April 24, 2016

Best Night in a Long Time

Blessed Sunday! It is a good day to worship the Lord! Selah! I shout with the psalmist who says, "It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High!" Today is a good day, a very good day.

Feeling Good Today

I woke up at 8:15 or thereabouts feeling absolutely wonderful. I mean, I feel like I really slept well. I am refreshed, feeling relaxed and so well-rested. I didn't go to bed early last night, but I still was able to get a solid 8 hours of sleep. My good friend is having to work an overnight shift for a couple weeks so I wanted to stay up and help him as best I could. We had a good conversation, and hopefully, he was able to not fall asleep last night. I cannot imagine working the graveyard shift. I barely could work an early morning shift at UOPX. I would be a zombie most days, and then I would get this awful headache that lasted and lasted. I think my body-clock is set to stay up late and sleep in (always has been this way). Needless to say, I am one girl who needs her sleep!

My day is pretty low-key, that is as far as the plans go. It is a good Sunday so I will venture over to Scottsdale Bible for church this morning (at 11). I will spend my afternoon finishing up chapter 1 of my paper, and then hopefully fire that puppy off to my professor sometime later tonight. My week ahead is filled with grading assignments. I have to have all my final grades posted by Friday, but that shouldn't be an issue since I have the entire week (or summer, I should say) off. I also promised Mom that I would scrub the family room rug, but I asked if I could wait to do that until I finished all my grading. Once my grading is updated, then my summer can begin. My prayer next week is that amidst the grading and housework, I can finish chapter 2 of my paper so it can be sent for review.

In all, I feel confident and in good shape. This has been one crazy, wacky, and weird semester. I honestly do not know how I made it through like I did. Of course, I give all the praise to the Lord for He has made this possible, yet still, I marvel at what has been accomplish and where I am this good, good day. He is so good to me, so very, very good to me. 

Plans and Such

My plans are flexible, of course, and 100% dependent upon the Lord's will and His provision for my life. I want to do everything I can to get myself ready to work full-time. I mean, I have to focus on my project (as my professor calls my dissertation), and I need to clean up all the miscellaneous issues here at home (finances, mostly). Once I get myself ordered, in ship-shape, I will be ready to step out and head back into the full-time working world. My goal is really to have everything I need so I can do the work the Lord chooses for me to do. I feel confident that in a short amount of time, perhaps just a couple weeks, I will hear something regarding a job opportunity. Until then, I have several important tasks to complete:
  • Finish writing chapters 1-3 of my dissertation
  • Complete my last semester at GCU (grading, etc.)
  • Complete my online pre-interview with CCU (today or tomorrow)
  • Clean out my storage shed (this week since the weather is going to be cool)
  • Take care of some small things around the house (for my Mom)
  • Get my bike out of storage and clean it up (pump up the tires)
  • Clear off my laptop and get it ready to sell (moving to a Mac soon)
  • Reorganize my closet, donate used clothing, and generally clear all items that haven't been worn in a year or so
My goal is to get my life in order, and while I don't have a lot of things (as in stuff) anymore, I do have some boxes and bins that need sorting. For example, I have four boxes of family photos. They are in shoe boxes right now, but they are in horrible shape. I would like to get these photos digitized perhaps so that I can have copies of them before they fade away. I have some old books in storage too, and more than likely, they have been eaten up by bugs. I never should have put them in storage, but I didn't have any other place for them. I want to clear out my storage area, sweep it, and only put back in what is worth keeping. I have my Christmas items in there, along with some of my parents things, and well, I just need to separate everything so that it is easy to know what I want to keep. 

I am thinking now that I will take most of my things to Goodwill. I have some dishes and glasses that I had planned to keep for when I moved out of this home and back on my own. Now, I am thinking that I will just buy new. I mean, if the Lord does move me, well, it would be easier to go without anything and just start over. I have some precious things, but truthfully, most of what I have is so insignificant that it really doesn't warrant holding on to it. It is better to let it go now, and be "light" so I can move, travel, and go when the Lord says, "Let's go!"

I feel like this summer, summer 2016, is the "Summer of Carol." You know, from that Seinfeld episode where George decides to make a new start after his ill-fated girlfriend dies from a poisoned stamp. LOL! Yes, I am making a fresh start now that my graduate career is over (almost), and my working life is moving from simmer to full rolling boil. I am jazzed, excited, and ready to do something new.

I don't know why I feel this way, and in fact, I just said to the Lord, "Lord, I don't feel excited." I heard this voice in my head say to me, "Yes, you do!" UGH! This is clearly His doing. He is excited for me, and I feel the push to be excited too. He always gets His way, so I relent and say, "so be it, Lord, so be it!" If the Lord wants to change things up, move me, give me new horizons to study and ponder, so be it. I am game, Lord. I am game.

Getting Everything in Order

My new focus then is on clean-up work. I hate clean-up work. I like to start projects, but not finish them. Yet, finishing strong, especially after a long-haul, is so satisfying. It signals the end of a very long journey, a process that has taken time and energy and discipline, and one that is now coming to a close. I feel like this is so, like my life is running on high-octane fuel right now. I cannot really put my finger on it or understand why this has happened, but I am so ready to take control of my life, so ready to step out in faith and get moving!

I am thinking that my son's recital was the kick-off for me. I was telling my good friend last night how proud I was of my son's performance, how blown-away I was by his energy, creativity, and his ability to do something so spectacular. He out did everyone, and frankly, I doubt seriously that any other recital will compare (how could it -- his was so different). I don't mean to say that he is better than all the students, because he certainly isn't. He will even admit that fact, and in truth, he did on Friday night. He said that he had wished some of his friends would have played with him because they are "better" than he is on guitar, bass and drums. It really was the spectacle of the event, the way he put it together and the performance quality. It was so good.

I sat in the audience not as a Mom, but as an audience member. I thought to myself, I could be paying to see this performance. Yes, I felt like I was at an artist's performance, a concert, and frankly, that thought just energized me. I guess the truth is that I realized in that one moment between amazement and truth, that my son is ready to step out on his own. The Lord has been promising me, telling me, assuring me, that my son is good, that he is in a good place, and his performance on Friday night showed me that this is indeed true. I don't have to worry about him professionally. I don't have to worry about his success. I know for sure, for certain that whatever the Lord does in and through his life, he will be cared for and will find good success. I left that recital thinking, "I don't have to worry anymore. I can let him go now." It was a good feeling, such a good, good feeling.

On top of that, I also considered asking my ex-husband to introduce me to his friend. I had this sense that I should have just said to him, "Why don't you introduce me to your friend?" I didn't do it, and they left before I could say anything, but I thought it, and even today, I have feel this pressure to broach the subject. I mean, I have no hard feelings about my ex and his friend. I did, I have, for months now, felt uncomfortable about seeing them at church, for example. On Friday, he brought her to my son's recital, and it was like "Okay, this is it." I have to realize that we are a family still, not intact, but still a family. This has been going on for nearly three years so it is not new by any measure. When my son graduates, this person will be there to congratulate him. I cannot ignore her or pretend she doesn't exist. She does, and it is what it is. I would like to get the uncomfortable feeling out of the way. I am asking the Lord to provide that to me. In fact, I am letting this whole thing go. I realize that when I leave AZ, my ex and his friend will still be here. I cannot leave things hanging open. There must be closure so I can release this and walk away.

Why do I feel this way?

I was asking the Lord this very question today. I mean, why do I all of a sudden feel like I need to clean house? I have been in this transition place for so long, and now, I am feeling this "urge to purge." At first, I thought it might be because the Lord was going to physically move me so it was in my best interest to pare down and get my things in order. I was also thinking that I needed to clear away the dross, so to speak, to let the dross come to the surface so it can be wiped away. In smithing, when the metal is heated and under high temperature, the dross (or impurities) come to the surface so they can be removed. In doing so, the liquid metal that remains is purified so it has a brilliance about it. This is how I feel today. I feel as if the Lord has heated me up, and He has purified me through this process of life. I am ready for Him to remove all the impurities in my life, to clear away all the dead and poisoned materials, and to leave the beautiful and clear product that reflects His praise.

I am ready for Him to do this work. I am ready for the purification process to take place, and that means that I am ready for Him to remove from me all those things that have held me back or kept me from moving on toward His greater purpose in my life. I am ready to be cleaned up. I am ready to move.

Preparing to Go

It is a funny thing how the Lord does this work in and through us. I mean, when I moved out of my home back in 2011, I had to take my entire life, everything that I had collected for almost 27 years and smash it down to what I could realistically move into a smaller home. I gave away everything I could, and even after purging, I still ended up with a 1200 SQF filled town home. Then in 2013, when I moved in with my parents, I had to purge again. This time, I could only take what would fill two rooms and a storage shed. Over the past three years, I have purged more, and now I have our two rooms and about 1/3 of a storage shed full of miscellaneous items. I feel as if the Lord is asking me to purge once again, but this time, to reduce my load to less than 1/2 of what I currently possess. This means that in my room alone, I would have to clear away my "junk" areas where I tend to "stuff" things rather than sort or trash them. I have my closet to clear and my buffet. I also have part of a hall closet to clear out. Once this has been done, though, I should have my 'goods' pared down to a very easy to move amount.

I believe this is in preparation for a big move. I have put 2016-2017 on my radar as the move period, but part of me has thought that the actual move date would be later, rather than sooner. I am thinking after I graduate (October 2016) but before I walk in the graduation ceremony -- so perhaps -- January to March time frame. However, if the Lord chooses to move me this fall, then I need to go. I need to be able to pick up and go without much fuss. 

I've thought long and hard about this, about how I would want to take all my things with me. Lately, though, the Lord has simply asked me to consider going without anything, to take only the minimum with me. This means my personal things such as my books, computer, cello, clothes, etc. and the cats. He is asking me to leave behind furniture and other things that would require a van or a moving truck. I am thinking now that He wants me to travel lite, and to do that, I have to work through all my things and pare them down.

I was at Target with my Mom the other day, and she stopped to look at some luggage (why, I don't know!) We were talking about traveling and she pointed out a rolling duffle bag and matching carryon tote. She thought they were cute and said I should get them. I thought it was weird because I had blogged the other day about needing some new luggage. I have a nice set of luggage -- Swiss Army -- that I bought back in 2013 when I had to travel for work and then for school. The Lord placed on my heart this idea of getting some new items, and then here my Mom points them out to me. In truth, this last trip to VA reminded me of the rolling duffle idea. I had noted how many people were pulling duffles through the Charlotte airport, and I thought that they looked 1) light-weight, and 2) easy to manage. Now I am thinking that this combination is what the Lord is suggesting to me.

More so, I am thinking of trading in my current laptop (a HP) for a MacBook Air. I have switched to Mac now (iPhone, iPad, iMac) so I really would like a Mac laptop. I also want something that is not as heavy to lug around. My HP weighs 6 pounds, and the MacBook Air weighs only 3 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like much weight, but when you are lugging stuff through airport terminals and such, it adds up.

Lastly, I have thought about what I really need going forward, and the truth is that I need very little. I have everything I need to make a new start, save the job. I have the ability to start over, which is HUGE! I have the resources to make a major move (granted my credit cards need to be reduced first). I have the where-with-all, the head game, so to speak, in order to create a logical and ordered plan of attack. And, I have the desire and the willingness to go, to do something different, and to explore new avenues and take new adventures wherever the Lord leads me. In short, I am ready to go except for a few minor details. These minor details seem insurmountable on face value, but with further probing, it is obvious that they are just small tasks that need to be completed, checked off my larger to-do list.

Seeing More Clearly Now

I am not sure why my mindset has changed recently, but I think it happened once I accepted the real facts about my situation. You know, I have been on "hold" for so long, that it was a challenge to realistically do anything about my current life. Until I was ABD, my way was pretty well fixed. I was to teach part-time, and to focus on Regent. Now that I am working on my dissertation, I am freed up to start looking at my life through a clearer, less obstructed lens. This means that I am able to assess my current life and logically consider prospects for my future.

The short of it is this: I can see clearly that the path I am on (teaching) will never provide for me in the same way it will should I work in business. It is not about the money, though that is such a big draw right now, but rather it is about challenge, investing in my future, and growing as an individual in order to fully accomplish the Lord's will for my life. I love teaching, don't get me wrong. I love everything about it (well, except for the money and the lack of steady work), but I see the difficult road ahead for me, a road that can only be doable with a miracle from God. I am not saying that His miracle is not coming, but I am saying that when someone offers you two choices, one tangible and one intangible, which do you take? Normally, you take the tangible, the one that is ready. You usually don't say, "No thanks! I'll just wait for something better that may or may not happen down the road!" If you are wise, you take the THING offered and you say "Thank you!"

I feel like I have tried very hard to find a full-time teaching position. I have looked and applied for more than a year and a half. Yet, nothing has materialized. This doesn't mean it won't, it just means that I have to consider the time I am investing in applying for positions and whether I am going to keep on trying or move in a different direction. I've been unemployed before, just like this, and after 18 months of trying to find the right job, I ended up taking a practical job. It wasn't the best fit for me, and for along while, it didn't seem like I did the wise thing. But after careful reflection, I realized that it was in my best interest to do what I did. The timing was right. Now, I see that had I not taken that open door, I would have not been able to move on with my life (move out of my home, start the process that has led me to where I am today). Yes, I took the open hand and said,"Thank you," and even though it was difficult, and at times very painful, the outcome produced a very good result.

I am in this same position now. I have been working part-time for three years in order to facilitate my education. I never hoped to find a full-time teaching job -- let me set the record straight -- I never thought I would teach with my PhD. No, I knew I would use it for ministry purpose and only in that capacity. My Masters was to help me teach, and that is what it did. Now, though I see how difficult it will be to be hired full-time with a PhD in Communication and experience teaching in English. It is not easy to cross disciplines in higher education. Universities want you to have a PhD in English to teach English. My PhD has always been for the Lord's work, and I see now how difficult it will be to be hired full-time. Plus, I simply do not have the required experience and publications and presentations. This is not to say that I won't in time, but again, how much time am I willing to devote to this pursuit? How much time can I sacrifice hoping to land a full-time job? At 54, I have to think about my dwindling time line, and that makes me reconsider whether this path is a viable option at this stage of the game.

I think the thing that got me to reconsider a path in business was the incomparable issue with income in higher education. Just last week, I saw a full-time teaching position at a local community college and the salary was $36K for 9 months. I've seen this same salary listed numerous times, and from my colleagues who teach full-time, I know what they earn, and it is similar. So, this is not uncommon in higher education. College professors do not always make six-figures like people think. Most make somewhere between $30-45K, with a few earning higher salaries because of their tenure status and longevity. Moreover, getting that tenure and a higher salary is based solely on your publication record and years of experience. It is not impossible, mind you, but just improbable. Thus, in the harsh light of reality, I see clearly that the path I am on is fraught with challenge. What is more, is that it is hard for my family and friends to understand what I am saying. They either think I am crazy to give up this job (after all, why did you get your PhD?) or they think I'm being impatient. To them, getting hired teaching is just like working in a regular job. My Mom asked me the other day whether if GCU will be hiring me soon. She thinks because I have worked there for three years, I am next in line for an open position. I tried to explain that it doesn't work this way in higher education. Sigh.

I cannot really explain it because I think you either understand it or you don't. But, I can say this -- the Lord has graciously given me this opportunity to pursue my education -- and it is for a specific purpose. Therefore, I realize that the work I do, whether I teach or I am in business, will be a fulfillment of His will for me. I am good with either outcome. He will provide for me, and I will do whatever work He hands to me. I will not complain. I will not grumble. I will graciously receive His gift to me.

Dear Lord,

Today is a good day. I am ready to pick up my toys and leave the safety of the sandbox. I am ready to step out in bold faith and try something different. I am ready to be set free, to no longer be bound to anyone or anything that holds me down. I want to fly, to be independent, responsible, and able to do all things so you are honored and praised. I am ready to climb the mountains in the mist, and to bridge the divide as you lead me forward. I ask that you make my way smooth. Let me leave behind this place in good stead, with peace and no tension. Let me walk on in humble submission to your will and your way, and may I have the vision to see all the beautiful things you have in store for my future. I ask this all in the matchless and merciful Name of Jesus! Amen!

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