October 26, 2016

Moving On / Casting Stones

It has been a good week so far, and now it is "hump day," and that means that I am well on my way to the weekend! Hurrah! My day today has been low-key, with a good communication session over at ACU followed by a two-donut break at Dunkin Donuts. Yeah, I actually bought a donut to share with my Dad, but after I got back home and he wasn't around, well, I ate it all by my lonesome. I know, rotten scoundrel that I am, but truth be told, I thought I saw him come home with his own little brown bag, and well, I just needed the extra sugar this morning. My intense start to the week has taken its toll and right about now the sugar and the caffeine has worked magic on my tired, frazzled, and weary bones. Yes, I know I will crash about 12:30, just as I am about to start class, but heck -- sometimes -- a donut or two is just the ticket. God be praised, them is good stuff!

Casting Out Stones

On my way home from ACU, I had another one of those epiphany moments. I felt rather crabby as I left campus, and yes, I was whining a bit in the car on my way to DD for my sugar/caffeine pick me up. As I exited DD, I decided that I had enough of the crabby-baby and decided to "suck it up, buttercup," and accept the fact that I am where I am for a reason. I decided to take the proverbial "bull by the horns," and simply accept my lot and move on.

In some ways, I guess you could say that I pulled all the stones out of my pocket and tossed them into the pond, so to speak. By this I mean that I took the stones I have been holding onto, all of them, and simply chose to cast them out, to let go of them, and in this way, I embraced what the Lord has in store for me. I emptied my pockets so that I could be open and available to accept the good things that the Lord has prepared for me. These are good things that are waiting for me on the horizon, but that I couldn't fully embrace because my hands were already full. I needed to let some things go, and in doing so, I am able now to open up my hands and my heart to the new things the Lord brings my way. Let me explain...

Letting Go / Communications

My morning at ACU went well, I mean, no real problems there other than the fact that I find that week by week, it is more of a struggle to teach this class (COM 203). I appreciate the class, and I appreciate my students, but the more I teach this class, the more I come to the realization that "communication" is not my thing! LOL! I should say that "teaching communication" is not my thing because here I am about to conduct communication research, finish a PhD in Communication, and well, become a full-fledge Communication scholar. I love my field, I really do. I love researching in my field, but for practical and applied reasons, I simply enjoy, I mean "passionately" enjoy, teaching English. It is my love, my love, my love. And, what is more, it is the thing that I am really, really good at doing. You know how they say that often your passion is the THING you do best? Well, in my case, teaching students writing, engaging them in cultural and critical thinking through literature or analysis IS MY THING. It is the thing I love to do, enjoy doing most, and really find the most pleasure in -- day in and day out. Communication classes -- eh -- not so much. In fact, I would say that now that I have taught this class at ACU three times, well, the saying "the third time is the charm" simply isn't cutting it for me. In truth, I really cannot stand this class (the content) and I really struggle to teach it every fall. I realized today, on my way home that while I can teach COM, I am better suited to teaching English. Yes, God be praised, as I was exiting DD, I made the connection -- finally -- to the THING the Lord has been saying to me all along, and that is that I would be a teacher of English and not a teacher of Communication.

You see, I have always wondered why the Lord put me in English rather than communication courses. I have taught COM at two schools, and while I made the most of the opportunity, the place where I find my "bliss" or "zen" is in the English classroom. I balked for a long time about teaching English, but now that I have been teaching it for almost five years, I can say that I am so comfortable with the discipline that I don't really want to do anything else. Shazam! It is truth. I am right where I belong, but more so, I am right where I want to be. God is good, so very good to me!

In a rather funny moment, I said to the Lord (as I was leaving ACU) that I really needed some confirmation today, as in some positive feedback from my students regarding my class. Today was a tough day, and I was tired, and I felt my presentation was lacking in zest. The class went well, overall, but I really wanted a bit of praise, you know, just a wee bit of "well done." Instead of getting any praise from my students, I left the school and DD with the biggest praise of all -- I came to accept my lot -- my place in higher education. I am an English teacher for good. I am set. I am established. I am good.

Moving On / Casting Stones

So I titled this blog post, "Moving On / Casting Stones," as a commemoration of sort for my epiphany. You see, I have struggled with the whole idea of moving, of being settled and being established. It has taken a while for me to come to terms with the reason why I am where I am, know what I mean? I doubt anyone thinks about life this way, but for me, I am consumed by the desire to know and to understand why I am where I am and the reason or purpose for it. I want to know the underlying meaning of my current situation, and in this way, I want to grasp the significance of what that meaning is and why it is important to my future. Perhaps I am just weird? I don't know, but I struggle so with this one thing, with accepting where I am, being content in it, and then seeing how all of this -- everything leading up to this moment in time -- will play out down the road. I guess you could say that my "future oriented" thinking sometimes makes it very difficult for me to relax and enjoy the present dailiness of life.

Today, I stopped thinking about tomorrow and focused for a short amount of time on the "here and now." I decided for a short while to simply devote time to the present, and to set aside all thoughts of the future. What happened as a result was this -- I realized that I am where I am because of the actions and attitudes of my past. I am here today because of decisions I made that placed me on this particular path. What is more, I am here today because I believe it was ordained by God for me to be here. I really believe it. I do not see coincidence or happenstance playing any factor at all. I believe I am a communications scholar, almost PhD, teacher of English, single Mom and woman, living in a multigenerational home for one reason only -- God decided it was best for me -- and as such, I am the recipient of His goodness and His favor. #IAmBlessed.

The Lord has planned my steps (Prov. 16:9), and He has ordered my days (Psalm 37:23). In this way, my life, while still under my control and authority, has been divinely directed, planned and purposed according to His desires, His delights. This means that in the moments when I obeyed, and I mean in key critical moments, my life was diverted toward this end, and the result has been to bring me to this point in time. I am where I am for a reason, and that thought comforts me. I haven't gone off willy-nilly and I am not shooting from the hip, so to speak. I am following a clearly defined plan of action, and the results I am experiencing are justified as a response to my obedience. Thus, I can take heart to know that as long as I continue with this attitude and mindset, the outcomes should be similar in fashion. In short, I obey the Lord's directives, and I receive blessing and reward for my attitude and my action.

Today, I made the decision to stop thinking about moving away from Phoenix. Yes, it was a difficult thing to accept, but I decided to stop thinking about my life as being someplace else. I decided instead to focus on what I have today, what is here now, and on how the Lord is blessing me right where I am. In this way, my focus has clarified, and my intention sharpened. Does this mean that I believe the Lord is not going to move me someplace else? For now, yes. Why is this so? Why is this happening now? I really have been so bent on moving away, almost 10 years now, that it is hard to accept changing my mind about the fact without some hurt, some hardship, and yes, some heavy sadness. In truth, though, I have realized that all my wanting to go simply served to intensify my longing, my desire. It was like the more I wanted to go, the more I WANTED to go. However, once I let my desire, and I mean my desire go, I realized that God has me here for a reason, and in His providence, that reason is really a good one.

Sure, I don't believe I will find full-time work in Phoenix. And, yes, the housing market it skyrocketing, and more than likely, I will be out priced for buying a home. More so, I really do not like the heat or the constant sunshine. I loathe 96 degree days at the end of October. All of this is true, but then I think about what good God has provided to me, and I have to say that despite all of these "facts," the truth remains that He has blessed me here. I have my family here. I have a good home. I have a good job (several) that I love. I have comfort, peace, joy, and even quiet. I may not have trees and green or rain and snow, but I do have important things, things that matter right here and now. My heart has wanted to relocate for many reasons, but my head has always felt that this was home, my temporal home. My permanent home, the home I long for is not of this world. It is heavenly, and I want so much to go home -- to His home. Until that day, I am content to live where He calls me to live, and for now that is here in Phoenix.

Blooming Where He Plants Me

In many ways, I have been keeping myself from blooming here simply as a way to avoid hurting myself. I didn't want to bloom here if the Lord was going to up and transplant me. Now, I see that I can bloom here, and if He moves me down the road, well, I will simply be moved by His gentle hand, replanted in new soil, and watered in. But, to not bloom out of fear of growing or putting down roots is to live in constant transition, tension, and without ever feeling settled. This is how I have felt now on three years, but really this is how I have felt now on 20 years, since I moved here in 1996. I have never felt rooted to this place. I have never felt that this was my home. I still don't feel this way. It is temporary, but the truth be told, now I see that it will always be temporary because my permanent home is with the Lord and not here in Phoenix. But, the Lord has granted me permission to be rooted here, and that means that for the time He has given to me, I need to obey and put down roots.

What does this mean for me now?

Well, I think the truth is that it means that I am content to remain here in Phoenix for the rest of my life, if the Lord wills it to be so. I am content to go where He sends me as well, but for now, He has me here, so I am going to stop thinking about tomorrow and start enjoying today. I am going to be glad that He has me here, and I am going to start taking pleasure in the good gifts He has provided to me right here in Phoenix. This means in my church, in my school, in my work. I am going to thank the Lord for His blessing, His pleasure, and His mercy and not worry so much about tomorrow. After all, the Word says in Matthew 6:34 NLT, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

Yes, today has enough troubles. I am choosing to think about the positives here and now. I am choosing to engage in life today, and to let tomorrow remain in the Lord's care and with His provision. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

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