June 23, 2016

Less Stressed Today

Happy Thursday! It is a great Thursday here in sunny, and yes, very warm Phoenix. It is another “scorcher” though the forecast calls for temps just under 110 this whole week (praise God!) Still, I am so “over” this weather. I so want to have clouds, rain, and cooler temperatures! The earliest sign of a stray shower is next Friday. Perhaps the monsoon will arrive on time like it has most years? I sure do hope so.

Today is a good day even despite the heat. I am sitting here at my desk thinking how in just a couple weeks I may be working outside the home. Part of me is happy with that thought while part of me is already missing the slow mornings at home. I mean, I love the fact that I can get up, take it easy, and just do my normal “thing.” Still, I know when it is time to move on, and it is time. I am ready. I was talking with my good friend last night, and as I was explaining my motivation and feelings about leaving teaching to move back into full-time work, I couldn’t help but feel, “Tempered,” some. I had said that I didn’t want to make an emotional decision and leave due to personal reasons. Instead, I am making a logical and rational decision, and at the least, I feel good about my reasons. It is funny, really, but I teach my students to argue using evidence. I teach them to write claim statements that are supported by justifiable reasons. I also tell them that they must use evidence to support their contentions. You cannot make generalizations.

As I think about my reasons for leaving a profession I enjoy, I realize that I am not sad about it at all. I will miss the schedule. I will miss the students. But, I am not going to  miss the work. That, I think, is the biggest contributor to the way I feel today. I would not have said this is so just 3 or 6 months ago. In fact, I would not have even thought there would be any desire for me to return to corporate work again. Yet, here I am, feeling this contentment, this peace, and I simply know that this is the right way to go. I have asked the Lord to provide this sense of peace to me. I didn’t want to go into this job interview feeling anything but positive that this is the Lord’s will for my next season. My heart is hopeful, and I feel confident in this line of work. I guess what I am trying to say is that I feel ready to take these next steps. I feel ready to move on.

I am trusting the Lord today for His mercy. I am asking Him to cover me, not only with His favor and blessing, but also with His peace and goodness so that I can rest in this transition. I have a lot of work to do between now and when I am hired (if that is His will). I have revisions to make to my proposal, and I have contracts to cancel for fall. In all, I have work that needs to be completed. Yet, I am not panicked. In fact, I am not panicked at all — not about my finances, my next steps, my career progression — nothing at all. I am calm. I feel good. All I can say is that I think I have made the right decision, and that this path so far seems to agree with me.

I cannot undervalue the role of peace in my life. I was speaking with a friend today about her problems, and I know she has been under constant stress for the past couple years. She made a decision that helped her come out from under her situation and gave her peace. I am feeling this same sense of peace, but my way “out” is through work. I have known for a long time that the answer to my problem was work. For me, working is never the problem, but always the answer. I will work as hard as I can in order to make changes in my life. If I have to work multiple jobs, then I will do it. If I have to change jobs, so be it. I don’t like change. I don’t like having to work really hard either. I would prefer to work “smarter” and not harder, but sometimes the only way through a difficult situation is to push really hard. Other times, the answer is to relent, turn around, and try another way. In my case, I decided that the best solution was to not push harder, but rather to consider other options, another pathway. This is what I have done, and so far, I feel at peace, and I feel as if this is a better, easier path to follow.

Plans and Such

Thus, today is a good day. I am on a new path, and my prayer is that as the Lord leads me and guides me, He will also provide for me. I need some ready cash soon, but until the storehouses of Heaven open, I must make the best use of what He has given to me today. In my deep need, I see His hand of provision daily. Just today, I received confirmation on my financial aid package. I am not needing financial aid now, not since I am down to registering for one class (fall and spring). And, since I have a scholarship that covers everything, I really do not need to borrow more loan money. Yet, I do know that there are embedded fees that my scholarship will not cover, and these fees equal close to a $1K or so. I don’t have this money, so I will have to borrow a little bit to end my time at Regent. I started to think about this today, how I was certain that I wouldn’t have loans to count on again. Now, it appears that I will have some small amount, and this will provide for me, to once again, continue in my program. I am struggling now with the mounting debt of my education. It is crazy to think that I have borrowed so much money to get to where I am at today. Yet, this is the Lord’s will for me, and while many would argue that the Lord doesn’t use financial aid to support His call, I would say that in this case, He certainly has done so. I believe that where the Lord calls you to go, He also provides a way for you to go there. I am confident, absolutely confident, that He has a plan for me to pay my loans off in accordance with His will.

My financial aid is a blessing, it always has been. I see now that I could have remained in my role as an adjunct instructor for another year. I would have had some portion of student loan refund to help me with my income — but — the since the amount is unknown, there is no guarantee that it would have been “enough” to fill the gap in my contracted income. Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to pay down my credit cards or get myself in a better financial position. I would have continued in “status quo” mode for another year, all the while watching as my credit card debt maxed out and my stress level increased to a dangerous amount. No, with a full-time position in business, a good income, etc., I can take care of my debts and reduce my stress drastically. I can pay off my credit cards and put myself (through His provision, of course), back on the road to financial freedom. In short, while I am blessed to receive aid again, I also realize that it is a “stop gap” measure only. It served to lessen the burden each semester, so to speak, but not to solve the problem.

Solving the Problem - Moving Forward in His Provision

I am considering several options for fall right now. I am considering some plans that might make big changes for me down the road.

First, I need to purchase a car for my son soon. His Honda suffered a major defeat when one of the pistons lodged in the engine. Catastrophic failure they said. We junked the car and walked away. Now, though, he needs a car to get to school and work. He needs a small SUV to haul his music gear around. I don’t have the money to buy him a car right now. Yet, this is a great need and something has to come to pass in order to provide for him. I am trusting the Lord for the provision of a car for my son’s needs. School starts in mid-August, so the timing for finding a second car is soon, very soon.

Second, if I am to drive back and forth to Phoenix, even for a time, I need some repairs to my Nissan. I just spent $700 to have my car repaired. I need new tires and brakes (I think) along with some minor things. I am strongly considering trading my car in for a newer model. If I can get a newer car and keep my payments the same, then this will be good, so very good.

Third, I’ve been thinking about moving (preparing to move) so I am starting to collect ideas for what I would like to have in my own home. I love decorating, so this has been fun for me. It takes my mind off of things, and I enjoy collecting pictures of room design, colors, furniture, etc., that I would like someday. I am using Pinterest to collect all my ideas, and hopefully soon I will be able to start replacing some of my current things with some of the things I would like to have for my own home. But more so, I am considering my needs when the time comes for me to move out permanently. I need to be ready to do this and that means that I need to have income and savings so I can sign leases or even qualify for a home loan. Right now, I am tapped out. But with a good paying job, it should be easier for me to save up a down payment and plan and prepare for moving within the year.

Last, as I think about finishing my dissertation, I know that I must spend time working on my project. I will be engaged M-F in business work, income producing work, so I will have to spend my evenings and weekends working on my project. I can do this, but I will need time set aside each week to ensure I am moving forward. I need some buffering between my work and my home, and that means some time when I can physically devote myself to study. My good friend and colleague spent several weekends at a hotel where she wrote in silence. I am thinking this is what I will need to do. I will need to purchase a MacBook Air so that my work can be seamless between my desktop machine and my laptop. Furthermore, I will need to find a hotel close by that has good rates. It will be good for me to get away from my family for a weekend and just relax. Plus, I can get a lot of work done in two solid days of writing or research. I think this is very doable.

In all, the Lord has me well-covered. I am excited to think that over the course of the next few months I will be in a better position to resolve some of the tension I have carried in my life, my home. I feel exactly the same way I felt when I was interviewing at UOPX. I was so relieved to finally be considered for a position. I had been working part-time at Macy’s for over a year. My body ached, my feet hurt, and I was working so hard and making such a small pittance each month. My Uncle was helping me with my costs during this time, and the combination of my part-time work and his small stipend made it possible for me to transition from my old life (married) to my new life (single). I couldn’t have done it without his help. Now, I am in a similar place. I have been working part-time for three years and my financial aid has helped me make ends meet. But I am ready to move on, to take on full-responsibility for my life again. I have an opportunity to do that with this new job possibility, and I am sensing the Lord’s provision for my life in a real and mighty way. I remember what it felt like to be paid a decent income. That first paycheck was such a blessing to me. Furthermore, as the months went on, I started to see how quickly my savings increased. Before I knew it, I was ready to move out on my own. I had enough money to pay my own way, and that feeling was amazingly good. I rented the townhouse we moved into, and I purchased some new things for my home — for the first time — in years. I started to make a life for myself, and I started to see my life as its own entity. I was not longer married. I was calling the shots, making decisions, and living according to the Lord’s will for my life. I was free, set free, and I was empowered to begin the transformation process. I began to embrace me — to discover myself — and that process was illuminating.

I am at the same place, just further down the road, and I am about to begin a new season of life. I just thought about the timing of it all, and I realized that God has always provided for me, jobs wise, in mid-year. I started working at Macy’s, UOPX, and GCU all toward the end of July. I moved physically in November and in May. I am looking to be hired at UHC in July. I am planning to move in May 2017. The timing of everything seems to align with what God has done previously in my life. Will it happen again or is this just a coincidence? I don’t know, but what I do know is that God is not a God of coincidence. He is a God of miracles and He is able to bring to pass changes and deliverables according to His schedule and timing. I love the fact that the Lord has this all figured out. I love the fact that I can trust Him completely for His deliverance. I must simply wait and be patient. I must do the “due diligence” of the work. I must show up, do the work, and trust Him for the outcomes. Today, I am trusting Him completely. I am looking to His hand of blessing and of restoration — a promise from Scripture —as a sign of His faithfulness and my obedience. I believe when I am obedient, I receive blessings from the Lord. When I am faithful and I wait for Him, then He gives to me what I seek most — His provision, His security — and yes, His abiding presence. I desire nothing else, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. He is my Lord, my Savior, and my King.

In Conclusion

In closing, I think today is a turning point of sorts. I realize that the moment I turned around and started to walk this way, something within me changed. It was not like I wanted to leave teaching or stop looking for full-time work, it was more that the longer I remained on this path, the harder and more difficult it became to feel positive, hopeful, and upbeat about my future. It was like I was walking down a long, long, long dark hallway with no end in sight. I turned to my right, walked through an open door, and immediately exited and found myself standing in the light again. I don’t mean to allegorize my story in this way, but this is exactly how I felt. I felt as though the way I was going wasn’t going to end any time soon. Instead, I took the first exit and now I am experiencing hope again. I think I realized that while I am a “teacher at heart” (always have been), I am not supposed to be professional teacher, per se. It is like the Lord gave me the skill or gift of teaching, but He didn’t call me specifically to “BE” a teacher as a career choice. I think I got the two things mixed up for a time. Teaching as a skill or gift is non-specific, meaning that I can use this skill or gift in many, many ways. Furthermore, I can teach the Bible or other types of classes at schools, church, or even work. I have the ability to teach, and I am good at it. It is just that teaching as a career or profession appears to be a closed door for me. I did not find good success pursuing a full-time position. I found partial, mediocre success, and while I was thankful for what I did find, I knew that in time, I would have to either be hired full-time as faculty OR I would have to look elsewhere. I decided to end the pursuit sooner rather than later. Now, I am on this new path, and my prayer is that I find good success in my efforts as I seek His will for work. I am trusting Him for His provision. I believe in His goodness, and I am resting in the knowledge that He has me well-covered.

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