March 26, 2015

Keep Moving

It is a great morning here in sunny and warm Phoenix. Yes, our daytime high is expected to hit the mid-90s. I am so not ready for summer (and it is only March), but the inevitable is coming, and there is nothing we can do about it. Yes, time keeps marching on, and here in Phoenix, the seasons (our two -- warm and hot) cycle around like clockwork. Sigh!

I am officially worn out, by the way, and even though I am tired, so very tired, I must keep moving on. Yes, in order to keep my balance, I have to keep peddling and moving on. In class yesterday, I remarked that we had six more weeks of school. My students reminded me that there are five more weeks (this is five). Oh, they are so smart! I double-checked and they are correct. My schooling for Regent has six more weeks, but my teaching contract at GCU ends the last week of April. WOW! Another semester down, and in the books!

As I think about time, and how it moves on without a hitch, I am reminded of my life, and how just a couple years ago, I never thought I would ever become a teacher. In fact, I had told my parents and my family that the reason I had returned to school to get my Masters degree was so that I could become a teacher. It was a plausible excuse, and it sounded good. The truth was that I returned to school because I felt the Lord leading me to do it. I didn't have an end goal in mind, and I didn't think about a PhD back then at all. The thought had crossed my mind, but I was in the midst of separation from my husband, and my life was all about survival. I was looking for full-time work, which preoccupied my time, and school was a pleasant thought only. In time, though, I did go to school, and I did graduate from Mercy College. It was during my time at Mercy that the Lord laid the PhD on my heart, and He began to draw me toward Regent University.

After I graduated from Mercy, I felt the Lord drawing me toward teaching, but no matter how often I applied for positions, no one would look at me. I didn't have any experience, and I didn't "show well" on my resume. Even with my business experience, and corporate training, no college gave me a second look. Though little by little, the Lord provided for me, and continued to pull me through to this road. I would pray about it, asking the Lord why He would ask me to get my Masters if He didn't intend for me to teach. After a while, and with no hope for a teaching job, I gave up, and I settled into my work as an Enrollment advisor at UOPX. The work was miserable, and I hated the job. Yet, I was happy to have good practical work, and I loved my colleagues and the environment. I loved working in higher education, and I felt that I was meant to work at a college or University. Still, I thought about teaching a lot, and everyone I knew said to me "Carol, you are such a teacher! Why aren't you teaching?"

After what seemed like a dozen rejection letters, in the summer 2012, I had received a call to teach English at one of the small business/for-profit schools in the area. I was ecstatic, and I jumped at the opportunity to interview. My hopes were dashed when I found out that they wanted me to start in a week's time. Plus, I panicked at the thought of leaving UOPX and taking a job with no benefits and no guarantee for long-term employment. My family was dead-set against the move, and they felt that it was even ridiculous to consider teaching adjunct when a perfectly good job was already had.

I prayed about it, and I felt confident that the Lord would provide for me. In fact, I was going to interview and do the "mock teach" despite what my family thought about it. I told a colleague of mine (well, several), and when I confessed my fear about leaving UOPX for this uncertainty, she said this to me "Carol, you will never know if you like teaching unless you try it out." I told her that I didn't think I could walk away from my steady employment to teach for this college. The Dean called me twice, begged me to reconsider, but I said no to her. I told her I couldn't live on adjunct pay. The funny thing was that she told me I could teach extra general education courses and that I would be able to earn enough. I didn't believe that teaching four classes would be "enough." In the end, the truth was that I was afraid that I couldn't teach -- as in unable to teach well enough. I thought that because I didn't have any materials to present, I would fail miserably at teaching. Furthermore,  I couldn't imagine myself teaching English without any "field" experience. Even though the Lord assured me that He would provide teaching materials, and that I could indeed teach -- I caved into fear, to doubt, and to the unknown. I caved.

After that opportunity passed by, I found the position at CVS Caremark, and I took that job. I liked the work, the environment, and the pay. The thought of teaching, however, never left me, and even though I never felt called to teach, I did have this desire to try it out.

After a year at CVS, I started my PhD program, and I knew that it would be difficult for me to work there and complete my studies. I prayed for an open door, a different job whereby I could have flexible hours in order to focus on my studies. The Lord showed me the IA position at GCU, and pressed me to apply. I didn't do it because it was hourly pay -- and a far cry from the solid salary I was making at CVS. Still, I felt this pull toward GCU, so I applied for a dozen or so positions. Nothing materialized until late summer 2013, when I applied for an adjunct position. I interviewed (praise God) but because I lacked teaching experience, I was offered the chance to student teach (the IA position the Lord showed me). In July 2013,  I stepped out in faith, and I took the job.

I have been teaching at GCU since 2013, and while I don't like the adjunct pay, the "never knowing what you will get each semester when contracts are handed out," I am content to be there. I like the school a lot. I love the students. I love the support you get from the faculty services folks.  The Lord was gracious to me when I asked for the opportunity to 'try' teaching, and with that prayer, He opened the door to where I am now. Moreover, He provided a second opportunity for me to teach at ACU, and with that school, I have been able to teach a 4/4 load and bring home about what I was earning at UOPX (minus the benefits).

Despite all the Lord has done, and miraculously done, I still stress over teaching every single semester. I worry about my performance, and I fear the unknown future. Yet, when I stop and think about it, I realize that here I am, surviving it all, learning from the experience, and doing my best, my best each day. The Lord sustains me, and He helps me understand that as long as I am teaching, I am relying on Him and not resting in my own strength and ability. I am learning how to trust Him, to abide in Him, and let Him lead me and work through me.

Now I am at this transition point whereby I have enough experience to seek a full-time position as a teacher. I am not 100% in the best spot yet, but I am close. I will have two full years of experience. Most schools want you to have three to five years of full-time experience. I am adjunct, which is part-time, but I can show that my teaching load is 3/3 or 4/4 and that equates to full-time. Still, for me to find a full-time position, I need to be ABD or PhD ready. I am not quite there, but I will be soon. Therefore, I must keep on pedaling my bicycle. I cannot give up now nor can I rest for too long. I have to keep on moving toward the full-time teaching position that the Lord has in mind for me.

I have applied for two positions in Alabama, and for two positions in Arizona. So far I have not heard a word on the two in AZ. I am able to see that my applications for the schools in AL are "in progress" which just means that my packet has been forwarded to the hiring department. My only hope for a position rests with the Lord. I realize that I can apply, but the Lord must open the door. He must put my application at the top of the stack, and He must make the hiring manager like what he or she sees in my resume. I cannot control the outcome. I can apply, step out in faith, but then the rest is up to the Lord.

As of right now, I am convinced that the Lord desires me to move to AL. I have applied in two locations in the state. The preferred choice is Auburn, but I am willing to teach at any of the schools in the area. I am a dark horse candidate so to speak because I don't have the exact experience needed. I can teach English with my Masters degree, but to teach Communication, well that requires the school to look past my Masters and focus on my completed coursework at Regent. They might, they might do this, but it is an unknown. Also, I have only taught one communications course. I have plenty of English experience, but I have little communication experience. Even though I teach my English courses as more 'argumentation in culture studies,' schools may not like that I am not a traditional educator. We will have to wait and see, just wait and see.

I've given up the thought of working in Admin roles. I did apply for two jobs that were admin focused. The one closed, and I was notified that I wasn't selected. The other one is still open, and my application was forwarded to the hiring department. No word on that one, but I am thinking they probably won't consider me simply because I have spent the last two years teaching. Part of me likes admin work, and then part of me doesn't. I really do like teaching, and I really do like the control I get when I teach -- it is all me -- 100% me and my effort (well, the Lord working through me, but you get the picture). I don't have a boss standing over me, and I can do what I want (within limits). I also like the freedom I get to have my summers off (whoohoo!) and my breaks throughout the year. It is a place where I can be free to be me, and I can push myself and my students as the Lord leads me. Moreover, I get to mentor, which is my calling, and simply the fact that I am mentoring my students, well that brings joy to my heart.

Thus, my heart's desire is to do whatever job the Lord has in mind for me. I have given up the notion of a career at this point, and I am focused on good practical work. I am content to teach so long as the Lord provides a place for me to do it. I am content to do other work as well. He knows that I need full-time salaried work and benefits. He knows my skills and my abilities, therefore, whatever door He opens, I can take confidence to know that it will be a good fit. He knows me well, so I don't have to worry about what kind of work He wants me to do. I will do whatever He brings to me, and I will relax and let Him do the providing. Yes, Lord, I let this go.

I am thinking that I will remain in teaching, even though it is hard on me physically, simply because it is where I am and my recent experience is all teaching-related. Plus it aligns with my studies at Regent, my scholarship, and my focus in communication research. However, if the Lord chooses to move to another type of work, so be it. I want whatever work He has for me, and I believe, no I know, it will be good.

So as I think about everything as it stands today, I realize that I am still in this limbo land. I am in Phoenix, living and working, but without any measure of security outside that of the Lord's provision. I would like to move to AL to be near my love, but again, that is in the Lord's hands. I feel it is His will, and I strongly desire it, but I cannot go without His provision, so I wait. Until He opens that door, and I receive a call to interview, I am right where I am. I can only keep on moving forward with His provision of a clear path. I do have tentative contracts for fall, and if that is the choice of the Lord, so be it. I can remain in Phoenix for another year. It will not hurt me to do so, but it will be another year of 100% reliance on the Lord. The Lord is well aware of my financial and security need. I trust Him to provide, and until He says otherwise, I will do the work assigned to me here, and I will be content in His provision and in His security. He is God, and I am not, therefore, He knows what is best for me. Selah!

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