May 18, 2016

Completed - Almost!

It is a great Wednesday, and I am sitting here feeling rather chipper. Yes, I am feeling good (spiritually and mentally). Physically, I am stiff and sore, and emotionally I am feeling a bit down, but overall, I am pleased to be where I am today. It is a good day, and I am blessed beyond measure.

News and More

My big news for the day is that I finished my proposal. Yes, I finished it last night, and while it is very rough, it is a solid proposal for my dissertation research project. I have 75 pages, spread across three chapters (Introduction, Literature, and Methods). I feel good about what I have produced, but I do understand that it is not in ready shape or form. It needs work, A LOT of work, but the framework and structure are in place, and the overall proposal plan itself is good. My goal today is to proofread, spell-check, and complete a few missing parts where I forgot to add content (like a concluding sentence, etc.). I should be able to send this bad boy off for review sometime early afternoon!

I am so excited to think that I have completed this major task. I was stuck, like really stuck just a couple weeks ago, and now I feel FREE! So free! Yes, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders so that I can rest, really rest now. I plan to spend my day, after edits and such, relaxing. My parents are out of the house (invited to go with some friends for a day out), and my son will be at work later this afternoon. This means I will have the entire house to myself (and the boys). I am not sure what I will do just yet, but resting and perhaps some binge watching of Netflix are in order.

I am not going to work on my proposal any more until I get some feedback from my professor. I don't want to put more effort in should he tell me I need to rewrite (major rewrite) a section. I am praying he likes what I have done thus far, and then with his input, I should be able to work it into presentable shape by my goal date (first of June), Lord willing. Of course, this is all up to the Lord. I know He has me well-covered, and I know that His timing is perfect. Right now, I am choosing to focus on the positives and not the negatives. I know I will have to rewrite my proposal. In fact, it is very common to have to rewrite the dissertation 3-5 times before it is ready to submit. I am okay with that fact. I just want to know if I am on the right track, and if I am moving forward toward that end. I am praying for good success and a blessed response. I know the Lord will see me through these next steps. I know the Lord will guide me and lead me.

My EOCS Scores

Yesterday, I received my Spring EOCS scores from GCU. Every semester, faculty receive a report based on student evaluations. It is a good indicator of your influence in the classroom. Unfortunately, not all students submit this surveys, so the results are incomplete. Still, my scores range from 4.5-5.0 consistently, and the student feedback comments are generally positive. My scores from Spring 2016 were good, again in the 4.5-5.0 range. What is more, I had 21 students respond in my large seminar class, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I was so pleased to receive these evaluations. They serve as a reminder of just how blessed I am to teach, and of how blessed I am to be able to positively influence my students.

I was telling my good friend last evening how I love my life, how I cannot imagine my life being any different than it is right now. I love what God has permitted me to do. I love the fact that I get to teach students English, and that every semester I have the blessing and opportunity to do this very good, very practical, and very special work. God has provided a wonderful thing for me to do. I love my job. I love my career as a teacher, and I love the plans the Lord has for my life. Selah!

As I begin to think about my life, my career, and the plans the Lord has for me, I can see clearly that I am right where He wants me to be. I am doing the THING of His choosing and His provision. I cannot state it more emphatically, but I am a teacher because God has enabled me to teach. I am in this role because He opened a door for me and gave me His blessing to try this line of work. I am doing what I feel called to do and though my calling is more aligned with my work in the Church, teaching, presenting, and advocating are all part of it. I am right where He has designed me to be, and I am blooming in this place, where He has planted me this good, good day.

I consider this life now to be the right fit for me. I consider this way as the ONLY WAY for me to go through the rest of my days here on this planet earth. Furthermore, I look to the future and I only see good things ahead. I see a life as a teacher, a role in some capacity (instructor or Assistant Professor), and a career where I spend my days influencing my students, not only as emerging writers, but as students, and as children of God. I have an important role to play in God's preparation of future generations, and I look forward to my part, my little part, to ensure that the students He entrusts to me receive the grace, the care, and the instruction they need to lead practical and purposeful lives. I love my work, this WORK, and I cannot think of any other thing I would trade or do in its place. Yes, the Lord has blessed me abundantly, and I am happy, content, and oh so, satisfied to be right where He has called me to be. Thank you, Lord. Thank you!

Making Decisions Now

So I wrote in the opening section that I am feeling emotionally down today. Yes, I woke up feeling okay, but that feeling dissipated quickly. It seems that it doesn't take much these days to cause a spark to fly between me and my Dad. I know that he is struggling to keep his and my Mom's ship afloat, but it just seems that I end up taking the brunt of whatever is going on in his day-to-day life. I try to avoid these clashes, but they seem to happen so randomly and they come without warning. I can be sitting here at my desk, minding my own business, and bang! I will be trapped into a moment of accusation or harsh conversation. I know that he doesn't mean to do this to me, but frankly, I am getting tired of it. I mean, I am not doing anything to lead into these brush-ups. I am simply answering questions or providing input as requested, and then I am broadsided.

I was praying about it today, this morning, after the most recent skirmish. I asked the Lord to release me from this situation. I know I am to remain where I am for a time, until I finish my dissertation, but still I feel like I need a buffer zone. I need some space. I am living in too close quarters, and as an older adult, I simply need to be on my own. I cannot tolerate this day-in and day-out, and I am losing my patience and my willingness to be gracious as the days wear on.

I know that my parents cannot live without me, but still, I just need to be on my own now. I need to find a place of my own and move there so I can have some peace. I was praying about it this morning, after the most recent blow-up, and I said, "Lord, I am ready to move on. I am ready to go." I know that this has been something the Lord has waited for me to accept. He has been telling me for a long time that I would need to go, to move, and yet, I worried about my parents, their end of life care, etc. I felt so trapped, and my emotions were all wrapped up in my love for them, my son, and my desire to care for them.

It is funny really, how it takes a small thing like this to help cement the truth in your head. Just this morning, I was reading this blog post that discussed the six things wives are thinking about daily. I loved the article because it was spot-on as far as the things that tend to preoccupy a woman's mind. The post is here, if you want to read it. The six things the author stated were on a woman's mind most often include:
  1. What's for dinner?
  2. Are the kids okay?
  3. Cleaning on the brain
  4. Making her man happy
  5. Her appearance
  6. Making a difference in the world
Even though I am not a wife nor am I a SAHM anymore, I agree that for the most part, these are things I think about daily. My life is different since I am caring for my son (grown) and my parents. Still, I do care about these things, and yes, I tend to keep them in the back of my mind. I also think about work, life, career, school, projects, etc., but I do think the author is correct in these six things as being typically on a woman's or wife's mind.

As I read this short blog this morning, I couldn't help but think, "Oh, Lord, how I miss being a Mom and a wife." In reality, what I was saying is "How I miss my life!" I miss the role I once held as wife and Mom. I miss the MY in "my life." I feel like the life I have now is not my own. I am a boarder in my parent's home. I am their daughter, grown and a perpetual student, but nonetheless their daughter. This is how they see me. They do not see me as a functional and capable adult. No, they see me as their daughter who lives with THEM in order to help care for them. They don't see the ME part, just the part that serves, caters, and cares for them.

I know that for now, this is the role I must play, but I am tired of it. I want ME back. I want to live MY life, and to do what I want to do, without care or concern for anyone else. I want to go where I want to go. I want to do what I want to do. I want to live without explaining why I am doing it or when I am doing it or where I am going to do it. You see, I want to be a self-contained, self-sufficient (content in God's fullness -- as Strong's says) woman of God. I want to be free. I want to be able to run my own life, make my own decisions, and for the rest of my days, live as I please.

I am not asking for much, just to be released to be a grown up again. I want to be treated as an adult, not a child. I want to live as a grown person, capable, and able to do whatever the Lord calls me to do. I want to enjoy the blessings of responsibility, of purchasing things, of traveling, and of engaging in pursuits as the Lord guides and directs me. I am ready. I am willing. I am agreeable. I want to go and be the grown up, mature woman God has created me to be. Selah!

Growing Up

The Word talks about plants a lot. In fact, I would say that God uses the analogy of plants and planting to reinforce His truth as it relates to life, to our life. In many ways, the analogy of the plant's life cycle works well because we are born (planted), and matured (hardened off) through time, through the harshness of circumstances (seasons), and grow strong, stable, and steady -- all in order to reproduce -- to produce righteousness, Godly character, and grace (fruit) as a blessing to others. In this way, our life resembles the plant well.

As young tender seedlings, plants are often kept sheltered in a nursery. They are carefully tended by a gardener who waters, weeds, and prunes back their growth so they will produce strong and sturdy stems. When the little plant is ready to be planted in the bigger garden, the gardener will put it outside, usually in a cold box, to harden it off (to get it accustomed to the weather changes). This hardening off period is temporary, and the gardener stands close by to make sure the seedlings do not suffer beyond the point of failure to thrive. Once the gardener feels the plants are in good shape, ready to go, he or she will transplant them outside where they can put down roots and grow into mature plants.

Likewise, this is how parents raise their children. They take care of them when they are young, keeping them in the nursery to watch over them. When they are teenagers and young adults, they are hardened off so that they can learn to withstand the trials of circumstance. Once they become hardened, they are ready to be out on their own. They move out, leave the nest, so to speak, and begin a life as a mature person, a mature adult.

Only in cases where the plant or adult is unhealthy, sickly, or in need of extra care, does it return to the safety of the nursery. This is to provide healing time, so that the plant or the person can recover their strength. In this way, the plant or person is able to be nursed back to health and then in doing so is able to go back into the outdoors and resume their life as mature plant or mature adult.

I am like that sickly plant. I had to return to the safety of my Gardener's nursery for a time. My life was shattered due to divorce, and as a result, I had to start over. I had to redefine my purpose, and figure out my new identity (no longer as wife, but as a single woman). It took time for me to adjust to life again, and God graciously provided homes where I could rest, I could recover, and I could become ready to be put back out of doors. Now, I am ready. I feel ready. I am strong. I am sturdy, and I am stable. I am ready to put down roots, and to develop strong systems so I can bear much fruit. I want to be used, useful, and to be able to do the work God has called me to do. I want to be put into His garden, and I want to bloom where He transplants me.

Feeling Ready

As I consider my life, I know that where I am at now is only temporary. My God has permitted me to live with my parents for a short time only. Yes, I am here to help care for them, but this is not the reason why He put me in this home. No, He graciously provided a temporary haven so I could work on my PhD, transition to teaching, and become settled on a career. I had been on a different track. I had been working full-time, living on my own, and practically speaking, caring for myself well. I was flourishing on my own. I loved my life, my house, my home, and I was doing well. I was able to pay my bills, keep a roof over my head, and live the way I wanted to live. I was content, happy, and well-satisfied. I could see myself living in that town home permanently, but the owner had other plans (he wanted to sell), and I didn't believe it was the Lord's will for me to purchase it or to remain in Phoenix long term.

Moreover, I had started this program, working toward a PhD, and God knew that it would be best for me to work part-time. I could have stayed put or moved to a smaller apartment for sure, but the Lord chose this home, shared with my parents, as a temporary spot for me. I have been here now three years (in June), and while it has been doable, it has also been difficult. I have completed my coursework, and now I am ready to return to full-time work. There is no reason for me to remain here any longer, but...there is the issue with my parent's care, their long-term health care, and that makes this decision all the more difficult. If I leave, how will they take care of themselves? If I stay, how will I survive emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?

Yes, this place would provide for my physical needs, but my other needs would soon go unmet. Plus, I desire marriage, to be a wife again, and Lord willing, that seems to be down the road for me. This means I need to get my ducks in a row, and start working toward that end. I cannot remain in this place, this temporary place for much longer. I must prepare to go, and that means, I must let go of this shelter, this nursery care place so that the Lord can transplant me in a new place where I can fulfill His calling and the destiny He purposed for me. I am to grow strong in the Lord, to put down roots, and to develop strong sturdy stems so I can withstand the elements and produce much good fruit. Praise God, it is truth! Selah!

As I think about this move, I realize that this is right, good, and proper. I am not seeking anything that is not good for me. More so, I am thinking rightly, meaning that I am thinking like a mature adult, and not a child. I am thinking like a grown up, a person who has a good mind, a good head on their shoulders. I am thinking proactively, and with an orientation toward the future. I know the plans the Lord has for me, says Joshua, and they are good, they are so good. Yes, I know the plans the Lord has for me as well, and they are very good indeed. I love the Lord, and I am wholly committed to following after Him. I want what He wants for my life. I want what He says is best for me. I want to go and produce results, to see fruit produced so I can bless others. I want to be a blessing. I want to live my life fully devoted to Him and to His work. I want to live fully contented, fully satisfied, and fully in agreement with the Lord's will for my life. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Making Plans

So when will I move out? As of right now, I am thinking that the most likely time frame will be early next year. It is mid-May, and while I would like to go now, I realize that I need to get some things in order first. These things are critical to my success as I retake authority for my life, and begin to re-establish the responsibilities for my new adult life as a professor.

First, I must finish my dissertation. This process will take a year. My graduation date is May 2017, so this is my end-goal. I am working toward graduation and I must stay focused on this date. I have to propose my study (in June), complete research (by August), write the findings and discussion (in September-October), and defend my research (in November-December). I will be awarded the PhD once I successfully defend my research. Graduation takes place after I submit my finished dissertation for publication, so to graduate and walk in the ceremony, I will have to have everything submitted to Regent University by April 2017.

Second, I need to be hired full-time as faculty. Right now, I am part-time at two local schools. I have applied to many jobs, but nothing has produced results. I am approved at Ohio Christian and Regent University, but this doesn't mean I will receive any contracts to teach adjunct. I have also applied to a number of other positions, mostly online, but so far, no change in status. This says to me that God's timing for me to be hired full-time is not yet ready. I must be content to wait, perhaps another year, before that "job" will appear. Until then, I do the work I can do, and I trust Him for the rest -- for provision, for opportunity, and for mercy when it comes to keeping all my "balls in the air."

Third, my son must graduate from college. He is on-track to graduate in May 2017 as well. He recently changed his major (concentration) in order to keep him to one more year of classes. He needs to graduate so that he is not tied to Phoenix. If he chooses to stay here, then he will have to get a full-time job and move into an apartment. He will have the choice to go with me or stay, but he will have to decide what is best for his life as the Lord leads and guides him.

Fourth, I am no longer worried about financial matters. I have released my obligations to the Lord, and I believe that He will provide a home for me that is affordable, a job that pays a decent salary, and He will provide a plan that will allow me to repay my student loans. I cannot worry about these matters as there is little I can do at present about them. However, in taking responsibility, I do understand that as the Lord provides, I will have to attend to my credit cards, my student loans, and my monthly expenses. For now, though, I am to be content with what I have, to accept that the provision the Lord has provided to me is enough. It is enough.

Last, I know that there is much work to be done between now and then, so it is best for me to focus on what I can do, and not on what I can't do. This means that I need to finish my dissertation and research, tackle my classes for fall and spring (as the Lord provides), and then wait on the Lord for direction on the timing of moving out. Furthermore, I am no longer worried about the "where" of the move. I know where the Lord intends to plant me, so I am content with going to this particular place. I have accepted my future, and I have acknowledged that it is His desire. He will provide a way for me to get from here to there, and until He does, I simply have to accept that His timing is perfect. I will not worry, fear, doubt, or become anxious over it. I will go, and He will provide.

It will be just like it was when I needed a home to move into after my divorce. I had to have a place to go. I needed to move quickly, and within several weeks of looking, the Lord showed me the place, and well, it just happened. The keys were delivered, and I made the plans to move. The same thing happened when I needed to move to this house. It seemed as soon as I agreed to move here, the doors opened and everything fell into place. I moved my things in over a weekend, and I started living in this house.

It will be the same this time around. He will tell me the time frame, and I will go and find a place to live. I will be shown favor and mercy, and I will know that it is His will for my life. I will make the plans, arrange for travel, and then I will move in. I will set down roots, and I will start to live in this new place. He will see to it. I will just go. It seems to be His pattern, and so far, it has worked to my favor. I will continue to rest and to trust in Him to provide the next home for me to live in.

Closing and Moving On

As I recall, it took about three-four months for me to make the decision to leave my home. I had tried so hard to keep my home, to refinance it, but in the end, it was going to foreclosure, and there was nothing I could do to stop that process. In June of 2011, I knew I had six months before the auction, but I knew  also that I couldn't move without some financial help. I needed some income, and I needed savings. The Lord provided a job for me (at UOPX) in July, and by October, I had enough savings to handle a deposit. I also had proof of income and a credit score that made it possible for me to be approved for a lease. In November, I moved and I stayed there for 18 months.

Later on, when it was time to move again, the Lord mysteriously provided this home to my parents. Once I had made up my mind to move into it, the Lord simply made it happen. My parents moved in March of 2013, and I moved in June. It took less than two months from the decision to selling my parents home (which was already planned) to moving them into this place. Then, it took six months for me to settled in here. I had to move from my town home, and I had to start my doctoral program, plus I had to consider alternative employment. It seemed like a lot of change in one year, but in truth, everything just happened very quickly, very easily, and by August of that year, I was living in this house and starting my new career as a teacher.

Now is May 2016, I am finishing my PhD. I have a year to completion (exactly), and I will need to finish a number of tasks before I can consider moving again. Mostly, the Lord has to provide financially for me to move. Just like when I moved from my home (shared with my ex-husband) to the town home, I couldn't move until I had enough income to prove to a landlord that I was stable, and able to make the monthly payments. I will need the same thing this time around. I will need three months of income to show that I am able to lease. However, I will have four years of work experience as a teacher, but my income (W-2s) do not show enough that a landlord would accept me as a tenant. Thus, I need a full-time job sometime between now and then. I need a contract that shows enough monthly income so that I can prove I am lease-worthy. My credit is in good shape. My score is average, but once I pay down my card balances, it should move up to the "good" range again. The Lord knows the place He has for my next steps, and He knows the landlord or property manager. He will persuade this person to accept me, to grant me permission to lease. He has shown me favor like this before, and I believe He will do it again. I am sure of it.

So for now, I will hunker down and do the work God has for me this good day. I will rest in His provision and sufficiency, and I will trust that He will open the doors in the right order and in the right time. He is good, always so good to me. Selah!

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