Hopefully, the pain will continue to subside so I can tackle my to-do list today. I don't have a lot on my list, just some things to deal with before the new week arrives. It is hard to believe my spring break is over, and that there are only five more weeks of school left. I love my teaching schedule! I love my life, and I love what the Lord is doing in me and through me. He is good, so very good to me!!
School and Thoughts About It
It is really hard for me to not want to be in school right now. Many of my colleagues are still in school, finishing up their last couple semesters at Regent. I miss being in class with them, and I miss the discussion board assignments, papers, etc. I miss the routine of school. I miss knowing that each semester I will be reading new books, engaging in scholarly discussion about them, and learning new things. I really do miss school! I am happy for the break, no doubt about it. I mean, I am really happy to have had these past weeks to decompress from all the stress associated with my comprehensive exams. I am thankful that the Lord has provided plenty of down-time for me to rest, to relax, and to enjoy my life. He is good that way, always providing just what I need, in the moment when I need it most.
Still, there is part of me that wishes I could continue to study, continue to read and to learn new things. Of course, no one is stopping me from studying. I have plenty of books on my shelves, and frankly, I can engage in scholarly study all on my own. But, there is something about studying collaboratively, about working toward a goal like a degree. I guess I need that carrot and stick to keep me motivated. I want what is hanging at the end of the stick, and usually, it is measure of some level of achievement (a job, a degree, a prized object).
The Lord knows that I am an achievement oriented person, and that as such, I need to have an end-game in mind. I need to work toward something, always something, and without a goal -- a post to mark the end of the journey -- I tend to lose my focus and my way. I think this is why He has helped me stay on track with calendars and to-do lists. I need to see progress every day or else I will laze the time by and not get anything finished. And, it is not just a to-do list per se, but rather it is some final mark that lays down the line and says to me "this must be done by X."
A case in point is my paper this week. I was supposed to work on my dissertation so that I would have something to send to my professor next week. I didn't do anything. I rested. I really, really rested, and for that I am thankful to God. He knew that I needed to rest more than I needed to work on my paper. I am good, solid, when it comes to my paper, and I know He will write it for me. But, I needed to rest, physically rest, and this was the week He has set aside for me to do it.
I do feel better somewhat, though I think I need the entire summer to rest. I am burnt out. I have spent the past three years in intensive study, and I need the summer to rest, to be refreshed, and to recharge my batteries so I can take "what's next!" The Lord was gracious to me in 2012 in this same way. I was set to graduate in May 2012, and I could have started at Regent that same month. I didn't think it was possible, but Regent often allows students to enter the program while their Masters degree is being conferred. My actual graduation date was postponed until August, so I made the decision to wait until the next summer to begin my program. The Lord knew what was best, so He gave me about 8 months of no school before starting a new program. The blessing was that He put me in the best cohort around, and for that, I am truly thankful. I have made some of the best friends possible. I had heard that the 2012 cohort wasn't quite as cohesive, so well-meshed. I was blessed to be part of the 2013 cohort. God knew that I needed to be in with this group, and He postponed my entry by a year to ensure I was settled in the best group possible. He has blessed me with all measure of blessing, and I am thankful for His mercy -- it is NEW -- every morning it is new!
So, here I am, almost ready to graduate, and frankly, I am wondering "what's next, Lord?" I mean, what plans do you have for me to tackle next? My to-do list is rather long already, but I am slowly making progress, checking off major items one at a time. My big item now is to finish my dissertation by this fall. This is my prayer, and I believe it is the Lord's will for me as well. Right now, my focus is on finishing my teaching contracts and then preparing my proposal defense for early June. I also am planning a vacation to Alabama in July to visit my sweet friend. The Lord will provide for this trip, and I believe He has given me permission to go and visit. I am excited about it, and I am looking forward to finally spending some quality time with my special friend and love.
I am still praying about jobs and such. Right now, I am resting on that front. I am waiting for the Lord to do what He does best, and that is to show me the way to go. Until, He shows me, I will sit here and do the work appointed for me to do. He knows what is best, and I am in agreement with His counsel. I don't want to make a mistake, so I will wait for His hand to point the way to go, and then I will go (with His approval, of course).
I think I am settled on going wherever the Lord leads now. I was hesitant for a time, not really sure what was the Lord's will or not. I have vacillated between finding a good teaching job and returning to industry to take whatever work I can find. I have thought about taking the quick and easy route -- finding some job that would pay me well -- and walking away from this avenue forever. But, then I remember that I will have my PhD in less than 9 months, and to not remain in teaching, well heaven forbid! I cannot get away from the fact that I have wanted to be a teacher going on forty years now. I have wanted this path, desired it, and dreamed about it so much so that at times it brought me to tears when I thought the path was forever closed to me. The Lord provided a time for me to learn how to teach, and while I still struggle with the nuts and bolts of it, I have come to find that I love it. I absolutely love it. I want to do this work, but I don't see a way to do it full-time. Not yet, I mean. I see opportunities, but they appear closed to me.
I am reminded that Genesis is a book of opportunities. Joyce Meyer says of Genesis that "from start to finish, we read stories about people who were presented with opportunities" (The Every Day Life Bible). She reminds readers that it is only when we watch for and then take advantage of opportunities, will we be able to move forward with the plans that God has for our lives. I look back and I see opportunities that led me to teaching. I see how the Lord opened doors, closed others, and generally blessed my efforts as I took advantage of the opportunities He offered to me. I must keep my eyes open, I must be watchful for the opportunities the Lord provides to me. I know the Lord does know what is best, and He does have a plan charted for me to follow. I know He has many good opportunities waiting for me to take by the hand. May I follow your plan, Lord. May I do what you are asking me to do, and may you receive all praise, all honor, and all glory through it.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities
Merriam-Webster defines the word "opportunity" as "an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done." I think this definition is interesting because it connotes two different things -- time and a particular situation. Often, we think of opportunities as things, such as a job offer, a special deal on a new car, for example. But, if you think about opportunities as time-based, then the whole concept takes on new life. In my case, God may be presenting me with an opportunity for a job, and that job (regardless of the type) may only be available for a certain time. Thus, the opportunity is both time-based and situational. I love this thought because I think it represents most accurately how God operates. Sometimes we need remember that opportunities are time-sensitive. Doors open and close, like those at the stores (whoosh!), and we must step through them in time before they close permanently. Some doors remain open. Some are permanently closed. The key is taking advantage, as Joyce Meyer says, so that we demonstrate our faith and our trust in God as the keeper of His promises. He is faithful, always faithful to keep His word to us.
I see my life full of opportunities, full of possibilities. God is the God of all possibilities, so the very fact that He has taken me by the hand and is leading me on through the various paths open to me, leaves me feeling so blessed, so very blessed. God has a great plan for my life, and I am so blessed to be able to walk with Him as He leads and guides me through the challenges, obstacles, and yes, opportunities He has waiting for me.
Today, I think to myself, "Lord, I do not deserve the blessings you have poured out in my life. I have done nothing to warrant your blessing in this way!" I am thankful, of course, and I marvel at His hand of blessing, His goodness, and the fact that He has chosen me, ME of all people, to bless. He is good, He is so very good to me.