January 29, 2017

Making More Strides Forward

I woke up early this morning. It is a cold and clear morning in Phoenix. The sun is shining, but the air temperature is very crisp and cool. I am at home this morning, sitting at my computer, contemplating life and all its joys. My parents are getting ready to head to their church, and my son is working at the church where he controls the audio for a contemporary service. I miss my church, Scottsdale Bible Church, but I know that I need this last weekend to finish my major project. I have missed so many worship opportunities since I returned to graduate school. I know — not a good excuse — but with everything on my plate, and my issues with Chronic Fatigue, I accepted the fact that there would be times when I couldn’t attend church in order to recover from my overwhelming workload (the physical stress and strain) during the week.

The blessing in all of this is that He is over me, and thankfully, He has given me the grace needed to do all my weekly work AND still make such good progress on my project. I know He has a great plan for my life, and soon, very soon, He will bring to me a regular 9-month contract with a salary so that I can have a “normal” life again. Until then, however, I will work as He provides, and I will manage my life as He helps me to manage it. I look to Him as my redeemer and my King. As such, I work heartily unto His name, and I do so for His praise and His honor.  So, despite my lack of overall free time, I am confident that I will finish the remaining portion of my chapter 5, the final chapter of my dissertation, today.

In all, as I sit here and think about my life, I am awestruck, really, at how smooth things have gone for me — especially over the past two months.  As I look back now, I see how stressed I was in December and early January. The blessing now, with my chapter 4 in review and my chapter 5 almost finished, is that I feel relaxed and as if the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. What is more, I am content in my teaching responsibilities. Yes, I still am stressed a bit over my productivity in class, and whether or not my students are “getting” my instruction. But overall, I have this sense of peace about me, as if everything right now is EXACTLY as it is meant to be. Let me explain…

His Handiwork

Yesterday was a good day too. I accomplished all my tasks, and I ended up rolling into bed right around 11 p.m. Not too shabby for writing 11 pages of my final chapter and grading assignments at two different schools. I breezed through my writing yesterday as if I was the pen resting in some writer’s hand. I honestly do not even remember writing or struggling to write, I should say. I sat down at the computer and after a bit of a “fit and start,” I simply wrote out 11 pages. It took me about four hours total, and I have to say that what is there now, well, it is pretty good. I mean, it reads really, really well.

So for all intents and purposes, I am in this very “happy place” in my life right now. I hope to hear confirmation on when I can book my flight to VA this week or early next, and then I will be in ready mode. I will be ready to defend. I am so excited about finishing my project, about finishing my degree. I blogged yesterday how I want to start to rebuild my library, to begin reading classics again, and well, even today, I feel so settled, so at peace, about this plan. I cannot really understand how this has all happened, but frankly, I see His handprints, His finger-marks, all over these recent accomplishments. I also see His provision for my long-term success as well as the arrangements He is making for my future life.

I guess all this settlement came about a week or so ago. My son decided to do something with his room, and well, I was pretty well-shocked about it. He has been struggling to find his “sweet spot,” you know, that place where he feels like he is his own person, in control of his life, and that his future looks bright and hopeful. I remember those days well, and I was about his age when I, too, felt lost, confused, and really as if I had no real future plan. I guess it is part-and-parcel to being a young 20-something. You are no longer a child, but not quite an adult, and in the middle, there is this big sense of “unknown.” It can be even more difficult if you aren’t really sure what you are good at doing, and whether you will ever really figure out your life’s passion, not to mention, God’s will for your life. Add to all that angst, this past semester was a challenge for us both, and the fact that we had to ride-share, well, that didn’t help matters. More so, his classes at school were not to his liking, and everything seemed to be a push and shove just to get through each day. However, as the semester drew to a close, the Lord blessed him with a number of opportunities that helped (I think) him to see God’s will, and to help him come to terms with the plans the Lord has for his life.

Some of this “stuff” I blogged about previously, like how he had to make the difficult decision to stay in school for one more year. When he told me this news (in early November), I wasn’t too shocked, but I also wasn’t really thinking that it would actually happen. More so, I think he was worried that I would be disappointed or upset when he told me that he really felt he needed to stay one more year. However, after listening to his argument on why he should take another year, I agreed with him. Then later on in the month, he had some travel opportunities that opened up new avenues and doors for him, and then these opportunities seemed to correspond with other opportunities at school to help him take on more responsibilities and even some pretty cool work choices (which have since happened in January). Furthermore, as the new year turned, he seemed far more settled, more agreeable, and even more content to be where he is at present. He was offered a teaching assistant role at school, and now he is teaching a lab class to students. In all, the Lord helped him to find a niche, and I think all of this has really worked together to get him ready for the “next big steps” the Lord has in mind for him.

Back to my story…so two weeks ago, he made the decision to take a part his loft bed and remove it from his room. He has been thinking about doing this for a while, but he never really made any headway toward it. He also cleaned his room (well, started). He needed a new desk so I took him down to Ikea last week to buy a desk and a chair. He has since spent time fixing up his room, and while it is not finished yet, he has made great strides toward paring down, clearing out, and generally, making his room more functional for school, work, and life.

In addition, I applied to two jobs, one at Regent and one at the University of Wisconsin (the latter is online). I received confirmation on both jobs, with the Regent one asking me to submit to a different position, and the UW one asking me to submit more required documents. In all, in just two weeks, I have seen movement toward moving — toward relocating — and with that sense has come excitement and anticipation. More so, as my son prepares his room, he is also talking about moving in with some friends (pretty typical of most 23 year old men), and that thought cheers me. I want him to experience some freedom, to explore grown up ways, and to come to terms with his life, to be responsible for his life. He is almost grown, and while I am sure he likes having his Mom around, it is time for him to test his wings.

I was praying about this the other day, and I asked the Lord if I was supposed to “kick him out of the nest.” The Lord responded, “No, you are supposed to take the nest someplace new!” I thought it was funny because I can see how that would seem like the same thing, but what I believe the Lord was saying to me is that I am to go someplace new, and while my son will be “out of the nest” for a while, I am not kicking him out or asking him to leave. I am simply keeping a place for him, but letting him be free for a while (at school, while he finishes school). In this way, his home is always his home, but he needs to feel free to come and go. He needs to feel like he can call his own shots, and that he doesn’t have to ask permission from his Mom for everything he wants to do.

As I think about what might be, I can only imagine that all of this movement, recent movement is for one purpose — to move me to this place — to the place of the Lord’s choosing. In this way, I am feeling this sense of peace. I feel content that what the Lord is doing is one, providing a good job for me, and two, opening a door to a new place where He intends to settle me, to plant me for work, for ministry, and for life. More so, I feel content that my progress on my dissertation is moving at His pace. I will meet with my professor on Tuesday, and Lord willing, he will have some good news. I am sure I will need to rewrite my chapter, but hopefully, I won’t have to rewrite that much of it. My prayer is that I will make some changes, but that these changes will be to improve the quality of the work, and not to correct mistakes within the work. The Lord knows my life, and His timing is perfect. He has always said that I had to have my PhD in hand this spring, which is why 2017 has been fixed in my mind as my graduation date. I believe that in order for me to move, to take this new position, I have to have my conferred degree before school begins in the fall. I have to graduate in May.

In Closing

As I close this post today, I am reminded that the Lord promises to go before us, to make our way sure and smooth. I see His hand marks, and I see how carefully He orchestrates my steps. He has kept my feet from slipping, and while I don’t always know where I am going or how I am to get there, He has always provided for me. I trust Him that today, I will finish my project, and that today, I will complete all my “to-do” tasks. In this way, I will do everything that He requires of me. I will rest as He prepares the path for me. I will rest as He makes my life run according to His will, His way, and then I will take comfort in knowing that He has made my entire life new. He has taken the broken shards and made my life into something beautiful, new, and wonderful. He has done this for me. He has made this happen. He has provided for me, and today, I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory. He alone is worthy to be praised! Selah!

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