September 27, 2016

Tuesday Post

Good morning, world! It is a cloudy Tuesday in Phoenix. I woke up around 8:00, after passing a rather uneventful night. I did sleep well, but I still didn't fall asleep until close to 1:00 a.m. I am not sure why this is happening, but my mind simply will not let me rest. I need a good solid 8-9 hours of sleep, and when I only get 5-6, well, I feel so sluggish and awful. My prayer today is to rest and to enjoy this good day off. I have a lot to do, grading papers and such, but generally, I am working from home, resting, and enjoying the blessing of having some mid-week "downtime."

It is interesting to think about it this way, but in truth, I love my flexible schedule. I love the fact that I have two days off each week to enjoy being at home. I love that I can sleep in and not have to rush around to get out the door. I cannot tell you how much having my mornings free means to me. I guess it is part of that "night owl" syndrome. I have never been a morning person. My Mom, on the other hand, is a morning person. She wakes up cheerful and is always ready to do work first thing in the morning. Not so with this girl. I mean, I do work, but my mornings are slo-ooo-ow, and I like to ease into them. I have my coffee, I read the news, I check my email and social media feeds. I sit with my boys, and I pretty much move at a snails pace. Sometime around mid-morning (10-11), I start to perk up, and then from 11 onwards, I am a whirling dervish. I can work late into the night, past midnight, and still go strong. I love to work at night; in fact, I prefer it. If I had my druthers, I would have my mornings free and work from 2-10 or even 3-11.  This would be my preferred work schedule, for sure.

God's Good Gift

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I didn't sleep well Sunday night, so when I woke up Monday morning, I was dog-tired and frazzled. I was determined to do my best, despite being so tired, so I prayed for the Lord to help me get through the day. I was trusting Him to help me, and in fact, I prayed it on my way to ACU and to GCU. I said, "Lord, I am so tired today. Please teach through me. Please do these classes for me!" Well, in typical God-like fashion, that is exactly what He did. He showed up, He wowed in the classroom, and by the end of the day, I was feeling so much better. So much better.

In fact, out of all my classes yesterday, my last class, was my best. I was a bit worried about it since my mentor, one of the full-time faculty, was coming to my class to observe me (as part of my contract). There was part of me that was worried about what she would think, whether she would think I was doing a good job, etc. Another part of me was low-key, I mean, I really like this gal. She is a great lady, and she has been really supportive of me during my doctoral program. Plus, I appreciated her time because she left her class to come to mine. She came in right as class was starting, and after only five minutes observing me, she left with a wave. I wondered about it, as if I did something wrong, but I figured she had to get back to class, so I just pushed on with my lesson. This morning, I received an email from her saying that she left my class early because she didn't need to be there! She said I am awesome, great, etc. Sigh! I really appreciated the feedback because, well you know, I need the positive affirmation. It felt good to be recognized by my peer, and to know that a full-time faculty member in the department thinks I am a super teacher. Yes! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for sending me the positive feedback I needed yesterday!

I started to think about this positive experience this morning, and how it was earlier on Monday when I asked the Lord to bring me some good news, some encouragement and positive affirmation. As I mentioned previously, I was worn out heading to campus, and frankly, I just needed some good news. And, praise be to God, in typical fashion, He delivered BIG TIME! In fact, I had several positive and rich encounters with students throughout the day yesterday, and in each case, I felt that I was being used by God to communicate love, appreciation, and grace to them. It was so nice to be able to be with my students in this way, to share their trials, and to leave them with some positive encouragement, some hope, some grace-filled word.

Encouragement is such a powerful thing. Encouragement can change lives.

I am an encourager. I have the gift of exhortation, and as such, I am a natural cheerleader. I love to encourage. I love to build up, to lift up, and to help people realize their God-given potential. I love to speak works of life, to speak into people's lives and to help them see just how special they really are. This is my area of spiritual gifting, and I love it when the Holy Spirit uses me to speak and exhort in this way.

As I sit here today, I realize that through the small experiences I had yesterday, just how clearly the Lord is using me to exhort and encourage young people through my profession as a teacher. Yes, in one moment of time and one specific experience, I realized the reason God called me to teach. Many people teach. Many people come to teaching for varied and valid reasons. Some seek promotion, scholarship, positions of authority. Some like to hear themselves speak (LOL!), and some want to make a difference in the lives of young people. I fall into that latter case. I want to be used to make a difference for God's kingdom. I want to be used in a way that God receives all the praise, honor, and glory. I want to be used daily so that my life can be a living sacrifice. I want God to be glorified as I do His work, and in that way, I want Him to speak through me, teach through me, reach people through me.

I reflect on my calling, and why God decided it was best for me to teach. I have thought a lot about this reason, and while I know that teaching is a good profession, it is not the most lucrative or the easiest to get into (at the college level). I wondered if God gave me this job simply so I would have a good career. I wondered if He put me here to teach so that I would have a safe place to work (in a Christian college). I wondered why now, I mean, why now He has moved to make me a teacher. Then, yesterday as I was leaving GCU, I realized that He has called me to teach because it is the one way I can be an encourager -- day in and day out -- and that in this way I can use my gift of exhortation to encourage my students, to build them up, to make them feel better about themselves, their lives, and the path they are on. I realized yesterday that THIS is why I am a teacher. This is what I do best.

It is weird, really, when I think about it, how just a couple years ago (2013), I was so fixed on remaining in business, working in business. I felt sure that I could have a good life working as an analyst and earning solid income over the course of my remaining working years. I never imagined that I would be so enamored with teaching. I did think about it often. I mean, I thought about IT a lot. You know, I thought about how I never finished my masters degree, how I never followed His calling to become a teacher (when I was young, before I married, and before my son was born). In many ways, I have regretted never pursuing teaching. Oh, how I regretted that choice, how I did not follow the Lord, did not accept His provision for my life, and by extension, because I did not listen or heed His guidance, I lost valuable time and the blessing associated with walking in my purpose (sigh!) In truth, I never imagined how much I would enjoy teaching college. I thought I would enjoy it, but not the way I actually do -- if that makes sense? I imagined teaching writing and literature to students, but I never really thought I would like it, love it, I mean. I never really thought that I could experience such complete joy and fulfillment from doing any job, let along this one.

Job satisfaction comes and goes. I mean, I have worked in a lot of jobs over the past 30 some years. Some of them I have loathed, really loathed. Some were okay, and some were "nah - neither here nor there." Teaching is a job unlike any other. I never expected to really love my job, yet I do love it. I know many people who teach, but many that do not enjoy it. They no longer find the work satisfying to them -- it is boring, routine, filled with contention. Yes, I know there are a lot of negatives about teaching in particular -- politics, corrupt systems, etc. But, of all the work I have done, all the jobs I have pursued -- THIS job -- is the one that fits me so well, delights me so much, and causes me to experience such joy.

I cannot really explain it other than to say that the Lord has given me the desire of my heart -- to be a teacher -- but He has also given me a gift that is beyond words and measure. He has given me the desire, the fulfillment of that desire, but more so, He has given me the ability to do the job well, like really well. In every way, I am blessed. I am right where He desires me to be, and I doing the work He has called me to do. He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing, with every physical blessing, and in this way, my life is blessed through and through. I am in awe of His provision for my life. I am in awe of His goodness, His mercy, and His grace this good, good day. Selah!

In Closing

On this good Tuesday, I give the Lord thanks for His abundant and sufficient provision. I thank Him for His goodness toward me, His kind thoughts about me, and His deep and abiding care for me. He is good to me, so very good to me!

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