September 20, 2016

Tuesday Musings

It is a good day today. Yes, it is Tuesday, September 20, 2016. I mention the date simply because tomorrow is my baby's 23rd birthday. It is hard to believe that my little bundle of joy turns 23 tomorrow but he does. He has been a blessing to me, enriching my life, giving it purpose and focus, and bringing me joy -- day in and day out -- since he was born. I am blessed by his unique wonderfulness, and it is such a great honor to watch him grow and develop into such a good young man. God has graced me with the blessing of being a mother, and I give Him thanks and praise every day for the special gift of my son, my only child.

Today, therefore, is a good day simply because I am safe, I am sound, and I am secure in my heavenly Father's love. His mercy surrounds me, and His grace enables me to live in peace. I am at rest today, in part due to His grace, but also because He has given me treasure beyond words. I am filled to full, completely and wholly, as a result of His marvelous presence in my life. I am in awe of His goodness, and as I consider His precious gift of life, His continued manifestation of grace and goodness in my life, and His unending faithfulness, I am unable to stand -- I must kneel before Him and bring in a sacrifice of praise. Only He is worthy to be praised! Only He is worthy of our adoration and our reverence! He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise,
that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.
Hebrews 13:15 (HCSB)

Planning and Purpose

I woke up this morning with a major headache. Yes, I woke up around 6 am with a migraine, sort of a combination of tension headache and sinus headache. I am sure it is because of the falling pressure as a large weather system moves in from southern California and northern Mexico. I doubt we will see much rain, even though our forecast today does call for showers. The change in pressure, no doubt, triggered my headache. I got up after a bit, took a couple Advil and a Sudafed, and headed back to bed with the ice pack. Thankfully, I was able to get my headache under control before APS arrived at the door to let us know the power was going to be off for a short while. This notification ended up taking the better part of a half-hour as we had issues with the breaker panel being locked and so forth. In the end, I was able to get my cup of coffee before the power went out, and then the APS service man did whatever he needed to do and went on his way. In all, my morning began very early and despite the pain, I was able to recover nicely. I am sitting at my computer blogging and it is just now turning 10 a.m. God is good, so very good to me.

As I consider this good day, one thing comes to mind: how can I make the most of my time, accomplish all my tasks, and still remain at rest (as in relaxed and not stressed)? I struggle so with managing all my to-do's and with making sure that I am attending to everything and everyone on my list. It is a challenge some days as I feel like a rubber band being stretched. Oh, how I am longing for the day when I teach at one campus only, and when I can manage my classes and my students without losing control of my mind, my time, or my energy! I pray the Lord opens that door for me soon -- so very soon!

Just this morning, I was thinking how difficult it is to manage so many different schools and classes. I am blessed to have this many teaching opportunities, but frankly, I feel as if I cannot meet the needs of my students well. I really do not like this feeling, and I worry if I am doing a good job. I mean, the last thing I need is to find out that I have been cut loose, so to speak, for failing to meet my student's needs.

So today, I am considering options. I am thinking about what needs to be done in order to secure a position where I can teach at one school only, if that is possible. I love teaching at Regent, and I could be very happy to put all my "eggs" in this basket, but the Lord would have to open that door for me. Right now, I see my work there as adjunct only. Perhaps in time, the Lord will provide a way for me to teach there full-time. Until then, I will continue to pray over Regent, seek His will concerning Regent, and trust Him for placement, position, and promotion at Regent. He is good, He is faithful, and I know He will prevail in these matters.

This means for me that I need to look elsewhere for that full-time position. I am sure I am not meant to remain in AZ longterm. In fact, I was praying about this the other day, how the desire to move from AZ has been with me for now on 10 years. I was asking the Lord for clarification when this thought popped into my head: perhaps my desire to move from AZ is not really my desire? I mean, like with graduate school, the desire started out as mine (or so I thought), but in the end, I realized it was His desire for my life. I started to think that perhaps my desire to move from AZ was His desire. After all, since I moved here in 1996, I have rarely had a time when I felt that this was the place I was to remain "forever." In this way, I said to the Lord, that perhaps what I feel in my heart is simply His desire to move, to relocate.  You see, this desire to move has never waned, just like my desire to become a teacher and to return to graduate school to get my PhD. I often had to let it go, place it on simmer, so to speak, because my life simply wasn't open (by that I mean my family, my support system, my finances, my time, etc.) to permitting me to go back to school.

Similarly, I feel the same way about moving. I have had this desire, intense at times, and simmering at others, to move. It is not about running away, I should state that emphatically. Sure, in the beginning, there was some of this mixed in. I was lonely, I felt I had made a mistake moving here, I was disappointed in living here, but truthfully, I simply felt as if I didn't belong here. Arizona was not my home, and while I believe my only true "home" is with the Lord, I do have family connections and ties to other places here in the USA. For example, I have family in California, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, New York, and Illinois. I have friends across the USA as well, but my ties to places are really more about memories of my childhood and feelings of "home" as well as where my actual family resides. Granted, my parents are here in AZ, so in some regards, AZ is home as well. But, still as I think about it, I have this sense about me that tells me that Arizona is not my home nor my final destination.

When I think about jobs, this idea of home comes into play. I mean, where do I want to live and work? Where should I go?

The Lord has been pressing on me, yesterday in particular, this need to "go." In fact, I feel so strongly that He is telling me I must go now. Of course, I am not sure what that means. Really, how can I go now? I just have this sense of urgency that is making it difficult for me to concentrate. If He wants me to go, I will go. I just need to know where, and then how to get there. Right now, I think I am stuck where I am until I finish my dissertation. I need to focus on graduating, and that means, staying put until I have that degree in hand. Furthermore, I am contracted for fall so I cannot move now until spring time. I have contracts set for spring, but I have not signed them. This means that for all "intents and purposes," I am physically here until May 2017.

The plan all along has been to remain here until May 2017. This is my graduation date as well as my son's and after this date, we are "technically" free to move. Anywhere. About the country as Southwest Airlines likes to say. But where, Lord? Where do you want me to go?

Lately, I have been focused on this question in particular. I pretty much have given up the idea of moving anywhere "willy nilly." I feel confident that the Lord will put me in a major University -- a school that has the ability to hire me as full-time faculty and pay me a decent salary. This means that the school has to be big enough to pay a good and fair wage. I am not moving to a place where I will barely make a living. Some small schools barely pay a living wage, and frankly, I cannot make ends meet, pay my loans, etc. on what I make now. No, the place He moves me will have to meet several criteria, namely:

  1. Provide a full-time tenure position (ranked)
  2. Offer competitive salary at a living wage
  3. Exist within a major metropolitan area
  4. Afford decent housing
  5. Include amenities such as entertainment, shopping, and jobs (for my son)
  6. Allow me to engage in ministry work
Realistically speaking, the place has to be near a major city, like Phoenix, because this is where one will find good paying jobs. Small rural towns, as much as I love them, are not going to work. I thought long and hard about this, but I realize that as much as I want to live in the country, practically speaking, I have to deal with my debt, and the only way out of debt is to work, work, work. I need to work someplace where I can live comfortably AND still take care of my debt burden.

I have also realized that I have to be open to moving to cold places. And, while I have no issue with snow, I do worry about the cold and the ice and driving in them. I realize that some schools located in cold places may have a hard time attracting professors so perhaps this is why the Lord has put the idea of moving to the cold on my mind. I have to go where the job is and not where I want because of my own desires.

All of this is to say that if the Lord is telling me to go now, then He must be saying that there is a job opening for me soon. I need to be ready to apply, and I need to open my mind and my heart to the school regardless of its location. I get it, I do. I just don't know how I will handle this process right now. I just don't know if the Lord will make it obvious to my parents or if He will simply make it happen regardless of their knowledge. I am trusting Him completely. He is aware of my fragile situation here at home, and He does know what is best for me.

Moving and More

As I feel this push to go, I have to stop and ask myself, why now? Why right now? I have so much on my plate and "now" isn't really the best time to go, you know what I mean?

When I think about God's timing, my mind runs to the Old Testament prophets who wrote about the coming Messiah. The people were getting restless and God's promised savior had not arrived. Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV) is a good reminder that the Lord's timing is never really off. His timing may appear to be slow, but we are encouraged to be patient and wait for the Lord to reveal His promised reward to us. In this verse we read, "For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." The prophet reminds us that the promised Messiah and the promised redemption for Israel (and the all mankind by extension) was coming despite the long, long wait between the vision and the revelation. Yet, eventually the Promise did come to the world. We celebrate the arrival of that Promise every Christmas when we remember our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ's, birth. For Christians, we still wait for the Promised One, but this time, we wait for another reason, we wait for His second coming when He will return in glory and in power to vanquish Satan and his army and usher in the our promised new heaven and earth. His second coming seems slow for us, and given the tenuous time currently (the violence, hatred, wars, famines, etc.), we take hope in knowing that He is faithful, and that He will keep His promise to us. He is coming again! Selah!

Then there are times when we wait for more pressing, more personal needs. David writes about this in Psalm 27:14 (ESV) when he says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" We are encouraged to remember to trust in the Lord, to wait for Him to meet us, to heal us, to care for us. We must be patient and wait for the Lord.  Likewise, Isaiah says something similar as he reminded the people of his time, and us now, to rest in the Lord, to look to the Lord when we are weary and so very tired. In Isaiah 40:13 (ESV) we read these familiar words:

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." 

I sit here today and think how impatient I have been while waiting for the Lord to bring me His promised reward. I waited nearly 10 years before I could have a child, but the wait was well worth it. I waited almost 17 years to return to graduate school, and without fail, He provided a way for me. I completed two levels of graduate school in seven years, and today I am finally working in a promised profession. It only took 33 years for me to realize my desire of being a teacher. Now, I am about to embark on this new vision, to move to this new place, and after years -- literally years -- I am going to be living on my own. Yes, it has been 32 years since I lived on my own (technically, I lived on my own for two years briefly before moving in with my parents in 2013), and this time, I am ready to do it and to enjoy it.

All of this waiting, all of this patience has afforded me opportunity to learn many life lessons. Some of these lessons have been difficult ones to learn. Some have been crushing blows (such as when my marriage failed), yet others have been eye-opening, heart affirming, and identity-creating. I am in such a good place right now -- mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually -- I am strong. I am resilient, and I am at rest. I know the Lord has a wonderful plan for me, and that plan is for me to go -- to go where He is sending me. I don't have the details. I don't know the place. I don't know the job. But, I know that He is saying I must go now, so I agree with His word, and I place my faith and my trust in His Name. I look up and I say "Yes, Lord, I am ready to go."

Lead on, Lord, and I will follow. Go, and I will follow after you.

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