November 5, 2015

Picking Up and Moving On

It is a very good Thursday, and I am at home and getting ready to finish my annotated bibliography project. I have been panicked over it for the past couple days, so I am still not ready to wrap it up (it is due tomorrow). I have the entire day, and I only need three more annotations and an introduction. I can do it, of that I am sure, but it has been a challenging project thus far, and I want to make sure it is well done. My grade hinges on my final paper (60%) so this bibliography needs to be solid. I am trusting the Lord for His provision, and I know He will see me through to the end. I know it. I am convinced of it. Still, I struggle some, and still I try very hard to do my best, and still I know I must rely on Him for 100% of the effort and the results. He is good, so very good to me.

So today is a new day, a good day, and a day when I feel empowered to step out in faith and take some chances. Yes, I feel good, and I feel that my work now is aligned with His will, and even though I am still not sure exactly what He plans to do in my life, I feel this sense -- no -- this need to get up, get out, and get moving.

Taking a Chance

I am feeling confident today, and what a good thing that is -- I mean -- considering the fact that I have been so beaten down for oh-so-long. Today, though, I feel good, just good. I don't have anything to report, just business as usual, but I do feel really good about where I am and where I think the Lord is leading me. My life has been in flux for so long, so very long, and I have tried to make heads or tails of it, all without success. My family situation here is a challenge, but I am thankful that each day I can spend time with my parents and my son. I am thankful that I get to teach at two good schools, and while the position and provision are not perfect (yet), it is good. God covers me, provides for me, and in that way, I am able to focus on my studies at Regent and on spending quality time with my family. God has blessed me with downtime, so that I can rest in between my teaching assignments, and in this way, I am able to muddle on through, do the work, and come to feel accomplished in what is finished.

I have blogged about "going" and about moving quite a bit. It is no secret that I have always believed that I was not supposed to stay here in AZ long term. In fact, I would say that my timeline for moving from AZ has always been 2016-2017. Of course, this knowledge came about before I moved into teaching, so the idea of moving often was predicated on finding a job (any job) in one of the states where I felt the Lord was leading. Now that I am a teacher, the emphasis has been the same. I need to find a full-time position teaching -- somewhere, anywhere -- the Lord desires me to go. The problem, of course, is that for most of these full-time jobs, a Ph.D. in hand is necessary. I have known this now for a while, so my mind was content with the timing of passing exams, advancing to candidacy, and then moving on to the dissertation phase BEFORE I find that full-time job. This has always been the case -- get to ABD -- find a job, get hired, move. It has always been this way, in this order. Somehow, though, I got sidetracked with the money issue or lack thereof, and I began to panic and to seek jobs outside of education -- simply in order to facilitate the need for money.

Making the Turn

This week was a turning point for me. I turned back around and walked back to the last place I had peace. In fact, I ran backwards and then I stopped right where I had been some 6-7 months ago. I stood still for a moment, and I relished the sweet peace. You see, I have struggled so with knowing what to do, and how to do it, when all along I was already doing the thing the Lord had purposed and planned for me to do. I simply didn't believe that His provision was enough, and I started to doubt His abilities to provide a full-time teaching job for me. You see, I bought the lie that said I will never be good enough to be hired anywhere as anything other than an adjunct instructor. I believed it and in believing it, I doubted the Lord's ability to provide for me. I listened to a lie, and in the end, I took matters into my own hands and started looking for "good practical work" to meet my rising need. The result of that action was a lack of peace. Yes, I had a subtle lack of piece, only in the fact that my desire to return to corporate work wasn't outside the scope of the Lord's will for me, no, rather it was just another way to go. But the problem was my motivation, always my motivation. It wasn't the fact that I needed more money (that is a given), but it was the reason why I felt that I must leave what I am doing now for something else -- and the timing of it all -- didn't mesh with what I knew was true.

You see, I know that nothing is to interfere with finishing my Ph.D. In fact, I am set, convinced, and determined to spend the time needed to finish my programme. I am almost finished, and yet, I was so willing to cash it all in, just to experience relief from the crushing debt, the feelings of inadequacy, and the longing I have to relocate now. In the end, though, my heart wouldn't give way, and I had to come to terms with what my heart wanted, so longed for, and ultimately, needed.

In truth, I came to realize that the only job I have ever wanted to do was teach. I have looked long and hard at jobs over the past 40 years of my life, and the only job I ever wanted to do was to be a teacher. Kindergarten, high school art, college English -- I only wanted to teach -- from the time I was 10-12 years old. I started on this path in 6th grade when I told everyone that I was going to grow up and become a kindergarten teacher. When I was in high school, and I diverted slightly into art, I changed my focus to want to teach high school art classes. After some struggle in college, I came back around to teaching, and I professed it again, I was going to teach elementary school (in Community College), and then later as an undergraduate at SJSU, I was going to be a college professor. Of course, by then, life had intervened, and my decisions on marriage, family, etc., led me away from teaching and into the family business. The Lord provided ways for me to be involved in teaching, first through church ministry and later as an instructional assistant in the local schools. It wasn't until some 20 years later when I found myself single and needing a 'career' path to follow, that the Lord put the thought of becoming a college professor back on my heart and into my mind. It was only then that I did something about it. I have devoted the past five years to education, my education, and now I am working as a college instructor. You would think I would be so content, so happy, so settled, but no, instead of being content, I was frustrated, angry, and disappointed in my lack of resources.

I almost chucked it all in and ran towards a position that paid well, and that would provide for me and my family. The job prospect thrilled me at first, the pull of the money, and the promise of a solid and safe future. But in the end, I lacked peace. I didn't feel peace in the process, and I didn't feel well. I ended up stressed more than normal, feeling sick, unwell, and generally more overwhelmed than usual. I prayed about it, stressed over it, and then finally, I turned myself around and walked back to where I felt that "ah -- rest."

A Change of Heart

This change in heart really came the other day when I realized that I didn't want to do any other job. It is not that I LOVE teaching, mind you. It is just that I have become this thing, a teacher, and now this is all I want to do. It isn't that teaching thrills me -- no -- at times, it frustrates me greatly, and students annoy me. But in my heart, I know that this is the thing I can do. I am not the best teacher, but I do try hard, and I love the work. I really love the work. I want to be better, of course, I do, and I want to be able to improve my skills. I struggle with fatigue and with the pain from standing on my feet all day long, but it doesn't diminish the love I have for my students. I love my students, even when they bug me. I love them to death.

So what do I do now? Well, today, after talking with the Lord, I took yet another leap of faith and I applied for a teaching position at Auburn University in Montgomery. I have applied to the main campus, and I have felt that the door there has been closed (permanently). I have tried to get hired, but the competition is so steep, so stiff, and the nature of the work, well, grueling, that I knew in my heart that I didn't want to jump into that ring of fire. So today, as I was praying to the Lord, I asked Him if I could teach like I do now, but with a contract (you know - a salary and benefits). I really do like to teach English, and I like to teach freshman. I want a job like what I do at GCU, but with better pay. I want the same 9-months of work, but with a salary. I said, "Lord, I just don't want to be in the grind, and have to produce scholarship. I just want a nice job." Is it possible? Can I find a good instructor position that pays a decent wage and that wouldn't require much more effort than what I already give now?

As I was praying, I felt the Lord lead me to AUM's website. I saw two jobs -- both as full-time faculty. I didn't have the right experience, education or interests, so I was about to give up. Then I scrolled down and I saw that they were still looking for a lecturer in English. A lecturer is the lowest rank in higher education. It is non-tenure, so the job is usually just full-time, 9 months and includes salary and benefits, but no extra duties. It is primarily for teaching -- not scholarship. I felt the Lord giving me the approval to apply so I did. I am not sure if this job will be the one, but it is closer to what I want to do. The more I think about it, the more I realize that all I want to do is have a good practical job where I can feel as though I am making a difference in the lives of my students. I don't want to work that hard anymore, and I want to enjoy my life. I want to spend time with the man I love, to be involved in activities outside of my work and to just rest, to really, really rest. I need this rest. I need to rest so badly.

Is this the job He has for me? I don't know. I took a chance today, so we will just have to wait and see. I am not sure if the Lord intends for me to move to AL permanently, but perhaps He does for a short while, a year or two. I am not sure. I have believed and I still do that I am to go elsewhere, but perhaps this is the next step as I move toward an Assistant Professor position. Hmmm...

Maybe this is His plan after all.

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