December 8, 2015

It is a Good Day!

It is a beautiful day in sunny and warm Phoenix. Yes, it is a warm day today, just near 70 right now, and the skies are blue and so beautiful. The winter in Arizona is delightful; truthfully, this is the reason why we live here. I mean, why choose the cold and snow when you can have the sun and warm weather all winter long? I do miss the changing seasons, but I am glad when the weather turns cooler and we can enjoy some outside time without baking to death.

I am home from my teaching duties at ACU. Today was my student's final day, and I am blessed to be finished with this semester. I like this school, don't get me wrong, but I struggle so with teaching this class in particular. I just don't care for the textbook, and I am required to teach the content exactly as the chair has designed it. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach there, and I am thankful for the pay check every other week -- but -- the class is always difficult for me to teach. Praise be to God, though, I am done for another year. I pray that I will have a full-time teaching position before next fall comes around -- otherwise -- I will be teaching this class once again. Sigh!

This is a good day, nonetheless, and I am praising God for His goodness in my life. I  mean, I am here at home, resting after teaching and breakfast out with my parents. At 2:30 p.m. today, I have a hair appointment, and then I hope to get some shopping done afterwards. I am taking my Mom with me, so that should give my Dad a break this afternoon. Perhaps we will hit Target too. We will see how well she feels and whether or not she is up to doing some shopping.

Making Plans and Feeling at Ease

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty good day for me. I had some fits and starts, but in the end, I actually had a good day. I have one more teaching day at GCU, and then graduation on Friday. I will be glad to be finished with my teaching duties there as well. I am so ready for my three-week break over the holidays. I have a lot to do -- exam prep and study wise -- but I am confident that I will be ready come next February. God is good, so very good to me. I know He has this all figured out.

As I was driving home from school yesterday, I started to think about my next steps. I have already blogged about pursuing a second post-doctoral degree at either Auburn University or Old Dominion University, so the idea of studying Composition and Rhetoric is becoming more and more like a good "next step" for me academically speaking. I was praying over my options, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps a better, more practical option would be to complete a second Masters degree in Rhetoric or even in Linguistics. I started to think about the time to completion, how I really prefer to do school online, and how I don't want to write a second dissertation (and do the exams, etc.) A Master's degree would serve me well, give me the opportunity to take 9-10 classes specific to my interest, and would offer a practical alternative because it would help me become a better teacher, but it would also work for my ministry focus and needs.

Arizona State has a good Masters program online. I looked at it briefly yesterday, and it is 9-10 classes and could be completed in about 13 months. I like that a lot, and I think the content is good. Plus the cost for a second Masters would be about $13k, which is not really that expensive (compared to my doctoral program). Right now, I am thinking about taking this approach, about starting a second Masters degree in January 2017, and working toward finishing it up by January-February 2018. This would pretty much complete all my advanced education, unless I decide to do a certificate program in Linguistics after wards. I know it seems like a lot of schooling, and that there is little return on investment, but really, my interests in higher education are more for knowledge than for practical work. I am interested in learning about these disciplines, and I feel that the content in the coursework would benefit me in many ways, none the least, for ministry and communicating the faith.

Other options include an Applied Linguistics and TESOL Masters degree from the University of Leicester in the UK. I like this program a lot because it is non-traditional in the sense that it is considered a post-graduate degree program. The program itself covers the areas I am interested in and requires that you be actively teaching English. I would need to see if I could receive a scholarship for international study or if I could apply for a Fulbright scholarship. Right now, I need to pray about this option to see if this would be a direction the Lord would want me to go.

The Lord would need to provide a way for me to take a second program online, and perhaps He will, so for now, I am content with the thought that this would be a very good next step for me.

Teaching Confirmed

It seems like now that I have committed to this path, the Lord is moving in such a way as to confirm this decision. I cannot really put my finger on it, other than to say, that it seems like I am getting interests, desires, and general feelings of "must have or need" that are directly related to teaching. I am starting to see how the Lord plans to pursue this path. I mean, I am settled into teaching next semester. I am good with my classes, three sections of English 106, and with the fact that I need to have enough time to study for exams and begin my dissertation. The Lord seems to be content with this amount of work/study, so I am feeling at ease with this idea. It makes sense to me, and I feel really good about the combination of work and study for next spring.

After spring, I am in the open again, and while I tend to worry about that a lot, I am trusting the Lord to provide for me over the summer. Again, there is this desire to work full-time, but He knows that I must complete my dissertation, so I am thinking that He intends for me to take student loans (my last go-round) to cover my summer and fall registration expenses. I won't be working during the summer, but I will be doing research and writing my dissertation. I am not sure how I will make ends meet, but He is got that part of the plan worked out, and I am trusting Him to provide for me.

My goal now is to graduate next December, Lord willing. It is very possible, doable, but I have to complete all my work, all my writing, all my research in time. I have to defend my dissertation in the early fall, so that I can graduate on time. I am trusting the Lord to provide for me through next fall. I know I can teach adjunct at GCU and ACU for another full-year, but I really would like to be hired full-time (somewhere) so I can relax and no longer worry over income and benefits. The Lord knows my needs, and His timing is perfect, so I am resting in His provision.

Should I continue on with school, then I see two viable options right now:
  • Pursue a PhD in English with a focus on Rhetoric and Composition
  • Pursue a Masters in Applied Linguistics
The problem, now that I think about it, is that I already have a Masters degree in English Literature so a second Masters in English seems redundant. I like the applied linguistics route a lot, and while I am willing to get a second PhD, there is just so much involved with that course of study. It means second-language study (French) and exams and a dissertation. It also means another 4-5 years of education, not being able to work full-time, etc. I really feel that I must teach full-time, that I must start teaching full-time, just for economy sake. If the Lord chooses to send me to a PhD again, I know He will provide for me. But, there is part of me that sees that a second masters is the way to go. It is practical, less expensive, and would save me time and money in the long run. Furthermore, I would study only the courses I need to know for my overall program of study -- how to help the church communicate faith more successfully and effectively. Therefore, I am thinking that perhaps the Lord intends to place me in a full-time teaching position as an Assistant Professor of English AND allow me to study Linguistics so that I can continue to learn the fundamentals necessary to teach english and writing.

I feel confident that I am settled in this way now. I am to be a full-time Professor of English, and that I am to study Rhetoric, Composition and/or Linguistics. How this will come to pass, well, that is in the Lord's keeping. For now, my focus is on finishing my PhD and then getting that full-time position at the school of His choosing. Selah!

The plans the Lord has for my life are so good, so very good. I am excited just thinking about what He wants me to do for ministry. I am excited to think about where He might be leading me for a teaching position. I am so excited and eager to learn, to study, and to pursue this course of action, this way, because I know that I will be doing exactly what He designed, purposed, and planned for me to do. Selah! 

Dear Lord,

I let go of all these plans. I know your will is perfect. I am trusting you now to lead me and guide me as I consider these next steps. Prepare my way, plan it out, and provide for it as you see fit. I am resting in your security, your provision, and your goodness this very good day. May your way be made smooth, and may you see me through to the realization of your will for my life. You are so good to me, so very good to me. I know you will make all this clear, and you will show me the way to go. I trust in you, I rest in you, and I abide in you. May your Name be praised, and may you receive all honor, all glory today.

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