April 28, 2016

Agreeing with the Lord Today

Happy and good Thursday, friends! It is a lovely day here in warm and breezy, Phoenix. The sun is shining, and the air is cool (now). The high today is only going to be in the mid-70s. I am not sure what to think about the weather pattern, but to say I AM LOVING IT, would be such an understatement. Our normal high in May is 95, though often we hit triple digits. Our current weather is more like March than end of April. Still it is so nice to have mild weather. I am thankful to be in Arizona today, just to be in a place where the weather is pleasant. I have come to terms with living in the desert. This is not the place where I want to remain forever, but for now, it is good, and the Lord has provided for me while I live here. My prayer is to be moved to the place of His choosing soon, but until that happens, I am committed to be content, to be happy (choosing happiness), and to be settled where I am for the time-being. He knows the timing of His plans, and while I may not like being in transition, I know that for now I am where I am, and there is work to be done here. Yes, I am resting in the fact that as long as I am in Phoenix, I will make the most of my life and the opportunities the Lord has given to me. Selah!

The Decision to Stay or to Go

It is a good day, then, to be settled. For the past several years, I have felt so uneasy about being stuck in Phoenix. I have felt the Lord's desire to move me, but I have not been willing to go where He was sending me. I liked the "idea" of going, but not the actual process of "going." I wanted Him to just up and move me, like to transport me magically from here to there without doing any of the actual work. I thought, "He can do it. He is Lord!" but not really accepting that in order for me to go someplace new I would have to pack, to leave my family and friends behind, and then physically (mentally, spiritually, and emotionally) go. I wanted to go so badly some days. I wanted to just run away (often), but each time, I would set myself down and accept the fact that I was to stay, at the least, a while longer. Even now, I want to go, but I see so many hindrances, so many "stops" that keep me from pickup my things and just moving on.

As I contend with my willingness of mind to go, but my unwillingness of body to stay, I have to accept the fact that this discontinuity is the result of my own willfulness and disobedience to the Lord's word. I have listened, yet I have not obeyed. Now, I am where I am for a reason, and until the Lord releases me to go, I have to practice contentment, I have to be patient and wait for His timing (once again).

My life is complicated. It is uneasy at times, and it requires patience each day to see the challenges through and to make sense of my days. The Lord has graciously permitted me the opportunity to live with my parents full-time, to help share in their care, and to be a loving companion to them during their later years. My son is at that age where he still needs his Mom, but where he is fairly independent and self-sufficient. I am still Mom, but much of his life comes and goes without any interference from me. He lives his life as part of our family even though I don't see him all the time (usually just in passing). Still, he relies on me to care for him. He needs me to provide stability and steadiness while he finishes out his college career.

Then there is my work, my school, and my personal life. Right now, my work is temporary, and while steady, it is not sufficient for long-term provision. It is good, it covers me, but I need something more permanent down the road. My schooling is complete, and my progress on my PhD is in the final push, the long haul between candidacy and graduation. I am in the process of completing my research, and the end is near (not in sight yet, but very near). My personal life is on the upswing, and is filled with sweet fellowship and friendship. I have many peers and colleagues whom I cherish, and I have a special someone whom I have grown very fond and of whom I am hopelessly devoted. I am in such a good place in my life. I have a nice comfortable home, a well-running car, practical and enjoyable work, provision for my daily needs, a blessed computer that works well, and a bright future predicated on the hope of the Lord's will coming to pass in my life. In all, I am in a good, good place. The Lord has provided for all my needs, He has kept me safe, and He has offered me a stable path to follow. He has brought peace into my life, happiness and goodness, and I am content. I am happy. I am good.

Yet, I still feel the twinge of the unknown lurking around the corner, and I still wonder what will be next for me. Where will you take me, Lord? Will you provide a job so I can live near my love? Perhaps you will -- in time -- when you are ready. Until then, I must be patient, and I must be faithful -- waiting and watching -- as the Lord leads, guides, and prepares me for His going. I am good, Lord. I will wait, Lord. I will be faithful, and I will be obedient to your word this good, good day. Amen! So be it, thy will be done! Selah!

Relent and Let it Go

So I've been off my fitness and diet routine for four days now. I am not sure what happened, other than to say, I ate something bad, and I haven't felt good enough to workout since. Hopefully, this bug will exit my system so I can start working out again. On top of my tummy troubles, I am not sleeping well nor am I feeling rested and refreshed. I thought it might be stress, and perhaps it is, but I don't think so. I think it is all part of the same issue -- the same problem that has taxed me and that has kept me from moving forward. I am feeling unwell because of my own unwillingness to let go and to let God lead me to where He wants me to go. Sigh!

How long will you tarry, Carol? How long will you not relent?

I know, Lord. I know. I will relent. I will let go. I am ready to move on. I am ready to go.

My prayer is that I feel better today so I can get back on the "horse" tomorrow. I need to work on my paper today, and since I am not feeling my best, it is a good thing to be home alone and resting some. God is good to me, and I know He has me well-covered. Until tomorrow, I will focus on my paper, my grading, and generally resting. He is good, He is so very good to me today!

Jobs and Other Stuff

On other fronts, my applications for work seem to be stalled. I have no new news other than to say that my applications are "in process" still. I hope to hear back from Regent University soon, and I hope learn if I have passed step four of the CCU hiring process. I also applied to a school in GA that was looking for an online adjunct teacher to teach dual enrollment courses. I have the qualifications for this role, but I am unsure if this would be the Lord's will for me. Right now, I feel like the only positions He is giving me the "green light" on are in teaching. Thus, it is pretty obvious that this is what I am to do.

It is funny, really, to think that I am the only one who doesn't know what to do when it comes to my life's work. I was talking with my good friend last night and he said to me that he was convinced of my calling to teach. I asked him why, and he said because it is what I love to do, I am passionate about the subject, and I cannot stop thinking about it. I laughed because he is right. I mean, I am all those things and more. I have either wanted to teach or have taught all my life, and now that I am a real adjunct instructor, I am struggling to accept that teaching is part of my calling in life. Weird. Really, weird.

As I thought about his words to me last night, I couldn't help but hear myself say the exact same thing to my son some 5-6 years ago. My son is finally studying music, but not after spending a lot of time pursuing other avenues. Everyone who knows him KNOWS that music is in his "blood." He eats, sleeps, thinks, and wakes -- music. Yet, when it came down to choosing a path to follow for college, he vacillated and chose a different route. He studied other related disciplines such as audio engineering and theater. He was pretty miserable, even though he enjoyed aspects of those disciplines. In the end, and with a sigh, he accepted a scholarship to study music at one of our local schools. He has one more year until he finished his Bachelor's degree in Music. The funny part is this...whenever he would say to people that he didn't know what to study or what he was supposed to do, the response would be "music!" He would grimace as if he didn't want to hear that answer. When I would talk with people, they would all say the same thing -- it is his gifted area, he is so talented, he is so good -- yet, for my son, he would only be confused about the path. It was as if everyone could see it plainly, but for my son, he was uncertain, unsure, and unwilling to accept what was right in front of his own eyes.

So here I am, doing the exact same thing. Everyone I know has told me, "You should be a teacher, Carol." I loved the idea of teaching, and I wanted to do it, but whenever I had to chance to do it, something always got in the way. In the end, it wasn't until the Lord opened the door for me to go back to school that I really considered it a possibility. Now, I am in my fourth year as a college instructor, and I can say that I love my job. I love teaching, yet I still wonder if this is what I am meant to do. Clearly, the signs say YES. I guess I don't see them because I am so close to the work itself. I just don't see things that clearly.

Knowing Your Purpose

Last night, my friend shared with me something he had read about recently. He had read a book that talked about how we can know our purpose by the desires God has placed in our heart. He was saying that when we know our calling, usually it is because we have identified the passion that drives us, fuels us, and sparks us on. I know for me that it is teaching that drives me. I love to study, and I love to research. I love to think about curriculum, design, and how to improve in my abilities as a teacher. I love the whole pedagogy thing, and I love what I get to do each day, each week, and each semester. God has given me a purpose, something good to do that makes me very happy and content. I struggle often with accepting this path, accepting this way simply because the path is not an easy one. The path is not lucrative so the choice to look elsewhere is very tempting. I don't want to follow the money trail, but often I find myself doing that very thing. I look for jobs that would pay a better wage, yet whenever I do, I never feel like they are right for me. They are good jobs, don't get me wrong, and I could see myself doing them (the work, I mean). But, I don't think I would be happy in them. I don't see myself as content in these other lines of work.

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ― Aristotle

Nope, teaching is it. It is the only job I want to do. I don't know where I will teach permanently or where I will end up, but this one this is for sure: I will teach. I will be a full-time teacher some where and some place soon. For now, I am an adjunct instructor, and while not the most steady or lucrative of jobs, it is good enough for me. In time, He will open a door at a school, and then I will go there, and I will do that work. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me that He has a good plan for my life. I can rest in the knowledge that I am doing exactly what He desires me to do. I am right where He wants me to be today.

Just yesterday, I was thinking about my path, and how I got to where I am today. I mean, I think it is interesting to consider how long it has taken me to get to this place in my life. When I think about it, I have to accept the fact that I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl. I wanted to teach, and yet I didn't follow that path because of the obstacles that were placed before me. My parents didn't support me in my desire to teach. When first in college, they forbade me from changing college majors over and over again so I ended up dropping out of school and getting married. After I was married, my ex-husband refused me to even consider teaching as a job. In fact, he forbade me from seeking positions as a teaching assistant or from returning to school so I could finish my education to become a teacher. Once I did return to school (only by the grace of God), and I realized how much I loved studying English (Humanities), I knew I was meant to become a professor (not a K-12 educator). When I broached the subject with my ex, he threatened to divorce me. I felt so strongly called to go to graduate school that my heart broke when I had to make the choice to give up what God was asking me to do and submit to my husband's demands. In the end, I did just that, and what ensued were many years of pain, of sorrow, and of suffering.

I think what made matters worse was the fact that my ex had a hatred for teaching, especially college teachers, and that he would often remark that teaching college was a profession for liberal elites.  He would often say that only people who cannot do anything else, choose to teach. I remember how he would talk about how teachers are always monetarily poor, always overworked, and always disrespected for what they did for a life's work. But, the rub was that he would go right on and disrespect individuals who decided to teach for a living. I always thought his attitude and behavior was strange considering he came from a long line of teachers. In fact, his dad was a high school principal; his mom taught throughout her life. His cousins were teachers or principals or administrators as well. I didn't understand why he hated the profession until I realized that it was because he refused his calling to become a teacher. He turned away from what God was asking him to do, so whenever I talked about my desires, he would shrug them off, condemn me for even thinking about them, and close the conversation door.

God Blessed Me

Even though I didn't follow the Lord when He first called me, He still gave me blessing for my obedience and my submission to my husband (I believe this is true!) In addition to blessing me with a child whom I love dearly, the Lord provided an opportunity for me to teach at home. I knew I was on the right road when I started home schooling my son in 2004. I felt it. I just knew I was doing the right thing, and this time around, I wasn't going to let anyone's negativity keep me from following the Lord's will in the matter. Yes, I found my place, my calling, in home education. Over the course of six years, I devoured curriculum catalogs, and I learned everything I could about home schooling. I proudly taught my son at home, and even though my family-in-law put me down for doing it (saying I wasn't qualified to teach), I still found the experience invigorating, enjoyable, and challenging (stimulating). Now, I am on the other side of all that negativity, and I am teaching college students the very subject I love most -- English. I love what I am doing, and I love everything about my work. I am fulfilled, I am happy, and most of all, I am content to be finally doing what the Lord called, prepared, and equipped me to do. Selah! Praise be to God! He is good, so very good to me!!

I am now a proud teacher. I am now ready to embrace my calling, fully and completely, realizing that teaching is part of the call to communicate faith in the church. I am teaching English, mostly composition, but I am also teaching argument, debate, and public speaking. I am learning my craft well so that I can take what I learn and use it to help others in the church to speak and to minister more effectively in this post modern age. I am to teach, to write, to develop, to create, and to engage culture at various counterpoints whereby I can use what God has imparted to me -- my study, my skill, and my expertise -- all for His glorious end. He has given me a dream job. He has given to me the desires of my heart (Ps. 37:4-5) and I am living out the fulfillment of His will for my life. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!!

Where to Next, Lord?

So now that I have finally articulated this statement of fact, that I am a teacher who has been called, prepared, and equipped for God's unique purpose, I can begin to consider my next steps. I think my unwillingness to relent and accept the Lord's will in this matter has been the reason why I am stalled where I am at present. I mean, is not God able to move and to open doors of opportunities for us? I believe He is; I believe He can and He will do whatever He desires, when He desires to do it.  Thus, the only reason why my forward progression has been stalled has to be because He has determined it to be so. Yes, I have tarried. I have been obstinate, and I have refused to accept His good gift to me. Yet, despite all of that, I know that His timing is perfect, and that His plans cannot be thwarted. He will prevail. His will is powerful, and it will come to pass! I must continue to follow after Him and stop looking elsewhere -- for jobs mostly -- or better pay or a different outcome. I must accept that this is my life. It is the life He has chosen for me, so I relent, and I let go. I accept His perfect will for my life, and I accept that He will do what is necessary in every area of my life.

My next steps in this process include:
  • Finishing my dissertation this summer
  • Graduating to PhD in fall
  • Working in whatever jobs He provides for me (temporary, on-campus or online)
  • Waiting for His provision of full-time work (in time)
This means that as for fall, I now accept that I will teach on campus at GCU and ACU. I may have some other online contracts, praise be to God, but if I don't, then I am set to tackle another good year at these two schools. I am set. I am ready. I am determined, and I am content to follow this path through to His end, His outcome for my life.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for patiently waiting for me to come to terms with this path. Thank you for being so kind and for letting me discover this truth on my own. Thank you for the provision of good work now, and thank you for the provision of good work down the road. I know you will make whatever changes are needed today so that I can follow and receive your blessing as it is revealed to me. I ask now that you will do what you think best in and through my life. Help me to finish my work, to do it well (unto you), and to be content in my life now. I want to rest, and to let this all go. I accept your word to me as truth, and I relent and agree with you this good, good day. You are Lord, and I submit and yield my desires, my hopes, and my dreams to you. You are good, so very good to me! Selah!

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