November 29, 2015

Rethinking The Past -- Moving On

Psalm 33:4-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For the word of the Lord is upright,
And all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

It is a blessed Sunday, and I am at rest. Today is going to be a good day, a wonderful day, a day filled with much progress. Yet, my plans are to rest, to cease striving, and to stop trying to make everything "fit" into my own design. I am intentionally setting aside time today to reflect, to think about all that has come before me, and to begin to think more deeply about the path that lays ahead of me. You see, today is November 29, 2015, and this is my last "day off" before I return to the grind of the fall semester. I have approximately 3 class periods left at ACU and I have 5 class periods left at GCU. In this time, I have to get my students ready to present their final papers (starting on Monday), and to finishing writing their commentary and proposal essays at GCU. It is not difficult, but now that I think about the timeline, I realize just how little time there is left to get this work done. Sigh!

The more I think about my situation, the more I come to appreciate the fact that my personality lends itself to reflection. I realize that I should have stuck to my original lesson plans in all three of my courses. I made significant tweaks to my teaching this semester, and for the most part, the teaching content change was good. The assignment change has been less than satisfactory, so next semester at GCU, it is back to students presenting in class the last two weeks of school. This worked really well, and it gave me a great two weeks off at the end of the semester. Plus, I think the students really liked presenting their proposals and essays. Some freaked out, but most were okay with sharing their information with the class. I have some other changes in mind, revisions mostly, that will make my course load better, but generally speaking, I have come to see the error of my way, and that was to second guess what had worked in the past in order to make something marginally better in the future.

Sometimes "change for change sake" is not a good plan. Write that one down, Carol. Do not do this again. Sigh!

My heart is settled, though, and I know that over the next few semesters, I will get this "teaching thing" figured out. I mean, I have my content down now so the only thing I need to work on is the assignments, and a better way to assess my students in class. I am thinking about quizzes, and while I hate them, I do think there is value in giving student reading quizzes. It keeps them in the game, so to speak, so I am thinking about how I might work some quizzes into my curriculum. 

My plans for today are pretty simple really. I have two "to-do" items on my list for this week (ending, I mean). My list was very long at the start of the week, but now it is down to two items. I am pretty happy with my progress, and I feel confident as I head into next week, that everything that needs to be finished by the end of the semester will be finished. Still, there is this "doubt" that is creeping into my head, but I am trying very hard to push it away, to refute it really, and to take a strong stand that says "I can do this. The battle belongs to the Lord, and this is HIS GROUND!" The idea being that the Lord has claimed the ground I walk on, the battle ground, that is, so therefore, the ground I walk on, the ground that I walk over, well, it is already His. It belongs to Him, and thus, the battle has been won. This is a mind shift for me, to realize that it is not up to me to take this ground, to make the assault, and to strategize how to win the day. He has already won, so this battle ground belongs to Him. I must simple walk through it, walk on, and remember that, always, He is victorious. He is my VICTOR AND MY CHAMPION. I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory this good, this very good day.
As I think about this very good day, I give thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness to me. Last night, I was talking with my good friend about God's faithfulness to me over the course of my life. I had shared some memories, stories really, about how my desire for graduate school was something of the Lord and not of my own making. I was sharing with my friend how I had to set aside my desire to do graduate school because of my pregnancy, and how after my son was born, I tried very hard to make "graduate school" work for me. I went so far as to attend SJSU for 6 weeks before I had to accept the inevitable -- graduate school was not meant to be at that time -- and withdraw from classes. I shared how difficult that was for me, how I was emotionally distraught when I did it, but in the end, how I knew in my heart that it was the "right" thing to do.

In hindsight, I can say with 100% assurance that it was indeed the right thing to do. My son, then only a year old, needed me. I needed to be a full-time hands-on Mother because of his early high needs. I needed to focus on his needs and that meant that I couldn't do graduate study and be a Mom, despite what friends, family, and my mentors at school were telling me. I couldn't put my son in day care because of his needs, and I couldn't work out a way to care for him other than to stay at home. In time, I accepted my path, and I embraced it fully, to enjoy being a Mom. It took time though and there were moments when I felt the anguish of not finishing my education. I felt the pang of regret because I knew in my heart that I was meant to do this level of work. I knew it, I desired it, and I wanted it. But, it wasn't His time, and so I laid it aside, and I did the work He gave to me, which was to devote my life to raising a Godly young man, and to serving my then husband without complaint, gripe or fault.

Overtime, I was blessed with opportunities to teach and to study, and I thank the Lord for His faithfulness in providing me with home school, Charlotte Mason, and classical curriculum. I used the time wisely, studying, reading, and learning on my own, so that when the Lord opened the door for me to return to graduate school in 2010, I was really well-read. I was ready. Moreover, as the time passed, I came to see that it was His intention for me to go through graduate school and on to my PhD in one shot. I am now at the end of that program, and I look back over the past five years and see all that I have accomplished. He has provided a way for me to study, to learn, to graduate with two advanced degrees and to begin a new career path, all within a very short time. He is good like that, He is faithful to keep His word and His promises. Selah!

Now, my life is different. I am a new person. I am ready to move, to embrace His work fully, and to begin this next leg of my journey. So much has happened to me since 2010. My life is completely different than I anticipated it would be, and while that change was not an easy one to process, I have come to accept that it is "what it is" and move on. I am okay with my "status" now, with being divorced, single, and wholly devoted to the Lord. I am okay with the stigma of being the unwanted woman, the unloved mate because I know that the man I was married to, while he was the father of my child, he wasn't the man meant for me. We both tried to make our marriage work (I do give my ex some credit there because the years were not all bad). He left the marriage a lot sooner than I did, and in the end, he moved on faster than I did. He is settled into his life with his girlfriend, and I am settled into my life here with my parents and my son. It isn't the perfect union that Christians believe is possible by any means, but it is the outcome of decisions made, choices, that proved to be ill-conceived and not considered wisely.

As I think about my past and my present, my mind races forward to the future, and I begin to see that I am ready to start this next phase of my journey now. I am ready to begin to enjoy my life, to be settled and content, and to allow God's plan to unfold around me. You see, I feel as though I have been trying to make His plan work for so many years. In fact, I would say that from the time I was a young girl, and shortly after I received His call, I tried in vain to make His plan come to pass. I didn't know what I was doing back then, of course not; yet, I did try very hard to figure it out. I felt His calling on my life, and I believed He had a specific plan for me. I didn't understand how the Holy Spirit was communicating with me, but I believed that He was. I mean, I would get these deep impressions that convinced me that I was to do this thing or that thing, go this way or that way. Sometimes, I followed; sometimes, I went my own way. When I followed, I experienced blessing, goodness, and fruit (spiritual and sometimes material). Sometimes, when I didn't listen, the depression would become almost catastrophic for me. The choices became paramount, yet in my child-like way, I would make choices often in an effort to stop the pain, to stop the torment, to stop the psychological suffering. I didn't know then that had I simply turned back around, I would have found the peace I was seeking -- not in another person or a place -- but rather in the Lord alone.

I wish I would have listened more intently, been more patient, while I was receiving these signals from the Lord. Oh, how I would have saved my life a boat load of heartache! Sigh! Selah! Needless to say, I blundered on through, and because I was trying to make His plans come to pass, I made choices and decisions that altered my life, that took me on a different road than the one He desired for me to take. In looking back, I see how the mistakes I made, mostly in being patient, in waiting for the Lord to show me the way to go clearly, were costly to me. My life took a path that was destined to produce heartache, and while I don't regret the birth of my beautiful child, I do see how the path I chose was filled with strife, with difficulty, and in the end, with pain (so much pain). 

Now, I look forward and I see how the path that is in front of me, well it is good, so very good. The pain I suffer now is different, it is not the pain of a poor choice or of a bad decision (a willful disobedience to the Lord's calling), but rather it is the pain that accompanies the hard work and effort required by the Lord. The pain I experience is physical, and not mental, emotional, or spiritual. I walk on very tired legs. I stand on aching feet. I lift using weak arms and back. Yet, despite the physical pain, my heart, my mind, and my spirit are settled and at peace. I am filled with His peace, and that peace reminds me that the path ahead is good, so very good.

Today is a beautiful Sunday. It is cool and calm, and I am at peace in my life. There is nothing within me that shouts out "this is out of order" nor do I feel the pull of chaos calling out to me and telling me that I am mistaken or misplaced. No, I feel His peace as it sets upon me, and I know that I can rest here, I can stay here, right here in the middle of His blessed peace. My spirit is calm. My heart is at ease. My head is cool. My body, while achy and stiff, well, it is still able to get up and go (praise the Lord). For all intents and purposes, my entire life, with the exception of my body, is in really, really good shape. Selah!

My heart, my head, and my spirit are all united in this one thing: serving the Lord God in this way, in His work and through His word is my soul's delight. I desire nothing less than His best, and that means that I accept His plan, His path, and His provision for everything He desires in my life. I can no longer look to my hand to produce anything of value because the work I do is no longer my work, but it is His work. I go and do as He designs, and I live freely, without incumbrance because He needs me to be ready to go. Today, tomorrow, or perhaps in a year, I will go when He calls me forward. Until then, I will do this work with gladness, and I will serve Him and others with a spirit that is attuned to His desires. He calls me, and I answer. He asks me to do this or that thing, and I respond with "Yes, Lord, and amen." He is good, so very good to me.

Psalm 33:18-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in You.

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