October 13, 2016

Hurdle One, Down…

It is a blessed Tuesday here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. Yes, it is lovely outside right now (75 degrees, I think). I took the garbage out this morning, and the air was cool and slightly crisp. It is beginning to look a lot like fall…well…let’s just say, “Feels like fall!” I am home today, enjoying the blessedness of my Tuesday “day off.” Of course, there is really no rest for the weary, so they say, and today I have plenty on my “to do” list. But, the good news is that I am home, and that means that I don’t have to rush around any where or dash about and be out of the house. I am blessed, of course, and I give praise and thanks to God for His gracious gift of this wonderful up/down work week. In truth, I have come to see the value in this schedule. I work very hard for 9-months of the year, and then I get to enjoy my days off, weekends, and holidays (including summer) for my recovery period. In all, this schedule, out of all the schedules I have worked, is the best fit for me. It really is a good fit for my physical needs.

It is funny how that bit of “truth” rings so clearly for me now. I mean, just a year ago, I was thinking that I needed to find a different job to do, one that paid a good wage and that would provide steady income and opportunity for me. I waffled back and forth over whether I should seek “money” or just stay on this path and “wait it out.” In the end, I realized that the Lord intended for me to stay put, and as such, His way was best — in all manner of speaking — best for me. Yes, I relented, and I made the decision to simply wait for His promised reward. I am so glad I did. I mean, I was convinced that I would never find any success at all by staying put, and then in time (yes, with some time), I have come to see the error of my way.

Granted, I am not “flush” so to speak, and I certainly would like to earn more income on a regular basis, but what I have gained through this experience, well, it has been invaluable to me. I have come into my own, accepted my lot, my pace, and in and through it all, I have come to see what I am really, really good at doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was good at technology (IT), Marketing, communications, website design, and even being an analyst. I was capable in all those positions, but with teaching college, I have come to see myself differently as I have learned how to push myself on toward far greater heights than I thought possible. I have come to see myself as more than just a worker or producer; I see myself now as an enabler, an encourager, as someone who works solely to see others benefit from my efforts and achieve success. And, it is in that my friends, that I find my satisfaction. I never realized what joy I would experience by devoting myself to the welfare and benefit of others. I can tell you that it is a wonderful feeling to know you are working to make a difference in the lives of other people. Selah!

Moving On (Again)

So with that said, it is time to pick up stakes and move on…figuratively speaking, of course! I titled this blog post, “Hurdle One, Down,” because as of today, my dissertation research proposal has been sent to my committee for review. This is a major achievement for me, and after a long, long, long process — nearly a year and a half — my first three chapters are finally in “ready shape” to be reviewed by my committee. This means that I should hear back soon, this week (hopefully), when I can defend my proposal. This is the first of two defenses, and frankly, it is the gateway that must be crossed in order to engage in actual research. With my defense proposed, I will be able to begin collecting my data and then I can finish my research project. My second defense will be my final one, and praise be to God, it will lead me to the finish line. Until that time, however, I have to get this defense wrapped up. My prayer is to get on the “docket” for a formal defense the last week of this month.

In other news, I also received a nice welcome email from Ohio Christian University regarding my status as a “mentee” faculty member. I am now an official “adjunct” and that means that I can pick up available online courses to teach at will. I doubt that I will be able to add any more classes to my schedule now — at the least — not until I finish my Ph.D., but it is nice to know that I have passed the entrance test (successfully teaching one class). Now, as the Lord desires it, I can teach online for this school. I am hoping to teach for them during the summer since that is really when the extra income will come in handy, but we will see how it goes, and as the Lord determines what is doable for me, I will move forward. I am pleased with the “promotion,” as it gives me confidence to know that my abilities are being affirmed at more than one school. God be praised! Thank you, Lord, for your awesome affirmation to me!

For now, my plans are to stay the course, so to speak. I need to finish the tasks that the Lord has assigned to me, which include my fall courses and my dissertation. I am committed to completing my PhD by May 2017, and Lord willing, I will graduate with distinction. I have worked so long and hard to achieve this goal, and now that it is in sight, well, I need to stay focused and “keep on, keeping on!” He is faithful, of course, and without His help, I would not be where I am today. Praise be to God, I am where I am today because He delighted in this path, He set out this as a goal, and He set my feet in this way. He is so good to me!

Some thoughts as I prepare “literally” to move on…

First, I have been thinking more and more about physically moving house. The past couple weeks I have had this “sense” that I was to stay the course, stay here in Phoenix, and not consider moving anywhere just yet. I gave into that feeling for a time, but only until I realized that I was not feeling peaceful about it. In truth, I felt more unrest than peace, so after a short time, I confessed my feelings to the Lord. I asked for clarification and for understanding, and thankfully, my peace began to return to me. You see, I believe that I am to move elsewhere to facilitate the ministry work the Lord has set aside for me to do. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I believe I am to move elsewhere so that I can do a specialized ministry. This doesn’t mean that I cannot do ministry here in Phoenix — no — not at all. It is just that I feel called, so to speak, to move away from Phoenix. I have had this feeling for years, so it is not a new thing, but as I get closer and closer to graduating with my PhD, I think the feeling is getting more and more intense. I feel that my time here is drawing to a close.

Second, as I start to think about moving out on my own, I also have been thinking about the type of life I want to create for myself long-term. Lately, I have been focusing on styles, decorating, and really creating my own personal space. It has been a long, long, long time since I have had the opportunity to create a space that matches my personality, my interests, and my style preference. Even when I was married, I never really had the chance to develop a style. I simply made do with what I had on hand, repurposed old cast off items, and tried my best to create a space that was comfortable. And, now that I am a working woman, a full-time (almost tenure) professor, I have the income (soon to be fulfilled) to purchase new things, furniture and accessories, that will allow me to develop a home, to create a space that is warm and welcoming, but that is also very much about “me.” I think this last part resonates with me the most, well, the most strongly. You see, my heart wants so much to be able to create a place that is exactly what I have wanted, dreamed about, planned, pinned (as in Pinterest), for the longest time. I simply do not want to compromise or be forced to live in another person’s lifestyle. Yes, I am particular, very particular, and partly, I think I ma this way because of my personality and my psychological and physiological issues. I hate to admit this publicly, but I am rather OCD about things — clutter, dirt, dust — to name a few.  More so, I think because I have lived under another person’s authority for so long, I just accepted that their style was best for me. I always felt like a “fish out of water,” so now I want to create a space that reflects my style and that works best for my particularities and oddities.

Third, speaking of clutter and such, I have been perusing ideas on creating a modular wardrobe as a means for simplifying my life. I don’t have a lot of clothing, per se, but I have more than I need. Of what is in my closet, I actually wear less than 1/3 of it. Yes, it is true. I wear the same clothes weekly, the same outfits, and frankly, I feel gluttonous with all the clothing that hangs or is folded in my closet but that is not being worn. There are homeless people out there that need socks, underwear, tee shirts, jeans, etc. No matter how worn or old they are, these folks need clothing, and here I am with more than I need to get by each day. I have a sick feeling about it, and frankly, I feel compelled to let these things go. I feel as strongly about this as I do about creating a style that is simplified and pared down. I feel like the Lord is saying to me, “Carol, you need to learn to get along with a lot less stuff.” I know it is not a sin to have nice things. Nor, is it a sin to desire quality items — clothes, furniture, etc. I don’t think the Lord mandates that we walk around in sackcloth and ashes to prove our loyalty to Him. But, I do think we need to be careful about how we present ourselves to the world. And, in this way, my heart says to me, “Keep only what you need. Give away the rest, and bless others who are less fortunate that you are.” Thus, I am seriously thinking of paring down my closet and my life and only keeping the things that I need, I wear, and I like.

Last, in my desire to declutter, I am thinking of attempting the KonMari Method of decluttering. The method is inspired by the Japanese way of life — the way of minimalist living — and Marie Kondo has started a revolution through her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” According to Amazon.com (2016), author Marie Kondo,

“Runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo helping clients transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. She is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, with more than 3 million copies sold) and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2015. She is the founder of the KonMari Method” (Bio).

I have read with interest how people are using her method to declutter and to organize their lives, and I am at a point now where I can attend to this idea. I need to get the book, of course, as I have read online that the book includes the actual procedures that make the difference between decluttering once and repeating the process time and time again. It is a lifestyle approach, and that is what I want, a way of life that says, “This is me — clean and simple — with less mess, less fuss, and less stress!”

What appeals to me most is her minimalist approach. I have never been influenced by contemporary style until now — weird as that may seem — but lately I am fascinated by Mid-Century Modern furniture and ideals. Perhaps it is because of all the backlash on the Internet and in culture today that screams for a return to more simplified times. You know, back to the 1950s when men worked and women stayed at home to be with the children. Homes were modest, neat and tidy, and people generally were far more conservative in their beliefs and values. I am not advocating a return to the 1950s, of course, but there are aspects of that period in our history that do resonate with me. As I explore options for creating a comfortable life for myself and my son, I am drawn to this period in time. Perhaps this is the Lord’s handiwork, I don’t know. But, for now, I am yearning for a minimalist, simplified, and dignified approach to my life (inside and out).

In Closing

As I close this blog post for today, I am thankful that I am home and I can rest. I am thankful for the good gifts the Lord has provided to me, and for the blessing He has assured me that is on the way. He has provided abundantly to me, and because of His goodness, I am able to rest, really rest, as I rely on, trust in, and abide in His presence. He is good, so very good to me!

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