August 9, 2016

Making Some Progress, Finally!

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and humid, Phoenix. Yes, Javier, the tropical storm that made landfall yesterday somewhere near Cabo San Lucas, has stirred up our moisture level and primed the pump, so to speak. We have a solid 60% chance of storms for later today and on into tomorrow. I am excited to think we will have some stormy weather this week (yay!) On the down side of that news is that fact that after Javier exits, there is sun on the horizon. Yes, sun and warmer temperatures (back to the 106-108 range) for the next 10 days. Sigh! Can anyone say, "I am so over this sunny day thing" yet?

Today is a good day, despite the sunshine. I am thankful for the good that the Lord has brought into my life today. I am thankful for all the wonderful opportunities He has granted to me, and for the blessings of His mercy and grace. I realize today that I am in a highly favored position. I am in this very good place, this very, very good place right now. I am settled on my chosen profession. I am settled for my fall schedule, and with my proposal in process, I feel very confident that I will graduate on time now. Yes, in other good news, I did hear from my professor. He has said that he is confident I will finish this fall. This means, TA-DUM, I could potentially defend my dissertation before the school year ends (in December) as originally planned. Of course, that is highly optimistic of him, but nonetheless, I feel confident that I am able, or at the least, the Lord feels it is possible, to finish in December 2016. My graduation and official degree conferral date still will be May, 2017, which has been my target date since 2012. I am on track, as they like to say, and that means so long as I can stay focused, I will finish (Praise to God!) this race set before me. I will earn my PhD in Communication more than likely by December 2016. God is good, so very, very good to me! Selah!

Looking Forward

It has been a good couple of days, and I have tried very hard to remain at rest. This is my last week before school begins, so I have been very busy getting my ducks in a row for my COM 203 class at Arizona Christian University. I still have some work to finish today before I can move on to setting up my classes at Regent University. I am glad that I have two weeks between these schools and the start of my classes at Grand Canyon. I am going to be a very busy girl, and with my dissertation in play, well my time is limited, to say the least. Yet, I know my God, and I know His strength is available to me. I can rest in His sufficiency, in His abilities, and this good day, I can rest in His amazing grace to see me through each "jot and tittle" of my growing to-do list. He can do it, and through me, He will do it. I know He is able, and in order for me to experience His power, I must let Him do it, let Him have His way today.

As I consider my life, in its totality, I am reminded of how often the Lord has intervened on my behalf. He has set actions in motion, He has made good to flow out of seemingly bad situations, and He has covered me with His mighty and merciful grace to keep me safe and sound. Yes, I am blessed. I am blessed by His goodness. I am blessed by His presence, and I am blessed by His mercy and His grace.

Today is a good day because He has made it good. Today, I can do all things asked of me simply because it is in His strength that I do them. I may not understand what He has in mind this good day, but I can take comfort in knowing that it will be good, that IT IS GOOD. Yes, because of His goodness, everything that comes from His hand is also good. I can trust in His goodness. I can rely upon His goodness, and I can look forward to His goodness each and every day of my life. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Some thoughts about this good day...

Today is August 9th, and that means that I have just 20 days until I start teaching on campus at GCU. I normally look forward to my on-campus classes, and while there is part of me that is looking forward to another year there, another part would like to be working full-time from home. Yes, I have grown lazy this summer, and frankly, the thought of teaching from home sounds really, really nice. So far my class at OCU has worked well, but I have seen some class struggle issues that have made me think twice about teaching for them regularly. I have enjoyed the class, and I like the curriculum -- but -- the student population is a struggling one, and I am finding it difficult to keep them motivated and encouraged. I am also seeing a drop off in my student attendance, and frankly, that concerns me. There is nothing I can do about it, so I have let it go, but my heart worries a bit about the whole class process, and whether or not I am even doing a decent job there. I have received no feedback from my mentor, and in fact, I have not received any email replies regarding my experience (I have sent two). In all, I am ready to work online, but only at schools where I will have more accessibility and control.

The second thing on my mind today is whether or not I can continue to care for my Mom. I am not the full-time caregiver for her as my Dad is still in that roll. However, just yesterday, a question came up about my Mom's ability to travel, and while I know that answer, the truth is that my family (extended, siblings, etc.) simply refuse to see the turn of events. This bothers me greatly, and it makes it very difficult for me right now. Let me explain...

The first event happened yesterday when my SIL said again that she wanted "us" to come to my niece's bridal shower in LA this October. I am not able to go, simply because of my schedule and my dissertation project, so my Dad would have to drive over there. He is not able to do this, and he said as much when we were discussing it yesterday. My SIL said that my Mom could ride with my nephew and his girlfriend when they drive over, but that begets several more problems that the extended family simply are unwilling to see. Mostly, it is that my Mom is not able to travel without a companion, someone who will see to her every need. Yes, she can still use the bathroom, read, get on/off or out of cars, without help. But, she is not able to make cognitive decisions such as what to buy for herself or even how to use her debit card without help. More so, she would need someone to stick with her, to take her to the restroom, to stand with her to buy her food, etc. She cannot be left on her own outside of her own home. So, this means that while I have no doubt that my nephew would see to her care (he is very caring), I don't think he understands her limitations. Furthermore, my SIL isn't aware that my Mom would need her attention throughout the event. This means that while she is focused on the party, the shower, etc., someone would need to be attending to my Mom's care. I believe they see her as they have always seen her -- fully capable of doing anything -- with minimal assistance.

The second event occurred today. My Mom was speaking with a friend from church, and after she hung up the phone, I asked about her friend and her friend's husband, who is hospitalized. The thought ran through my head that if something like this happened to my Dad, my Mom would not be able to do anything to care for him. For example, she no longer drives. Thus, I would have to take her to the hospital or rehab for visits. I cannot do this and work outside the home. More so, my Mom couldn't take care of the business end of things, paying bills, talking with doctors or the insurance company. I would have to do this as well. I would have to take over 100% of the responsibilities while my Dad was in the hospital. Now, I can certainly do this, but with my packed schedule this fall, and my dissertation defense on the horizon, frankly, any hiccup to our well-oiled program will cause failure. Yes, even orchestrating the car needs is getting tricky. I wasn't able to purchase a car for my son due to my lack in funds, and as such, we are sharing my car through this fall.

This whole predicament has caused me to think deeply as to how much longer can I remain here in this dependent position. I need to finish my dissertation, first and foremost, and then I need to secure full-time work, whether at home or on campus, in order to manage my needs, let along assist with my parents needs. For now, we are covered. The Lord has us covered, and my Dad is still able to manage their daily finances and keep all those appointments and such. He is struggling, though, and with his physical limitations, the time will be coming soon when he will not be able to continue to do these things without help. Then there is my Mom. Right now, she is okay so long as she is home. She can do laundry and still cook some meals. She cannot shop, though. She cannot go shopping without help. She needs help crossing from the parking lot to the curb. She wanders aimlessly in the store. She cannot be left alone in the store, and while I might walk away temporarily, I do not go far. I tell her where I will be (like "I'm going to be in the next aisle") and then I return right away so she doesn't get lost or think I have left her.

My family, outside of my Dad, son and me, simply do not see her decline the way we do. She asks after my son constantly, even after he has stood right in front of her and had a conversation with her. She cannot remember immediate details. She struggles with things that are not repetitive, so while she can remember she goes to Ann's house each Monday night for bible study, she cannot remember hair appointments, doctor's visits, or even birthdays. She can do things that she has always done like vacuuming, laundry, loading the dishwasher. But then, these are things she has done for 70 years on a regular basis.

It is the cognitive, thinking things, that are disappearing quickly. Remembering names, dates, events, and other things. Changing channels on the TV, setting the microwave timer, etc. These are the skills that are diminishing quickly. I think the reason why my family doesn't see the decline is that most of these cognitive skills are so ingrained in us, so "automatic" that any connection to cognitive ability is shooshed away. I mean, how hard is it to turn on a microwave? How hard is it to press the "on" button or toggle the sound up or down on the remote control? These are things we take for granted, minor little tasks that have become part of our "non-thinking" brain, but for people with dementia and Alzheimers, these are the abilities that seem to go first.

This realization has come home to me this week. As I am transitioning into what will be my final push through my PhD, I realize that the Lord has permitted me this time to be here at home. I struggle to pay my bills, and even now, I am at my Dad's mercy for the rent (it is past due). He has graciously said I could pay when I get paid at the end of the month. I hate that this is the case. I need to be solid, steady, and not dependent in this way. Yet, this is where the Lord has me now, and for the next four months, this is where I will remain. I can do nothing outside His will, and I am standing in His favor and blessing as I navigate through these tenuous times. He has me well-covered, so well-covered. I know He has me by the hand, and I know He will not let me go. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

All of this is to say that I am thinking more and more about what my future looks like, and while I enjoy blogging about my ideas, about my dreams and such, I realize that there is a big difference between fantasy and reality. I will need to consider my own way very, very soon. This means that I will need to move out of my parents home and life simply to avoid being a full-time caregiver for them. I cannot do this, not in the home, no matter how much they want this to be the case. I don't want to see them in nursing care, well, at the least, until they are to that point. Still, I have to think about myself, my future, and the plans the Lord has for me. I am confident that the Lord knows what will be. Thus, while this all looms on ahead of me, I know that He has these details carefully considered.

In a perfect world, I would like to own my home and to be fully sufficient to care for it. This means that I would need a full-time job whereby I could managed my life with ease. I could then assist my parents as they need, and whether they end up in assisted living at some point, I could manage their care but still have some distance, some autonomy. You see, I love my parents deeply. I care for them devotedly. But, I need my own life. I need to be free. I need my space. I need my life, my OWN life. I am content to remain where I am because it has been the Lord's will for me while I finished my degree, but I cannot live like this long-term. I cannot live in this parent-child relationship. I know that I have blogged about this before, but unless you have been in my shoes, it is difficult to understand. I am an adult, but my parents see me as their child. I love this fact, I mean, like I said, I love my parents. But, I am a grown woman with needs. I have needs. I am talking about all sorts of needs here, so suffice it to say, I simply mean adult woman needs. I want my freedom, and I want to have my own life, my own future, and my own destiny.

I am trusting the Lord, of course, and I want His will; yet, I also have these desires in me that need to be satisfied. It is difficult to explain really, other than to say, after 32 years of living out from under my parents authority, I am at the point where I am ready to leave and go my own way again. The past three years have been good. The Lord has provided me with plenty of blessed memories and moments. Now, though, I am ready to start my new life as a professor. I want to go and live somewhere else. I don't want to stay in Phoenix. I want to move away. I want to make choices that are best for me, and not choices that are best for other people. I have done that one -- too many times. No, now I want to take my life by the reins and see where God intends to lead me. Selah!

In Closing

As I wrap up this blog post, I realize that it sounds a bit whiny. I don't mean to whine at all. I am just seeing the "writing on the wall" yet again. Each time I see it, it is more clear, more unmistakably clear to me. This life is temporary. I have been given this time to spend with my parents, but it is temporary. This is not the life the Lord has for me. This is not His long-term will for my life. Thus, I have to hold onto it with a very open hand. I have to let Him take this from me, and in return, I have to accept what He is giving to me. I believe my future is good. I believe my future is blessed. I believe my future is filled with hope, with joy, and with great opportunity. I have to be willing to let this life go in order to embrace the life He has for me. I have to let it go. I have to let this life go.

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