January 28, 2017

Some New Plans

It is a blessed Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona. I woke up after sleeping almost 10 hours again. I am really exhausted, but the good news is that I feel well today. I think I am mentally done-in, sort of like “burnt toast,” and that all my semesters of hard work, the cramming for exams, and now the writing of my dissertation, have simply caught up with me. I am bone weary, brain tired, and just plain worn out. However, I am good, though, overall, I mean, and I feel pretty well (inside and outside) to boot.

This past week was hectic, and I didn’t think I was going to make it through in one-piece. I was at odds with myself throughout the week, and when Friday came, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I put my “big girl pants on,” though, and I did the work. Praise be to God, despite my less than enthusiastic attitude, my week ended on such a good note. The Lord gave me an easy day yesterday, and even with my feelings of being unwell (sore throat/cough), the Lord helped me make it through with grace and gusto! Yes, the Lord was my defender and my champion yesterday, and praise be to God and to His glorious name, I survived. I survived, and I am doing well. I am so well.
Work Heartily Unto the Lord

As such, today is a low-key day for me.  I do have to work on my chapter 5 and finish my weekly grading (always grading). I have come to accept the fact that teaching six classes is a lot of work, but thanks be to God, He has helped me to learn how to manage the workload. With His grace, I am on track to complete the entire week’s worth of grading, check off all the tasks, etc., and finish strong. Each week, it is getting easier to grade and teach all these classes. I mean, I have over 200 students all toll, and frankly, that is a heck of a lot of paperwork and assignments to manage. When I stop and think about it, I realize that I can do this amount of work because of His grace and goodness. He has enabled me to handle this level and amount of work, and for that, I am thankful, so very thankful!

Last night, my good friend mentioned something to me that reminded me of this very fact. He said that he didn’t know how I handled so much work, but that I always finished everything, and I always finished well. I started to think about his words, and before I could take any credit for my efforts, I gave a shout of praise to God. In truth, the only reason I can do what I do each week is because of His grace and mercy. He has made all of this work possible, and He has enabled me to be able to do this work. I couldn’t do it without His help, and I cannot take any credit for it now.

It is sort of funny how all this comes together, but earlier in the day, as I was walking to class, I thought to myself, “Lord, why do I have so much work to do?” I was out of sorts, feeling a bit overwhelmed, and as I mentioned, I wasn’t feeling well yesterday. My attitude wasn’t the best, and yes, I was a little bit whiny. Still, as I was talking with the Lord, I was thinking also of how I have gotten used to working so hard, and that to always be working is now common for me. (As an aside - I worry some about not resting well, but in truth, I do rest. I mean, I do lay down in the evenings, often with my iPad next to me, and I listen (mostly) to a movie or TV show. I sort of “veg” out, and after a time, I tend to crash and fall asleep. I find that this activity works well for me. I don’t have to talk to anyone, and I don’t have to engage in any thinking. I just rest. I just shut down. I relax, and yes, I fall asleep.)

So as I was walking to class, thinking about working so hard, I asked the Lord why this was so. In His usual casual way, He said to me, “You simply like to work, Carol.” I thought it was funny, really, and I even giggled some because He is right, 100% right. I have always been a hard worker. I have always been the one who would dig up the entire back yard just to plant a tomato plant. I never have done things the easy way. I like to work. I like to rest. But, I don’t play very much. I don’t really do “vacay” well. I know many people who live for vacation, but I really don’t like vacations that much. I like to work at home, to build projects, to do things, but not really leave my home. I am willing to work hard every day, from the time I get up until I go to bed. I guess it is the way I am wired.

The other day, as another case in point, I heard my Dad say to my Mom, “Oh, there she is! She’s hard at work at the computer already!” He always says this to me. He thinks I work too hard, but I cannot really help it. I have a lot of work to do, and if I don’t do it, well, no one else will. Earlier today, he said that I needed to let my brain rest some. Sigh! I know that I am a workaholic, but I don’t work this hard for the glory and praise of my employer or even for my own benefit. I just like to work. I like to discover, to learn, and to complete tasks. I am task-oriented, for certain.

Plans for the Next Season

My life lately has been wrapped up in one thing, and that is to finish my PhD. Once I am done with school, and after I get a full-time job, I will have free time again. Oh, the blessed thought of free time! Woohoo! I haven’t really made any plans on what to do with my free time, but knowing my workaholic self, I am bound and determined to do something — I mean — I have to do something with my free time. I don’t like to veg all the time, so I will need some projects, some activities that will fill my mind, keep me occupied, and will give me things to do.

With that in mind, as I laid in bed this morning, I asked the Lord if it would be okay to start rebuilding my library. I am not sure why all of a sudden library books came to mind, but nonetheless, I was thinking about books, bookcases, and the fact that I need some more books! LOL! As I was thinking about books, I really began to think about how much I miss my library. Before I was divorced, I had a wonderful library in my home. I had hundred of books, mostly used and old editions, but a very eclectic library. I was always going to the shelf to grab a book, and whenever I wanted to rest, really rest, I would pull the old magazines off or some wonderful study book, and curl up on the sofa with a cat and the afghan to simply read. When I was divorced, and I had to move out of my house, of course, my books couldn’t really come with me. I never felt good about giving away all my books when I moved, but I had little to no room for them. Even now, my teaching/PhD books are overflowing in my little space. The hard part in all of this has been the fact that I have needed some of those books for teaching. Sigh! Therefore, the thought of rebuilding my teaching library soon, well that would be wonderful (so wonderful).

So I was praying over the idea this morning, I felt the Lord was inching me toward an idea that I hadn’t considered previously. I was thinking about buying used books when this thought popped into my head, “Why don’t you use the AO book lists?” I thought, “Why, yes! Of course! AO!” You see, many years ago, I used Ambleside Online for my son’s home school curriculum. It is a classical/Charlotte Mason curriculum that is centered on the idea of reading living books/good books, and as such, you never use textbooks (unless you cannot help it). The whole idea is to read good books, novels, and such rather than books filled with facts or snippets of information. I used AO for six years, and during that time, I amassed most of the library books I had to eventually give away.

The funny thing is that most of those books (Years 7-12) are the books I teach now as a professor of literature in college, so using these book lists would help me to rebuild my library fairly quickly. Furthermore, as soon as I started to think this way, another thought popped into my head. I heard myself say to the Lord, “Would it be possible for me to read through those years again?” I don’t know why that idea came to me, but it did. I am not really a reader, per se, even though I teach literature. I felt the Lord was saying to me, “Yes! Of course, you can!” I laid there and thought about it more, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I became because it would mean that after I am done with my dissertation, graduation, etc., I would have the opportunity to read through Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance/Reformation, and Modern era classics again. And, because I would have free time, I could spend as much time as I wanted reading through literature, history, natural history, biography, and devotional works for my own edification as well as for preparation for the courses I would possibly teach. My heart began to leap with the thought of reading, even when reading is not really my favorite thing to do. What is more, as I started to think how fun it would be to read and study classics again — this time, though — for pure enjoyment and not for a degree or grade, I felt this sense of peace as if this was indeed a desire of His heart and not just mine.

As of today, what I am thinking is that once I graduate, finish this degree, I will setup a reading schedule for fall where by I will begin with Medieval Studies (Y7) and collect all the required books for this year (used, of course). This will give me plenty of new books, and then I will plan out a reading schedule, similar to what I used to do for my son. I will read through the curriculum starting with Bible and devotional books and finishing up with language study. The only subjects I intend to skip will be science and math, as neither are applicable to me. The humanities, though, as well as music, art, hymns, and folk study will enhance my ability to interact with the period, and will provide additional cultural influence to integrate in my curriculum design for online literature courses.

I am excited to think about this as a next step for me. It will not be an end game since there is no degree at the end of it, but rather it will simply be to broaden and enhance my love of all things historical, cultural, and humanistic. In truth, I think it will be a blessing to my life as much as it will to others — should the Lord choose to use it that way. My prayer is that He will help me to collect the books and materials I need, and then to provide a teaching opportunity that aligns with this desire, this very, very, very passionate heart desire of mine.
In Closing

In closing today, I am thanking the Lord for a possible “next step” in His plan for my life. I still am not sure where I will end up or what I will do (teach composition, literature, combination, etc.) or if I will move (to another state). But what I do know is that after my degree ends, I will have good practical work to do (teach) as well as plenty of “tasks” to do that will enrich my life. I plan to get my cello out and begin practicing it again. I plan to learn French as well as some German and Italian. I plan to indulge in art, maybe even get some brushes and paint so I can practice watercolor painting. I might even put together a kiln so I can sculpt and do ceramics. I have put so much of my life on hold — not just for school — but in my marriage as well. I stopped all art shortly after I married. I continued with classical studies, in undergraduate classes and then home schooling, but I let go of the personal arts (foreign language, music, and art) simply because my ex-husband didn’t like for me to study them (unless it was Spanish or the type of music he liked to listen to on the radio).

No, now that I will be free from all hindrances, and I will have the room I need to study, to immerse myself in culture, I can see a life of form, substance, and balance come into focus. I can see my life as being full of wonder, excitement, and enjoyment of art again. This pleases me greatly, and it comforts me to know that the Lord desires that I pursue these things.

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