December 21, 2015

Making Headway Today

It is a such a good day here in Phoenix, Arizona. The skies are clear and the day is looking pretty nice (so far, I mean). I think our forecast high is expected to be right around 60. Cool and chilly -- just the way it should be -- right before a major winter holiday!

I woke up feeling a bit sore, but overall in good spirits. I have had a couple rough days, so today being the first day of the new week, was held with high regard. Yes, I had hoped that today would be a good day, and so far, it seems to be shaping up nicely. I am still murmuring over my weekend experience. I am still not 100% satisfied with my purchases, but I am letting those doubts go. I mean, really, does it matter? No, not in the long-run, and I know it. I am good, so very good today.
It is December 21st and that means that there are only four more days left until Christmas 2015. I am almost ready, if you can believe it, but I still have a few more items to get today. I probably will shop again, unless I can pick up everything while I am out at the mall. I need to take my Mom shopping, and while I used to enjoy that experience, lately it has become such a struggle to take her out and help her make purchases. Her memory is failing rapidly, and she knows it. I think that is the worst part of having Alzheimers. My Mom said to me yesterday, "My memory is just so bad. I don't know why it is this way?" She really does, but we don't say the "A" word in the house.

She is still able to do laundry, dishes, and she can even make very simple meals, but she doesn't remember other things. I think she has tossed out the National Enquirer three times this week. I dug it out of the recycle bin on Friday, and my Dad snatched it twice since then. She will say, "I didn't throw it out," but we all know that she did and she doesn't remember doing it. It is not a big deal, but there are other things that she does that could prove dangerous to her or other family members and pets. She will leave her pills laying around because she has forgotten to take them. She does have a pill keeper, but she will take the pills out of the keeper and lay them on the table. She will then forget to take them -- probably because she went for a drink of water -- and just that little change made her lose her train of thought.

These are minor things on their own, but when you see them in total, you realize that her memory is declining. One of my brothers doesn't really get it. He thinks she is just fine. My other two see it more clearly, but that is because they visit frequently (from CA), and they call almost every other day. I live here with them so I see it most readily. It bothers me, of course, but I think the challenge is in handling the change. I know they say the caregiver is the one who wears out, and this is so true. My father is tired, and I am tired, and together, well, it is a challenge to maintain a normal life some days.
It seems really weird to not be registering for class (this is an aside) next semester. Or buying books. I think the realization that I am finished with my studies is setting in now. I still have to study for exams and that is my main focus. But there is something about being done or close to being done with school that saddens me and elates me all at the same time. I am almost done with my PhD, God be praised, and I am getting ready to begin my dissertation. WOW! Who would have thought this was possible? I hoped it would be, but I never really thought I would have the chance to actually do it -- not after so many years. God knew it, of course, and He was the One to put this desire into my heart, and to give me the discipline I needed to start, succeed, and now come close to finishing my degree. God is so good to me, yes -- He is -- so very good to me!

So today, as I think about my life, all that has passed by me, and all that lays ahead -- I guess -- I can say that I am satisfied with everything, with EVERYTHING that has happened to me. I spent some time last night praying over my life, sort of doing a major evaluation, and I think I am finally ready to admit that everything that has happened, both the good and the bad, turned out for my best. I can say with assurance that while I didn't always make the best decisions in life, the outcome of those decisions, has served its purpose, and that is to bring me to this place in time. I am right where I belong this good day. I am doing the thing I longed for, wanted, and desired. I have a good life, a good plan, and a good future -- all filled with hope -- and as I look forward I see such good things on the horizon. I mean, I am right where I hoped I would be some day. I certainly didn't expect it to happen the way it did -- what with a long delay, a broken marriage, and the disappointment of unfulfilled family dreams. But there you have it...it is what it is, and I am finally ready to accept it all. The good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. It is my life, and I am finally able to say "It is done."

My attitude has taken an upward turn, and today I feel very confident that what I see coming to pass in the next year or two is very good. I mean, once I graduate from Regent, I will be in a good position to get a faculty job some where (full-time). Furthermore, I am confident that I will be back in school in a year or two, pursuing another course of study in order to learn rhetoric, in specific, argumentation. It will be for the Lord, as was this program, so I am trusting Him to lead me and guide me to the school of His choosing. I also believe, Lord willing, that I will be closer to settling down near my handsome love, and that we will be closer to taking the next step in our relationship (at the least, I hope so). I am not rushed in this at all, but I think we both desire it, and if the Lord blesses that desire, so be it. Selah!

Moreover, I feel good about this path (yet, again) and that tells me that I am back where I belong. Whenever I start to doubt the path, feel pressured about money (in particular), and then start to think what-if scenarios, I lose my peace, my sense of wellness, and my feelings that say "You are good." I did this over the weekend, and while I regained my composure quickly, I still had lingering doubts about my work, my career, and God's plan for both.

Now, I know this to be a fact: I was meant to be a teacher, a college English teacher, and well, here I am. I am doing the THING I was meant to do, and I experience such pleasure, such joy, and such happiness when I do it. I don't think I have done another job that was as hard, as draining, and as challenging as teaching college English. But, I also have not done a job that I love so much, enjoy with such complete happiness, than this one. Nope, no other work has satisfied me like this one job. I love it, and I love being a teacher.

I am so glad that the Lord made me, and I mean made me, stay put. I remember His words to me. He said, "Carol, if I move you into teaching, you must stay in this path." I thought He meant that I couldn't keep bouncing from one choice to another, and in some ways, I think that was true. But really, I think He meant that for me to come to terms, so to speak, to accept the "fit," well, it was going to take more than a couple weeks -- it was going to take a couple years -- before I would agree that this IS it. I will start my third year teaching in January 2016, and as hard as that seems, the time has been foundational to create in me both the desire and the determination to become the best English teacher possible.

I recognize now what the Lord intended me to learn through this job. You see, my ministry calling is to teach the Church how to communicate faith more easily, more expertly, and with more effectiveness. I studied Communication at Regent to learn how to teach, to learn the theory behind communication, and to see how important this work is to God's overarching plan of redemption. In studying communication, I became convinced of my purpose and my calling. What's more, I was introduced to theory that challenged me, changed me, and caused me to think twice about everything -- about my life, my attitudes about my life, and my acceptance of God's will in my life. Selah!

Teaching, for a time, seemed to be good practical work. It had a positive outcome -- namely -- it got me over my great fear of public speaking. It also taught me how to create lessons, curriculum, and present them to an audience. I learned classroom strategies, how to use technology in the classroom, and generally, how to approach teaching in a way that is effective for student learning. What's more, I learned a lot about being a good teacher, and I learned what works best for me. But even more than all this, I learned that what I love teaching more than anything is composition. I love teaching students to write essay, specifically argumentative essays. I came to find my niche in teaching, and I came to see how argumentative essays is my area of specialization. I love to argue in writing, to be persuasive and to use words and language to do so. I love everything about rhetoric, visual or speaking, and I love the entire study of the art of persuasion.

God knew this would be the case, so He chose to place me in a college where the curriculum teaches argumentation. I have had three years of practice, and now I am thinking of studying rhetoric formally so that I can become a better and more skilled instructor BUT ALSO so I can learn this skill to incorporate it in my ministry/calling. I see the purpose now, how God chose this path, this way, this specific avenue for me to walk on so that I would be trained, equipped, and prepared to do His work.

Back in 2013, the Lord said to me "Carol, you will do no other work than my work." I thought He meant that the only work I would do would be full-time ministry. Of course, now I see that in some ways that is what He meant. In other ways though, He meant that all my work, practical, school, and church-related service would function together as a whole, as a means to do His work in and through my life. I see it now, I get it -- it makes such good sense to me. God chose this path because it accomplished His will in my life. I was made a teacher for a reason. I attended Regent University for a reason. I work at GCU for a reason. And, in totality, I am doing His work, I am doing His expressed and detailed and planned and purposed work! Selah!

As I get ready to make the turn into 2016, I think I can safely say that where I am today, on this path, well this is the path I will remain for the rest of my life. I will be moving on down this road for a long time to come. I may move to another state, work at another school, and even attend another school, but I will be committed, focused, and determined to do this work, His work.

My life now is set and it is fixed. I will not deviate from this path, and I will not consider any other work, per se, for my life. I will teach until I retire, and I will study English Literature (Completed), Communication (almost finished), and English/Rhetoric (yet to be started) so that I can do exactly what He is calling me to do. I will work unto the Lord, and with and through His strength, I will do His bidding, His work, in His way until He says to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Yes, God is good, so very good to me.

I give Him praise today. I give Him honor. I rest in His mercy and grace, and I know, I really know that this is what I am to do with my life. I am thankful that He has made His way clear to me, and that I can be bold now to know that I am where I belong, finally, where I belong.

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