April 9, 2016

Saturday Skies

It is a beautiful day here in Phoenix. Yes, our rain seems to have stayed west of the city so the morning broke to sunny skies and a slightly humid day. I am glad it is Saturday. I am looking forward to my remaining two weeks of school. It seems really odd to be so close to finishing this semester, but praise be to God, it is almost over. This has been a surreal experience for me. I mean, it was just two months ago when I was about to sit my written comprehensive exams. I had spent the previous 16 weeks studying for the test of my life, and my stress level was through the roof. I passed, praise God, and I focused on the second part of the exam, the oral defense. I passed that part too, and now I am ABD. I am ready to complete my dissertation proposal and prepare for a second “defense” coming in May. My prayer, of course, is to honor the Lord in all my efforts, and I am confident that the Lord has me covered. My timeline for graduation is drawing nearer, and I am excited about my prospects. I am excited to think what the Lord has in mind for me. I am convinced, yes I am convinced, that the plans the Lord has for my life are very good, so very, very good! Selah! (Pause, and calmly think about it!)

The morning is quickly slipping by as I sit here at my computer. I woke up early, but rather than dragging myself out of bed, I simply rolled over. Yep, I decided to sleep in. Of course, I forgot that I had an adjunct meeting at GCU this morning, so I slept through it. I don’t know why they schedule faculty meetings on Saturday mornings. Really? I mean, we work throughout the week and then FTD asks us to come to campus for an early Saturday meeting. I was to attend virtually, but still, I totally missed that appointment and slept right on through. I guess my body needed the rest because I do feel good today. I am refreshed and I am ready to tackle working on my dissertation. I would like to get chapter 1 finished so I can send it to my professor this week. My goal is to get chapter 2 done next week, and then chapter 3 done by the end of the month. With his approval, I should be able to present my proposal to my committee and be permitted to begin research. God knows the timing of course so I rest in Him alone.

The Lord Moves Mountains

As I think about today, and the fact that it is April 9, 2016, I marvel at the Lord’s movement in my life. He has taken me from a devastated SAHM to a newly advanced ABD (almost PhD) professor of English and Communication Studies. He has transformed my life from what seemed like ruin into something beautiful, something wonderful, and something beyond description. I am about to embark on this new career, this new amazing adventure, and as I leave my old life behind, I wonder what will come to pass over the next 3-6 or 9 months. I mean, where will I be, where will I go, and what will I do? Some of these answers are known to me. I do know that I am doing the job of the Lord’s provision. I am no longer waffling on that front. I am a teacher, for better or worse, and that means that between now and when I retire at age 70 (Lord willing), I will teach English students at the college level. I am blessed to be able to do this work. I love this work, and I love what I am doing — day in and day out — I love it.

I love the challenge, the opportunity to improve my skills and better my teaching instruction, and I love the fact that it is all up to me. I didn’t get it right away, you know, in the beginning. I thought that teaching was not as productive than when I worked as a analyst because I couldn’t control the outcome, the final result. And, while this is true, I didn’t grasp that I still could produce good work — the difference though — was that I was producing good work internally (in me) rather than in some end product (like a report). I realized that I was developing my own skill rather than producing some external thing. While my students are technically my “product,” I have little control over what they do or do not do because they are in charge of implementing my instruction. If they do what I ask and learn from it, they will yield good results. If they don’t, well, they get what they sow. It was hard for me to let go of the producing mentality in the beginning. I wanted so much to produce good work. Yet, the blessing came once I let go of that needed outcome, and as soon as I turned inward to see that I could improve, I could become better able to teach, to mentor, to guide, then I saw how special this job truly was to me. I realized that teaching is the BEST job for me. Yes, I can become the best teacher I can be — and in doing so, in applying myself to learning, to strengthening my skills and abilities — I get the sole satisfaction of seeing the fruit of my labor. Furthermore, by extension, my hard work is not just for me because my students do get the blessing of having a more seasoned teacher, a better qualified instructor teaching them. In truth, teaching provides a win-win scenario. I am so blessed to be doing what I am doing, to be a teacher, and to be free to develop, to grow, and to change as the Lord leads me. I thank the Lord for this blessing, this job. He is good, so very good to me! Selah! It is truth!!

What is more is the fact that I also realized that my life is bound up in compartments that include teaching (job) and ministry (work). I know that there are two specific focuses in my life, and while they do intersect, they are unique in and of themselves. I am what I am, and I am called to do what the Lord asks of me. I see my life in three distinct yet related ways. First off, I am to teach students how to write solid academic essays. I may not be as versed in writing as some of my colleagues, but I do know what good writing looks like, and I can help tutor my students toward that end. Second, as I engage in ministry, I am called to equip the church with the ability to communicate faith to this post modern generation. Thus, my work aligns with my teaching in that the skills needed to accomplish ministry are born out of my studies at Regent and my experience teaching college students. Third, as I approach this place in time where I will be soon called on to do both of these things, I realize that I can do neither well so long as I am the one trying to do them. Yes, I must rest in the Lord, abide in His provision and sufficiency so that He is able to do the work to His level or standard of measurement. He is to receive all honor and praise, thus, I stand back, and I let Him do this thing (job and work) in His way and with His authority and might. He can do it, He can move mountains! Selah!

The mountains in my life right now include the following:

  • Completing this semester at GCU with dignity and persistence
  • Completing my proposal and defending it in May
  • Completing my research this summer
  • Completing my final two chapters by early September
  • Completing my defense in October-November
  • Receiving my PhD by the end of the year
  • Moving into a full-time position as the Lord provides
  • Moving to a new place (my own place) as the Lord opens the door
  • Settling into both job and ministry
  • Resting finally in His provision and choosing to live happy-ever-after (in the Lord)
For now, I am content in all these things. I believe that the Lord has the timing down pat. He knows when I am to go, where I am to go, and how I am going to get there. The concerns I have with my parents care and my son’s schooling are in His hand now, and I rest in knowing that He will provide. I have taken the burden of care far too seriously, and as a result, I have refused to go when the Lord said to me “Go!” I know that my parents do need end of life care, but I am to do as the Lord commands me, and in doing so, He will take care of their needs. I have made it be so difficult to obey simply because I was unwilling to trust the Lord to care for them. I believed He would, but I wouldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let someone else, like my brother step in and provide care for them. In this way, I refused to do as the Lord asked me to do, and hence, I suffered tension and stress as a result. I have let this go now, rested in the decision that the only one who can provide for them is the Lord. It is neither my responsibility nor is it within my ability to do anything other than be a loving and caring daughter to them as the Lord prefers for me to do. But, it is not up to me. The Lord has not permitted me to be wealthy at this time, so with my empty hands I realized that I can only do what I can do now, and that is to love my parents, help them as I am able, and leave the rest (the burden) to the Lord.

The same is true for my son, whom I love dearly. He is doing well at school (at the least, I think so). He has one more year of study and then, Lord willing, he should graduate with his BA in Music. I know he is ready to graduate. He is ready to move on and to do something with his studies that makes him enough money to do the things he wants to do. I have been in this role of mentor, leader, guide for a long time, and over the past three-four years, I have had to let him go. Little by little, I have had to let him learn life lessons on his own. I still help him out, but very soon, he will be on his own completely, and praise be to God, I think he will do just fine. He is a good boy. He has a good head on his shoulders, and while his relationship with the Lord isn’t as strong as I would prefer, he is young, and he is still seeking the Lord. Praise be to God! As I let him go, release the reins completely, I realize that I am no longer responsible for his every need. He works. He is able to pay his own bills. He is able to manage his own schedule. He is responsible and he does do a good job. Now, I must let him go completely. I must rest in the Lord’s ability to perform His work in and through him. I must stand aside and let the Lord do what He wants to do, and I must accept the outcome. I am reminded that God has a way of “growing us up” and I have to let Him do that with my son. The time has come to cut the cords, and let him be his own person, his own man. I trust the Lord, so I have let him go to grow in the Lord’s hands and with the Lord’s provision and blessing on his life.

Lastly, I have blogged about my relationships over the past several years and how the Lord has provided a special companion to me (a surprise from the Lord). Over the past couple years, we have grown very close, and now are at that next stage in our relationship. The mountain that is between us, however, is quite large. We live in two different states, and for all intents and purposes, have different lives. They do seem to be running along the same tracks, which is exciting to consider. Until the Lord moves us together, though, we both must focus on what the Lord is asking us to do invididually. This means that I have to do what God is asking of me, and he has to do what God is asking of him. In this way, we are each following the Lord’s will for our lives, and as the Lord determines the timing, when He chooses to bring us together, He will do it. Until then, we wait, we patiently wait.

This means, in sum, that right now my life is moving along at a fair clip. While I feel as though I am “stuck,” I am only “stuck” in the sense that what I want to come to pass hasn’t happened yet. I am moving steadily toward His outcome, toward the fulfillment of His will, but I am not seeing the rapid progression of events happen as quickly as I would like them to happen. Amen, so be it. It is truth! What this means to me is that my perception of being “stuck” is not reality. I am not standing still at all. I am slowly progressing toward His goal for my life. I would like to run to the end of the race, but I forget that to get from here to there, I must endure trial, I must be patient, and I must learn how to overcome the obstacles that are in my way. I cannot just scale the mountain without proper training, preparation, and provision. No, I must train. I must be made ready. I must become fit. In doing so, when I get to that mountain, I will be ready to take it on, to scale it, and to arrive at the top with gusto, with strength. Yes, I must allow the Lord to prepare me, and that will take as long as He desires it to take. I cannot rush this process, circumvent His plans, and hope to achieve the prize. No, I must do it all His way, and in His time, it will come to pass.

I rest today. I rest in this knowledge. I give thanks to the Lord for His temperance. He holds me back like a good parent. He holds my hand and says to me, “be patient, my child.” Just like when my son was little and wanted to run off without me, I would hold him back and make him slow down. Together we would walk toward the anticipated event, just so I could be at the ready should any obstacle or danger appear. My Lord does the same with me. He holds me tightly and keeps me from bounding ahead where I might get hurt or lost. He keeps me close to His side, and in doing so, I arrive ready to see the sights, to experience His goodness, and to enjoy His provision and blessing. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Letting it all Go

Thus, as I close out this blog post I commit to the Lord that I am letting this all go. I am choosing to do what He has asked of me, no more and no less, and to be patient as He provides for each and every need. I am looking ahead, and I am trusting the Lord for the next 3-6-9 and 12 months of my life. Where I am today is the result of His blessing and provision. Where I will be in one year’s time will also be the result of His blessing and provision. In between now and then, I will do the work He has assigned to me to do. I will faithfully execute the duties I have been given. To whom is given much, much is expected. I have been given much, therefore, I must be faithful and obedient to do everything that has been asked of me. Selah! It is truth!

No comments: