October 31, 2015

Getting Ready to Go

It is a good Saturday, and I am blessed, so very blessed. I had a semi-decent night last night. I went to bed early, around 9:30 p.m., and even though I didn't sleep soundly or sleep in (my hope), I feel pretty well rested this morning. I got up, did my normal routine which includes cleaning the litter box and making my first cup of coffee (love my Keurig!), before heading back into my office to settle down to write. It is now 9:00 a.m. and I am sitting here at the computer -- thinking -- about all that I have to do today. In truth, I am in good shape. I need to finish my critical review of Flannery O'Connor's book, "Mystery and Manners," and then make some needed progress on my annotated bibliography for my theology paper. I feel a bit stressed about the latter, but I am going to work on some power posing right before I sit down to tackle that job later this afternoon.

It is October 31, 2015, and that means it is Halloween. I am not sure how I feel about Halloween anymore. I used to enjoy it a lot. I never got into the scary side of the festivities like some people, well most people, do. I enjoyed the pumpkin carving and treat-or-treating part, but not the emphasis on ghouls and demonic iconography. It seems that the holiday has become more and more about the evilness of imagination than about celebrating a day to dress up and have fun.

More and more, my heart and mind is considering my relationship to these events, and whether my participation in them is sending the wrong message regarding my faith in God. You see, as a communications scholar, I have come to learn all about the message we transmit to others. Furthermore, I have come to think a lot about how we communicate our message, and how the process of communication matters -- really matters -- because our process influences the way others respond to our message. And, that folks, is significant especially when you consider that as Christians we carry the most awesome message in the world -- the message of life and death -- and in our process of communicating that message, and how others respond to it, is critically important.

When I think about why I am studying communication, sometimes I just scratch my head. I mean, this is not my field. I am an English person who likes to play with communication theory and scholarship (yes!) In fact, when I think about how this all came to pass, how I ended up in this field, I would say that my initial desire, the one I first had way back in undergraduate school, centered on messaging, and it was all about transmitting information (scholarly) and interpreting meaning through the process. Yes, I wanted to know about meaning, know how we know things, and then know how we communicate or understand what it is we say we know. I didn't really understand communication as a field when I first started my graduated program, but I do know, well I know it better than I did previously. I am no expert, mind you, but I do know a thing or two about communication. As I think about all that I have studied, I am trying to put it into perspective, to create a framework from which I can build theory, understand how things go together, fit really, and then how I can argue cogently (my favorite word) on various topics. I never thought I would end up in the rhetoric end of communication nor did I believe that my interest would be in argumentation, yet here I sit, squarely positioned within both camps of the English and Communication fields.

The Lord has done this to me. I mean, He has set about a plan to take what was a minor interest of mine, rhetoric, and align it with a major interest of His, apologetics. I don't identity as an apologist at all, but rather, I simply find the whole apologetics movement fascinating. My good friend desires to be an apologist. He is very, very good at apologetics, and he runs rings around me when it comes to debates on faith and reason, evolution and creation, and so forth. He just "knows" the details, the data, and with that, the Lord has gifted him to present a very rational explanation for why he believes what he believes. I admire him in that this is what he does well. He seems to do it effortlessly, and I love it when he gets to defending his faith because I find his process and delivery so interesting and engaging. Now, that I am almost finished with my doctoral coursework, there is part of me that wonders what as well as how the Lord intends to use all this knowledge. In my case, I don't think I have a lot of knowledge because I barely care remember anything I have learned. I know that I have learned quite a bit, but I don't learn facts and figures like most people do, I learn "impressions," and impressions are different to classify.

For me, impressions last, they linger, and I draw inference from them. It is how my brain works, and as such, I remember how I feel more so than particular facts or data. These feelings often are tied to my senses, so I recall seeing or hearing things as part of the whole process. I see things in their entirety, and that means, that my brain takes snapshots of the experience, and then with that snapshot, my sensation at the time is linked. I guess this is why I can remember dreams so well. I will get images that come back to me, and these images are pictures from dreams I may have had 10-20-30 or even 40 years ago. I remember those images, and I can remember where I was when I imagined it, and how I felt about it at the time.

I guess this is why as a visual learner, I need to "see" things in order to remember them. I don't do well with audition (hearing), and I don't do well with lists, even though technically a list is a visual aid. I prefer pictures, charts, and other "wholes" that give me plenty to study. In doing so, I capture bits and pieces, parts, and then even though I may not remember the whole picture, I can remember enough to reconstruct it. My ability to reconstruct information that is stored is keen. I have always been able to do this, and I have come to rely on my ability throughout my life. I find now that it is harder for me to do, but I think it is a factor with age, but also it is partly because of the way information is taught at my level in education. Learning comes through reading, almost exclusively, and while I am a good reader, I don't enjoy reading. This is my least favorite mode of information gathering. I would much prefer to study imagery, to visually analyze it, and to create a picture analysis. I can't always do that, but I prefer to whenever I can.

Today, I am thinking about my study plans for my final exams. I need to get moving on these plans soon, since the days are slowly ticking away. I know I will be fine, and I know what to do, it is just more about finding time to do it. God has such a good plan for my life, and I know that part of that plan includes passing my final exams and completing my dissertation research. He knows me, and He understand me, and He has this all figured out (what a relief!)

As I move forward today, several things are on my mind:
  1. Completing this semester - finishing my last course, Theology, and turning in all my assignments on time (and with best effort)
  2. Studying for my final exams - getting started and then putting a routine in place to ensure I am ready for February 11-12, 2016
  3. Continuing to pray over my final destination, my choice for work (teaching), and the plans the Lord has for moving me from AZ closer to where my love lives (AL) as well as where the Lord intends to plant me for life, work, and ministry
  4. The on-going care of my Mom, which is becoming more clearly an issue (her dementia) and the plans for how to move them (either with me or into some other place long-term)
  5. My son's continued support while he finishes his BS degree in Music and begins whatever plans the Lord has for his life
  6. Closing out my life in AZ, finishing up everything that needs to be finished, so I can move without any regret or apprehension to this new wonderful place
  7. What the Lord intends to do with me once I finish my PhD, and whether He will give me time to rest before He sends me through to another type degree program
I am ready to get moving, for sure, but until some of these things are completed, I know I must remain focused, steady, and be disciplined. I must do this, I must remain firmly fixed, and in control of all that the Lord has given to me. I know I can do it, I know I can, it is just that with so many heavy details looming over me, I sometimes find that I feel overwhelmed by the process, the actual "doing" part.

So today is good. It is good because the Lord has made it so. I love the Lord, and I love the plans the Lord has for my life. I struggle at times, but today, I am choosing to be bold, to be confident, and to trust the Lord for His mercy and grace. He will do it, He will see me through it, and in the end, He will receive all praise and honor. I desire nothing but His approval. I desire that He receive the praise, the honor, and all attribution. I desire His grace so that He may be glorified, but I know that in the end, whatever comes to pass, must be submitted, yielded, and placed at His feet. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy of our worship. May the Lord be praised this good day, and may the work I do bring Him honor and glory. Amen, so be it, thy will be done!

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