean, I did want to do it, and I did believe I could do it. I just never thought that it was going to work out that way. I was, after all, 50 years old. Friends and family said "nicely" that I was too old to change careers, to go into teaching. They suggested I keep my good paying job at CVS and be thankful for it.
I was thankful for the job, oh yes! I was so thankful for it. Without that job, I wouldn't have been able to buy a new car, to travel to Regent, to do so many things that I got to do during that year long experience. I was very thankful for God's blessing of CVS in my life. It was more that I felt that working at CVS didn't fit the plans the Lord had for me. I felt good in taking the job initially. I thought CVS was a good company to work for and I felt that I had good opportunity there. It was just that the work itself didn't satisfy me. It didn't make me want to get up and go into work every single day. I did it, I was faithful, but it was more of a drudge to do it, than a joy.
My decision to follow what I believed was the Lord's open door for me at Grand Canyon resulted in a complete overhaul of my life's desires, plans, and goals. It has taken me a year to get up to speed as a teacher, but now I can say that I am truly loving my job as an educator. I cannot think of a better job for me. I love working as a professor. I love teaching students. I love the schedule (oh yes!) I love the fact that my work and my education are in sync now. I love the opportunity for teaching, and the possibility for a full-time contract sometime in the future. In so many ways, I see teaching as the perfect fit for my life. In this season, I am a teacher. I am right where I belong, and I love this feeling of job satisfaction.
I was out with my parents yesterday evening, and while sitting with them at dinner, a dear friend of the family stopped by to say hello. He and his wife used to attend our Church, but now they go to a different church (where their daughter goes). He is a sweet man, 88 years old, a WWII veteran, and a Gideon. He gives 50 cent pieces out to every single kid he meets. He shares the gospel with them, and he tells them how much Jesus loves them. Gene came and sat by me in the booth, and we chatted a bit. They were on their way home, so they didn't stay too long. After he left us, I sat there and marveled at what a neat guy he is, and how the Lord is still using him in ministry. I thought about this for my life, how I want to be used in ministry this way when I am his age. I want to spend every single day purposefully focused on serving the Lord. I don't want to waste a minute not being active in service to God and to others.
Over the course of this summer, I have had some rich and wonderful experiences, life changing experiences. I will say that this summer has been influential in confirming to me the plans the Lord has for my life. So many wonderful things have happened to me, and all of these things have worked together to show me God's blessing and favor on my life. Not a day goes by that I don't wake up happy. I mean really, really happy. I may be a bit grumpy in the mornings, but in my heart, my mind, and my spirit, I am so content. I have so much joy. I can say that I love my life, every single part of it, and I am blessed to experience new things, new people, new opportunities every day. God has worked a miracle within me. He has opened doors for me, and He has said to me "Go! Go out there and do my work!" I am ready to do His work, so very ready to do whatever work He has in mind for me.
Today is a good day. I am thankful for every single person the Lord has brought into my life, and for all the experiences (both good and bad) that have helped shape me, helped create me, helped make me into the person I am this day.
He is good. He is so very good to me.