October 17, 2017

Making Some Adjustments

It is Tuesday, October 17, and today is my Dad's 84th birthday. It is a good day to be at home, even for just a little while, and to sit and enjoy the blessed peace and rest of my warm and cozy home. My Mom is knocked out -- literally -- in the chair in the family room. She got up early to clean house (my brother is coming from San Diego today), and before she was done, she plopped herself down and is out. She is really not able to work like this anymore, but she still wants to do it. I do my best to get her to rest, but she has always been such an energizer bunny, and my parents (mom and dad) have always worked very hard, day in and day out, to make life good for each other. I am blessed to have such wonderful parents. I love them to pieces, as I always say, but today especially, I am reminded of the sweetness of life and how quickly it passes away. May I cherish my parents through the remaining days of their lives!

In other news, my birthday is tomorrow. Yes, I will reach the double-nickel the day after my Dad turns 84. I don't have any plans, per se, but I think we will go to Longhorn for dinner on Friday. I am also intending to purchase an Apple Watch. I bought my son a watch for his birthday last month, and my nephew got one for his birthday earlier this month. Between the two of them, I am sold on its value. I already picked my mine out -- rose gold -- and I hope to purchase it very, very soon.

Making Progress

Today, I am getting ready to teach communication at GCU. I have had a hard start to the week, but God be praised, I am feeling more invigorated. I just received another class assignment from Grantham University. I was so hesitant to take more courses from them since the first two have been a challenge out of the barn, so to speak. But, I decided to do my best, and make the best possible experience for these worthy online students. I will do this work unto the Lord, and in that way, no matter the outcome, I will represent Him as best as I can.

This new class is a literature course, and well, I am just excited as can be to teach it. I will be teaching ENG 102 and ENG 205 (Survey of Western Literature) at Regent, and I will have ENG 101, 102, and 406 (Survey of Western Literature II) at Grantham. Then I also have ENG 102 at ASU. Something tells me that the Lord intends to keep me very busy teaching English rather than communication courses. I mean with these online courses plus my three 106 (Composition II) and Com course, I am on overload. Still, He is sustaining me. I feel confident that I can finish my remaining time at GCU (7 more weeks), and then I will move to 100% online teaching in the spring. If Grantham continues to provide enough work for me -- to replace GCU -- I can confidently teach online and earn a good living to boot. Should Liberty eventually come into the mix, I would be very well set, very well set, indeed.

My desire is to do the work He has supplied to me. I know I grumble a lot, and for that I am sorry. I have promised the Lord that I would take whatever was offered to me as far as teaching assignments, but I believe it is His desire not to overload me, but to provide the "right" or "best" combination of schools for me long term. The timing of the matter has caused issues, not so much the schools. I see now that the Lord's plan is for me to teach English and not Communication (as He said in the beginning), but not as a full-time faculty member -- instead -- as adjunct or instructor. I am okay with this approach, and perhaps things will change down the road. Perhaps I will teach full-time online at some point, as an Assistant Professor, but until then, I will do whatever combination of work I need to do to make ends meet. He is my "manager" and He is the one who supplies all my needs through Christ Jesus -- spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and practical.

Therefore, today I rest. I really rest. I see my life now in more clear detail. I will teach at multiple online schools, earning a decent income, and I will teach from home. I will be able to make my life comfortable all without having to go and stand and teach in person. I simply am ecstatic about this news, this development, and may the Lord be praised, I feel it is His best for me. I am no longer seeking a communications position because the Lord has said to me, "Carol, your Ph.D. is for my work only, and not for teaching!" I have used my Ph.D. to get into schools as faculty, but the courses that are offered to me are all English! My Masters' degree is in English, and this is the discipline that the Lord has chosen as my career field. I simply am not a communications teacher. I do teach com courses, and while they are interesting to teach, I love to teach writing and literature. I am more of an English teacher than I am a communications teacher, for certain.

My life is now complete, as far as I can say that aloud. What I mean is that with this school now providing the same income over 8 weeks that I would earn through 16 weeks of campus courses, I feel confident in walking away and knowing that my income needs are met. Furthermore, with this development today, I am confident in knowing that the Lord intends for me to remain at home so I can help care for my parents full-time. I am not to be a "caregiver" per se, but I provide supportive care for my parents (as in helping them, caring for them, shopping, cleaning, and being present for them). I am good with this role, and I love being home. My prayer today is that I can exit out of my contracts at GCU (I have already signed them) and simply step away. This will bring a huge relief to my parents, especially my Dad, but I haven't wanted to do that until I was certain that this is His will for me. Now, I know that it is, and with this confirmation, I can make plans to stay at home full-time come January 1. God is so good to me! He is so very good to me!

What is more is the fact that last night, I dealt with my student loans. I have put off contacting my service provider for months, but my loans are coming due and well I had to do something about the monthly payment. My payment was a mortgage payment, LOL, and I knew I couldn't make it each month. Thus, I talked with my provider and was able to choose a different plan, one that gave me a manageable payment. Yes, I will be paying for 20 years, but thankfully, after that time, my loans will be forgiven. It is great to know that I will be able to pay back a portion of the debt and the government will forgive the rest. Now, that is not my plan, of course. I want to pay all my loan debt. But, it is a relief to know that should something happen and in 20 years (I would be 75), my debt would be canceled.

For now, I proceed with the plan to pay every cent back, and I am trusting the Lord to provide a way for me to do that soon. Until then, I will make the monthly payment and praise God be satisfied to know I am honoring my loan debt and remaining faithful to my obligations.

New Plans in the Works

So with all this in mind, I am thinking more about moving to a place where I can live more comfortably on my online income. Right now, home prices in Phoenix are very high. In my area, houses are in the $350K and up range. This is crazy high, and unless I want to move to a very unsafe part of Phoenix, I need to consider moving to a different state where I can easily purchase a house under $300K. My goal is to save about 40-50% for a down payment so that my monthly mortgage and insurance are right within my budget. I would like to keep my expenses to under $3K a month -- for everything -- so that I can really save for my retirement (what is that?) I hope to be able to save the majority of my income over the next 15 years so that I can pay my home off and live off my retirement income in a comfortable way. It is doable, given my income, but of course, I can carry no debt. I am working on eliminating all my credit card debt, and then with my loans paid for, I should be able to work out my plan easily. The Lord is in it, and He is the One who has said I should work this way and approach my financial situation with grit and determination. I am following His policy, His plan, and with His provision and permission, I am starting to look seriously at locations that would be in my best interest. I don't think the Lord intends to move me before next summer at this point in time, but I won't know for certain until things are settled here. But, until then, I am to keep my eyes open, to wait on the Lord, and to remain faithful -- believing He will provide a solution to me.

I believe He will, and I believe that He has a good plan for my life. I am stressed, very stressed, but praise to God, I know that He is carrying me through this season. He is the One who is making all these plans, and with His help, I will endure. I will continue to do the work assigned, trusting Him to do whatever needs to be done in order to make it possible for me to rest, to relax, and to stay rejuvenated and not worn down or out. He knows my limits, and while I feel that my limits have been tested this semester, I haven't fallen down yet. I've stumbled some, but I am in this safe place with His arms around me, and God be praised, I feel secure. I really feel secure. Honestly, I don't even worry about my finances anymore. I mean, how weird is that? I used to panic, to be sick to my stomach with worry over paying every bill. Now, I don't even look at my checking account. I don't even bother to think about what I can buy when I go to the store. The relief I feel is amazingly sweet. He has done this for me, brought me to this place where I live in complete trust for His provision and goodness. I cannot tell you how I lived when my life was paycheck to paycheck, and when I would give up items simply because I couldn't afford them. More so, I would hyperventilate every time I entered the grocery store because I wasn't sure I could afford everything on my list. God has made a way for me, and day in and day out, I rest in His complete protection and provision. I am good today, not because I have made a way for myself, but because He has shown me His grace and His mercy. He is good to me, so very, very good to me! Selah!

As I close this blog post today, I am reminded of His word to me. He has asked me to trust Him completely, to remain holy and wholly devoted to Him. I am committed to His way, to doing His work, to walking, living, and striving to produce the results He has determined for me. I do not want my way at all. I do not want to live in any other way than to rest at His feet, and to enjoy the sweetness of His fellowship and goodness and grace. He alone is worthy to be praised! He alone is worthy to receive our praise and adoration! Selah!

October 14, 2017

It is Done!

Well, it has been one crazy day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. I actually slept well last night, despite a couple times when I woke up with hot flashes and a brief neck ache. Overall, I woke up feeling refreshed, and since I knew that the day ahead was low-key, I felt good about lazing about and taking my morning slow and easy.

I spent most of the morning on the computer simply hanging out on Pinterest, and looking for possible houses in several places where I have thought the Lord might end up sending me some day soon. Of course, I have no real inkling, other than just a sense about it. For right now, I am to stay put, and with that command, I simply am to remember that my time in Phoenix is not ready to end. I am to make the best of the situation, and I am to do the work He has assigned to me. I am to attend to my contracts, teach my students, and be patient with my parents as I attempt to care for them. I am to rest in all matters, in all things, and with this hope in mind, I am to simply trust Him to provide and to meet each and every need that arises as the need arises, I should say.

After lunch, I spent the majority of the afternoon grading my online students, taking care of discussion, and playing catch up with some left over teaching duties from the previous week. I felt good about my accomplishments, and in the end, I wrapped up my 8-week classes at Regent with good attention and a bit of winsome sadness for the courses concluding. Still, I was able to complete all the work and head to the grocery store with my Mom, no small feat, I should say, before dinnertime.

I bought the family pizza, and after dinner, I rested while I watched 3 episodes of "Midsomer Murders" on Amazon Instant Video. In all, I had a good day. I had a very good day.

My plan tomorrow is to rest all day long. My nephew and his girlfriend are coming over for dinner to celebrate my Dad's birthday (and mine), but the day is really going to be devoted to resting and relaxing. My prayer is to enjoy the fellowship of my family before I have to hit the hay and start my new week.

The good news is that Monday begins Week 8 at GCU. Technically, that is the midpoint of the semester, and praise God, I have exactly 4 weeks until I have a holiday, and 5 weeks until  fall break. Once Thanksgiving arrives, I have a week and a half until this overloaded semester ends! God is good to me! I know He will see me through to the end in good style.

As I close this blog post today, I marvel at His goodness. I am far from where I had hoped to be at this time of the semester. I had wanted to be in better shape, down 20 pounds, and definitely less stressed and hard pressed. But, alas, I am right where I started -- same weight and same lack of muscle tone -- all the while I am working my fingers to the bone just to keep time with my teaching contracts. I decided on Friday to not look a gift horse in the mouth, and with that reminder, I am choosing today to celebrate all the good the Lord has given to me -- all of it -- because He has chosen this way for me, thus this way is blessed, favored and it is good. It is good.

October 12, 2017

Resting and Living Securely in His Word to Me

Today is a good day. It is Thursday, and normally, I would have this day as a "down day," a day off. But since I took on the overflow class at GCU, I am having to prepare and teach an extra course on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has been a good class, but overall, I am feeling so drained, so depressed, and really so distraught. I am tired, amazingly tired, and my back and feet ache almost constantly. I have been tested to my limits, and I realize now that I cannot teach full-time on campus ever again. No matter how much I think the sound of that rings sweetly, the truth is that I am not physically able to stand and to lecture five days a week. I can teach online, and I am able to teach my online students with more diligence than my on-campus students, but I cannot do both. I have realized once again that the Lord does indeed know what is best for me. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

As I sit here at my computer, I marvel at His goodness. I think about all He has done this week, how He has protected my Dad from serious injury, covered my mom with grace, and made it possible for us all to "survive" a rather difficult week. Today, I am making ready to head to campus, and in all truth, I simply don't want to go. I just want to shut down and sit here at my desk and REST. But, I have a contract to keep, students that will show up, and I said I would do this work so I will do it. I will go and I will teach and I will come home and find rest at the end of a long and difficult workday. He will sustain me. He will help me. He will be my strength, my portion, and my cup. There is no other way for me to go but to walk on, to walk on. He will guide me, show me the way to go, and as Psalm 23 says, He will cause me (make me) to lay down to rest beside the still waters. He will give me rest. He will comfort me and protect me. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

I feel anxious today, but the word of the Lord holds me fast. In Psalm 94, verses 18-19 (AMP), we read,

If I say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your compassion and lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your comforts delight me.

The Lord, Himself, is my comfort. I am tired. I am dead tired, and I don't think I can survive until the end of the semester. I feel so off, so very off, yet the Word of the Lord sustains me. He comforts me. He is my delight, and in that truth, I realize that when I come to the end of all things, one thing will always remain, and that is my Lord and my Savior, Jesus! He is my King. My Good Shepherd, and in His presence, I find sweet rest. My joy overflows as the word of the Lord comforts my tired and weary soul. He is good to me, so very good to me!
Enduring Hard Times

My life is filled with hard times right now. Though I have enough income to cover my needs, and my expenses are all within good control, my life -- my personal life -- is being challenged daily. Not only do I have to contend with a very full work schedule, but I have to deal with the debilitating condition of my parents, whom I love, and with whom I live. I do not have the luxury of having my parents live in an assisted or independent type living place. I do not have the luxury of visiting them during the week. No, my parents live with me, 24-7, and as such, every nuance, every detail of their life is enmeshed within mine. We are committed to this journey together, and frankly, while I enjoy the blessing of being able to help them out, I am finding the burden of caring for them to be too much for me to handle. My parents are well, don't get me wrong, but the fact remains that the tide is turning and soon they will need more care than I can provide for them.

For now, we remain. We continue on as we have these past couple years, and with that in mind, we continue to proceed as if nothing has changed or will change in the future. Yet, I know this is not the case, and I know soon things will change, and not for the better, but for the worse. I will have to deal with their ongoing care alone because my brothers are not interested in stepping up to the plate, so to speak. They prefer to let me handle it, and frankly, while I do understand that perspective, it makes it very hard for me to be the one left holding all the strings.

As I try to deal with the changes in my life, I realize today that I am absolutely incapable of doing anything about my life at this point in time. I cannot work full-time, I get that point so I must remain as a part-time adjunct. Yet, I need full-time income and benefits, and I have no other way to go except to remain on this path, to follow this path through to its final end. In fact, I was thinking about this yesterday, this point, I mean. I was thinking how there is no other job I can do at this point in time, yet this job is wearing me down quickly. I cannot do other full-time work, honestly, never again. I need to work from home, to have the rest I need daily in order to remain healthy and whole. I need to earn enough money to live comfortably, but at the same time, I also need a lot of rest. I feel my Chronic Fatigue kicking in, and lately, my fibromyalgia has really acted up. I am in pain, dull throbbing pain, most days. I need to sleep -- a lot -- and I have work that never ends. I am ready to give in, to give up, to throw in the towel, but I know that God has not asked me to do that -- yet. He has told me to remain, to stay put, to be faithful, and so I will do as He asks me to do. My end is soon, I can feel it. This test will end very soon, and then I will have the sweet and blessed rest I need. Until then, I hold on. I keep on keeping on, and I place my trust, my hope, and my resilience in the Lord alone. Only He can save me. Only He can help me. Only He is able to do for me this good day what I cannot do for myself. Only He is able to handle what concerns me this good day. Selah!

Thus, as I close this blog post, I rest in that knowledge. I cannot change my life. I cannot change my circumstances, but I can endure this trial and hardship until the Lord chooses to release me and permit me freedom again. I look up today, I look up to my Rescuer and my Redeemer, my Rock and my Refuge, and I cry out today for His help. I need Him so desparately. I cannot function, I cannot continue on, but today I look up. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth! It is in Jesus' Name that I pray and confess always, Amen.

October 11, 2017

Opportunities Abound

It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, the air temperature today is expected to be near 100 again! Not 100! No, not in October! Normally, October temps settle into the mid-to-upper 80s, and well, nearing 100 at the midpoint of the month is just not fair! It is so not fair! Sigh!

Still, I am content to remain in Phoenix, to live with the warm air and sunny skies for as long as the Lord intends to keep me here. It was just the other day that I decided to go, to find another place to live where I could enjoy the blessings of fall and the change of colors! Yesterday, I made up my mind to stay put because of the issues with my parents, my Dad's recent fall, and the uncertainty of our living situation. I simply made up my mind that the only reasonable solution was to hunker down and do whatever work came to my attention. As things would have it, this morning I received an email from a colleague at GCU stating that they will be filling a vacancy in the COM department. I was encouraged to apply. I thought, "Okay, Lord. I guess you want me to stay put in Phoenix." So, I applied with some hesitation simply because I really do not want to work full-time, on campus. However, I made a promise to the Lord that I would accept any offer for work, so in good faith, I emailed the Dean first thing this morning. Even after I had emailed him, I had this sinking feeling that this wasn't the position the Lord had in mind for me. I prayed before sending it, and I felt confident that the Lord wanted me to send the email -- just to put my name in the hat. Afterward, I thought, "Lord, really? I thought I was to work online so I could take care of my parents?" Well, not an hour later, an email landed back on my desk from the dean letting me know that with some budget concerns the position may not get filled at all. I was relieved! I mean, it is not that I don't want to work there, but more so, it was that I felt it wasn't going to be a good fit for me. I know myself well, and I know that teaching four on-campus courses now is taking a huge toll on me physically.

Anyway, I did what I thought the Lord wanted, and here I sit today, none the worse for wear. As a side, I also applied for another part-time position with Liberty University. I see these positions open every so often, and this time, the position was for adjunct faculty to teach online. It is a bear to even be considered to teach there, so I haven't applied in years. However, the Lord pressed on me that I should apply, and well, I did. I have no inkling as to why or what will come, but my prayer would be an open door for me to teach online at Liberty. This would give me three valid and strong schools where I could potentially teach for the rest of my career. I would be an English teacher, and I would remain in this discipline teaching writing and literature courses. It would be a good fit for me, and well, I would be happy to stay at home, teach from home, and simply let the whole "job" thing pass by me. I don't need the title anymore. I don't need the face-to-face interaction. I simply need good practical work that would let me stay at home and care for my parents through the end of their lives. Perhaps this will be His provision, His solution. I sure do hope so, I sure do hope it is so.

Making Plans

One thing is for sure, I really cannot make any plans for my future at this time. I mean, I have no knowledge of what will happen tomorrow. I have no real knowledge of what the next 60-90 days will look like at all. In truth, I have no knowledge, nothing to count on, except for the fact that no matter what, God will be there in my future, just as He is here today. I can count on this fact alone. God will be in my days, in His way, regardless of what happens to me. So, today or tomorrow, I can have 100% confidence that the Lord will be with me. He has promised me as such. He has said it is so in His word, and I believe Him. I believe His word is true.

Thus, while I like to think about possibilities, while I like to think about what may or may not be, the truth is that I just don't know, I just don't know. So with this fact well in hand, I step out today and I rest in what I do know. I know that Jesus is with me. He loves me deeply. He cares about me, my son, my parents, and my entire life situation. He cares for me. I can believe this is true because I feel it inside of me. I know Him well, and He knows me. Therefore, whether I go or stay, live here or there, work in this place or that place, I can take comfort in knowing that my God has a great plan for my life, He covers me well, and He has promised me that He would be with me -- until the end of the age. He has promised me He will never leave me or abandon me. He will never, ever, let me go, and for that, I am so thankful, so very thankful.

I go today with this knowledge, and I rest in His secure provision. I have enough good work to do, and the work that I do is good. I am trusting in Him, and in this way, I am resting because I know that whatever happens to me this day will be the result of His perfect will and His powerful presence as He rules and reigns over His way, in and through my life. Selah!

October 10, 2017

Taking Control

It is a good day in Phoenix! The skies are clear and the air temperature is mild. The expected high today is only in the mid-80s. Yes, fall has arrived in the desert southwest. It is a good day, as I said, simply because I am alive and well. More so, it is a good day because my life is good, and well, my life is good on account of one major factor -- God is good!

I blog often about the goodness of God. It is my calling, so to speak, and it is the message given to me by God to preach to the world. I know that sounds really odd, but when I came to know the Lord more deeply some 11 years ago, this is what He asked me to do. He said, "Carol, you are to tell everyone you meet about my goodness." I said, "Yes, Lord," but I never really understood how I would do that or even to whom I would share that message. Furthermore, when I first started to share His goodness, I struggled with the message because it felt so stilted, so fake, so artificial. Then, after some time, I just stopped focusing on it, and I became really busy with life and all the troubles associated with life. Little by little, I would blog here and my posts naturally started to include this phrase, "He is so good to me" or "God is good." It was about a year or so later, after that time, when I was browsing back through my posts and I started to notice a theme. I was sharing the message of God's goodness through my blog, and every single day, my post -- no matter the actual topic -- ended up with some message attesting to the fact that God is good, God cares for those He loves, and He is faithful.

In truth, my blog, for good or worse, is a written legacy of His goodness. I have written over 10,000 posts, and in all of them, there is this same thread. He is good. He is so good to me. Now, as I start my 14th year of blogging (started in 2004, and we are almost to 2018), I realize that God intended me to use this blog to share this message with readers (anyone who might find it). But, more so, God intended me to share this blog, to write this blog, I should say, as a way for me to remember His goodness, to recall the moments of His goodness, and to keep a record of the ways in which He was good to me. I look back now, and I think, "Whoa, God was amazing!" Yes, I marvel at His goodness, and I marvel at the fact that He chose to use me, a rather quirky and unknown person, as a vessel, a vehicle to share His message of goodness. He is good. He is so good to me. He is good all the time, and His praise and adoration are from everlasting!

In Control -- No Complaining

So, I blogged yesterday about how I felt out of control as if my life was starting to unravel.  I had completed my blog post, and I was preparing my lesson for my three on campus courses yesterday when my Mom called me into to look at my Dad. Apparently, he had hurt himself and she wanted to know if they needed to go see the doctor. I was not happy about having to stop what I was doing to go and check on my Dad, but when I did, I realized that he was in pretty serious shape. He had fallen in the garage and bumped his head. In fact, the bump was about the size of a 50-cent piece. He had some other cuts and bruises, and honestly, it was a miracle that he got himself back up off the ground without calling for help.

I stood there, feeling so helpless, and thinking "I don't have time for this now. I have lessons to create, and I am running out of time to do them." As I started to panic, I heard the Lord speak into my heart and say to me, "Take care of your Dad, Carol." I said, "How, Lord? How can I do this? I cannot take the day off from work, not now, not an hour before my classes start." Well, as I panicked, my mind cleared and I simply did what needed to be done. I called in sick, took the day off, left my students hanging, and I did what a good daughter should do. I took care of my parents.

The good news is that the bump, while a "doozy," appeared to be the worst part of his suffering. We got into the doctor, who was very kind, and after a trip there and back, Dad was settled into his recliner with ice on his head and some Ibuprofen to help with the swelling. He seems fine today, though a bit black and blue.

My heart stopped, of course. I thought the worst, and what was more, I simply wanted to stay at home so I could be here to help care for my parents. I prayed all day yesterday, and then this morning, after a good nights rest, I realized that the Lord has provided a way for me to do this, to stay at home, and to teach online.

You see, with all the overload this semester, and with the feelings as if I am doing too much, too much work, somewhere in the mix was the solution to my problem. I have been given the work I need to make a decent income from home. However, right now, I am in the transition phase. I am trying to handle five online classes and four on-campus classes. It is too much for me. But, next semester, I could potentially have 5-6 online classes only. With this amount of courses, I could live comfortably and earn enough to pay my bills and still have extra to cover expenses. It is not a perfect solution, but it is workable. I realized this today, as I was dealing with Grantham, grumbling about the school, the courses, the way the curriculum was designed. And, rather than see it for what it was, a school that needed my help, I only saw it as a problem. A big problem that I really didn't need at this moment in time. Yet, with fresh eyes today, I see how I could make the situation better by doing what I do best, and that is improving the basic instruction, helping my students learn how to write with extra help from me.

I grumbled. I complained. I have grumbled. I have complained throughout the past 7 weeks of school. I have looked at the Lord's gift of grace with disdain because it appeared to be not what I wanted, not good enough or right enough or in the right context. Yet, the Lord provided a way for me and rather than wait with patience for Him to open the right door at the right time, I simply grumbled, stomped my feet, and said, "I am not happy with this outcome."

Thankfully, the Lord is good and kind and gracious toward me. I repented. I relented. I rested in my resistance of His will and His way. Furthermore, I let this matter go, as in I decided to accept what He has offered and with that acceptance, I said I would "trust Him" to provide, to work through it, to handle it, and to make His best come to pass. Yes, I decided that if the Lord provided it to me, then it must be good since He is always good and only gives good things to His children. This particular "thing" doesn't look good on the outside at this point in time, but inside of it, there is "good" because the Lord has chosen it for me. Thus, I rest in the knowledge that He is good, and His gifts are good for me.
In Closing

I close this blog post today with humble submission. I realize that I am where I am, in this place because God is causing all the events of my life to work together for His good. Thus, my life while it may appear out of control actually is within His control. I am good because He says it is so. I rest in His goodness today because I believe He is good, His nature is good, and His actions are always good and for my good overall. He is good to me, and I thank Him this good day for His goodness, His mercy, and His great care for my life, my family, and all my needs. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

October 9, 2017

Prepared and Ready to Go

It is a new Monday, the start of a new week and the beginning of Week 7 at my on-campus school. My online classes have either ended or will end this Saturday, so I am pretty much in a nice little lull right now. I had a grading blitz weekend, and thank the Lord, I survived. I estimate I graded close to 230 essays or projects, and I managed to keep my head on tight. I didn't lose my head, praise God!

This week, then is a low week on campus, just teaching content, but no grading. My online courses at Regent have exams and papers coming in so tonight and tomorrow night will be hectic. Afterward, I will rest for about a week before the whole grind begins again. It is a vicious cycle, but it is the life of a teacher. All my teacher friends are in the same boat, and this is why we say that we work harder than any other person during the 9-months we are employed. We need our rest come summer, and well, without it, we seriously wouldn't make it. I am counting down until fall break, November 20, and as of today, I have six weeks until I get a whole week off. My praise is to thank the Lord for my time off to come because I know how much I will need it and enjoy it once it arrives! God is good to me, Selah!

Coming to Terms with My Life

As I sit here and blog, I remember how good it is to know that the Lord has me covered. I am well-covered. I am stressed, panicked, and pinched, but I am well-covered. I think this semester will prove to me my limits. This semester will demonstrate just how far I can be bent without breaking. The Lord knows my testing limits, and He knows what I can handle. I would have to say that this semester has been a proving ground of sorts. I have been tested to my limit, and while I am holding steady, the truth is that I am uncomfortably pressed, hard pressed. I don't like this feeling. I don't like the pressure. I don't like the fact that I am so close to missing the mark. No, I prefer to be in control, to manage my time and my days well, and to not allow things to slip through my fingers. I feel like I have lost control over my days, weeks, and months, and as a result, I am flying too close to the wind. I want to reel myself back in, and I want to have a plan of attack, a check-list, and a roadmap to follow. I need this for my sanity, my security, and my sense of wellness. I need to be in control, and I need to manage my own life well.

It is not that I am out of control, so to speak. It is more to the fact that I gave up control a while back because I thought it was the best thing to do. I remember how I felt when I let someone else lead me. When I was married, I was in control initially, and then I made the decision to let my husband take that role. In right and proper headship, this is what should be. But, I was taught to let the man lead in everything -- regardless if he was fit to do so. In this way, I gave up my rights, responsibilities, and say in the matter -- all matters -- in order to defer to my husband's headship. My voice became silenced, and I lived with my husband's decisions -- for good or for ill -- until our marriage eventually crumbled as a result.

Since 2010, I have been on my own (figuratively and literally), and I have accomplished a lot in that time. I have been under the Lord's leadership, of course, and with His direction, I have learned how to make good decisions and to follow good pathways. Lately, though, I have struggled to simply let go. I have tried to let go of my need to be in control, and whenever I do that, I feel lost, confused, and confounded. In some ways, I made the same mistake that I made as a newly married wife. I gave the Lord 100% control over every decision, and while there is nothing wrong with that at all as the Word calls us to submit to His authority, the Lord has not created Autobots to do His bidding. He has created people, His people, and He has given them minds, intellects, and desires to willingly follow after Him. In this way, I believe the Lord calls us to be good stewards, good planners, and achievers, and that He delights in us when we do good practical work. This being said, I feel as if I have not done what He asked me to do, simply by wanting to let go, I actually stopped doing the work He assigned to me to do. Let me explain...

You see, I am a planner by nature. I am an orchestrator, designer, and the type of person that accomplishes and achieves A LOT. I am hyper-productive, and I can handle a lot of work. But, I must be organized, careful, and keenly aware of details. As such, I am scrupulous when it comes to not overbooking myself, not taking on too much work. I am meticulous and very good at my job. I am also prone to stress, strain, and fatigued. I have taken on too much work this semester in order to earn as much income as possible, and while the Lord permitted me to do so, I realize now that my effort to take on more work was more about what I could earn than what the Lord intended for me to really do with my life.

It all started at GCU. I was set with my schedule, three 106 courses (Comp II). I have taught these three classes 8 times now, and I know them like the back of my hand. I had a sweet schedule, MWF only, and my fall was set up to be low-key, easy, and relaxing. The Lord said as much, and I knew it would be good to have this low-key semester coming off my dissertation. Plus, my parents needed more care (weekly) so having my days off would be good for me. Rest days, as I call them.

Then I was asked to take a class where the professor stepped out at the last minute. I considered it too quickly, not really thinking clearly about what it would mean to teach 5-days a week. Plus, the class was one I had not taught previously. I prayed over the class, and I felt the Lord was saying "yes" to me. So, I took it. As things turned out, the lead in the program resigned, and well, I ended up being moved from English to Communications on a rather permanent basis. Now, I have four on-campus courses along with my online classes.

While the extra course was extra work, I was able to manage the workload until Grantham came back into the mix. I had to take a tutorial class, pass it, in order to be evaluated as an instructor. But, without my knowledge, this school scheduled me to teach not one but two classes. Now, I am overloaded. I can handle this load, barely, and I am holding on, but frankly, it is too much.

So, I have to suffer through the next 6-8 weeks of overload. It is my fault, really. I should have said, "No" to Grantham and told them to wait until next year when I would be freer to work for them. Oh well, lesson learned.

Therefore, my plan today is to take stock, to see where I am at and where I am going, and well, just dig in and do the work. I will not give up, and I will be faithful. He is good to me. He provided enough work, and I will trust Him to cover me the remaining 56 days. I mean, really, we are taking only 56 days! It is not like 56 years!

 In Closing

I close today with this thought. I read Psalm 19 this morning as part of a 7-day devotional on the promises of God. I love this psalm because it reminds me of the power of God to keep His word to His children. He is good to us, always so very good. I may mess up. I may make mistakes. I may fall flat on my face, but through it all, the messes I mean, He is there for me. He is my ROCK AND MY REFUGE, my STRONG TOWER in whom I place my absolute devotion and trust.

October 8, 2017

Feeling Stressed, But Determined

It is a Sunday here in Phoenix. I am home, doing laundry, and sitting at the computer waiting for the 11:00 service to begin at my church, Scottsdale Bible Church. I know it is weird, but I am in this weird season in life when doing church via distance works for me. I hope to soon get back to on-campus attendance, but there are things in my life that are making that decision complicated. Thus, I am an online worshipper, at the least, for the next couple months or so.

This past week was a bust for me, like a real bust. I am struggling to overcome doubts, severe anxiety, and frankly, my attitude is taking a bit of a downswing simply because I have too much work to do, and not enough hours in the day to do it. I know, it is my own fault. I took all these contracts, and now I am feeling as if I overextended myself. I don't normally do this, I mean, not on purpose. When I was in school, I managed my time well. I only took the part-time contracts that I knew I could fulfill. Since graduation, I have taken every contract offered to me, and the result has been a really difficult semester with little to no break.

Making Sense of My Life

In defense, I did pray over each contract, and I only took those that the Lord said to take. In hindsight, I can see no error in my judgment, so that tells me that the Lord purposely chose to test my limit, to show me how much was possible, and then to provide for me through the test. For example, I know that teaching 8-10 courses is unrealistic over a long period of time. Yet, the Lord has opened these doors, and I am doing my best to keep up with the workload.

I don't feel that the purpose of this test was to determine my faith, rather, I believe it was to show me His ability to handle the workload. I need to know that He can do this work, not me and that if I rest, really rest, He will do everything asked of me in good fashion and order. For example, despite being slammed, I have made incredible connections with students this semester. I have prayed over them, helped them, encouraged them, and in the end, I have had some wonderful relational moments in my classes and outside of my classes. God has been good to me. He has given me fresh eyes to see the hurt, the heartache, and to realize just how influential I am in the lives of my diverse and widespread student population.

I have also come to see what I like and do not like, as in what schools I prefer to teach at, and what schools I do not like due to challenges with curriculum or student access. In short, I have come to see that of my favorite schools all around, both Regent University and ASU are best. My on-campus school, GCU, ranks up there as well, but my online schools actually hold the top spot. My online schools have an awesome curriculum and awesome students. I love what I teach for these schools, and I love the experience I have teaching at each place. My least favorite school, as of right now is Grantham University. This school was a held-out hope that I would earn a decent income from the contracts, but after three weeks and two classes, the curriculum is so badly designed that most of my students are dropping. This means that I will not make a decent income after all, and for the frustration, I simply will not enjoy working at this school. This saddens me greatly because I really had hoped that this school, in combination with my other online schools, would provide a good overall income so I could work from home. Sigh!

Therefore, I am in this really weird place right now. I had hoped to not teach on campus next spring, yet once again, I have three contracts signed. I am teaching Communications and not English, but I am moving out of one department to another, and well, I am committed to working on campus for another semester. My contracts for spring at ASU and Regent are unknown, but I am assuming they will be forthcoming. I love these online schools so I don't want anything to keep me from teaching at them. I guess I am just trying to wrap my head around how I will make ends meet, how I will continue to earn a solid living if these are the schools that seem to be working for me.

My mind says, "it is not enough," but I believe the Lord is saying to me, "I will provide." In fact, I really think this "overload" situation is His way of reminding me that He is in control and that it is up to Him to bring me work. I am not to go seeking a job. I am not to find work. I am to rest and let Him bring work to me. He has my best in mind, and He knows what I can and cannot do. He has my limits set, and as such, I can rest in the knowledge that even though I feel overwhelmed, He is my Rock and my Refuge. He is my Strong Tower, my Hope, and in Him and Him alone, do I place my trust and my faith.

In Conclusion

As I sit here today and blog, I am reminded that my life is no longer mine to choose to do with as I want. I am His bondslave, and as such, I am to go where He sends me. I am to do the work He has prepared for me to do. This means all the work, not just some of it. He will provide for me, and I will trust Him to do just that -- provide. He is good to me, so very good to me. I adore Him this good, good day, and I trust that He will show me a way out. I believe there is a way out, and He will open that door for me today.

October 4, 2017

Learning to Lean on the Lord

It is Wednesday, and that means I am at the midpoint of my week again. I feel like this semester, in particular, is flying by so quickly. We have 9 more weeks of school left (skipping our fall break, I mean). Of course, that is 9 weeks of teaching, preparing, and delivering content. Still, 9 weeks left of the fall semester just seems unreal to me. I am thankful, truthfully I am, for the good classes I have this year, but I am getting burnt out. In fact, I just received another small teaching contract at Grantham University, so that is two new classes to add to my already overflowing schedule. I was panicked at first, but now that I have logged into the teaching system, reviewed the curriculum and lesson plans, these classes (Writing) are pretty easy for me to facilitate. I am really grading assignments and being a mentor/encourager rather than teaching. I am not responsible for the content, but I am bringing my skill to the class to help these working adults learn to write well and to pass all their courses so they can graduate. Most of my students are military, which cheers me. I am so happy to help our working military earn academic degrees while they are serving our country.

Thankful for His Goodness This Day

Today, thus, is a good day. I am tired from not sleeping well, and from having some really odd dreams, but overall, I feel fine. I am just worn out. I should have a rather low-key day today at GCU, and then tonight, unfortunately, I will be back to grading. This is a busy week for me, but I can do it. I am committed to seeing this term through, and to doing my best to assist as many students as I possibly can. I have decided that if Grantham continues to give me classes each week, I pretty much could let GCU go for the spring term. I believe that I could teach at my other online schools and at this one, make more money, and save the wear and tear on my car. It would be a good thing.

Speaking of the car, my Nissan is making a funny noise so I will need to take it over to the dealer for a checkup. I am praying that whatever is wrong is still under warranty. My AC unit is whining when I idle. I think it might be the belt, but I had new belts done when I put in the unit. Hopefully, they can fix the car and it won't break the bank, so to speak.

In all, I am in this very good place. I have the potential to earn significant income through my existing online schools, and despite not having a full-time position, I feel really good that I can earn a good living and live comfortably as a contracted instructor. It is weird to say it, but I am actually OK with not having a full-time or tenure-track position.

The Lord is good to me, and He has made a way possible. I know that He has a great plan for my future and that I can rest in His care and in His provision. He is enough! In fact, Joyce Meyer posted a short clip today that reminded me that we are to trust in the Lord, in His provision, and not count or look to our own strength or abilities to do the Lord's work. Joyce was teaching on 1 Chronicles 21 where David sinned by counting the Israelites. He was forbidden by God to count the people, yet he did it anyway so he could know how large his army of men really was. The problem, of course, was that David, in looking at the size of his army, took his focus off the Lord, and put it squarely on the size of his arsenal. Who goes before you into battle, David? Is it not the Lord? In truth, we do a similar thing whenever we look to our blessings, our resources, and we think "I have enough to do this thing or that thing." We need to be careful to remember from whence our blessing comes, and then to make sure we are always relying on God, the maker of heaven and earth, as our chief supplier.

This message resonated with me this morning because I have become guilty of counting my chickens of late. Yes, I have looked to the contracts, the jobs that the Lord has brought to me, counted up my "figures" to get an idea of how much money I am making, and then thinking I am invincible because I have so much work to do. I forget that the Lord gives and He takes away, so today, I am humbled at the thought that as easily as these jobs have come to me, they could just as easily slip away.

Oh, Lord! Please be my Manna from Heaven, and bring me YOURSELF daily as the Living Bread and Water I so desperately need to survive!

God has graciously provided an abundance of good work for me to do. I cannot handle all the demands, so I rest in His ability to "fight" for me and through me. Of course, I am not fighting like David fought in battle, but I am putting the plow to the ground to do good work. I am trusting the Lord to be my strength for only He is able to sustain me. I know He will provide plenty of rest for me, and as I faithfully do my work, He will bless me and honor me through these efforts. He is good, and I lift up all praise and honor to His holy name. I lift up all praise and honor to the One who is able to perform miracles, and who is the One to champion my cause and see my end come to pass. He is good to me, so very good to me!

As I work today, I remember that I am just flesh. I rest in His power and presence, and I thank Him -- again and again -- for His mercy and goodness. He is good, and I give Him my praise this good, good day!

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth (Ps. 34:1 KJV)

October 3, 2017

New Thoughts and Possibilities

Happy Tuesday! It is a good day to be alive and to be living under God's banner of grace and mercy! He is good, so very good! My heart is still trying to understand the utter devastation of yesterday's events in Las Vegas, and I am still struggling to comprehend how one person could do so much damage. Yet, I also believe that God is in control, and while the world seems bent on destroying itself, I know that God's plan for mankind, His plan of redemption and reconciliation is actively at work in and through His people and the billions of people He is desperate to reach. God is not dead. He is not silent. He is active and present, and His will is coming to pass. He is faithful. He keeps His promises, and He will return soon to reclaim that which is His. He is good, so very good, and today is a great day to worship and praise His holy name.
Thoughts and Such

So I am sitting here this morning blogging, drinking my coffee, and thinking about the fact that I am in this very weird, almost surreal place. I mean, I am over-contracted and over-committed to teaching, yet the Lord is sustaining me, helping me to meet the needs, to fulfill my responsibilities, and to boot, to do everything asked of me with a strong and solid effort. For example, this weekend, I had to grade a number of assignments, essays mostly, and the time needed to be was considerable. I had to manage a number of online activities, and frankly, I didn't think it would be possible to do everything asked of me within the time frame allotted. As I approached the weekend, I trusted the Lord to guide me through my to-do list, and despite my reservation in being able to do what was listed, I felt confident that the Lord would help me, and that I would do everything on the list before I hit the bed late Sunday evening. As is the case, I did all that work and I even planned my week and reviewed my lessons for my set of English classes. In all, I did more than I had listed, and I did it all without breaking down or feeling so dead tired that I could not function as I headed into the week yesterday.

In truth, the Lord did the work. He showed me how to do it, provided grace to enable me to do it, and in the end, I finished everything assigned. He did it all, and I simply was "moved" by Him. He used His abilities, His power, His wisdom to help me complete these tasks, and I did so with grace, mercy, kindness, and speed! Yes, with speed.

As I think about my life, this weird place where I am today, I realize that in order to finish strong over the next 9 weeks, I need His help every single day. I need His help to manage my bulging schedule, to manage my course load, and to manage my finances and my next steps. I cannot plan, purpose, or even hope to prosper in any way other than His way. In fact, I am more committed today to His way than ever before. I know now that the plans the Lord has for me are specific. They are specific, designed and planned specifically for me. I had believed this was so, but this past week (last week) I had this point confirmed to me. I came to "see" the Lord's plan with fresh eyes, and I came to see that what He intends to do through me, for me, and to me, is unique and wonderful. It is better than I could dream or imagine. It is good, and I am blessed to be able to sit and watch as the Lord goes before me into battle, as He moves in ways to change paths, people, and possibilities so that I can go where He is sending me. Yes, I can go to the place of His choosing and do the work He has assigned to me to do. Selah!

It was yesterday when this fact dawned on me. I was over on campus, and as I was leaving school, I thought about my life, and how I am in this unique position of blessing. I am well-provided for this semester, and while I am thankful for that fact, I also realize that I cannot continue at this pace for long. I mean, the Lord sustains me, and I am thankful for His grace to do what I must do, but in all truth, I simply cannot work this hard for the next 10 or 15 years without some hardship occurring. I was driving home, thinking about my life, and I said to the Lord that I needed to work less. No, that I wanted to work less. I asked if it was possible to make the same less money and still be comfortable in my life. I wanted to know if I could make ends meet by working at my online jobs only. More so, I wondered if I could have a better quality of life, more free time, more family time, more ministry time if I worked less. The issue is that I feel that all I do is work. I am a hard worker, don't get me wrong, and I love to work. I love what I do, but there is part of me that feels like I am missing out on what is more important, and that is people and relationships with people. I want to spend more time free to be with people rather than only interfacing at my computer day in and day out. I love my on-campus duties for that reason, but the grind to do both is taking its toll on me physically. I needed a break from the grind, and I asked the Lord if there was another way for me.

Today, I woke up and received word that a colleague of mine had resigned. I don't know the details, just that this person resigned and with her departure, the department is left seriously in need. My first thought was that I might be asked to take on more work. I laughed inside my heart and mind because the last thing I need is more work. Yet, here I am in this weird place, and the Lord is blessing me with work -- an abundance of work. I don't have full-time work, but I have oodles of part-time opportunities. I started to think this morning that perhaps my life was about to get even more hectic, even more crazy.

The Lord knows my limits, what I can and cannot handle, and He has a good plan for my life. My prayer today is to realize His will in all things, and to rest in the security of His provision -- as it is today -- and not as it could be down the road. I am good today. I have enough today. I am in this happy place today. It is all about today, and today's' blessing is always enough for me. Selah!

So, I am sitting here thinking about what is next for me. I mean, will my job status change as a result of this person's departure? I don't think so. If anything, I think my job status will remain as is as long as I am willing to do the work. By that I mean, remain as an adjunct. I am thinking of terminating my contract at the end of the year so that I can teach online only. I am not sure if this is His will for me at this point in time, so I am faithful to continue, to remain as I am for a time. But, I believe that change is on the horizon, that the wind is blowing, and that I have new doors ready to open. I must be patient and wait for them to open, that is all. I must be patient to wait for them to open.

The interesting thing is all of this discussion is simply the fact that the Lord has been consistent in His provision for my needs. I have enough money to pay my bills, to live comfortably. I am good. I am well-cared for, and I am comfortable. He has kept His word to me. I believe Him, and I trust His word to me. What is more, though, is the fact that I still do not really know whether I will stay or go, or what opportunities will open for me in the coming months. For instance, I was content to remain in Phoenix, teach on campus and online, and live my days here in the desert. Yet, with the recent changes at GCU, all of this is now in flux. I do not have a schedule confirmed in the communications department, and what I have from English is unacceptable to me (it is not a good fit). Thus, my time at GCU may be ending, and that leads me to wonder about what might be next for me. My online schools seem to be doing well, and I am now teaching at three schools and making a fair income. I am comfortable with online, and I prefer it, but there is part of me that worries and wonders how I can make ends meet with online work, adjunct work alone. I believe He will sustain me, but I have to rest in the fact that He is able to do what is needed and that I may simply not know until He is ready to reveal His next big step.

I am okay with not knowing. I am okay with resting. I need to practice it more, but I am okay with the fact that my life is in flux and that my future is open-ended right now. There is no ONE WAY for me to go, other than to heaven, I mean. The paths before me are good, all of them, and the Lord has chosen a path for me to follow that will fulfill His purpose in my life. The path may diverge, change directions or even take some tight turns, but in the end, His will be done, and I will arrive at my final destination as He planned, purposed, and prepared me to do so.

In Conclusion

My Lord is my Commander, and as such, He gives the command to go and do work, to rest and relax, and to move when He says, "move." I await His command this good day, and I rest in the knowledge that His command is good. It is for my good. It will work together to bring good into my life, and in this way, I will complete the plan He made for me, the plan He has in mind for me. He is good to me. He is so very, very good to me! Selah!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV)

October 2, 2017

Good Monday!

It is a good Monday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, and the air temperature is moderately warm. The forecast calls for much of the same, though I think highs near 100 need to start to dip lower soon, in my view. It seems odd to have the high around 98 on October 2, you know what I mean? But, thankfully, the warmer air is made less intense with the low humidity, and well, it is tolerable despite the big numbers on the thermometer.
Thinking and Reflecting

I am thanking the Lord today for His goodness toward me. I was able to complete every item on my to-do list this weekend, and right now, I am sitting at my desk thinking that I have nothing to do BUT BLOG. God is so very good, isn't He? I mean, I was stressed over the thought of finishing everything, and I mean, everything before midnight last evening. I actually didn't finish until about 12:20 a.m., only because I decided to review my PPTs for this week, rather than save them for this morning. I am glad I did. After I woke up this morning, and I saw the news, I so didn't want to climb out of bed. I mean, what in the world is happening? A gunman kills 58 and wounds over 515 at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas! This kind of event doesn't happen in America, but this is what we are seeing as our world becomes more complex and intertwined, and hate-fueled speech and conduct take center stage. We are no longer a civilized society when one person can open fire and mow down 500 people for unknown reasons. I am sure they will find some link to Isis, only because this attack appears to be the type they would sponsor. Yet, there is no link yet, and even if we learn the gunman was insane (like the Aurora, CO shooter), the senseless violence is so hard to take. My thoughts and my prayers are with the families and the victims of this horrible tragedy today.

As I process these events, part of me doesn't even want to drive over to school today to present a lecture on causal analysis. It is too difficult, too raw, to even consider doing anything but pray. Yet, I have to keep my commitment, and I have to be faithful to my students. It just is hard to be happy, smile, and think sweet thoughts when so many people are mourning and are in various stages of shock and grief.

The worst part is the fact that we, as a nation, have become so desensitized to the violence. I mean, we are so "over" the fact that this type of violence happens, and we are like "Next!" People have died. People will die as the injured are treated at local hospitals. We cannot lose our sense of righteous indignation or our desire for justice just because we see horror and pain and suffering like this on the TV and over the Internet every single day. We need to remain faithful. We need to remember those that God's heart breaks for so that we can be ministers of compassion and not cruel and insensitive judges of the world.

My life today is so strong, but my heart is saddened by the grief that is overcoming me. I know my God reigns, and I don't look to Him to stop this type of violence. No, I understand the motivation. I understand the interior mindset that is godless and wanton. This is not God's fault, but it is symptomatic of a world without a conscience, a world where sin reigns and where sinful behavior is championed and delighted.

Oh, Jesus, come soon! Come quickly and rescue us from the wickedness of the world!
In Conclusion

I am finding it difficult to write today, and I am finding it hard to focus. Yet, I am also aware that nothing has changed for me (Praise God!) because I am well within His hand of mercy and grace. My prayer today is for some notification of intention so the families, friends, and victims of this attack have a focus for their rage. Let us all find out why this person believed that taking innocent life and then committing suicide proffered some value. Let us know the motivation and intention of this man so we can direct our anger and our hopes toward a purposeful solution.

October 1, 2017

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!

Thanking Jesus today for all the blessings in my life. I lift up a sacrifice of praise today in order to give Him thanks. He has done more for my life over the past 10 years than I could have achieved in a lifetime. He has rescued me, saved me from terror, and provided a purposed and prosperous future for me. I have a great plan, a good life, and with His grace, I am enabled and empowered to do good work in His name. Today, I thank Him for His life -- His life -- and all that His life has brought to me and will continue to bring to me. He is good to me -- and I do not deserve Him -- yet, He is good to me all the time! Praise to God above, He is good, so very good!

September 30, 2017

It’s a New Day!

Every so often, I like to stop and reevaluate my life. I think it is important to spend time in reflection in order to develop sensitivity and to be more open to change and developments as they occur in our lives. In my case,  I think a lot about my life, daily I mean, and as such, I spend a great deal of time in prayer over events -- past and present -- as well as in futurist thinking. I am always speaking with the Lord about my life, and in this way, I feel more connected to His plan. I know He has a great plan for my life (Jer. 29:11), and I feel that His plan is coming to pass in my life. Thus, the more I reflect, the more I think, and yes, the more sensitive I can become to the changes that I see around me, the more I am able to bend and yield to His will as He leads, guides, and provides for me.

Clearly Focused and Determined

This week is a good case in point. I have been stressed, like beyond stressed really, and the week went from awful to blessed over the course of 5 days. It was like a huge weight was lifted off of me starting on Wednesday, and from that point forward, each day felt lighter and lighter. I ended my Friday on a very happy note, and I felt good about the way everything in my life seemed to be adding up. I mean, I am in this overly blessed position. I have more than enough financial blessing. I have a solid emotional footing, and I feel mentally less cloudy than I have been during the past 8-10 months. The Lord has graciously opened new doors for me, and in all these new opportunities, the feeling that I was unwell or not where I belonged lingered. Yet, when I stopped and looked at the whole picture, like the BIG PICTURE, I realized that the only way I could see my life was to see it as BLESSED, AND HIGHLY FAVORED. Let me explain...

I have blogged the past couple years about my thoughts on moving to a new state after I finished my Ph.D. I have believed so strongly that the Lord intended to open a door for me, and that this door would include a full-time job offer whereby I would be asked to move to a different place for work. I have focused on this idea, that I would move, almost exclusively. More so, this idea became my secondary focus (after my degree program). The funny thing was that despite my current situation, the fact that my son is in school here, and I live with my parents, I still felt confident that once I graduated, the Lord would bring me a job as an Assistant Professor, and well, that would be it.

So when 2017 started, and I focused so keenly on my dissertation and defense, I felt so assured that come summer, there would be a job offer waiting for me. I prayed about it, looked for it, and hoped that the Lord would deliver this job to me so that at some point over the summer, I would pack up and move eastward. However, no job offer came to me. I waited patiently, and patiently, and I completed my degree. I graduated in May, and summer began with more teaching opportunities online, but no real movement anywhere at all. I started to feel let down like I had made a huge mistake. I started to think perhaps I had made all this up, that perhaps I wanted to move and all my feelings about moving were simply just that -- my feelings, my will, my wants.

The school year began in August, and I found myself teaching at three schools again. I had so hoped to not return to GCU for fall teaching, but when no other job presented itself, I had to keep my commitment to the contracts I had agreed to take during the previous spring. I was disappointed and even depressed over teaching there again. I mean, I was tired of the rut, and I wanted something better. I wanted more money, more position, more leadership opportunities, and all my friends (those that have graduated or are soon to be so) were getting hired as full-time tenured faculty. I was still "adjunct" and I was still working like a dog at so many schools just to make ends meet. I wasn't happy, and my life seemed stalled.

Had I done this? Was this my fault? I spent so many hours thinking, praying, and reflecting on choices, behaviors, just to figure out if I had done something to stall my forward progress.

What was more was the fact that over the past couple months, my home life here has become more complicated. My Mom's memory issues are becoming more pronounced, and my Dad's recent health scare, simply made me realize that I needed to stay at home so I could take care of my parents. But, how could I do that? I mean, I am teaching online, but how could I afford to stay at home on the little online income I make?

Thus, as the fall year began, I was panicked with all these factors and additional concerns, and my stress level was through the roof as I tried to work at three schools and keep up with all the challenges here at home. Then, GCU asked me to take an overflow class, a fourth class, and I felt the Lord was saying to me that I should do it. I obeyed, but frankly, the class didn't make my life easier or better -- it made it more stressful.

Then, to complicate matters, my first weeks at school were a bust. My classes were not as joyful as they had been in previous semesters, and I felt like a complete failure each day I stepped onto campus. My students questioned me constantly, complained, and gripped, and I was feeling like I was a junior teacher in a rough school with little to no experience. Daily it was a battle for my mind, would I believe the lies of my enemy who said to me that I was a major "failure!" I struggled to defend myself against his constant accusation, and despite some reprieve, it seemed like "day in and day out," I had to contend with him regarding my abilities to do the work I had believed all along was the Lord's provision for me.

Consequently, the pattern of attack continued, and this past week, as Monday began, I found myself, yet again, a jumbled mess. I was still trying to figure out how my life would pan out given my circumstances and the Lord's resistance to move me elsewhere. I had to factor in the truth, and that was, that despite the future uncertainty, I was making good money now, and I have a nice home that I rent with my parents. My life for all intents and purposes is good. But -- there is no full-time job on the horizon -- and the Lord doesn't seem to be in any hurry to show me a full-time position that would work for my longterm career goals. I was miffed, upset, and confused. The dots on this timeline (the one I am on) didn't line up, and I didn't see any prospects for a better future on the horizon.

My heart and my head were discontented. I felt so lost, so all alone. My life was a grind. I was working 5-days a week, teaching four campus courses along with three online courses, and well, this amount of work plus my general duties at home was washing over me like an unrelenting wave. I was so tired, so mentally tired, and I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I was "going nowhere fast" as the saying goes.

Things began to change on Wednesday, as I was driving over to campus. I was listening to the radio, K-Love, and a song came on that was a simple worship and praise song. I haven't listened to the radio in a long time, preferring instead to drive to campus in silence. I turned the radio on for some reason, and like I said, this song came on. As I began to sing the words, my heart started to melt. I began to cry as the refrain turned to worship. I sang the words, and as I did so, the tears began to flow. I had a major breakdown in the car. In my heart, I knew that I had not sinned, but my tears were clearly tears of confession. More so my tears were of frustration and complete confusion. I cried all the way over to the school, asking the Lord -- no begging Him -- to help me understand why I was in this place, and why things were not working out as I had hoped they would. I so desperately needed to know that my life was still on track and that despite the outward appearance, He was still in control of the path I was on.

Thankfully, the Lord was gracious to me, as He always is, and through my time of crying out to Him, I came to this pace of utter peace and a renewed sense of confidence in His ways. I cannot really explain what happened, but it was like a "light" dawned in my mind, and I realized (1) I am right where I belong, and that (2) I was experiencing the fulfillment of a word of knowledge that was shared with me some four months prior. In that moment, clarity returned, and I remembered that He had told me to expect great hardship after I graduated. I simply had forgotten about His word. I had misfiled that bit of information away, and through my frustration with current events, I needed to be reminded that His word about what would happen, actually had come to pass.

As I sat in my car, thinking, praying, and confessing to the Lord, He reminded me that He told me what to expect during the summer and fall after my graduation from Regent. Like I said, I had forgotten His word, and I had assumed that the challenge He spoke of would be in ministry or in another context. I simply didn't put "2 and 2" together, and see that the challenge would be related to my entire life, the work I do know as well as the life I live with my parents and my son.

Thus, as He reminded me of this fact, my mind drifted back to May when I was on campus at Regent It was the day before the 3-day graduation ceremony when the Lord said to me that I needed to be dedicated, commissioned, and graduated in order for His work to come to pass in my life. I had known this previously, which is why I believed that I had to go to Regent in May for all three days -- not just one or two of the event. The 3-day ceremony at Regent is unique. It is structured this way for Masters' and Ph.D. candidates: day one the candidate is dedicated, day two the candidate is commissioned, and day three the candidate graduates. The progression is specific, and it is designed as an official ceremony to send the candidate out into the world to do God's work. As such, I was prayed over, anointed, and sent out. The Lord told me that this process would produce trial for me and that I would experience great difficulty before things would get better. I naturally assumed that the type of challenge would be minimally unpleasant, I mean, after all, I haven't had any major unpleasantness in my life for a long while.

I misjudged the Lord's words, and unfortunately, I forgot what He had said to me. So as I sat there in the car, I had to deal with a couple of issues, namely my misunderstanding and misapplication of His word to me, but more so, my unwillingness to submit and yield to the trials in my life. I was straining to control what I could not control, and I was striving to have my own way. Time and time again, I would hear the Lord say to me "You cannot have your way, Carol," and I assumed that meant moving to the Midwest or teaching online. I didn't realize that He was saying to me "You have to go through this period. You cannot have your way and skip this step in the process."

I confessed to the Lord my unwillingness to be challenged this way, and I confessed that I was unwilling to go and do the work He was calling me to do. I also confessed that my attitude about His provision had turned sour because I felt I deserved something better. I confessed that I had listened to the accusations of my enemy and begun to engage in negative self-talk. In all my confession, I realized that I had failed to see the trial, failed to see its purpose, and failed to understand its desired effect. I had failed, not as a teacher, a mom or a daughter, but simply failed to grasp the significance of the work the Lord has for me, and the process for ministry that happens PRIOR to the assignment. I simply failed to see that throughout the Lord's word in the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples were tested prior to being used by God for His work. The trial comes after commissioning but before receiving the assignment. I had to go through the torment, the trial, and the test in order to be given my placement, my specific assignment.

Subsequently, as I came to a new level of understanding, I realized that my work at GCU and my other schools were part-and-parcel to the work He has for me to do in ministry. Yes, I am a teacher, and part of my work is to minister to students. But, I am also a communicator, and as such, the Lord intends for me to work in the church to help the Church communicate faith more effectively. This is my training, my hard road of study and scholarship, and as such everything I have done thus far has been prepared for that specific assignment.

As I left my car to walk to class, I prayed over GCU. I confessed my thankfulness to God for the school, the offer to work there, and the courses I have been given this semester. I also committed my time there to one purpose, and that is to "be the hands and feet of Jesus" to the students I have the privilege to shepherd this semester. I thanked the Lord, and I confessed my dependency on Him for this work. I cannot do it to His satisfaction through my own efforts, so I must rest in His abilities instead. I placed my faith and trust in Him, and I simply walked to my classes, empty-handed, and completely dependant on Him for the provision of quality work, compassionate understanding, and gracious teaching ability.

My day improved 100-fold. I mean, my day IMPROVED. Not only did the testing cease, but I began to experience incredible fulfillment. First, I bumped into one of my sweet former students. It was a joy to see her, give her a hug, and hear her sweet voice. Later, she posted to Facebook how much she missed me and loved having me as a teacher (oh, how I needed that word of encouragement). Second, I spent quality time with a student that needed my help, and I realized just how much of an impact I have in these student's lives. I do make a difference, not always, not to every student, but each semester, God brings certain people to me and He uses me to minister to them. Third and last, as I left the campus and drove home for the night, I felt so peaceful. I felt like no matter where I live, in Phoenix or another place, I am right where He wants me to be. I let go of my desire to move, and I embraced the fact that the Lord can use me anywhere He wants. I don't have to go --> there --> to do His work. I can do it right here and right now. I don't have to move or live in Chicago or Atlanta; rather, I can live where the Lord plants me, and honestly, tulips can grow even in a desert and dry land. He is able, more than able to produce a bounty where there is no water.

In Conclusion

Today, I am sitting at my computer, reflecting on all that has passed, and I realize that despite the trial and test, I am settled. I am set. I am fixed. I am where He wants me to be, and so long as He provides for me here, I will remain. If He moves me, it will be for one reason --> He needs me to go and work someplace else. Until that time, I am content to remain. I am content to stay where He has me planted, and rather than grumbling and complaining about a lack, instead I will lift up a sacrifice of praise for all the good He has already given to me. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

September 29, 2017

Feeling Better

Today is a good day! I woke up around 4:30 a.m., like wide-awake, but feeling fairly refreshed. I didn't get up at that time, but I laid awake for about 40 minutes before I drifted back off to sleep until 8:00 this morning. Now, I have that slightly hung-over feeling, but overall, I still feel pretty well rested. I am thanking the Lord for His goodness and mercy. I am thanking Him for His overt blessing and provision. He is good to me, so very good to me!

The weather of late has been stunning, like just stunning. The daytime temperatures have dropped below 100, and most days have hovered around 92-94. Yes, we are into Fall in the Valley of the Sun. I am loving the fact that the cooler weather is finally here, and that for the first time, I am able to walk across campus without breaking into a major sweat. It is a good thing, really, it is.

Contentment is Good

I am feeling more settled into my routine and classes, despite the fact that I am having to go out to campus 5-days a week. I like my classes, and I finally feel better about the schedule, the routine, and the content. God is good to me. He has given me a wide range of courses to teach this semester, and frankly, while I am doing a lot of teaching, I realized the other day that I am no more busy than when I was teaching and completing my Ph.D. In fact, I am probably working about as hard, but without the strain of having to produce scholarship, make grades, and conduct original research. In truth, I feel good about the way things have worked out for me. More so, I can see the Lord's hand of blessing in my life right now. I don't mean to brag, but it appears that He has opened more doors than I could have imagined, and for a time, I was overloaded with blessing. I felt like the kid in the candy store that was given free reign or like the little kid that jumped into the ball pit and was immediately sucked under all those colored balls. For a time, I struggled under the weight, but then after a bit of time, the weight started to seem easier to bear. Now, I feel better, more confident that I can handle all the work He has provided to me.

As I think about His provision, I marvel at His grace. I mean, I have a lot of work contracted, and to my folks and to others not familiar with higher education, the amount of work seems impossible. Yet, the Lord has graciously provided to me, and I have promised Him that I would not say "no" to any job. For example, yesterday, as I was prepping for my T-TR class in Organizational Communication, I received an email from Grantham telling me that they had scheduled me to teach an English 101 class. I didn't ask for this class. I didn't think I would even get a class until the first of the year (maybe December). They had an "immediate" opening, and they needed someone to step into a class that had started the day before. I was caught off-guard, and I thought, "No way! I cannot take on another class." Yet, the Lord seemed to say to me, "Rest, easy. I have you," so I accepted it. I logged in later in the evening and looked over the syllabus and schedule. In truth, it is a pretty easy class to teach. I am not sure what the pay rate will be yet, but the class is full, and I am confident that I can facilitate and mentor these students (working adults) in addition to all my other students online and on-campus.

What is more, this week at GCU, while stressful for me, seems to have panned out well. I was observed by the COM department on Tuesday and received "two thumbs" up from them regarding my abilities to teach Org COM. I also received confirmation that they want me to teach Intercultural COM next spring (3 sections), which means starting in January, I will move from English to Communications on a permanent basis. I was sad about that fact, but actually, it is going to be a blessing to me. In all honesty, it is far more challenging to fill a COM class than it is to fill English writing classes. With my Ph.D. in COM, there should be plenty of opportunities for me to teach 3-campus classes each semester. No so in English, where the department has hired more adjuncts, and the choice of schedule and courses has become very limited.

Now that I have made up my mind to teach COM, my field, I am very settled on the matter. I love English, and I always will be a Rhetorician at heart. But, I feel comfortable moving to COM, and I believe this is where the Lord intends to plant me in Phoenix. I will always teach Writing online, and some literature as well (thank you to Regent), but the practical courses on ground and online will be within Communication. I am excited, well-prepared, and ready to be promoted. I may never have a full-time position in Communication, but I will have open doors now to pursue my field, to teach the courses I enjoy most (interpersonal, small group, intercultural, and organizational communication). The Lord has opened this door for me, and I am poised now to take on all opportunities that He has in mind for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

In Conclusion

In closing, I stand in awe of my God, my Lord, my Savior, my King. He is worthy to be praised, and only He is worthy of my entire adoration and honor. I rest now in the sufficiency of His merciful blessing, the bounty of His provision, and the open doors of favor as He continues to shower me from Heaven. I don't deserve His goodness. I don't deserve His favor or blessing. I deserve nothing but His wrath, and in this way, I am overwhelmed and in awe of His majesty and His glory.