January 24, 2017

More and More Thinking

It is a lovely day here in Phoenix. The skies are clear, and the air is cool and crisp. It has been a crazy couple of days as we have had intense storms that brought a lot of rain to the area. Yesterday, while on my way to GCU, I literally thought I was going to drown. It was raining so hard, my windshield wipers barely could keep up with the downpour. Later, while I was over at campus, we actually had hail pass through. I was glad I was in class at the time. Still, the whole day was a soggy mess, but it was such a lovely change from our normal, sunny and mild days.

I am at home today, bound and determined to start my chapter 5. I sent my results chapter over to my professor on Sunday, and now I need to wrap up my project so that I can graduate this coming May. I am stoked, as they say, because I can see this project finally close, and I feel good about my progress. I feel that my study was significant, and that I have contributed to the on-going tradition of producing quality scholarship.
Happy Times in Phoenix

Today is a low-key day for me. I have a lot of “busy work” and at some point, I hope to work on my dissertation (probably evening). In all, I am thinking more realistically about my situation, and I am coming around to the idea of staying put in Phoenix for a while, just to see what the Lord has in mind for me. Let me explain…

I’ve been considering what might happen if the Lord chooses to move me to another state. I have long held the belief that come 2017 it was “anything goes” as far as moving out of state. I have had this date firmly fixed in my mind since at least 2013. I guess it coincided with my PhD program. You see, originally I had planned to enroll in my PhD coursework in August of 2012. My “graduation date” was set for May 2016 -- four years from the date of my Master's program graduation. I had this perfect timeline in mind, but as things would turn out, I ended up not graduating from Mercy until August, and unbeknownst to me, I thought I couldn’t begin my doctoral degree until I had the “slip of paper in hand.” In truth, I could have started in 2012, but I am so glad that I waited. The Lord placed me in the best cohort ever, and I have developed life-long friendships because of His choice to “wait a year.”

The delay in starting just meant that "2017" would be my final graduation date, and as such, this date has been burnt into my mind since I began my classes at Regent. Now, I am almost there, ready to graduate, and I am thinking more seriously about what it means to “move” away. Frankly, I spent some time today listing pros and cons of moving, and I came down to this short list:
  1. Must have a full-time job
You see, I have no reason to leave my parents or my son at this point in time unless there is a job offer that would take me some place else. For all intents and purposes, I can remain where I am, living in this home with my parents for a while (any way). I am now making enough money to survive without financial aid. This means that unless the Lord opens a door for me to “go,” I am settled that I must stay put.

I guess for so long now I have wanted to leave Phoenix for personal reasons. First, I wanted to go to get out of the heat (I do miss the green and trees). Then, I wanted to go in the hopes of deepening a friendship. Later, I thought about the job opportunities that might exist at other major universities. But, no matter how I slice it up, the fact remains that the Lord has not made any movement toward me 1) leaving Phoenix, 2) moving to where my friend lives, or 3) putting me in contention for positions at other schools. Instead, He has simply blessed me where I am planted, so to speak.

As I was walking through Walmart this afternoon, I had this very thought. I mean, I now work at two Christian schools in Phoenix, and I teach online at the major public university in town. So out of three public schools in AZ, I teach at one (the other two are north and south of me -- too far to drive). Out of the two private universities in town, I teach at both. What does that mean? I think it simply means that the Lord has blessed me here, and that He has enlarged my borders right where I am. He certainly can move me elsewhere, and He can plant me deeply in a new place, but I wonder if this is His plan?

I was thinking about this on and off the day, I mean, what does it mean to be in the middle of the Lord's will? Some days, I think I have it all figured out. Some days, everything makes such sense. And, then other days, I am so lost, so confused. Like today, I mean.

My son is well-settled here, and I know that he is doing well. He likes school. He is teaching a class even, and he is really doing well in his job and in his preferred venue -- music. He has many opportunities for success here as well, and when it comes down to it, I think he is finally feeling better. Like, really better.

My parents are in need of my continual care. They are able to do things still, so it is not like they need substantial care, but day-to-day, things change, and without my help, they would not be able to live long in this home or be able to really care of their health/food/personal care.

I have wanted to leave Phoenix, but now that I am being more pragmatic about it, I think the main reason was to get away from my ex-husband. It is not that we are at odds or anything, but he is here, and he attends the same church as I do, and well, it is just difficult. Everywhere I drive, I am reminded of our former life. I see things that make me think about our life 7-10-20-30 years ago. All of this makes me very sad. I realize that life is what it is right now, but it is hard some days to remember that not too long ago, my life was very different from what it is today.

Then there is my need for work. I am well-set right now, but I don't have a solid job yet. I have a lot of jobs, just nothing settled. I don't own my own house, but after thinking about what I spend to live where I do, I realized that I am pretty well-off in this place. I could by a house here, and I could settle here. I need some things to change for me, eventually, I mean. For now, I feel like this is where the Lord intends to keep me.

Praying for Rain

In 1 Kings 19, we read about how Elijah prayed for the rain to stop, and no rain fell in the land for several years. When Elijah prayed for the rain to fall again, the word tells us that the skies broke free and the rain fell to the ground. In some ways, I feel like I have been living in a dry and weary land (Psalm 63). It is as if the rains have started to fall in my life, and the ground is starting to sprout blessing. I am receiving positions, power, and prosperity just as if the rain was to fall from Heaven. I am not sure why, but I am giving God all the praise, the honor, and the glory for it. Right now, I think to myself, "Lord, please continue to water the land where I live. Continue to let the rains fall, and to grow me in this place." I still would like to move away, to experience something new, but for now, I simply feel like I am to let the rain fall down around me. I am to enjoy the blessing of the rain, the prosperity of the rain, and the goodness of the rain. He is good to me, and apparently, He has chosen to water me deeply, to let my roots grow down, and to give to me a place of my own, a home of my own, right where I am living now.
In Closing

I have decided to pray for the Lord's manna to fall from Heaven, and to feed me where I am at today. This means that I am asking the Lord to open a full-time teaching position at ASU, with the Writer's Studio. I am asking that the Lord open a door for me, to move me into this position over the next few weeks, and provide to me one full-time job where I can teach online from home. This, I believed, was the solution to the problem of my Mom's care, but now, I am convinced that as long as I live here in Phoenix, this is the answer to my prayer.

I will continue to teach at Regent University (online), and on campus at GCU, in order to rebuild my portfolio and to start to get out of student loan debt. Until He opens the heavens and lets more rain fall, I will simply look up and say, "Yes, Lord, let the rain fall on me. Let it water me deeply. Let my roots grow down, and let me take firm hold of the land you have given to me this good, good day."

Jehovah-Shalom! He is my God, and my Peace.

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