October 7, 2015

It is a New Day

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and cool Phoenix. Yes, I put those two words together and matched them to my city, Phoenix. I know, miracle-of-miracle, I am saying that Phoenix is SUNNY and it is COOL today. Sure enough, our wet weather yesterday brought in much cooler temperatures, and thankfully, we are having a blessed "fall like" day today. I am in bliss, Nirvana, and total happiness!

I found this clip today with Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts" on it. I love this statement because I think it represents a part of our perspective that we often overlook each day -- hope and optimism -- that the new day will bring a good outcome.

New Day, New Perspectives

Today started off with a crash. Literally. I got to my exit off the freeway this morning only to find that the street I turn on (the main drag in front of GCU) was closed due to an accident. I hadn't received the update on my phone until I was sitting at the corner and noticing the red streaming flares blocking entrance to the street. It turns out that there was a fatal crash some time earlier in the morning. I was at the corner at 6:35, which is pretty early for me, and the road was already closed. The notification finally came through my phone and said that the intersection would be closed all morning. Thankfully, I made it to class on time (I had a colleague waiting to observe me this morning). I don't mean to sound inconsiderate of the victims in the crash -- I have prayed for them and their families -- it is just that on my early mornings into GCU -- any type of obstacle like this can cause major delays. As Adjunct faculty, I am required to be on time every day. I cannot take off or show up late. Of course, in instances like this, it is okay to be late. Still, my heart and my mind were interrupted from my normal routine by this unfortunate accident.

Despite the interruption, I made it to my class, and passed my observation (at the least, I think I did). As I walked over to the coffee shop on campus, I was thinking about my teaching here at GCU, and how much I like this school. In fact, I was praying about this last night, and I asked the Lord if there was anyway I could just stay at GCU for a time. I mean, I am contracted to teach next semester, and more than likely, I can continue to teach adjunct for them as long as I desire to do so. I would like to be hired permanently at GCU, and while I like this school, there is a part of me would like to try living some place else. In fact, I have always believed that the Lord would move me from Phoenix to another state at some point between 2015-2017. I am on track to see that come to pass, but even with my desire to move someplace "less hot," there is a part of me that is very comfortable teaching at this school. Sigh! Yes, it is true. Part of me is happy to be right where I am, and part of me longs to be some place else.

You see, I like GCU a lot. I like the technology in the classroom, I like the students, the staff and the faculty. I like the courses I teach, and generally, I like the direction the University is going as it grows and influences the valley for Christ. I am blessed to teach at this school -- it fits me -- and I am very happy to be able to be part-time faculty. I have thought about this idea, about teaching full-time for a long while now, and I guess I just never imagined it would or could happen for me. GCU, generally hires adjunct to fill vacancies. However, I have heard from some managers that with the explosion in growth, there is a good chance they will begin hiring full-time faculty for fall 2016. This leaves me wondering if this might be what the Lord has in mind for me -- at least temporarily -- while He prepares another place for me. After all, I will have my PhD next fall, and that means I would make a good candidate for hiring since I will have three full-years of teaching at this school, and for the most part, I am well-liked and well-received by the full-time faculty. Could this be what you want for me, Lord? I just don't know, I just don't know.

It is so hard to figure this part of the puzzle out. I mean, for the longest time, I have been fixed on moving some place else. I have desired it, dreamed it, and made decisions about it. I have been mentally preparing to move for the past 8-9 years. I have been bold and confident when I told friends and family that I believed that the Lord intended for me to "go" some place and serve elsewhere. Yet, here I remain. I have always believed I was here for a reason, mostly for my son and my parents. Moreover, I have felt that while I was finishing my PhD, it was just best, I mean better for me to stay put. It made good sense to stay put. Now, though, I am beginning to wonder if this is the Lord's plan for me. I have tried applying for jobs in other states, and nothing has come to pass. I mean, nothing. I have applied for out of state jobs at least 50 times over the past five years. Not all of these jobs were teaching positions, some were just good work. The Lord has not seen fit to move me, and so I have tried to remain content to be where I am. It has been difficult at times because I have not been happy here, generally speaking. What has made it so difficult has been the fact that I really do see good things here, and on top of all that, my parents and my son are here. I have wrestled with leaving, moving away, and with all that is involved in moving. Still, I have remained firm in my belief that the Lord does desire me to move -- to go -- I have just not been able to "go" yet. Let me explain...

Going Where He Calls You

This whole bit about "going" has me somewhat befuddled. The other day, in my despair, I applied for two jobs at Arizona State University. These were good jobs, mostly in marketing and communications. Each came with a nice salary, a good benefits package, and for the most part, would align with my strength -- analysis. I was depressed over my teaching ability, over my lack of response to some teaching jobs in other states, and my general disillusionment as to where the Lord was sending me. I mean, I am in this weird place right now. I am about to finish my PhD, conclude my studies at Regent University, and I am thinking about moving to another state to take on a full-time faculty position. I want to go, don't get me wrong. I want to try living some place else -- but -- there is my life here, my family, my son and my parents. I have a good life here in Phoenix. It is hot, sure thing, but Phoenix is a good place to live. I mean, it is relatively safe. There is crime in the inner city, but where I live, it is safe. I live in an upper middle-class neighborhood, and I have a good life. I have my needs met with sufficiency, and my life is comfortable. It is good.

So while my folks are coming to the end of their lives, they are not to the point where they need full-time care yet. No, we have challenges like other people, but every day we are making it, and our days are good. This will not always be the case, but for now, it is good that we live together, that I am able to take care of my parents like this. On top of this, my son is experiencing great growth through his new school and ministry work at our church. It is so exciting to seem him grow spiritually, and I am blessed to be able to be here for him.

How do I know where the Lord wants me to go?

It is a challenge, for sure. I was thinking about this very thing today as I walked across campus. After I got my coffee, I came up stairs to the library. There was a nursing student in the elevator with me. She sighed heavily, and I said to her "It is Wednesday!" She smiled and said, "It isn't hump day (referring to that middle of the week status), but it is almost the end of the week." I could tell she was tired, and I smiled back at her. I wished her well, and I exited the elevator to come sit at the computers and do some busy work before my classes this afternoon. Her words stuck with me, and they prompted me to think about my outlook, my perspective on life. I mean, how do I see my life right now? Do I see it as a hump in the road? Or do I see the progress I am making to the end -- to the my final destination -- where the Lord is leading me?

Too often, I see my life as one long speed bump. I am cruising along, and then WHAM! I hit a speed bump. Sometimes it seems like I am constantly speeding, slowing down, speeding, slowing down. I am tired of the fits and starts. I want to get "going," to get moving and GET to my final destination. Yet, the Lord has me where I am for a reason, and the process can not be shortened. No, I must walk this path and follow it to its proper end. I cannot take a short cut. I must wait patiently. I must wait for the Lord to lead me forward.

As I thought about this metaphor of the "hump day," I started to think more deeply about what it means to be an effective minister for the Lord. I mean, here I am at this very good school. I am part-time, and while that is not the best case, it is good enough for now. I am finishing the last part of my PhD race, and praise be to God, I am so close, so very close. As an aside, I just got a text message from my colleague, Ashlie. She was taking her oral defense today, and she passed -- she is ABD! My other colleague, Heather, passed her oral defense today too. This is two of the five "girls" in our program -- Marie is up last today -- and then it will be me and Kelly who will bring up the rear in March, 2016. I am so close to being finished, and I am weary, so tired, so burned out. God has provided a way for me to finish my program, and that way includes teaching part-time for now. I know He will bring me a full-time position soon, but until then, I must be satisfied with His provision now.

The same is true regarding my time here in Phoenix, and my teaching contracts at GCU. I cannot have more until I have used up what has already been given to me. I must be patient and thankful for the manna He has provided today. Tomorrows manna will be enough. But I cannot bank on tomorrow while I am still enjoying the satisfaction of His good grace today. Selah!

My mind is racing right now as I think about my sweet soul sisters passing their exams. This is a huge hurdle that no one but another doctoral student understands. The grueling days of study are over, and all that remains is the final research project. God has each of us in His tender care, and He has a great plan for each life. Knowing and understanding that plan is so difficult at times, especially when you are confronted with challenges outside your control. We have all experienced such trauma, such difficulty, such heart ache, and yet we are all working through it, persevering and moving on to the completing of a very hard, hard goal.

When I think about where we were just three years ago, and where we are now, I stand in awe of God and His great mercy. I mean, we all were so nervous, not knowing anyone, and finding ourselves alone in this journey. Yet, God provided sweet caring companions for us to partner with through this difficult road. In the end, we are going to graduate -- all of us -- with a PhD in Communication. We will all go our separate ways, but the experience we have shared along the way will remain with us forever. This is interpersonal relationships at its finest. This is RELATIONSHIP 101 in real life. Moreover, this is what the Lord desires from us -- to engage in true fellowship -- to support, to encourage, and to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have had the blessing of doing this over three years, and as God has ordained, our time together is drawing near. Yet, we will remain good friends, good, good friends, and God be praised, His word, His will, and His way will be promoted wherever we end up.

I have worried over the "going" for so long. I mean, I have stressed, strived, and struggled to figure it all out. I so wanted to go some place else, to do something else for the Lord, to see new things. Yet, here I am in the same place I have been for the past 20 years, and guess what? I am seeing, doing, and experiencing new things right where I am. I am seeing the world from a different perspective, and I am sensing His pleasure as I relax and let go of my need to "go." Instead, as I settled down, I feel Him sigh. I sense Him saying "Well done, my good and faithful servant." I am seeing the world right here in front of my eyes, and I am seeing my life as it impacts and influences my little piece of the pie. I may not be a full-time professor yet, but I am investing in the lives of others, teaching and reaching them for Christ, and I am being faithful in what He has called me to do NOW.

Manna. It will be there tomorrow. Today, I will look at what is on the ground around me. I will take what the Lord has given to me today, use it, and enjoy it. I will not worry about tomorrow for I know, tomorrow has its own worries and cares. Today is a good day. I am content. I am satisfied. It is good.

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