May 22, 2016

Changes Are Afloat

Blessed Sunday! It is a glorious day here in sunny and mild Phoenix. Yes, I am using those words together -- sunny, mild and Phoenix -- impossible! Our mild weather seems to be the result of El Nino. I read the other day that cooler and wetter weather is expected for much of the USA. I am excited to think that perhaps, just perhaps, we might have an unseasonably cool summer! Woohoo!

It is a good Sunday, and I feel blessed to be here and alive and well. I am home this morning, visiting with my brother, who lives in San Diego. He drove over yesterday to spend time with my parents, and to celebrate Mom's 83rd birthday. It has been nice to visit with him. I am not sure what our plans our for the day, but for now I am resting. I feel rather tired from not sleeping well the past couple nights, and I am looking forward to "chillin" out a bit today. I don't have any plans on the schedule EXCEPT to rest and enjoy this blessed day. God is good, always so very good. He knows that I need some downtime after all my hustle and bustle writing my proposal last week. It will be a good day to just do nothing so as to enjoy the breezy and cool weather.

Good News!

Late last night, after the family (my other brother's family) left, I checked my email to see if anything "important" arrived in my box (instead of the normal "spam!). I was surprised to see an email from the editor at The Journal for Instructional Research (JIR) congratulating me on the pending publication of my article, "Ethnography of Communication in Praxis in the Literature Classroom." I had submitted my article for an informal review back in September 2015, and then was asked to submit it for formal peer review in April. My article came back as accepted! I am so very excited at the prospect of getting my first academic writing published. I am waiting on some feedback from my Theory professor (whom I wrote the paper for several semesters ago) because the peer review comments were unclear, and I wasn't sure what I needed to revise. I am hoping she will give me some direction on what I should add or say to the editor when I submit the final copy for publication. In all, I am blessed, so very blessed. I felt confident that this paper, in particular, had the "chops" to make it to publication. I am super excited to think that I will be a published author come this fall, 2016. God is so very good to me, so very good to me.

As I think about my life today, I marvel at what the Lord has done for me. I marvel at the lengths I have travelled to get to this point in time. I marvel at the hard work, the determined effort, and the results -- the better than expected results -- that the Lord has graciously allowed me to experience. In truth, I stand amazed and in awe of our great God. He has done this, He has permitted this wonderful experience, and He has made this way possible. I am so absolutely excited to think what other changes He has in mind for me. Perhaps this summer will be the turning point, the time when things begin to shift and move in my favor. Not that I haven't had His favor and blessing, but rather that these long awaited changes (job, move, etc.) will begin to inch closer to me (or me toward them). I am excited to think what God may have in mind for me in the next year. I am especially excited to think that once I finish my research this summer, I will be one-step closer to graduating. Yes, I am also ready to graduate with my PhD. God is so good, so very good to me.

Moreover, as I consider my life, where I am now, and where the Lord seems to be leading me, I realize that there is a JOB on the horizon for me. I don't know where it will be (as in the school) nor do I know what I will be teaching specifically, but I feel confident that it will be good. I feel like all the waiting, the applying for jobs here and there, was simply "stall tactics" on the part of the Lord. He has had a job ready for me, but the timing and particulars had to come to pass in the right way. I have had to relinquish a lot of my own desire, and I have had to submit to His perfect will in the matter. I tried to find work doing corporate communications, but that was a no go. I tried to find work teaching, but every job application has returned void. I felt so lost for a time, I questioned whether I was where I belonged, whether I was on the right path. Now, I see that I am right where I am meant to be, and that it was just the timing of things that seemed to cause me confusion. God had me in His tender care, and I had to wait patiently for Him to make ready these next steps.

As of right now, I am convinced that I am right where He desires me to be. I am right where I belong, waiting for the best job, and completing these last remaining tasks. You see, I feel this sense of peace about the whole process. I feel this sense of wellness, of everything being OK, and as such, I feel like it is going to be just fine -- EVERYTHING -- I mean. Everything will be fine. I am no longer worried about the job. I am no longer worried about making ends meet. He has a job on the horizon, it is there -- right there -- and all I have to do is wait for it. I have to patiently endure. I have to keep a positive and hopeful outlook, and I have to let Him bring it to me. I don't have to go find it, rush after it, but rather, I simply have to let it flow, let it rush down and meet me right where I am today. In this way, He will provide. He will sustain me. He will guide me. And, in doing so, He will see to each and every need in my life. I am free to rest, free to relax, and free to realize that He does really have me so well-covered. He is good to me, so very good to me.

My Next Steps

One thing is for certain: I am to teach English. I am comfortable spending my days teaching students how to write academic essays. In fact, I love teaching writing. I cannot think of anything I would enjoy more than to teach writing, research writing, developmental writing -- all aspects of writing -- to students. I think writing is the perfect "fit" for me. I enjoy the writing process -- oh my goodness -- just look at my blog. I write every single day, every day. I have written almost 2000 posts over the past 10 years. I love to write. I love to produce articles, to write essays, to study and research. In fact, I was just saying to the Lord how much I enjoy writing, and how I would like to write scholarly articles as much as possible. In fact, I was praying about it, saying to the Lord that I had four or five ideas of research papers I could write RIGHT now. Of course, I need to finish my dissertation, BUT as soon as I am finished, I will have plenty of good things to research. My prayer is to continue to be published, to write articles that deal with a wide range of subject areas. Mostly, these papers will be related to communication study, to linguistics and language, and to faith-based communication. I see this as my little niche, the place where I can comfortably write theory, applied research, and the like. I am not going to compete with the biggies out there who seek to publish in the large journals. No, I am content to publish in small journals that are well-suited to my style and to my interests. I don't need the fame, but I would like to be able to contribute to scholarship, to my field of study. Should the Lord permit me to become an academic writer, then I will write whatever He desires for me to write. Selah!

Why I Think This is So

1) I have a number of interests, and as I said, most of these interests are in the cross-section between linguistics and communication. I want to study language, meaning making, and how we process language. I am interested in sociolinguistics and neurolinguistics, so my plan is to slowly proceed down these steps. I think the Lord approves since this desire has been on my heart for a long time. My plan, then, is to finish my PhD, rest a little while, and then begin a Master's program where I can study Linguistics. I feel pretty comfortable in this sub-discipline, and I think it aligns well with my teaching of English. If the Lord opens a door for me to study formally, so be it. If He chooses to have me study something else that is similar, so be it as well. I am okay with whatever He desires for me to study.

2) I feel really ready to publish in my field of English. I feel really ready to begin to publish articles that are an infusion of communication theory and language theory. I feel that the Lord will carve out a little place for me to study, to research, and to publish. I won't be well known in my field, but I will be well-received. I am thankful for His promised blessing of reception. I simply want to write, publish and present at conferences. Whether anyone comes to know me doesn't matter. So long as He is pleased, then I am content. I want Him to receive the praise and the adoration. I want Him to receive all the glory and honor. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

3) I am ready to relocate to a place where I can set down roots and have a writing studio. Yes, I want to have a room where I can write. I never thought I needed such a place, but the Lord has pressed on me that I will need an "office." This office will need to be the size of a bedroom, and it needs to have a good sturdy desk along with lots of book cases. It also needs a window that looks out on green space, a lovely view, because I need to look outside and see grass, flowers, and trees. I am thinking that the home He brings to me will have a first floor study area. It will not be part of another room, like my office is now. I think this is to facilitate several things. First, I need space to write. Second, I need quiet and solitude. Third, I will be teaching from home so I need to record videos and presentations for my students. And, fourth, I need an environment that is conducive to writing.

Right now, I am seeing an office that looks like this:

I am particular about my office space. I cannot share it with other people. I cannot have music playing in the background. I cannot have noise. I need peace, quiet, and my own little "bubble."

If the Lord chooses to provide me with a house, and I believe He has this in mind, He will make sure that I have a first floor room that will serve as my official office for teaching, writing, and ministry. Yes, of this I am sure.

The house I would like to have is a farmhouse. I would like to live in a small village, where I don't have neighbors next to me. I don't mind neighbors, I just need to look out my window and see country fields, gardens or trees. I also want to be able to leave my windows open. I don't want to live all closed up like I do here in Phoenix. Everything is locked. Every window and every door. The alarm is set when I leave. I want to have my door open, my windows opened, and to enjoy living in safety again. Of course, I will be careful. Yes, I will have an alarm system, but I want to live some place where I can leave my door open and not worry about crime.

Making Some Plans

As I think about these next steps, I feel confident that the JOB is right around the corner. I am settled on teaching at GCU and ACU for one more semester. I feel, however, that there is a full-time online teaching position ready for me. It may come to pass this summer. It may come to pass in the spring of 2017. Either way, it will provide solid income, a heady amount that will take care of business, but also provide for me to start saving for retirement. Furthermore, I am realizing that the key to success is to relocate to a place where I can purchase that white farmhouse for less than $100K. I am not into fancy, big or the latest and greatest. Nope, I just want old fashioned charm. I am looking for a house that was built in the late 1800s to early 1910s. I want charm, so woodwork, wainscoting, and crown molding are key. Furthermore, I don't want modern. I want a home that has updated mechanicals, but I want traditional, old fashioned, and that means no blown out walls and open concept living areas in an old home. Nada, no way.

Moreover, as I consider the place, the house, and the property, I do realize that I cannot be too far from civilization. I need solid Internet to do my work, so the community has to have infrastructure to allow me to have Internet for school and work. Also, as I think about space considerations, I realize that I don't want a lot of space inside. I need at a minimum a living room, dining room and a kitchen. I need a first floor study/office. I need a bathroom (half or full) on the first floor. I need laundry. Upstairs I need at least three bedrooms. One for me, my son, and a guest. Other than this, I would like a garage, if possible. Storage is important, but I can do attic or cellar or shed. I would like a cellar for bad weather, but I don't need a finished basement anymore. I just need a place to store Christmas stuff, seasonal clothing, etc.

Lastly, I would like about 1/2 acre. I thought about more land, but I am content with a small plot where I could garden. I don't want to spend hours mowing, but I do want to plant flowers. I need some outdoor space, but not a lot. Just enough to have some space to move around, sit and enjoy the weather, etc.

My needs are modest. I have looked at furniture, and I am content now with whatever the Lord provides. I was picky there for a while. I wanted Pottery Barn and leather. Now, I am thinking a nice chenille sofa and chair would be comfy. I am also thinking sturdy is good. I need sturdy tables and chairs. Good beds, dressers, and the like. Nothing fancy, just long lasting so I don't have to replace them. I don't need electronic gear -- I have a good TV, my computer, laptop, etc. -- so I am good to go. Really, that is it. I would like simple. Plain. Comfortable. It works for me.

When will the Lord provide this to me? I am not sure, but I think by next year, I will be resettled in a home of my own. It will be a good fit for me. It will accommodate His plans, and it will meet my needs with sufficiency. He will provide for me. I need to be patient and wait. I will wait, Lord. I will wait for your blessed provision. You are good, so very good to me.

As I close this blog post, I think about all that has transpired. I think about how content I am now. How I am okay with this new direction, this sense that says to me "this is the way to go." I rest in His guidance, and I know that where He leads, He will provide. I don't want anything but His provision. I know His way is best, and I surrender all thoughts, feelings, desires, and wants so that I am only looking to His hand for blessing. He is Jehovah-Jireh, and He will provide. I believe it. I believe it is so.

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