March 3, 2015

Expecting Outcomes

It is a good Tuesday, and I am singing praises to the Lord for His gracious and merciful provision. Yes, I am thankful that the Lord has provided to me every single thing that I need. I have no lack today, and that is a blessing beyond measure. Lack is defined as "the state of being without or not having enough of something" (Merriam-Webster). I am filled-to-the-full, and it is the result of a God who loves me and cares for me -- of this -- I am certain! God is good, so very good to me!

Lately, I have been struggling with feelings of doubt. I have doubted the Lord's provision for my life; I have doubted His plans and purposes. I have cycled in and out of feeling as though everything is going well and everything is crashing down around me. It has been a roller coaster ride, up and down, with a myriad of twists and turns, and frankly, I was feeling a bit sick by it all. Then the Lord showed up, not in a miraculous way or even in an "Old Testament Cloud in the sky moment." No, rather, it was more innocuous, just a gentle reminder of who He is and who I am. The moment clarified so much, though, and as a result, I found myself feeling focused again -- strong, decisive, and full of faith. Yes, sometimes we need the simple reminder that God is God and we are flesh -- flawed and weak. I needed that reminder, for sure, and I needed to get my perspective reset so that I could stop doubting and start walking in faith. God is good, so very good to me!

Spring is Here, School is Almost Over!

Today is March 2, and I am sitting here thinking that I have two months to complete my teaching contracts at GCU and to finish this semesters course work at Regent. In two months, I will have completed two years of full-time teaching (well adjunct, but 3-4 classes per semester), and I will have finished my second year of doctoral courses. I will be a third year PhD student starting in May, and that thought, well, just overwhelms me. I can remember sitting at CVS Caremark in 2012, and thinking that I didn't know if I would be accepted to Regent for my PhD. I believed it was the Lord's will for me, but there was this lingering feeling of doubt that said "you are not good enough to do this work." I didn't tell anyone that I had applied for fear that if I was rejected, I would not have to deal with their conciliatory comments. I couldn't bear to hear those words:

"Oh, well, you tried."
"Perhaps you will get in next time."
"Well, it wasn't the Lord's will for your life."

I had to let those plans go for several months while I waited for the school to review my application materials. In the end, of course, the call came and I rejoiced knowing that the Lord's will had come to pass, and I was going to go to Regent for my PhD in Communication.

Now, I am in a similar situation. I have applied to Auburn University with the hope of being hired for one of two positions. I stepped out in faith and submitted my application believing that the Lord desired me to consider moving there for work. I haven't told my family yet because I did not want to start the questioning cycle about my motives, my plans, or my desires. What if I am not selected for this job opportunity? What if I have to stay here in Phoenix for another year? There are too many questions to answer, and too many unknowns right now. No, it is best to keep them in the dark until I am 100% sure that this is the plan the Lord has for my life.

I am waiting for confirmation on the job. I know that my application has been submitted to the hiring department for one position, but the other job is still open (until 3/5-6, I think). Once it closes, if I have all my ducks in a row, so to speak, then my application will be sent over for consideration. I hope to receive some word back mid-March. It would be good to receive a "yea or nay" just so that I know what plans I need to prepare for as in "next steps."

Opening Up the Dialogue

On Sunday evening, I broached the subject with my parents over dinner. My nephew and his girlfriend came up for dinner, and we were discussing her plans for a job (she graduated in December). The conversation turned toward me and whether I was planning on staying at GCU for the fall. I was honest and said that it would be difficult for me to teach another year of adjunct because of the low pay. I said I was looking for full-time work. Of course, this brought up the "where" question, and I answered honestly with "everywhere!" It is true, I am looking at jobs posted at colleges and universities all over the USA. I am not considering these positions, generally, but I am reading the posted opportunities just to see what is out there and available. As usual, the requirements for most of these positions are a PhD in hand or ABD (with PhD to follow by August 2015). Of course, I am no where near that mark yet, so many of the jobs are out of my league now. This is a fact, and whether my family wants to believe it or not (they are ignorant of higher education and how it works when it comes to faculty positions), the truth remains -- there are many hoops one must jump through for securing a full-time faculty position. I brought up Auburn as an example, but my conversation was met with "head in hands" and deep sighs. My father said "I don't want to move to Auburn." The entire dinner was the same -- he sulked and acted gruff -- and I focused on eating my dinner.

The problem is that no matter how you slice and dice it, my parents do not want me to move anywhere. They don't want me to move from Phoenix or out of our shared home. They don't want to think about changes, and they don't want me to do anything that will upset their little apple cart.

I knew this would be the case. I knew that when I told them I was looking for a full-time job anywhere the Lord leaded me, they would refuse to listen. Oh, they heard me, that is for sure. I have been saying this for 3-4 years now. The conversation has been clear:

"When the time comes, I may have to look outside the state of AZ for a job."
"When I am ready to work full-time again, I will need to look anywhere in the US for a job."
"There aren't a lot of positions here, so I will be looking elsewhere for a job."
"I will go wherever the Lord leads me for a job."

I think they only heard what they wanted to hear -- until then -- until that time, I will be staying put, not moving, not going anywhere.

I was thinking about this yesterday on my long drive home from GCU. I was thinking about the plans the Lord has for my life. Right now, this is what I know 100%:

  • I am to finish my coursework at Regent. This is 100% for sure, for certain, and for positive. Non-negotiable. I will finish, and I will graduate with my PhD in Communication in May 2017.
  • I am to finish my contracts at GCU for this spring. I am to complete my teaching assignments, and I am to finish my courses. No excuses. No quitting early. I am to be honorable to my teaching assignments.
I know nothing past April 26, 2015. Well, this is not true because I do know that I am going on to Regent for my summer semester and residency class. And, I do hope to make a small stop over in AL to visit my friend (to meet in person for the first time). I may also end up in Jacksonville, FL to visit with my Aunt and Uncle again, though this desire is a wish more than a for certain "planned" or hoped for activity.

What I do know besides the above is speculative right now. 
  • I know that my life in Phoenix seems to be coming to an end. 
  • I know that the Lord has been consistent in telling me that there is no permanent work for me here in AZ (this has been the case since 2010). 
  • I know have held a number of positions, but none of them were long-term, even though I had hoped that they would prove to be, they simply didn't meet my needs or fit my skills well enough to cause me to remain long-term. 
  • I know that the past two years were not a waste of my time. I gave up a good position working as an analyst, making good money, etc., because I felt that the Lord was providing part-time work for me in order for me to focus on my schooling at Regent. In truth, part-time has been the best thing. Yes, I have worked harder over the past couple years as an adjunct instructor than I ever would have as a full-time analyst, but the flexible schedule was important, and it did allow me to focus on my studies. 
  • I know that the skill I learned in the classroom is valuable as well. I learned so much about higher education, about classroom management, about teaching students, developing curriculum, planning lessons, etc. I learned a great deal, and I am thankful for the education, practical education, that came with being an instructor. 
So with all this knowledge, one thing is for sure, nothing that has happened in my life has been by accident or happenstance. Nothing is circumstantial because everything has been appointed and ordained by God. I know this, I am certain of it, and I take confidence in the fact that the Lord has guided me over the course of the past 8-9 years, and He has led me confidently through valleys and hills in order to provide a good life for me, a good practical and honest life. Furthermore, the life He has provided for me serves multiple purposes:
  • It is practical as it has provided income to support life for me and for my son.
  • It is educational as it has developed skills and abilities I never thought I would have.
  • It is informative as it has contributed to my knowledge about the field of study I am interested in.
  • It is applicable as it has enabled me to learn how to do certain jobs with ease.
  • It is motivational as it has caused me to consider deeply my role in His kingdom, and the plans and purposes He has for my life.
  • And lastly, it is foundational as it has empowered a change of attitude and of intention so that I transition from a worldly focus to a Christ-centered focus.
In short, the past 8-9 years of my life have been orchestrated by the mighty hand of God in order to bring me to the place where I am at today. So while I may not know what tomorrow brings (figuratively), I do know that nothing that has happened previously has been a random chance encounter. No, I have been on a divinely inspired and divinely appointed path -- working, walking, and waiting -- for the opportunity the Lord has in mind for me to serve Him and serve others for His Namesake.

As I consider today, and I make plans for tomorrow (all of them), one this is for sure -- nothing that has been planned by the Lord will fail to come to pass. Nothing that He desires will not arrive, in His perfect time and with His perfect result. I can rest in the knowledge that the plan I am pursuing has been divinely approved, and thus, I know that the Master and Creator of my days has everything under His Sovereign Control. He is good, so very good to me.

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