December 2, 2016

Creating Space

It is a cool and clear day here in Phoenix. The sun is beginning to peak through the high clouds, and with a nip in the air, it certainly feels like fall is in full swing. I woke up early today, not sure why, but I did. I have been trying to sleep until 8 or so, but lately, I wake up closer to 6 a.m. I guess it just means that I am well-rested, and that I don’t need as much sleep now as I did before school began.

My need for sleep has always been an issue for me, but lately, I have been able to rest on my days off as well as my evenings. Some nights I am burning the candle well toward midnight, but those days are getting to be few and far between. The good news is that even with the amount of work I have to do, what I am finding is that with my evening hours set aside for grading and other school-related work, I am able to finish all my tasks without over taxing my system. I guess that is why I am feeling so well-rested. I am focusing on what I must do each day, and once that is completed, I am taking some time off to just relax. It has been such a good thing to relax, to just rest, and I am thanking the Lord for His provision of down-time.

It is Friday, and that means that I have my three classes at GCU today only. I am “technically” finished at ACU, but will need to meet next week for “finals” (our presentation days). My teaching over there is completed, and praise God, I am relieved. This was a challenging semester, but still enjoyable. I hope my students took something from my class — even just the knowledge — that I deeply care about them and want the best for them. In all, I am glad I am on the countdown toward Christmas. After today, I have one and one-half weeks left at GCU and at Regent. Then, I am on vacation until January 9, 2017, praise the Lord!

So in all, it is a good morning. It is very quiet in my house. My parents are still asleep, and the clock has just ticked over to 8:05 a.m. I’ve been up for an hour, fed the cats, watered them, cleaned their box, took out the trash, and made my first cup of coffee. Now, I am sitting at my desk and enjoying the blessed peacefulness. My son is off on his mini-tour of the Midwest today. He is near Green Bay, WI, and he texted me saying he was “loving” the cold weather. I am praying he has a wonderful time away. This is a professional music “gig,” so he is a bit nervous as to what is expected of him. But, God knows this is a good thing, and I have full faith and confidence that he will do just fine, just fine.

My Home

I am starting to settle into my small space. I purchased some new items for my room, and they are slowly arriving from various manufacturers. The other day, my order from Ikea arrived. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the curtains. They were very long — too long — for my window, and the material was starchy stiff. I decided to wash them first, and I am so glad that I did. Granted, they needed to be ironed, and even after a good ironing, they are still a bit wrinkled. But, they look nice. I really like how they soften my window. My duvet cover was such a wonderful hit. Again, at first, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It is very soft, which is nice, but it just seemed rather plain on my bed. Now, after a couple days of use, I really love the look. Overall, my room has this wonderfully warm and soft feel to it. And, since I spend so much of my time in my room, I really like the “feel” that these new items bring to my space.

I am still waiting for my new coverlet to arrive. It is white, which is what I have wanted for a long time, but even with my current quilt, I think my bed looks lovely. My boys are happy too. Ike, in particular, has taken a fancy to my comforter and he spends most of the day sleeping on my bed now. Winston likes my new curtains (hence why the blind is up), and he now wants to sit in the window to look outside (even with no real view). In all, my purchases this past Black Friday were a winning combination. Not only did I save a lot of money (yes, I know — but you SPENT money to save), but I was able to buy some things to help create a special place for me, my own special place.

I am still working on my desk/office area. I feel a bit crunched in this corner of the room, but I am not sure what to do to remedy the situation. I really want to declutter some, to clear some of the space or at the least, give the allusion of more space. Right now, I am thinking still of purchasing a new desk, something small, but sturdy where I could sit and do my work.

I found this one at Target, and I like it. I like the hairpin legs, mostly. It is very small, only 42” wide, but I think it would work for my iMac. I like the color too. It would match my white washed storage cube (under Lenny’s fish tank) really well. The key is whether or not I could find a place for all my books. My current desk has built in cubbies where I have all my books (close to 60). I would lose this space by going with a more sleek and modern styled desk.

I can purchase the bookshelf that matches my cube for about $100. It would make a very nice set in this room. I would then need a good chair, and truthfully, my room would be complete. However, I am still considering a new headboard. Right now, I have a green metal headboard (sort of seafoam green). I considered painting it, but I just looked and at, I can get a lovely tufted headboard in sort of a greige color (gray-beige) for $100. I have wanted an upholstered headboard for some time now, so my mind is thinking…why not?

One thing I want to be careful of doing is buying something that I will be disappointed in over time. Whatever I purchase now has to last me for a while. I don’t want to buy cheap items, but I also don’t have the budget to purchase anything expensive.

The only thing missing would be a new dresser, but frankly, in this room, I just don’t have any more space. If I did, I might just purchase a good retro look dresser like the one I found that matches the bookcase above. The problem is that according to reviews, there are over 180 pieces to assemble, and well, that is just TOO many pieces for this girl. Still, I am thinking a dresser in a salted oak or natural finish would look good. I may just try to find a chest of drawers at a garage sale instead. I don’t know. For now, I think with the headboard (wish list), bookcase, and new desk, my bedroom/office would be complete and would look lovely.

I really do not like to make these kinds of decisions. If I knew where the Lord intended for me to settle, it would be easier. I mean, will I have my own office or will I continue to share a space with other living areas? The answer would help me know whether I should invest now or wait until later. Sigh!

I do need to do something, however. My back is telling me I need to do something soon. My memory foam seat cushion is helpful, but my back (lower) is really hurting today. I am not sure if it is the pillow, the bed, or my old funky chair. I hate to invest more money, but how much longer can I put up with the pain? Yes, a new chair is going to be here soon. I have to do it, I just have to do it.

Blessed Freedom

I am enjoying my new found freedom today. It is not as if I was set free recently, rather it is more that I have taken hold of my freedom and started to walk in it. Let me explain…

Lately, I have blogged about how difficult it is to live in a shared home with my parents. I love my parents, and I enjoy spending time with them, but with every mixed generational situation, there are times when the closeness is just too much for me. I need my SPACE. Hence, the introductory part of this post. I really need my own space, designed and created to maximize my productivity, yet soothe my weary and tired little mind and body. I live in a very small space — roughly 10x11 or 12 — and in that small space, I have to sleep and work. It is a challenge at times to feel rested, well set, and able to focus on the tasks at hand. More so, I need quiet, and that is probably the most difficult or challenging part of living in a family unit. My son is a musician so he normally has music blaring in the room next to me. My parents, on the other hand, are getting hard of hearing, so they have the TV turned up and it is ON all the time. This leaves me, hiding out in my small and not-so-quiet space. UGH!

This past week or so, I made the conscious decision to relish my situation, to embrace it rather than hate it. In this way, I started to look at my life through a grateful heart and lens. I began to think about what blessings I do have and how my cramped space is the least of my worries. In truth, I live in a small space, but there are people around the world who live in less comfort than I do. What this means is that rather than complaining about my conditions, I decided to enjoy them, to relish the fact that I have a comfortable place to do my work. More so, I decided to improve my small space, to make it the best it can be, and to not wait until some later day, but to begin to do it now. My recent purchases are toward that end. I don’t know how long the Lord intends to keep me planted in this place, but until He moves me elsewhere, I have to be content. I have to be happy. I have to find my “bliss” right in the here and now. It is hard some times, but I know that my life is in His hands, and that means that He does understand my needs well. He has provided this life for me, and as such, I cannot look negatively on it. The Word reminds us to give thanks always, so that means to be thankful even when the situation cramps our style a bit, as it does mine. I am choosing to be thankful this good day. I am choosing to appreciate the fine details, the design elements, and the desire I have to create a private and personal space where I can rest, relax, and recharge from my hard days as a professor and doctoral candidate. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

It Feels Good to be in Control

I hate to say it this way, but it feels so good to be in control again. I have been at the mercy of others for a long time while I transitioned from part-time to full-time faculty. I am not full-time, per se, but I teach a full-time load, and I am finally earning enough income to live with a bit of ease. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am well on my way. In fact, I would say that I have turned a blessed corner, and that I am heading toward the open door. I am getting ready to graduate, praise God, and with that graduation, I will be a fully fledged “Doctor of Philosophy.” My goal, my dream, my desire has finally come to fruition, and I am so close to being done. This means that I will be open, ready, and agreeable to taking on full-time faculty work. Soon, very soon.

Until that time, I am enjoying my freedom, creating a pleasing and lovely space with which to work, and thinking positively that in a very short amount of time, I will be engaged in full-time professor work. Yes, I will be full-time faculty somewhere very soon. Praise be to God, very, very soon. Until that time, I am patiently waiting, patiently finishing my work, and patiently learning how to rest and rely on the Lord. He has provided a measure of grace to me recently, a sense of well-being, of fullness, of satisfaction that I cannot explain in any other way that as a gift from His blessed hand. I simply feel like I am in control, like I am doing what needs doing, and I am doing it well.

For so long, I have felt as though I was at the mercy of others, others who had power over me. They called the shots, they told me what to do, and they withheld grace simply because they had the power to do so. Now, I am the one holding the reins. Yes, I realize that the Lord holds the reins always, but I feel as if He has said to me, “Here, Carol: take the reins for a while. See how it feels to drive the team.” I feel like the Lord has granted me permission to feel like a leader and not a follower. It is not that I demanded He give me charge, rather it is like He said, “You deserve this now. You have earned it, so I want you to learn how to be a good team leader, a good driver.” I am still hesitant, but with the Lord by my side, I realize that at any moment I can say to Him, “Lord, take the reins from me,” and He will do it. I hold these reins with care and with deep gravity because I know that I am not in the position through my own effort. I am here because He has said it is time for me to learn how to be in control of everything, to be in charge of others, and to take full responsibility for not just myself, but for those under my care (those He has placed under my care). In many ways, I feel like I have been given a great gift, a gift of responsibility, and with that gift, I am ready to take charge, to step up to the plate, and to strike the ball with all my force and ability.

My prayer is for a humble heart and attitude, and to remember how far I have come, through the ups and downs, the hurts and heartache, and how I am now in this place because of trial, experience, and yes, even tragic events. I am well-seasoned, and I am ready to be promoted to the place of His choosing. I am starting to see how the Lord works to grow His children to maturity. Once we are of a certain age, we begin our training phase where we apprentice with a more seasoned worker. Then after a time, a successful time of learning our trade, we are promoted to journeymen. After a time in this role, if we succeed in our learning and training, we are granted the master role. In all, we serve the Lord as our Master, but we do learn how to lead and equip others. We must process through these roles in order to take on more complex tasks and to be given more responsibility in God’s church. I have been an apprentice for a long time. As a graduate student, I was learning the craft of my profession. As an adjunct teacher, I have assumed the role of journeyman, whereby I was mentored by full-time faculty, observed and given feedback in order to help me become a better professional. Now, I am ready to move into the professor role, full-time that is, and thus I will become a master teacher. My prayer is that I can handle this responsibility with grace and with gratitude, never forgetting how I got here and the cost associated with it.

Moreover, as I move from journeyman to master, I realize that the possibility for promotion and success increases the longer I am in this role. This means that perhaps I will entertain a profitable mark as a scholar, and as such, I will publish many articles. Or perhaps I will gain a solid following as I endeavor to become the best teacher possible. In all, I will do this work because this is the work the Lord has given to me. I will do it to  my best ability because I want to please the Father more than anything. It is my work, surrendered to Him for His praise, His honor, and His glory. Selah!

Taking Hold

As I take hold of these reins, I am reminded of the grave consequences of error, of mistakes and missteps, and of mishandling the responsibility given to me. I am trusting the Lord to keep me safe, to secure my path, and to prevent me from failure due to my own shortfall or short sightedness. Yes, I am trusting Him to lead, to guide, and to provide for me so that I cannot fall prey to arrogance, to foolishness, or to greed.

Last, as I consider this wonderful opportunity to move into a full-time role, I take care to remember how hard I have worked to get to this place in time. I have sacrificed everything — my family time, my freedom to go and to do, and my financial well-being — all in order to pursue what I believed the Lord was calling me to pursue. Now, I am ready. I am ready to embark on this new path, to take this next step of faith, and to move into this wonderfully exciting position. May God be pleased, may He receive all my praise, and may everything I do be for His glory and honor always! Selah!

In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am giddy with excitement because I believe the Lord is about to move me very soon. In fact, I would say it this way: I believe He is about to reveal His will to me, and to show me where He is sending me. I believe He is about to take me by the hand and settle me in this new place, with a new job, and with a new outlook for my future life. I believe that as He reveals His will to me, it — all of this — will finally make sense to me. I will see how my former life, my long suffering and patience, and my sacrifice of devotion to the Lord has worked together for my good. I will see how the past and the present have come together, fused, to prepare me for my future. In all of this, I will know for certain, for sure, that I am to go and do specific work, to live in a specific place, and to conduct business and engage in ministry all because of His specific calling and mandate for my life. Selah!

My life has been transformed, and I am in this wonderfully secure place, right where I belong, doing the thing I was meant to do, and through it all, I am sensing His praise, His pleasure, and His good will in and through my life. I am sensing that the Lord is pleased with me, that He is agreed that I should go and do certain things, and that it is His good will and good provision that I be made ready and that the resources I need are released to me. Yes, I feel that good things are about to happen for me, for my life, for my family, and for my future. He is good, He is good, so very good to me!

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