April 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday!

It is an amazing day in Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air temperature is very warm. The high today is expected to reach 91, which I think is about right for mid-April. I am home today as it is my usual day off, but praise be to God, I have tomorrow off as well. In all, I have a four-day weekend, and I am thanking the Lord for His goodness and His mighty provision. I am so blessed right now, so very blessed. My poor body is tired, and I feel rather depleted this morning (like I need a good jolt of energy), but overall, I am on the down-lo as they say. I have two more weeks of campus classes, and two-half more weeks of online classes. I will be in VA for the first week of May, and in all, I am about to go out with a BIG BANG!

Yes, I will close out this season of my life with a great big celebration — my graduation from Regent University. The past couple semesters have been difficult, trying, and thanks be to God, I have been able to handle the workload, the pace, and the requirements asked of me. This semester, in particular, was very challenging as I completed my dissertation and I managed six classes. But, now I am almost finished with those classes, and I can see the blessed summer right on the horizon. I am so ready to rest, to relax, and to just enjoy my retirement (from academic studies). I know I will keep on studying, of course, but now my focus is not on obtaining a degree; rather, it is on producing scholarship and writing articles for publication. My whole world is about to change — my career is getting started, my college days are over, and my future is an open door. There are so many options, so many choices, and so many possibilities.

Today, therefore, I am thanking the Lord for providing this life to me. I am thankful that I have options. Many people do not. Many people are stuck in dead-end jobs with no hope for advancement or even career challenge. I am thankful that I get to do something I enjoy. I get to mentor students, love them, affectionately work with them, and in the end, pour a little bit of my life into their life. It is such a blessed opportunity, and I am so grateful that the Lord provided this path for me to walk on. I am so blessed, so thankful, so humbled, and so amazed that He provided this way for me to go. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

Choosing My Next Steps

I’ve been praying once again about my next steps. Right now, I feel pretty confident that the Lord has decided that I am to remain in Phoenix, which is kind of weird since I have always had this “move” date in my head, that in 2017, the Lord would physically move me to another state where I would have a full-time job. In fact, I have planned on this year as my “move year.” Way back in 2010 when I returned to school, I felt the Lord was saying to me that the longest I would remain in Phoenix would be 7 years. In this way, I felt sure that He was going to open an door for me to move to another state whereby I would “finally” be able to set down roots. Of course, in the past 7 years, a lot has happened to me that has changed my mind, my worldview, and even my perspective on the plans the Lord has for me.

For example, when I went back to graduate school, I wasn’t really sure about a PhD at that point in time. I thought it might be a possibility, but the thought of doing well in a Masters program was more than enough for me. Then, as I worked in a number of jobs that didn’t really “fit” me well, I wondered what I would “eventually” do. I struggled with the idea of leaving my parents, first of all, but I also wanted my own life someplace else. I didn’t have a confirmed career then, so the thought of what kind of work I would do and where I would do it often confused me. In truth, I couldn’t really envision a life anywhere else — away from what I knew and the people I was most close.

For a time, I thought the Lord might move me to Virginia. I also thought He might move me to Chicago or even to the South (Tennessee). I spent months, and months, and months looking at possible destinations for my final resting place. No, not where I would die, but rather where I thought the Lord would take me to live out my days. Of all the places where I have focused my energy on living, the one place that has been fixed in my mind was the Chicago area. I know, that is crazy! But, in my heart, Chicago is home to me. I spent 8 years there as a young child/teen, and for some reason, I feel so connected to this place. I have agonized about moving, about picking up and leaving what I know for what I don’t know at all, and in the end, I have simply chosen to stay put. I have chosen, I should say, to stay here.

I believe that the Lord opened doors for me to move several times over the past 10-12 years. I mean, back in 2007, I had this strong sense that I was to move to Chattanooga, TN. I was married then, and my husband was adamant that we wouldn’t leave Phoenix ever. I couldn’t help it really. I just had this desire — intense desire — to go there. Later, that desire was replaced by a longing to go other places in the mid-Atlantic region including Virginia and North Carolina. I think now that the intense desire I had was more about accomplishing the Lord’s will, and about Regent University, which is located in VA. I considered going to Old Dominion University — a strong contender — for about a year. ODU is located in Norfolk, so really my desire to go may have been His insistence on me actually going to school in this part of the country. I am not sure, but I know Regent was hand picked, and I am so thankful I listened to the Holy Spirit, and agreed to attend this special school.

In between my graduate programs, however, the Lord pressed other places into my mind. Some of these were options that figured strongly in my son’s desire to study music. So for example, Chicago included a possible undergraduate college experience at Wheaton College and North Park University. A graduate option included Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. So, early on, I had this sense that I was to go to Northbrook, IL. I spent a lot of time visiting Northbrook online, and eventually, in 2013, I actually went there on a work trip. Never did I think that what I was feeling — moving to Northbrook, IL — might have been a reality when I took work at CVS Caremark. In that job, part of my team was based in this city.

Once my attention focused on Regent, though, I really stopped looking for places to move. I considered some other places like Georgia, Florida, and even where my good friend lives in Alabama. Unfortunately, the Lord never pressed these places into me as realistic destinations; rather, He gave me permission to explore them as options. So I simply checked them out, but when I didn't see any movement on His part to relocate me there, I accepted the fact that perhaps these places were not His will for my life.

Now, though, I have graduated. I am ready to be employed, and as I spend time looking for jobs, I realize that I have a lot of options for work. I can remain where I am in Phoenix or I can apply for jobs in other cities and states. So far, I have applied for a couple jobs in other states. Previously to my graduation, I applied to a number of jobs out of state, but none of these jobs came to pass. Since January, however, I applied to jobs at the University of Wisconsin, Regent University, and to Old Dominion University. The positions at UW and ODU are for online professors; the one at Regent is campus-based. I have also applied locally at GCU and ASU. As of today, the only jobs still in play are the position at Regent and the one at ODU. I really think both jobs are a long shot. Yet, I cannot rule them out since the Lord gave me permission to apply.

My good friend, Linda, mentioned to me yesterday that perhaps the Lord would provide a full-time position for me at Regent University. I would be open to this for certain, but I honestly do not see this happening. Still, I would not turn down a job at this blessed school — should the Lord open a door for me there.

As I think about options for work, I know that here in Phoenix there are no full-time jobs on the horizon. It is funny, but in all this thinking about moving over the years, I realize (just now) that the word I received from the Lord way back in 2010 about there being “no jobs in Phoenix” was absolutely true. I guess this is why I believed I would have to work outside the state full-time. Part of my reasoning for moving was simply because of this word — that there would be no full-time work for me in Phoenix.

Of course, back then, I wasn’t a teacher and I didn’t have my PhD. Now, though, I can easily see this as answered prophecy. The Lord said it would be so, and in truth, it is so. In reality, there are jobs for part-time work, and as such, I am employed at three schools locally — all with part-time positions. However, in all the full-time jobs I have applied for — none of these positions have come to pass. More so, there are limited opportunities for full-time faculty, and with only 3 state schools (one in Phoenix, one in Flagstaff, and one in Tucson), the jobs open are highly competitive. The positions for English and Communications are rare (if you are in STEM, there are many more jobs here). So, in many ways, I believe His word to me was true. The job I will work at full-time will not be located in Phoenix. The interesting rub is that I didn’t think that the Lord would mean that I could live in Phoenix, but work in another state (as in remote/telecommute). Right now, I live in Phoenix, but I work in Ohio, Virginia, and soon, Kansas (LOL!)

Now, this is what I am seeing as a reality. I think there is a very good possibility that I will be offered a full-time job in another state, but that I may end up living in Phoenix. Why? Well, for a number of reasons. First off, my son will not graduate until 2018. He had been on track to graduate in 2017, but with another major change, he has been delayed by a semester. He made the decision to not graduate in December and stay on one more semester so he could graduate next May, 2018. Then there is the fact that right now, he is thinking of attending ASU for graduate school. He can certainly attend without me here, but there may be some perk to me working there, so to have me here and working at ASU, well, this could be a benefit to him.

Second, my parents need me now more than ever. They are declining in health, and they need care. I am here, we live together, and this is the plan for our future. The Lord could move them to assisted living at some point in time, but for the near term, we are living as a blended family.

Last, I have roots here now. I didn’t realize it was so until the other day. Not only am I connected to my church, but also, I have extended connections from work and my parents church. This doesn’t mean I cannot move elsewhere and set down roots again; it just means that I am thinking that I am in a good place right now, and unless the Lord really shows me that I am to physically move, I am content to remain where I am.

I guess what I am saying is that for the past 10 years, I have thought about moving a lot. I would say that I have been focused on moving and that I have done the due-diligence with regard to moving out of state. The Lord hasn’t moved me, even though I have had some limited opportunities to go. For example, with CVS, I could have transferred to Northbrook for work easily. My son could have then attended North Park University. But, at the time, it was not easily possible, and then that job petered out, and well, I changed directions and started at Regent. During my PhD program, I could have moved again to any number of open jobs, but the cost of moving was so prohibitive and with my studies and part-time work, it was more feasible to remain here where I had better control over my life and expenses. Now, though, I am ready. I have good profitable and practical work, but I don’t have security yet in a full-time job. If the right job comes around, though, I would be hard-pressed to remain here long.

So what does all this mean for me today? I think what I am trying to say is this — I really am not sure what the Lord intends to do with my life. I have good part-time work, but no full-time work yet. My son is set here for another year, perhaps 2 more after that, and my parents are in failing health. On the outside, it appears that the best answer is to remain where I am, to stay put. However, this doesn’t mean the Lord will not open a door, give me a great big push, and send me packing. He can do this, and He might do this — if it is His will, if it is His will. I will remain agreeable. I will be flexible. I will be moveable. He will made the decision, and then I will obey and follow Him.

In Closing

As I close this blog post, I realize that when the Lord says to me, “Carol, you are in such a good place right now,” I know that He means in totality. I am spiritually in a good place. I have material blessing, and my future is very secure. I do not lack for my wants are supplied sufficiently. I don’t have all the details yet, but I am slowly building this picture, this tapestry, that He has made for my life. In all, I am in this very good, very solid, very secure place, and as He leads, guides, and provides for me, I know I can rest completely in Him. I can rest in Him — not in the job, the place, the house, or even the people — that the Lord brings to me. I can rest solely in my Lord, my Savior, and my King. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

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