December 13, 2015

The First Day of the Week

It is a blessed day here in sunny and chilly Phoenix. The weather is definitely winter like (well, for us, anyway), and there is a chance of rain on the horizon (in the next couple days). I am so blessed to be at home today. I mean, I will be heading out to church later, but I am home for the next couple weeks, and that friends, is such a blessing to me. This semester has been one of the hardest in my college career, and I survived it, praise God! I am giving Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory because He is good, so very good to me. He carried me through this difficult time, He gave me the mind to do the work, and the heart to stick it out, even when I wanted to throw in the towel (more than once this fall). He reminded me of my task, of my work and of my calling, and in the end, He gave me the discipline and fortitude to remain steady, to remain calm, and to keep my head, heart, and eyes focused on the end -- His goal for my life. He did it, and today, I give Him all the thanks and praise. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

My heart is filled with joy today, especially as I consider the works of the Lord. I was thinking about His glory this morning, and I was praising Him for His works, I mean, HIS WORKS. The Lord is Lord of all the universe, and sometimes, we forget the control He has over His creation. We see the world mired in the muck of sin and sinfulness, and yet, we think God is absent, not in control. In reality, He is there, always there, and He sees everything.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." The Lord knows what is going on, and while we may panic over the details, we can rest and be comfortable in the knowledge that He is firmly in control. He is firmly in charge. Sometimes I marvel at the foolishness of the wise, those in charge of our political systems, as they pronounce these bold statements of change (I am thinking of the political leaders who recently stated they would control the weather!) I see them like gorilla's pounding their chests with their fits, as they attempt to demonstrate to the world just how smart, wise, and able they are. In truth, they are nothing, they are not able to control anything in this world. Perhaps they can administrate their governments well. Perhaps they can provide a good stable economy for their own people. But, outside of limited reach in their own nation, there is very little they can do to really effect global change. 

I am not wanting to be political today, it is just that I saw this behavior on the news last night, and it made me laugh. I don't mean to put down the efforts of political leaders world-wide who want to stem the tide of global climate change, but to suggest that they would control the weather, to keep the weather within 3 degrees of its current state is ludicrous. I made me think to myself, "Lord, what are you doing in Heaven when you hear such bold and fanciful statements of human faith and achievement?"

1 Corinthians 1:28 NIV says,
God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are so that no man may boast before God.
How foolish is the human mind to think that it is able to do what only God can do?

Today, I look up, and I wait. I look to God alone to solve my problems, to provide for my needs, and to protect me from harm. I realize that my resources are limited, that I have so little influence and impact on my small sphere of influence. I will certainly do my best with what I have, but the Lord knows what I can and cannot do. There is no point in boasting in my own efforts when I know that they are limited, so very limited.

The Lord has graciously allowed me the opportunity to do this marvelous work.  He has made it possible for me to work in a way that suits me, that satisfies inner needs, and that provides small successes in order to help me feel good about myself and my efforts. Furthermore, He has provided enough "meat" to satisfy my inner desires, and He has given me hope for an interesting and challenging future. He has made this way possible, provided what I needed to do it, and He has helped me along the way so that I could achieve so much, so very much. He is so good to me, so very good to me! Selah! Praise be to God, He is good, so very good!

Now, I am at this wonderful point, this place where I am almost finished with my doctorate, and where I am starting to think about what will come next. I am trying to put all my apples up, get all my ducks in a row, and make a good plan for my life. I know that I can only do that which He approves for me, and that I can only go where He opens a door. This means that I must be patient to wait for Him to open the door. I must wait, I must watch, and I must be ready to go when the moment strikes. It is like I am sitting at the door waiting for the cab to arrive. I have to have all my things, my belongings ready at the door because when the driver arrives, I will only have a few minutes to get myself loaded in the car before he has to leave. I need to be ready, then, and that means I have to have all my achievement completed.

In layman's terms, it means that I must have my PhD completed, conferred, awarded. Right now, my plan is to have my degree finished by late October 2016. I doubt I will have it conferred in the fall, so I am thinking that the earliest it would be "conferred" would be May 2017. This was my original plan, but with doctoral degrees, the conferral doesn't happen at the end of the coursework or even when you defend your dissertation. There is a gap of time involved, and because the nature of the work is research, all the research must be completed and written up to the satisfaction of your committee and chair.

I think it is very doable for me to finish my work in this timeframe, so this is my plan for now. I will work on my dissertation beginning in April 2016, hoping to finish everything by late October 2016. I would graduate in May of the following spring.

Once I have my PhD in hand, I will be ready to be employed full-time as a professor. Until then, I will continue to work adjunct until I am ready to finish my research and publication. I know this seems odd, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have to devote a lot of time to my research, and well, that means I really cannot work full-time. I will be working as much as I can, but I have to have the time off to do this important work. I know that the Lord has given me, graciously given me, next summer off. I do not like going with out pay over the summer, and I panic when I think about it. I need the income, and it scares me to not work, yet I know that He is aware of my needs, and that He has this all figured out.

I had hoped to find an online position where I could teach from home. I thought this would help cover me, but so far, I haven't been considered for any of the online jobs I have applied for. I am not giving up hope yet, so I am standing by, at the ready, should the Lord open a door to online teaching. Still, there is part of me that knows He has this well in hand, so while I worry a bit, I am resting in His abilities and not my own. He will do this, He will cover me. I know this, and I rest in this knowledge.

The more I think about the timing of all these details, the more I am coming to terms with not moving until next year at the earliest. I had hoped that perhaps the Lord would move me this year, but here we are at the end of the year, and well, I am still settled here in Phoenix. I have applied for two positions at Auburn University, but as of this date, I have received no response from them. I knew I was a long-shot candidate, and the more I move toward finishing my degree, the more I realize what I want to teach and why. I guess it is a good thing, really, to be confirmed in your way. I realize that what I want to teach is freshman composition courses only. I love teaching Literature and communication, and perhaps I will get a chance to teach those courses every so often. I just know that what I am really, really good at is teaching students to write well. I am good at it, and what is more, I LOVE IT! I really enjoy teaching writing :o).

Now, that I feel confident in what I am to teach, what I like to teach, and what I find most fun to teach, I can rest as far as this decision goes. I will be an English teacher, and I will teach writing to first year students. Selah! It is done! So be it! Thy will be done!

With this in mind, now I need to finish my program, graduate and then move into a job where I will be hired to teach freshman writing only. The job needs to be specific because I am not coming in with a Composition degree, but rather, I am coming in with a Communication degree. Some schools are very open to this fact and some are not. I know the Lord will place me where He wants me to teach, so I rest in the actual "school" for now. There is a job out there, the faculty will want to hire me, and the Lord will orchestrate it for me. I know this, I am confident of this. God has me well-covered for a full-time job. Selah!

Next Study Program

Also, I have thought some more about my next steps for study, and I am thinking strongly, leaning heavily to post-doctoral work in Linguistics. I blogged about it previously, and then yesterday, I spent some time doing a bit of research. I won't know for sure if this is the Lord's will for me or not, but right now, I am feeling that perhaps it is.

I contemplated studying Rhetoric after I finished my PhD, I am now thinking that I can do this on my own. I thought that it would be too similar to what I currently have under my belt, and while I would like to take some classes, truthfully, I can read the books and learn the materials through self-study. I don't need a degree program that overlaps so closely to what I already have completed.

I started thinking about Linguistics the other day. I have always wanted to study linguistics, and I have felt for the past three or four years that it would be a benefit to me. I looked at doing an undergraduate linguistics certificate through Rio Salado a couple years ago. The degree is in Language and Linguistics and it would provide introductory coursework in linguistics, grammar, and syntax along with a requirement for foreign language. I just didn't know how I would work that into my current courses, so I let it slide.

Last week, I started to ask the Lord for confirmation on next steps, and I mentioned in prayer that perhaps it would be a good thing for me to revisit Linguistics study. Since then, I have had this feeling that perhaps it "was" my next steps. I looked online for programs that could be accomplished through distance learning, and while there are some available, most are geared toward teachers of English as a second language or second language acquisition. This is not my interest, so I need to find an applied program that offers a more general linguistics program. I found several out of the United Kingdom, and I looked over their coursework and modules. I like the way British universities teach -- very different from American schools -- so I am considering this as a possible option for my next steps.

I would need to complete post-graduate work in Linguistics. In the UK, this is a Mphil degree, which is equivalent to our Master of Arts degree. The difference is that the degree takes one year, and consists of reading and writing a thesis. It is staged differently than our programs here and I like that about it. The PhD in Applied Linguistics is a capstone research degree, and you only take it once you have completed the Mphil and have advisor approval. The cost for a degree in the UK is about $15L or about $22K in USD. It is not terribly expensive, but still it would require some special funding for me to do this second area of study. There are a number of scholarships, including the Fulbright that could pay for all my study, but the Lord would need to open a door for that provision. For now, I am content to continue to think about this path, and to wait to see if this is what the Lord wants for me.

As I sit here today and blog, one thing is for certain: the Lord has a great and well-conceived plan for my life. I don't have to figure it out, I just need to be ready, to be willing, and to be open to whatever He determines is the next step for me to take. He has a job on the horizon. He has a good school for me to work at and to study post doctoral work. He has all the details in His hand and keeping, and I must trust Him to reveal His will to me, to provide for every need, and to facilitate all the tasks He needs me to do. It will be done in His time, always in His time. Praise be to God! Selah!

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