March 9, 2015

Removing Obstacles

It is a blessed Monday here in Phoenix. Yes, it is going to be warm today, but at least we are not buried under a ton of snow. I am blessed to be in the Southwest today, and to be able to have my windows opened without freezing to death!

I slept well, finally. I had a good night, restful, and restorative. I purchase a new pillow yesterday, and it must have the correct loft for my head/neck. I woke up without a stiff neck or a headache (hooray!)

I am feeling panicked, and I have some anxiety today, but I think that is the result of not getting everything done that needed to be done this weekend. Somehow I have misplaced some assignments and tasks, and I am not sure what I am missing, but I *FEEL* like I am forgetting to do something. I hate this feeling because I know that most often I have forgotten to do something, and at some point, the realization will dawn on me, and then it will be too late to recover the loss (points, grades, or other stuff). ACK!

Yesterday, I made a list of everything that needed to be completed. I felt confident that I covered all the required assignments, but the list looked a bit bare, and that got me to thinking I was forgetting something important. I tried my best to figure it out, but in the end, I had to push the list aside and let it go. Harumph!

On the brighter side of things, I am feeling a bit better today. I am hopeful that everything is in order. I started my registration process for Summer school, and I am feeling a bit worried about taking 8 credits. I will have free time, of course, but I still feel that the credit load maybe too much for me. Still, I am confident that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing, and He has guarded my scheduled, approved my courses, and generally, provided direction through my program. Just today, I looked in Blackboard to see how many courses I have completed thus far. I will have 11 doctoral courses (well, combination of doctoral and masters) completed by the end of April. I have maintained my 4.0 GPA throughout my program. That means that I will have 33 credits completed with only 15 more to go before I am ready (qualified) to take my exams. The minimum credits required before you can take exams is 44. I will have 47. I am taking an extra summer course just to push me over the limit because I don't want anything to cause me problems and keep me from taking my exams. I will need to start studying for exams this summer and fall, but that worry is for another day. I digress...

So far these are all the courses I have completed at Regent University:

  • COM 700 Introduction to Doctoral Studies
  • COM 701 Historical/Critical Research Methods
  • COM 702 Quantitative Research Methods
  • COM 703 Qualitative Research Methods
  • COM 704 Applied Methods
  • COM 705 Advanced Communication Theory
  • COM 708 History of Communication
  • COM 785 Family Communication in the Digital Age
  • COM 507 Social Media and Internet Marketing
  • COM 631 Organizational Communication
  • COM 652 Crisis Communication
I have these courses left to complete before I can take my exams:
  • COM 730 Advanced Writing for Publication (Summer)
  • COM 795 Dissertation Research (Summer)
  • COM 628 Leadership Theory and Communication (Summer)
  • COM 709 Theology and Communication (Fall)
  • COM 791 Doctoral Pedagogy (Fall)
My exams will be next Spring (2016). I am not sure how I will work it all out because the exams are done two weeks apart. The first part, the written exam, is completed on Th-F (8 hours each day). The oral exam is a 2 hour response and it is taken 1-3 weeks after passing the written exam. I can have the written exam proctored, which means I can take it here in Phoenix. The oral exam can be done on a conference call, but I have been told that it is best to complete it in person. My prayer is that I could take both parts on campus. There is a special power on Regent's campus, and I just *FEEL* the Holy Spirit whenever I am there. I think it would be best to be on campus and have that extra blessing wash over you, calm fears and nerves, etc. 

Once I pass my exams, I will be officially ABD (all but dissertation). I will have to schedule a defense for my proposal, and that would mean another trip to Regent. I believe, however, that you can only do the defense in spring or fall, so more than likely I would need to visit the campus in the fall to do the defense. Once that is completed, I can then begin writing my dissertation. It seems that once you are finished with your coursework, logistics is the main bugaboo to tackle. I live in Phoenix, and Regent is in Virginia. I have to travel back and forth and that is more money out of my pocket. If anyone says that a PhD is easy, they are ignorant of what is involved. It is not easy. It is the most difficult, most challenging, and most rewarding experience possible!

Sigh! The life of a doctoral student is crazy. I am always looking forward to the goal, to the reward of the degree posting and the celebration of a hard fought, but satisfying battle (intellectual and not physical).

Obstacles in my Path

On top of my course woes, I am also thinking about money, work, and relocation. Yes, I have that on my mind as well. I know the Lord has a great plan for my life, and that plan does include full-time work. I mean, after all the hard work and expense of an advanced degree, I doubt seriously the Lord would allow my efforts to produce no results. There is reward in His hand, and I know that I have attended to His needs, His desires, and His wants for me, for my life, and for His kingdom plan. Therefore, His reward is there -- just over there -- and I am moving ever so closer to receiving it. Until then, I have to remain focused on the goal, and I have to not lose sight even when there seem to be massive obstacles in my way. Of these obstacles, several appear larger than life itself. Let me explain...

Financial Aid. As a graduate student, I have borrowed student loans to pay my way through my Masters and Doctoral program. I financed my Bachelors program on my own, so the thought of taking any student loans for school was foreign to me. Yet, the rising cost of education made this journey impossible without some help, and the Federal government was there to loan me the money (at extreme cost, of course!) I owe a significant amount of money, and without the Lord's help, I will never be able to repay my loans. I will be faithful, of course, but the debt burden is extreme and I am close to my limit. I still have two years to complete, one for courses, and one for dissertation, and frankly, I am out of money. I will not be able to finish my program without scholarship assistance. I received a partial scholarship last year, and I have asked for a full scholarship this year. My prayer is that Regent provides 100% tuition waiver for me so that I don't have to borrow anymore money, and I can finish my program with the debt load I currently owe.

Professor Status. I made the decision to leave corporate work in 2013, and attempt to become an instructor/professor after I had completed my Masters degree. It was a difficult decision for me to make because it meant that I was leaving the comfort of what I knew for the uncertainty of a career in teaching higher education. I had no experience. I had no practical skill. I had no testimony to help me feel confident that I could teach or that I would be a good teacher. I had plenty of skill and testimony to remain in corporate work. After all, I had some 30 years of practical experience in various positions, and I knew what was expected of me as well as what type of work I was most proficient at performing. Teaching was scary for me. It was out of my comfort zone, and it required intense reliance upon the Lord for me to be able to plan, to prepare, and to present lessons each day. The Lord provided a job for me, first as an Instructional Assistant, and then later as an instructor at GCU and ACU. I have been able to work since 2013, first part-time and then full-time (though as adjunct). I believe that I can continue to work full-time as adjunct from this point on, but without a professional salary and benefits, it is difficult to "live" on adjunct pay (paid by the course). I could make ends meet, should I take on 5-6 or even 7 classes. This amount would provide plenty of income for me, but the workload would be so heavy, and I know my courses and my grades at Regent would suffer. My prayer is for a full-time (salaried) position so that I don't have to teach so many classes. My prayer is for a full-time tenure position whereby I could have security of job (not a yearly contract) and benefits. For now, I have potential contract work, but I am in financial need, and that need drives most of my anxiety and worry.

Relocating. Over the past half-dozen years, I have looked to relocate somewhere in the SE USA. Yes, the Lord placed this region of the country on my heart, and since that time, I have felt fairly confident that He intended me to move to this part of the country. I considered Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee for a while. I also looked at Greenville, Raleigh-Durham, and Wake Forest, North Carolina. I have browsed through Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa, Florida as well. These were all places that the Lord suggested I might consider moving. Of course, I didn't see how that would come to pass, but I trusted Him for His guidance and I took the time to review these places thoroughly. In 2007, I was convinced that I was to move to Tennessee. I felt the Lord was saying to me to go here to live. My son was starting high school then, and I was still married. I felt this strong pull toward Tennessee. Then my life started to crash and burn, and the thought of moving away from my parents became my focus -- how could I leave them -- how could I go across the US on my own? In 2009, I felt convinced that North Carolina was the place for me. The Lord pressed hard on me to consider NC. My brother would later relocate here, but prior to his move, I was seriously looking at college campuses, jobs, houses, and all the important items to prepare for moving. I didn't go, of course, and the reason why was because I asked the Lord for permission to remain in Phoenix. I forgot about my conversation with Him, but now I remember it. I wanted to go, but I couldn't see how I would manage. Plus, my parents lived near me and they depended on me. I asked if I could stay in Phoenix until my son graduated from college, and I finished my PhD in 2017. I remember the conversation now, and how the Lord stressed to me that I couldn't stay here because there was "no work" for me. I assumed that meant "no work" as in job. But now I see that He meant that "His work" was not in Phoenix. A job was here, of course, but not His work. His work was in the SE USA, and He needed me to go there. I remember Him saying to me that I could remain in Phoenix, but not permanently. I could stay for a while, but after that time, I would have to go. The funny thing is that I hear the Lord say this to me often: "Carol, will you go?" My answer is always "Yes, Lord, I will go."

Today, I woke up thinking that I cannot move, I cannot go to the SE USA because I cannot leave my parents. They are in their 80s now, and they need my help. They are having medical issues, and both need me to live with them so they can remain comfortable in their golden years. My parents rely on me now, and they do not have the money available to afford them independent living, or worse, assisted living. My son is part way through his degree program at ASU. He will not graduate until 2016. Until then, he needs me to keep a home for him so that he can finish his education. From the outside, it appears clear that I cannot move, I cannot go anywhere at this time. Yet, I feel the Lord saying to me that it is time to go. I feel Him asking me again, "Will you go, Carol?" I have replied, as I have a dozen times before with "Yes, Lord. I will go." My thoughts are overwhelmed by the process of moving. How can I leave my parents? How can I uproot my son, right in the midst of his college program? How can I pack up, take my two cats, and head to a place I have never been before and to a job I have no guarantee of keeping? 

I am like Abraham. Yes, I am standing in Ur and the Lord has told me to "go." He has not told me how to go other than to say that I am to be prepared for a journey. He has told me where to go, and He has shown me that my life will be good there. But there is no assurance, no guarantee. I have been told that this is where His work is and that He needs me to go there to do this work. I don't have any way to get there, to travel there, to pay for the expenses needed to settle there. I don't have a job, furniture, house or anything "necessary" to live comfortably there. I just have the Lord's command to go, and the desire to obey His voice, to follow after Him. I see major obstacles in the way, major hurdles, but I also hear His voice, and it is calm, it is controlled, and it is comforting to me. He is calling me to go, and He is asking me again, "Carol, will you go?"

My answer is always the same, "Yes, Lord. I will go." This time, however, I will go. I will go where He is leading me because He is my Lord, and I know His voice. I know He will move the obstacles one at a time, and He will show me the way to go. He will prepare the way, provide a way for me to go, and He will move me, physically move me, when the time comes to go. Until then, I look to Him, to the goal He has in mind for me, and I remember that the only way I can overcome, I can achieve, and I can perform anything of worth and value, is if it relies upon and is prompted by the Lord Himself. Selah!

Dear Lord,

I see now that the time has come for me to go. I don't know how you will deal with these obstacles, but I believe that you are able to move each one and shift everything in my way to bring about your will for my life. I rest in this knowledge, and I trust you to do what is needed. I cannot go without your provision, and I cannot begin this process without your hand leading and guiding me through each and every step of the way. In short, I cannot do your work without your will and your way. This is not something I am able to do. I confess my lack of skill, of ability, of provision. I cannot do this work, Lord. Yet, I know that you can do it, and you will do it because it pleases you to do it through me. Your Name will be glorified, honored and praised. I want it no other way because I want you to receive everything for only you are worthy to receive it, only you are worthy of my worship and my praise. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of our conversation about staying in Phoenix. Thank you for the memories that have flooded back into my mind. Thank you for your work, your will, and your way. I lay my fears aside today, and I look to your hand for clarity, vision, and purpose. I ask all this in the mighty and matchless Name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, Amen!

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