June 8, 2016

Resting Today

It is a blessed day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The sky is blue, and the air temperature is mild. The high today is expected to be in the low 100s, but this is a far cry from last week's 110-116s. I'll take low 100s any day in the summer here in Phoenix. I am feeling well.

I slept soundly for most of the night, and I think I got in a solid 8-9 hours before I woke up around 7:30 a.m. I finally rolled out of bed around 10 a.m. I am feeling a bit groggy, and my back is sore, but overall, I am good. I think I needed the deep sleep, and praise be to God, I got a pocketful in one night alone. He is good, so very good to me.

I am relieved that the dual enrollment class I was scheduled to teach got cancelled. I wish it would have been cancelled on Monday, and then there would have been no-harm/no-foul for anyone. Instead, I went and taught a day, and left the campus thinking what a mistake it was to even accept the agreement. I mean, the course was like our traditional fall classes, but compacted into an accelerated format. I will never do that again. It was an awful experience for me and for the two students who were enrolled. I gave it my best, but in the end, the coordinator of the program made the just decision to cancel the class. God is good. I am glad I am home, and I have no plans to do any other work this summer. None, nada, no way, Jose!

Lesson Learned

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. I learned that even when something appears to look good on the outside, it can taste nasty on the inside. You know how you can look into a beautiful and luscious piece of fruit, then take a big bite, only to find it is all mushy inside? This can happen with people, jobs, events, you name it. Sometimes things are not always as they seem. More so, just because an opportunity opens up, it doesn't necessarily mean it is from the Lord. I know many Christians would disagree with me. If you were praying for it, and the opportunity came to pass -- surely -- isn't this provision from the Lord? It is possible, don't get me wrong. It is very possible that the Lord has answered your prayer. But it could also be happenstance, circumstance or just coincidence. It might also be a life lesson in disguise, which is what I think happened to me. In hindsight, I do believe the Lord wanted me to take this assignment. In fact, it was just the day before when He said to me "take the job that is offered to you, Carol." So when the contract came to me, I prayed quickly, and then I took the offer. Thus, I think this contract was a test, a specific trial for me, designed to teach me an important life lesson. I felt confident that the Lord wanted me to accept the contract, and I felt that I was to create new curriculum for it. I think this whole trial process was to confirm to me several things.

One, it showed me that I am able to teach on the fly. I can create curriculum in a weekend, and do a good job with an impromptu class. Two, it showed me that the format of the class is important (timing, length, duration, etc.). And three, it showed me that I really would like an online teaching position so that I don't have to travel to and from campus anymore. Yes, while teaching on campus is something I can do well, it is not the "best" fit for me long term. I enjoy face-to-face teaching, I do. I love the student interaction. Yesterday showed me what happened when you have no student interaction. I kept thinking to myself, this class would work if it were online. I need student interaction, and that means 30-40-50 or more students in a class. I need large, large classes. This is why I struggle at ACU each fall. I am in classes of 12, and frankly, I struggle with small groups because small groups don't readily interact well with one another. Moreover, in the end, this experience showed me that I desire to work from home again. I think this mini-trial clearly demonstrated to me that I am ready to stay at home, to work from home, and that this is what I want now for my life. Yesterday was a lesson learned, a lesson learned well.

So while I don't know what He has in mind or store for me, I think whatever it is, it will be good. I am trusting that He will handle everything this good, good day, and that I will rest now.

Making Sense of my Life

As I try to make sense of my life today, I am reflective of my experience over the past couple days. I am in a different mindset today; thankfully, I am at rest and feeling well. Still, I do wonder why I felt so bad about this whole "testing" experience. I felt bad for the students, the coordinator, as well as the staff who were struggling to fix oodles of logistic problems with the summer dual enrollment program. But, even more than all the hiccups, I had this foreboding sense that something was just not "right." It started last semester, and then last week, the feeling came back to me. In fact, yesterday, while I was on campus, I had this feeling that I no longer belonged at GCU. I cannot really explain it, but as I was getting closer to campus, I was praying over the school. I was praying for the day, the job opportunity, my peers, my students, etc. I just had this sense that this wasn't my school anymore. I felt down, depressed, and as if, I was not where I belonged. I pushed through these feelings, thinking it was just nerves. When I parked in the parking garage, I said to the Lord, "Lord, why do I feel this way today? Is there something I have not confessed to you? Have I done something wrong?" I heard the Lord say to me, "This is my will. You are here today because it is my will." I thought, "Okay, these feelings are just nerves," and with that, I got my courage up and proceeded to my assigned class. After the morning wore on, and I left campus, I was saying to the Lord again, "Lord, why do I feel this way," and this time I heard Him say to me, "You don't belong here anymore. Your time at GCU is completed."  I got in my car, still thinking about those words, and I drove home feeling so down, so dejected. I mean, I gave such a solid effort, but the two students who showed up didn't connect with me. I struggled in the classroom, and I heard myself saying, "O, Lord, please let them cancel this class!" Well, sure enough, that is what happened, and by 5 p.m., I was released from my obligation to teach.

Looking backward, I can say that I have had a sour taste in my mouth regarding my time at this school since last spring. I still struggle some with the way I was treated toward the end of the semester, and with the feelings I have as a result of that encounter. Out of the blue, I was broadsided by condemnation, which left me filled with fear and doubt. I do not understand what happened and why, and frankly, still I have concerns with the way everything panned out in the end. In some ways, I think my bad experience in the spring was confirmation that God had other plans for my life. I think my experience this summer was further confirmation for me. I am to move on. GCU served a great purpose in my life. This school gave me a chance to try out teaching, and I will forever be thankful to the Dean and the staff for their support. However, as I have matured as a teacher and a doctoral student, I have come to see concerns with how the department is structured and with how the curriculum is designed and delivered. Minor issues, mind you. I am sure all schools have similar problems. Yet, for me, the combination has not sat well at all, and I am ready to move on from here. The same goes for ACU, where I struggled to teach each fall, and where I feel so out of place. I am blessed to be out there again this fall, but in truth, I am not happy about it. I really do not want to teach there either. I know that the chair needs me to teach this certain class, and I will do well, but there is part of me that longs to let that contract go too.

Why? Why do I feel this way? I wonder if this is of my own making. Am I making this up? Am I so into myself that I believe I deserve something better? Is this all in my head? Am I crazy?

The truth is that I worry that I am dissatisfied and that my dissatisfaction is the result of my own selfish desires. It is like I know that what I want, I cannot have, so to speak. I know the Lord has specific desires for me, for my life, and sometimes my desires, my fleshly desires don't align with His more perfect desires. Something has to give, and the Lord doesn't relent, so that means I must give way, yield and surrender any and all desires to Him. I feel that I have done this readily, yet there are still lingering desires that are keeping me from experiencing His perfect best for me. I know this, I know this well.

Today, therefore, I rest in the knowledge that God has me well-covered. I mean, He is not worried about my summer plans. He is not concerned about my fall and spring contracts. He is not panicked. I believe that the plans He has for me will come to pass. They will come to pass. I need to wait, to be patient, and to remember that He is sovereign over every area of my life. He is King. I rest in His sufficiency. I rest in His provision. He is the One who leads me, guides me, and provides for me. Selah!

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