October 24, 2016

Plans and More Plans

It is a good Monday morning, and I am here at home (until 11:30). My proposal defense was rescheduled until tomorrow, so I have one more day to prep (not that I need to prep) for it. I found out late last night that one of my professors had a conflict. Good thing that my Tuesday is free, know what I mean? So, this morning, I am at home and working on the computer until it is time for me to head over to GCU. My students at ACU get a free day today. I gave them an out of class assignment, and so far, three of them have posted online (hooray!) My plans for today are pretty simple: rest this morning, head to campus and hold student meetings in two of my three classes. Nice, eh?

I am feeling some pain today, but it is unexplained pain. It really started yesterday. I put on a pair of jeans, and throughout the day, I felt this rubbing sensation on my inner thigh. Granted, my jeans do rub against my thighs, but this is normal for me, and my pants have some lycra in them so they are pretty stretchy. Typically, there is no irritation from this rubbing of the fabric. But, by late afternoon, the pain had grown intense so I changed from my jeans to my sweat pants. I had no relief. Later in the evening, I switched to my PJs and again, no relief. All night long the pain was present, especially when I rolled over. Even my sheets hurt, which is really not normal at all. This morning, I am feeling a tingling sensation in both legs, and the pain, while not super uncomfortable, is still uncomfortable. I honestly do not know what might be going on.

I guess I should mention that I also have noticed that my wrists and ankles ached more today. I have arthritis in both sets of joints, but mostly it is my wrists that tend to ache periodically. I really noticed it last night. I was washing dishes and I almost dropped a glass when my wrist bumped the counter the wrong way. I hadn't noticed how stiff they had become until I whacked my left wrist hard on the counter. Oh my goodness! I almost passed out.

So, is this my fate? Is this what I must contend with from now on? I sure hope not. I mean, arthritis is one thing, but I am praying it is not something more serious like RA or Lupus. I don't have the other symptoms of these disorders, but I do have some similarities. I am praying that it is just Fibromyalgia flaring up. Not that I need a flare up at this time and in this place, mind you, but at the least, I could deal with it since I know what to expect. I am really beat, fatigued, which is part-and-parcel with finishing a PhD. My prayer today is for some rest, some really long needed rest so that I can recover and begin to feel better. Lord willing, I pray I will feel better soon.

Be Prepared

Last week, I blogged about how lately I have heard the Lord speak these words to me as I pray or I drift off to sleep. I have considered them, meditated on them, and prayed over them. I have asked the Lord what I must do to be prepared, and what exactly I need to be prepared to do. In all, I have simply been guided to remain steadfast, to keep on doing what I am doing, and to be faithful to my calling and my mandate. I have thought a lot about the whole preparation mantra, and even yesterday, wondered if I was doing the right thing, focusing on the most important task, etc. It is funny how one thing can consume your time and your attention like this, but here I am today, sitting at my desk when I would normally be driving over to school, and I am thinking about being prepared, about being ready to do whatever it is that the Lord calls me or asks me to do.

I spent a rather restless night last night. Mostly, I was worried about getting a call at 8:00 had my professor not gotten the email asking to switch days for my defense. And, then I was worried about my day, my morning here at home, and the logistics of getting my son to school and me to GCU -- all with our one lone car. Sheesh! I worry sometimes to the point of exhaustion!  In addition, I had the pain thing, and well, you get the picture. I didn't sleep well.

Mostly, though I worried about the plans the Lord has for my life, and whether or not, I was hearing (attuned) to His voice correctly. I simply mean whether I was listening for His guiding voice as I submitted my needs, my requests and petitions to Him. I normally seek peace or rather, I seek the peaceful response that helps me to know I am where the Lord wants me to be in regard to the thing in question. Peace is my answer, 9 times out of 10, and peace helps me know that I am in the Father's will for my life. I would say that I am at peace almost continually. Sure, I have some upsets, and there are times when my spirit is disturbed by what I read online or see in the news. Other times, I am deeply grieved when I hear news from a student with struggles or I see my parents or my son suffer. But, I mean, that generally speaking, I am always at peace. I have this sense of contentment, serenity, and feeling of generally spiritual wellness in my life. I simply feel as if I am right where God wants me to be, and the thing I am doing -- pursuing -- is His expressed will for my life. In short, I know that getting my PhD, teaching at the various schools where I teach, and living with my parents and my son (now) are all part of His provision for my life. I am at peace. I am resting in His provision, selah!

So yesterday, peace notwithstanding, I started to think about the plans the Lord has for my future, and I started to wonder about them. I have blogged incessantly about feeling the need to move elsewhere, out of Phoenix, and out of Arizona. This has been my constant claim -- that the Lord was going to move me -- and that I was willing and agreeable to it. Then about two-three weeks ago, I had this moment where I felt like perhaps He was telling me to stay put, to stay here in Phoenix, and to let this whole idea of moving slide by me. I was distressed about it, over it, and I have prayed non-stop about it. I mean, how could I be so focused on moving, feel so compelled to move, and then bam! be told to sit tight, hang in there, and hold still? Honestly, I just didn't understand it.

The truth of the matter is that yesterday as I was blogging, I asked the Lord about the desires of my heart and whether or not all the desires had been fulfilled. You know, had the Lord given me ALL the desires in my heart or should I expect more desires to be created and fulfilled? I know, wishful thinking on my part, but the point was this: the Lord had clearly given me several desires, long-held and deeply rooted desires, so it would follow that if there were more desires in my heart, He would certainly give them to me. Selah! Of course, I mean desires that were honoring to Him and were within His will for my life. Still, I wondered about it, and I blogged about my experience. In the end, I came to the conclusion that the only thing I desired, the only thing left unfulfilled for me was my deep desire to spend eternity with my Lord. Yes, this is my one unfulfilled desire.

I guess I had some sadness that the desire I have, the desire I have blogged most about (moving) was not a desire left unfulfilled. You see, I wondered (have wondered) whether the desire to move was my desire or His desire. I have always believed it was a combination of both of our desires -- His and mine -- and that my surrender to His will would eventually lead me some place else, some place other than Phoenix, Arizona. But, now, I am not so sure. Let me explain...

Taking Care of Business

It is no secret that I need a job, a full-time job. I have blogged about for several years now, and while I am content to teach adjunct, the truth be told, I will need a full-time job soon. I need the stability of a full-time position along with health benefits. I have believed, and I still do believe, that once I am graduated, I will be offered a full-time position. My prayer has been to find a job online, for maximum flexibility and to help care for my parents, but I am open to relocating and working on campus, if that is the Lord's will. My desire has been to move elsewhere, and I have always believed that the jobs here in Phoenix were limited, specifically in higher education. Furthermore, the economy, while doing well here, has caused a housing shortage. Right now, housing prices and rents are skyrocketing. I am quickly being priced out of the market, and without a change on the horizon, I am concerned about being able to live here, make it here, and retire here.

In all sense of the word, I have believed that 2017 was going to be my "move" date. I have planned for it, thought about it, and even envisioned it. Yet, here I am, in October 2016, and the Lord has not even pushed on me the idea of finding any new work. I thought perhaps the reason why I have not been permitted to apply to jobs or even look for them was simply because of my need to focus on my PhD. I have put all my apples into one cart just to remain focused, so it would make sense that I needed to not be distracted by work or looking for work right now. But, more so, I feel that the Lord also hasn't pushed on me the idea of looking for work simply because it wasn't necessary or needed a this time. In fact, if I had to say it, I would say that I feel as if the jobs I have RIGHT NOW are the jobs I will have in the future, if you know what I mean. I feel like there will be no other jobs for me on the horizon, and as weird as that may seem, and as unsettling as it is to me in many ways -- I simply feel that the Lord has provided what He wills, wishes, and desires to provide to me. Selah!

So with this in mind, I have been thinking about my next steps. I mean, what will I do come next year -- if -- no full-time position materializes for me? I've thought about this a lot, you know, a contingency plan and such. In truth, I will do just what I am doing now. I will wait on and rely on the Lord. I will remain where I am and trust Him to provide for me. I cannot say it enough -- I do believe He is my Jehovah-Jireh -- and as such, it is up to Him to provide for me.

All of this thinking comes back around to something my son said to me yesterday evening. We were at dinner, and we were discussing school, plans, and the like. He mentioned that he was thinking of staying on another year at his school. I wasn't absolutely shocked by that news because we had discussed what he would need to do to graduate by next May. He has something like 22 credits to complete, and there is no way logistically he can finish by May. Still, I had hoped he would be done so if the Lord chose to move us, well, we would be "free" to move. This has been my thinking process all along. Now, though, he explained to me the reasons why it would be better for him to take an extra semester or even two to finish properly. He is happy at his school, and that pleases me to no end. I worry about his school loan debt, but I realize that he will graduate like most of his peers with some loan debt. Still, he really enjoys school now, and praise be to God, that is such a good thing. It is a really good thing.

This means that if he has to spend another year on campus, more than likely, I would need to remain here for another year as well. Of course, that is not absolutely necessary. I mean, I could move and he could live on campus for a year. I've thought about this option before, but I have never really had a sense that the Lord desired it. Perhaps it will be so. Perhaps, though, the Lord intends for me to remain here another year. What is that cost to me?

I have been hesitant to agree to remain here, and I have pushed a bit against the Lord's seemingly change of plans for my life. I mean, why now, Lord? Why can't I go?

I understand the reasons for staying put, and they do make sense to me. My son needs to graduate; my parents need my care and support. I have practical work, good work, and I am living in a very nice place (for now). In truth, I have everything I need sans a full-time job and benefits (my Obamacare benefits are going the way of the Dodo at the end of the year, but hey, I am covered now). If the Lord chooses to keep me here in Phoenix, who am I to say "no" to Him? I mean, would I say no to the Lord? I sure hope not.

As I process this all, think about it, I realize that the Lord has graciously provided for me. He has made a way for me to live, and He has covered me and never allowed my bank account to run dry. I may not have a home to live in at this time (one I own), and I may not have a full-time job. But, I do have a good life. I am warm and safe and sound. I have my family around me. I have work I enjoy doing, and I have enough money in my account to satisfy my needs. I still have some extra needs such as a good healthcare plan and a retirement program. My son needs his own car -- soon. Overall, we have everything we need, and we are good. We are settled, secure, and safe. The Lord has met my needs with sufficiency, and in this way, we are really, really well off. Compared to some in this world, we are rich. Compared to some we are secure. And, yes, compared to many, we are very, very safe. God is good to us. He is so very good to us! Selah!

In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I give Him thanks and praise. I sing with the Psalmist these words:

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Yes, my God is good. His name is worthy of all praise, and even though I don't really understand what He is doing or how my life will turn out, I have faith and confidence in Him to know that He has me so well covered. I am covered, well covered this good, good day!

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