October 2, 2015

Flashback Friday

You know how that Internet meme goes around on Facebook and Instagram, well, I am flashing back to last summer today. I know, silly, silly, silly me. I posted this photo to my timeline today because it reminded me just how close I am to finishing my PhD program. God has faithfully brought me through this program, a program so challenging and difficult, that I have believed at times I would not make it. Yet, here I am, almost finished, and I am resting in the knowledge that I have come this far, surely God will see me through to the very end.

Of the five ladies pictured (right), three are preparing for their oral defense next week. The other two, me and my friend, Kelly, will follow after them next February. God has equipped each one of them, guided them, and given them the grace to complete this program. They all face challenges of one sort or another (disabled children, loss of loved ones, sickness, and new life), and yet despite these odds, they have placed their faith in God alone, and are on the way out of three years of intensive study at Regent University. God be praised, of our cohort, the majority will finish the program. Some have chosen to not continue on, but most are hanging in there, and will complete their courses in 2016 and 2017. I would say that the majority of the students will be graduated by 2017 or 2018 at the latest.

I look up today, and I offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for He has brought me through this very difficult journey. I am alive, praise His name, and I am hanging in there, completing my last required courses, and preparing for my dissertation. God knows the plans He has for me, and I trust in His provision -- He will see me through -- He will carry me through. He is good, so very good to me.

As I sit here today, I think about my life, where I am at, and where the Lord is sending me. It is an odd thing to think that the Lord is preparing to send me "somewhere" to work. I mean, I am teaching at GCU today, and I am thankful for this teaching opportunity. In fact, I would say that I love teaching at GCU. It is easy, so to speak, to teach here. GCU takes so much of the work out of teaching by giving you the curriculum to use. You just "teach" it. Granted, you have to prep, plan, and then carry out the lessons to facilitate learning, but you do not have to create your class scratch. I am thankful for this experience because it has helped me develop course content as I have worked my way through these courses. This is my third semester teaching English 106, so by this time through, I have figured out what works and doesn't work in the classroom. I have modified my lessons each semester, tweaking them, and finally feel that I have a good mix that works well for small classes or large classes. The same goes for English 105. I am on my second go-round with this course, and I am still figuring it out. It is not my favorite class, but this semester, I have made good strives that I think will work for the long-run.

The Lord has graciously given me teaching experience at a school that welcomes new teachers. This has made it possible for me to take advantage of a lot of the resources that GCU provides to new teachers. In addition, I am also now a certified Peer Reviewer. I am scheduled to complete my first peer review in the next 21 days. This will give me opportunity to watch other instructors in the classroom as I review them for competence. This process should help me continue to refine my skill as an instructor, but also provide me with the tools needed to serve in greater capacity as a faculty support person or even as part of faculty development.

The Lord is gracious to me. He has seen to provide me with a viable means of support, and for this, I am grateful. The Lord took me from a place of desolation, and instead of leaving me shattered, He has rebuilt me, self-concept and esteem, back into the person of His choosing. The miracle in all of this is that the person I am today -- bold, confident, and ready to tackle the world -- is so because of what He has done to me and through me. I wish I could say that this process of growth and development has been easy, but that is just not the case. No, I am not the same person because the tool the Lord use to shape me was unpleasant, it was rough, and it chipped away at the hard edges to produce something beautiful, smooth, and useful for His work. Yes, I am giving Him all the praise, glory and honor this good day because He has done this to me. It hurt, it caused such sorrow, but I am stronger today than ever before. In so many ways, I am at my weakest, feeling so unable to do anything, yet I am powerful, bold and strong. He has done this, and today I give Him all praise!

I am listening to Darlene Zschech sing her live version of "In Jesus Name." If you have not heard her sing this song before, check it out. You can listen to it via the internet, I am sure, or if you subscribe to Spotify, you will find it on several of her albums. This song is so powerful, and every time I listen to it, I find renewal. I am not sure why, but I believe it is simply the words she sings which remind me that Jesus is the power in whom I trust. It is in Jesus' Name that demons flee. The Word of God says it this way, "The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). The Name of the Lord is powerful, and in the name of Jesus, there is victory. We have overcome, not through our own strength or power, but through His victory over sin and death. We stand strong because of the Name of the Lord. He is our righteousness, and in His Name we can do anything He asks us to do.

My heart is feeling better today. I feel better. I feel as though my world, my little world, is starting to make sense again. You see, for the past couple weeks, I have struggled so with knowing the plans the Lord has had for me. I try not to focus on them, but when life intervenes and I am faced with challenges, I cannot help but wonder what the Lord plans on doing in me and through me. I mean, where will I go? Where will you take me Lord? How will I get there? These questions and many others cause me to focus on the plans because my life right now is in such a flux. I think about my parents, my son, my teaching, etc., and I cannot wonder where I will be in a year or two. Will I still be here in Phoenix or will I be living someplace new. I feel in my spirit that I am to move, that the Lord doesn't intend to keep me here much longer. I know that I need a real job (not that adjunct isn't real, but more a job that pays a living wage), and that GCU and ACU are not viable options for me. I can stay here as adjunct for ever probably, but I cannot live this way much longer. I will be done with my PhD in 2016 and then I will be saddled with huge student loan debt. I have to live and I will have to pay these loans back. I need work, good paying work, soon.

The Lord knows this, and He has a plan for me. I know that this is true because He has not failed to see me through yet. In fact, I would say that I have so many witnesses, experiences and testimony to tell me that His hand is on me, resting on me, so I can let this worry pass. I can trust Him to provide. He will do it, of this I am confident, I am assured. I must wait patiently, and He will reveal it to me. He is good, so very good to me.

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