March 14, 2016

Prepared and Ready

It is a good day today. I woke up feeling better, praise the Lord, and I am now getting ready to head over to GCU to teach my three afternoon courses in English Composition II. I love these classes, and now that we are down to the last six weeks of the semester, I get to teach my favorite section -- advocacy. I love to be able to teach students how to advocate for change. My goal is always to help them see that they can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. I also want them to realize that they have a voice, and as such, they can make a difference in their local community.

Today, therefore, is a good day for change. I feel confident that the Lord does indeed intend to make some changes in my life soon. I checked on my application at GCU and Herzing University, and both, are in the same status. I am not sure what this means other than I guess I need to consider it as a good thing. Often, schools are inundated with applications from candidates so the screening process becomes very long and drawn out. The negative aspect is that this means that the call for interview may not occur for 4-6 or even 8 weeks from when the application is submitted. This is problematic for me simply since I have to let my present adjunct contracts know my intentions. Right now, I am set to teach four classes on campus this fall. If I get hired permanently, I would need to opt out of those contracts. I would like to do this sooner, rather than later. The Lord knows this, of course, so I am not panicking right now. I am simply cognizant of the fact that the sooner I can start the interview process, the better it is for the schools where I teach adjunct.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the choices I have for relocating. I am convinced that the Lord doesn't desire I remain in Phoenix, but the timing of this move is not settled. For example, I could remain here another year. It can be done with the Lord's provision, but it puts me at a severe disadvantage to wait here without full-time work. I would rather be hired and then move to where I can live more comfortably. It would be to my advantage to move to a small town, somewhere else. I could live on less than what I spend now, and still have a very nice quality of life.

Moreover, as the Lord impresses this upon me, I am wondering about how this will be, how it will come to pass, and when, of course, it will come to pass. Right now, I would like to move this summer as I think that makes the most sense. But, should the Lord choose to keep me here through the fall semester, so be it. I am set now with contracts, and while my summer will be very, very dry, I am sure He will provide for me. Second, I would like to be settled going into the fall semester, but again, I know that this might not be His will right now. So I have to consider that all options are open, and that He will reveal His will to me very soon, indeed. Last, as I think about moving, I simply struggle to comprehend how I will do it. I mean, how can I afford to move right now? I need money, and I need a way to get from here to there. I cannot do it on my own, and I cannot go without His provision.

The funny thing is that this is where I have been for almost 10 years now. The Lord has said I am to go, yet I cannot go because there isn't any money available for me to "go." He knows this, of course, He does...but I wonder how much longer this will be so. I mean, how can I go when I don't have the funds to actually move across the country?

As I think about this now, I realize that I must let go of my need to know all these details, and instead, rest in His provision for my life now. I need to let the rest go, as they say in the business. I need to know that He has me covered for today, and for that, I am thankful. He is good, all the time. All the time, He is good.

Experiencing Trials - Update 03/15/2016

After I blogged yesterday, I went over to class and for the most part had a great first session. My second session was almost completed when I was sidelined by a visit from one of the full-time faculty. It was an odd experience, and it set the whole period on edge. Afterward, my mentor walked with me to my next class and began to share concerns about my performance, some things that were brought to his attention regarding the online system. I could tell that I was in trouble, but what I was being accused of doing didn't seem right. I stood my ground, of course, and I did so with humility. In the end, we parted without much being accomplished other than I felt so deflated, so abused, and so disappointed. I tried very hard all day to let it pass, but I couldn't let it go. I mean, why now? Why would someone barge into my class and basically disrupt my flow without notice? Why would I be informed of these concerns NOW when there are only 6 weeks left in the semester, and there is little I can do to correct things?

I wrestled with what happened well into the evening, trying very hard to let things pass, to just let go, but I couldn't. I ended up not sleeping well at all, and even this morning, I am still scratching my head, trying to figure it out.

Part of me thinks I was targeted as an example to others, sort of "even Carol" is under scrutiny. Part of me thinks that this has nothing to do with my performance, and while I make mistakes and I am not perfect, I do not think I have done anything intentionally against school policy. I mean, I know I haven't. So why now? Why when I am at the point when I have agreed to remain in teaching, have I been "called on the carpet?"

I guess the point is clear. The enemy, my enemy seeks to destroy me and my testimony. The enemy desires to kill me, and if he cannot do that, then he will be satisfied with hurting me or my testimony in any way he can. I know this is true. The Bible clearly says that it is so. However, even with this knowledge, the sting and bite of his attack, still hurts.

I refuse to give up. I refuse to give in. 

I thought about it last night, giving in, I mean. I thought about how I should just leave teaching, find a practical job, and move on with my life. Enough said. No one would question that move. No one would say "Oh, you gave up!" No, rather that would congratulate me on making a difficult choice, and they would say "well done!" Yet, whenever I think about giving up or in, I simply cannot do it. I cannot do it.

I may not be the best teacher on the planet, but until God opens another door, I will do my best in this job He has provided for me to do. I will make errors. I will choose incorrect actions at times, but I will be faithful to the calling He has for me. Others may not like it, they may call me foolish, but I will remain fixed and focused on this path until He says it is time to change, time to move, time to do something different.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I felt the Lord lead me to look up some articles on the Internet regarding zeal, in particular, zeal for the Lord. I spent about an hour reading about zeal, zealousness, and what it means to be zealous for the Lord. I also spent time reading about His Name, the very Name of God, and what it means when we are zealous for His Name. I realized as I was drifting off to sleep that I am where I am today for a reason. My life is the product of His doing. He has called me for HIS PURPOSE and that PURPOSE is for His praise. I am being used by God specifically to accomplish His purpose. This means that I am a vessel of His choosing, being used in a way that pleases Him. And, furthermore, as His vessel, I may not like the way I am being used or abused. I may not like the pain, the sorrow, the suffering that comes with His purpose, but whatever the outcome, it will be to bring Him praise. If that is what I want, I mean. God doesn't use you without your permission, and I have given Him my permission, so I should expect to be used as He see fits.

The hard part for me and for other believers, I am sure, is that sometimes what happens is not always pleasant and good. Sometimes we suffer injury -- physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional -- and we struggle to make sense of it all. Why, Lord? Why must I be hurt emotionally? Why must I be called on the carpet for no offense?

I am reminded that He was bruised for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5 NIV says,

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Likewise, I remember Paul's words in Philippians 3:8-11 NIV, which read,

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The walk of faith, faith in Jesus Christ is never easy. It is not a cake walk where you simply go round and round until the music stops and the prize is awarded to you. No, the walk of faith, the walk that each and every true Christian takes is fraught with hardship, sorrow, and at times, great pain. The reward comes through trial and difficulty, but in the end, it is sweet relief.

I have been fortunate that over the past couple years, my life has been relatively pain free. I mean, despite the odd pain that is associated with age, I have had a good, safe, and free life. Since my divorce in 2014, my life has moved along at the same pace with very little upset. In fact, since 2010, when the dust had settled on my failed marriage, the Lord has provided a relatively smooth experience for me. Yes, there were trials still -- losing my home to foreclosure, the uncertainty of work, being part-time employed for so long, etc. -- yet, He was faithful to provide for me. 

In truth, I have had little upset for the past three years. If I am honest, the last real "issue" I had was when I made the decision to leave GCU mid-semester to take on work for another company. I lasted three weeks, and I quit that job (ugh!) in order to do what I am doing now. I have never really reconciled that decision, and I still wonder if I did the right thing. It seemed the Lord had put me in a very favorable position where I had power, position, and good income. I turned away from it because I was bored. I hated the job. I didn't like to commute, and in the end, I simply didn't think I could handle the work. I failed out after 21 days, and to this day, I still wonder if I gave up and in too soon. I am not sure. I do know the Lord opened a door back to GCU for me, and once I entered in, I stayed there. I guess you could say that I have not wanted to leave for fear of making another mistake. In some ways, this is true. I have stayed on this path because I didn't want my family, my friends, and my coworkers to think "Oh, no, she is jumping ship again."

I would like to believe that I am where I am for a reason. Yet, part of me knows that I am where I am because I chose this path. I exited out of two good jobs because of fear. I was afraid I couldn't do my doctoral program and work full-time. I was afraid of the demands on my life, of the demands that I saw coming, and I ran in fear to something 'easier,' less intensive, less stressful.

The cost has been grave. My health has deteriorated to some extent, and I am physically struggling. But, I have learned a lot, and I have grown as a person. I have overcome my fear of public speaking, for certain, and I have managed to learn how to develop curriculum, to be able to design courses, etc. In many ways, I learned valuable skills through teaching, and I did well in my program at Regent. It hasn't been wasted time, for certain, but I also see how much I have given up, how much my fear propelled me in a different direction, and how now I am stuck, in some ways, stuck and unable to move.

Today, I think about all that has occurred in my life, and I cannot help but give the Lord thanks and praise. I realize that I have made some issues, some mistakes, and yet, He has protected me and kept me safe. He has made sure my feet remain on solid ground. As I look toward the future, I know that whatever comes will be good because He is good. Furthermore, I know that while I may not get it "right" all the time, at the least, I will seek to do so, and since the Lord looks at motives rather than outcomes, I pray that my heart and my head will be aligned with His overall will for my life.

It is with heartfelt praise and adoration that I look up this good, good day. I am still struggling a little bit with the details from yesterday, but generally, I am content to know that my Lord and His banner cover me. I don't have to be afraid nor do I need to bend to the will of man. I will stand my ground, take up my defensive position, and lift up my shield of faith and the very WORD of God, the sword of the Spirit. I will not give ground. I will not give up. I will not give in. I will go where He sends me and I will do it in His timing and with His provision. I seek to please Him at all costs, and in doing so, I will trust that He will be first in my life in all things. He is over me, my head, and as such, I bend to His will, to His way, and to His word today.

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