November 28, 2015

Getting Down to Business

It is a blessed day here in sunny and cool Phoenix. I woke up to the sunshine and cool morning air feeling very refreshed. It is amazing how a week off can work wonders, especially on this frazzled and bedraggled body. It was good to sleep in without any worries this morning. I had no "must have, must do" list so it meant I could just sleep until I woke naturally. Ah! It was so good to just sleep peacefully and enjoy the blessing of rest.

I am so thankful for His rest. I mean, He has given me the perfect job. It is a tough job, no small thing, and it takes its toll on me each semester. But, with all the effort, comes blessed rest once the semester comes to a close. I am looking forward to having three weeks off this next month, and then to my lighter, easier schedule in the spring (just MWF afternoons). The Lord knows how I worry about my summers -- how to pay the bills mostly -- but He also knows that my summers are especially good for me. They give me four months of daily rest. I sleep in, naturally wake up, and I attend to the business at hand, which is, recovering from my depleted mental and physical state. He is good, so very good to me. He knows what I can and cannot do, and He knows my limits. Why do I not trust Him, then? Why do I constantly think I know best? Sigh!

Today is a good day. It is a good day to reflect on this fact -- the fact that the Lord does indeed know what is best for me. The past few weeks have been difficult for me. I applied to several jobs outside of higher education, and after waiting around for HR to contact me, to give me a "yes or no" to let me know what their intentions were, I had to withdraw my resume simply because the semester was so close at hand. You see, I have already committed (agreed and accepted) my teaching contracts for next January. I can get out of them, but the longer I wait, the more unfair that is to my schools. I do not feel the Lord desires me to string these schools along and then at the last minute cancel my contract. I cannot do that to them, not after their graciousness in hiring me for work. No, I have an issue with integrity, so I prayed over it, and because neither job moved in my direction (perhaps it would have in time), I asked the Lord for His advice, and I felt Him saying to me "withdraw," so I did.

In truth, I had already made my mind up to stay put, so really, withdrawing simply shortened the wait time. I did the deed, took my resume off the table, and I walked away without feeling any issue or concern about it. I am not sorry about the action. I mean, I really didn't mind taking my resume back from consideration. Both positions were good jobs, good paying jobs, but the more I thought about them, the "jobs" themselves, while okay as far as the work was concerned, just didn't seem to sit well with me. I am sure I would have found enjoyment in learning how to do them, and I am sure I would have liked my colleagues and peers. As such, the "work" itself would in time become boring and that concerned me. I am simply the type of person that needs engaging work all the time. I need new things to do, new tasks, and the only real profession that does that is one that allows constant learning. Teaching, medicine, law, business, etc. are professions where the daily work is never the same. Different situations arise, planning for new approaches are required, and the work must be adapted constantly to meet the needs of the student, the patient, or the client. This "always changing" is a good thing for me, and it is one of the ways that my brain stays engaged. However, I don't really like "change for change sake" so what fits me best is prolonged study, difficult work that requires study -- searching, researching, writing, processing, etc. -- all the behaviors that are normally associated with these professions, including teaching in higher education.

The more I look at my situation, the more I factor in my own "prewired" tendencies as well as my preferences, the more I see how teaching in higher education is a good fit for me. Sure, I am plumb worn out most days, and I don't always see the "big picture" due to my aching feet, legs, and back. But, generally, I see opportunity, possibilities, and the hopeful expectancy of a good outcome. I see how my efforts to study, to learn, to adapt, play out in the classroom. I goof, I make mistakes -- all in an attempt to try some new way. Sometimes these "new ideas" work well, and well, sometimes, they fall flat. But, I am able to try them out -- and no one stands over me to say -- "not going to work, so give it up!"

Thus, teaching is a good fit for my brain, for my need to study and learn. It is not the best fit physically, and I know that, but I have come to learn that what I experience (aches and pains) is the same for every teacher on the planet. We all suffer this way, and we all get ourselves up, dressed, and out the door, to do the good work we do. Selah!

I guess I was thinking too small when I assumed that I was the only one to suffer like this, but this week, I had the chance to talk to a dear lady (she suffers from post-polio like my Dad), and she said how she finally retired at age 69 after 30 years of teaching because she couldn't stand anymore. I asked her about it, and she said she never was comfortable "teaching while sitting down!" I laughed because that is exactly how I feel. She said "I just have to move about the classroom, and I never could teach sitting in a chair. It just didn't work for me." I thought, "I am not alone in this. What a relief!"

So, it is a done deal. I mean, teaching for a career, a profession. I made the decision two weeks ago, and since then I have taken the steps necessary to ensure that this is the path I remain on going forward. The Lord has made a way for me to go, and I am content to go in this way, if that makes sense. I struggled so much with the "going," really with knowing that the way I was "going" was the right way, the best way for my life. In the end, I found out that I am right where He intends me to be, and that I have a good thing in my life, a very good thing. I am a part-time (well, between two schools, 40 hour contract) college instructor, and I am doing the very thing I dreamed of doing since I was a little girl. I am about to graduate with my PhD, to be a "doctor of philosophy," and to begin what will be the last push toward retirement as a full-time professor.

How exciting is that? 

I mean, I have desired this for now on 20 years, and the Lord has faithfully provided a way for me to accomplish it in this season of my life. I am seeing my dream come to pass, and I am so excited for the next months, years, that lay ahead of me.

Where will I teach full-time? 

I don't know, but I am certain now that wherever it is, it will be good. I am content to teach English Composition for the rest of my career, and I am very content to simply be a good English teacher. I don't have to publish papers, present in conference or even jump through hoops to get ahead. No, I am content to be a good teacher, to do good work, and to try to do my very best each day that the Lord allows me to do this work. I am no longer looking for other work. This is where I belong. It is where I am meant to be, and finally, finally, I am settled. I am fixed on this way, and now I believe, the Lord can begin His plans to move me, to relocate me, and to provide for me that full-time professor position He has held in His keeping for months, perhaps even for years. He is good, so very good, and I am blessed, so very blessed by His goodness, His lovingkindness, and His great generosity. He is good, He is good, He is so very good to me! Selah!

As I put all this together, trying to make the various parts fit into the BIG PICTURE I think about my life, about where I have been, where I am going, and all that happened to me in between. The Lord has carefully preserved my life, seen to it that the experiences I have had, while shaping me, molding me, and at times, hurting my pride, my self-esteem, and my physical and emotional self, have not destroyed me. I am stronger now than I was before 2010. I am stronger as a single woman than I ever was as a married one. I am stronger as a student, a Mom, a daughter, and a teacher. In fact, I would say that I am strong, so very strong, because of the chastening, the "hardening off" that the Lord allowed into my life, to test me, to try me, and to make me fit (like as in an athlete). My body, physically, suffers but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I am a warrior. I am a champion, and God has made me this way. I still falter when I see my enemy face to face, when I feel threatened or when I am exhausted to the point where I cannot stand, but through it all, the Lord has held my right hand, He has sustained me, and for that, I am so thankful. He has made me into a strong, God-honoring, God-glorifying, and God-ordained, purposed, and focused woman. I am ready, I am so ready to take on the world, to do this MINISTRY THING He has prepared for me to do. No matter the challenge, no matter the feat, no matter the obstacles that are in my way, I am ready to face them head on. I believe the Lord will be victorious, and I believe He will champion my cause. I have made my plans, laid them at His feet, and in return, He has handed to me His playbook. He has outline the route to follow, the steps to take, and the tasks that must be completed. I am working for Him now, and everything I do is working toward His purpose, His plan, and His providential desire for my life. Selah!

The Lord knows the plans He has for my life -- and yes -- they are GOOD. He knows that this way, the way I am walking, on this particular path, well, it SUITS HIM. It is not about suiting me, per se, though He has graciously considered my needs. No, this path is ALL ABOUT HIM. As a teacher, I know that I am 100% dependent on Him for everything, and this is PRECISELY WHERE HE WANTS ME TO BE. I wanted to be wholly devoted to Him, to have no other head but His, and this is right where He has me today. I can do all things, but only through Christ who strengthens me. I can go here or there in my own strength, but I cannot accomplish His will, His plan for my life, in that strength. I must do everything yielded, submitted, and wholly dependent on His abilities. To do this His way means that I must learn that "way." I must learn how to do His work in the way He intends, and that requires submitting to His authority, His headship, and saying, "Yes, Lord. You are the Master, and I am the student." No matter how much I think "Hey, I've got this!," the Lord says to me, "Not my way, not my will." I understand that to do things His way means that He must be allowed to have His way in me. I must relent, let go, and let Him lead me, guide me, show me how to do the work. It has not been easy for me. I have put up a good fight with Him. I have been stubborn and willful, and even at times, very demanding. He has graciously allowed me to tire myself out, to wear out and use up my strength so that I would see the enormity of the plan, the scope of the approach, and in doing so, I would "with fresh eyes" see the truth that says "You cannot do this on your own. You can only do it through me." Yes, Lord, you are correct. I can do nothing without you. You are everything to me, and I can do nothing without your help, your grace, your love, and your gifts. You are good, Lord, so very good to me. Selah!

Today is a good day, such a very good day. I sit here and blog, thinking about my life, and how very good it is. I mean, I am in such a good place right now. My semester is almost over. I have just a smaller to-do list than before the fall break, and I marvel at all He has done. He has done this. He has seen me through all the hard work this semester, the Theology papers (ten critical book reviews, a major paper on Abelardian Theology and Philosophy), and TAing History of Communication (all the discussion board responses, the paper on course teaching ideas) and my workload at ACU and GCU. On top of all of this, He has helped me take care of my parents, be a good Mom to my son, and continue to deepen and strengthen my relationship with the man whom I hope to marry some day. All of this, and so much more, has come to pass and He has seen fit to orchestrate it, bring it to pass, and carry me through it. The battle has been stiff at times, but I am alive (Praise God), and I still have some fight left in me. May God be praised today, for He is AWESOME and GOOD.

In closing, as I prepare to sign off for the day and begin to tackle my short to-do list, I am thankful for the bountiful blessings of God's hand this good day. I am excited about my future, and I am grateful for the opportunities the Lord has provided to me. He has seen to my every need, and while there are times when I panic, I worry, and I fear, I am constantly reminded of His faithfulness, His goodness, and His provision for my life. He has me so well-covered, so well-covered. God is GOOD, so very GOOD to me.

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