January 7, 2016

Getting My Ducks in a Row

It is a very wet and rainy Thursday in Phoenix. Thanks to the Godzilla-like El Nino weather pattern, our winter is supposed to be very, very wet. I love the rain. I love the sound of the rain as it hits the pavement right outside my window. It is so peaceful, and the cloudy skies make everything seem calm and restful.

I am so glad that I have my Tuesday's and Thursday's off this semester. I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying the downtime each week. My legs and feet ache (as does my back) from standing all day on my teaching-days, so having the in-between days off has been a very fine blessing. God is so good to have created this schedule for me. It fits me perfectly, and I am so enjoying my teaching (classes and students) as well as my study process for my exams. He is good, so very good to me!

Taking a Step of Faith

Today, after I woke up and checked my email, I made the decision to sign-up for healthcare through the exchanges. I have gone without healthcare since I left my full-time job at CVS. The Marketplace exchange was screwed up, in my view, and every time I tried to apply there, I was diverted to the state of Arizona to see if I was eligible for coverage through the state's Medicaid program. It took me several attempts before I could even get someone to help me. Finally, in the fall, a very nice social worker from the state called me to explain why I was being rejected by the program. Of course, I knew why. I make more money than is allowed for Medicaid here in AZ. The problem is that I didn't make enough money to qualify for the health exchange, so the stupid system would not allow me to purchase anything. It seemed like I was one of those people, the working poor, who were left out of Obama's Healthcare system. You know the ones that don't exist according to our President and his health Czar (snide remark, I know!) Sigh!

Even though I couldn't apply to even see the plans, the emails from Healthcare.gov didn't stop, so out of frustration, I tried one more time to enter the exchange in mid-December. You know how they say that the third time is the charm, well, I diddled with the numbers a little bit, saying I made more money than I really did, and voila! I was accepted and could finally see the plans. I wasn't surprised to see that all the plans I could get for low monthly cost were catastrophic plans -- those with deductibles in the $12-13k range -- which were useless to me (in my opinion). The plans that could provide some meager services to me and to my son would cost me close to $100 per month, out of pocket. I couldn't see paying that amount of money each month. I mean, where would it come from?

Manna From Heaven

Well, as the Lord would have it, several changes happened in December that adjusted my monthly income.

First off, my Dad made the decision to switch his cable service package to a bundle, and that meant that I was able to cancel my DirecTV package. This saved me $100 per month. Furthermore, with our new upgraded cable service, I am able to drop my Internet package which costs me personally $99 per month. This means that while I will contribute about $80 to my Dad's bill, I will be saving about $120 per month from my own bills.

Second, while my income has not changed any for spring, as I am only teaching three classes so I can study for my exams, I do have an interview with another school next week, and that could possibly add some steady income to my month. My prayer is that I would get hired by this school (teaching online), and the combination of ground and online adjunct work would cover my costs for healthcare. That is my hope, any way.

Third, I am praying that with my financial aid refund, I will be able to pay off a number of my credit cards so that I am no longer paying monthly premiums. I know it seems like I am 'robbing Peter to pay Paul,' which I am technically, but this is something I have to do. As long as I have to travel to Virginia for my program, I am reliant on my credit cards to cover those expenses. By reducing these monthly expenses, my overall income should go up, and I should be in a better place financially as I finish my doctoral program, and move into a more permanent position where I can begin to pay down my student loan debt. I am trusting the Lord to provide for me long-term, so for now, I am thanking Him for the provision of aid to help me pay off these credit card premiums.

So with all that in mind, I took the plunge today and enrolled in coverage with Abrazo Healthcare (here in Phoenix). The plan I am on is pretty basic, but that is all I really need. I have a $500 family deductible, which is good news, and means that at the least, both my son and I can go to the doctor if we get sick. I also have a very basic dental and vision plan, but since we will need better dental care, I am looking at purchasing a separate Delta Dental plan that would run me about $50 per month. I need to keep my teeth in good shape, and I want to make sure that my son gets regular cleanings until he is out of the house and on his own. Needless to say, we need a good dental plan.

I am pleased with my purchase. Of course, I don't really understand how the whole thing works, and my greatest fear is that the government is going to turn on me and fine me some outrageous amount for not being covered. I guess the good news is that any tax implication won't occur until 2017, which means that I have a year to find full-time benefited employment. I am okay with that task because I believe it aligns with the Lord's will for my life. Between now and then, I will focus on Regent and getting myself graduated. I am covered, praise God, for healthcare now and at least, I won't be penalized on my taxes this year.

Feeling His Movement in my Life

All of this is to say that I woke up today feeling pretty settled in my life. I am not sure what that means other than to say that I feel good about where I am right now. I feel really, really good about my profession, about being a college teacher, and I feel really good about the path I am on. Furthermore, I feel confident that the Lord intends to provide for me in this way: with several part-time jobs (adjunct) rather than one full-time job at this time. This allows me the maximum freedom when it comes to scheduling, so I feel that I can handle the variable schedule while still focusing on my big tasks -- exams and dissertation.

My hope is to accumulate enough income to start making a dent in my monthly needs, which for now is about $2000.00. I would like double that amount so that I can build my savings back up again and cover me for any serious expense, should I incur one (like car repairs, health needs, travel for funerals, etc.) Right now, I feel good that this is the way the Lord intends to provide for me. I know that I will have my best shot to find full-time tenure track employment once I have my PhD in hand. Until then, I have to be content to work in as many positions as possible to accumulate my gross goal of about $4500 per month (before taxes). I feel that this is doable for me, especially now that all my course work is completed. I have a couple applications still in play, but no real movement has occurred on either so I have to wait and see what the Lord intends to do with them. Perhaps nothing will come of them and that is fine. I am willing to wait for His perfect "fit" for me, and even if that means waiting another year, so be it. I will wait, I will wait.

The Lord seems to be moving now that I am content, like really content, to remain where I am. It is weird how it seems like for the longest time I was stuck, or I felt stuck, and that the more I struggled against the parameters placed around me, the more stuck or uncomfortable I became. It wasn't until I embraced my situation, accepted it as my lot, so to speak, that those parameters began to feel more comfortable to me. I guess it is like being wrapped up in a blanket. You might not like the tightness of the blanket, but when the cold chill comes along, you are mighty thankful that that blanket is wrapped around you as to keep the chill from seeping in. I feel that the Lord placed these boundaries on me for my protection and my provision. I didn't like them at first, and I struggled against them, but in the end, I came to find that His barrier was a blessing for me. It kept me safe while I was working hard to pursue His calling. I needed restriction to keep me focused, to help me see His way only. I am thankful for the tightness of my blanket. The Lord has kept me cosy, snug, and warm all these long, long months.

Expanding my Territory

My territory seems to be expanding now. I am not sure if it is because I have accomplished part of the task He had for me or not. Perhaps it is timing alone, as in, it is time to move on. Or perhaps, it is because I have learned my lesson, studied His way, and bent to meet His demand on my life. I am not sure, but what I do know is that for some reason, the floodgates have opened, and it seems that things are moving once again in my life. Praise be to God, I can see things changing for the better. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Thus, today, I sit here and I marvel at all the Lord has done for me, all He is doing for me, and the way He is providing for me. I am in a good place, and this place suits me, it fits me well. My prayer now is that I will continue to yield to His will, and continue to strive to do what He asks of me. In that way, His blessing and sweet reward will continue to fall upon me -- just like the rain and the manna that came from heaven did ages ago. Yes, my God is a good provider. He is my King, my Friend, and my Savior. I love the Lord, and I give Him all praise, all honor, and all thanks this good, good day.

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