March 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday and Beyond

It is a blessed day in Phoenix. The sun is shining and the skies are clear. The air is warm, and there is a soft breeze that is lovely and refreshing.

In all, it is a beautiful warm spring day. I am sitting at home, resting from my week thus far, and I am contemplating how blessed I am as far as my life goes. The Lord has abundantly provided for my needs, and while I don’t have the perfect job — yet — I do have enough work to keep me set through the coming months. This is, of course, so long as nothing seems to fall off the radar (contracts, I mean). So long as I have work for the summer, my needs are covered. Right now, I have one contract thanks to Regent University. I am hoping I will have some other contracts through Grantham University (still waiting for approval). It would be good to have some income over the summer. I would rest a little easier.

Still, my faith rests in the Lord. I trust Him for my every need, and praise be to God, I know — no, I have confidence — that He is able to provide for me. He is able to create manna to rain down from heaven, for water to spring forth from the rock, and for the great seas to be parted if it is necessary to pass through them. I believe He is able to do all things, and especially, He is able to handle all my needs, my wants, and my desires. Selah!


Plans and More Plans

So today is a good day. I am making it a good day. 

Today is a good day for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, it is a good day because God created it. The Word says in Genesis 1:3, "Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” God created the world, and He said it was good. Furthermore, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Thus, it is good for us to be thankful, and to thank God for His good, good, creation.

The day is good, secondly, because of the grace that has been given to me. In Ephesian’s 2:8, Paul says, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” I am a child of grace, and as such, I am able to live freely under His banner and His love. I am free, praise be to God, to live, to work, and to do whatever the Lord asks of me, and what is more, I am free to experience His grace (His goodness) in multiple ways because of my position in Christ Jesus.

More so, this day is good because I believe the Lord has a good plan for it. In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God has a good plan for my life, and He is working steadily and without ceasing to bring His good plan to fruition. I can rest in His ability to plan, to purpose, and to provide for me. He has this “life” thing all in good hand. I can rest in Him for He is more than able to care for me.

Lastly, this day is a good day because God reigns in Heaven, and Jesus sits at His right hand. This means that I am safely secure in my Savior. And, God’s sovereignty is assured. He will not be moved. Psalm 47:8 says, “God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.” And in Malachi 3:6, we read these words: “For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

I am safe. I am sound. I am secure. My life has a plan. My Lord provides for me. My way prospers. 

In this regard, I am able to say that today is a good day. There is goodness all around me, and praise be to God, because of His nature, His character, and His being, I am rest, trust, and abide in Him.

Establishing or Planting

When I think about the plans the Lord has for my life, the first aspect that I think about is the fact that the Lord seems to be (appears to be) establishing me or planting me in this place. In Proverbs 16:9 we read, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” This is a scriptural precedent that the Lord establishes that which has been planned. Paul said it this way, “Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Likewise in Psalm 90:17 it says, "And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!” And, finally in 1 Peter 5:10, Peter writes, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

What does it mean to establish something? The dictionary defines the word “establish” as meaning to “set up (an organization, system, or set of rules) on a firm or permanent basis.” Merriam-Webster includes “to introduce and cause to grow and multiply” as part of the definition as well as “to gain full recognition or acceptance of,” which simply suggests that when God establishes us, He does so to cause us to grow, to multiply, and to gain a full acceptance (or status) in the place of His choosing. In short, according to Merriam-Webster, the following all suggest what it means to be “established”:
  • to cause (someone or something) to be widely known and accepted
  • to put (someone or something) in a position, role, etc., that will last for a long time
  • to begin or create (something that is meant to last for a long time)
The Bible often refers to God has the Vinedresser or Gardener, suggesting that God is the One who creates and maintains the wellness of the garden plants. In this way, God is the One who tends His garden carefully, moving plants for their protection as well as their prosperity. God sows, waters, tends, and reaps, and in a like manner, as His children, we are often planted in places where God intends for us to grow and produce good crops.

I believe that I am in the planting stage of my life. I have spent the past 50 years learning how to obey the Lord, to trust the Lord, and to rely on the Lord. I know, I know; I am a slow learner, but the lesson of obedience doesn’t come easily. Remember what happened to the children of Israel, especially during their time of wandering in the desert. For many Christ followers, we experience similar wanderings whereby we learn the hard lesson of obedience. Once that lesson is learned, however, we come to this place of rest. This place of rest is when we enter into His garden of grace and begin to see our role and responsibilities in light of His Role and His Responsibilities. In short, we recognize who we are (created beings) and that we live and we die at the hand of our Creator. In this special garden place, we also come to learn what it means to be part of the Vine (Jesus) and we learn where our strength, our vitality, and all of our nutrition comes. We realize that we are connected to Him, and in this way, everything we need to live, to sustain our life, is found in Christ alone.

Grow and Multiply

As I have come to learn how to live connected to Jesus, the Vine, I have also come to see the futility of my own strength, my own wisdom, and my own efforts. Granted, I am a capable individual, but the work that God asks me to do is impossible for me to do. I must only do it with His help, and therefore, I must rest completely in Him and in His abilities. My role in this garden and my responsibility in this garden is two-fold. I must allow the Lord to plant me, to establish me, and in doing so, I will be well-tended and cared for so I can thrive. Then I must take from Him the vital nutrients He provides to me so that I can grow strong. I can become a mighty tree in His blessed garden. More so, I will multiply — send out shoots — and in this way, I will enlarge my territory so that I am reproducing. By reproducing, I simply mean that I am making disciples — converts — and I am reproducing the love, the grace, and the mercy given to me by God in Christ Jesus.

For now, I am still feeling as if the Lord is moving me to this place where I will be well-grounded. I will begin to be established, and I will be able to know that I am to remain where I am for a long period of time. One of the roles the Lord has given to me is that of a teacher. I have been working my way up the “teacher ladder” and as of today, I am still considered “adjunct.” However, very soon, He will promote me to faculty, and with that change, I will receive a title change as well. I will be an Assistant Professor at some school, and then I will be positioned for the duration of my career. Until then, I have to wait for His open door. I have to wait for His movement that will enable me to be given this sort of role and responsibility at a major school.

Acceptance and Recognition

The last aspect of this whole process is acceptance and recognition. I have yet to be put into a place where I am recognized for my abilities or achievement, but I believe that in time, this will come to pass. Perhaps not for many years, but at some point, I will be known by name and I will bear His acceptance and recognition. With my status change from adjunct to professor, I believe I will begin to produce scholarship, articles and such, by which I will begin to be recognized for my achievements. I will also present at conferences, and in this way, my name will become known in my field. I am not seeking this fame directly, rather, I simply know that it is part-and-parcel to the job. It is expected of me, and while I do like to be recognized this way, I know that in order for me to be successful, I have to allow the Lord to do this work through me. He will do it. He will receive the credit. I will simply bear the stamp of His approval. I will be recognized for my work, but I will know that I am not worthy to receive such recognition — only He is worthy of all praise.

This process of maturation, from tiny seedling to mighty tree takes many, many years. The Lord has worked with me for a long time now, specifically over the last 14 years of my life. I have turned 180 degrees from where I once was, walking in my own way, seeking my own selfish desires to where I am today, fully and wholly devoted to Him and to His work. I am a fully committed, fully surrendered follower of Jesus Christ, and as such, I no longer seek my own way, my own desires, or even my own wishes. I go now where my Lord leads me. I am established/planted where He has prepared a place for me. He knows where I will develop strong roots. He knows what conditions are best for me to grow in, and with this knowledge, I believe that today, the Lord has moved me into the garden spot of His choosing. He has planted me. He has tended to my needs, and now He is ready to begin pruning me for best performance. He is beginning to shape me into a tree that will produce much shade, and that will send out long runners where by other trees will be established as a result. I am to grow. I am to be all about the business of growing. He will supply my needs, and He will tend to my maturation through His plans and purposes. I am fully embraced and empowered to do this good, good work! Selah!


In Closing

I am in this awkward and difficult “wait” phase right now. The Lord has told me to wait, to be patient, and to rest. I have been resting in my work for a while now, but today, I feel as if He is telling me to stand down, to stand aside, and to be settled as if everything was already in place. Of course, I don’t see what He sees, but I know that His vision is far clearer and more perfect than mine is, so therefore, I will do as He says. I will stand down, and I will wait for His clearance before I go. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

March 28, 2017

Understanding

Today is Tuesday, and well, it is going to be a good day. I am making it so. Yes, Monday was a crash-and-burn day when I simply was off my game, suffering with feelings of insecurity and doubt, and in the end, I felt as if I wasted my day, failed miserably, and needed to chuck in the towel, so to speak. I was humbled. I was brought low, and in this way, I took one in the chops. The good news is that I have recouped, and after a good night’s rest, I feel better. In fact, I would say that I have a clearer understanding of what happened, why it happened, and what to do to avoid repeats in the future.

In all, yesterday was an eye-opener for me. I prayed as I travelled to GCU in the early afternoon, and in truth, I simply wasn’t ready mentally to engage with my students. I was overwhelmed, feeling downcast, and worried about my one class (middle of the day) where I am having issues with the class dynamic. I did my best, but in the end, I simply floundered. I simply floundered BIG TIME. I wasn’t able to show up and be in control, and instead, I felt like an utter failure the entire time I was in class. It was weird to say, but I felt so overpowered by a presence that it was difficult for me to remain in control or even feel as if I was in control.

I know the source. I know it well. And, the sad part is that this source has been a thorn in my side the entire semester. I have tried to overcome these feelings of doubt, unworthiness, but they simply do not go away. I am counting down the weeks to the end of the semester, and then for sure, I will be free. I will be free. I hate the fact that I have to be this way, to dodge the conflict. I could confront it, but I made the decision to turn the other cheek early on, and in this way, I made the choice to give God the control, the authority, and the glory — regardless of what I might experience day in and day out. I am sticking to my guns here, and I intend to end this semester with grace and dignity, and in doing so, I intend to bring Him praise and honor. After all, I work unto the Lord, thus whatever I do, I do it with this intention in mind. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to be glorified. He alone is worthy!

Learning from Our Mistakes

So yesterday was a great experience in what not to do — which is rush rather than rest. I learned a hard lesson in trusting the Lord, and while I scooted by fairly unscathed, I felt ashamed that I didn’t show up and do my very best. I gave a half-hearted attempt, and in doing so, I short changed my students. God be praised, I learned my lesson.

Today, I have a better frame of mind. Today, I feel more like myself, and I feel more like I know what is happening and how to deal with it. In short, I feel like I am in a better position to move forward and to experience His grace. I need His grace. I need His help. I cannot do this work on my own. I have done my best to manage this awfully tight, varied schedule, and I am losing my grip on reality. I am losing my hold.

Last night, I had a really good conversation with my son. He is a senior in college, but he has one more year of classes (well, really just a semester) to complete. He is making plans for his future, and he wanted to discuss some things with me. I appreciate this fact that he wants to discuss his life with me. I want to be available to help him as much as possible, but I also know that he needs to figure some of this out on his own.

As we were discussing some of these things, I said that I thought my working at ASU was directly a gift from the Lord and that it was meant as a blessing to my son as well. I am not sure what kind of discount I get as part-time employee, but I believe that my son can benefit should he choose to pursue a master’s degree at this school. I also said that I believed that my work online — all these contracts — were in direct response to some of his needs. I mean, he is beginning to follow the Lord’s will for his life and with that come opportunities to be planted, to be challenged, and to be matured. The Lord is working on him to bring him to maturity, for sure, but my role as his parent, has always been to be a mentor and a guide as much as I am able. I feel like one of the reasons the Lord has kept me here in Phoenix is for this very purpose. It is not as if my son “needs” me, per se. He is almost 24, and he is pretty responsible and able to care for himself. But there are extenuating circumstances, and he needs my financial support (in subtle ways). It is expensive to live these days, and without some support from me, he would not be able to do nearly half of what he does now — and most of this is ministry related. I simply feel that the Lord wants me to remain as a mentor to him, a support system for him — until He is ready to promote him to the position He has in mind for him.

It is interesting but I believe this is how God works best. If you recall from the New Testament, God always set the disciples in pairs. Usually there was an older and a younger or a more mature and less mature partnership. The two worked together, lived together, and learned from one another. In the case of the Apostle Paul, the Lord provided several mentees to him, and over the course of his life, he mentored these young men, trained them, and prepared them for their own ministry. Typically, the Lord puts men with men and women with women, but in some cases, a parent is called to serve in this role until a suitable companion is prepared. It was this way with Timothy, in particular. His mother and his grandmother were mentioned in scripture for their good work in raising him to be a Godly young man. Paul says that they did their work well by teaching him the scriptures. This suggests that parents, even mothers and grandmothers can influence their sons to lead honoring lives.

In my experience, the Lord tends to use parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, to provide support to those that are weak or young in their faith. He also uses people in the church or work who will encourage and build up the person, often finding like-minded individuals who share common interests. These friendships can become significant and can often be life-long.

My role has always been as a spiritual guide. Even during my marriage, I was the one who made sure that my son studied the Bible, did Awana, and participated at church. My ex-husband encouraged him in these pursuits, but never took an active role. He never studied the word with my son. He never counseled him in scriptural matters. He was an ineffectual spiritual leader, and because I believed that my son was given to me as a gift (from the time of his conception), and that God had marked him out beforehand for specific works, I was devoted to his upbringing. I gave my life to raising him, teaching and training him, all in preparation for the Lord’s work. I always felt that I was like Hannah, who was barren. I was given a child, and this child was to be dedicated to the Lord.

In this way, I have had to learn how to shift my role from Mom and parent to spiritual guide. I have done my best, but since college, the Lord has graciously provided Godly men who have become part of my son’s life. These men served in the church in various roles: pastors, teachers, worship leaders. These men encouraged, befriended, and counseled him, and as a result, I believe helped him learn how to grow up and be a young man.

Now, he is on the threshold of manhood. He has a part-time job as a worship minister, and he is thinking of completing a masters degree so that he can teach adjunct at his current school. He is already teaching as a teaching assistant, and he feels that he will have more opportunities to do so in the coming semesters. More so, he is performing (his first love) and he has hopes to have more opportunities for mixing/mastering (studio work) this summer. In this way, I believe that the Lord has used all of these experiences to bring him to this very point, this very place in time. My part has been to be a steady influence, a constant friend and mentor, and to stand back (often) and encourage from the sidelines.

As I ponder how my life and his have developed and intersected, I realize that God has appointed me to this role for a specific reason. I am to continue in it for as long as the Lord desires me to do so. I am to do this work because it is foundational and necessary. I must not be sidelined or buy into the thought that my role is not needed or wanted. I must remain in this position until the Lord says, “You are released from this responsibility.” Until that time, I will be content to mentor and to encourage as I am able, to support and provide as He leads and guides me, and in all things, to be the gracious and loving parent that every young man needs, wants, and desires.
Taking Hold of What Is Mine

Thus, as I think about my role as mother, teacher, and daughter, I realize that the Lord has provided everything I need to be successful and happy in life. My marriage failed, and as such, I lost a companion and a friend; however, the Lord has enabled me to look past this sorrow and to consider other ways to be satisfied in life. I have a good job, which I love. I have a hopeful future predicated on my educational goals. I am positioned well for success and prosperity. I have opportunities to expand or enlarge my territory, and I have the freedom to go wherever the Lord desires me to go. In all, I have been given everything I need to succeed in this life, and with the Lord gracious provision and His good plan, I am in such a very good place, a very good spot, and I have a very good outcome waiting for me —> just over there.

My life belongs to the Lord, and that means that I am no longer able to control where I go or what I do for work. In this regard, I remember this scripture in John 20 where Jesus tells of Peter’s future life. He says verse 18, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus was foretelling of Peter’s end, and how he will be led away to be crucified like His Lord. Now, I am not saying this is what the Lord has said will be my end, rather, I am simply saying that there comes a point in each believers life when they accept the fact that to follow the Lord means they will have to give up full control over their choices, their actions, and their options in life. They will have to surrender fully to the Lord’s will, and that means no longer being able to make decisions on life choices. They will go where He sends them. They will live where He tells them to live. They will do the work He provides to them. They will not say, “I think this or I want that,” but they will be fully agreeable and willing to do as He leads, guides, and provides for them.

This is where I am at today. In fact, I have been in this place for many months now. My final push toward graduation required a full surrender of my will, my intellect, and my abilities, and as such, I let go of the desired outcome — graduation — in order to receive His grace and blessing and finish on time. I have finished, and praise be to God, I am ready to be used by the Lord for His work. I am ready to go where He sends me. I am ready to be fully employed in the role He has in mind for me.

As of now, I believe this role will be as faculty at a University. I have several applications in process, but I have not heard back on any of them. I am settled with my adjunct contracts, and I know that the Lord will provide for me, but I also believe it is His will for me to be settled into one permanent position. This door hasn’t opened yet, but I am resting in His choice, and in His blessed provision. He knows the timing, and He has the power and authority to make this position come to pass. I have to trust in His abilities, believe in faith that He will do what He has promised, and then rest in the knowledge that for all intents-and-purposes His will is “done.” Yes, selah! His will is done.

Now, my plan is to rest, to let go of the worry, the doubt, and the fear, and simply trust that the Lord has me well-covered. He has this all wrapped up. He knows what will be, and as such, I can let the matter rest.

Knowing My Place

I have come to know my place well. I have come to understand what I can and cannot do, and in this way, I am content to remain where I am and do this work until He says it is time to move on. I am happy to be settled in this role as teacher. I am happy to be ready to be full-time employed. But, I am very happy to know that my future is set and that the plans the Lord has for my life are well in hand. My life is unfolding according to His desires and design. I am able to rest, to relax, and to know that no matter what comes my way today, my Lord is with me. He is able to handle it. I can trust Him. I know Him well, and I believe His word to me is truth.
In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I rest in His marvelous name. I rest in His abilities as Lord to cover me, to provide for me, to protect me from harm. Though I may be battered and bruised, and at times, I will fall and fail to succeed, the Lord has me covered. I will do all things to honor His name, and that is in humility I will place my faith, my hope, and my dreams and desires under His most blessed grace. I am a child of grace, and the Lord has me covered. I don’t have to be afraid anymore. I don’t have to worry or fear. I don’t have to overthink or doubt. I can trust in Him. He is good to me, so very good to me. He is my Shepherd, my King, my Lord, and most of all, my Savior.

March 27, 2017

Recouping and Readying for a New Start

So it is Monday. Yes, it is March 27, 2017, and that means it is the first Monday back after spring break. I am well-rested, despite some weird virus or bug I contracted late last week. I finally feel well, and thankfully, I had a fairly peaceful rest. I guess I am ready -- as much as possible -- to tackle my week ahead.

As I laid in bed this morning, I couldn't help but think about the fact that I have five more weeks of school left. Yes, I am on the big countdown to summer! Woohoo! This means that in a month, I will travel to VA for my graduation from Regent University. I will have my PhD conferred (hooray!) and I will be completely finished with my education. I am so excited about that thought, and I cannot wait to see my colleagues and peers who will be graduating with me. I am so ready to move on, and even though I am "technically" graduated, my degree hasn't posted yet. I don't have that transcript that shows "PhD" on it.

Still, the realization that my degree is finished, that all my hard work has paid off, and that I am really, really, really, "a doctor of philosophy" is starting to sink in. I mean, for the first few weeks, I just felt happy to have passed. I didn't get all excited or giddy. I am still not jumping for joy or shouting it out, but instead, I have this quite appreciation for what has taken place in my life. I guess you could say that I am contemplative about what the Lord has done in me and through me to bring me to this place in time. I am treasuring it up, thinking about it with awe and wonder, and of course, realizing that this glory and honor belongs to the Lord alone. I couldn't have even imagined this day, so I cannot take any credit for it. He made it happen. He said, "Trust me, Carol," and day by day as I trusted Him, He showed me that "all things are possible" (Luke 1:37).

Even today, I hear His voice whisper to me, "Trust me, Carol." I am struggling today, only in thinking about my next steps, this new start the Lord has in mind for me, and I am feeling unsure about the direction I am heading. I don't want to step outside His will, and I don't want to move in a way that is not 100% of His provision. I want to be patient. I want to wait for His leading, His guiding, and of course, His providing for each and every need. Still, I have this nagging sense that perhaps I have stepped ahead of Him in my rush to find work. Perhaps I have thought, "I've figured this out," when in truth, I really don't know what I am doing (sigh!)

He calls me to trust Him, and by that, He is asking me to remember all the times previously when I felt confused or confounded, when I felt as if the world was swirling much to fast for me, when I simply was overwhelmed, and when He stepped in to show me the way to go. It is this way today. He is saying "trust me, Carol, for I know the way," and despite my apprehension and feeling of being unwell (still a bit), I believe His word to me is true. I believe that (1) He does know what will be, and (2) He is trustworthy so it is in my best interest, my best judgment, to trust Him fully.
Bold Faith

Trust is such a difficult thing. The dictionary defines trust as "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something." In this way, my belief that God is reliable, that He has the ability and the strength to do what He is saying is part and parcel with my faith in Him. I believe He is able, more than able to do anything I can think of or ask for (Ephesians 3:20), and in this way, my faith rests in His nature more so than in my own thoughts or feelings. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb so to speak, and I am going to say that because I believe God is calling me to do big things, big bold things, I have to start activating my big, bold faith. This is to say that I cannot do big things with wimpy faith. I must do big things with big faith.

In Him and through faith in Him we may enter
God's presence with boldness and confidence (Ephesians 3:12 BSB)

Big BOLD faith. What a conundrum, I mean. How can one have big faith? I believe that God gives us everything we need to accomplish His will, thus if He is calling us to do big things, He will equip us with everything necessary to do those big things. He will give us bold faith when we need bold faith. He will give us strength when we need it most. Thus, today, if the Lord is calling me to trust Him for big, bold new steps and starts, then I have to believe that He will also provide the faith I need to trust Him completely.

I am thinking today that there are several areas in which I need to exercise -- to put on -- that big, bold faith. The first is with my situation here at home. I am feeling so ready for summer vacation, yet the thought of summer always gets me down. First off, summers are my dry season, financially speaking. I love my summers off, but without income coming in, I am stretched to the bone, so to speak. In truth, I need about $8K to cover my summer, to pay all my bills, and to keep my little ship afloat ($2K for the four months between pay periods). I have saved some this year, praise be to God, but I still have this nagging worry -- doubt, really -- that something will fall out, and that somehow my reserve will run dry. Secondly, the care of my parents, their needs, as well as the care of my son, and his needs, is always on my mind. Without full-time work to ensure I can be well-covered, my thoughts run to all the possible "what if's" that could happen. I know this should be, but it happens to me sometimes. I just start plotting, and then, boom! My faith is dinged by waves of doubt.

My future is secure. I am assured of it. I know my God has me well-covered. He has a great plan for me, and as such, His will is coming pass daily. I am in this very good place. This wonderful place, and as such, I am able to begin to think about other things -- outside of school and work -- and that excites me. For example, I am beginning to think about my career, opportunities for me to expand my territory, ways for me to grow as a researcher and a scholar. More so, I am thinking about travel opportunities, trips for visits and vacation as well as trips for conference presentations. I am excited to think about the plans the Lord has for my life -- after I graduate -- and after I am settled in a full-time faculty position. Until then, however, I am relying on Him to help me trust, to help me engage my faith, my belief, and to stand firm against the assault of my enemy. My enemy wants to sink me, to cause me to doubt, to stir up thoughts and feelings that will bring on fear. I will not allow it. I will stand against my enemy, and I will trust my Lord, my Savior, my King Jesus, for the victory. He has overcome, and with His strength, His power, and His might, I too, will overcome. He alone is victorious, but through His blood and His grace, I am able to be victorious as well.
In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I realize that my faith is not dependent on my own initiative. This is not about willing or the will; rather it is about trusting, believing, acknowledging and then resting in the One whose character, nature, and power is clearly expressed and seen in the heavens and on earth. Yes, my faith doesn't rest in my abilities; my faith rests solely in His.

March 26, 2017

Blessed Sunday

It is a blessed Sunday in Phoenix. I am at home, resting after a rather unpleasant night. I was up most of the night with GERD (acid-reflux) and a migraine headache. Thankfully, the headache is gone today (praise God), and the stomach pain has subsided somewhat. I was miserable most of the night, but in between painful throbs, I was able to get a little bit of sleep. I feel better today, still not 100%, however, but on the mend. It is a good thing since spring break ends today and it is back to the grindstone beginning Monday.

I am feeling better, as I stated previously, but still not back to my normal self. I am thinking it is partly due to stress, but also it is my diet, and it is some issues I had with my digestion mid-week. Yes, I have had some IBS, and with it came the migraine and the GERD. I know that I need to change my diet, hence my post yesterday about beginning a low-carb diet to kickstart my weight loss program. Now, I am thinking I might want to switch to a elimination diet to see if I can control the GERD and finally get my other intestinal issues to settle down. Sigh!

On the upswing, I did apply for another full-time position. This time I applied with Western Governor’s University to be a course mentor for communications. I have applied so many times to this school, and I have never once heard back from them. But, now that I have my PhD, I feel I am at the least qualified to do this work. The job is work-from-home, but the position said Salt Lake City, UT. WGU is online, and all their positions are work from home (faculty ones, I mean). I am hoping they mean WFH, but in the mountain time zone (which I am). We will see if anything comes from this application. They pay well, and I have heard mixed reviews on environment. Hopefully, course mentor roles are better as far as less micromanaging, etc. Right now, though, I am stepping out in faith. There are few jobs available on the horizon, and I am wholly dependent on the Lord for His provision. If this is the job He has in mind for me, well then, it will come to pass. If not, then it will simply remain a closed door.

In all, I have a couple applications out there. One is for GCU, on campus, and another is for ASU online. I am cool with either position as these are extensions of what I already do for both schools (just full-time, I mean). The WGU position is kind of an unknown, but from what I have read about the job, it is more like a course coordinator than an actual instructor. I would be responsible for creating instructional materials, leading webinars, etc. The programs at WGU are online, and the students are independent (so not in a class). They work at their own pace. I think I might like the format, but if the Lord says, “Nope,” I will accept His determination. He knows what is best for me. The job pays somewhere in the range of $55-65K, and comes with full benefits and other perks. I really would like to make a bit more, somewhere near $70-80K, but for now, I will rest in this matter. The Lord knows what I need and which position will suit me best.

I am ready to be settled, for sure. I am ready to have all the uncertainty disclosed, and I am ready to begin to move toward the next steps He has for me. I know that I need a full-time job with benefits. This is my top-priority now. However, I have no way of finding a job that will fit me, and as I have said numerous times before, the jobs market for PhDs in AZ is limited to only a handful of schools. The jobs are competitive, so the Lord has to be the one to open the door for me. He has to give me His favor and blessing. The job will come to pass, I believe it. I must be patient and wait for it.

Now, I feel good about the plans the Lord has for me. I see hope at the end of my very long and somewhat dark tunnel. I see His open door of opportunity looming ahead of me, and I see that He has made a path that is clearly marked out. I must obey. I must walk on. I must go where He is leading me. I must rest in His provision, His sufficiency, and in His grace as He performs — moves, changes, and causes the opportunity to align with His marvelous will. Until that time, I wait. I wait for His word to go, and I wait for the provision as He creates it for me. He is good to me. I know Him well, and I trust Him completely. He is my everything — Jehovah Jireh — and I rest in the fullness of His character and His immutable abilities. He will do what He has said and purposed and planned. He will bring His will to completion, and I will be the recipient of His good grace and favor. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to be adored. I worship Him this good, good day. I praise His name and I give Him all authority to move me, to settle me, and to make a life for me here in the desert southwest.

He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

March 25, 2017

A New Day / Fresh Start

It is a lovely morning here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air is mildly cool. It is beautiful outside. I am enjoying my day, so far, despite the fact that I haven’t really gotten much work done. I did check on my students, and I have graded a bit, but I still have so much to do. I am determined to get it all finished, however. I am determined to be ready to start my Week 11 (out of 15 weeks) on Monday. Yes, I cannot believe I am saying it, but I have five more weeks of school left before it is SUMMER VACATION!! Praise be to God, it is almost vacation!!

I can tell that the weather is changing, and that summer, is just around the bend. I woke up with a major headache this morning. It has finally settled back some, but that was only after taking several Advil and getting in a steamy hot shower. The good news is that I am feeling better, so hooray! I will be ready to tackle my stack of papers very, very soon. In the mean time, I am about to head out to the store to get some things I need for my new diet program, which I started today. In all, I feel jazzed, ready, and so willing to make a fresh/new start on this good, good day.
Diet and Exercise, Again

As I was getting dressed the other morning, I made the decision to really begin my diet again. Like seriously, again. I know, I know, I know. I have blogged about my diet for months, but with the stress of dissertation and such, I really didn’t do anything to motivate myself to get into shape.

In fact, I gained weight. I have never had a weight problem before, but since 2001, I have been an emotional eater, and as such, the weight has simply packed on and not budged. I was able to lose 35 pounds in 2001. I kept that weight off for about five years, but then in 2006-09, with my marriage in failure mode and my ex-husband’s health crisis, I gained about 20 pounds back. I dropped 10 during the real crux of the crisis, but since that time (2010), I have yo-yoed up and down based on my emotional state.

I hate to say it, but after a divorce, completion of both a masters and doctoral program, I am 25 pounds heavier than I should be at my age (and based on my frame). The worst part is that I can feel it. I can feel how uncomfortable I am right now. Just yesterday, I sat at my desk feeling so full, so heavy. I hate that sluggish feeling, like I cannot move, breathe, or even do anything. UGH! What is worse, my clothes have started to feel tight on me. Normally, I can flex up and down a couple pounds without my clothes feeling tight. This past week, it was noticeable to me. I am over the “give” stage and now into the “I may have to buy a bigger size” stage. A-hem! I am not buying a bigger size, and that is all there is to the matter. Thus, I have made the decision this morning, that now that school is behind me, it is time to do something about this extra weight for once and for all.

The New Diet Revolution by Dr. Atkins

Today is a new day and a fresh start. I have accepted the fact that I am an emotional eater and that I eat for comfort or from boredom. I have made some changes to my diet already, mostly I have given up soda for lent (all diet), and I have replaced my drinks with water. More so, I have replaced my half-half, which I down in my coffee with heavy cream (trying it out today) because it has zero carbs. Furthermore, I have gone low-carb again. I am tracking my food with Atkins, but for the next 15 days, I am keeping my net carbs to less than 20 per day. This is to push my body into ketosis and cause it to begin to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar. I hope to drop 5-8 pounds over the first couple weeks. Afterwards, I will up my carbs each week or so by 5 until I find my sweet spot. I will continue to choose foods that are rich and dense in fiber, but low in carb count. The carbs I do eat will be the best quality carbs. Hopefully, after the first two-three weeks, I will remain steady and lose about a pound per week until I reach my goal weight.

For now, I am not exercising other than walking. After school gets out and I am free from work duties, I plan to get back into working out with Jillian Michaels. I have her DVDs, so I hope to build some muscle and cardio all the while I am firming and toning my body. It is a good plan, a reasonable plan, and in the end, I hope to shed the excess weight and maintain a healthy body.
Next Steps

I am struggling some today with doubt, but I believe that God has me well-covered. I am hoping that over the next couple weeks, as things clear for me, I will begin to feel more confident in these next steps. For one thing, I am thinking about the jobs I am currently contracted to do, and I am praying that all my works meets with His approval. My goal is to honor the Lord in everything I do, and to do that, I must obey Him, follow after Him, and listen (heed) His word and His advice to me. I trust Him, and in that regard, I rest in His abilities to provide for me. He knows me well. He loves me completely, and as such, I am safely kept in His sweet mercy and grace.

Today, I begin this new trek. I start off slowly, but I trust the Lord as He helps me to remember my goal — to lose this weight, to regain health, and to maintain vitality. I know the my flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong. I will rely on His strength, His wisdom, and His approach to help me overcome and find blessed rest in all that I do. He is able to do this. It is His will, and therefore, I can relax and know that He will see me through, He will provide a way for me to go, and He will help me so I do not falter or stumble. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

March 24, 2017

Taking It All In

Happy Friday! It is the end of my week off, and frankly, I am just starting to feel well again. My week was relaxing, and I was able to rest most of the days. Still, though, I feel like I need another week just to feel my best. I guess you could say that I am in need of a prolonged rest. I know this is the case. I’ve known it for years, but after working so hard for this goal in particular, I really know it now. I need months of rest. I need months of downtime. I need months of low-stress. If I was able to really rest well, daily rest, I mean, I think I could recover. I think I could finally feel my best.

Unfortunately, for the next few years, all I really see is more work. A lot of work. I don’t see anyway around it. But, I am okay with hard work. Actually, I prefer hard work. I really need to keep busy, so having work to do is a good thing, a really good thing. It is just the stress of having to get up and head out the door each day that gets to me. I really need to work from home, like 100% of the time. Furthermore, I need to teach from home where I can spend my days resting in between my time online. I think working from home as a teacher would be the best possible thing for me. I need to figure out how to do that, how to turn my part-time teaching online into full-time teaching online. Sigh! I am praying that the Lord will provide for me since He knows my needs well. He knows that a full-time job teaching from home is the BEST fit for me. God be praised, He knows my needs well.

Making Sense Now

As I sit here today, I am thinking about how far I have come and about where the Lord may be leading me to put down roots. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day resting. I mean….RESTING! I was so tired. I did do my maintenance work, but I didn’t attack my stack of essays like I had hoped. Now, I have an even bigger stack to get through before the week ends. Still, the rest was a necessity. I felt that I needed to do the least amount of work simply to allow my tightly coiled spring a chance to unwind.

In truth, I felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation, but until next month, that is simply not going to happen. No, my days are still feeling the pinch and the pressure, but I can sense that things are starting to change for me. I can sense that I am coming into my own, and that in a very short amount of time, EVERYTHING will make sense to me. Everything will be clear. By this I mean, that what is clouded now will become crystal clear. My path, my next steps, my future life, will all become clear to me. I will know where He is sending and what He is asking me to do. Furthermore, I will see a way out of my current situation so that I can fully recover from my years and years of stress. I will see things clearly laid out, and in that way, my life, my past, my present, and my future will lay out in a line that leads me from where I am today to where the Lord wants me to be tomorrow.

Some things are already clear to me. First, I know that the Lord has me situated in the right career. I am made to be a teacher, and God be praised, I am doing the work that suits me best. I love my job, and I love my life, and while I don’t always feel 100% in control of the outcomes, I have come to learn how to experience life, to let things roll over me, and to go with the flow of things. In this way, I have become very comfortable as a teacher.

Second, I know that for now, for the near term, my life is situated in Phoenix. By this I mean, my life as it is today, is framed and couched in this desert place. God has provided a home for me, jobs that are located in this city, and a hopeful expectancy that I could remain here long-term if that was His will for me.

Third, while I am living with my aged parents for the near term, this will not always be the case. I desire to live on my own, to have my own life, my own future, and that means to purchase a home and to plan for my retirement. I have a drive and a desire to make a life for myself that is all about Him and His will and work. I long to go places, see things, do things, but my life really gains traction right in my home. You see, while I enjoy traveling and sightseeing, I really am such a homebody. I love to stay at home.

Last, my life is complete now that I have finished my PhD. I know that sounds weird, but I believe this was the Lord’s intention for me many years ago, but because I didn’t follow or obey Him directly, I ended up taking a “wilderness trip” and spending nearly 25 years outside the Lord’s will for my life.  This means that I walked — no, I journeyed — around the Lord’s promise simply because I disobeyed His direct command to me. Yet, the Lord didn’t forget His promise to me. He didn’t recant. No, He delayed His blessing, and through that delay, He prepared me for far greater work, far more significant success.

I am where He directed me to go. I have finally arrived at my destination, and now that I am here, in this place and in this time, I am beginning to sense that the Lord’s plan has always been to prepare me for this life. In many ways, I feel like Esther who was appointed as Queen over a kingdom she had no desire to rule. God raised her up, and she was destined to rule in order to save her people from extinction. In Esther 4:13b-15 (NASB) we read,

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” 

Of course, my life is no way comparable to hers, but I feel that for whatever reason, God allowed the delay of blessing to come to me later in life. I know I am responsible for much of that delay, yet I also believe that the Lord used the delay to create and to equip me for His work, work that was needed today, tomorrow, and into the near future. Yes, I believe I was raised up from the ashes of my destroyed life to do something special, something set apart, and something significant for the Lord.

I just don’t know what that is or what He intends to do through me. I just feel it. I just sense it.

Perhaps in time, when I am seeing the world (my little slice of it) more clearly, I will know and understand what He intends to do through me. Until then, I can only wait and be patient. I have to wait for the Lord to deliver me, yet again, from the snare, and bring me safely back to His palace where I can rest. Oh, blessed rest. I need so desperately to rest.
Finding Rest in My Life

As I was praying today, I said to the Lord, “I need rest, Lord. I need physical rest.” He knows this is true, but I felt like I haven’t articulated it in a long time. I haven’t been truthful. I have made up my life to appear as if I am invincible. I mean, here I am about to graduate with my PhD, and frankly, onlookers only see this strong, dynamic, and goal-oriented person. They see the achiever, the OVER achiever. They don’t see the fragile woman that is suffering with pain and with chronic sleep issues. They don’t see the woman who fights stress day in and day out, and who, without the grace of God, simply wouldn’t be able to do anything — wouldn’t even be able to hold down a job or comprehend planning a future alone. What is more, not so long ago, the real me was this sheltered person who often curled up in a ball to hide from the world because she was afraid to step outside her door. I used to be so insecure that I would run from opportunities and people simply to avoid having to engage with them — to talk with them. I was a shadow, a wisp, and over time, and through the Lord’s marvelous hand of grace, I have been transformed into this powerful woman, into a woman who has achieved, not only this high and mighty goal, but who has a future that is bold and big and beautiful.

When I think about this transformation, I can take no credit for it. The Lord deserves all the praise, the honor, and the glory for transforming me from this wimpy and scared little girl into this mighty and powerful warrior. More so, in that transformation, He helped me overcome obstacles and odds that were so against my favor. I overcame, and in doing so, I achieved victory against my enemy whose only desire was to thwart the plans of God. Now, I am ready to take on the next giant, the next Goliath. I have to be rested, however. I need to be of sound mind and stoic heart and body. I need to be empowered, strong, mighty, and diligent so that I can do this work.

How do I reconcile my need for rest with His desire for work?

I am struggling today to comprehend how I can survive when I am so tired. How can I do what He wants and still find rest, find peace, and find stress-relief? I believe that answer is simply that I must let go my need to plan my future, to try to figure it out, and instead, I must simply accept that my future belongs to the Lord. I have no say in the matter. I have no plan of attack. I cannot develop theory or test it out. No, I must rest in Him — for everything — including my physical needs. I must let go of my need to be in control, to connect the dots, and for once and for all, say to Him: “Lord, I trust you with my life. I trust you with my future. I trust you with everything because I am yours. I belong to you now, and my life is no longer my own.”

It is true. I mean it. I believe that the only thing that I can do at this point in time is to let go — like to let go of the rope I am holding on to and accept the fact that my security is in Christ alone. I can no longer go and do what I want. I can no longer make plans for my future. My life is 100% bound in His will, and that means that I am ready to be moved, to be planted, to be settled in the work He has determined, detailed, and described to me. I am ready. I am ready to be set free.

Plans and Such

Does this mean that I no longer take hold of or remain responsible for the daily needs in my life? No, not at all; rather, it means that whatever the Lord determines in my life, it will come to pass. Thus, if it is His will for me to purchase a house, He will provide the money to do it. If it is His will for me to work from home, He will bring a job to me that will allow me to work from home. If it is His will for me to travel, to do ministry work, or to be challenged in other ways, all of these things will come to pass simply because He determines it to be so.

Thus, today, I let go my need to hang on to the last remaining thread in my old life. I let go the past. I let go the old ways and the old beliefs. I embrace His way. I embrace His word to me, and I embrace the testimony of His life as it has been poured out in and through me. I take hold of my sword and my shield, and fully clothed in battle gear, I stand ready to defend against the assault of my enemy. I am victorious. I have overcome. I stand in His power. In His authority. In His confidence. I am powerful, I am bold, and I am able to do this work. Not in my own strength, but in His alone. I stand ready to do the work He has asked me, called me, prepared me, and trained me to do. And, I do it in His strength — 100% in His strength. Therefore, today, I recognize that the power I have inside of me is not my own. The fortitude, the resilience, and the determination doesn’t belong to me. It is Him — all of Him. Moreover, when I struggle, when my flesh fails me, I realize that it is my flesh that has failed. His power is made complete in my weakness, thus, I fail because I do not draw upon His strength at my weakest link — my fleshly desires.

I am ready, Lord, to do this work. I am ready to receive the blessing. I am ready to be established. I am ready to begin to do your will, and I understand now that I can do nothing apart from you. I am not able to stand, to walk, or even to exist without your power. I am weak, yet you are strong. I am afraid, but you are bold and confident. I am ready to turn on your turbojet and to let your power, your grace, your humility, your affection, and your love pour out of me as I face this hostile and unfriendly world. I will go and I will do what you ask me to do this good, good day. I am ready, Lord. Send me!
In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I realize that I am ready to do this mighty and bold work. I have come through difficult times, harsh times, and through those times, the Lord remained steady. He helped me. He never let go of me. He has made me into this victorious and powerful woman, and He desires and determines that I continue on. I am to walk on. I am to work heartily as to the Lord, and He will lead, guide, and provide for me. I will do all things in order to bring His name praise. I will do all things through Christ Jesus. He is my ROCK, my REFUGE, and my STRONG TOWER. He is my mighty King and my loving Savior, and today I rest in Him. I rest in His finished work on the cross, and I rest in His work in and through my life. He has already accomplished what He set out to do in me, and the rest of my days, I will experience achievement as a result of His finished work. It is done. Selah! Praise to God, it is done!

March 23, 2017

Spring Rain

It is a good day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. I woke up to the sound of rain as it gently tapped against my window this morning. It is sunny now, the but the cooler air is such a blessing. Our expected high today is only going to be in the mid-60s! I am loving this weather!

I slept fairly well, but I woke up with an aching back. Lately this has been my experience. It seems that I wake up stiff and unable to roll over. I think it is my mattress. I bought my Sealy mattress back in 2011, so really, it should be in good shape still. I am not sure why I have such back pain, but it always happens toward the end of my night’s rest. Sigh! I am thinking that whenever I move house again, I will invest in a Tempur-Pedic mattress. I am willing to try just about anything to get a good night’s rest.

In other news, yesterday was a bittersweet and sad day for me. On the upside, my manuscript was accepted for submission to ProQuest. This means that I am FINISHED with my PhD. Now, I simply must wait to finish the semester in May and graduate with my peers who also finished on time. It is a great feeling to be completely done with my program, to know that I have finished well, and that this chapter of my life is closed. Now, I am beginning to sense the Lord’s movement as He prepares me for my next steps. I am excited to see what the Lord intends to do in my life, and to come to know His will more completely. It is a good thing, such a good thing, to be safely held within the Master’s hand! Selah!

On the sad side of things, my goldfish, Lenny, died in the night (the previous night). He had been off his food for about a week prior, and he had stopped swimming regularly. I believed he had swim bladder disorder, which is not normally fatal. However, in Lenny’s case, he didn’t recover even though I did everything possible to help him out. In the end, I think his age (3-4 years) simply was too much for him. He was weak and he simply couldn’t go on. I buried him in the back yard, under one of our shady trees, and while I am sad about losing him, I am glad he is no longer suffering. Unfortunately, I have this very large (20 gallon) tank in my bedroom. I really do not want more fish — they are a pain to care for — and they can be expensive to boot. But, what do I do with this tank? Ugh!

It is a good Thursday morning, and I am sitting here in my bedroom with my furry friends next to me, and all I can do is think about the empty fish tank in the corner. Part of me misses having a fish in the tank, but part of me appreciates the experience without wanting to repeat it again. In fact, since I don’t know what the summer will bring, not having a fish to care for is really a blessing. I am thankful that my nephew gave me his fish to care for some three years ago, but really, I am ready to move on with my life. And, that means — ALL OF MY LIFE.


Thinking More About My Life

So yesterday, I blogged about the sense I had that I was to begin to focus on teaching communication courses rather than English like I have been doing for the past five years. Today, as weird as it seems, I feel the opposite. I feel like I am to remain where I am, to stay fixed teaching at all my schools. I am not sensing that the Lord intends to move me just yet. In fact, I would say that He seems ready to plant me even deeper, to let me remain where I am so that I can be settled. In this way, I am sensing that He is asking me to simply let the Him lead, guide and provide for me.

What is more is the fact that I am sensing that the Lord has a good plan (always), and that His plan is about to be revealed to me. More so, I feel like He is saying to me to rest, to wait, and to be patient while He orchestrates the details. I am to wait until I actually see what He intends for me to do for work — my future work — and until He reveals His will in that regard, I am to relax, rest, and simply let go the “need” to know all the details. Yes, He is telling me to let this drop, to let the matter sit. He has me well covered, and He will provide for me. Until He does, I am to be thankful for what I do have, to know that what He has in mind is good, and that my future is hopeful and oh-so filled with opportunity.

This means that for today, for the “here and now,” I am settled right here in Phoenix. I have a good life (praise God), and in truth, I cannot imagine my life being any better. I also do not see myself moving away from Phoenix. I used to see it, strongly even, but lately — well — within the past year or so, I have become more convinced that this is where the Lord wants me to remain. I feel now that I am to stay put, to put down roots, and to be content here in Phoenix.

As I consider this truth, I realize that the Lord has blessed me abundantly right here where I live. I was so focused on moving that I couldn’t see how rich and rewarding my life is right where I am already planted. I mean, my parents are doing well, settled for the most part, and my son has just been hired to work at a church to the west of us. He is also teaching at ACU part-time, and for the most part, he is well-set in his future life, too. I have good jobs, a nice home, and I am starting to build up my resources so I can be financially secure. The Lord has opened up His storehouse, and He has poured out His blessing on me. Thus, I feel like the Lord has closed doors that would lead me outside the Phoenix area, and that He has called me to remain where I am. Moreover, I feel that He is about to open a door that will keep me here permanently, that will provide abundantly for me, and that will prepare me for the future life He has in mind for me. Let me explain…

Settled and Contented

I cannot really say why I feel this way, but I do. I feel like the Lord has determined that for the next season of my life, I am to stay here in Phoenix, and I am to begin to develop myself as a scholar, professor, and lecturer. I am to focus on three things: teaching students English, publishing papers on organizational communication and identity research, and working in the Church as a consultant of some sort. I am to focus on my daily work/life, which includes teaching students at GCU and online. I am to continue to pursue scholarly research in the area of communication, specifically organizational communication and religious communication. I am to work with several churches in the area to help them develop communication programs that will provide better adhesion and cohesion. I am not sure how I will do the latter, but this is what the Lord seems to be saying to me. I am to be active in church work, but not from a volunteer/ministry position. I am to be my own person, a consultant, and I am to work with churches in the Phoenix area to help them communicate more effectively internally. Hmmm….I have no idea how to go about doing that work, but if this is the Lord’s will, then He will do it. I trust Him to lead me, to guide me, and of course, to provide for me.

My heart is saying that this seems right, if that makes sense. I just have this feeling that this is what the Lord wants me to do — these three things — and nothing else for the next season, the next time, in my life. I am okay with this mandate because I know that it covers me in His way. He has always been clear that I was to work as a teacher, and that I would teach English and not communication. Moreover, while I have this desire to teach communication, I am thinking that what the Lord wants me to teach is how to avert crisis and how to work through internal struggles. I guess I have been sensing this shift, but I assumed it meant to teach these classes at one of my schools. Rather, I see now that the Lord intends to keep me planted in English studies, but that my professional work will be in the church.

What does this mean for me today? Well, at the outset it simply confirms what the Lord has said to me previously, and that is, that I would be an English professor at some school. I would teach composition, primarily, and that I would focus on teaching as my daily work, my income-producing work. All other work was His work. This means that for now I am already doing what He has asked me to do. Furthermore, I am already working at several wonderful schools, teaching and mentoring students, and that for the rest of my working days, this is the work I will do. I will be an English teacher.

The communications part, the teaching communication part is something my heart longs to do, but I have never really desired to do it full-time at a school. That is, until now. I feel this push toward communication, but I am thinking this is the Lord saying to me that I will teach communication, but I won’t do it directly through my teaching contracts. I will instead teach communication to groups, to churches, and to individuals in one-on-one settings. I will teach the church how to communicate faith more effectively, and in that way, I will be employed as both a professor and scholar AND as a communicator. I think this thought terrifies me more than anything else. I am so comfortable teaching students in an academic setting. The thought of teaching in public absolutely panics me.

I am not going to worry about the latter role since I know the Lord will prepare me for it just like He did when He asked me to consider teaching as a profession. I was panicked then, too. Now, I am confident, cool, and comfortable teaching students. Now, I am able to teach large groups of students without much fuss. But, teaching outside of the classroom scares me, and I feel so unready, so unprepared. Yet, I know that if the Lord desires me to overcome my fear, He will put me in a place whereby I can learn how to do that very thing. He will place me in a role where I teach communication so that I can become as expert at it as I am when teaching students how to write well.

Now, though, I must rest. I must accept what the Lord is asking me to do, which is simply to trust Him again. I must let this all go so that the Lord can reveal His will for me, and then He can move me into the position of His choosing.
His Plans 

As I sit here today and try to understand what the Lord intends to do with my life from this point out, I know that I am established in part. I have His way set. By this I mean, I am set as a teacher, so for the next 15 years, I am to teach. I am to teach what I know, which is English, and I am to be settled, contented, and agreeable to it. I am not to seek other courses to teach, but rather I am to be comfortable teaching both composition and literature courses as they are made available to me. This means that I am to teach whatever combination of courses the Lord provides each semester. Mostly, it will be English composition. Mostly, it will be writing courses. However, occasionally, the Lord will allow me to teach literature courses so that I can enjoy the process of teaching cultural studies.

Communication courses will be given to me as a bonus, and for now, I have only taught one course, Human Communication (different names). I have taught it at two different schools, but the emphasis was similar. I have taught this same course four times, total, so I am very comfortable with this class. I haven’t taught small group, interpersonal, or intercultural communication. Nor have I taught public speaking. Thus, for all intents and purposes, I have taught only one communication course, but I have taught oodles of English courses. It is clear from this pattern of experience that the Lord intends to keep me in English. I am comfortable in English. This is my area of specialization. I am an all-around English teacher. I love teaching English, specifically cultural studies. I am not a technical writer nor do I like to teach technical writing or this style of writing. I have learned to become an expressive writer, a “Writing Down to the Bones” kind of teacher (Peter Elbow follower). Thus, I have conflict with other instructors who teach fundamental writing as structured. I much prefer creative expression, a gentle approach to writing that frees the student up and distances them from past experience. Yes, this is my niche, and while not very popular today, it is my little sandbox.

With this in mind, I realize that the Lord has made a way for me to go. Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” I may have plans and designs, but it is the Lord who actually lays out the steps for me to follow. For example, I wanted to study English and the Lord provided a program for me to follow. I graduated with my Masters degree in Literature. Then, when I wanted to study English at the doctoral level, the Lord instead showed me a Communications program. I didn’t want to study communications, but oh my goodness, am I so glad I relented and listened to His leading. I am a better person today because of that act of obedience, and as a result, I have formed life-long friendships, developed interests that challenge and stimulate me, and overall, learned a valuable skill that is not only practical but beneficial to me and to the church as a whole. 

Now, I want to trust Him for my next steps, and that means to realize that somewhere and somehow the Lord will bring all these disparate pieces together to form a lovely picture. I mean, He is able to do this. He can bring me to a job whereby I am recognized as a scholar, a leader, and an effective teacher. He can open doors that no man can shut and vice versa. He can make my life brand new, if He chooses it to be so, and He can provide riches to me simply with an assent of His will. My needs are met in HIM, and by that, all my needs are summed up in Christ Jesus. I need nothing save Jesus Christ, and Him, crucified (as Paul so eloquently stated). I have everything I need in Jesus. Anything I lack has been made up by the Lord through His personal presence in my life. I lack nothing because in Jesus, my every need has been considered. He is my sufficiency, and in Him, I have everything I need. He is my all-in-all.
In Conclusion

As I close out this blog post, I think about all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me recently. In fact, I expect a miracle today. I am expecting to hear some word, some testimony, some confirming news that will help me understand what the Lord intends to do in me and through me. My next steps are ordered, planned and prepared. I must simply follow Him. I must obey Him as He leads, guides, and provides for me. I must go where He sends me. I must do the work He has prepared for me to do, and that means, that I must be content in this way, in His way, I mean. I must be content. I must be settled. I must be prepared and ready to do His special work. He is good to me. He provides for my every single need, and as such, I lack nothing. I have everything I need to do His good work this very, very good day. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to be praised! Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

March 22, 2017

Recovering from Stress

It is Wednesday, and I am at home resting. It is the middle of spring break, and frankly, I am finally starting to feel relaxed. The past couple days have been really slow and well, boring. I know that sounds funny, but after spending four years working non-stop on my school work, the abrupt stop has been difficult to handle. It is like a train rushing full steam ahead and then suddenly screeches to a halt when someone pulls the emergency stop line. My life has come to a crashing halt, and while I have finally arrived — achieved my goal — there is this sense of “is this it?” Is this all there is to finishing a PhD? In truth, I am ecstatic about finishing, and I am so grateful to the Lord for providing a way for me to finish in such a short amount of time. I am happy, joyously happy, that this part, this season of my life, is over. But, there is this sadness too. My good friend, Heather, said she felt bittersweet, and I agree. I feel the same way. I am happy to finish, but sad to leave the experience behind. Getting my PhD was one of the hardest pursuits I have ever engaged in and it took great sacrifice and effort to achieve it. I worked tirelessly for four years and now this episode is over. This chapter has ended, and I am moving on to the next chapter of my life.
Next Move

As I sit here this week, I cannot help but think about how the Lord brought me to this place and this time. I mean, if I am honest, the past seven years have been dedicated to one goal — graduating with my doctoral degree. Second, after graduating, the result of obtaining that degree will be the receipt of a full-time position as a professor. Then, once that step is completed, I will begin to do the work the Lord has set out for me to do (as in communication and the church). So for all intents and purposes, the degree part is done. My dissertation has been proofed and submitted to the library (pending ProQuest’s receipt), which means, that I will officially graduate in May. My official degree will be conferred at some point thereafter, probably in June. However, technically, I am graduated. I can wear the moniker, Dr., and I can advertise myself as a Dr. on my resume/cv and apply for jobs as such. I have what is known in the business as a “PhD in hand” or I will, I mean, by the time school begins next August. This means that when I apply to jobs where this is a requirement, I can honestly say, “Yes” when asked if my degree will be conferred within the timeframe stated.

In all, I have grown tremendously as a person through this process. I mean, when I started graduate school back in 2010, I was still pretty tentative about my abilities. I felt good about my overall ability to do work, and of course, I had a lot of success throughout my life (with various jobs or tasks), but I still felt like I was a “no one” or that my life really wasn’t special or unique. I mean to say, that I felt like I wasn’t anyone “special”. Even after I graduated from Mercy College, I felt as if I was no different. My master’s program was great, don’t get me wrong, and I loved what I learned as I studied  literature at this level. But, truth be told, I was “one of many,” meaning that I was just like many of my colleagues who had their master degree (in business, music, or some other field). I felt average among my peers, and while I enjoyed the blessing of having my masters’ degree, I really didn’t feel like I had done that much, achieved that much, or received that much recognition or fame, so to speak. I was pretty much the same person.

Then, I enrolled in a doctoral program at Regent University, and well, my life changed. Not only did I have to change careers, but I had to put most of my life — my home life, my relationships, my work, etc., — on hold. I had to stop everything so that I could focus on this one goal. In the pursuit of graduating, I worked harder than I had worked previously. I pushed myself, challenged myself, and proved to myself that not only could I be a scholar, but that I had the chops to be a full-time faculty person at a major university. I worked without ceasing, and in the end, I finished my program with a 4.0 GPA, a strong dissertation, and an even stronger feeling of accomplishment that I could have imagined possible. I can say today that I believe the words of Paul when he said, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.” I can do all things, and I mean all things — anything — the Lord asks me to do, I believe I can do it. Of course, I can do it with His help, and I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory for what He has done with me, in me, and through me. He receives the praise. He receives the honor. And, He receives the glory for His amazing and enabling work this good, good day.

Now, I feel like this door has closed behind me, and it is shut permanently. I can never go back to where I once was; no, I can only go forward now. It is funny how just three-four months ago, I was panicked about the future. I felt so unsure, tentative, and I had this worried sense of “will I make it” constantly in my thoughts. I felt confident that the Lord would see me through to the end, but there was a part of me that simply didn’t know what would be the “next steps” involved.

Yet, now I see that the Lord has moved me into this place of calmness, stress free waters, so to speak. The previous churn of the river has puddled out and I am floating freely upon the still glassy water. It is a good place to rest. It is a good place to float free. Yet, as I sit here and float, I realize that all of the panic and the dread leading up to this place was worth the effort, the fight, and now that I am on the other side of that rough water, I can look back over my life and see His hand, His guidance, and He complete sustenance as He has provided for me. In truth, I am where I am today because He determined it would be good for me. He said, “It would be good for you to do this thing” and then He made a way. I agreed. I followed. I obeyed, but He provided the tools, the resources, and even the place so that I could accomplish this amazing and wonderful goal.

What does the Lord intend to do next in my life?

As I ponder my next steps, the next move, so to speak, I can only think that whatever the Lord determines for me next, it will be BIG, BOLD, and BETTER than what has come to pass previously. I believe in BIG things from my God, and He has made me ready for the next task, the next goal, and the next step in my progress toward His Celestial City.

Some Ideas to Ponder

Right now, I think the “next” step on my to-do list is to finish the semester, which simply means to focus on my students, attend to my duties as instructor, and complete the work assigned to me. I have 5 more weeks of school on campus, and my online courses just started over (we are beginning week 2).

After the semester ends, I will be free for most of the summer. I have one class scheduled at Regent, and there is a good chance that I will start at Grantham in June or July. I hope this is the case as it would provide much needed income over my dry summer month. Fall contracts are in place at GCU, but if I can pick up enough work elsewhere, I might opt-out of them if the Lord permits me to do so. I don’t really mind teaching out there again, but part of me is so ready to move on, to try something new, and to begin a new work or new job. I will have to wait and see, so for now, I feel content to remain where I am and to wait for the Lord to open up the next door for me to walk on through toward the fulfillment of His plan.

Outside of the immediate plans for work, I also have a trip planned to VA for graduation, and a potential trip planned to Indiana (though we haven’t made any reservations for this trip). My summer as of today is free and clear (praise God) and I do plan to enjoy the down time, the free time, and the low stress of the summer months. Of course, that is assuming that nothing serious or bad happens (circumstances or situations beyond my control). God be praised, my prayer is that nothing serious or unfortunate occurs over the summer.

In thinking about my next steps, there are a couple things I’d like to do or see happen that come to mind. First off, I do need a full-time job. I have decided that working all of these part-time jobs, while a good thing, a blessed thing, can also be a difficult and stressful thing. I am content to remain as I am, but I also see blessing in downsizing and in working in one job that pushes me further in my career. I’ve been considering this for a while now, but I think the Lord desires that I remain where I am for the short-term only. This means that while I love my students at GCU, I honestly do not think this is the school of His choice, long-term. GCU gave me the opportunity to teach, and for that, I am so thankful. But, now that I have my PhD, I realize that I need to be established in a school that respects my area of specialization. GCU is a school that respects hard work, and as such, expects their faculty to work hard, but they do not really push scholarship or treat faculty the way that other, more research oriented, schools do. I am a work horse out there, and while it has been a good thing while in school, I feel like I am ready to take off the training wheels and start riding my bike like a big girl. In truth, I am ready to graduate and move away from GCU, and begin my career as Assistant or Associate Professor at a school where I would be awarded tenure-track.

Last week, after I finished my defense, my dissertation committee chair asked me what classes I intended to teach as part of my future academic career. He basically wanted to know if I would continue to teach a wide range of classes or if I would specialize in one area. I started thinking about his word to me, and really, I understand what he is saying. You see, most full-time faculty teach one class in order to define their subject area, develop strategies, and then pursue scholarship with this work in mind. As adjunct, I teach composition, primarily, and sometimes literature part-time at many schools. My field is communication, yet I haven’t taught communication since last fall (2016). This means that for now, I am pretty much situated in English since this is where I found work easily over the past couple years of schooling. However, with my new job at Grantham University (still part-time), I will begin teaching other communication courses as well as English. The interim chair said she needed me to teach a variety of classes, and while I am happy to do that because I need the income, I really need to decide if I will focus on one aspect of communication for my specialization.

I’ve prayed about this for a couple week’s now, and my gut is telling me that the Lord desires me to begin this transition soon. I believe He desires me to focus on crisis and small group communication because both are related to my interest in organizational communication and culture and identity studies. However, until He opens that door, I need to remain where I am — and that means — teaching English. As such, I am thinking now that the full-time position I will be offered will be in Communication and not in English. I will continue to teach composition and some literature as a side option only (through my online courses). This means that I need to move into my field of communication this summer. I need to find a job where I can teach these types of courses and where I can begin to develop skill and experience in these areas within my specialization. At present, the only school where I will teach these courses is through Grantham (Lord willing).

I am open to teaching at any school of the Lord’s choosing. He will lead me to a position that will offer the right combination of courses. The pay will be within His parameters, and hopefully, the school will provide benefits to me so I can let go of Obama Care. Also, while I am hoping for online work, I will teach on campus as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. If He wants me to teach FTF, so be it. My preference and my choice is online simply because it gives me the most freedom. Yet, I understand that I may have to take on work as full-time faculty on campus. Of course, the Lord knows my needs, and I am trusting Him to provide for me.

It is really crazy to think that I am about to leave the safety net of English for a deep dive into the pool of communication. After all, I have spent the past four years studying Communication, and praise be to God, I have learned so much about this particular field of study. In some ways, I wish I would have been teaching communication all along, but I think the Lord put me in Composition, in particular, so that I would have the opportunity to teach online as a retirement strategy. I always thought this was my focus, but I could never grasp why He would have me study communication only to work in English. I really do not fit in English, and it is obvious to me now as I look for work. The open positions ask for PhD in Literature or in Rhetoric and Composition and not Communication. Thus, I need to move to my field now, and to seek work where I can make a name for myself as a scholar.

As I begin this process of moving from one field to another, I realize that I have the blessed opportunity to remain connected to English virtually. I have the opportunity to teach online at several schools and enjoy helping students write good essays. I think the truth dawned on me the other day when one of my peers was helping a student in my class. He was working with this student to help her write, but he was instructing her at such an advanced level. He was pushing her ahead of where she should be as a freshman. I appreciated his tenor and his interest, but I was like, “This is so unnecessary.” You are pressuring this student to perform when she is simply learning to express herself well. I teach writing freedom, creative expression, and the interest in writing as a love, a process, and a journey. I do not teach it compositionally, and that is why I don’t fit well in composition courses today. I simply do not fit in this way. I think this reality has been coming to me for a long, long while, and despite my unwillingness to accept it, I realize now that I need to go. The Lord is showing me an out, a way out, and I have to take it.

I am a communications scholar who teaches in English. I need to move to my own field and begin teaching what I know as my subject area. I need to move now.
In Closing

I am ready now, today, I mean, to let this go. I am ready to pack up my things, and to exit out of English and to embrace my field of study, to embrace communication. I embrace it with the thought that this is what the Lord intends for me to pursue — with a passion and intensity — and I need to make communication as much my home as English once was. I am not an English teacher anymore. I am a communications professor, and it is time I wear this hat and proudly begin to represent my field in and among my peers, my colleagues, and my students at the university of His choosing.

What does this mean for me today? Well, I really think it means that I am ready to be moved by the Lord into a position of His choosing, for His name, and to bring Him praise. I am ready to do this work, this level of work, and as such, I am ready to begin to study, to write, and to publish articles that serve to promote me, to polish me, and to open doors to professional opportunities within Communication.

Lastly, as I process this change, I cannot help but think that this is what the Lord has wanted for a long time, but that I was hesitant to trust Him to develop me as a teacher and a scholar. I know that I enjoyed teaching communication previously, but that I felt more “safe” in composition classes. Now, though, I feel like I am being pushed out and in this way, I am being told to “move on.” I need to move on, I know this is the case, but I guess, I didn’t think it would come this way. Thus, today, I accept this as a fact, that the Lord intends to open a door somewhere wonderful, and within that wonderful school, I will finally find my perfect “fit.”