April 29, 2015

Plans are Set and Fixed

My contracts from GCU arrived today. I am pleased to have received them because this means that I don't have to stress over the plans for fall anymore. Yes, I am set with three teaching contracts at GCU, and one teaching contract at ACU (still pending). In all, I will have a very busy schedule, but I am sure I will be able to handle the workload. I ran the numbers for my four classes, and it looks like I will be making exactly what I need to cover all my expenses (with a little left over). I am blessed, so very blessed, that the Lord has provided -- yet again -- for my exact need. I know His word says that He will provide, and still I stress over the provision until it actually lands in my inbox or on my doorstep. I should rest and trust in Him, and while I do for sure, I still allow that little bit of doubt to creep into my mind, and well, I end up feeling the pinch of worry. I need to check the "worry" at the door and remember the Word of the Lord. I need to remember His testimony to me, and recall His faithfulness (He has never let me down). Yes, my plan of action is to stop worrying and stressing over the future, and to relax a bit more, to rest in the Lord's care and provision. That is the plan, anyway, that is the plan.

As I consider my future, the goals I have for myself and those that I believe the Lord has laid on my heart, one thing is for certain -- my steps are ordained by His desires for my life. I am where I am today because I chose to walk in obedience and follow after Him when He called me to a life of ministry and service. I have struggled to process this call, to understand exactly what the Lord intends for me to do with my life, and how I am to get from where I am today to where I believe He is leading me into my tomorrows. It has been a challenge to let go of many things, many things I hold dear -- not to lose them, but rather to give them the freedom to do and to be as they were designed -- rather than to keep them in my hand and attempt to make them into what I want and need them to be. This process of letting go has been difficult at times, but each time I let go, I find that the Lord lifts me and moves me a bit further down the road, a bit closer to where He wants me to be. I want to go so badly, to do the work He is calling me to do, yet I stress over the "how to do that" part, and in the end, I hold on so tightly to everything I know and hold dear to me.

My future is uncertain right now, other than the fact that the Lord does have a great plan for me. I know that my future is through Regent, which simply means that my future begins and ends with my studies at Regent University. Regent is changing my life. It is shaping my future as I pursue higher education, communication study, and ministry/work opportunities. The closer I get to my graduation date (May 2017), the more ready I will be to do the work the Lord is calling me to do. Of this, I am sure. Until then, I hear His voice tell me to focus on my studies at Regent, to settle myself down and worry less about tomorrow, and more about what I have to do today. Regent is the answer, it always has been, and I know that I am blessed for the experience at this school. My professors, my courses, and my program are working together with the Lord to enable me to realize this calling. I have to trust the process, and allow the Lord to complete His work in me. Selah!

This waiting is difficult because I find that I am in this transitional place, this wilderness of sorts, and I am tired of sitting around waiting for tomorrow to come. Yet, I know that this place has its purpose. I am here for a time because it is necessary for my growth and my preparation. I cannot do anything without His permission, so I wait patiently as He leads me onward. I handle the to-do's as they come to me, and I rest in His provision. I am resting in the Manna that comes from heaven, and I look up and I say "thank you, Lord, it is enough for today!"

My hope is that tomorrow is as bright and shiny as today. I don't know what my tomorrow will bring other than I believe it will include a teaching position (full-time) at a college or University of the Lord's choosing. It will also include a settled life, a home of my own, and good practical work teaching students writing and communications. I am sure the Lord will lead me to a ministry, a church where I can volunteer and help out. At this point, I feel pretty comfortable helping out in any way that I can, even if that means helping in Children's ministry again. I have taught children for now on 35 years, and even though I teach college students, I still have such a heart for children. Perhaps the Lord is letting me know that I will always have a heart for little children, and that my ministry will be multiplied through efforts in leading little one's to Christ along with serving in adult ministries where I can use my studies and teaching skill to help families and marriages improve interpersonal communication skill. As of now, I am not sure what the Lord wants me to do, but I do know that my life is to be full to overflowing, and not a trickle. The Lord has opened the flood-gates and spiritually speaking, my heart overflows with love for the Lord and for others. Thus, whatever He chooses for me to do, I will gladly do it. I will go where He sends me, I will live where He tells me to live, and I will do whatever work He has prepared me to do. Selah!

My plans for Fall 2015 are set and fixed. This means that I know the Lord has desired for me to remain where I am in Phoenix. There is good reason for this and I am sure this is what He wants from me. I have issues, needs really, and the Lord is providing for me as I complete my studies at Regent, and move into the dissertation phase of my program. I will be teaching at two schools here locally, living in the home I share with my son and my parents, and remaining focused on my studies. This is the Lord's will for my life right now. It is all I know, and because He has chosen not to reveal anything else to me, I have to assume that for now, anyway, this is His plan. He may choose to reveal something else to me, but for now, I am to stay put and do the work He has provided for me to do. Selah!

What does this mean for me as far as next steps, relationships and moving to another state? Right now, I don't know. I know that where I am is where the Lord intends for me to be, but for how long, I just don't know. I will teach at ACU and GCU, Lord willing for the entire 2015-16 school year. I will complete my comprehensive exams in March 2016, defend my proposal, and then begin my dissertation in May 2016. I will be "ABD" or all but dissertation, and that places me in a much better position for a full-time instructor job. I will also have three years of face-to-face teaching experience, on campus reviews, and such, and perhaps that is what the Lord wants or knows I need to be competitive in the college/university job market. If no full-time job comes to pass, I will continue to teach adjunct for as long as the Lord determines it is good. I mean, what else can I do right now? I have seriously considered moving into administration or corporate work, but it seems those doors are closed to me. It seems that this is the path the Lord intends for me to stay on, and so be it, I will stay on it. I cannot worry about financial matters, retirement or other such things because while I see the need, I have to remember that the Lord sees the need too. He knows what I need, and I have faith and confidence that He will provide for me. Selah!

Lastly, as I look toward the future, the next 6-9 and 12 months, there are so many unknowns in my life. I have to finish my studies. My son needs to graduate from college. My parents need to decide what level of care they can afford for their latter years. I cannot move and leave my parents in the lurch in this home. I cannot leave my son with his education incomplete. I do realize that both my son and my parents are adults and that they are responsible for their decisions and lives. However, because I am integral to their stability for now, and I contribute to the expenses, I cannot leave until their lives are set and fixed also. Thus, until their lives are resolved, my son graduates, etc., Lord has me where He has me (it is done). I know I am here in this home for a reason. I am here because the Lord provided it to me. Thus, walking away from it is not the Lord's will for me. If He moves me, that is another matter, but He is not doing that so I have to accept the fact that He intends for me to remain here for a little longer. I am in the wilderness for a longer season than I had hoped, but nonetheless, I am here because He has said for me to be here. Amen, so be it. Selah!

Sometimes I think it is important to re-evaluate your life and to consider the changes that have taken place in it. Change can alter plans, it can cause the path to swirl and turn. It can also confirm the path, which is what I believe the change in my life has done for me.  I started on this path back in May of 2013. Well, not really. I started on this path back in March of 2010. I took a big bold leap of faith and I applied to Mercy College for a Masters degree in English. I was still married then, so I applied under my maiden name. I was separated from my husband, but we had not divorced. I felt so confident that this is what the Lord wanted for me, so I applied to a school in NY without even telling my husband about it. I just did what I thought the Lord was pressing me to do. I applied for financial aid, without asking permission, and I took out student loans without my ex-husband even knowing about it. He would not have given me permission had I asked. He would not have allowed me to take financial aid either. I was forbidden from taking financial aid back in 1994 when I applied for a Masters in English at my alma mater, SJSU. I didn't finish the program back then, for many reasons, but in 2010, the Lord opened the door, asked me to walk through it, and in obedience I did. I am here today because of that first leap of faith, that first step that set me on the path to becoming a professor. It was so scary to apply to graduate school. I hid the personal statements, the application materials, the requests for transcripts. I saved up the money, my own money to send for documents so I could apply. I had to get a copy of my birth certificate, so I sent to Maryland for it. I had to update my SSI information, so I made an appointment and I did it. I did everything the Lord asked me to do so that I could go to school. In August 2010, I started my Masters program, and then in August 2012, I graduated. In between, I moved into my own home, started two jobs, and bought my own car. I followed what the Lord said, and He provided me with exactly what I needed to do everything He was calling me to do.

In May 2013, I started my studies at Regent. I prayed for a way to do school and work, and the Lord opened up this path to me, the path I am on teaching college classes. I have worked steadily since then as an instructor, and I am on track to continue for another year. I could return to corporate work, but the farther I get down this road, the more unlikely it seems that this is the way the Lord intends for me to go. I have to let go of my fears about financial security, the thoughts of not getting a full-time position, and the worry over retirement. The Lord is my provider. He is Jehovah-Jireh, and there is nothing I need that He is not able to provide to me. If I need a full-time job, He will provide in time. If I need a different house, He will provide for me. If I need a different car, He will provide it. My needs are in His hands, and as such, I can rest in His sufficiency. He is God, and what else do I need to know?

As I think about the past five years, I am amazed at the work the Lord has done in my life. I am not the same person I was in 2010. I am strong, confident, bold, and determined. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As such, I can do the work He has prepared me to do. I can stay and teach here in AZ for however long He determines it is good to do so. I can go to AL or another state should that be His will and desire. He will provide, I know He will. I can rest now, and I can let go of the worry over provision because the Lord has provided for my exact needs. Yes, once again, the Lord has provided for me, graciously, abundantly and perfectly. He has provided. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

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