December 4, 2015

Hopeful Today

Today is a really good day despite the fact that I overslept and barely made it to class on time! Oh, what a crazy morning! The good news is that I did make it to class, and I finished the hour strong (hooray!) I am home now, and it is 9:15 a.m. I have about 2.5 hours free so I am enjoying my morning cup of coffee, while I sit at the computer and blog. God is good, you know, so very good.

My morning started slowly, but here I am ready to tackle the day's "must be done" list. I am actually in pretty fair shape today. I finished my peer review, though I am going to revise it slightly in order to soften my tone some. I was critical of my peer, and while his paper does need some major revision, I will change the way I say that so it is less harsh. I am normally not direct like this, and I try very hard not to offend my peers and colleagues with my criticism (even if correctly applied). My personality tends toward the direct approach, and often my criticism comes across as very strongly worded. I guess I am just precise, and I don't think about how my words may be taken by others. I am getting better, you know, being gracious with my comments, but I still have a long way to go. Lord, help me be gracious today! Selah!

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and still rather chilly Phoenix. I am happy to be home, and I am really happy that my semester is winding down so quickly. I have one more day at ACU (finals), and two more days at GCU. Before I know it, my 5th semester teaching will be over. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by me. I am amazed at all the Lord has done for me. God is good, so very good to me.

Feeling Hopeful

Today is a good day. I am feeling hopeful, optimistic, and generally upbeat about my future plan. I am still not 100% better (physically), but I am on the mend, Praise God! Yes, I am feeling less pain now, and overall, I am not as tired. I think I have turned a major corner in my path to progress, and I feel confident that I am heading in the right direction.

This semester has been a defining one for me. It started out rough, with a lot of uncertainty, but now that we are so close to wrapping things up, I think it has been one of my best thus far. I have overcome obstacles that seemed larger-than-life. I mean, besides my courses at Regent -- Theology, History of Communication (as a TA), and dissertation research --  I managed to teach four classes (2 English and 2 Communication) and deal with my Mom's cancer surgery and treatment as well as her dementia. I maintained an important personal relationship, and I kept my little ship afloat financially, even when I thought I was going to sink under the weight of the heavy debt. God is amazingly good to me.

Right now, I am thinking about my future plan, and I wonder what will happen next year. Here we are, right at the end of the year, and in less than 26 days, 2015 will be put to bed. The New Year is bright and shiny, and it is filled with major, and I mean, major hurdles.

In 2016, I will be:

  • Studying for and taking my written and oral qualification exams (Feb/March)
  • Starting my "official" research for my dissertation (April)
  • Writing my dissertation (May-September)
  • Defending my dissertation (October)
  • Graduating with my PhD (December)
In a very short time, 12 months really, I will accomplish a goal that has been a part of my dream for nearly 23 years. I cannot believe how close I am to finishing this degree program. I cannot believe that I am at that point where I am finishing it all up. God is amazingly good to me.

What will I do after I finish my degree?

Well, first up will be a very long rest! Yes, I am taking a year off to rest. Of course, I will be teaching full-time, so I will be working, etc. I plan to take some time off from studying, and to enjoy my free time. I haven't had "free time" in five years, so I am really looking forward to not having assignments, papers, etc., to do.

After that time off, I may think about more schooling, some post-doctoral work. It will depend on the Lord, really, as to what He has in mind for me. I am open to continuing my schooling, but He will have to provide for me. I will need to pay off my school loans some way, and then I will need to be financed through a second degree program. Perhaps I can get a stipend or a fellowship for a couple years of study. Not sure if that is doable, but that would make it possible for me to continue working on my education without incurring more debt.

My heart is very interested (my mind too) in studying formal rhetoric, in understanding classical argumentation, and in learning more about persuasion. I teach rhetoric and persuasion, but only lightly. I would really like to be able to teach more advanced courses in rhetoric at some point in time. I would love to be able to teach classical rhetoric to graduate students some day. But to be able to do that, I would need to have a PhD in Rhetoric, and that would mean tackling another graduate degree. I am open to this, so long as the Lord desires it. If it is not His will, so be it. I don't need a second PhD, for sure, but I can see value in the coursework, the study, the program. Perhaps He will open this door for me. I am okay if He says "we are done now, rest!" I will say, "Yes, Lord, I will rest." The Lord is good to me, so very good to me. He knows what I can and cannot do, so I trust His timing, His provision, and His will for my life. He has this all figured out. I am simply following after Him as He leads and guides me.

Classical Rhetoric or the Art of Persuasion

The Lord has placed rhetoric on my heart for reason. I have focused on rhetorical studies since I started at Regent, but I think even before this time, my heart was leaning toward this discipline. I love rhetoric, classical argumentation, and logic. I regret that I never took logic courses. I had hoped to teach my son logic at some point, and we did start the process, but in the end, we went a different direction. There is part of me that would like to take some logic courses, traditional logic courses. I can probably do this on my own, and perhaps I will this summer. Logic is such a fascinating study, and it would benefit me as I teach my writing students how to frame an argument.

I am already studying some Rhetoric for my dissertation, and I have covered how rhetoric functions in communication. However, I feel like I need to study more concretely so that I really understand rhetoric, how it is use for persuasion and how to teach rhetoric to students.

I was over at Amazon just now, and I am thinking of purchasing a couple texts that would benefit me for both my final study at Regent and teaching introductory courses at a University. My focus is two-fold, one on the theory behind rhetoric and two, on the practical aspects of writing. I am a writing instructor, after all, so I need to understand the why as much as the how of writing. God is good, to put me in this field. I love writing, and I love to teach writing. I feel that my strongest area is writing argument, and this is where the Lord seems to want me to stay. My goal, then is to become a strong writing instructor, and I feel that the way to do this is to study rhetoric formally so that I can be competitive in placement, but also have the knowledge base that I need to teach my students.

Many of the rhetoric positions I see listed want a PhD in Rhetoric. My PhD is in Communication (or it will be), and as such, I am positioned a bit off the mark. The Lord chose this discipline for me, and He had need of this level of study, so I followed Him to Regent University. But, now that I am finishing up here, there is part of me that wonders whether it would be best for me to tackle Rhetoric now, and do a completer program so that I could be placed in a good position for the rest of my career. Only the Lord knows what He desires for my next steps, but I am seriously thinking about two schools in particular:
  • The first is Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. I have looked at this school before, and I chose Regent over it because I felt the Lord was leading me to study Communication, and Regent's program is one of the finest out there today. ODU has a solid Rhetoric program, and I like that it is online. I am not looking forward to spending two weeks each summer in VA again (expensive) so my mind thinks that while their program is good, it is not really practical for me at this next stage of the game.
  • The second is Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Auburn is a draw for me because it is near where my love lives, but also, their Rhetoric program is excellent, and it holds a shorter time to completion for me. Plus, they expect their doctoral students to teach in their writing program. It would enable me to teach English and study at the same time. I am not sure how I would do that, but I figure if the Lord chooses it for me, so be it. The Lord would have to make it possible for me to complete this program, and since there is a strong language requirement, I just don't know how I can finish my PhD now, study to pass two language exams, and then start a second program. It seems too difficult for me -- just time wise and logistically speaking.
There are other schools out there, but these are the two that seem to be on my heart and mind. Perhaps the Lord intends for me to study at Auburn. This program would take me two years to complete, so it is very attractive to me. I would need to pass a French proficiency exam or demonstrate two years of college language (I can do this online at Rio Salado, one class every 8 weeks) to advance to candidacy. I would also need a second language, German, more than likely, and that could be done in the same way. However, it just seems too much for me, at this age, I mean. Sigh.

Knowing Where to Go

I believe that the Lord will reveal His will to me soon. I have plenty of time to finish all of this study, and I am only doing this for the Lord, so truthfully, if this is what He wants, it will be so. I know this, I am confident of this, for certain. My plan for now is to stay put. I am set to teach at GCU this spring, and since I won't have my PhD completed until December, there is no way I could start a second program the following year. I could potentially teach at GCU in fall/spring (2016-2017), and then start at Auburn in fall 2017. I would have my second PhD completed by 2020. I would be 58 by that time, and while that seems like a waste of time and money, I would still have a good 10-12 years of teaching time left before I retired. Hmmm....

For now, I will wait to see what the Lord wants me to do. I can see this path though and it does make sense to me. There would be advantage in studying Rhetoric, both for work and ministry, and the fact that Auburn basically waives tuition and pays you a stipend to teach, well, that would work for me. No debt. I like that a lot.

Dear Lord,

If you want me to study Rhetoric at Auburn University, so be it. I will go there, and I will study there. I ask that you confirm this path to me, that you show me this is what you want for my next steps. I ask, Lord, that you make this way possible. You would need to provide for me, materially and financially so that I could do this level of study at this major university. It is competitive, and I would need to be accepted here. I am not sure if that is possible, but with God, nothing is impossible, and I know this is truth. I ask that you make this way known to me. If this is not your will, then show me the way to go, show me what you want for me instead of this path. I can see this happening, but I have to know that this is your will, that it is your way, and that this aligns with your word for my life. Thank you, Lord. I ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen. Selah!

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