July 4, 2015

Independence Day 2015

It is July 4, 2015. I am finding it hard to believe that 2015 is more than half over. Yes, it is day 185. Day 182.5 is midway through the year, so that would have been Wednesday, midday. Still when I consider that it is July, I think to myself how quickly this year has passed by.

Major Accomplishments for 2014-2015

I was going to do a 6-month review, but instead I decided that I would do a year review and go back to this time last July, 2014. A lot has happened since then, mostly with my school and work situation. I have transitioned fully to adjunct professor now, and I think I am finally ready to stop thinking about doing any other type of work. Most of my blog was about whether or not "teaching" was the best fit for me or whether I should try to find work in administration again. I gave up on that pursuit last month after several job rejection emails. I realized that God has me on a path, and that this is the path of His choosing. It is not my choice nor have I found this work on my own. No, every position I have is God-provided, through a friend or His gracious consideration as I interviewed. So I am where I am because it pleases Him as Sovereign God to have me doing this type of work. Enough said.

June 2014
  • I attended summer residency and completed my Qualitative Research Methods course. This class marked the last time my cohort (almost the entire group) would be on campus together. It was a blast, marked off with a special dinner to commemorate our passing of Quantitative Research Methods in the spring.
  • I started a wonderful friendship with a man whom I have come to love very deeply. We have spent one year as friends, and our relationship seems to be stronger each day. God has blessed me with his companionship, love and support, and I am so thankful, so very thankful for this special, Godly man.
  • I started Year 2 at Regent. Successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA and finding that I was finally settling into the routine of being a doctoral student. Still felt like I was out of place, though, and often second-guessed myself, and experienced strong doubts about whether I could make it to Year 3 and the finish line.
July 2014
  • Family trip to LA. Yes, it was a fun weekend visiting the family in Los Angeles. It was or would be the last time we would drive to see them due to my parents ill health. It was a great time, and it was a blessing to be in the cooler weather for a change. So nice to be out of the desert heat.
August 2014
  • I started full-time teaching at Grand Canyon and at Arizona Christian University. It was such a tense experience as I floundered my way through teaching that fall semester. I had a love/hate relationship with the classes, always feeling like I was failing, and always wondering if I would survive. I did, and I am still teaching one year later.
  • My divorce was finalized on 8/8/2014. It was a bittersweet moment for me as I received the official copies from the court. I filed for divorce after five years of separation, and while I was sad to see my marriage end, I felt confident that the life ahead of me was going to be God-blessed. It sounds wrong to say that, but unless you walked in my shoes, you wouldn't understand. God has opened doors, and He has provided a way for me to live. He is good, so very good to me.
September 2014
  • September 8 was a bittersweet day for me as well. This day was the anniversary of my 30th year of marriage. Yes, I was divorced one month short of 30 years, but still, it was a sad day. Lots of memories, lots of heartache, and lots of feelings about mistakes and lost opportunities.
  • September 21 marked my son's 21st birthday (his Jubilee). It was celebrated with a dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (his last visit on my dime for sure).
October-November 2014
  • I don't remember much about these months other than the grind of teaching four classes and completing my doctoral studies was getting to me. I survived, praise the Lord, and I celebrated my experience with a trip to Florida to visit my Aunt and Uncle.
December 2014
  • I took my Mom on a trip to visit her sister who is now an invalid in a nursing home. It was another bittersweet moment for me, but I was glad to be able to escort her to spend time with her only sister. We did have some silly fun, and it was so good to visit with my cousins, whom I haven't seen in years.
January 2015
  • School started over again, but this time, I only taught at GCU while I completed my first series of double-core classes at Regent.
February-April 2015
  • More of the same - lots of school, lots of papers to grade, lots of work!
May 2015
  • Year 3 at Regent. I made it to my third year as a doctoral student. GPA still in check, though the workload is getting harder each semester. I see the end of the tunnel -- right there -- and I am starting to feel excited about the end being so near to me.
June 2015
  • Summer residency at Regent was difficult, strenuous, and challenging. It was bittersweet in that only a handful of colleagues were present, but still a good time in VA. I received positive feedback on my scholarship, which that was a blessing because I never feel very confident in my ability to write quality articles.
  • I celebrated my 1-year friendship with my love, and that was so sweet. I have to say that the highlight of my year has been this friendship along with my completed course work at Regent. God has helped me remain focused on my studies, and He has given me a Godly man with whom to share my achievements. I am blessed, so very blessed.
  • I made great progress on my dissertation research, and I feel confident that I know what I am doing. I am also confident in my research abilities, writing, and teaching performance. I may not be the best teacher on the planet, but I am confident in my ability to teach my students literature, writing or communication.
So here we are after a short visit through the past 12 months of my life. I know it doesn't appear to be very exciting, but there you have it, the life of a doctoral student. My life is ruled by my classes, teaching semester by semester, and my courses at Regent. I don't know what I will do when school is finally over. Rest, I guess...until the Lord opens a door for me to study something different!

What is Next?

Good question. I have blogged about possible plans for a number of years, but it seemed like so much of my life moving forward hinged on Regent and my studies there. I have known that my focus, my intention, was to be on Regent alone. I get it now. I thought the Lord was saying to me that I was to make Regent my focus because it was His will, and it was for His work. This was certainly part of it, but now I realized that what He was saying to me was that I had to make Regent my focus because the nature of the work, the level of the work, the strenuous aspect of the work, would demand nothing less. He was correct. Regent has been all-consuming to me. It is my focus, my work, and it takes most of my energy each day.

So for a time, whenever I discussed plans, they were always couched in terms like "once I finish at Regent," or "when I am ABD." Now, I am at that point, so close I mean to being at that point. I can start to talk about plans with more certainty because I am almost finished. I remember this feeling when I turned into Year 2 at Mercy College. I had two semesters before graduation, and that meant 4 classes and a thesis to write. Before I knew it, I was filing my papers and graduating with my Masters degree. I had only envisioned a life teaching back then. It was a sweet dream that I had had since I was a student at SJSU. I liked the "idea" of being a professor (as my good friend, Martha would say). Yes, I thought it would be a good career for me. I like the idea of teaching college literature courses. I liked the idea of playing teacher. I liked the idea of having time off each year, summers mostly, and enjoying the rhythm of always being in school.

When I graduated from Mercy College, I was working as an advisor at UOPX. It wasn't my favorite job, and I was hoping to stay there (for security) but move into another area. I am glad I didn't stay there -- since there have been so many major problems with that school. I left and moved to CVS and tried to plant myself in that industry. Again, no such luck. Then the Lord opened the door for me at GCU, and I gave up all my security to move over into teaching. It has been such a difficult road, but I am content now, and I see the Lord's handiwork on this path. I am still learning to yield, to trust, and to rest -- He is my security -- not the paycheck I get for practical work. I look to Him, always to Him, to provide and meet every need with sufficiency. Selah!

Now, I am a third year student. I have two classes to complete before I take my exams and advance to candidacy. I have my dissertation scoped out, and I am confident that I will complete this last semester and prepare for my exams (and pass them!) This means that as early as March 2016, I will be able to apply for instructor positions as ABD. I won't officially graduate in 2016, but I will be close to graduation. I can start talking more specifically about plans, about where to go, and what to do now that I am so close, so ready to be done.

Some Thoughts Now

Last year at this time, my thoughts were on surviving the year as adjunct. It is not easy, I know, and I complain about the pay. It doesn't help that my niece told me that in Iowa, adjuncts with MA degrees make $5k per contract (double what I make), so working part-time at two schools would net you a $40K year salary. Okay, I can live on that well enough. Unfortunately, that rate of pay doesn't exist in most places. I am guessing it is because not many people want to go to Iowa. Still, I realize that the pay rate is not the issue, but rather it is the security of the position. I am ready for steady work at one school. I am ready to be put in place somewhere so that I can begin to settle myself.

I feel confident that this is what will be, Lord willing. Of course, if the Lord chooses to change His plans for me, so be it.

As of July 2015, I believe this is His will for my life:
  • Teaching is it. Yes, I am content now to stay put in this job. I will move to wherever the Lord provides a full-time position, but it will be as a teacher and nothing else. There are too many pros to me to not stay on this path. I mean, where else can I work 8-9 months of the year and have 3-4 months vacation? And holidays off? Yes, this is the path I am to stay on. I am sure of it.
  • Arizona is temporary only. I am going to move east, no doubt about it. It is just a matter of time. I am convinced of this now and there is no point in dancing around it. I don't want to stay here, and I know where I want to go, and why I want to do it -- so it is now up to the Lord to open a door. Is it His will for me? Yes, I think so. I mean, if not, I don't think I would have this sense of peace about it. I am at peace with the thought of moving to AL now. I considered other nearby options, and so be it if the Lord needs me to teach in TN or GA, but I don't think so. I really think He is going to open a door to a job that will take me right where I need to be. End of story.
  • Time is a challenge given my current situation with my parents and son. I know this has been the big worry of my life, but so many things have changed recently. For one, my son received a full scholarship to ACU for 2015-2016. This is where I teach part-time, and my son is finally going to be pursuing music. It is a God-thing, for sure, and I believe that the Lord orchestrated this so that my son could be around Godly professors and others who will encourage him toward His call on his life. This also means that should I be offered a position next summer (2016), my son could live on campus his final year in school. I am confident that the Lord could provide this for him. There may be other options, but I feel so good in leaving him now, whereas I was very worried a couple months ago. He is in tight at church, working and ministering, and now he will be in a Christian university. I feel that God has put him in a way so that I can let him go, I can go where God is calling me to go, and not worry about my son's faith and growth. I am blessed, so very blessed by the Lord's handiwork.
  • My parents are my only worry now, but I am learning to let them go as well. My brothers have stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and have said that they will not allow my parents to be homeless. They will help care for them, which is a huge relief to me. They understand now that I will need to relocate for work (their kids are in similar situations, and while they don't like that they are moving across the country, it is what must be). I needed their support in this fact so that I could focus on what God is calling me to do rather than on what seemed practical. You see, I believe God has provided a relationship for me that is not going to remain "friends alone." I am excited for this fact, and that the Lord intends for me to be married again some day. I am patiently waiting, of course, not rushing into anything, but clearly it seems that this is the Lord's intent. My parents are nearing the end of their years, and while that saddens me, I also know that the Lord will care for them. I will do what I can, as He leads me, but ultimately I must go where the Lord sends me. I must separate from my parents should the Lord call me to marry again. It is biblical, it is God's way for husbands and wives to start new lives and new families. Much of the problems in my marriage were the result of a failure to separate from parent households. I didn't do it, and my ex didn't do it, and as a result, we had 6 adults in the marriage (two sets of parents who called the shots and told us what to do or not to do). It made being a separate family impossible. So while I love my parents, I cannot allow them to be in the middle between me and a potential spouse. I will care for them as the Lord asks me to do, but I will separate from them because it is honorable to my spouse, and it is ordained in Scripture (plus God says it is GOOD!)
With all that said, I feel confident in saying that my time here in AZ is closing out. I don't know when the Lord will choose to move me, but I believe with certainty that He will in His time. I also believe that He is providing for my needs (financial, career, and education) as well as the needs of my son (education mostly) and my parents (long-term care). The Lord is my all, my sufficiency, and my portion. I have made Him my focus, and I have surrendered all to His Lordship and Authority. This means that He mades the decisions, calls the shots, and says when it is time to go. Until then, I wait patiently for His go-ahead. He will lead, and I will follow, and I know that the path will be blessed, so very blessed.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the way you have orchestrated the details of my life. I truly went from ashes to beauty, and I am experiencing your blessing, your favor, and your protection. I know that I don't always understand your plan or what you are doing, but I am learning to trust you, to wait on you, and to patiently rest in you. You are Lord over every area of my life, and today, I give you praise. Amen!

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