November 5, 2016

November 5 — I am ready!

What a beautiful day! I woke up feeling better, not great, but definitely better. I had a good night, with just one unpleasant dream (bees, again!) Overall, though, I think I slept well. I did turn in early last night, and for the most part, I think I slept soundly. Today is my first real “research day,” and I am excited to start my BIG PROJECT. I have other work to do — grading mostly and discussion board posts — so today is a BUSY day for me. I am stoked, however, and the very fact that it is the first weekend of November, well that just sets my little heart a flutter. I mean, this is my final countdown. Every weekend from today forward is set aside for special dissertation work. There is no slacking now, no rest days — just work days. I am eager to get this “bad boy” off to bed, and to be finally free to start living my life some. One of my students on Friday asked me what I was going to do this weekend. I said, “Work on my research,” and he said, “don’t you get to do anything fun?” I laughed because research to an academic is sort of fun, but I knew what he meant. He is right, really. I don’t do much “fun” anymore, but someday soon, I will be back in “fun mode” and I do intend to enjoy my nights, weekends and holidays off! Yes, Praise God, someday soon I will have a “real life” again!

Plans for the Day

My plans for today are pretty straightforward. I will check on my students and take care of all the small deeds on my to-do list first. Then, this afternoon, I will tackle my first website. I am capturing “first impressions” so that means I will take a screen shot of each website to save for later review (in Phase 3 - visual analysis). I may also attempt to see if I can get HTtrack to download the entire website so I can preview its structure. I might also do a short pilot test and download a website, screen capture, etc., just to make sure my tools are working properly. I am excited to get to this stage of my research, and for now, my goal is to jump into the dissertation pond with two feet. I am ready to JUMP and I am praying the water feels fine! Thank you, Jesus for this amazing gift of research! I thank you for the opportunity to do this work, and I pray that whatever happens, your name will be honored as a result.

My research consists of analyzing 15 church websites. I need to capture their pages, download their structure, and then begin the process of analyzing the text and importing the data into my qualitative analysis software program (which I have yet to purchase). I also need some tools, some things to assist me with my research. The first is a USB drive that will hold all my data. I need to get a fairly large drive or maybe I will purchase a 1T USB drive to store everything. Hmmm…I may need to go to the store later today. I will also need either note pads or another screen in order to view and transcribe. Hmmm…I might have to think more about that one as well.

My goal is to get all my websites captured and analyzed through technical means by the mid-part of December. Then over the Christmas holidays, I will be working on writing up the findings. I am planning on 3-weeks to a month to complete my next two chapters. If I can do it all, and I know I can, then the Lord will bless my effort, and I can send chapters 4-5 off to my chair in early January. This would allow him to review them for content, shape (edit) before they are sent to my committee for their input. Once this is done, revision will begin, and hopefully between January and February, my dissertation will be revised and approved. Then sometime in March, around spring break, hopefully, I will defend. If all goes well, my final proof text is submitted to the library by the April deadline, and I am scheduled to graduate in May. In reality, I have five months to conduct my research and write my results. Of course, I will be teaching full-time (almost full-time) so I won’t have all of that five month period for research, analysis, and writing. Lord willing, it will be enough time so I can graduate and be finished with this monumental and amazing process. I am so blessed, so very blessed. I mean, the Lord on High, made the decision to bless me in this way. He opened this door, He chose Regent University, and here I am now almost finished! Praise His Holy Name! Yes, the Lord has done this, and it is to His name that I give all praise, all honor, and all glory. He is good to me, so very good to me!

Giving Him Praise

It is a good day, then, to praise the Lord. I am reminded of the words of Psalm 92 today, which read:

Psalm 92
A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.
But you, Lord, are forever exalted.

For surely your enemies, Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

I love the Psalms, and I read them almost every single day. These beautiful poems remind me of God’s goodness in times of trouble, of His mercy and kindness despite our failings and wickedness. In truth, the Psalms encourage me more than any other scripture, and they allow me to give praise to God even when I don’t really feel like doing it. God is always praised, and thanks to the writers of the Psalms, we have a ready book, a ready song to deliver to Him at any given moment. What is more is the fact that while we lift our voice in hymn and psalms in this way, God is praised. But at the same time, we receive His mercy and goodness as the words encourage and strengthen our heart, our faith. We are blessed when we bless His holy name. We are restored when we sing songs of praise to our God. He is good to us, always so very good to us!

In Closing

As I begin my busy day, I take time out to honor my King, my Lord, and my Savior. I lift up His name, and I ascribe praise to Him for He alone is worthy to receive it. I look up, I wait for Him, and I consider the goodness that He has bestowed upon me. I do not deserve His goodness or His mercy. I do not deserve His grace, yet He lovingly, willingly, and with such faithfulness, He gives freely to me. I am in awe of His magnificence, and it is this good day, that I turn my heart, my mind, and my energies toward Him. I give Him all my praise this good, good day. He is worthy! He is good! I praise His mighty, majestic, and holy name this good, good day! Selah!

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