In other good news -- it is my birthday today! Nothing special on tap for my day, though. My parents may take me to lunch later (after the termite man comes to vanquish those little buggers from the garage ceiling this morning). We already celebrated my Dad's 84th birthday on Sunday so there is no 'big' plan afoot. My birthday sort of gets attached to his (always has) since I was a teen. As a little child, I had my own special day, with parties with friends and such. But, since I was about 17, we've just done a "family" birthday on the weekend before or after our actual day. I don't mind really. I'm busy with work and school so my time is rather limited. Still, it was a nice weekend celebration, and my brother who lives in San Diego, drove over to spend Saturday and Sunday with us. My nephew and his girlfriend came along later, went to dinner with us, and then spent the evening visiting with me and my dad. It was nice of them to take time from their busy lives to come and visit us. In all, my weekend was nice, slow-paced, and fairly restful.
Today, though, I am sitting at my desk, trying to figure out why my back hurts so much. It is just one hip (or the backside of my hip) that really hurts. I am guessing it is the way I laid last night. Perhaps I just stayed in one position for too long during the night. I don't know; I just don't know.
New Roads to Walk
My class at Regent University has officially ended (Saturday). In all, it was a very good experience. This was my second "online" class, and the experience was enjoyable, not too stressful, and overall, not too challenging. I really liked the format, and my students were just great. I am set to teach two new classes beginning next Monday. At first, I was set to teach two sections of English Composition I, but now I will teach one composition class and one Western Literature course. My chair emailed me yesterday to ask if I would be willing to swap classes. I guess he has an easier time finding adjuncts to teach composition than to teach literature. I love literature, by the way, but I don't always feel I have enough time to read all the works. Still, I want to be flexible with this school. I really want to keep on teaching here until I retire. I love this school so much, and I feel so confident that the Lord intends for me to stay here long term.
Of course, this means that I need to scramble some this week, prep for a different class, and get my little ducks in a row at the last minute. It is good that my other classes are in a lull right now. My 105/106 composition classes are in draft week, and my communication class is half-over (only tomorrow we meet). This means that I have pretty much a free week to get everything in order.
As I was driving over to campus yesterday, I really thought about how I am going to manage all my classes and work on my dissertation. I decided that I needed to create a weekly schedule, similar to what I used to do when I was homeschooling my son. I created a weekly chart in Excel, and each day listed out the assignments or topics covered. This gave me a "week at a glance" and I found that I was able to stay on track more easily than with a linear listing of things to do. I plan to create a schedule like this today, and then see if it helps me feel more in control each week as I move from three different campuses and six different classes.
I guess in some ways, I have to make a schedule like most elementary school teachers do. You know, one of these types of schedules.
I've never been a fan of the spiral bound type of planner books, so I just create my own using Excel. It has always worked for me, and I have to admit that I was able to manage my son's schedule well. When we did Ambleside Online for our curriculum, I had to teach him 13-14 subjects per day. It was a lot of work, so having a planner pad was critical to our success. Now, that I teach college, I normally just follow the syllabus, but with the online forums and classes beginning and ending at different times, I need a better system so I can keep everyone and everything straight.
This idea of creating a weekly planner popped into my head while I was driving to GCU. I was praying over my need, and the idea just came to me. God is so good, so very good to me. I mean, this happens to me all the time. Sometimes I will be praying for a person and I will get this idea of what to pray over them. Other times, I just get an idea about something, and it is the solution to the problem I have been stressing over. I know that I am not that smart nor do I have an "inuit" button in my head. No, I give the credit to the Lord for His leading, guiding, and providing of all things -- even solutions to small and rather insignificant problems. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!
As I was driving home, I started to think about my life, long term. I am pretty well set now on my career (praise be to God), so my thoughts were more to what I would like to see for my life, in general. Now, that I am 54, and I am almost ready to graduate with my PhD, I have started to think more and more about where I would like to settle down, put down roots, and spread out. My brother and I were talking about this over the weekend, and he asked me if I wanted to settle here in Phoenix. I said that at this time, I really didn't want to stay here, and that I felt that the Lord was not intending on keeping me here for too much longer. We talked about plans, places to go and live, etc. The funny thing is that he and I have different ideas about what we want long term. He wants to retire, live on his boat, take it easy, and simply live minimally. I really enjoy working, so I don't plan on retiring anytime soon (well, I can't really even think about it for a long, long while). I have worked very hard to get to this point, to earn my PhD, and as such, I plan on using my degree for as long as possible. My career as a college instructor has been by far the most satisfying career choice yet, so I really want to keep on teaching for as long as it is possible to do so.
With that in mind, we were talking about places to retire. He wants to stay by the beach. I am thinking country, well lets just say, midwestern-like towns or cities. I would like to be near a major city, but not live in one anymore. I would like to live in a suburb where there is easy access to everything, but you still have that small town feel. Of course, I want to have some trees around me, at a minimum. I have pretty much decided against the "land" idea for now. I love the idea of living on a mini-farm, having some land, etc., but now I realize that my ability to care for property, even forested property is limited. I don't want to live in a brand-new house, you know the kind, where the neighbors are right next door to you. I think I would like a house that is mid-century, built in the 1970s or so. I would like it to be in one of those nice neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks, but lots of trees.
My idea of the next 30-40 years is so different from my brother's idea. I think it is because of my degree, my return to school, and the fact that I spent so many years working in jobs that were not of my own choosing. You see, for so many years, I worked in jobs that were either given to me or where I was told that I "had" to do the work. I didn't really have any choice in the matter. I let other people tell me what kind of work suited me, my personality, and my skills. So often, these well-meaning people, had no clue as to the "real me," nor did they care much about whether or not I was happy. They assumed that I would want to do a type of work simply because it was something they would enjoy doing. I would justify their choice by saying, "Well, something is better than nothing!" Or, I would try to be grateful that the work was provided to me. In truth, however, I never was allowed the opportunity to express myself, my opinions, or my own wants, desires, and wishes. In the end, I was miserable, always so miserable.
In hindsight, I realize that people can only push their way on you IF you let them do it. I had been brow-beaten, hard pressed, and due to manipulation and control, I learned it was better to give in and compromise that to continue to be "contentious". It would have been far better for me to tell these people, friends and family members, to simply mind their own business, but I wanted to be liked, to be a friend, and to be considered a "good team player."
Now, though, I am through with all of that mindless bashing and my life is my own. I make or break it; I call the shots; I determine the outcomes. Of course, I rely on the Lord and His leading, and I wait for His provision of work, of the path to follow, and of the course or direction He would like me to travel. In doing so, I have come to accept myself, to accept what it is that I believe God is calling me to do, and I have learned what I can and cannot do. I am content now, happy, and I am ready to move to a place where I can live comfortably, easily, and with modest intention.
Until the Lord provides that open door, I am settled here. I hope He will provide a full-time job soon, but until that happens, I am content to just "think about," "imagine," and "dream" about my future life.
Some things I am settled on for now, though, include:
- Teaching full-time either on-campus or online as a college professor
- Living in a city or town that is close to a major metropolitan center
- Purchasing a modest home, mid-century (60s-70s), in a comfortable suburban neighborhood
- Moving to a moderate climate, some place with four seasons, so I can enjoy spring, fall, and winter
I know that what I want and desire, is of course, simply wishes and dreams. I am fully surrendered to the Lord on these matters, so I am okay with whatever He provides to me. My prayer, my hope, and my future are all fitted together according to His overarching and supreme will for my life. This means that I am to wait for His lead. I am to let Him guide me to the place of His choosing, and in all things, I am to watch for His provision. When He says go, I have to go. When He opens the door, I have to walk through it. I cannot tarry. I cannot doubt. I cannot hesitate. I have to be ready, be prepared, and then I have to do what He is asking me to do. I have to obey His command, follow His lead, and trust in His provision. He will do it, He is faithful, and He keeps His promises. Selah!
As I close out this blog post, I rest in the security and in the provision of knowing the God has me "well covered." I am fully covered by His grace, and while that means, I am saved and forgiven, it also means that whatever my need or needs, His grace is always sufficient. I look up, I wait patiently, and I rest in the knowledge of whom I place my trust. I trust in the Lord God Almighty, the Maker of heaven and of earth. In this way, I place my trust squarely and securely on and in the One who is able to make all things come to pass. He is able. He is good. He will do what He has said He will do. Selah!