August 30, 2016

First Day Blues

It is Tuesday, praise be to God, Tuesday! I made it through my first day back at GCU, and I am reeling from the pain of standing for five hours, walking about a mile, and climbing six flights of stairs. Yes, I did myself in yesterday, and today, I am paying the price. It is typical now, I mean, to be in pain when school starts each semester. I think this time, though, the pain is more severe. It is possible the reason the pain is so bad is because I had a very long summer. This summer, in particular, seemed to be longer by perhaps a couple weeks than last year. Thus, I was off my feet for a good four months. The four months was an uber blessing to me, and not only did I recover from the stress of my spring semester, but I also had plenty of down time to rest. It was a good thing, a really good thing.

Now that I have started school again, however, I am on the hunt for new shoes. Yes, I need to find better shoes and that means spending significant money to invest in good quality shoes. I know what I need to do, the kind to buy, but I have been put off by the cost, and in my usual "frugal" mindset, I have purchased knock-offs and less expensive versions of the shoes I need to wear to work. Thus, I have no one to blame but myself.

This time around, I am doing the "right thing," and I am going to purchase the shoes I need regardless of their cost. Furthermore, after four years of teaching, I am going to have to start sitting down. I hate it, it drives me crazy to not be able to move around the classroom, but I have to get off my feet at least part of each class period. God be praised, He will help me. I know He will. I believe He will. I am certain that He will help me.


Moving On

So with that sad introduction to today's post, suffice it to say, I am beat, tired, and so very worn out. Yes this girl is road weary and oh-so very exhausted this good, good day. But despite my condition, I am thanking the Lord for His provision of work, and for His strength to see me through my summer and on into my fall. He has been a gracious and generous provider. He is good to me, so very good to me. He knows me well, knows my shortcomings, and my limits, but praise to God, He enables me to do such good work. I do not deserve His goodness in my life. I do not deserve His mercy or His kindness. He is gracious to me, He loves me, and He cares about me. He knows my pain, and my sorrow, and my fatigue. He knows me so very well, and because He knows me, He is able to meet me, protect me, and yes, carry me through even the most difficult and darkest days.

Today is a good example, and while it is not a dark day, per se, it sure feels like one. I am tired from my long day yesterday, and since I have Tuesdays and Thursdays as rest days, I am resting comfortably at home. I know the Lord knows what He is doing with me, and while I may not understand why I am suffering the way that I am, I do know that He understands my pain. He does indeed understand my pain.

It is a good day, today, despite the pain. It is a good day today because my Savior lives! Yes, He lives. He is RISEN AND EXALTED, and today, I give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory. To God alone belongs as the glory, the praise and the honor. Selah!

Coming to Terms with My Lot

I guess you could say that today is a day when I have come to terms with my "lot" in life. Sometimes when people use this phrase, they do it to gain sympathy. I can hear the tone in their voice as they sigh and say "It's just my lot in life!" In this way, it is easy to see the resignation, the frustration, and yes, the self-pity in saying they have accepted their "lot" in life. In general terms, however, one's lot in life is simply another way of describing their current situation. In my case, my lot in life happens to be all that I am dealing with at present in my life. I am an adjunct instructor, for example. I live with my 83-year old parents, who are both in general health, but with complications and some difficulties. I parent an almost 23-year old son, on my own, as a single Mom. I teach college courses at four different schools, two being online, and two local. I am completing my PhD, writing my dissertation, and hoping to graduate soon. I have a lot on my plate right now, and at times, my "lot" seems heavy and difficult to bear. Yet, compared to others I know, to other friends and family members, my lot is very good. It is very good, indeed. I have friends with sick children, chronic and severely ill children. I have family and friends in the midst of divorce or suffering from job loss. I have students grieving for numerous reasons, all of them seemingly overwhelming and difficult. In truth, my lot is a good one. My portion is enough. My hope is secure. God is good all the time, and all the time, He is good. Selah!

Yet, there are aspects of my life that are difficult right now. There is much uncertainty, and much that is unknown to me. I am persuaded to believe God has this all worked out, and yes, by goodness, I believe He does. I am at rest and at peace in the plans He has for my life. So much so that I feel confident and bold to say that my future appears to be well-set.

It is funny really to think about how just three months ago, I was so intent on finding a full-time position in industry. I was ready to leave teaching behind and to find some work that would more amply provide for my family. In three months time, I have come to terms with my role as faculty, and while I still would like a full-time position, I know that for now, this is what the Lord has determined as "best" for my life. Despite the discomfort. Despite the pain. Despite the uncertainty, this is what the Lord has said is "His best" for me. Yes, this is His will, and while I would prefer to win the lottery and cash out (just saying), the Lord has determined a way for me to go, and that means I must continue to walk on in this direction. I must carry my load, so to speak, and with His help, I will progress through as He has determined is best for me. How can this be, you ask? How can God want you to be deep in debt, living in pain, and facing an uncertain future? Surely, He desires you to be blessed, to be healthy, wealthy and wise? I'd say, "may it be so, may it be so!" But only as He desires it to be. You see, while I do take responsibility for my choices, while I am quick to take my due and credit (for mishaps, I mean), I also believe so fervently that the Lord has a plan for my life, and that plan is the one I am following. I am reading His road map, and I believe I am reading it correctly.

The main thing, I believe, that is vital is to know and to comprehend the Lord's will. It is specific for each of His children. And, while some believers will say that the Lord's will is not specific, but general, well, I do not think this is accurate. In Scripture, we see so many instances of where the Lord called individuals to do certain things, and where the Holy Spirit spoke to the person and directed them to go and do tasks that were predicated upon God's will. Yes, I believe that each person can discern the perfect will of God, and that means that in every area of their life, the Lord can oversee, instruct, and direct their steps in order to give them His best. At the least, they can have a life that is surrendered to Him, a life that reflects the Son's submission to the Father, and a life positioned to receive the blessing that stems from that action. Yes, a surrendered life can yield amazing internal results (witness, testimony, peace, etc.) More so, a life that is focused on the Lord's will can reveal abilities, both natural and supernatural, that can be used for God's work and His glory and praise. In this way, all of our lives can be transformed from difficult and unknown ways into a more focused, directed, and spiritually alive manner of walking, talking and living. Yes, we can live supernaturally in a very natural world.

As I think about my day today, and I wonder how I will make it through (I am so very tired and sore), I know that my Lord lives. He loves me, and His purpose for me is special, unique, and wonderful. I am ready to follow after Him even though my feet ache and my muscles throb. I can walk on because He calls me, bids me to follow Him. I trust Him, I will follow Him, and He will care for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

In Closing

Today is a difficult day. Today is a day when my patience is tried, my faith is tested, and my body is battered. Yet, I carry on because it is His will for me to run this race of faith, to stay the course, and to finish it well. I will finish strong. I will finish strong today because it is His delight and His desire that motivates me to do so. I pray for strength today, for rest, for recovery, and for His goodness to fill my life, every area of my life. I pray now that in all things, He would be honored, praised, and glorified. May He be honored. May He be praised. And, may He receive all glory this good, good day.

August 28, 2016

Sunday, Sunday

So it is Sunday, my last day of rest before I start my full-week of teaching. It has been a nice two week warm-up to the real deal. Now, I am ready to tackle my prep for next week, and then Praise God, go and do this "work" that He has called me, prepared me, trained me, and equipped me to do! Selah!

It is a good day today. I slept well, and I woke up feeling settled in many ways. I am dealing with some stomach issues, mostly the annoying kind, so today is a church at home day. It also is a church at home day because my car is with my son, who left for church at 6:30 a.m. I am blessed to know that my son is over at church, practicing and working as part of the praise team. But, I am missing my freedom, my car, and my life as I know it. I am missing my ability to come and go as I please, especially on Sundays. My prayer is that soon, very soon, we will be a two-car family again, and I will be able to start living as an adult (you know, be able to go where I want, when I want, etc.). I have felt so trapped by not having my car to use when I need it. My parents have been kind to let me use their car two-days a week, but other than driving back and forth to work, I have pretty much waited until my son was home before heading to the store, etc. I just don't feel comfortable using their car as though it was my own, know what I mean?


Feeling Uneasy Today

I mentioned at the top of my post that I am struggling to overcome some stomach issues. I have been unwell the past three-four days, nothing serious mind you, rather some uncomfortable feelings that I had attributed to my increase in fiber of late. Yes, I blogged a couple weeks ago about how I am hooked on "Eureka" Bread. I found it one day a couple months back when I was at Walmart. I was looking for a good wheat bread that seemed more "whole" than the typical fare. I didn't want to pay for "Dave's" bread or for Ezekiel bread, which are pricey organics. While I was looking at my options, I spotted this bag that was marked as "Grainiac." I took a peek and realized that the bread had flax and sesame seeds in it. It looked like a winner, and well, after one loaf, I was hooked. I eat this bread for breakfast and lunch, and it is absolutely the best organic bread on the market. It is dense, which I love, but chewy. The flavor is sweet, and the seeds are crunchy. I love this bread.

Last week, while replacing my favorite bread, I spotted another "Eureka" bread called "Top Seed." I decided to give it a try, and well, "whoa nelly!" This bread is even more seed-y than Grainiac. It is good too, very dense and chewy, but with more seeds on top. I noticed right away that this bread seemed to give me more gas, and well, the fiber, did its duty, right away. Now, I am wondering why this bread seems to have bothered me more than the other type. I checked the fiber content, and "Top Seeds" has less fiber than "Grainiac" so I am wondering if there is some other ingredient that is bothering my sensitive digestive system.

On the plus side, I think I am down a couple pounds. I have been playing with the scale, you know, up and down for the past 10 weeks. I lost about 2 pounds over all, and since July, my weight has just yo-yo'd up and down. I think I am down a total of 2-3 pounds overall, and frankly, even though I did Weight Watchers Points and Atkins (alternating), I cannot point to either system has having helped me lose some weight. Honestly, I think it is because I added more fiber to my diet, that is all. I haven't really changed much. I am still eating too many sweets, bits of chocolate and the like. My plans to lose 10-15 pounds never materialized, and with the added stress of school starting, I gave up on them for a while.

My hope now is that once I start walking across campus again (starting next week), I should be able to control my food choices better. Hopefully, over the course of the semester, I can drop the 10 pounds I added last year at this time. I think it is doable without having to change my life too much. One thing I have realized is that I cannot change my life like I used to when I was younger. I cannot pull the hour in the gym or switch to a strict diet. Moderation is the key for me, so from this point on, I am going to focus on eating better, exercising moderately, and simply letting the rest -- the stress, the worry, the concern -- go. It is all I can do, and I finally am ready to accept this fact. I am ready to acknowledge that as a 54 year old (almost - in two months), I am limited in my abilities to reshape my body. I can only use what I have, and that means I can make my body the best that is possible given my experience and my age.

The good news is that I am okay with this truth. I am okay with the fact that my body is that of a middle-aged woman, and no longer the skinny woman of my youth. I want to be healthy now, and I want to feel well. I simply do not want to give hours of my life to working out, and I am busy, like really busy, so I need to live a moderate life, active, but moderate life.

Nothing New on the Horizon

Since it is Sunday, there is nothing really new happening on my horizon. I am feeling unwell this morning, as I said, so I am at home. I have to finish interacting with my students online, and I have to get my power points/lessons ready for next week. I didn't get my paper done at all, so that is a worry. I am trusting the Lord for His guidance on my paper -- He has me covered -- I believe it. Mostly, today is a final rest day for me, and my big needs are to get myself ready for next week. God is good to me, so very good to me, and I know He has this all figured out. I am just anxious, I guess, and with anxiety comes a bit of uncertainty and unsettling that has taken a turn for the worse on my stomach today. Perhaps with some rest, I will feel better, and I will be able to get my work done. I am praising the Lord, and I am giving Him all the glory today.


In Closing

I've got a lot on my mind today, mostly my feelings and my tummy troubles. I know that I have made it to the end of the month, and praise be to God, I will be paid very, very soon. My needs are high right now, and while I am not worried, so to speak about them, I simply have this sense of impending doom, this feeling that something foreboding is about to happen to me. I cannot put my finger on it, but I just have this sense that something is about to happen, and it is not good. Oh well...God is on His throne, and I am looking to Him for my security and my provision. Whatever happens, it will be within His mighty and merciful will. I am resting in who He is, because in truth, He is everything to me. He is more than able to handle whatever concerns me this good, good day. Selah!

August 26, 2016

Making the Most of These Days

Happy Friday! Yes, it is 'FRI-YAY!" and I am glad this week is over. I've had a great week, by the way, but it was hectic and now that it is over, well, I am relieved. I am glad I made it through my first week at Regent (yay!) and my second week at Arizona Christian. I also finished my 5-week class at Ohio Christian, and while I still have to grade final essays and post final grades, my work there is done. In all, I have had a very stressful and hectic summer, and although I wasn't super busy (working on my project, for example), I was stressed over so many concerns and situations. In many ways, I am really glad the summer is over. I mean, I have almost made it to the end (money-wise), and that means that I will be getting some needed income in the next week or two. My cash reserves are low, low, low, but so far, my well has not run dry. God be praised - my well has not run dry! He is good. He is so very good to me.

On top of it being Friday, we are still getting some monsoonal moisture come up from Northern Mexico. This morning around 6 a.m., we had a nice little cell develop over top of us. I woke to thunder and the heavy downpour of rain. It didn't last long, perhaps 10 minutes, but it was enough to keep the pressure right where it needs to be for my head to not pound, praise God! Yes, I slept really well, and I woke up without any sinus pain or pressure today. The forecast for today is mostly cloudy skies with a chance of rain later on tonight. I just checked Weatherbug, and there are little blue/green spots on the radar all around us. It is possible we might have rain off and on all day long. Yes!

I am still trying to figure out how to manage all my classes and work on my own research, but for today, my plans are to grade and read (literature). I need to interact with my students on Blackboard, and I need to get some small grading out of the way for my British Literature students. Once I get some content posted, I know I will feel better about the class and my part in it as instructor. I have to say I am really liking teaching online. It is different, you know, than face-to-face. I love the fact that I don't have to prep for anything. I merely have to discuss with my students. I can see this being very low-key for me, especially the more I teach and the more material I read. My plan from this point forward is to get the materials I need ahead of time and read over my breaks and summers. This way, I will be ready as soon as school begins. I can really see this as working in my favor, and I am so blessed that God has opened this particular door for me. He is so very good to me. He is so, so, so very good to me! Selah!


Good News

So today, I woke up without a major headache, and I am giving God the praise. I cannot tell you what it means to be free from headache/sinus pain and pressure. I am so tired of living in Arizona. It is funny really when you think about it. Many people still come here to get away from their allergies in the Midwest or East. They find AZ to be great for their arthritis pain as well as their seasonal allergies. In my case, I am thinking of moving to a variable climate where there is constant low pressure. The only time I have relief from high pressure is during our summer monsoon and occasionally when we get rains in the winter time. Low pressure typically signals a storm coming, or at the least, rain. High pressure like we have here in AZ is fairly constant, and that means that most days are sunny with no clouds or changes in the barometric pressure. For many allergy sufferers, this constant high is a boon. But for some people, myself included, the high simply causes our heads to pound, our sinuses to feel full, and our ears to be plugged. My prayer is to relocate to a place of variable change, and with that change, I am hoping that I can finally be free from the constant pain and pressure. In truth, I have had pressure headaches for 20 years, and by that I mean, most of my 365 days begin or end with pressure headaches. I am sick and tired of the pain. Plus, I am tired of the fact that I cannot breathe well. The dust is a killer, and I feel as though my lungs are compromised most days. I know, I could take medication to help, but frankly, I simply do not want to be on chronic medication. Nope, not at all. This is why I am praying for the Lord to move me to the place where He feels I will be at my best, where I will be able to live comfortably and in good health during my remaining days on this blessed earth. Yes, Lord, please move me to the place where I will be happiest, healthiest, and free from headaches. Selah!

Today, therefore, is a good day for me. I feel pretty good, and for that I am so thankful. My life seems to be settled now, and I am content to follow after the Lord as He leads, guides and provides for me. I am comfortable in my own skin, and I am finally starting to feel like I am right where the Lord desires me to be. I am happy in my profession as a teacher. I am pleased with my progress in graduate school. I am content to wait for the Lord to provide a way for me to move from AZ to the place of His choosing. I am hopeful that He will have good work for me to do -- teaching and ministry -- so that my life can be full and my efforts satisfying. I am eager to begin His work (ministry), and to finally be in a position whereby my education and training are called on day in and day out. Until then, though, I am at rest. I am walking in His peace, His comfort, His shelter, and His goodness. I am trusting Him for my needs (daily), and looking to His hand of blessing for my future. I feel confident that soon, very soon, I will know the answers I am seeking to know. I feel very confident and assured that when those answers come to me, they will make sense. They will make very good sense. More so, I am committed to seeing this whole thing through to the end. The Lord has made it very clear to me that He has a plan for my life, and that plan is specific, is unique, and is clearly and completely designed by Him. This means that I do not have 100% control over the events in my life like some Christians believe. Rather, it means that I believe that the Lord desires me to do something special, and that something special has required me to gain advanced education and to transition into this profession as a teacher. In all, what He is calling me to do is specific and it requires that I trust Him for the outcome.

Calling to Ministry

I was reading something that A.W. Tozer wrote, and I found that I was disagreeing with him on it. He said, "Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” I get his point here, and that is that we are all "called to ministry" in the sense that wherever the Lord has us, He desires that we do good work. This means that whether we work in a restaurant or in an office complex, we are to live out our faith in ways that demonstrate His goodness and His grace. We are to freely give His grace to others, to love them, forgive them, challenge them, etc. In this way, we minister with our hands and our hearts, and we demonstrate His blessedness in our life as we engage and interact with others in daily life.

I find that for many people, the idea of lifestyle evangelism is what they think of when they think about ministry. They grasp that some people choose to work in the church, as pastors, teachers, missionaries, etc., and that it is through these professional roles that "ministry" is completed. I find no fault with lifestyle evangelism (a term I was first introduced to back in the 1990s), and in fact, I think it is a biblical model that focuses on relationship building as well as verbal testimony. According to GotQuestions.org, "Lifestyle evangelism is an evangelism strategy that focuses on living a holy, winsome life among unbelievers with the goal of attracting people to the message of Jesus Christ. Many variations of lifestyle evangelism exist, but the definitive resource is the book Lifestyle Evangelism by Joe Aldrich" (para. 1). As a child raised in churches where Sunday visiting was mandated, I can remember how "evangelism" was handled by the church in general. I remember being handed tracts and pamphlets and told to distribute them throughout our neighborhoods. The role of the believer was to be messenger, someone who handed out materials that would lead a person to Jesus Christ. We needed to "know" the answers to the most oft-asked questions, but more than that, our goal was simply to bring people to the church so the "professional people" (aka, the minister) could witness and win them to Christ.

As crazy as that seems, it was the method often used in the 1990s (and in some places today). Critics of lifestyle evangelism said it was ineffectual, and that the only method needed was good old-fashioned testimony. According to GotQuestions.org, "Critics claim that lifestyle evangelism is insufficient or that it ignores the Bible’s command to share the gospel verbally. Doing good works is not enough; we must speak the truth. However, lifestyle evangelism can and should do both" (para. 2). I tend to agree with this assessment, and as a communications scholar, I realize that there needs to be both -- good works AND good testimony -- in order to successfully witness to the world around us. However, for many Christians the whole idea of witnessing has gone out of favor, out of vogue, so to speak. I think a lot of it has to do with our current cultural climate that is anti-tradition, anti-institution, and anti-religion. To say that our culture is hostile to the message of Christ is an understatement. It is not only hostile, but it is vehemently against anyone who brings the message as well as the message itself.

So when Tozer said that every man should be happy in his calling because it is his attitude that matters (and not the work), part of me wondered if this idea is antiquated, outdated and outmoded. Of course, when Tozer lived (from the late 1890s to 1963), life in America and around the world was vastly different than it is now. I don't disagree with his view in total, it is just that part of me wonders if our Lord would have taken this view when He called the disciples to leave their nets and follow Him. I mean, perhaps had Peter, John, and Andrew simply remained fisherman, the gospel message would have spread far more rapidly and without the resulting enmity against Christ? 

Of course, I am being facetious in that remark. We know that the Lord specifically called people out of their work to follow Him. Yet, not everyone He called left their work behind. Some were told to return to their families and to ministry in their homes and communities. But, many followed Him, and many travelled with the apostles as they moved about the various territories spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Thus, it is difficult to say that one way is right or best and to paint a wide brush across all people, in all places, doing all things. In this way, Tozer is correct. No matter your calling, Christians should do work with faithfulness and diligence. This aligns with Scripture, and in particular, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." Likewise in Colossians 3:17 (NIV) it says, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Therefore, one must wonder how God calls people to ministry. Does God still call people to leave father and mother and follow Him? Does God call specific individuals to start ministries, to travel to distant lands, to engage in work outside of the normal professions we think of as good and practical? I think the answers to these questions are clearly "yes and amen." We read stories of people who felt a call to leave their home and travel to another country to engage in full-time ministry. Pastors will say they felt a call to study at seminary. Worship leaders will say they felt God open doors for them to lead worship in a church or for some organization. Writers, professional speakers, etc., will say they heard God call them to preach to groups, to write periodicals and books on certain topics, and to engage in work that provides practical and useful tools to help people know and understand who God is and how to develop or deepen their relationship with Him.

Yet, despite all the testimony, there are some in the church who still feel that the average person, the "ordinary Joe," will never be called by God to do some specific work. No, the ordinary Christian will work at the mall or in the hospital or lawyer's office, and in their so-very secular work, they will not do "ministry" at all. The professionals in the church, the pastors, the teachers, the bible study leaders -- these are the folks -- who will engage with culture, who will change people's lives, and who will effectually win people to Christ.

The problem with this approach, this mindset, is that it negates the power and authority of the "call from God." It simply infers that God has preferences and that He is partial to certain people. And, while we know that the Word says He is impartial and doesn't prefer one man or woman over another, we do know that throughout history, God did call certain people for certain tasks. Consider David or Nathan or Moses or Noah. There are numerous examples of individuals called for a specific purpose in the Old Testament and in the New. Paul, Peter, James, John, etc., all were called specifically by Jesus for their role in spreading the Good News.

Consequently, the belief that God is impartial and doesn't prefer one over another is an inaccurate reading of Scripture. You see, God is impartial and doesn't make preferences when it comes to His grace -- His gift of mercy -- as it relates to salvation. All are called to receive the gift of grace. Yet, not all do accept His free gift, and therefore, some choose life and some choose death. In this way, God's judgment of the righteous and the wicked is impartial and without preference. Yet, in life itself, in interacting and communing with His Children, with those who have placed their faith and their trust in Jesus as Savior, God does indeed call certain individuals to certain types of work. We can clearly say that not everyman is a Billy Graham or a D.L. Moody. The same can be said for Corrie Ten Boom or Kay Arthur. You see, God does place within the hearts and minds of His children certain desires, certain ideas, and certain leanings and interests. He works one-on-one to train, to develop, to equip, and yes, to call those individuals to specific work. In this way, missionaries are given the grace needed to do foreign work in foreign lands. Writers can write; preachers can preach; ministers can minister. In all, God chooses whom to raise up for certain tasks, and whom to call forward to receive blessing in order to fulfill His work on earth.

Choosing to Obey the Call

I was called to teach; I believe it now more so then when I first received His calling. Yes, I was called to teach when I was a child. I was called to pursue education as a young college student, though I turned my back on that calling, in an effort to assuage my parents and do what they wanted me to do. In hindsight, I suffered mightily for refusing God's call, and not just in a punitive way, but rather in a loss of blessing and a loss of relationship. I took a different route, and in that way, I suffered as I tried in vain to please God, to follow God, and to obey God. It was in my disobedience to my calling that I suffered most -- and like Jonah -- I refused to go where God was sending me. I wasn't swallowed into the belly of a giant fish -- but I was swallowed into a culture that led me further and further away from God's distinct and direct purpose for my life. Had I listened then, I believe my life would have been blessed beyond measure. I would have had a good life, a comfortable life, a practical and useful life. I would have been employed, always provided for, and given a way to earn a decent income over the long haul of my life. Instead, I followed after someone else, and in that way, I followed a path that lead me far from where God wanted me to be.

It has taken me years to recover what was lost in that one act of disobedience. In fact, I have given up everything I had earned and established to obey His call. I lost my life, nearly, and I lost my home, my marriage, and my family (extended) once I chose to repent, to turn around, and to obey His call on my life. It hasn't been easy, and yes, praise be to God, He has made a way for me that has been less than painful to follow. I have had the "bandaid" ripped off twice now, and I can tell you that it hurts when the wound is uncovered quickly. The blessing is that the healing comes to you much faster, and the wound does improve with sun and with air. Still, the process hurts. It really hurts.

The good news for me is that while my disobedience led me down a path that the Lord never intended me to follow, my obedience has opened doors for me that I never thought would be possible. I am experiencing the blessing, the goodness, and the manifold grace of God in and through my life in ways I cannot even describe.

Now that I am choosing to obey His calling, I am committed to remaining faithful to Him. I am committed to following His leading and to going wherever He directs me to go. I don't want to disobey again, and I only want to experience the good He has in mind for me. 

This is my desire, my deepest and most sincere desire, and that is to follow after Him wherever He leads, and to trust Him to provide for me, and to rest in the security and the provision that is mine through Christ Jesus, my Lord. Selah!


In Closing

As I consider my day today, I realize that my life is built around two things: His calling and His mandate. My calling is the deep desire He has placed in me to pursue a specific vocation or profession, and in my case, that is to teach college English courses and to study communication. His mandate is the official commissioning or authority given to me to actually do the thing He is asking me to do. The two are necessary to fulfill what often is said to be "God's calling on your life." By this I mean, when God calls you to do a profession, a certain occupation, He must also give you the ability, the authority, and the right to pursue it. Without His mandate, your work will be ineffectual for any Kingdom glory. You see, you can pursue any profession in your natural abilities and many people do this daily. They choose a type of work, and then with their natural inclinations and abilities, that do that type of work. But when it comes to spiritual matters, spiritual or "kingdom work," there must be both a calling and God's mandate in order for there to be glorified outcome (where God receives the glory). In this way, it is vital to receive both parts before one pursues the work full-time. In my case, becoming a teacher was a time-consuming process. I had to pass certain qualification exams, graduate with advanced degrees, etc. This took time and money in order to complete my training. Then, I had to practice this work in order to gain experience. In all, I had to patiently endure the process before I could readily do this type of work.

Now, I am at this place where I have my education completed and my experience level ready. So next up is my commissioning, and that will take place in May 2017. This is when my professors, my Dean, and my school will commission me to do the Lord's work. I am excited to go through this ceremony, but even without this ceremony, I believe He has already commissioned me by giving me His grace to complete all my work with such great success. 

This is why I believe that along with my calling and my mandate, my graduation from Regent is key. I must complete this work so that I can graduate. Once I graduate, and I am commissioned for His work, I believe -- no, I know -- I will be sent to a place where I will engage in full-time ministry for the rest of my life. Yes, I believe that over the course of the next 3-4 months, the Lord will reveal to me His will as far as where I am to go to do this specific work (communications work, I mean, and not just teaching). I believe that very soon I will know exactly where He is sending me and then He will provide a way for me to go. I believe it is so, and I eagerly and with great anticipation, expect to hear this news very, very soon. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

August 25, 2016

Grace, Grace, and More Grace

It is a blessed morning here in sunny and warm Phoenix. Yes, our monsoon has slipped to the east, and is now moving into other parts of the country (New Mexico, I guess). This means that for the next 10 days or so, we are in a typical and very seasonal drying out period. We may till get some rain, but the likelihood is slim. The temperatures are moderate, which is such a good thing. Our expected highs are between 98-103, which is a good change of pace from our normal 105-109 that has been a regular thing since late May. Now, if only we could experience some early fall change (woohoo!) Yes, that would be sweet! Oh well, perhaps I will get to experience change of seasons soon. I pray it is soon, very soon, indeed.

It is a good day today. I am feeling well, and I slept very well last night. In all, I woke refreshed. My ongoing pattern of dreaming has ceased, well, at the least, I think it has ceased. I don't recall dreaming anything last night nor do I for the past couple days. I am thankful that I seem to be resting well again. Perhaps it is simply my stress level and the fact that I am feeling less and less stressed as the days pass by. I am guessing my low stress level is the result of something I did toward the weekend. I can't really put my finger on it, but suffice to say, I read something by my favorite Christian author, Joyce Meyer, that made me think twice about my attitude and my ability to "control" my everyday experience. Let me explain...


Bearing Good Fruit

A couple days ago, I was on Facebook and as usual, I read a Joyce Meyer quote. I subscribe to her feed, and her people are pretty good about posting some encouraging message or quote (with a link to her website or conference materials) every day. I was feeling a bit of stress over my second week at work, and while I wasn't consumed by it, I was annoyed and distracted. The quote I read said,

"Every single one of us has all the Fruit of the Spirit in us if we're believers in Jesus Christ. You have love, you have joy, you have peace, you have patience, you have goodness, kindness, meekness, gentleness, humility, self-control, it's all in you. So stop saying you need it. You don't need it. You got it. What you need to do is access it and walk in it".

I am not sure why this particular quote caught my attention, but it did. All day on Sunday, whenever I prayed or talked with the Lord, the last part of the quote kept bubbling back up to me. When Meyer (2016) said, "So stop saying you need it. You don't need it. You got it. What you need to do is access it and walk in it," my mind clicked on, and for a moment I thought, "A ha! I get it." It wasn't until Monday, though, when I was back on campus at ACU, that I really started to think more and more about this idea of "walking in the fruit," so to speak. You see, I have always known that the fruit (the evidence) of the Holy Spirit was to be manifested in the life of the believer as a testimony to not only the believer's walk or progressive faith in Christ, but also to the Body of Christ and the world, in general. I believed that growing the fruit was the domain of the Holy Spirit, and by that, I mean that my job was to NOT get in His way, so to speak. I was to not hinder His work in my life. In this way, I took on my role as passive, sort of a "get out of His way and don't prohibit His work" attitude as I grew in faith. However, I never really accepted the idea that I was to be active, that I was to become an active collaborator with the Holy Spirit. As such, I simply tried very hard to not keep that blessed fruit from growing, rather than actively living in the bearing ability of the Master grower (if you get my drift). Yes, I believed that fruit would grow as I let the Holy Spirit do His work in and through me. And, for the past 40 some years, I have been a passive vessel. 

In some ways, I think being passive is a good thing, so don't get me wrong here. It is just that recently, I have found myself lacking fruit, specifically the type of fruit that has the ability to counteract stress.

Stress in its most insidious form eats away at our life. In my case, stress causes me to become anxious, to be fearful, and to feel unwell. I have lived in a stress-fueled and stress-filled powder keg most of my life, and while my faith in Jesus Christ has been a blessing to me, and often, it has been my faith that has helped me feel safe during high times of stress, I have not been able to really counteract the effects of stress despite my faith walk (prayer, praise, bible reading, etc.).

So when I read this quote earlier in the week, my interest was piqued. I started to wonder if it was really true. Can we walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Are we supposed to be active in this pursuit, and not just passively sitting by waiting for fruit to sprout in our life?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) says,

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

As I thought about Meyer's quote and recited Galatians 5:22-23, I realized that if I applied this teaching to my life, I might just find the answer to my stress. Or at the least, a way to deal with my stress. 

I started my day on Monday with a prayer of confession, and then I asked the Lord to help me understand this principle of walking in faith or walking in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I prayed specifically for the following fruit to be demonstrated to my students:
  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • self-control
Of the nine fruit, these five were the ones that I felt were most needed as a teacher of young men and women. I asked the Lord to help me walk in these particular fruit, and I have to say that whatever I did (or didn't do), He approved. I didn't notice any great influence on my students, per se; rather, I noticed the direct effect on my attitude, my countenance, and my ability to de-stress.

The Process

First of all, I made the conscious decision that these fruit were present in my life. If the Holy Spirit is in my life, then all of His works are in my life. Selah! Thus, I have everything I need to live a life that is pleasing to God the Father and to His Son, Jesus. You see, I don't have to do anything for this fruit to be manifested, and in that way, the passive part of this story is still true. As a believer in Christ Jesus, I have the Holy Spirit. 

In this way, every attribute that is His, well, it is with Him as He lives and works and moves within me. I don't have to ask for any of His attributes because that would be like asking God to be good to me (as if He had both good and bad in Him). God is Good because His nature, His very essence is GOOD. Therefore, He cannot be any way that is contrary to His nature. Likewise, the Holy Spirit cannot be anyway contrary to His nature. Thus, all of His fruit, His nature and characteristics are part of Him, and that means that everything that He is, is present and is active in my life.

Second, I confessed that the lack of peace in my life was causing me the most pain (as in physical pain or a lack of wellness). I said that of all the fruit needed, I felt that I needed peace the most. If I was at peace in every area of my life, then I believed (and I do believe) that I would easily live and walk in joy (happiness and contentment). Furthermore, peace would bring me patience or the ability to wait and be still while God worked out the details in my life. And last, with patience, I would be able to control my appetites, my desires, my wants with more authority and rule. 

My prayer to the Lord wasn't anything special. It was more a confirmation of a belief statement. I said something like,

"Lord, if this is true, then this would mean that today, right now, I have the ability to manifest peace in every area of my life. I can be at peace. I can express love and joy. I can be patient. I can be controlled." 

The Outcome

As I prayed that prayer, I went on about my day. Nothing earth-shattering happened to me. No major change was noticed. But, after a couple days (it is Thursday), I have noticed a calmness in my spirit, a more peaceful attitude and definitely less stress than before. Yes, I have noticed a lessening of the stress effects in my life. Keep in mind that what I am saying is that my circumstances haven't changed, and that the triggers that cause stress haven't mystically disappeared (though I do believe they have diminished). It is more so that I have begun to walk in peace right in the MIDST of my stress. You see, I have put into practice what Meyer (2016) was saying when she wrote, "When you operate in the Spirit, you have a supernatural ability to overcome" (para. 5).

I don't mean to assert that somehow I am now this wonderful Christian who can control their life in super powerful ways (like a super hero). No, not at all. I am still flawed, failed, and fragile human flesh. But, I have experienced His peace, and I have most recently experienced a rest from the stressors in my life. Meyer (2016) says, "Through the Spirit you can experience joy and peace in every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful" (para. 1). In this way, I am experiencing the fruit of the Holy Spirit right in the middle of my current life struggles. Nothing has changed for me except for my attitude and my countenance. I have experienced blessing in the form of His peace. Now, my heart desires to experience more love -- for my family, my friends, and for those whom I meet day in and day out. Yes, my heart desires to experience the Holy Spirit's love for the world so that I can manifest His grace, God's marvelous grace, to everyone I meet.

Praying for Peace

As I pray for peace, one thing comes to mind, and that is that if we desire peace, joy, hope, love, etc., we must understand that every attribute that is God, is part of our arsenal or accessory tool belt. Yes, we can do all things through Christ simply because in CHRIST are held all things. If it is joy that I need this day, my Savior is able to manifest His joy to me through the blessed indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. I simply must activate it -- take that tool out of my belt -- and begin to use it. I trust the power to Him and Him alone, but I must actively take hold of the tool and put it to good use. The days of passively waiting for these good gifts to show up are over. I realized this week that I have everything I need to live a life that is pleasing to God. And, in this way, I can live a transformed life simply because of His finished work. He has done this for me and for you. He has made it possible for us to live in blessedness -- in hope, in joy, in love, and in peace -- it is finished, it is done. We must simply walk in these Godly attributes and characteristics.


In Closing

As I consider this truth today, I realize that for many years (and I mean MANY), I believed that the fruit of the Holy Spirit was simply imparted to me over time and by His design. I believed the way to bear fruit was to stand by and let the fruit grow. I was a passive partner with the Holy Spirit of God. I never saw myself as a workman, a carpenter or builder, as some one who was equipped for good work. But, God's word clearly teaches that we are workers in His kingdom, and as such, we are given the tools we need to do His work. Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We have everything we need today to do His work. We are ready. We have been prepared, equipped, trained, and developed -- so now we must simply start doing this good work -- we must start to put hand-to-plow and do this good, good work! Selah!

August 24, 2016

Next Steps

It is Wednesday, and that means that for this week, at the least, I am finished with teaching! Woohoo! I am finished for the entire week!! In truth, this is my last week before I am back to full-time status, teaching at two universities in Phoenix and one university online. I will be plenty busy as the week's wear on, and for now, I am happy, content, and filled with eager excitement and anticipation. God is so good to me. He is so very good.

Today was a good day on campus. I like my little class, and frankly, it should be easy to manage as the semester moves into high gear. My students seem engaged, and praise be to God, that is a blessing. Such a blessing.

I am home now, and I am happy to report, settled back at my desk and ready to tackle some big business needs. I have reading to do -- a lot! Mostly review of British Literature, and then some other work for my classes next week. In all, I am in good shape. I had a great conversation with my professor, Dr. Keeler, about my research project yesterday. I got my drafts back, and as usual, I have to rewrite a fair portion of both chapters. My prayer is to have my revisions done this weekend (well, almost all of them). More than likely, I will need to revise next week as well. If all goes well, and this is my prayer, I should still be on track to defend my proposal in September. Praying it is so, praying it is so!


Prospering As You Go

As I mentioned earlier, I am content to be where I am at right now. I was praying about my life this morning, and as I walked on campus, I had this thought come to mind: "I am so blessed to do this kind of work!" Yes, as I walked to my class, and I started to interact with my students, I had this overwhelming sense of His peace, His joy, and His provision. It was like my soul was flooded with His prosperity, and by that I simply mean, with a sense of prosperity. Prosperity is defined in many ways, but mostly it is equated with a sense of increased economic or social status. Though while this may be true, prosperity can be defined as a sense of overall wellness or health or vitality.

"Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, good fortune or successful social status. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes other factors which can be independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health" (Wikipedia).

In my case, I would say that I felt a sense of flourishing, a sense of success in my endeavors, today. In this way, I had this feeling that my happiness, my feelings of joy and satisfaction, were being expressed through my experience as a teacher. Let me explain...

Yesterday, I cited Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NASB) in the close of my blog posts. These verses are often quoted by Christians who believe in a "prosperity gospel," or a belief that God desires all men to be successful and prosperous (wealthy and healthy). In some Christian circles, the idea is that as believers in Christ Jesus, we automatically inherit all the riches that belong to God the Father. Therefore, as joint heirs with Jesus, all we have to do is "confess" or command these riches to be delivered to us.

"Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) is a religious belief among some Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being is always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations will increase one's material wealth" (Wikipedia).

Prosperity preachers use the "name it and claim it" approach to Biblical wealth and financial success. They say that all a believer has to do is name what they need, claim the Word, and that somehow God will do as the believer says. While some aspects of this teaching are biblical, much of it stems from false doctrine, heresy, and ancient traditions that have nothing to do with Christian doctrine.

I struggle some with this idea of "naming and claiming," yet I also do know that as a child of God, I do have access to one of the most powerful intercessors known in heaven and on earth, and that is, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, I do have access to His authority to do many things as the Word clearly instructs. For example, I have the same power and authority to do works similar to what is recorded in the New Testament. And, just like the early Church, signs and miracles are still being performed by many through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, where the line seems drawn is in regard to the way in which these signs and miracles occur. Do believers decide themselves when to perform a miracle or is the Holy Spirit agent and actor in determining when, who, how, where, etc. a miracle takes place?

In my view, the idea that God desires all to prosper is biblical. I believe that it is God's will for His children to be healthy, whole, and healed. However, I also know that sin, and the free will that humans possess often interferes with the expressed and distinct will of God. Thus, Christians do have access to the whole counsel of God's word. We can be healed through prayer and with the application of oil and the laying on of hands. We can also not be healed, if that is the Lord's desire, and no amount of praying is going to change the Lord's mind. Take for example, Paul's "thorn in the flesh." Paul writes that he pleaded with God to remove this thorn, to release him from its pain, yet God didn't relent. Paul lived with this thorn in his flesh until he eventually died. So while we can "name and claim" whatever we like, the Lord is the one who determines wealth, health and overall prosperity.

Therefore, when I say "prosper" in all areas of my life, I mean to suggest a sense of wholeness, wellness, and goodness as is imparted to the life of the believer in Christ Jesus. Yes, in this sense, I am prosperous, very successful, and the blessings I receive are more than financially motivated or based. I have a sense of well-being, and I feel His good pleasure well up in me when I am doing the work He has called me to do. In many ways, I am experiencing what Eric Liddell expressed so eloquently years ago when he said,

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

I can say that when I teach, when I am imparting knowledge to students, I feel His pleasure. I know that God has a great purpose for my life, and when I am walking in my purpose, it is then that I experience the joy, the peace, and the pleasure of the Lord. I feel it. I sense it. I can tap into it. In doing so, my inside and my outside seem to shout for joy, jump with excitement, and I know, in that very moment, that I am doing the very THING He has called me, prepared me, trained me, equipped me, and designed and purposed me to do. Selah!


Learning How to Receive His Good Will

Today is a good day. I feel it inside my bones, so to speak. In truth, everything in my life seems to be "coming up roses," lately. This is not to say that I don't have troubles because I certainly do. In fact, I still have many unresolved tensions, little annoying and difficult situations that simply have no resolution in sight (at this time). One of those situations that is troubling me is the fact that I need to find a second car for my son. As is usual in my family, my Dad has made it known that he is not happy about having to transport my son to and from school one or two days each week. This is not unusual and over the course of my life, from the time I was pregnant with my son and up until this very day, I have experienced this "flip flopping" of agreement. One day we are fine and in agreement, but the next, the agreement is no longer valid and other arrangements must be made.

I am tired of this pattern of behavior. I am tired of living at the mercy of others. I am tired of having to rely on others for my needs. I have prayed to the Lord, begged Him to provide a solution, but as of today, no such solution exists. You see, no such solution is on the horizon (that I know of). The problem I face is that the disagreement is always one-sided. I routinely sacrifice and give up my time, my talents, and my abilities to meet the needs of others. I am usually the one who is "put out." But, when I need support, help or encouragement, my needs fall way to the bottom of the list behind everyone else.

Lately, this fact has come to the forefront, and I realize now that it is time for me to go. I need to be my own person, be responsible for my own needs, and take control of my own life under the Lord's leadership and guidance. I need to be prosperous in the area of authority and control, and this means that I need to be on my own again, fully capable and sustainable on my own.

This semester is my last as a doctoral candidate, and for all intents and purposes, I am ready to graduate. Once I graduate, I will be free to move, to go to another city or town, and to be settled in the way the Lord desires. I am ready to be a home owner again, to have my ducks in a row, and to be fully responsible for my life -- my needs -- food, shelter, clothing, etc. I believe this is the Lord's will for me. I believe that this is His timing. I must rest, of course, and I must trust Him to provide for me. I am asking the Lord to provide a way for me to move out of my current situation, to move out on my own, get my own place, and begin my own life again. I am ready to be free again.

As I think about my life today, I realized that often I have been hesitant to receive the Lord's good will for my life. As odd as that seems, it is truth. Sometimes I have been afraid to receive His blessing, His goodness, and His provision for my life simply because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what He would ask of me. Would He mandate that I move across the USA to NYC (as my good friend jokes)? Would He ask me to live in a cold and wintry climate versus a hot and humid one? Would the Lord ask me to give up teaching for another career? And so on. I simply didn't trust Him enough so I would hesitate to receive His good will in my life. I would say in some ways, "thanks, but no thanks" to the Lord.

Now, though, I realize that the Lord only gives good gifts -- meaning -- every good gift is well suited to His purpose and His plan. Every good gift is well suited to His design for our lives.

Thus, as I think about moving out on my own, I realize that the Lord has this in mind for me. He has said, "Carol, it is time to go," and with His word on the matter, I have said, "Yes, Lord, I am ready to go." Of course, there are issues connected with my going. I have to consider my parents (in general) and my son (always). I have to consider what effect my moving will have on my family. But, I also know that if the Lord says for me to go, then He has a plan that encompasses my parents and my son. I don't have to fret, to worry, or to stress over these details because my Lord has me well-covered.

It is funny how today, of all days, I am utterly okay with moving out of my home. I like my home, don't get me wrong. I like my life. But, I am excited to try something new. I am ready to try something new. I want to go and live in a new place, and to enjoy the blessing of starting over. You see, when I moved out of my shared home (as my marriage was ending), I had little time to find a new place to live. The Lord provided a lovely home for me and my son. It was a good place, a very good place, and we were happy in it. Then the Lord provided this home for me, to share with my parents, and for the past three years, going on four, we have gotten along well (with only minor scuffles). However, while this seems good, in truth, it is temporary. I cannot be a child again. I am a grown woman, and I have needs, wants, and desires. I want to live on my own, in my own way, as I see fit. I want to call the shots, go where I want, and live as I want to live. I am ready to enjoy the freedom that comes with being a 53-year old single woman.

The timing of this move is singularly important to me. No matter how I slice and dice it up, I have to be careful about my "going" to another home. My parents need care, a place to live where they can be autonomous and cared for physically. I love my parents, but I have done my time with them. I want my peace, and I want my quiet, and I want to live on my own now.

My son, likewise, is ready to be out on his own. Although, I think he will remain with me for a while still, there will come a time soon when he will want his own place and to make his own way in the world. I have to let this be. I have to facilitate this so he can be the man God has called him to be. I am ready for both of us to transition from a shared life to a single life. I am ready, and now I must wait for the Lord to provide this life to me.


In Closing

I am not sure why the Lord placed this particular topic on my heart today, but I am sure it is important. What I do know is this -- I needed time to come to accept this fact, that the Lord was calling me to live singly, and that meant on my own. I tried very hard to find a way whereby we could all remain together, but the more I tried to imagine that life, the more unsettled I would become. In the end, I had to accept that what God wanted for me was for me to be a single woman, wholly devoted to Him, a woman who places Him first in every area, and a woman who is willing to say no to family, to friends, and to peers when and if asked to do something that doesn't align with His expressed will for my life. I have learned to say "yes" to God and "no" to the world, even the world that I love, in order to follow after Him and to be obedient to His will and His word. Now, I am ready. I am ready to go. I am ready to leave behind the comfort I know in exchange for the big scary unknown. I am ready to take on the challenges He has for me where He asks me to "trust" and with that trust, where I learn to let go and let Him lead, guide, and provide for me. I am ready, Lord. I am so ready to follow after you unto the ends of the earth. I am ready to go where you send me, to live where you tell me to live, to do the work you have provided for me to do. In all things, I am ready to serve you and to serve others in your Name and with your power and with your authority. I am ready, Lord. I am ready for you to send me.

August 23, 2016

Moving On

It is a blessed wet and rainy Tuesday here in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, it is wet outside (hooray!) The monsoon arrived early this morning with thunder, lightening and a lot of heavy rain. The good news is that our temperatures, while a bit sticky, are actually pleasant right now. It is 78 degrees outside, and our high today, is forecast to be a shy under 100! I'll take it, of course. Anytime we can stay under 100 degrees in August is such a blessing. There is a slight chance for more storms today, so I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to see some more showers later this afternoon. In all, it is a good day, a very good day.

Some other good news for this day is the fact that my class at OCU is officially finished. I need to grade final essays and assignments, but generally speaking, I am done. This class was a good introduction to online learning, and I did enjoy the content to some extent. I would say that overall the class was satisfactory, but not thoroughly enjoyable. I think the reason for the latter was a combination of issues with the online learning system (e360 Advance) and the curriculum format (5 weeks versus 8 weeks). In truth, five weeks is just too short to do anything at all. Personally, it is difficult for students to complete all their work in such a short amount of time. Many students struggle with this format, and the pace is so extreme that it grinds up and spits out about 50% of them. I noticed this fact when I worked at UOPX. They also use a 5-week format, and most of the students drop out by week 2. I don't understand why colleges insist on forcing their online students to attempt to complete a 3-credit course in this short time frame. To me, it is impossible. I mean, my on-campus students have 16 weeks to complete their work. We take our time, do revisions, spend quality time in the classroom, etc. In all, I think 8-weeks is the minimum necessary to attempt a 3-credit college class. Just my .02 cents...

All of this is to say, I mean, that while I appreciate the opportunity to teach at OCU, I don't think I am going to continue to work there long-term. Most of the faculty I met online seem to work in full-time jobs where they are not faculty. This means that they have their evenings and weekends free to teach one class every now and again. In my case, I am slammed except for summer, so to add in the push of a 5-week class during fall or spring semesters, well, it is going to be too much for me. I don't want to let down the students assigned to my classes, so I think this format is not the best setup for someone like me. We will see, of course. I am trusting the Lord for provision of courses and such, but I think I am interpreting, sensing, this fact today. Yes, I think I have enough on my plate with my other schools at the moment. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your amazing and awesome provision! Selah!


Planning for Fall

Well, my semester is in full-swing (almost). I started my British Literature course yesterday, and so far, it seems to be off and running well. My second week at ACU is moving on, and it seems to be solid (I sure hope so). My big classes begin next week when I tackle three sections of composition at GCU. Yes, I tackle three sections once again in a back-to-back format. It is going to be busy come MWF. Mondays and Wednesdays will be my hard days due to the fact that I have an early am class at ACU, then a short break before I head to GCU for a full afternoon. Still, I know it will be okay. I have done this format before (in 2014). I did two and two back to back at both schools. It worked out well, and in the end, I wasn't overly stressed. I am confident that I can handle the courses assigned to me.

My dissertation is on hold still, but after this afternoon, I hope to have some new work to do to get me moving again. I am waiting on chapter 2-3 revisions from my professor, and once I make those changes, I hope to get myself in gear and really move on down the road (you know!) I know the Lord has me well-covered, so while I am a bit anxious about it, in truth, I know we are in a good place right now. I am trusting Him, and I am resting in faith. He knows what He is doing, so I am letting Him lead, guide, and provide for me.

I am also trusting the Lord for care needs here at home. I am not sure how we are going to handle meals yet, but my Mom is insistent that she can handle it. I don't want to disappoint her, but frankly, I know what will happen. I will get home at 5:30, and she will say "so what do you want to have for dinner?" I need to plan, prepare, and provide for our meals so that we always have food on hand. My Dad doesn't seem to be too worried about it, but I have to care for my son too. It is a lot to have on my plate, so right now, I am resting in His sufficiency. I know He knows our needs well.

More so, as I think about the fall, some things come to mind for me. I have my schedule set, and for that, I am grateful. I also have my needs covered for finances (thank you, Jesus!) so that means that I don't have to worry about paying my bills. I am still near the red-line with my credit cards, but the Lord seems to be telling me not to worry about them now. So, I am not worrying (or trying not to worry about them). My prayer is to get my cards paid down to less than 30% of their balance. If I could do this soon, my financial worries would drastically lessen. My hope is to be able to get my FICO score higher. I need to be able to qualify for a home loan at some point, and that means I need to have money in my savings account as well as have my credit score and FICO score a wee bit higher than it is at present.

Furthermore, my son still needs a car. We are getting by with sharing my car, and on days when I need to be gone all day, we have arranged other transportation. This is going to get old fairly quickly, so I am praying for a used SUV to come to us (some way, some how) so that we could purchase it. My son needs an SUV, simply because his gear is heavy and hard to move in/out of a trunk. He hopes to have three jobs (praise God!) very soon. He thinks he can work at school, church, and do sound work on Sunday's at his friend's church. In all, he should be able to make enough to cover a small car payment and insurance. Yes, praise God, yes!

Moreover, as the semester wears on and we move closer to Christmas, I am starting to think about my next steps. I am starting to imagine where I want to be in a year's time. Then with moving -- relocating -- I need to start planning how I am going to support myself and a new life some place else. All of this is on my mind, in the back of my mind, right now. I know the Lord's plan is perfect and good. I am trusting Him to reveal His will for my life, to make a way for me to go, and then to provide resources so I can go. I really want to obey Him in this "going" and in this settlement for my life. I am so ready to be settled. I am so ready to be transplanted. Lead me, Lord, where you intend to plant me. Guide me through the steps so I can be ready to go, and then provide for me everything I need so that I can let go of this life, and embrace the new life you have for me. Selah!

In Closing

My Fall semester has started off with a bang! I am choosing to obey the Lord, to listen and to heed His call and His direction. Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NASB) says,

"Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."

The LORD has promised blessing for obedience to His commands. And, although we do not have the law to keep anymore (Christ is the fulfillment of the law), we are commanded to obey God and to keep the summation of the law, which says to love God and to love others. Therefore, as I strive to obey the Lord, I am assured that there is blessing waiting for me. My life is to be blessed. My life is promised success, provision, and prosperity. You see, while I don't believe in a prosperity gospel, per se, I do believe the whole counsel of God's word is truth. Thus, God's promises to His children in the Old Testament are just as valid today as they were when the word was spoken thousands of years ago. As a Christian, my life has been grafted in by my faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, I can believe that His word to me is true, that is promises are "yea and amen," and that obedience still matters to God, our Heavenly Father, and to His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

My prayer today is to walk in faith, in obedience, and in total reliance and trust. I look to His hand of blessing, not because I deserve it -- no! Rather, I look for His blessing simply because He has promised it. I believe His promise to me. I believe His promise in His word, and I believe that as His child, I am able to claim this promise on the basis of my faith in Jesus today!

August 22, 2016

Rain...Maybe?

Happy Monday! It is a rather dreary day here in Phoenix. The skies are fairly gray, and there is a "hint" of rain in the air. Yes, I think I hear some thunder off in the distance. Woohoo! It looks like our monsoon is not ready to give up just yet. I am hoping we have some good rain left before our season ends on September 15. Right now, we've had a pretty active monsoon season -- despite the fact -- that in my "neck of the woods," we've had nary an inch of rain all summer long. Still, any rain is welcome, and the little we have had, has provided a nice change of pace from our long, hot, and very dry June and July.

So it is Monday, and that means that week 2 of my fall semester has begun. In fact, I had my third session over at ACU this morning, and praise to God, I was finally able to login to Regent's Blackboard system and see my British Literature class this morning (yay!) I am all set for now, I think. My chair at Regent has said that there is still an outside chance I might end up with Academic Writing and Research, but for now, I am okay if this class remains closed. I am content with five solid classes, four on campus and one online, to keep me fully engaged and occupied for the next 16 weeks. God is good to me; He really is. He knows what I can and cannot handle, and He understands me so well. He knows that I want the extra income (for sure), but that I don't want to take on too much work where my dissertation could be knocked back to Spring. I am trusting Him, of course, and that means that I believe He will provide what He will provide. I don't need to fret or worry about it. He is good to me, so very good to me.

For now, I am resting. I am trusting Him to provide, and I am seeking His will in all matters. I know He has me well-covered, so I let this be, and I rest. He is good, you know. He is so very, very, very good! Selah!

August 21, 2016

Blessed Sunday

It is a good Sunday here in Phoenix. Today appears to be a sunny and warm day. It is a bit sticky outside, but that is due in part to some monsoon rain that fell late last evening. Still, the sun is out, and there are no clouds in the sky. In all, I think the day is shaping up quite nicely.

I am home this morning, taking care of some business needs at OCU (this is the end of my contract, so I am following up with students, etc. to make sure everyone finishes strong), and resting before I tackle my growing to-do list for the week. My prayer is to be finished with all my grading for my course tomorrow (Lord, willing) so I can focus on ACU and Regent. Yes, ACU week 2 begins tomorrow, and my first course for Regent starts tomorrow. Of course, there is a technical hitch already -- my class in Blackboard is not showing up fully loaded -- so my students are all panicked over it. I am sure it is just a slight delay due to the class being opened just on Friday. I am not worried, but I know my undergraduates are concerned about it (I would be too if my GPA counted on it for graduation, etc.).

God has me well covered, though, and today is a blessed day. I am stressed a bit, but not for any particular reason. I had weird and unpleasant dreams again last night, and I found myself clenching my fists while I was asleep. Needless to say, my arms and my wrists are very sore, almost as if I have been wrestling or fighting against a heavy weight. This constant dreaming has taken its toll on me. I am not sleeping well, and the night terrors are causing me to wake up feeling unrefreshed. The blessing, if there is one, is that I am not tired. I mean, not sleepy-tired. I feel as though I have slept, just not peacefully.

Today is a good day, it is a blessed day, and I am choosing to focus on the goodness of God rather than the ills and aches of my physical state. He is good to me. He loves me. His mercy endures forever. I cry out with the Psalmist and say that His goodness, His love, and His mercy endures forever (Selah!)


Getting My Ducks in a Row

I am a type-A personality. Yes, I am type-A, which simply means that I do not "go with the flow" very well. I tend to stress over inconsistencies, worry about details, and fret when I cannot control what I feel I should control. As such, my head tends to run amok often, and I spiral down in a funk whenever I allow my need to be "master and governor" rise up. I have learned over the course of the last few years that when I accept my lot, submit and yield to the circumstances, my peace returns to me. Yes, when I accept my role as "servant" and not as "master," I then find the strength, the will, and the determination to let things go, to pick up what I must, and to carry on.

Today is a good example of what I mean. I woke up feeling battered and bruised. I had an unpleasant dream, an annoying dream, and in it, I found myself being attacked by a young woman I didn't recognize. This young woman was in my home, and she was harassing me very early in the morning. In this dream, I was sleeping when this young woman came into my room and handed me the telephone. She said there was a call for me. When I listened to the call, all I heard were two people talking, like an infomercial type of sales presentation. I hung up the phone. Then, I heard this woman picking up the phone again and calling an 800-number, like one of those call-in numbers from QVC. I jumped out of bed as I heard this woman barge into my parents room and hand my Mom the phone, telling her the same thing. I grabbed the phone from my Mom, who at her age and with her dementia, struggles to know when not to answer the phone. I screamed at this young woman to leave my parents bedroom and she did. I then woke up. This dream made no sense to me at all, but clearly it was a dream designed for one purpose -- to harass me, wake me up, disturb me.

In all, I would say that I have had these types of dreams for now on three-four weeks. The scenarios in them are all different, but the goal is the same. I am being attacked, harassed, and badgered without cause. I prayed over this dream this morning, and I stood my ground against my enemy. I realized right away what was going on so I took up the whole armor of God and stood my ground. The good news is that my enemy took flight, just as the WORD says. Still, the point was made. I lost good sleep, and I was disturbed by the dream itself.

Why is this so? Why is this happening to me now? Now, I mean, of all times?

Well, part of me believes that my enemy is seeking to harass me now because I am finally at the end of my research, and that end brings my graduation. I have always known that my PhD was for ministry, not for education or a job. Although, I use my education in part to help get me a job (as in credentials for teaching), my degree was not specifically purposed for that end. It was a side benefit for me. The real goal for my PhD is to engage in communication study whereby I help the church, God's people, learn to effectively communicate their faith. This my calling, my mandate. This is the work the Lord intends for me to do. All along, I have known that for some reason this work required a PhD. Now, one can certainly be an effective minister without an advanced degree. However, for a reason known only to the Lord, it was a necessity for me to study and to advance to this level of study. Now that I am in this place, so close to finishing, my enemy is seeking to strongly discourage me, to dissuade me from pursuing this path. He knows that while he cannot keep me from graduating, he can make my last couple months uncomfortable, hectic, chaotic, and generally, difficult for me.

The weird thing in all of this is that while my sleep is disturbed, I am not without peace or stressed over this fact. In truth, I have just the same amount of energy as if I slept well. This says to me that my Lord is seeing to my needs and despite these repeated attacks, I am overcoming them through the blood of the Lamb, the strength of the Lord, and the faithfulness of my God, my Savior and my King. Yes, He is standing with me, and as such, He is my strong tower, my refuge and my rock.

As I reflect on all of this today, I realize that my experience is normal, per se. The enemy is powerless over the believer in Christ Jesus. He attempts to harass, to cause pain and suffering, but in truth, he is only able to do this so long as we allow him to do it. We have the victory in Christ Jesus! Our sins were taken on Him at Calvary, and as such, our identity is entwined with His. Thus, we say that we are crucified with Him, are dead, are buried, but now resurrected with Him to walk in newness of life. Therefore, we are set free. John 8:36 (NLT) says, "So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free."

My life is bound up in His now, and that means that I am completely, wholly, and securely devoted to Him. I follow Him, I listen and heed His word to me, and I obey His commands. Yes, there are times when I sin (John 1 tells us so), but my sins are forgiven. I cannot sin willingly and not be convicted by the Holy Spirit, but when I do sin, I know that my God has forgiven me. He is good. He is so very good to me. Selah!


Moving On in Grace

Today's message at Scottsdale Bible Church was on serving. It was a good message, and was the last part in a series of three messages on what it means to be the church. Our pastor is beginning a long series coming up on evangelism, and that means reaching the lost in our community of Scottsdale, Arizona. I love my church! I love everything about my church. I struggle some Sundays to make it over to campus, but I have found the online streaming of the services to be such a blessing to me. Yes, it doesn't take the place of actual physical attendance, but on those days when I am slammed due to work and school, online church has worked for me. God extends me His grace. He covers me even when I do not do the things I should do, and in turn, He asks me to extend grace to those around me, those in my family and friendship circles, and those I meet out in the world (at school or in my community). My life is to be about His grace, and as such, I am to give out His grace freely, just as He as given me grace to cover the multitude and magnitude of my sins.

As I sit here today and engage in worship, praise and adoration of Him, I am reminded of my place, my position, and my privilege. Yes, I am possessed by my Savior, and as a result, I am fully immersed in His presence, and it is with His permission that I share in His possessions as a joint heir. What a blessed position to be in! Give Him praise, honor His Holy Name, and worship Him for He is Holy!

I thank God today for the blessings He has brought to me. I thank Him today for His gift of mercy and of grace, and for the privilege to serve Him and His people. May my life be a drink offering as Paul said so that I can be used in a way that brings honor and glory to His name. I ask this now in the matchless, merciful, and most majestic name of Jesus, my Lord and my Savior, amen!

Note: I am in awe of His power today. I am in awe of His goodness, and as such, I rest in the security of His marvelous will. I know He has me well covered this good, good day, and I know that He is RISEN AND EXALTED. He is my King, and I am His servant. I love the Lord, and today, I give Him all my time, my energy, my hopes, and my dreams so that His will comes to pass in every area of my life. He is good, so very good. He is good all the time. Selah!


Psalm 67 (NASB)
God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us— Selah.
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with uprightness
And guide the nations on the earth. Selah.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

August 20, 2016

Saturday Post

Good morning, Phoenix! It is a great day today in the Valley of the Sun. Actually, it is a bit cloudy, which is an uber blessing for those of us who are allergic to the sun! I am enjoying the clouds and the slightly cooler air temperatures (88 this morning with a high of only 100 today!) It seems our summer monsoon is not quite ready to give up the ghost, so to speak. We have storms all around us, mostly over the high desert and low desert areas. Will these storms make it to central and north Phoenix? Probably not, but still, they are bringing in changeable weather, and my head (sinuses and throat) are saying "thank you" to them. Yes, I woke up today without a headache (PTL!) The last couple days we have been back to our normal dry pattern, and with that dryness came my raging sinus headaches. It was a blessing to wake up today and be pain free. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Summer Reflections

I am enjoying my very last days of summer. In some ways, this summer has been bittersweet for me. I have had a long rest after my very difficult spring semester, which was such a blessing. My Fall 2015 and my Spring 2016 were the most difficult semesters of my academic career. Not only was I teaching but I was finishing coursework at Regent and prepping for my spring qualification exams. The stress of studying for and passing my exams took a physical toll on me. I was emotionally and mentally wiped out as well. The long summer proved to be the best thing for me. I fully recovered from the stress, and I had plenty of down-time to just relax, refresh, and be well rested.

The bittersweet part, of course, was the fact that I didn't get to propose my dissertation before summer began, and that set me back a semester for finishing my degree. I am still on track to graduate, but I missed the summer time for data collection. This brought me extra stress simply as I worried about how I would complete my dissertation AND handle my fall teaching schedule. On top of all of this was the never ending worry about money, the panic that comes on me each July and August, and the fear that I will not make it to the end of the summer without dipping below the red line.

Now that fall is here (well, academically speaking, I mean), I am feeling better overall. I am in good health (at the least, I think so), and mentally and emotionally, I feel settled. My fall looks very busy, and that is a good thing considering what happens when I am not busy (I veg and get very lazy). I would rather be busy, 'pushed to the wall' busy, than to have loads of free time. Yes, this girl needs a lot on her plate before her brain kicks into high gear and she performs at her best. Selah!

The Lord knows this about me. He knows I need to rest, but He also knows that I need to be really busy. It is a push-and-pull type of life for me. I push so hard during the course of the semester, and then summer comes and I rest, relax and recharge my batteries. I really think that teaching as a profession is the BEST fit for me overall. I think it suits my personality and my lifestyle best. Go figure that one out! God is GREAT! He is GOOD. He is so very good to me!!


Fall Plans

So my fall is officially planned. I am so relieved, so relieved. I received confirmation yesterday on my classes at Regent, and this means that for sure, I have one class set and active with students! PTL! He is so faithful and good to me!  My fall schedule looks like this:
  • (1) Introduction to Communication (campus)
  • (1) English Composition I and (2) English Composition II (campus)
  • (1) British Literature I (Online) and (1) Academic Research* (Online)
There is still a slight chance that I will teach Academic Writing and Research* at Regent, but as of today, the class is still listed as closed. I feel good about my schedule, and right now, I am content to teach these five classes. I have my two days off, TR, and those days are reserved for grading and working on my dissertation. In all, I am well-set, so very well-set.

My prayer now is that as time goes on, I will get to teach more courses at Regent (two or three per sub-semester). This would provide excellent income for me and would give me greater experience as online faculty. Furthermore, teaching online frees me to do my research, writing, and opens my schedule up for ministry and other opportunities as the Lord leads and guides me. I am trusting in His vision for my life because only He knows the plans He has for my life. Yes, for now, I am good. I am content, and I am settled. He is so very good to me! Praise God, He is good!

Some Minor Details

As I work out some minor details, mostly in transportation and bill paying, I know the Lord has me well covered. I cannot believe how He has worked out these details, how He has provided exactly what I needed and when. I stand in awe of Him, absolutely in awe. He is amazing, and His love never ceases nor does He tire of providing good gifts to His children. I am blessed to be a child of God. I am blessed to be in His tender love and merciful care. I am blessed to know Him, to really know Him, and to have such a deep and personal knowledge of Him. I cannot believe how far He has brought me over the course of the past 6 years. He has brought me through the fire, so to speak, and I am sitting here now thinking of all the wonderful things He has provided to me. I am well-set. I have a future. I have a plan for my life, and I am purposed, directed, and focused on it. God be praised, He gave me a future that is blessed, so very blessed.

I love the fact that I know where I am going. I love the fact that I know what I am to do each and every day now. I love the fact that as He leads me, wherever He leads me, He has all the details figured out. I mean, I don't have to worry about where I will live. I don't have to worry about where I will work or the type of work I will do. I don't have to worry about money (praise God!) nor do I have to worry about how I will get from A to B and on down to Zed. Yes, He has my path considered, charted, and diagrammed. I can rest in knowing that I am moving in the right direction, I am sensing the right way to go (confirmed in it now), and that the way I walk is clearly and specifically purposed by His merciful and gracious hand of blessing. He is my KING, and I worship and praise Him this good, good day!

My prayer today is to rest, to really rest. I have been practicing "rest" for a while now, and while I am not an expert at it, I have made some progress. I guess you could say I am learning to rest, but I am experiencing rest more frequently as each day passes. My goal for this semester and the one following is to really, really, really REST. This means that I am decided that the only way for me to survive what is coming (finishing my dissertation, defending it, and graduating from Regent) is to surrender fully to the will, the work, and the way of the Lord. It means recognizing what I can and cannot do, and accepting that the work He has called me to do is beyond my abilities. I cannot do His work. I cannot attempt to do His work -- but -- I can allow Him to do this work through me. Nay, I must allow Him to do this work through me, and in doing so, His will is to be done. He will have His way, and I will get to walk along side of Him as He completes, finishes, and approves of the work. I am blessed that He has asked me to partner with Him, that He has invited me to tag along with Him, so to speak. I mean, what a wonderful gift and blessing it is to be considered worthy to walk after Him. Of course, I am not worthy. No, not in any way, shape or form. Yet, it is due to His marvelous grace that He has said, "Yes, come follow me." I have followed, and I will continue to follow after Him. May my days be filled with His ever increasing presence, and may my will be 100% yielded and submitted to Him as He leads, guides and provides for me. He is my everything! He is absolutely my EVERY THING! Selah!


Psalm 100 (NASB)

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.