December 9, 2017

Last Saturday of the Semester!

Well, I've arrived. It is the last Saturday of the semester at GCU, and I made it! I finished my teaching (technically) schedule, which included four on-campus courses along with five online courses. I can honestly say that I never thought it would have been possible to teach so many classes and survive them all, but I did it! I did it! God is to be praised solely because He made this possible. He provided abundantly for me, and with His grace and help, I accomplished the impossible. I am in awe of His provision and delivered promises this good, good day!

I cannot believe this is the case, but as I wrap up my very hard, very challenging, and very time-consuming semester, I am actually starting to feel excited about next spring. Yes, I know! CRAZY talk! I checked my schedule for spring, and as of right now, I have between 6-7 online classes set. I am still waiting to hear back on confirmation from Liberty University so my total course load may top out at eight (8), but since all these courses are online, I feel very confident that I can handle the workload.

In all, as I consider my options, I realize that it is very doable for me to teach online at multiple schools. Is it a perfect solution to my needs? Not really. It is hard to keep courses straight, to make sure I am not missing any deadlines, and that I am contractually in good stead at each school. But, I am thankful for the Lord's provision. I am really thankful for His gracious gift of good practical work.

Making Plans

It is December 9, and that means there are only 14 more days until Christmas! I am so excited to finally spend some quality time enjoying the holiday festivities. Last Friday, I attended "Winter Wonder 2017" at my church, Scottsdale Bible Church. Next Friday, I have tickets to see David Britton in concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. My son played piano for Winter Wonder and will be playing keyboards for David Britton. I am really happy that I was able to see him perform this year (I missed out last year).

Moreover, I hope to do some much-needed shopping this week since I will be off from school beginning on Wednesday. Of course, I have oodles of grading, but God is to be praised, I know I will complete it all. I will get everything done, on time, and I will be able to close out this semester with a grand finale! Boom!

My mind is beginning to clear, and I am finally able to see my next steps. Though my future is still a big unknown, I do have some confidence to know that with my work life settled, I can begin to think about my living arrangement and my desire to move to my own place. My parents cannot live on their own, and for the time being, we are settled here in this rented home. It is a good place, a good house, but I long to have my own place, my own life, and I really desire to have full control over my days. It is not that I do not have control, but rather, my life is intermingled with my parents, and as such, I cannot skip a meal (for example) without my decision impacting their life. I would like to be free to spend the evening out if I wanted to do so. The other day, I thought that I really wanted to just go to the mall after work. I wanted to do some shopping, and I thought it would be fun to walk through the mall, see all the Christmas lights and displays, eat somewhere there, and just enjoy the cheerful noise of the holiday season. But, instead, I rushed home to make sure my folks had dinner. I don't mind, but there is part of me that is longing to have that kind of freedom, to go where and when I please, and to simply be able to make choices that impact one life only -- mine.

I know that sounds really selfish, but I have been in the "parenting" role for a lot of years, and while I love being a Mom (and I do), I am ready to be my own person again. I am really ready to embrace my singlehood, to begin to enjoy the freedom God has given me. I want to go and do His work. I want to be involved in ministry and charity and other good pursuits. I want to have a real life again where I can enjoy hanging out with friends, going to the movies, and just generally doing "life" outside my home and my room/office. I guess I am saying that I feel confident the Lord does not intend me to be a hermit. He has never said, "Carol, you are to be a hermit." Rather, He has said I am to be in a relationship with others, enjoying the blessed conversation that happens when we all hang out and just enjoy friendship. I miss this aspect of life, I really do. I miss having friends and doing life in a community.

Now, I am thinking where I will do this "life." Will I stay here in Phoenix? My son is still set on attending Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA, and I am thinking perhaps I will move there as well. Not to Boston, but to the Boston area. I know he will not be there, technically, because the school is actually in Spain (his program, I mean), but I would really like to live somewhere else. I would like to live in another part of the country, and I would like to experience a different climate with changing seasons.

I am open to going just about anyplace in the USA, and with my work now online, that means I am able to live anywhere I please. Of course, I will only go where the Lord leads me, and I cannot go anywhere without His provision. Yet, I feel the pull to go, and while I must remain now for a time, I think that eventually, I will end up in a different state. I hope so, I mean, I do hope so.

Why Move?

I am befuddled at times because I have this deep longing to move, but at the same time, I feel this strong pull to remain. I cannot really explain it other than to say that what I feel inside is both a call to go and a call to remain. I often feel confused by this two-faced "push me/pull me" feeling. I ask the Lord daily to help me understand how I can go and stay. I don't want to do anything outside of His will, but I also don't want to miss out on any movement that could send me someplace super wonderful and exciting. Yet, I know that what He has said is clear -- I am to remain where I am for the time being and that although I have provision to live anywhere, I am not "free" to live anywhere I choose simply because there are factors in play. For example, one of the online schools I teach for has a requirement that faculty attends on-campus meetings. They make an excuse occasionally for conflict, but generally, they want you to meet with them regularly in a face-to-face manner. I have already felt the conflict when I have had to teach on campus and I couldn't attend these gatherings. Now, I see that this is key, and for that reason, I need to remain in AZ so long as I plan to teach at this school.

My other schools are truly online in the sense that they do not mandate that faculty live near the campus. I am free to live anywhere and teach as much or as little for each school. I like that freedom, but I do rely on my work from this one local school, and well, if I plan to stay in Phoenix, I have a much better chance of being hired someday as full-time online faculty. It would be a good thing, a very good thing.

As I sit here and think about my next steps, I cannot help but wonder if I should simply face the facts as they are (the practical approach) or if I should continue to look to the possibility of a different outcome based on facts that I do not have right now. I mean, do I say, "Well, this is what it is!" and then deal with it? Or do I continue to think that "all things are possible with God," and as such, I can hope for a different outcome simply because He is able to bring such an outcome to pass.

First of all, I was thinking to myself that I have everything I need here in Phoenix. We have good hospitals, I live near every restaurant I would want to eat at, and I have access to every service possible. Plus, I have high speed Internet -- Gigablast -- and really good service (no outages). More so, I have ready access to housing. Yes, purchasing a home in AZ is expensive, but after spending quite a bit of time looking at houses in the Midwest and East, I can say that to purchase a moderate home (4 bed, 2 bath) in a nice area (safe, suburban), the average cost is about $300-350K. Sure, inner city areas are less as are older homes (Vintage or Antique), but generally speaking, it is very difficult to find a home under this price range unless you live in a more rural area. The problem of living in a rural area is access to services such as Internet (spotty, satellite, or no coverage). More so, the cost to heat/cool a house varies from location.

In AZ, our utilities are high in the summer, but low in the winter. In some places, the costs are the same because you have to cool in summer due to humidity, and you have to heat in the winter due to cold. I guess you could say that here in AZ, the average cost of a moderate house (as above) runs about $300-400K. You can easily spend more like $450k, but it is not necessary to do so. Some areas are out of reach simply due to locality, but generally speaking, housing is the most expensive part of living here. Then there is the tax issue, and well, in AZ we have low property taxes. In Illinois, for example, the cost of a property might be low (under $200K), but the tax is often more than the mortgage. This is crazy!

So in all, as I think about moving elsewhere, I realize that I am in a pretty good place right here in Phoenix. I have everything I need except for my own place, my own home, and my own things. But, overall, I am in a comfortable home with a good environment. I am in a good way, and I am ready now to be settled.

I guess I just need to let my desire go. I need to realize that what is best for me is to relax and rest and to know that if the Lord desires to move me, He will do it. Until that time, I can take comfort in what is right in front of me. I am good, all around good, and I have a good life thanks to the Lord and to His goodwill toward me. He is good to me, always so good to me. Selah!

In Closing

I am not 100% sure the intends to keep me here in Phoenix, but if I just look at what is in front of me, it seems clear that this is where the blessing is, and with that thought, I can take heart to know that so long as I am in this blessed place, perhaps it is best for me to be thankful for it.

December 8, 2017

God is Good!

What a blessed day! It is December 8, and I am sitting here at my desk, wrapped snuggly in my fleece robe, and I am thinking that it is finally starting to feel like Christmas. I checked the temperature outside on my phone and it reads a chilly 44 degrees. My furnace is on, and well, it just feels like winter! I am enjoying my hot coffee, and I am wistfully thinking of my friends down south who are getting some unusually cold and snowy weather. Yes, snow in Georgia and parts of Alabama, and even a chance for snow way down in balmy Florida. Our weather is sunny, but chilly, for the next few days. Then, it is business as usual -- back to sun and 75! Sigh!

So today is Friday, and this is my last official "Friday" on campus at GCU. I wrapped up my COM class yesterday and had some tearful moments as I said goodbye to these students. I had prayed on my way to class for the Lord to show me His goodness. I was tired yesterday, overwhelmed with my other work, and really feeling down about my life. I am in this very good place, I know I say that often, but the realization that I am leaving one school to transition to online so I can be of assistance to my parents, really hit me hard. I know it is the right thing to do, but part of me is so sad about this fact. Part of me is so very sad about what I see happening around me. In fact, I was driving home from campus, and the tears just started to flow -- I am sad to think that my parents are entering the last phase of their life here on earth. I don't know their end, as the Bible says, but I can see the signs, and I know that each day is a gift. It is precious and good, and that tomorrow could literally be their end.

As I said my goodbyes, I had several students tell me how much I meant to them, how I made a difference in their life this semester. I simply marveled at the goodness of God in that moment. I had prayed all semester for a chance to pour life into my students, and most days I felt so useless, so fake, so not GOOD. Yet, the Lord did something special, and praise to God, these students were blessed by the experience. My heart is filled to overflowing today as I think that I am making a far greater impact on the lives of my students that I realize. Selah!

This morning, therefore, I sit here and I thank the Lord for His best for me. He has provided a good life, a very good life, and I am blessed beyond measure. I have more work than I can handle, and I have bank accounts full to overflowing. I am in this good place whereby my needs are met with sufficiency. I have no lack, and praise to God, I do not see a lack in my future.

The Lord has promised good to me. He has promised me that I would always be well-covered, and He has given His covering in the form of good practical work, a lovely home, and a family to keep me company. Daily I know I am loved. I may not always like what I see, and I do experience frustration at times, but mostly I know I am where I am supposed to be. I am in this good, this safe, and this special place. I know my future is secure. I know my future is settled. I know what I will be doing for the next 15 years, and I know now how I will do it. I didn't before, I mean. I had hope that I would be an online English teacher, and I had hope that I would be able to support myself this way. But, I still was thinking there would be some campus work or that the Lord would bring me some faculty position in my field. Instead, He brought to me exactly what He promised -- multiple online teaching jobs -- each that pays well.  And, while I do not have an office, per se, I do have what I need to do this work. I have a quiet space with which to teach and grade. I am looking forward to the day when I have a real office, with bookshelves, and where I can sit and look outside and see something other than a metal shed. But, until that time, I will do my work, this good work, and I will thank the Lord for His provision, His goodness, and His grace. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Selah!

My future is secure now. I see the path clearly, and despite the fact that I don't see one job as the "end all and be all" of my life, I do see a good future with secure potential. I see the hope of purchasing a house, paying my bills, and buying a new car. I see a simple life, nothing grand, but a good quiet life whereby I can do this work and begin to enjoy every single day, to cherish the days as a gift from God. More so, as I wind down my campus commitments, I can begin to treasure this special time with my son. He is 24, after all, and soon he will be graduated and off on his own adventures. I have little time to spend with him, and well, I am thankful that the Lord has provided a way for me to encourage him, mentor him, and enjoy his friendship during this last season of his college life.

Lastly, as I close this blog post today, I am reminded that God is a Faithful God. He keeps His promises, and He loves us so completely, forgives us eternally, and longs to be a friend and companion to us daily. He is always with us, and for this fact, I give Him praise. Yes, today, I thank the Lord for His abiding presence, goodness, and friendship. He is good to me, He loves me, and He is with me in ways I cannot even explain or describe. I am so thankful for His presence, this feeling of knowing He is always with me, and the results that come that enable me to hang on, to work hard, and to keep my faith to endure to the very end of time. He is good to me, always so very good to me! Selah!                                                            

December 7, 2017

The Long and Short of It

So today is December 7, 2017. I am at home resting before driving to campus for my last T-TR class of the semester. It is a bittersweet day for me since I have enjoyed teaching this course, in particular. Yet, there is part of me that realizes that it is time to move on and that the Lord has flung open the storehouses of good practical work for me to do. I sit here today in amazement as I was just given ANOTHER course to teach at Grantham University.

In all, I have three online courses that are set to run through the end of January. I am feeling pinched, worried that I will not be able to keep up, but if the Lord has opened this door then so be it. I have said to Him before that I would teach whatever course He assigns to me. I will do the work He provides, without complaining about it. Right now, that means I have my two Regent courses wrapping up (week 7 of 8), and I have my four on-campus courses ending (week 14 of 15). In all, I will have a short break over the holidays, but Grantham will continue on a monthly basis (no break).


 He is Good

I sit here and I marvel. What has the Lord done for me? I mean, earlier in the fall, I was wondering if I would be teaching on campus and online again. I felt the Lord was clear that I was to teach online only. I thought, "But, I don't have enough courses right now?" It was shortly thereafter that I received the call from Liberty to interview, and as of now, I am in "process" to be hired for spring work. If this school delivers, I should have more work than I can handle -- again -- more work than I can possibly do well. The Lord has blessed me with an overflowing coffer, so to speak. My cup surely runs over with His goodness and His mercy.

I am ready for a break, for sure, but I am also eyeing my first student loan payment that is due in a couple weeks. I need the cash -- BIG TIME! I need to make oodles of cash now, and I need to do it quickly.

As I think about that looming monthly debt, I realize that I can only do what the Lord assigns to me. I feel so out of things right now, sort of like my world is spinning out of control. For one, I am fully immersed in teaching English and not my field, Communication. I had hoped to be hired as faculty for COM at GCU, but that position went to someone else. Thus, as of today, I am teaching English only at four different schools (soon to be four). I teach Composition and Literature, just as the Lord said I would. I have occasionally taught Communication, but the Lord has been clear with me. I would be an English teacher, not a COM teacher. It is hard for me because my colleagues are all working in their field, teaching, and researching, and many are presenting at a conference. I am doing none of the above, yet I hold the coveted COM Ph.D. It is so weird, so very weird. Yet, I realize that this too is for a reason, and this is exactly what the Lord said would come to pass. I am an English teacher, and this is the "good practical" work I would do until I retire at age 70.

I am okay with this fact, but there is part of me that sees my life grinding to a halt while my peers are zooming past me. It is so hard to be overlooked, overshadowed, left behind. I must remember that this is for His praise, His honor, and yes, His glory. All I do is for Him, and the work I do is to bring Him praise. Always it is for His praise. So today, I sit here contemplating my life, and I realize that what I have asked for has come to pass. I asked the Lord for a way to work from home. I asked Him for permission to stay at home so I could be of more assistance to my parents. I asked Him to teach English and not Communications, and I asked Him to provide enough income so I could comfortably work and not "overwork" myself through the end of my teaching days. He has done this for me. He has answered my prayer, and I am receiving His blessed gift. It is not quite what I expected. It is not the fancy job with a title I had hoped for, but it is good. It is good to work, and I am thankful for it.

Now as I plan for my day, I think to myself, "Lord, what else is there for me to look forward to receiving?" I wonder what will be next? Will I simply teach from my bedroom all my days? Will I ever have a proper office?

My prayer today is to relax, to rest, and to recognize that His will is coming to pass and that He is making it possible for me to live a very good quality of life in a very good way. I don't have to worry about how He will do it, I just have to attend to what He has asked me to do. I do my share of the work; He provides the rest. I do what is asked, and I am faithful to do it well, and He blesses my effort. It is good. It is good. It is good. Selah!

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I say to the Lord, "Thank you!" Thank you, Lord, for your marvelous provision of grace, for your on-going support, and for your gift of blessing that covers my needs too well. May my heart and mind be transformed this day by the knowledge that I am well-covered, blessed, and in a highly fortunate position. May my days be as you order them to be, and may I rest now in your abiding presence and in the knowledge that you have your hand resting on me. I lack no good thing. He has me well-covered, and thus I say this day, "Thank you for your good, good gifts, Lord!" Thank you, Jesus!

December 3, 2017

Dreaming of a White Christmas

It is a good Sunday here in warm and sunny Phoenix. It is a good day, and all things considered, I am feeling pretty good about the way things are shaping up for my December.

This morning, I had a blessed time worshipping at Scottsdale Bible Church. Our pastor is preaching on Advent, and since my church is not a traditional church, Advent is a new concept to many of our members. Our pastor did a super job this morning, and I think his first message on hope was well-said and well-received.

I needed to hear why it is so important to remain hopeful despite our circumstances. I needed a reminder that when I look at my life, at all that is happening around me, it is so easy for me to become disillusioned and to begin to despair. Yet, when I look up, look up toward Heaven, and when I remember to consider God and His promises to me, it is then and only then, that I begin to feel hopeful. I needed that reminder today, especially as I work through some challenging experiences here at home, and as I begin to wrap up my last semester on campus at GCU. I needed to reconsider that while many doors are closing this month, there are several wonderful opportunities out there that are just waiting to be revealed to me. Now is not the time to quit. Now is not the time to give up. No, I must remain faithful, to remain hopeful, and to remember that it is God, my ROCK, my REFUGE, and my REDEEMER who saves me.

Sunny Skies and No Snow

It is mid-afternoon, and my parents are at a memorial service for a dear friend who passed away before Thanksgiving. I was working on my grading (always) and decided to make the most of the time while they were out of the house. My son is performing today at Winter Wonder 2017, our church's big Christmas celebration/performance. Just an aside: My parents and I attended on Friday, so our month started off with a big bang! I digress. So while my folks are out and my son is off performing, I decided to put the house lights up as well as the big wreath. Normally, I would wait for my Dad to help, but lately, he hasn't been able to do that much work, and I didn't want to bother him this time around. It took me all of 30 minutes, and well, it is done. I went less intensive this year, simply because I just don't have the energy or the strength to really go all out. Still, I think once nightfalls, the lights will look just fine.

As I was outside, sweating up a storm since it is 77 outside, I couldn't help but remember my childhood Christmases back in Illinois. We didn't always have snow. Most of the years we lived south of Chicago, we simply had really cold years. But, I remember a string of snowstorms from about 1975-78, and I have very fond memories of the times when my Mom and I would go shopping or when I would look outside my window to see the snow falling so heavily. These are lovely reminders for me to cherish the time as it comes and do not always focus on the past or the future. Rather, to enjoy the blessing of each day since each day is a gift from the Lord.

My heart thinks that it would be so much fun to simply live back East and to enjoy the cold and the snow again. I know most people think that living in the cold is their least favorite thing, and that I would be crazy to want to give up the heat, the sun, and the desert fun to move back to the frozen winter. But, I really do miss the cold. I am not a heat person. I don't tolerate heat well.

I am not sure where I will end up, but I really am thinking more and more that if the Lord opens a door for me or my son to go East, we will go. Yes, I am saying today that should the Lord provide an opportunity for me to relocate to the cold and the snow, I will trust Him, and I will go. I will readily go.

In Closing

As I close this short blog post so that I can get back to the business of grading, I am thanking the Lord for His blessed reminder today to simply LOOK UP. I am choosing this good day to look to Him alone for the solution to every single need. He is able to meet my needs with sufficiency, and as I look forward to my next adventure, I remember that He is the One who is in charge of my future, and He is the One who has my life plan worked out. I rest in His ability, in His provision, and in His goodness this good, good day!

December 1, 2017

Clearly Sensing His Closure

As my week ends, I am reflective of the fact that the Lord seems to be closing doors for me. I had a good day at class yesterday, and my students were sweet and attentive. It was a good feeling to have a strong teaching day, and to make solid emotional connections with my students. I felt good leaving campus, as if I had really made an impact, and with that feeling, I was so ready to move on.

I am sensing His presence as the days draw to a close here at GCU. I am thankful for this school. After all, it was this school that gave me my first shot at teaching, and it was this school that really gave me courses to sustain me through my entire doctoral program. In truth, I love this school, and I will always be grateful to the faculty and staff that supported and encouraged me. But, all good things must come to an end, as they say, especially if new doors await to be opened. We must continually move forward in our faith walk, and the more we trust and rely on the Lord, the more He will provide opportunities for growth and development.

This morning as I sit at my desk, blog and sip my second cup of coffee, I realize that I am in this very special place. I mean I just paid my bills online, and I checked my bank account only to see that another check arrived today from one of my schools. I am spending my hard earned money on necessary things, but the Lord is refilling my basket and bowl at the same time. The money goes out, but it also comes right back in. I cannot even describe the feeling, how good it is to know that I am well-covered and well-provided for each and every day.

Of course, I don't take this blessing for granted. I don't think less of it; rather, I give Him thanks and praise for His goodness and His faithfulness to me. I would not be here today, writing on my blog, sipping my coffee, making myself ready to head to campus if the Lord had not opened this door for me, enabled me to teach, gifted me with education, and then gave me favor and blessing to be able to do this type of work. The Lord has done this for me, and I take no credit in any of it. Selah!

Today, therefore, is a good day to reflect and to thank the Lord for His mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He has made my life good, like very GOOD. What was once a difficult and daily struggle to just survive has now turned in a road paved with His goodness and good favor. I am in this very sweet place, and I boast only in the favor and blessing of God. I give Him thanks, and I lift up my voice to praise Him this good, good day.

Plans for the Season

I was arriving on campus yesterday thinking that I am just not excited about Christmas. I mean, I love this season, and I look forward to it all year long. But, Christmas is a challenge to me, it is not always light and love. I have some really great memories of Christmases past, and I tried very hard when I was married to recreate Christmas in a similar way for my husband and child. I think I did a good job, despite never having any money, and the fact that Christmas family get-togethers were strained and difficult. Still, I made the holiday as warm and inviting as possible with lights, trees decorated, and goodies galore. It was mostly "Charlie Brown" Christmases back then, and since my divorce, while I have had more income, the holiday itself just hasn't really been a good one. Sad to say, but true.

As I was praying over my attitude, and I asked the Lord for His help. I wanted to return to the delight of Christmas, and to be excited for its arrival again. I asked the Lord to help me see Christmas with His eyes, and to engage folks with the spirit of Christmas -- the joy and the glory -- of the Christmas message (Jesus, the Christ!) In all, I hoped that once the hub-bub of school ended, I would be able to spend more time enjoying the sights and the sounds of the holiday.

So, tonight, I am taking my parents to Scottsdale Bible Church's "Winter Wonder 2017" Christmas performance. My son is playing keyboards, but the event is always such a good way to begin the holiday season. Next, I am going to see my son perform with David Britton at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on December 15. I missed last year, so I made sure to get my ticket early this year. I am center stage about 5th row. It should really be wonderful. Then, this weekend, I plan to put up the lights and the wreath and finish decorating the house. More so, I plan to bake some Christmas fudge and other goodies. I am forcing myself to be merry and festive and in this way my prayer is that I will begin to enjoy the season as I should -- with hopeful expectancy of the good things God has for me this year end and into the new year.

Lastly, as I wrap up my post for the day, I simply want to treasure up the good memories so that more and more my thoughts turn toward God's goodness and faithfulness rather than my own insecurities and inabilities to handle life's ups and downs. It is with a determined focus that I am able to plan, prepare, and perform in a way that brings God's praise, honor, and yes, glory. My heart's desire is to love Him, serve Him, and do whatever work He asks me to do in order to honor Him with my praise and thanksgiving. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

November 30, 2017

Ready and Waiting

It is a good Thursday in cloudy and cool Phoenix. The sun is trying to peak through the clouds, but so far, it is just a grayish haze out my bedroom window. I am amazed at the temperatures. The high today will hit in the low 70s and then next week, the weather forecast calls for low 60s. In truth, we should see our lows near 40 and highs near 60 beginning in December. It has been an unusual warm fall, so the cooler temps are welcome, so welcome!

I am at home this morning, enjoying my coffee while I blog (with cat on lap). I didn't sleep well, and I have a pretty nasty headache right now, but overall, I feel well. I am worried about my vision, not sure what is going on with it, but lately I have had difficulty focusing and my eyes have been really dry. Hopefully, with some rest, the strain will pass. This is my prayer, of course.

Feeling Confident But Confused

I am so ready for the semester to end. It seems like the past couple days have been fraught with frustration. I have had really bad classes -- and by that I mean -- class sessions where my lessons didn't pan out, the computer didn't work, and generally, my students didn't listen. It was like a bad case of the "terrible twos" at work. Sigh! I am sure it is just that we all are tired, and we all want Christmas break to begin.

In good news, though, I sent my hiring paperwork to Liberty HR yesterday. Hopefully, once they receive my transcripts and other documents, they will approve me for teaching. I would like to start in January, but I recall I need to take some online training first. It would be good to start at the first of the year, but if I have to wait until March, I am fine with that news.

In all, my life seems to be winding down with the semester close. I will be glad to see 2017 wrap up. It has been an exciting year, but with the completion of my program, part of me has felt so purposeless. I mean, I know the Lord has a great plan for my life, but with the completion of four years of hard study, I simply have not enjoyed the "downtime." It was like I was driving at car at 60 MPH and then all of a sudden came to a stop. I felt that last surge of movement in April, and then the grinding halt followed shortly after.

Since that time, I have found it very hard to focus, I have struggled to understand what I am to do next, and I have wondered if I will have another significant project to focus on. Of course, I believe I will have more work to do, just not right now. I know the Lord has called me to ministry, to develop materials and such, but I don't know when I am supposed to begin that work or how I am to do it. I just know I am called TO DO IT. The waiting period, though, is hard for me. I understand that the Lord has given this time to me to rest, and I am rested, but I also feel such a lack of purpose, directionless right now. It is hard to focus, hard to stay put, hard to do much of anything. Sigh!

I am hopeful, however, and I have faith to know that when God calls us to do His work, He always provides a way for us to do it. He never says, "Hey, go and do my work. Figure it out on your own!" No, rather, He gives specific directions, provides necessary provisions, and He leads and guides us through each and every step. After all, it is His work and not ours. It is for His name and praise, and not to build us up or make us into anything extraordinary. Instead, it is all about Him, and with the focus squarely on Him, we are asked to do the work without fanfare, shining lights, or fancy name plaques. We are asked to do this good work for His name only.

So, I sit here and I try to figure out how to handle my days. Right now, I am so tired. My body aches, my headaches, and my feet, well, they ache too. I cannot stand much longer, and I am really looking forward to working from home next spring. The Lord knows my limits, and this semester, really tested my physical limits. If anything, I have come to learn that I am able to process quite a lot of mental work. I can handle a lot of classes, a lot of students, and a lot of intellectual challenge. But, I cannot handle physical demands. Walking 2 miles per day across campus, standing for 4-5 hours, climbing 5-6 flights of stairs and then speaking for three hours or more to large classes simply takes a physically toll on my body. I am worn out. I need to rest. I need less physical, but more mental and intellectual work. I know what I can and cannot do, and I finally see that some things work really well for me, while others, do not.

They key has been to figure this out, to grasp the limits, and then to learn how to rest within those boundaries. It is not a negative thing at all, but rather, it is a positive one. I know how far I can go, and I know how much stress my body can take. I know when to call it quits, and just like when I worked at Macy's for a year, I knew when the time came that it was time to leave. I had had enough, and I could no longer tolerate the physical demands of that position. The same was true at UOPX. I worked in a call center environment for nearly 15 months. It was a grueling position, and after a year, I was ready to throw in the towel. But, I had to wait for another job, and while I wanted to leave so badly, I wasn't ready to go until I had exhausted myself to the point of being physically and mentally unable to function. UOPX was better for me, I should say, because I sat all day long. However, I sat tied to a phone, and I wasn't able to move about as I needed. More so, the phone work was not my cup of tea, and the constant pressure to perform just ate at me. I left there happily, willingly, hoping that moving to CVS would be the "solution" for me. It was in many ways. It provided a new focus for me, and I was intellectually challenged as I learned how to analyze problems, manage data, and work to resolve situations. I liked the job a lot, but the work enviroment was toxic, and I found myself at odds with the lack of integrity and honesty in upper level management decisions. Thus, when the opportunity came around to begin teaching, I jumped at it. I wanted it so badly, and even though I found the pace so boring, so slow (in comparison), I eventually came to see the blessing of the work.

Now, after nearly 4.5 years, I am ready to move on again. I had hoped that the Lord would bring me an open door at some school where I could teach full-time. Instead, He has brought me more part-time work. In all, I have four part-time jobs, and with each one, I have different challenges. I like the work I do, and I enjoy the variety of courses, the approaches, and the collegial relationships. I feel like I am doing good practical work, and I think that I am making a difference in my students' lives. But, there is part of me that longs for the title, the position, the prestige of being a faculty member at one school. I have blogged how my colleagues are all promoted upward before or after their degree, and I am still working as an "adjunct" instructor. It doesn't seem fair. It doesn't seem like the degree has made a difference in my life. I mean, after all that hard work, my status has not changed one iota!

Then, I remember His word to me. My PhD was not to get a job. It was never about the job. It was about His work, communications ministry, and the work would take precedence over everything else. I would not be promoted for my degree, and I would not teach in my field (communications). Instead, I would teach English Composition (mostly), and I would be a teacher, not a scholar, professor, or any other ranked position. It is hard to not be promoted, and when the expectation is that one will be promoted with the higher degree, there is this sense of failure that occurs. I feel like I rose to the challenge, but in the end, I failed to make the mark. I failed. I didn't achieve the position, the title, the office, the status of a ranked educator.

Now, I have to remind myself that if the Lord chooses to promote me, He will do so. And, if the Lord chooses to keep me buried under teaching duties and to keep me from being moved upward, then I have to accept that as His best for me. It is hard to be overlooked. I mean it, I am honest about it. I really did want the position at GCU. I really did want to be full-time COM faculty at GCU. Yet, this job came and went, and now I am blessed with another part-time position at Liberty. In the end, I think I will come to realize that the road I am on requires -- no -- needs for me to work part-time. I cannot do His work full-time and also teach full-time. Sure, I am teaching the equivalent of full-time, but I am not "technically" hired as a full-time faculty person anywhere right now. I am just an "adjunct," and for whatever reason, this is the Lord's will for my life. Selah! So be it! Thy will be done!

 In Conclusion

As I close this blog post out, I sit here today thinking to myself, "Lord, I am ready to go." Part of me wants to go, to begin His work, to do whatever He has purposed and planned for me to do. But, part of me also wants to go and do teaching work, to have a purposed and planned life. I don't want to sit around and just teach online. I don't want THIS (my current life) to be all there is to my life. Day in and day out, I don't want to sit at home, glued to the computer, and never moving an inch to enjoy the blessed world that exists outside my door. I don't want this life to be all that there is, if that makes any sense. Sigh!

No matter how I feel today, one thing is for certain, and that is that the Lord knows me well. He has me well-covered, so while I am complaining some today, trying to grasp the ins and outs of my life, I must surrender my will to His. I must choose to be content this good day. He has a good plan for my life, and that plan will come to pass some day. I cannot lose hope. I cannot lose faith. I cannot stop pursuing His goodness in my life. I must stay focused on Him, on His work, and on the plan I believe He has for my life. I cannot give up nor give in. I must stay the course, and I must finish this race with strength and dignity and humility. I will go, Lord, where you send me. I will do the work you want me to do. Selah!

November 28, 2017

Closing the Door and Moving On

It is Tuesday, and I am barely functioning this morning. It is my fault, really, it is. I stayed up way too late last night. I normally turn in to bed around 11 p.m. I try very hard to stick to a consistent routine (in bed by 11, up by 8), but last night, after finishing my grading, I happened to land on Amazon for a moment. I was thinking of purchasing a USB 4-port hub to replace the one that went missing yesterday (thanks to my son). Instead, I noticed that "Broadchurch: Season 3" was available to stream on Acorn Media. Well, I will take a David Tennant mystery over any Cyber Monday shopping spree any day! LOL! I ended up "binge-watching" the series through episode 7 in one sitting. Oh my goodness! It is not quite as powerful as the first two seasons, but it is still a really good story. It is well-acted, and the characters have some depth to them. Of course, like I said, anything with David Tennant is bound to be worth watching (just saying it is so!) Needless to say, I am zombie-like this morning. Sigh!

Despite the lack of sleep, today is a good day. It is almost mid-week 13, and that means that I am working my way toward the end of the semester. I mentioned to my students that we had 8 class sessions left before winter break. I know it must sound awful to readers when I seem to only focus on the end rather than the beginning of the semester. It is a curious phenomenon, but all my faculty friends do the same thing. I will walk past a peer on the way to class or I will chit-chat in the elevator and the conversation always turns to the number of days left until a holiday break or semester end!

As I mentioned previously, this is my 4th year teaching (4.5), and I think I have finally come to terms with the challenges inherent in being a teacher. Yes, it is hard to explain, but day-in and day-out, teaching is by far the most rewarding job I have held. It is also the most consuming job. It seems that as the semesters have passed, I have discovered that working as a teacher is difficult, challenging, and at times, overwhelmingly time-consuming. It is stressful, mentally and physically draining, and above all, because it is a constant "live" performance, the emotional pull takes its toll. Truly, while being a professor has been my dream, it has proven to be one of the most straining experiences of my life.

Still, I am thankful to God for the blessed work, the provision of a career that has lasting potential, and for the opportunity to be a mentor in the lives of students across the world. I am blessed, highly favored, and abundantly provided for, and with that knowledge, I lift up my thanks and praise to God for His goodness, His mercy, and His grace. He is good! He is so very good to me! Selah!

Making Plans and Moving On

So much has happened in my life over the past couple of months. In addition to finally having a clear path to follow for my career, I have made some changes in my personal life as well. First, I made the conscious decision to move on with my life, to focus solely on the plans the Lord has for me, and to not look to the "left or right" when it comes to accomplishing the Lord's will. Second, I realized that I have been chosen for this time to care for my parents. I may not want to be a caregiver, but the Lord has not provided another way for my parents at this time, thus I believe I am to continue in this role through the end of their days. This means that I am to attend to what is at hand, so to speak, to the needs of my family here in Phoenix, and to let all other hindrances go. The Lord has asked me to do this thing, and therefore, with a grateful heart, I will do what He asks of me. Third and last, I decided to be content -- to choose to be content, I should say -- and in this way, to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" regarding my life as it is today and as I believe it will be in the future. I am where I am for a reason, and I have decided to embrace my future by taking stock and inventory, by focusing on the plans the Lord has for me, and on walking and living a life of obedience to His word and His way.

Consequently, I spent the better part of the weekend clearing the clutter from my life. I cleaned my room, my storage shed, and even my computer. I tossed away the dross, and I sorted and organized the bits of "keepsakes" I have hung on to over the course of my 55 years of life. I found that I really didn't have much to sort, and after working hard at organizing my life on Saturday, I spent most of Sunday resting from my hard work.

In the end, my shed looks amazingly clean. My computer is better organized, important documents sorted into folders, and generally, I now have access to the most important things (my teaching and scholarship activities) right at my fingertips. More so, I removed quite a bit of content from YouTube, and I also downplayed my presence online (for a number of good protective reasons).

In this way, I did what many in organizational people call a "purge!" Yep, I purged and it felt so good to do it! I still have quite a bit of downsizing left to do inside my house, mostly in my closet, but I am feeling more and more content with the idea of letting go of my "things." I am cutting emotional ties to things, to people, and to memories so that I can be ready to experience God's wonderful "new" life as I believe He has in mind for me.

Preparing for Change

I feel confident that change is on the horizon, and with that change, I will be asked to pack and go quickly. I am not sure why, but I believe it is apropos for me to "be ready" and as such, I am working to manage my life, to make it as small as can be so that I can be up and out the door when the Lord says it is time to "go!"

It is a weird feeling to let go. I struggle with letting go, and frankly, I do not like change that much. I have learned to recognize change as it is coming toward me, and I have gotten pretty good at standing strong, bracing myself for change. Yet, inside my mind, I still would prefer for change to not occur at all. I mean, if possible. I would say that since my separation and divorce, I have learned how to let things go.

First, I had to let my home go. This was very hard for me to do because my home represented safety and security. Despite the fact that I had neither safety nor security in my home, I still clung to it as one would cling to a life preserver. In 2011, when my home was in foreclosure, I had to make the decision to let it go. My then husband was not willing to leave the home, and I felt I had no choice but to step out in faith and trust the Lord to provide another way for me and for my son. As it turned out, the Lord did just that -- He provided a wonderful rental unit that had been recently refurbished. We moved in on November 19, 2011, and we lived in this unit for almost 18-months. In order to prepare for that move, however, I had to let many things go. I had to let go of my furniture, my beloved books, many of my decorations, and of course, my emotional ties to my home, my husband, and the life we had shared for 27 years. Memories were difficult, but I had to move, and I couldn't take most of my old life with me.

Second, I had to let my desire for success and my ambition that would drive me to produce and achieve personal results go. I had been self-employed for nearly 20 years, and when I ended up a single person, I had to start over. I had to start over from scratch, I should say. I worked part-time retail before moving to full-time work. My jobs in between graduate school and my doctoral program were well-paying work, but they were not the kind of job that really satisfied my inner self. I gave myself to each position, worked hard and was faithful, but in the end, I had to make the decision to trust the Lord and leave the corporate world behind in order to pursue my doctoral studies full-time. I trusted Him, and in 2013, I left a good career as an analyst and took a low-paying position as a teaching assistant. That TA role opened the door for me to move into adjunct contracts, and well, 4.5 years later, I am actively employed as a part-time faculty member at several schools.

Third, I had to let my need for privacy and personal protection go. The same year I started doctoral study full-time, I also made the decision to move into a shared home with my parents. It was a difficult choice to make, but at the time, it seemed like a good one. In combining houses, I had to let more of my things go. My Mom gave some of my furniture, pictures, and dishes to people she would meet (without my knowledge). My treasures from my former life dwindled further as I had to decide what to keep and what to let go and what would be merged with my parent's things. It has been hard to leave a larger 1200 SQFT townhome and move into a 4-bedroom, 2000SQFT house. You would think the extra space would be a blessing and benefit, but I gave up my entire home for one room in a house. Of course, I share this house, but in truth, I spend 95% of my time in a 11x10 bedroom. I sleep, eat, and work in this tiny space.

Letting go of expectations, desires, dreams have also been a challenge for me. Since moving out on my own in 2011, I have come to understand that learning to let go of these things is necessary, especially if one wants to devote their entire life to serving the Lord. As a single person, I am learning what it means to sacrifice everything in order to follow the Lord. I have let go of the past. I have let go of my hopes for a type of future, and now I am preparing to let go again one last time. This time, I will be letting go of my life here in Phoenix, and that means that I will be moving away from the only "world" I have known for the last 21 years. Moreover, as I let go of Phoenix and my life here, I also let go of the remnant of security I have had for most of my life. My parents, my dad in specific, has been my security for as long as I can remember. He has always "been there" and he has always provided help to me (financial, physical, and stability). He is not able to continue in this role due to his declining health, but more importantly, he is not able to do so because of his age. In short, the Lord is preparing me to let go of my parents. I know that their time is limited, what with my mom's deteriorating memory and her progressive CLL and my dad's overall struggles with post-polio. As I face the future, I must consider that there will come a time when I will be all alone. I will be alone and my only security will rest in the Lord.

Single and Alone

I used to say that I was afraid of being alone. In fact, if you read my blog from 2010-2012, fear was my number one topic for posts. I was afraid of everything back then, and my fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of life, was a driving force often keeping me from achieving or recognizing the good things the Lord had in store for me. Over these past few years, my fear of being alone has lessened. I have traveled alone, and I have lived alone. I am acceptable to my status of being alone now, and what is more, I have finally accepted the fact that I am divorced. I am alone by choice, my choice, and regardless of the issues, circumstances, and events that proved essential to setting up the decision to walk away, it was my choice to do it. It was my choice to pursue a divorce, and it was my choice to close the matter officially. I take full responsibility for choosing this way over all others, and as such, I am no longer going to hide the fact that I made the decision to be single.

I say this only to demonstrate that in order to move on, I can no longer hide behind the shadow of anything that might hinder my forward progress. In fact, I rest now in my past life. I let the pain, the sorrow, and the hurt go so that I can move on with new insight toward a better future. I accept the fact that I suffered greatly at the hands of others, and throughout my childhood, teen years, and early adult years, I was regularly physically, emotionally and psychologically abused. More so, I ended a marriage that was a mess, that was filled with lies and with adultery, and I walked away from a family that was manipulative and controlling. I cut all ties, and in doing so, I made the conscious decision to accept the damage, to forgive those who were to blame and to finally and in totality, let the past be buried. My past is dead and it is buried.

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I feel confident that the "purge" of my things and the acceptance of my past life has important ramifications for my future days. I believe the Lord has patiently waited for me let go of my own accord, and while He has gently helped me, He has left the final decision to let go rest with me. He has waited for me to accept the terms and conditions of my surrender, and in doing so, He has given me the power to overcome. By accepting my past, letting it be buried, I am simply agreeing to the facts of the case. I am saying, "Yes, this is true," and in this way, I am no longer trying to comprehend what and how these facts created the challenges I struggled to overcome for so many years. More so, as I accept the facts as He has presented them to me, I am able to also accept His determination of the outcome. In short, I am no longer defined by my past. I am no longer defined by the characteristics of my past abuse. I am no longer defined by my experiences or my emotional struggles. No, I am defined by one assessment and that is His determination and proclamation that I am worthy, that I am loved, and that I am His. Yes, my identity rests now 100% in Christ alone, and while the past certainly helped to shape and influence many of my choices, it did not define me or make me the way I am. My past has simply given me battle scars, but my self and my sense of self are securely and solidily founded in Christ.

Update: Tuesday p.m.

So as I was leaving to head over to campus, I received a call from my academic dean. I was surprised to hear from him, especially after receiving the HR rejection email that is automatically sent out when the interview process ends earlier last week. As I listened to the voice mail, I was immediately taken by how genuine and very kind he was in expressing regret for not hiring me for the open position. I was taken aback by his nice comments, and I was relieved in many ways to know that the reason I wasn't chosen for the position was because the other candidate had more specific experience. I believed this was the case, but without any real closure from last week, I wondered if I had performed badly or simply was overlooked. As I listened to the voice mail message, I felt this deep sense of relief. I mean, I knew that the Lord had another plan for my life, and I felt so strongly that this position "just wasn't meant to be," yet there was this feeling inside of me that was disappointed and emotionally sensitive to the fact that I wasn't "chosen."

As I drove over to campus, I prayed about the confirmation, and while I still wasn't really sure everything was as it should be, I confessed my confusion to the Lord. It wasn't until after I left school, later in the evening, that I realized that the Lord had given me a great gift. The final closure came to me with heartfelt sincerity, reminding me that there was "nothing wrong" with me. Rather the door closed because it wasn't His will for my life.

I rested a bit with that thought, but I still had some concerns about leaving this school, trusting the Lord for provision, and really moving on without any real security in hand. I prayed all the way home, and as I did, I had this intense feeling of peace come over me. I literally felt nothing inside -- like a quiet calmness -- whereby I felt 100% at rest. That feeling lingered for a long while, and once I got home, I came to the understanding that I am right where He wants me to be. In fact, I am in such a good place that I can rest now permanently, and I no longer need worry about any provision or any need. Furthermore, earlier this evening as I checked my email and my courses at Grantham, I noticed that I have been scheduled for two more classes beginning in December. If things work out as planned, this one little for-profit school will assign me two classes every single month. I don't make a lot of money teaching at this school, but if the opportunity exists into the next school year, I will have more work than I can handle between all four of my online schools.

I guess you could say that the Lord filled my cup today. He poured His blessing, contentment, and joy into my cup, and well, it just overflowed. I am in this special place today, and with His perpetual blessing on my life, I know now that I have nothing to fear. I am well-covered, so well-covered. Selah!

November 27, 2017

The Beginning of the End...of the Semester!

It is a good Monday here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. The skies are pinkish blue and the air temperature is mild, yet refreshingly cool. I am sitting at my computer this morning, attending to my schools, and thinking to myself that I am about to begin the final push toward the close of this semester. It has been a long, long haul, so to speak, and I am glad the time is at an end. Truthfully, I think this semester was one of my hardest thus far in my teaching career. Not only did I teach (9) courses (four on campus, five online), but I managed to interview at two schools, and create a brand new curriculum for a senior-level course in Organizational Communication.

In all, I have been stretched, challenged, and at times, overwhelmed by the workload and the time commitment. The good news is that I am almost finished with the year, and that means that in just two-half short weeks, I will be on break for the holiday season.

More so, I will be heading into my spring semester as an online teacher only. This thought thrills me and scares me at the same time. Still, I know God has a wonderful plan for my life, and it is within His sovereignty and providence that He has provided this way for me. He has made this change possible, so while I feel a bit panicked at what may come in January, I also have the confidence to know that God has my life well-in-hand and that as such, I can rest in His security and in His provision throughout the coming new year. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!
Thoughts and More Thoughts

It has been a rough week, despite the fact that I had (9) nine days off. Yes, I have enjoyed the blessed rest last week, and I was able to accomplish a lot of good work. But, I also spent the majority of the week stressing over tiny details that in the end really didn't matter that much. I worried about the holiday period, the outcome of my interview at GCU, and the impending start of my new courses at Grantham. I spent way too much time "worrying," and not enough time enjoying the blessed gift of rest. Thus, as I begin to turn toward the homestretch in my courses on campus, I realize that how I choose to live my life, spend my days, and engage in the business at hand, matters. Am I willing to spend every waking moment at the computer, grading myself "silly," and forgetting to take time out for my own well-being? Is this the "end all and be all" of my life?

I spent the past week panicked, worried, filled with fear, and frankly, I wasted precious time given to me by God for my good, for good rest. I should have let my worries and fears go. I should have simply rested in the knowledge that God is sovereign. He is in control of all the details of my life, and He has never once let anything slip by unnoticed. He has never once said to me, "Carol, you've got to figure this one out on your own!" No, no way! Instead, He has carried me over the difficult parts of the path, set my feet on the solid rock, and gently led me by the hand through the most difficult and trying times I faced. In this way, God as my ROCK, REDEEMER, and REFUGE has never once let me go on my own. He has stood by me, faithful, enduring, and completely present as I learned how to manage a complex schedule, depending on Him for provision, and attend to daily needs here at home and at my on-campus location.

The more I looked at myself, to my hand for an outcome, the more overwhelmed and panicked I felt. When I stopped and looked up, looked to where my help came from as the psalmist says (Psalm 121:1), it was then that I realized that my life was proceeding as He had planned it to proceed. My life was all good, just a bit wonky for a moment, but still very good indeed.

Today, it is Monday. The week is starting over, and once again I have a choice in how to proceed. I can look to the final week's of campus courses with dread, dissatisfaction, and distaste OR I can view them as a blessed opportunity to show the world, to show my school and my students that Dr. Hepburn stays the course, doesn't give up, doesn't give in. My faithfulness to my students, to their well-being, to their betterment is what motivates and drives me daily. I am successful only when I am able to impart some truth, some good advice, some strong counsel to my students. In this way, I am doing the Lord's work, encouraging and equipping these young men and women for God's glory, praise, and honor. I leave GCU at the end of the semester (12/13 -- technically my last day on campus) with my head held high. I came, I saw, and I overcame all that was placed in front of me. I did good work at this school, and I ministered to and mentored a lot of students. I leave with a glad heart for a good job that was well done.

As I move on, I look up. I realize that better days are ahead, and the God of my Hope, has a wonderful plan for my life -- in Phase 2 -- that is. I have accomplished everything the Lord asked me -- no, called me -- to do in Phase 1. I successfully completed two graduate courses and finished with a Ph.D. degree. I successfully transitioned from corporate work to teaching, and after almost five years of teaching in FTF classes, I am making the move to online education. More so, I made the move from dependence to independence with grace, and now that I am living with my parents (it will be five years in May of 2018), I am beginning to take on more of a head of a household role. I have met or exceeded all of the checked items on my grand "to-do" list, and with the exception of receiving a full-time teaching offer, I am ready to move into the next season of my life.

Phase 2 seems to be well-suited to my lifestyle choice. Phase 2 includes a great deal of freedom. But, Phase 2 also has some uncertainty built into it, and with that measure of uncertainty, there always comes the challenge to remain steady and to remember that "God will make this happen, for he who calls...[me] faithful" (1 Thess. 5:24).

Therefore, today as I sit here and write this blog post, I remember that the God who calls me is indeed faithful. He is faithful in so many ways. For one, He is faithful to bring about His promised reward (salvation, sanctification, and future glorification; Romans 8:30). He is faithful to care for me (1 Peter 5:7). He is faithful to bring His personal plan to fruition (Jer. 29:11). More so, He is faithful to provide (Gen. 22:14). In this way, I can rest in the faithfulness of God. My life plan including my eternal reward is well-in-hand, so to speak, but also my temporal plan, the good practical work I do each day is well-considered and well-appointed. I am in good stead, and the Lord, my Provider, has my needs well-covered. He knows me well, and He has made a way for me that will not only prosper me, but it will accomplish His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. I will overcome the world just as He has overcome the world. I will sit down with Christ, and I will rest in His abilities and sufficiency. I will finally know and understand that I can do all things (Phil. 4:13) because it is Christ who does these things in me and through me. He is good to me, and as a result, I experience the goodness of God (Psalm 27:13) each and every day that I am alive.
 In Sum 
In closing today, I rest easy. I look up, and I consider the work of the Lord as providential in my life. I am not here by accident, and while my choices previously were not always motivated by right thinking, I can believe -- no, I do believe -- that God's sovereign and providential will have caused all things to work together for my good (Rom. 8:28) because I have been called by God, equipped by God, and purposed by God to do this good, good work. It is done! Selah!

November 26, 2017

Sunday Praises!

It is Sunday, and today is my last day of rest before I head back to campus to finish out the remaining 2.5 weeks of classes. I am ready for this long, long, long semester to end. In truth, this semester, my final one at GCU, was probably the most challenging of them all. I had a good group of students, but frankly, I was overworked and didn't feel I was able to really help my students as much as I would have liked to do so.

Still, I know that I did help some students, and with that thought, I am content to let my time at this school come to an end. I am excited to think that in the spring, I will be working from home. It is a blessed opportunity, and with my Mom's deterioration, it will be good to be at home to help more around the house. I am good with the fact that this next semester, I will be at home. It is hard to let GCU go, but I know that it is what I must do for the good of my family.

I have decided to send an email to the academic program manager today, just to thank her for her support, but also to let her know that I will not be keeping the contracts I signed for the spring. I was going to resign completely, but now I am thinking that I will simply state that I need to take a semester off instead. This way, I can still keep my access to GCU, but I simply do not have to take any courses. I guess it is a fall back position, sort of not cutting the string completely, but at the same time, not sticking around either. It is like the way I am right now at OCU and ACU. I still get emails from them, and I am still part of their adjunct pool, but I am not actively placed at either school. In all, I see the end of this semester as one heavy door closing.

Making Sense of It All

Furthermore, I see the end of the year as closure on my educational pursuits. I am graduated, and praise to God, I have both my Masters and my PhD. It was a long hard push through graduate school (7 years to be precise), but with the Lord's grace, mercy, and help, I did it. I graduated with distinction from two schools, and I achieved my dream, my desire to be a "Dr." and a Professor of English.

I cannot believe it, but when I think back to 1990, and the moment when I pushed my good friend, Martha, to come back from Long Beach so that we could attend San Jose State together.  Never did I dream I would be a professor, never did I think it would be possible to even graduate with my bachelor's degree. Back then, I just wanted the degree. I wanted the degree to show a certain person, with whom I worked, that I was smart, and that I actually could be someone. I was bullied by this coworker for 1.5 years, and my desire back then was to show him that he was wrong about me. The funny thing is that I don't even remember his name, but I remember his taunts. I remember how mean he was to me, how he would call me out in meetings, and then tell me to go back to "high school" to learn English. I know he was just spiteful, messed up, and clearly at bully at heart, but his words drove me -- literally -- fueled my passion for study. Once I actually got moving through the program, God used SJSU's Humanities program to change my life for the better. I graduated after 2.5 years of dedicated study, and thankfully, I also left this school with a new dream -- not just to graduate with a BA degree -- but to get my PhD and to become a professor.

The long road to this point in time has been paved with great sorrow, as they say. I lost everything on route to graduate school. I lost my marriage, my life that I lived for 30 years, and my family. I lost my home as well, and in and through all the upheaval, I lost myself. I lost my personality, my identity, and I lost my love for all things classical. The Lord gave me hope within the darkest times, and through home schooling my school (using a classical curriculum), teaching adult readers classical literature, and of course, working with children at Church (thousands of them), my love for teaching students, teaching classical curriculum, and teaching English, in specific, never waned. It simmered for many years, and once I was single, sadly single, I made the decision to return to school to study for a Master's degree in Literature. I accomplished that goal in 2012, and then I started teaching in 2013. Now, the majority of my classes are English and not communication, despite the fact that I have my PhD in Communication.

As I sit here today, I think about how much has changed in my life. I am this new person. I have new goals, new ambitions, but they are no longer my own desires. God’s Word says that if we delight in Him (make Him our focus, our desire), then He will give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4-5). I have claimed this verse since 2007), and so far, the Lord has kept His word to me. I have made Him my delight and He has given me both His desires and my desires. Yes, some of my desires have not come to pass. My fleshly, worldly desires passed away without much flutter once I saw how shiny, precious, and new His desires were for me. In fact, I would say it this way. I wanted an “Edsel,” but the Lord desired a “Rolls Royce.” I gave up my worldly desire in order to embrace His eternal desire, and in doing so, the benefit that I received was far more than I could have ever imagined or dreamed. He has given to me desires that I have never considered, and even today, I feel that there are desires in my heart that are so powerful and passionate that I know, I really know, that they are not my desires, but His.

I long to do His work, for example. I long — I burn with a passionate intensity — to do His work. This is not my desire. I long to minister, to save, to reconcile, and to restore relationships. Again, not my desire, but His desire for me and for all His children and co-laborers with Christ. I desire to put aside all worldly pleasures, to give up comfort, in order to go and do this very special work that He has called me to do. I am driven, as I said, to do this work. This desire inside of me is burning brightly, and it is all-consuming. I cannot control it, I cannot understand it, and I cannot move anywhere without it leading me, guiding me, directing me to places where I can do this work.

More so, I desire to have my life reconciled. In this way, I mean, I want no animosity between me and my relationships. I cannot have it. I cannot stand it. I must be reconciled to all people, and as such, I feel the weight and the burden of sorrow when this cannot be.

Lastly, I feel compelled to give up my work — my daily practical work — in favor of His work. I have literally “worked” myself to a nub while pursing this graduate degree. Now, the Lord is asking me to give up the pursuit of a tenure-track position, fame in scholarship, opportunities to lead and direct committees, etc. All the things that professors do in addition to teaching — these are the things He has asked me to give up. In this way, I am asked to no longer see myself as a professor at all. I am to lay down the position, the title, the pursuit, and to simply accept the mantle of teaching duties as a part-time adjunct instructor. I am to no longer desire the trappings of higher education, and instead, I am to humble accept a much lower position, a less ambitious position so that I can put His work ahead of my work. It is hard for me to do, and because I suffer from ambitious pride, and I am an achievement-oriented and performance-driven person, I am finding it really hard to lay all this aside, to let it go, to let the dream die. Yet, this is what He is asking me to do. Again, it is the “Edsel versus Rolls Royce” scenario. Am I willing to let go my fleshly, worldly desires so that I can receive His better, best desires for me?

In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I realize that part of the reason I feel the way I do is simply that the old way is passing by me. It is like I am watching my life on a television monitor, and I am seeing my  path unfold before me. The doors are closing all around me, and with those closing doors, I am sensing new movement, new changes, new life about to burst forth. I am ready to accept His life, His way, but I know that in order to do that I must let everything that I hold dear go. I must let all my dreams, desires, and my drive to succeed go. I cannot walk through His open door until I leave everything behind, every thought, every feeling, every desire behind. I am ready, I am ready, Lord.

November 25, 2017

Feeling Unwell Again

So it is Saturday, and I am at home, and I am feeling somewhat unwell. Physically, I am tired. Mentally, I feel stressed. Emotionally, I feel a bit empty. Spiritually, I am well -- always so well. But, it is the combination of other things that bring me down, and yes, I can easily say that I feel blue today. More so, it is November 25, and with the close of the month so near, I really cannot think of why I am feeling down today. I guess it is just the fact that I am witnessing life change here at home, and I am bothered by it. I see my Mom, especially, but my Dad as well, and they simply are slowing down. My Mom barely can do much anymore, and my Dad is mostly grumpy over the fact that my Mom cannot help or that her memory is failing so rapidly that he struggles to know what to do. I understand the difficulty since I live in this home with my parents, but the realization that life is ending for them is just so hard to take for me most days. I just find it such a struggle to hang on and to hold onto what matters most. I get angry, touchy, and at times, snappy simply because I am overworked, overloaded, and over stressed in my own life. Then, I have to deal with my parents and their issues. It is "day-in and day out" without any respite. I have no break, no freedom from home, and frankly, no real outlet to help me deal with the life change as it is happening to my folks and to me as well. I guess you could say that I am depressed simply because I don't like what I see, and I am not able to do anything to change my life or my situation (or theirs, for that matter).  Sigh!

Not Giving Into Fear

What I really think is at the core of my "blueness" today is plain-old-fashioned fear. Yes, I am panicked over the plan to leave GCU at the end of this term. I am panicked to think I will go it alone without the constant hum of campus work. I am panicked to think I will wait on Liberty to come to pass, and while I am in "process," I have no assurance of work at this point in time. But mostly, I am panicked to think that my life is about to turn a corner, and I have no way of knowing what will be around the bend in the road. Will it be good? I think so. I know so, really, I do. The Lord will provide for me. He will help me. He will guide me, and I can rest in that knowledge. But, I am stressed now just thinking about what will be next spring. In addition, I have my looming student loan payment due next month, and I am panicked over how I will make that payment. I cannot do it, not regularly I mean. I can make one payment for sure, but not every single month. Oh no! Oh no!

Moreover, as I struggle to process all these changes, I am feeling hopeless today. I feel as though the rejection from GCU really knocked the wind from my sails. I am directionless right now, and that scares me too. I had hoped that the position at GCU would be the light to my path, so to speak. It would be a path to full-time faculty status, and with that path, there would be some assurance of plenty of good times ahead. But, now that is not the case, and while I am thankful to have my part-time online work, I wonder what will be next. I mean, I know I will teach, but a life of adjunct doesn't seem a worthy goal. I have no end game in mind, just the daily monotony of working from home. It is good, I mean. I love the money, the freedom, but there is no direct end in sight. I am thinking 15 years of part-time work until I retire. I have to have some plan, some passion, some pursuit or else I will simply go crazy from boredom.

Yet, in all of this, I know the Lord has something ready for me to do. I am not my work. I am not my title or my role as a teacher. I am His to do with as He pleases, and lest I forget the cost to purchase my freedom, I need to be settled in His way and in His work. I said I would do no other work save His, and here I am complaining now that the Lord has made this way possible. He has made it possible for me to do this good work. I will not complain. I choose to not complain. He is good to me, so very good to me, and I will not complain about my perceived lack of direction, vision or purpose.

In Conclusion

In closing, I am depressed today because my life is winding down here in Phoenix and I feel the slow grind of forward moment coming to a halt. My life has been difficult, challenging, and downright devastating at times here in the desert, but the Lord has sustained me. Perhaps my time in the wilderness is over, and the promised land is right over --> there. I simply need to hang on until the Lord opens that door and ushers me through to the next stop on my journey of faith. Yes, I must patiently wait for His good blessing and provision. I will wait, Lord. I will wait.

November 24, 2017

Black Friday!

It is the day after Thanksgiving, and well, I am still stuffed from yesterday's feast. It was a good day all around. I spent most of the morning here at home, working on school, relaxing on the Internet, and getting our side dishes ready to take to our friends' home for dinner.

After dinner, I spent the evening watching Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. I did check in on my students, and when I saw that no one was active online, I decided to was OKAY to enjoy the rest. I slept pretty well, even though I woke up around 4:30-5:00, thinking I had heard someone come in the house. No sound was actually heard, though, because I laid awake for a good 20 minutes and I heard nothing new. Hence, I drifted back to sleep, walking eventually at 9:00 a.m.

I feel better today. My back still hurts some, but overall, I feel well. I am thinking a bit more clearly now, and I do have a better feeling about the weekend, and about my remaining 2.5 weeks of school. My courses end in a ragged fashion, so I need to keep up to date on everything to make sure I attend to all my student's needs, grade every assignment, and stay active in the online classroom.

My last day of courses is as follows:
  • ASU ends on 12/1.
  • GCU ends on 12/17. My last day in class for teaching is the 13th, however.
  • Regent courses (both) end on 12/16.
Grantham runs every 8-weeks, so my one course ended on Tuesday of this week. The second one will end next Tuesday, 11/28. I have two more courses that started on Wednesday and these will run through January 2018.

The good news is that with the schedule overlapping like this, I should still earn some pay between the semesters.

As for spring, right now, I have the following schedule:
  • ASU - requested, but not known as of yet. More than likely, two courses in ENG 101 (English Composition I)
  • Regent - three sections of ENG 205 (Survey of Western Literature)
  • Grantham - two courses now; EN101 (English Composition I) and EN302 (Survey of American Literature II)
  • GCU - contracted for three sections of COM 203 (Intercultural Communication), but with Liberty coming on, I am going to let these go
  • Liberty - in process for approval
Just rounding things up, I anticipate having at least 5 online courses, but more than likely, I will have about 7 total. I think this is doable. Many of my colleagues that teach online carry this load, so it is pretty reasonable to think this is "normal." On-campus instructors teach 5 classes, and sometimes 6 with an overload, but unless they are tenure-track and at research schools, then they get to teach 2-3 per semester along with a research requirement. 

I handled 9 classes combined this semester, and while that was more than I wanted, I learned how to manage my time really well. I also realized that I could teach this many courses, and like I said, it is not a perfect schedule, but I tested my limits. I will be really happy with 7-8 online courses per 16 weeks (fall and spring), and then perhaps 3-4 over the summer period. This would offer me significant income and a steady stream of pay so that I won't have to worry about remaining as "adjunct."

In all, this past week of rest has been blessed. I mean, I RESTED well, and I am feeling so much better. In fact, I really want my campus courses to end so I could go into December with a much lighter load. But, suffice it to say, I have to focus. I have to stay strong. I have to finish well.

In Closing

I am thankful, blessed, and highly favored. I am in this very good place right now, even though I don't know what will happen come spring at all. I hope to have these courses, and I am trusting in the Lord to provide everything to me that I need. But, there is always a chance that I may end up short. Nevertheless, I feel that I must focus on the Lord, on His will and His way, and despite the uncertainty, I know the Lord is good to me. He protects me. He keeps me strong. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!