April 20, 2015

Wishing it was Funday!

Happy Monday, everyone! Yeah, my feelings exactly! I woke up this morning thinking that a MAC truck had run over me. I am too old to be pulling the "all nighter" in class. Unfortunately, I was up until 2 AM, and while not "technically" an all-nighter, it was late enough to cause me to wake up with that "hung over" feeling. 

I have a couple colleagues who regularly write their papers late or should I say early, into the wee hours. I just cannot do that anymore. Well, in truth, I don't think I ever did it very well when I was younger. My brain shuts off sometime after midnight, and there is just no way to get it to engage again.

Still, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and for me, that was working into the early morning hours in order to complete as much of my theory paper as possible. It is not that I waited until the last minute to complete it either. It is just that as I push on into the remaining courses of my program, the quality of writing ramps up a notch as does the expected quantity of writing. The combination times '2' is what is killing me this semester (I have two classes).

I woke up thinking of this song...oh to be young again...irresponsible and free!

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it were Sunday
'Cause that's my fun day
My I don't have to run day
It's just another manic Monday

Yeah, I know how it feels for sure. Except that instead of wishing it were Sunday, I am thinking that there needs to be a new day in between Sunday and Monday. Let's just call it FUNDAY! 

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it were Funday
'Cause that's my fun day
My I don't have to run day
It's just another manic Monday

I am sure the Bangles won't care that I changed their lyrics. I just need some F-U-N right now, and I could so use a "do over" day! Sigh!

T-Minus Five Days

The good news, if there is any good news, is that I am on the countdown to the end of the semester. This brings great joy and glad tidings to my little soul, but it also reminds me of the long summer (a blessing and a curse for teachers) where there is very little water (if you get my drift?) Still, I am blessed to be able to teach college, and to have my summers free for rest (oh, the blessed rest) and to recover (from all the hard work!)

I was telling my Mom today how I am looking forward to Friday. I so need to be done with this semester. My parents will say "Carol has no life. All she does is write on the computer." Yep, so goes the life of a doctoral student. I wish I had a life, a real life, you know, with fun days and Sundays and other days with lots of relaxing things to do. My life revolves around school. I get up in the morning thinking about school (my classes I teach), and I come home at the end of the day thinking about my school (the classes I am taking for my program). In between I write papers, I grade papers, and I think about papers! UGH!

My good friend mentioned to me that he didn't think he would want to do a PhD in Communication because of all the work required (reading, writing, etc.) I laughed and said I agree! In truth, I was thinking that I didn't want to do a PhD in Communication either. I didn't want to do this program, but I felt so strongly that the Lord wanted me to study at Regent. Regent didn't have a PhD in English and while I vacillated between Regent University and Old Dominion University (in Norfolk, VA), in the end, I felt certain that Regent was the place for me. Of course, I am pleased as punch to be at Regent. I love my program, my colleagues, my courses, and my professors. It was the best decision for me, and I absolutely see why the Lord chose for me to attend this school over all the others I had considered.

Still, PhD coursework is not easy. I know a lot of people joke about PhD's and the people who have them. They like to say that people who study for PhDs are unable to do 'real work.' Often, PhDs (as in the people who have them) are unemployed. Advanced study is considered a waste of time by most working people, and unless you are studying to be a medical doctor or dentist, they feel that a degree in philosophy is worthless and a huge waste of time. The truth of the matter is that the PhD, as opposed to an applied degree such as a medical or law degree, prepares the learner for teaching and scholarship rather than for practice. Don't get me wrong, applied doctorates are just as challenging and difficult as academic degrees. It is just that the application of the degree curriculum is different. In applied degrees, the student is learning how to perform a particular skill, vitally necessary for success in their field. The work is grueling and requires a lot of effort to memorize material and to demonstrate proficiency in the field. PhDs also memorize, but generally we are called to write about our experience rather than physically demonstrate practical skill. We produce scholarship instead of applied experience. We do learn how to teach and we do learn how to write for publication, but generally speaking, the bulk of the work is mental rather than physical. We spend hours and hours studying works in our field, and then through synthesis, we produce some type of evidence of scholarly achievement, normally through the publication or presentation of a paper.

I will be glad when this year is over, that is for certain. I have loved my courses, all of them, but I am feeling the grind as I turn into this summer and then look forward to the last semester at Regent. I have major obstacles still ahead, including my qualification exams and dissertation, but I am feeling better, stronger, and more capable as I get closer to the finish line. I am excited for my summer and fall courses, even though I don't know how I will finish them AND teach at GCU and ACU. Still, I feel the Lord has equipped me for this work, and He knows what I can and cannot do.

I wish I had about three weeks off between my spring and summer courses. I will have a whole week, which is a blessing, nonetheless, but it is not enough for me to rest and recover from the stress of these two courses.  I know the Lord has me well-covered, and I am praying to finish strong, really strong this semester. I have worked the hardest in these two classes. Personally, I didn't think I could work any harder than when I completed my Quantitative research methods course last Spring. Well, that was  until I completed Advanced Communication Theory and Applied Research Methods. The combination of these two classes was good, and the workload was manageable. It was just the level of work seemed much higher than in previous courses. I am surviving, of course, but I still cannot recall a more difficult semester. Oh Lord, what will I do when I get to fall?

My course load for summer and fall includes the following classes (my last, Praise God!):

  • Leadership in Communication
  • Writing for Publication
  • Dissertation Research
  • Philosophy of Communication
  • Theology of Communication
  • Doctoral Pedagogy
My spring includes one course only, and that is (ta dum!) Qualification Exams or Quals as we like to call them. I will sit my exams sometime in March 2016, and Lord willing, I will pass these exams, and then defend my proposal so that I can begin my dissertation. If all goes well, and I am praying that it does, I will successfully defend my proposal and begin research and writing of my final project, a major paper or book that sums up my learning at Regent University. My plan as of now is to graduate in May 2017 (to walk, so to speak).

Once I graduate, I am taking a super long break from school. My hope is to find a full-time teaching position at that point, and to be hired as an Assistant Professor. It will be the fulfillment of a life-long dream to finally achieve a ranked position at a University. The road has been difficult leading up to this point in time, and I am not close to finishing (closer than I was last year, but still along way off). I can see the end result, however, and I can imagine tasting the sweet victory of a conferred PhD. God be praised, because without His help, I would not be here today. God is good, so very good to me!

Turning Toward Him

The Lord covers me, and He shelters me from the worries, the fears, and the doubts that run through my head and tell me that I cannot do the work that He has clearly equipped me to do. I know the truth, and I know that these feelings of dread, of overwhelm and such, are simply lies of the devil. Satan doesn't want me to complete this degree. He doesn't want me to succeed and to begin the work the Lord has in mind for me to do. I know the Lord, and I know that He is victorious. He has overcome the power of sin and death, and in His right Hand, He holds the keys to life! I am thankful that I am His, and that I belong to Him. He has given me a fantastic life, albeit a bit stressed right now, and a future filled with such amazing hope. I love the Lord, and I love everything He is doing in me and through me. I cannot imagine a better life than the one that He has given to me. It hasn't always been easy, and it hasn't always been filled with joy, with happiness or with prosperity. But, this life has been precious, bought with His precious blood, and because I am cleansed in the fountain of His blood, I too have victory over the enemy. I can triumph where and when I feel most vulnerable. I can overcome any and all obstacles through my faith in Jesus Christ. There is no mountain high enough (to quote Diana Ross) that is impossible to scale with the Lord's help. Regent, and my courses at Regent, along with all the papers and projects I have to write and complete, are not impossible for Him. He has this all figured out, all planned out, and completely worked out to the finest, tiniest, and most minute detail. I am blessed, doubly-triply, and superbly blessed by His presence, His love, and His great mercy. He is good, so very good. All the time, He is good. Praise be to God, He is good to me!

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