October 15, 2016

Happy Saturday!

It is a beautiful Saturday here in Phoenix. The sky is bright blue and the air temperature is hovering just around 73. Our high is still forecast to hit the mid-90s, which does seem high for October. Still, it is lovely outside and that means that today is shaping up to be a great, great day!

I have a lot of work to do today. My British Literature class is ending and that means that I have to get all my grades posted by October 19. I have essays to grade along with some exams, but overall, I am blessed to have this class over now. It has been a good experience for me. One thing I have noted is that it is very difficult for me to respond to student posts during the week, at the least, in a Literature class. In a composition class, the problem seems to go away. I pretty much know my subject well when it comes to writing, but in a literature class, I have to know the material ahead of time, and well, it is my ability to read all the material before each week that has caused me trouble. In hindsight, I think it would have been better for me to not take on this class until I had the chance to read all selections. But, then I would have missed this opportunity, so instead of waiting until I was ready, I just leaped into the fray! Oh well, live and learn!

My next set of classes are first year sequence/composition courses. I should be able to handle these classes along with my other teaching duties. I think I will be okay, Lord providing, so for now, I am resting in this matter, and as they say, I am “letting it go!”

Fruits of One’s Labor

It is really funny how October brings thoughts of the harvest. Lately, I have marveled at the fruits of my labor. Yes, I mean “fruit” as in produce. I have worked very hard this past semester, and I am at the mid-point, ready for the semester to end. It is odd to think this way, how in just 6-8 weeks, my fall semester will be over. This means that I will be well into my dissertation, and I will be preparing for my final defense (and graduation). It is crazy to think how quickly my time as a PhD student and candidate is wrapping up. I have my defense date set on the calendar now, and in less than 2 weeks, I will begin collecting my data and starting the final push through to the end of my research project. I will also be completing another semester of teaching, and with that feat, I will be well into the middle of my 4th year of teaching college courses.

I was thinking about this yesterday, how just four years ago, I was struggling to know what to do. I still worry about my path, as in “am I in the best place,” but I have relented and accepted that at this point in time, I am where I am. I mean, I have passed the “point of no return,” and in that sense, I cannot go backward, but I must go forward. This truth was brought into focus clearly when I interviewed at United Healthcare last summer. I was selected to interview for a good job, a job as an analyst, and a job in which I would have been a good fit. However, after the interview, I realized something wasn’t quite right, and then while I was waiting to hear back on whether I would be called to interview again, I knew in my heart that I was meant to be a teacher. Granted, I am not the best teacher I can be, and I do make stupid mistakes some times. But, I knew when I was speaking to the manager that I was in the wrong place — wrong fit — so to speak. I heard myself speaking to him, and all of a sudden, I thought to myself, “I am such a professor!” Yes, I couldn’t help but put on my professor hat, and when I did, well…I just knew where I belonged. No matter how much I mess up in this way, at the least, I can feel confident that I am where I belong. I was meant to be a teacher — for good or for bad — and I am determined as such to stick this way out.

I’ve thought a lot about this fact, how I am teaching now, and how I cannot really do anything different with my life. It is not that I want to do anything different, it is just that I am content to remain in this path, and as such, I feel that this is where I belong. I wonder sometimes how my life would have turned out had I stayed at CVS Caremark. I liked that job a lot, and I enjoyed my coworkers immensely. But, that was before I started my PhD, and in hindsight, I see that I made the best choice when I decided to give up the stress and the schedule for teaching English at Grand Canyon University. Yes, I cannot imagine doing what I did — keeping my grades high — pursuing scholarship and such while working 9-5 in corporate business. God was good to me, and He provided a way out of that situation. I was blessed to exit, but even with the open door, this way, learning how to teach, etc., has been a tough “row to hoe,” as they say. I have had a steep learning curve, and frankly, I still don’t always feel like I am a superstar when it comes to teaching college classes.

My fruit has been hard-pressed, hard-borne, and with it has come a lot of painful experience. In all, though, I can say that I have learned to endeavor, to rest and to trust in the Lord for His provision. I have had to let go of my need to produce, and instead, I have had to accept that I am helping students produce. It is a weird change for me, to no longer be the producer and to become the agent that activates production in others. Yes, I have learned agency, and in this way, I have learned what it means to come along side another and to work to benefit someone other than myself.

Jehovah El Roi - The God Who Sees

Today, I was thinking about God and the way He has helped me specifically to overcome adversity and uncertainty. One of the names of God is Jehovah El Roi, which means “God who sees me.” We see this name used by Hagar after she flees from her mistress, Sarah. Sarah has treated her badly, and God had told Hagar to return to Sarah and to submit to her. He promised that He would take care of her, and that her child would be the father of a great nation.  In Genesis 16:13-15 (KJV) we read Hagar’s response to the angel that was sent to comfort her,

And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, [it is] between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

As I read this passage of scripture, I am reminded of how often God sent angels to minister to people who were in the midst of trial, of circumstance, and of misery. In the case of Hagar, she was used and abused by Abram and Sarah in order to circumvent God’s promise of a child. Hagar had no rights of her own so when Sarah said for her to go and sleep with her husband, she had to obey. Likewise, when Abram took Hagar and she conceived a child by him, she had no rights over her body or the outcome of the encounter. After she conceived, and then later when Ishmael was born, Hagar was treated very badly by Abraham and Sarah. Yet, God saw her pain and ministered to her. He was faithful to her, and He kept His word — He delivered on His promise to her.

In a like way, I have seen God keep His word to me as well. He has been faithful to me, and He has seen me in the midst of my distress. As I reflect back on my life, especially the past 10 years or so, I realize that often God sees us in the middle of painful life experience. I think back to what my life was like in 2007. My ex-husband had suffered a major illness, and as a result, was not able to work more than part-time (at best). The medication he was given was causing him to faint, and he was so unwell that he slept most of the time. I was carrying the ball for us, bearing the weight of keeping our home and house afloat. I had a 14 year old son back then, and my life was miserable and uncomfortable. In a year’s time, thereabouts, I would come to find out my ex-husband was having online affairs, relationships with women via the internet and phone. I would also have to deal with his brain bleed (stroke), and the aftermath of another life-threatening illness. I was home schooling my son, working from home as a website designer, and trying to manage other responsibilities including helping to care for my now deceased father-in-law. My parents needed my help as well, and I was run ragged, pulled in every direction as I tried to manage my life, keep all my balls in the air, and make sure we had a roof over our heads.

Since that time, so much has happened to me. I mean, I went from being married to separated to divorced. I left my work-from-home job as a website designer to return to graduate school to study English Literature. I then worked in several jobs, part-time and full-time, until I was able to transition into teaching college courses as an adjunct instructor. I graduated with my masters degree and I am about to finish my PhD. My son graduated from home school high school, transitioned to college, and is about ready to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in music. My parents live with me now, and while I am hard-pressed sometimes for lack of privacy and my own “life,” I see the Lord as my provider (Jehovah-Jireh) and as my protector (Jehovah-Sabboath).

When I was in the middle of this life transition, the Lord came to me and He promised that He would take care of me. He promised me that He would provide for me and that He would protect me. In truth, He has done both. He has faithfully kept His word to me. He has delivered on His promises. 

My life has seen the miracle of the Lord’s faithful word. I have come to believe that what He tells me is truth. It has not been easy for me, but the Lord has been my steadfast defender, and He has made a way for me. I could list out all the ways in which He has provided to me, but the list would be too voluminous to share. Suffice it to say, whatever need I have had, He has seen to it. He is Jehovah-Jireh, and He is the Lord or God who provides to me. Selah!

Today, as I sit here and I think about all the Lord has done for me, I marvel at His goodness, His graciousness, and His guidance. I am where I am today because the Lord has provided a way for me to go. He has protected me from harm, and He has met my needs with sufficiency. I still struggle to accept His gifts and His offerings at times, and I suffer some when I deny His desire to provide for me in certain ways. Mostly, I do this because I don’t understand what He is saying to me. I think I know what is best or I am afraid of what He is offering to me. Often, I have to step out in faith to trust Him for His provision, and sometimes what He is asking me to do is similar to Moses and the children of Israel when they were asked to leave what they knew (and hated) for that which they did not know and feared. Yes, the Lord often will ask me to trust Him to see me across the figurative Red Sea, and I will falter because what appears before me is a freaking HUGE lake. Yet, from His perspective, it is a tiny stream and He has provided a way for me to cross over safely. How I doubt His abilities, His securities, and His provision for my life. Sigh!

My plans for today are minor compared to the plans the Lord has for my life, in general. I am stepping out in faith this good day to trust Him as my leader and guide. He is Jehovah Raah - Our Shepard who tenderly leads us, who loves us, and who will keep us safe!

In Closing

As I close out this post for today, I marvel at His goodness. I give Him praise, thanksgiving, and honor this good day because He has truly seen to all my needs. He loves me, provides for me, and cares for me. He is my God who sees me in the midst of my distress and pain. He provides what I need, when and where I need it, and He does everything with goodness and with grace. He is my God, my protector and defender, my strong tower — and — He is my provider, my sustainer, and my portion. My needs are met completely, satisfactorily, and with measure upon measure by my Lord, my Savior, and my King. I worship I AM this good, good day! Selah!

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