March 7, 2017

Testing It Tuesday

You know how there are these Internet memes out there like Taco Tuesday (for taco lovers) or Tummy Tuesday (for cat lovers)? Well, today is going to be my “Testing It Tuesday” because I am feeling as if I am sitting down to take a test today. Yes, I have test anxiety, stressful anticipation, and the unending sensation that something is about to go “kerplunk” right near me. I don’t know why I feel this way, but the anxiety started late on Sunday and it has been mounting since. I’ve prayed over it, and I have commanded the fear, the worry, and the doubt to flee. In truth, I pretty much have done everything I can do, yet the feeling that my life is about to change has lingered. I don’t want to say that it is a foreboding sense (as in something negative), rather it is just a sense that something is about to change for me, and that change is causing me a great deal of anxiety and stress. Sigh!

It doesn’t help much that I woke up with a sinus headache. Yes, the sun is shining brightly and the air temperature is breezy and cool. It is near perfect weather,  but thanks to high pressure, I have a headache BIG TIME. We have no rain on the horizon, just mild temperatures (in the mid-70s) all week. The weather in VA next week is going to be CHIL-LY, with the highs only near 50. Rain is forecast on Sunday, when I arrive and on Tuesday, when I leave. I guess it is a good thing I rented a car because now I can zip around town instead of staying in my hotel room. Still, I am not looking forward to the chill. The last time I was in VA was in February, and while I was happy to be there, I actually was freezing the entire time. I am anticipating much the same this time around. Still, it is a good thing to think that come this time next week, I will be flying home as Dr. Carol Hepburn. WOW! So exciting and amazing to consider and to imagine. My time in school to become a doctor is finished. It is done. God be praised, it is done. Thank you, Jesus!

Today is a low-key day for me despite the fact that I have this sense of doom and gloom. I am considering it part-and-parcel with my graduation, and as a last ditch attempt by my enemy to sideline me. My enemy simply doesn’t want me to be happy, to praise God, or to even think positively about what is about to take place. No, he would much prefer me to be miserable. I am not buying that line, though. I am choosing this day to rest in the Lord, to let this go — the feelings I mean — and to rest completely in His abilities and sufficiency. It is a good day to rely on, to lean on, and to trust in the Lord. I mean, I don’t feel very well to begin with so why not lean my entire being upon His massive, mighty, and majestic BEING and take my rest? Yes, I am choosing to rest in Him this good, good, good day.

Choosing the Possible

So at the outset, I still have this pending sense of change. I am not sure what to expect, other than to think that something good is going to come my way today. I am still waiting on conformation of my background check at Grantham University. I am also waiting to hear back on my contract for ASU. The good news is that yesterday, I received confirmation on my summer contract at Regent University. So as of right now, I have one class to teach over the summer. I may be able to pick up some additional courses over the summer, but if I end up with this one, I am fine. It will run from May 15 through to July 8. After that point, I will have all of July and most of August free. I am really looking forward to having the summer off — for the first time since 2012. More so, I am really looking forward to my education season coming to a close. I know that I have said that I wanted to keep busy, do more schooling, etc., but now that I have finished my dissertation, in truth, I am really done. I cannot imagine doing another degree again. The process, the time, and the focus are critical for success, and as such, I really have achieved the highest honor I can imagine. No, I am ready to move on, to be settled as a teacher, and to come to this place of contentment. I am ready, so very ready to be content in all things.

Thus, today, I am thinking of possibilities. I have my graduation in hand, and right now, I am settled in my role as faculty at several schools. I pray for the opportunity to become full-time at one, and I think that may have already come to pass. However, until I have final confirmation, I will continue to wait and to pray for the Lord’s provision of one job that will provide steady annual income for me. My second and third and fourth jobs (LOL!) are there for financial security and to build retirement. I know that this is His will for me, but still, it will be nice when everything is settled and the paperwork is all approved. I am praying now that I hear back on this one job today or tomorrow. I would love to go into my defense knowing I am set for teaching both English and Communication at this little private school.

As I consider my next steps, plan and prepare for my future, one thing is certain: I am in this very good, very safe, very solid place. The Lord has provided adequate income for me, and He has given me a way to go once I exit my PhD program. I still need to learn more, study more, and become more deeply enmeshed in my role as faculty, and I also need to continue to read and to study about my discipline, but for the most part, I am right where He desires. In fact, I would say that with this new opportunity for teaching, I am right where He plans for me to stay put. You see, I will begin to teach in my field of communications, and while I have done this off-and-on for the past several years, I have focused predominately on writing. Now, though, the Lord seems to be opening up opportunities for me to begin to focus on digital rhetoric as well as other interests in communication such as organizational, crisis, and interpersonal communication. As strange as it seems, I am actually looking forward to setting down roots in communication. I am actually looking forward to teaching more of these courses in addition to writing courses.

My professor has said to me that the Lord has a plan, and that His plan will be good. I have seen the goodness of the Lord’s plan unfold around me, and for a long while, I really wasn’t sure what the Lord intended for me to do. I mean, I am an English AND Communications scholar, but I have had such a hard time finding my fit, my little niche. For example, I love teaching literature, but I struggle with it some because I am not your typical Literature teacher. Instead, I am multifocal, and I teach cultural studies. My English background is in theory, in critical studies, and as such, this is the area where I cross disciplines into communication. Likewise, my communication focus is in visual rhetoric, and organizational communication including identity studies and culture. Thus, I prefer to sit within cultural studies. My undergraduate preparation was in Humanities, and in my course work at SJSU, I actually studied culture throughout the ages. This was the focus, so I am well-versed in history, politics, and the socio-cultural aspects of the various eras. This is what I bring to my classes, but I am not a traditional English teacher. Therefore, over the past almost five years, I have had struggles being accepted on campus. Now, though, the Lord has provided a place where I could teach communication, and where I could gain more experience teaching communication. I am excited for this change, and I hope that the Lord will continue to provide this opportunity to me.

Making the Switch for Good

So as I think about the next 5, 10 or even 15 years of my career, one thing concerns me, and that is which field do I focus on as my primary effort. Right now, I am deeply ensconced in English studies. I am happy teaching writing, and I love teaching the occasional literature course, but at times, I get tired of doing it. My interests are in other areas, mostly communication and of course, visual rhetoric, but I have had trouble crossing over. Now with my PhD almost in hand, I should be able to make the switch fairly easily. I have thought about changing my courses at GCU, stepping out of English, and moving into communications, but thus far, I am hesitant (or have been, I mean) to do so. The Lord has opened this door for me at this one school, and perhaps over time, I will gain the experience I need to be able to teach other communications courses at my local schools. For example, I am content to remain as associate faculty with the Writer’s Studio. This program is multimodal, and they have their students write multimodal compositions. I like the program a lot, and the fact that it is online is a blessing to me. Furthermore, as I begin to think about the types of articles I will produce, work I will engage in, I see myself in communication. Therefore, it only makes sense that I change my field from English to Communication. But, is this His will for my life? I am not so sure.

For one, I know that the online work I have through Regent is in English. The online work I have through ASU is also English. The campus work at GCU, for now, is English. The campus work I had done in the past at ACU is communications. It would be good to move from English to Communication at GCU, and I know that I am welcome in that department. I simply have to make the change. I am already set for fall, but perhaps something will change or perhaps this is what the Lord wants me to do — I just don’t know.

As I consider this as a possibility, I am reminded that the Lord’s plan for my life is very good, and that whether I teach writing or communication, I am engaging in His work. I will teach whatever courses the Lord determines are best for me, and I will do this work unto His name. I will go where He sends me, and I will do the work He has prepared for me to do. I am content to be a Communications instructor for the rest of my life, if this is His will. Until I know one way or the other, I will remain as I am. But, I am feeling as if He is opening a door for me, and that door is one that leads me to teaching in my field, to producing scholarship in my field, and to accepting an offer to work in this field.

In Closing

In conclusion, my life is settled, at the least, here in Phoenix. I am almost settled with my work / career. I am employed at several schools, and I love my work — all of it. However, I feel the need to settle in one area only, especially for scholarship and to improve my options for retirement. For now, I wait for the Lord to clarify His plan, and to show me what to do. I am uncertain, and yes, a bit apprehensive, but the Lord is good, and God be praised, He already knows where and how and when things are to work out. I am simply resting in Him — completely — this good, good day.

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