May 16, 2016

Monday is Here!

Welcome to Monday! Yes, I survived the weekend, and it is Monday. The good news is that I am in fine shape with my proposal. I cannot believe how much progress I made on my literature review. I spent all of Saturday and Sunday rewriting my chapter 1, introduction. I thought I would never make it through my chapter 2 review. Somehow, Lord willing, I did it. I still need to revise it, but for the most part, I have it completed. My proposal as it stands today sits at 53 pages. I have to complete chapter 3, method this week, so my end total goal is somewhere around 65 pages. My timeline is to be finished by mid-week. I really think this is doable now. I am not so much worried about overall content because I know my professor will ask me to rewrite my proposal at some point. For now, the plan is to finish the content so that my chair can read my proposal and give me the green light for the presentation. I hope to present at some point the first week of June. Well, that is my prayer.

Some Other News

It is my Mom's birthday this week. She will turn 83 on Thursday. Two of my brothers are coming into town to celebrate with us. It should be a nice weekend, though I am hoping that the stress level will not be too much for Mom. She is doing well, actually. Despite her memory loss, she functions quite well. I mean, well, as in the best way possible given the circumstances. I would say that for the most part, Mom is doing her best to deal with her failing memory. My Dad, on the other hand, is wearing out. He is not physically able to care for my Mom, but he is doing the best he can as well. Together, they hobble on through life, going here and there, to doctors, the store, and out for Bible study or breakfast. I cannot see this way of life lasting much longer as they both are getting more fragile. Yet, they plod on, and with my help here at home, they are able to live quite contentedly.

I struggle some with the fact that without my presence in the home, they would not be able to live here. In truth, I think about this often. How they were supposed to go to an apartment after they downsized from their home, and how that apartment was so small and not a good fit for them. How thankful I am that the Lord provided this home instead. My Dad has been able to keep up with his wood shop, and my Mom has been able to enjoy her garden. This house has served us all well. My son can play his drums or guitars, record music or just do his gaming stuff, all without disturbing anyone. The cats have adjusted well, and they seem to be happy in this house. Overall, despite our limitations here (as in we don't own this house, the location next to a busy street, etc.) we are all doing well.

I do miss my own place for sure. I miss having my own things, my own style, but I am okay to be where I am for the time-being. I know this is just temporary. I was thinking about this today, how I really loved my town home. I loved living on my own. The only thing that would have made that town home better would have been my working as an instructor. I mean, when I lived there, I worked 40 hours a week. I only enjoyed the place in the evenings and on the weekends. I would have enjoyed being there today, for example. I would have loved sitting in my little study alcove in my bedroom, looking out at the green space. I would have enjoyed the peace and quiet of that place, resting in my comfy chair while my boys sat near me. Instead, I am here. I am in my small room, working on the computer, and feeling a bit cramped. It is a minor inconvenience, really, but still the same, I do miss my own place.

Yesterday, I thought a lot about moving again. I wondered when the Lord would choose to do it. I mean, will it be before I graduate or right after? I am not sure. I am seeing so many pictures of happy graduates, dressed in their gowns, and looking so relieved to be finished with their education. I realize that my day is coming, that very soon, I will be a graduate too. I felt so accomplished yesterday, how I had made such good progress on my paper. I thought about the day when I will walk across that stage and receive my PhD. I cannot wait, I just cannot wait. Until then, I hunker on down and do the difficult work. I write. I write, write, write.

God good to me. He is so very good to me. Today, I think about all my blessings, how I am blessed inside and out by His goodness, His mercy, and His great love. I am thankful, truly thankful, for all that He has done for me. I look forward to finishing strong, to achieving this miracle goal. I know He has me well-covered today, and I know that my days -- all of them -- are in His merciful and kind hand. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

Preparing for Tomorrow

As I prepare for tomorrow (my tomorrows), one thing comes to mind. I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I cannot believe how I stressed over staying in higher education. I know, I know. It was the money that got to me. Yes, I had to confess my lust and my desire (my greed, really) for wanting to live well. I struggled a lot with purpose, with identity, and with feeling as though I was on the best possible path. I mean, is the best path the one where I barely eek out a living? In many ways, the answer to that question is a resounding no. Yet, when God calls you to a certain way of life, then you have to realize that He is the One who determines the way it will go. I mean, if the Lord chooses to lift me out of my poverty, then He will do it. If, on the other hand, He chooses to keep me in poverty, then He will do it for a reason. There is always a reason.

The more I stay here in Phoenix, the more I realize that a good income as an instructor will not afford a quality of life. My Mom was saying today that rents in Phoenix are going up. Housing is now broaching that unaffordable level for many families. My old house, in a very run-down and poor neighborhood, is currently estimated at over $200K. We bought it for $95K, which was over market value. Still, I wouldn't pay $200K to live there now. No way, no way. Moreover, the house we rent is estimated into the $300K range, and with our rent of $1500 per month, we are getting a pretty nice deal. My Mom said today that she hoped our landlords do not raise the rent. We simply could not afford it.

I am convinced that the only way for me to live a comfortable life outside of living in an apartment here and paying through the nose for it, is to move to a more rural place where I could purchase a home for less than $100K. There are many places where I could live like this, but the key is finding a job that will let me work from home. I need a job where I can teach online because that is the winning ticket. Teaching from home would make it possible for me to live anywhere in the US so long as I have a solid Internet connection. My prayer now is to be hired in this role soon. I would like to start teaching from home this summer, but I think the Lord intends for me to not work so I can finish my dissertation research. I am okay with the wait, even if the lack of income is bothersome. I know that I need this time to do my work, and until I am finished, I probably won't have a full-time job. I am almost certain of it.

My two needs now are to finish my dissertation so I can graduate, and a full-time job where I can work from home. I am content to teach on campus too, but those positions are not easy to get. I will teach wherever the Lord provides, and I am saying this now, publicly, that I will teach at the school He chooses. Public, private, non-profit, for profit. It doesn't matter. So long as He provides the job, I will do it. Furthermore, I realize now that I will teach whatever courses He desires for me. I feel content to remain in English, but I am open to teaching developmental writing as well as composition. I will teach Literature, as I can, and of course, basic communication. But, I feel the Lord desires me to teach writing, so I am content to be a composition instructor.

When will He provide a full-time job to me? As of now, I think it will be when I graduate, when I finish and have that PhD in hand. That means one more year of adjunct work, one more year of hanging on, leaning on and trusting in Him for His provision. Of course, He will be providing when I am hired full-time, I just mean that it is a challenge to keep all the little balls in the air when you are working part-time, three-quarter time only. He knows this, of course, and He has this all under control.

The Title and the Job

I've pretty much given up the hope of being titled. You know, wearing the Assistant Professor rank. I am content to be an instructor for the rest of my days. I will have the conferred degree so I will be able to be addressed as "Doctor." I am okay with being a teacher, just a teacher, and with doing good practical teaching work. The Lord knows how much I want this title, how I have worked very hard for it, but there is a part of me that sees that title for what it is -- the effort, the accomplishment, the completion of a hard fought battle. The other part, the part that gets me into trouble is the prideful part that says "I deserve this title" or "Look at me, look at all I have achieved." This is the part that strikes me down, the part I hate, the part, unfortunately, that does reside in me to some extent. I have laid down my desire for a title simply because I realize that any small part that wants to lift me up, needs to be humbled. I prefer to humble myself rather than have the Lord humble me. I am content, therefore, to be an instructor, to wear a lower title and to be happy in doing so.

Can I be happy without a title? Of course, I can. In fact, I would say that the title simply aligns with the pay, and that is why I look to it. I am fixated on the pay right now, why wouldn't I be? I mean, I make so little income and I work so hard -- there seems to be a disconnect some where? Yet, I know that the Lord has me well covered. He knows how this bothers me, how I want to be finished, to be settled. In truth, what I want is to have a full-time job offer and then move. I want to get myself to the place of His choosing, to find a home, to start planning how I will decorate and design my new home. I want to be about this business, to get going on the plans the Lord has for my life -- but I know that I cannot start the new plans until I finish the old plans. Yes, the door must close before another can open. I know this is the case, I know it is the case.

There are so many things that I want to do, but mostly I want to start living my life. Like living it. I want to spend time with my love, to do things with him, to go place and see things, share life with him. Furthermore, I want to enjoy living in a new city or town. I want to get settled, to enjoy peace and quiet and comfort -- someplace new. I am ready to leave Phoenix, to move to a new city, and to see new sights. I am also ready to live in another part of the country where I can travel some, mostly by car, to see parks, amusements, historical sites. I want to drive all over the East coast, to see all the beauty of God's great creation. I am really excited about driving to the Atlantic ocean, to visiting the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and to visit Appalachia again. It has been years since I was in these parts, and I miss seeing the green trees, green grass, and beautiful rolling hillsides and mountain valleys. I miss valleys, meadows and ponds. I want so much to be able to walk in nature, to walk where there is open space. I am tired of concrete jungles, of housing developments, and of the crush of traffic outside my fence. Yes, I want peace. I want the country life. I want to live in the country.

Will that be someday? Will I get to enjoy the country life?

I really think the answer to those questions are yes and yes. I think the Lord has permitted me to think about this type of life for a reason. First of all, this is the type of life that I have always wanted, desired, and imagined. Second, it is a type of life that my good friend shares as well. We both want the same thing.

As an aside: This was always an issue for me and my ex-husband. He never wanted to live in the country or if he did, he said it would be part-time, like for 6 months out of the year. I wanted to live there full-time, and not move back and forth. We never could agree on a lifestyle either. He wanted modern, and I wanted country. He wanted the city, and I wanted a farm in rural America. My good friend and I are alike in many ways. We both enjoy the country life, and we both like the same kinds of homes, styles of homes, etc. This pleases me greatly because while I know there must be compromise in a marriage or relationship, it can be difficult when one person compromises everything just to keep the relationship afloat. I digress.

The third reason I think the Lord has permitted me to think about this lifestyle is simply because it is His will. I have laid down my desire for a home, a specific type of house, and I have embraced the idea that I will take whatever home He provides for me. In this way, I feel content to know that more than likely He will provide a modest home that needs some TLC. I struggle with paying a lot of money for a house. No matter how I slice and dice it, I cannot see myself paying $200K for a home. Even though I look at houses that cost up to that amount, I rarely choose to think about them, to contemplate owning them. I like them, don't get me wrong, but they are big boxes, and they just don't suit my style. No, I prefer small boxes, old fashioned boxes, with lots of charm and character. Give me a white farmhouse and I am good to go. Even if it needs work, I will still prefer it over a brand new home. Sigh!

My desire to have a home is very strong. My desire to live in the country is strong as well. I think the perfect home for me would be a place that is older, perhaps a farmhouse, but any old house will do. I would like some land. I have vacillated on this point before, on whether I could handle having land. I am now of the opinion that I could handle it so long as the majority of the land was wooded. A small green space to keep up is doable. So now, I would like to purchase between 5-10 acres of land some place in the country, in rural America. An older home, 4-5 bedrooms, with functional living space would work well. I can renovate, I can repair, I just need the money to do it. I think I could easily find a nice home on some good wooded land for a decent price. Furthermore, if I purchase a home in a rural area, I can qualify for a rural home loan that would include money for renovation. I am okay now with the idea that I might have to fix up a home to make it the way I desire it to be.

My Needs List

For now, I know my needs are minimal. I need to finish my PhD (#1), and then I need to find a good job that will pay me a decent living wage (#2). I am content to make $50K, Lord willing. I know I could make a lot more money working in a business profession, but in teaching, this is pretty common. Of course, I won't shirk at more money, but a decent income for a PhD is somewhere around this amount. Second, I need to move to the location of His choosing. I cannot think about buying a house yet, so I will rent a home for a time until I can get all my little duckies in a row. I need to take care of some issues, some financial matters, and of course, I don't know the Lord's timing on relationship changes. I don't want to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. No, I will go to the place of His choosing and settled down. Then I will patiently wait for His green light for those delightful next steps.

For now, I am content. I will do the work He has assigned to me. I will finish strong. I will teach at whatever schools offer me a contract. I will be faithful. I will be good. I will be happy. I am choosing to be happy this good, good day.

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