December 16, 2016

Opportunities and Open Doors

Blessed Friday! What a blessed day it is here in sunny and mild, Phoenix! I passed a good night (slept well), and I have had a productive morning. Although, I haven’t made a dent in my grading (yet), I did take my Mom out for lunch and grocery shopping. It is such hard work to take her anyplace these days. Despite being able to get around (her mobility is good but a bit unsteady), her memory issues simply are a challenge for me most days. I try so hard to be kind and good, to help her, but frankly, it is like running after a toddler sometimes. I don’t mind, really, I don’t. I just lose my patience with her, and I hate the fact that I correct her all the time. I know I shouldn’t, and all the while I am out with her, I am praying to the Lord for His help, for His compassion and kindness. I want to treat her right, and some days, well, it is just really hard to do that well.

I think the reason I struggle so much is simply because I am slammed right now (pretty much all the time). I know it is a major sacrifice to stop what I am doing so that I can take her shopping or wherever she wants to go. My Dad normally takes her, but today, he was out getting his hair cut and running errands. She wanted lunch, and I didn’t have anything to fix her, so I said I would take her out. Well, “Out" is an all day affair. I try hard to schedule these outings, and most times, I just go by myself. But, she wants to go with me, and I know that taking her out gives my Dad a break — but — it literally wears me down. I am struggling now to compose myself as I sit back at my computer after losing two precious hours away from the office. If I had done the shopping on my own, I would have been back in 30 minutes max. Instead, it takes 2-3 times longer simply because I have to control everything — every decision, every move — and I have to make sure she doesn’t overspend my Dad’s budget. Sigh!

I am thankful for the blessing of caring for my parents. I guess I am so worn out, just worn to a frazzle, that in truth, I really wish I could have some free time all to my own. I really need a break, a nice long break, but for the next couple weeks, I will be slammed to the wall as I finish my analysis and begin my writing for the final push through to the end of my doctoral program. I do not know how I will make it through. I just do not know how I will make it through. The good news, if there is any, is that there is an end in sight. Yes, my long and dark tunnel has an end. And, at that end comes sweet blessing, reward, and freedom. I believe the Lord has a wonderful plan at the end of my road. This journey is just a part of His overall plan, and I believe that He has a good “next step” for me.

In fact, this morning, I received an email from one of the schools where I teach online. This is a small midwestern school, and I teach online English courses for them. I am on regular adjunct status now, even though I haven't taught any new classes since the end of summer. Still, I am thankful for the opportunity to teach for them, and my prayer is that I can teach during the summers only — just to earn extra cash — when I need it most. The email today was to ask if I was interested in forming part of a communications curriculum team to help develop courses for their new Masters in Communication degree (beginning in 2018). I was also asked if I would be interested in teaching summer session courses at the graduate level. This email came out of the blue, and frankly, I didn’t know what to think of it. I mean, I am set on teaching English for the rest of my life, and here is an opportunity, an open door, really, that could give me graduate level teaching experience. I was thrilled, scared, and befuddled — all at the same time. I responded with my interest, thinking to myself, “Lord, how can I possibly take on more work?” I am slammed — did I say that already? I am so slammed, but this offer seems oddly interesting. I cannot imagine teaching online courses in my field — and — at the graduate level. I mean, this is just an out-of-left field open door.

Of course, this may come to naught, and I am okay with that, should that pass. I mean, I am settled where I am, and I am situated well in English. I am comfortable teaching literature and composition courses for the rest of my career. Should the Lord open this door, I really don’t even know what might come from it. Perhaps it would simply enhance my resume. Perhaps it might lead me to another open door, I just don’t know. Right now, I feel like I have more on my plate then I can handle, but God knows my limits. If this is a test, Lord, I will surely fail! I cannot even imagine taking on more work, but the Lord has this whole plan worked out, and in that knowledge, I know I can rest.

Thinking and Planning

This morning, as I was sitting here at the computer, I couldn’t help but think about the plans the Lord has for my life. I have been so focused on teaching locally, on completing my studies, and on writing my dissertation, that I haven’t really even thought about where the Lord might move me for a job. One thing is for sure, I know that I will have to go where there is work. I have tried not to focus on the job because the whole job thing just gets me depressed. However, I know that there has to be a full-time job at the end of this road. I mean, there just has to be something “next” for me to do.

I guess the email from the chair of my department really started me thinking about those “next steps,” and how the Lord was going to move me — literally move me — from where I am to where He wants me to be. I was telling my Mom at lunch today that I would need to start thinking about moving in the near future. It is such a big unknown for me right now. I have so many issues going on — my Mom’s health, my Dad’s inability to care for her, my son’s “one more year” of college — and mixed in with my PhD and adjunct status, I am overwhelmed whenever I stop to consider what the Lord might do next. I know He has me covered, and by that I mean, He has my “next steps” already determined and sorted out. I will go as soon as the job appears. And, then all this “unknown” will be known, and I will be set and fixed (permanently situated).

The funny thing is that my Mom assumes that I will be hired full-time at one of my current schools. She doesn’t understand how teaching contracts work, and how difficult it is to be hired to teach full-time. I try to explain it to her, but she simply says, “When will they hire you full-time?” as if it is to be expected. Right now, I doubt seriously any of my schools will hire me to teach full-time. I would love to teach at Regent, Lord willing, but unless I am willing to relocate to Virginia, I just don’t see that happening anytime soon. That leaves my local schools, and well, GCU, has recently hired a new person, so the likelihood that they will have another opening in the next year is pretty slim.

I know that the Lord is able to open doors that no man can shut (Rev. 3:7). I know this is true, and as such, I rest in His ability to open the door of His choosing and to keep that door open for me. Right now, I feel confident that I am where I am meant to be until that door opens wide for me. This means that I am settled as adjunct through the end of April 2017. After that time, I have no plans other than to go where the Lord sends me. My prayer is that between now and then, He will make a way for me. He will open the door, and He will usher me right on through it. Perhaps it will be at OCU. Perhaps it will be at Regent. Or perhaps it will be some place else. He knows my needs well, and He knows exactly how much money I need to make, how many classes I can teach, and the type of program (curriculum) I would enjoy teaching.

More so, He knows my long-term financial needs, and He knows my desires for a home, a place to call home. He has me well-covered, and while I have struggled to figure out His plan, I have somehow landed right side up. Yes, the Lord took the ram-shackles of my former life and turned me upside down and inside out. I was made “new,” and now I am seeking His will 100% for my life. This means that wherever He decides for me to go, I will go. Even to the cold. Even to places that seem distant and far off. Even to places where I know no one at all. I will go, and I will pitch my tent there and remain there as I live under His provision and with His goodness and companionship for as long as He determines it is best for me to do so. He knows me well, and I trust Him completely, thoroughly, and without hesitation. He knows me. He cares for me. He loves me well. And, in return I pledge my faithful adoration and obedience to Him and to His Holy and Most Worshipful and Blessed Name.

As I think about all of this “stuff,” I realize that what the Lord asks of me may be difficult for me to handle. He may ask me to go to a place that I do not want to go to or live in a place where I may be afraid, uncertain, or under attack. He may ask me to give up everything, financial gain, comfort, and hope, simply to do His work. He may want me to put on a way of life that seems foreign to me or to begin to do work that seems so challenging and difficult that I sink under the weight of it. He could stretch me to the point of breaking or weigh me down to the point where I can take no more weight. Yet, no matter what He asks of me, I will go and do the work He has assigned to me. I will trust Him to provide for me — in and through the hardship — simply because life without Him or outside of His will is not my choice. I want to say that I will never forsake Him, but then I would be like Peter who believe sincerely the same thing, yet who quickly turned tail when the “going got really rough.” No, I know that whatever the Lord asks of me, only He can do it. Only He can do this mighty and magnificent work, and in this way, only He can achieve the power, the position, and the prominence  that is due His Name. Yes, only He can do it, and no matter how much I think I can (like the little engine that could), what He asks of me cannot be accomplished by my own hand. I can submit. I can yield. I can relent. I can let Him have His way, and in this manner, He will do it all and He will bring glory unto Himself. This is my prayer. This is what I want, nothing more. I want nothing but for Him to be praised, to be honored, and to be glorified. I want no credit, no glory, no praise. No matter how high He may choose to lift me, I want no response, no praise. I want to give Him all the glory, and I know that in doing so, He will achieve all that He desires in me, through me, and with me. He will do it. He is faithful. He keeps His word. He is faithful, true, and good. Selah!

He is LORD of All

It is the blessed month when we celebrate the Lord’s birth. Today is December 16th, and that means that in less than 10 days, Christmas will be here. More so, in less than 15 days, it will be January 1. I cannot believe how quickly this year has come to a close. Here I am blathering on, almost in tears as I contemplate my day, my week, my schedule, and my progress, and I think to myself, “Lord, I cannot do this much longer. I am spent. I am out of gas, and I need help. I need your help!” I know that He knows what I can and cannot do. He knows my limits, my boundaries, and my strengths AND weaknesses. Still, I think to myself that there has to be a reason for my struggles, my trials, and my difficult days. I rest, I try to rest, and I try let this all go.

Psalm 24:1 NASB says, "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” I take this verse to heart today because it reminds me of the power of my God —and — the completeness and assurance of His will, His promise, and His word. In all things, no matter how hard, how challenging, or how difficult they may be, I can reflect and remember that the Lord is LORD over all His creation. He is LORD, and as such, I can rest in His abilities, in His power, and in His authority. I can rest in Him, and in doing so, I will find the soul-rest that will strengthen, revive, and restore my weary and worn out body. He is good, He is good. He is so very good to me!

In closing today, I reflect on His goodness, His glory, and His grace. I could not be where I am today without His good, good grace and mercy. He is good, He is kind, and He is merciful to me. I love the Lord with my whole heart, and it is in His name that I pray, that I ask, that I seek His help. He is my Lord, and in that, I rest. I rest.

No comments: