Today, as I think about my life, I am thankful for where I am and where I believe the Lord intends for me to go. I am still not 100% sure of the plans He has for me, but I am convinced they are good, and that they do involve some of my passions and interests. I think this is how He works in us and through us. He doesn't always give us work that aligns with our passions or our interest, but often He does factor them into His plans in some small way. For me, this means my love of cello, foreign language AND study, of course.
I am at the end of the road through Regent (soon to be), and I am already thinking about what I would like to do next. The Lord has placed a desire in my heart to study foreign language -- I have had this desire since I was a child -- and I know that the language He intends me to learn is French. As weird as that may sound, I have always loved learning French. I studied it for four years between middle and high school, and I have attempted to relearn it in college, and then later, when I was home schooling my son. My former husband hated the language and the people, so any mention of wanting to study either was met with disdain and his refusal to allow it in the house. I don't know why he was this way, and for a time, I would let it slide. But the Lord would press on me that I needed to study it, so I would do it when my ex wasn't home or whenever I thought "I could get a way with it." The same was true for my son, who also has a deep love of languages. We simply studied as we were able, though neither of us achieved fluency because of our haphazard approach. In truth, had we said we wanted to learn Spanish, my ex would have agreed. He believed, and I am sure he still does, that Spanish is the only legitimate language to learn these days. Sigh. Consequently, I have had this interest in studying French, German, and Italian for the past 5-6 years. Of course, I haven't devoted any time to the study, mostly because I was completing my Masters and PhD. Now, though, I am almost finished with my PhD, so I am thinking about starting language lessons again (this summer, 2016, perhaps) to see what the Lord intends to do with it.
Likewise, I have also been pretty fixated on wanting to get back into cello, so much so, that I have asked about taking lessons again. Of course, like with foreign language, I simply do not have the free time now. But again, this summer, I hope to begin studying, to pick up where I left off, and perhaps get myself back to the point where I was an advanced/intermediate player. My beautiful cello has sat in the corner now for a year, and I need to take care of it. I need a new A string, but I also need to make sure it is ready for regular play. It has a lovely tone, and it is pretty easy to play. I hope to take some private lessons as well -- I need the regularity of performing to keep me in good shape -- and that means I need to have weekly lessons to help me stay focused on my progress. I know the Lord has a good plan for my cello study, and I have always felt that He gave me the ability to learn how to play the instrument for a specific purpose, and not just because I wanted to do it.
Furthermore, now that I am ready to complete my PhD, I am thinking about other things I would like to pursue, and the first thing that comes to mind is Rhetoric. I know -- can't you pick something else? Well, I happen to love Rhetoric, and this is my "field" now. Well, in truth, it has always been my field. I guess it just took me time to get to this place where I feel comfortable saying it. I want to study the history of rhetoric and rhetorical analysis and discourse. This is what I feel the Lord wants me to study. You'd think I would have learned enough in my program, but in truth, I learned more about communication, of which rhetoric is a part. Now, I want to learn all about rhetoric -- the history, the philosophy, and the practice of it. I am passionately attracted to it, and I am even thinking perhaps the Lord desires that I learn how to become a rhetorician. Oh! I love that word!! A Rhetorician is an expert in formal rhetoric. It is a person who studies how we use words to impress or persuade. I love everything about it, and I would like to know more, specifically the practice of it. I think this is something the Lord intends to use, so I feel that He is preparing me for this next level of study. I am cool with the study choice, and I realize that to be able to study at an advanced level (another PhD), I have to profess language fluency. And, guess what languages I have to know? Well, I have my choice, but among the preferred languages listed at most schools, French, German, and Italian are top. Hmmm....
So what does this mean to me?
Well, it seems that this is another plan of the Lord's and that means that I need to learn two languages well enough to pass an language proficiency exam. I am confident that I can do this, but it will take time, probably 2-3 years of study before I can accomplish the level needed. I am okay with this timing too, because I am ready to take a short break between programs. Right now, I should finished with my PhD in 2016 (October), and then I plan to teach full-time for 2-3 years at some school. During this time off, I plan to study language and cello so that when the time comes to apply, I will be ready to start a new course of study. The great thing about a PhD in Rhetoric is that the actual degree is English with a concentration on Rhetoric. This means that I would study something I already know well, and that the degree would benefit me as a professor as well as for whatever ministry the Lord wants me to do. I really believe that the ministry He has in mind for me two things are vital -- one is that I must know how to communicate well (PhD in Communication), and two, I must understand how to use language to impress or persuade (PhD in English/Rhetoric). I am pretty well convinced that this is what He wants me to know, and because I enjoy advanced study, He is willing to send me through to another school, for another degree.
My Plans for the Next Couple Years
I am still waiting to find out where He intends to send me, well place me, for full-time work. But until that point in time when He reveals His plan to me, I know this much for sure:
- He intends to keep me in teaching higher education, specifically English (Composition and Literature)
- He desires that I learn two languages well (French and German) and a third, conversationally (Italian)
- He desires that I continue to study music (cello/violin) along with art and art history and other cultural influences as I am able to do so
I am convinced that this is what I am do to with the rest of my life. I know I will work as a Professor at some school, probably Christian, until I retire. I know that I will be involved in a specific ministry work that is focused on global evangelism. I know that my skills and abilities along with my specific experience will somehow play a part in the ministry work that involves preaching the good news to very dark places (primarily in Northern and Central Europe) as well as places in the USA. I know that this work will be part of a larger organization that is already in place in these locations, and that already has a great reach for ministry. My experience in technology along with my advanced study will be used to help this organization develop tools, teaching materials, and other curriculum to reach the lost in these countries.
Until the Lord returns, my plan is to be active in what I believe are the areas of study He desires for me. I wish I could explain why I feel the way I do or why I am so strongly convinced that I am to do these things, but in truth, I cannot. Instead, I can only step out in faith and as I do, the Lord will either bless my efforts or stop them. I am sure of this because I have since this to be His M.O. previously. He has blessed me abundantly at Mercy and Regent, and in so many other areas of my life. Now, it is just a matter of repeating the steps, following through, applying what I believe is His will in and through my life, and then waiting and watching to see what He does with my efforts. They will be blessed, I believe.
Today, I am resting in the knowledge that I now have a path to follow. I was feeling like the end of the road (Regent) was really the "end of the road" for me. I mean, I didn't see anything "after" my PhD. Now, I do. Now, I see where I need to go next, what I need to do next, and this gives me great hope, a renewed desire and interest, and a dedication to "keep on" this path, to see it through, and to see what the Lord plans for me. It is exciting for me to see that there is more to do, more work, that is. You see, I have finally figured out that the work I do, His work, I mean is all of this -- it is all the study, the prep, the learning -- and this is His work for me. My thick "mellon" of a brain is so SLOW at times to catch on, and for the longest time, I assumed that the prep work I was doing was just that -- in and of itself -- it was just prep work. Now, I see that it is all part of the overall work. This means that every class I take (or have taken) as well as every hour I apply to my studies, it is ALL PART of His Work. There is no "this is now" and "that will be for later" because it is all part of the plan He has for my life. Everything from the time I started on this path, through all the hardship, heartache, and eventual highlights has been purposed, planned and prepared for me. I know where I have been, and now I know where I am going. My direction is set, it is fixed, and for that, I am so pleased (and relieved!)
Someday soon I hope the Lord will show me that next job. Yes, I would like to see where He intends to move me between 2016 --> and --> the next couple years. But for now, I am content to remain where I am, to do this present work, and to be settled, to be content, in the knowledge that what I do "day in and day out" is all part of His blessed plan for my life.