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.
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.
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!