September 22, 2015

Exciting News!

It is a good day here in cloudy and cool Phoenix! Get that -- I said "cloudy and cool" and used it with the word, Phoenix, in the same sentence! Woohoo! We are experiencing cooler than normal weather, at the least, for the next couple days, and I have to say that it is so nice, so very nice. We were supposed to get rain, but it seems the rain decided to show up everywhere EXCEPT for central Phoenix. Still, the change in color and scenery is nice, and it tells me that fall is just around the corner!

Today is a good day. I received some encouraging news earlier that has made me excited about possible changes in my future, mostly with my academic career, and in what may come to pass for my promotion and advancement. My article, "Ethnography in Praxis in the College Literature Classroom" has been selected for public discussion at CIRT (Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching) at GCU. This means that I am one step closer to getting my article published by the Journal of Instructional Research. This is good news to me because it means that I may be a published scholar soon. I know, so what is the big deal? Well, in the world of higher education, it is a big deal to have some publications and presentations on your resume. It just looks good, and right now, I have very little to show for myself other than almost three years of teaching. Even in that regard, I feel "less than" stellar when compared to my colleagues who have 7-10 years teaching and multiple papers to their name. But, I need to remember that it is not the hare that wins in the end, but the tortoise. I may be late to this game, but I am here, and I am doing my best to show myself approved (well, to the Lord, that is!)

It is a strange feeling to see the plans the Lord has for me come to pass. I mean, I was thinking about this today as I drove home from Arizona Christian University. I thought about all that has happened in my life, and how I went from being a graduate student to a doctoral student and now a professor. It seems like it was a life-time ago when I was a website designer, struggling to make ends meet, and trying to earn a living doing something that other people didn't "get." I was always having to justify my work, saying what it is that I "really do." I can remember when I asked the Lord if I could have a job where that wasn't the case. I mean, who doesn't understand what it means to "teach" students? I wanted a career where I could say "Hi! My name is Carol and I teach college English classes!" Easy! No one is left guessing as to what you do each day!

I remember asking the Lord if I could have this kind of career. I wanted a business card with my name, title, and job clearly stated. I didn't want to have to prove myself over and over. I wanted to be able to feel like I had arrived, finally, at some destination, at some place of importance. It wasn't so much that I wanted to be better than other people, no not at all. It never was about beating the competition. I just wanted to be considered in the same way as other people. I wanted to "be" the same, to belong to a category of people, individuals who did a certain type of work. I wanted to be a college teacher, and to belong to some school where I could feel like I was doing a good job, earning a good living, and being a good provider for my family. I didn't want to make "the big bucks," but rather, I just wanted to be taken seriously for my efforts. I wanted to know that I was accepted, acceptable, and that my work was good.

As I think about this now, I realize that the Lord gave me my desire. It is another example of my prayer of Psalm 37:4-5. I asked the Lord to give me the desires of my heart, and He did just that. He gave me a good job, a good career, a good way to earn a living. He helped me feel accepted by my peers, to feel good about my work, and to know every day that I was doing something valuable. He gave me this desire, and because He did so, I know that I am doing the thing He wanted me to do. There is no question in my mind that my career as a teacher is 100% of His hand. He has provided this work for me to do, and I know today for sure, that this is He design, His provision, and His desire for my life. He is good, so very good!

Furthermore, as I thought about the plans the Lord has for me, I realized that over the past several years, He has revealed bits and pieces of His plan to me. He has told me in some ways to expect certain things, and then those certain things come to pass, come about. I was thinking about this today, how so often the Lord will tell me a certain thing, and then some time in the future, that thing comes back around to me. Someone will say it, do it, or share it, and then I think "Hey, wait a minute? The Lord and I discussed this a long time ago!" The Word says that if you receive testimony from the Lord and it comes to pass, then you know that the word you receive was really from the Lord. In my case, this seems to happen frequently. I will pray about a thing, and then at some point in time, I will get confirmation that the thing is coming to pass or will come to pass. Sometimes it is just a confirming word, testimony from someone else that reminds me that the word of the Lord is true. He doesn't lie, He tells the truth -- all the time -- He is always faithful, just and true.

A good example of how this prayer-blessing works in my life a conversation I had with my son recently. It was his birthday yesterday, and my son and I were discussing his life, his plans, etc. He said to me some things that were clearly surprising to me. It wasn't so much that he shared them, but rather it was because the Lord and I had discussed these same "options" 3-4 years previously. Yes, in many of my prayers for my son's life, I have sought the Lord's wisdom regarding choices for his education, for his work, for his life. These private prayer-conversations were between me and the Lord, so to hear my son echo some of these same options says to me that my prayers are being made known to my son, but not through my mouth, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

You see, I believe, well I have always believed, that my son was supposed to study music and not theater or performance or linguistics, etc. He is a multitalented young man and he has various interests. In all though, he is gifted musically. I have had many prayer-conversations with the Lord, seeking options for my son's life, and throughout all these conversations one thing has been certain: my son is called to use music in some way, shape or form, for ministry. I've known this for a long time, but my son hasn't. I haven't said to him, "Hey son, you are to do this for ministry. You are called this way" because I wanted him to seek the Lord for confirmation privately. But in my heart, I have known this to be true. Yet, because of free will, my son could choose any path, any direction, and walk in anyway. He did that for a time, walking away from this calling, this pursuit, and in truth, his life was not blessed, not good. It wasn't as if he was a prodigal son or anything, but he did wander a bit further than I would have liked, and he suffered quite a bit in his faith relationship with the Lord. I have always believed that when we walk in accordance with the Lord's will for our lives, and when we are humbly seeking Him, having surrendered all to Him, we experience the blessing of provision, goodness, and grace as outpourings on our life. This doesn't always mean that everything goes swimmingly well, but it does mean that we are surrounded by His care and mercy, and generally, we are moving with Him and not against Him.

Within the past year, my son has turned around, and has slowly come to embrace this calling to music ministry. I don't know if he knows that, but I see it, and I see the Lord's blessing on his life. In fact, I would say that there is blessing upon blessing being poured out right now, and it all stems from his turning back toward God and his drawing near to Him. As we had this conversation the other day, my son said so many things that were 100% spot-on testimony to my prayer-conversations with the Lord. These confirmations reminded me that God does indeed have a good plan for my son's life, and that those plans are coming to pass in much the same way as the plans the Lord has for my life. It is exciting really to think about the active nature and presence of the Lord. He is not distant, He is not far away, uncaring and uninvolved in our lives. He is living, breathing, and right with us, all around us, and when we walk in close proximity to Him, we experience His goodness in every area of our life.

I see these changes, these plans as they develop and become more fleshed out, and it excites me to think that God is really doing in my life and in my son's life exactly what He promised that He would do. He is being faithful to me, He is keeping His promise to me, and He is fulfilling His word to me. I am blessed, so blessed this good day.

Today, I sit here and I contemplate the very nature of God, the fact that His character demonstrates who He is and what He is all about. While there are many mysteries relating to theology, to doctrine, and to the main beliefs of the Christian faith, one thing is for sure: God is good. Yes, our God is good, and His goodness is one of the main attributes of His nature. He is good, and He shares His goodness with us in so many ways, so many ways. I think about God's goodness in my life, how He has single-handedly moved me from where I was, really from a place of such utter despair and despondency to where I am now, to where I feel good, confident, hopeful, and blessed every day of my life. He has done this for me. He has moved me. He has changed me. He has made all this possible, and my life is going well, so very well. I may not have everything in order yet, but I am slowly moving toward the fulfillment of His will, and that is so exciting to think about, to wonder, and to ponder. Yes, I am on the fast track to His will for my life, and every day, I take a step closer, closer to seeing His promises to me come to pass. I worry so much, I stress over the smallest details, and yet, He is doing what He promised me. He is faithful, He is working behind the scenes to bring this all to pass. I don't always believe what I see. I don't always get the outcomes, the process, and at times, I doubt His sufficiency. Yet, there He is, still doing His best to see me through to the end. He doesn't give up on me, He doesn't get mad at me. No, He just keeps His side of the covenant. He keeps His word to me. I fail Him, I falter, and I fall down all the time. I try, really I do, but I don't do what I should, and I break my promises to Him regularly. I confess, of course, and I get back up and "keep on keeping on," but still I do not do what I should, what I promised I would do. He loves me just the same, and He helps me keep my promise (praise be to God), and in all, His word doesn't return void to me -- but -- it comes to pass. What He has said He will do, He will do it. Why? Because His nature is this way. He is good. He is faithful. He is just. And He is true. Always. 100% of the time. Without fail, He is good.

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