May 31, 2017

Blessings and More

Happy Hump Day! Yes, it is mid-week, and it is a good day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The sun is shining, and the air temperature is mild right now. I think our high today will be in the low 100s, but still, it seems mighty fine outside right now.

I slept fitfully again last night. I am sure it is menopause doing its “nasty thing,” but truthfully, I am getting really tired of waking up tired! Ugh! My prayer is that today I can rest more, just relax, and then hopefully be able to sleep better tonight.

I was up late last night grading student essays, so I am sure that activity played a part in my overall fatigue. Plus, I started a Keto Diet yesterday, full bore, I mean, and I think I am suffering from the lows that are associated with a major diet change. You know, headache, icky feeling, just foggy brained. Hopefully, this too shall pass, as they say.
Diet and Lifestyle

I made the decision over the weekend to get serious about my lifestyle, and the first thing I wanted to change was my diet. I’ve blogged before that I need to lose 20 pounds, and that I have struggled to do so since my mid-40s. The weight has just glued itself to me, especially after my monthly cycle ended. I cannot shift my weight 1-2 pounds, and it is really frustrating to me. So, I decided to get serious, and that meant, really educating myself about my body, my eating habits, and how better food choices could help me to lose weight, but also help me to feel better (overall). I read about the Ketogenic diet online, and while I am no stranger to Atkins, I simply fail on the diet after about two days. I decided the problem was that Atkins, while a ketogenic diet, is very strict, and frankly, I don’t need strict in my life right now.

Diet Plan

I found this website, Tasteaholics, and I downloaded their free 14-day meal plan. I really like the options for meals, and I think most are doable. Part of my issue with diets, in general, is that the food plans are so hard to make. I don’t eat all organic, and I don’t choose “froo-froo” food to consume. Plus, I don’t have the money to eat gourmet all the time. I really need practical, and I like that these plans offer normal foods (things I might eat normally), but with substitutions that are low-carb.

I took some time yesterday to run my macro nutrient numbers. I read that it is important to know what those numbers are so you can be sure you are hitting your target each day. I used this calculator to help me figure out my target zone, and then I am using Atkins carb-counter to track how much I eat each day. I am also using to track my weight and my activity level.

In order for me to lose 1 pounds per week, I need to consume 1442 calories per day. I do plan to workout, so some of my calorie burn will come from exercise. But dietary changes will help, so I need to watch my fat, protein, and carbohydrate levels to ensure a proper balance. For me, this works out to be:

30g carbs per meal (90 total)
54g protein per meal (165 total)
16g fat per meal (48 total)

Of course, with moderate exercise (3-5 times per week), I will need to eat more calories to off-set the burning of fuel. My numbers will change once I am working out regularly. For starters, though, I am shooting to keep my total carbs under 100g per day. Experts say that 50g per day will kick you into ketosis or fat-burning mode. Right now, with the diet I have scheduled to stick to for the next two weeks, my daily carb count is really low, at 25g. This is pretty much Atkins Induction, but I figure if I can jumpstart my weight loss with Atkins like I did before, I can potentially lose 10 pounds in about 15 days. Mostly water, like I mentioned above, but some fat as well. I cannot stay on induction long term because I freak after a while, so I will moderate my diet to a long term ketogenic based plan where I can enjoy fruit as well as some other yummy items to satisfy my need for chocolate and creamy deserts (LOL!)

After reading through their website, I realized that I can do a ketogenic diet and maintain this lifestyle. I am willing to give it a try, and to see if I can shed the excess weight. Mostly, like I said, I want to feel better — be more healthy. My brother has switched to a mostly paleo diet and he looks great for his age. My SIL has also followed a similar health/lifestyle plan, and well, she looks amazing at 60. So, I have testimony all around me, and I know I need to do something, and ketogenic seems to be calling my name.

Fitness Plan

I’ve tried numerous plans before, but I am committed to doing something different this time around. I believe I can do it, I just need some discipline and self-control to experience it. My goal is to lose 20 pounds (minimum), and to follow a very basic weight training and cardio workout (more on this later). Last summer, I went all hog over Julian Michaels’ workout DVDs. I still have them, but I hurt myself early on doing pushups, and well, I just lost my ability to focus afterward. My plan today is to follow this website, Nerd Fitness, which I think offers a simplified weight training routine that I can do here at home — without having to watch a DVD. I watched the beginning video and it looks pretty easy to do. I don’t plan to go to a gym for a while, but I think I can do this workout at home and be ready to join a gym soon (by fall, perhaps).

For cardio workout, I am going to walk away the pounds with Leslie Sansone. I have her 4-mile walk, and I read online that you can burn up to 400 calories with it. I plan to walk everyday except for Sundays with Leslie (from home), and then use the beginner workout for strength training 3-days a week (MWF). In all, with a ketogenic diet, walking and strength training for calorie burn, I really think I can drop the weight and get myself into better shape and health over the summer.

Between now and June 12 (when I go to Indiana), my hope is to lose a couple pounds. I should be able to drop about 5-6 pounds total (water plus 3 pounds of fat) if I stay on the diet (closely on it). With a good 3-pound fat loss, my summer clothes should fit me better. I am not hoping for a major change, just a little extra room in the hip/thigh area. Right now, my summer wardrobe fits me, but I feel snug in things. I would like to be less self-conscious about how things looks from the backside (if you get my point), and feel free to move about since we will be doing some walking and trekking. By summer’s end, I hope to be down a whole size (hooray!) so that I can wear my smaller sized wardrobe, which hasn’t fit for over a year.

I normally take pictures of myself (selfies) in either clothing or face profiles. I keep these on my computer so I can go back and see how I looked 3-4-5 years ago. In truth, I was at my target weight of 145-48 in 2014. I had lost about 10 pounds on Atkins that previous spring, and by the time I went to residency at Regent, I was wearing a size 6-8 jean. I managed to keep the weight off for a whole year, so that by summer of 2015, I still looked pretty good and could wear the same clothes. Then 2016 hit, and I had to study for exams and work on my dissertation. I also started menopause, and well, I gained 15 pounds in about a year’s time. I look at those pictures and I can really see the weight in my face and upper body (typical for menopausal women - we gain around the middle).

I am not hoping to get myself back to my pre-pregnancy shape (low 130s), but I would be really happy to bust the 160 mark and land somewhere in the low 150s this summer. Long term, I hope to get back to the low 140s eventually. I would be really happy at this weight, and I think I could maintain that weight indefinitely.
More Blessing to Be Had

With all the talk of diet and fitness, I am starting to look to my life to see how things might change for me down the road. My Dad just popped in to remind me that he doesn’t want me to sit at the computer all day long. I laughed because THIS IS MY LIFE now and I love every single aspect of it. He wants me to get out, to enjoy life, and not just sit at the computer. I thanked him for his concern, but frankly, I think he wants me to be social and outgoing. I simply am a computer nerd, geek — professor — and like I said “I love my life!” I do recognize that I need some social, some outside time, and I am trying to incorporate that into my daily schedule. However, teaching online is something that requires I be at the computer, and with more than one class in process, I get really busy doing teaching work.

The funny thing, as in curious, is that for 9-months of the year, I teach at GCU on campus. You cannot get more social than teaching at a major university, in classes that reach upwards of 100 students, and be a wall flower! He just sees me at the computer all the time, and well, that bothers him. I would like to remind him that he and my Mom live in 3/4 of this home. He has his hobbies in the garage, his den, and my Mom reads and watches TV almost all day long. I live in my room simply because it is quiet, and it is my space. If I had my own home, I would probably do more things in my home, but for now, this is what I have to do to remain engaged with my work, and to have that quiet time I so desperately crave as an INTJ personality type.

However, in other news, I received my contracts for my next two summer classes. Right now, one of them only has 7 students. I need 10 to make the class and get paid a full-amount. The other class is almost full (1 spot left). I am praying this smaller class fills so I can count on that income right at the end of August (before fall begins). Whew! I would be in good shape with that extra paycheck at my normally lowest point of the summer.

My prayer for fall is as follows:

  1. Four teaching contracts from Regent University
  2. Two teaching contracts from ASU
  3. Three teaching contracts from GCU
  4. Additional contracts from Grantham or another school
With this combination of contracts, I should be well-set for fall. I will be slamming busy again, but like I have said, I really do like to be super busy. Of course, should the Lord open a door for one full-time position then this whole plan is “out the winder” as they say. I am holding open hope for one faculty position to be offered to me, but until I receive word on that line, I am sticking to what I currently have in place, which will be:
  • Three 15-week classes on MWF at GCU from 12:30 to 4:20
  • Two online 8-week classes at Regent
  • One online 7.5 week class at ASU
  • Any other classes as they are available
My max load is to teach 8 classes in a semester. I pushed myself at 6, but I was also writing my dissertation, so I really think 6-7 or 8 is doable with no other distractions. My classes at GCU are the same course, just 3 sections. I have taught this class 10 times so far, and really, I can teach it blind. Plus, with 3 essays spread over 5 weeks, the class is so easy to do. I really do think I can teach online with a full-load of 4-5 classes. Lord willing, I should say. Lord willing.

My blessing has come to me, and my basket it full. I have received what Deuteronomy 28 has promised — no lack. Now I must remember to keep my side of the covenant. I must obey the word of the Lord, and I must remember to be faithful to Him. He is my provider, and as such, I owe everything to Him, to His mercy, care, and grace. Yes, I give all praise, honor, and glory to God above. Selah!
In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am reminded that the Lord is a gracious God. He provides rich reward to those who seek Him diligently, and to those who listen and obey, He blesses with blessings from His storehouse in heaven. Today, I am the recipient of those sweet blessings — I have a good life, I have my health, and I have a planned, purposed, and prosperous future. I am in this very good place, and today, I give Him my adoration and my praise.

May 30, 2017

It is a Good Day!

Happy Tuesday! Today, is a good day! I am alive and well, and I feel GREAT! I cannot really explain it, other than to say, that I feel blessed today. I feel really, really blessed.

First, I should say, that I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I tossed and turned at the start, and then I woke up three-four times during the night — each time — thinking it was morning. My son left for camp early today, so I was worried about oversleeping and not getting up in time to drive him over to church. It seemed like each time I rolled over, I would wake up. Sigh!

Still, while not sleeping well last night, I actually feel pretty well rested and refreshed today. I don’t get it, but I am also not complaining about it. God is good, and I am good, and for these reasons, I am celebrating life this good, good day! Selah!

As I mentioned, my son is off to camp this week. He is fortunate that as a musician, he is often asked to attend High School and College camp. He gets a free week of time in the mountains or at the beach, all in return for his presence in the worship band. He is off to Point Loma today, and will be in the sun and surf for the next 4-5 days. God is good to him. He provides him with these good opportunities for rest and relaxation, and He gives him time to spend with his peers as well as just hang out and be a “kid” some. He is almost 24, so the time for playing around is coming to an end, but the Lord is good to provide these chances for him to experience worship, retreat, and growth in this way. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! He is good, so very good — all the time — He is so good!

Second, my life seems to be running on steady steam ahead right now. For example, I am in week 3 of my 6-week summer class, and so far, everything is working well. My students seem to be doing really well in the class, and my time each week has been moderate. It is so nice to teach just one class! Oh my goodness! Compared to last semester when I had 6-classes going at the same time, teaching only one has been a super blessing. I am enjoying the course so much, and I am really spending quality time with my students. It is such a wonderful gift to be able to teach online at ASU’s Writers’ Studio.

Third, I am content. I am really, really content. I have a “perfect” life, in that I have everything I need to be comfortable. I have plenty of good practical work. I have a lovely home that covers me well. I have food to eat, and I have money in savings. God has provided for my every single need, and in this way, I can rest. I can relax. I can let God do whatever He decides to do because I realize that in all things I am completely, wholly, and utterly dependent on Him. You see, everything I have, every gift, every blessing, every provision comes from His merciful hand. I have no needs at present, and praise be to God, I am giving Him thanks because I know that very easily, I could be plunged into despair or faced with a difficult or devastating crisis. Right now, I am good. I am so very good, so I give Him thanks, I lift my voice to give Him praise, and I humbly confess that I am in this good, good place simply because He has made it to be so. He is chosen for me to be in this place, and with His good provision, I am able to live very easily, comfortably, and modestly.

Some More Thoughts on Work and on Life

I’ve been waffling again. I’ve been fidgeting. I’ve been flitting and flying back and forth between options, between going and staying, between resting and restlessness. Most recently, I’ve been preoccupied with my life, my work life, to be specific. Yes, I’ve been thinking more about what is in my best interest as far as moving or staying put when it comes to my work, my job, my career, etc. Even though I have believed that the Lord said clearly to me that I was to remain (after my graduation from Regent), I have fidgeted. I feel confident that I heard His voice (as in hearing it in my spirit) say to me that I was to remain. Remain. That was the word of testimony I received. I was to remain; yet, I have resisted. I accepted His word to me initially, assuming that what He was saying was that I was to stay put in Phoenix, to remain right where I am, and that He would provide a job for me. But, my time on campus, my time driving around VA Beach — well — I simply fell back in love with the whole place. I wanted so much to move there, and I felt this strong pull to do so.

The problem has been that the more I tried to wrap my head about remaining in Phoenix, the more I wanted to go live some place else. You see, I love my school. I love working part-time for my school. I really love the area around my school, and yes, I feel such a strong spiritual connection to my school. So even though I believed the Lord was saying, “Stay put, Carol,” I really wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to go.

What is more is the fact that I wanted to do both, to go AND to stay; but neither seemed right to me. Hence, all the confusion I felt; hence, all the befuddlement I struggled to understand. Then, the more I struggled to figure out how I would go without a job offer, the more I felt unsure about the way as an open door. Likewise, as I struggled to grasp how I would stay put with so many part-time jobs, I began to spiral down into despair. Truthfully, the rub became clear — how can I go without a job and how can I stay without job. Sigh.

Thankfully, clarity rained down on me as I was driving home today from church. I was praying about this whole mess — whether I go or stay — and the thought came to me that regardless of the outcome, I am at His mercy. The fact is that I am unable to secure any full-time work on my own no matter how much I’ve attempted to do so. I mean, I’ve tried; the Lord knows that I have tried. I have applied so many times and to so many schools, but the only work I end up receiving is part-time offers. Moreover, I love my adjunct work; I really love the freedom of adjunct, but there is this lingering thought about me being a PhD and working part-time. Really? After all my hard work and effort — no tenure track position? No full-time Assistant Professor role?

I recall that it was just a couple months ago that the Lord asked me to let go of my desire for titles. I was praying about work this summer, and He asked me if I could be content not being an Assistant Professor. I said, yes, but there was this lingering doubt in my mind. I have always believed I would be an “Assistant Professor” someday, and then not long after that conversation with the Lord, my mentor at Regent said that I needed a “professor” position now that I was graduating. Well, I put two-and-two together, and I thought, “Okay, I have to focus on tenure. I have to go for that full-time position.” Strangely, I believe the Lord does desire I work full-time. I do believe it is His will for me to be “Assistant Professor.” However, will that be? Will it come to pass? I honestly do not know.

Furthermore,  I think to myself that since the nature of higher education is changing, and more professors are part-time because of Obamacare and other administrative choices, perhaps “tenure” is no longer an option for me. In fact, I know for certain that there are fewer “tenure” positions available, and that fewer opportunities for part-time staff to become full-time staff. My faculty professors have said as much. I have seen this progression at all my schools. I hear about it through other channels. The cold hard fact is that tenure track roles seem fleeting. Yet, despite that truth, I long for this title. I long to have one job. I long to be settled, to be made a professor, and to have a clear path to follow. Sigh.

Then, I consider His words: remain, stay put, be content. I wonder if He is saying to me that while it is His will for me to be a professor, it is His plan for me to teach adjunct. I get it. I get that many things are within the Lord’s will for our lives, but not everything goes as planned. There are many paths, many plans, many options that exist under His marvelous will. We often just become so fixed on one way that we miss obvious doors that lead to other good and stable pathways. I know I do this. I have done this many times in the past. I want things to be very black and white, when in truth, they are varied shades of gray.

Thus, while I desire full-time salaried work,  I know that I can make good money as I am now — as adjunct — at multiple schools. Yes, I have to hustle. I have to work hard. I have to teach at multiple schools. It is not easy, but then no job comes easy to me. I have to work. I like to work. I want to be busy, and the Lord knows that I need to be busy. This will be my life, if He asks me to remain. I will work hard. I will be faithful. I will be diligent and honor the Lord in all things. He is my Commander and Ruler, thus no matter the work, the outcome, the location — I am to do all things in order to bring Him praise and honor.

This means that while part of me feels so strongly about moving to VA and working for my school full-time, there is another part of me that feels committed to staying put. I cannot really put my finger on it, but I want to do both things. I want to work for my school full-time, but remain here to help my parents and provide ongoing support to my son. I feel like I am a person with one foot in each camp. I  don’t know whether I am to continue this way or if the Lord will simply close doors here and move me there or if He will open doors here so I can simply stay put. It is a conundrum of sorts.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7 NKJV)

The good news in all of this is that despite not really knowing what will be for my future life, I have no anxiety or worry. I simply would like to know. I would like to know if Grantham, for example, intends to give me work. I haven’t heard from them in over two months, so I am sitting here wondering what will be. I just sent a polite email to the Chair to ask the status of the possibility to work there, so we will see what happens. I am open to this job, should it come to me. But if the door closes, so be it. I am happy to have what I have at present. God has graciously provided enough work to me and I am not in want.

The truth is that I am really in this wonderfully warm and safe place. I seem to be well-cared for and my bread basket is full. Should the Lord continue to provide online teaching jobs for me, I will accept them. I will trust that He will provide enough time and help so that I can do the work as assigned. I will work as many jobs as needed to earn good income for myself and my family, but I am no longer focusing on retirement, per se. I prayed today and I committed my retirement needs to the Lord. He knows what I will need down the road, so I am letting that worry rest for now. I will focus on day in and day out needs, and praise be to God, I will simply trust Him to provide for my long term needs as He determines best. I will be faithful. I will save. I will invest, and I will be a sower of seed for His kingdom. I will sow what He gives to me. I will reap the reward He has for me. In all ways, I will let Him lead, guide and provide for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.
In Closing

As I sit here today, blogging, I realize that nothing will happen in my life without the Lord’s approval. He has a plan. It is a good plan. He is making all things beautiful in His time. I will rest in His abilities. He will do this work. He will open doors for me. He will close doors for me. He will protect me, shelter me, provide for me. I, in turn, will worship Him. I will seek Him completely. I will trust Him infinitely, and I will abide in Him. I will not worry. I will not be anxious, but as God’s word says, “In all things, I will give Him thanks.”

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thess. 5:18 NKJV).

May 28, 2017

Running the Race to Win!

It is race day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, it is May 28, the last Sunday of the month, and that means that in my home it is “race day.” Traditionally, the Indianapolis 500 is run on the last Sunday in May (except for rainouts, which occur on Monday), and the race and festivities start off our Memorial Day celebration. Race Day for my Dad is a “church sick day,” and as such, the family typically takes the day off from Sunday services to observe this “ahem” solemn event. Well, not really. My Dad usually stays home, but since Mom no longer drives, she stays home as well.

I grew up watching the race on “race day,” and it simply has become a family tradition. I don’t pay much attention to the racers anymore, but in the early years (80s), I was partial to certain well-known racers, most of whom have retired or sadly, passed away. My Dad, however, keeps up with the racers and their wins, but since the show takes place in Indiana (my Dad’s home state), I really think the whole race has more to do with his roots than with his love of Indy car racing. Sigh!

Nonetheless, we are home today. All of us — except for my son — who works on Sundays out at Central Christian Church. He is faithful, that boy of mine, and he gets up and out of bed by 5:30 so he can be on the road and make early morning rehearsal at 7 a.m. I am so proud of that boy, really proud of him. He has done so well managing his school and work schedule. Furthermore, he has handled leadership well, and as such, he has come to experience some of the challenges of managing personalities and people. He has grown as a man, and he has a good head on his shoulders. I know God has a great plan for His life, and that his life — as it is now — is just the beginning of the awesome “show” the Lord has in store for him.

Creating Goals for the Next Big Hurrah

With this said, I am sitting here at my desk, sipping my coffee and eating a cinnamon roll (another race day tradition). It is a good day to be home. I am well-rested, feeling well, and despite my not sleeping soundly at night, I am in good form. I do not feel tired at all, and my energy reserve seems to be running fairly high right now. I am in good spirits, and I feel really, really well. This isn’t to say that I don’t have any pain or discomfort, because in fact, I do. I have had lingering pain in my shoulder, and neck area, but overall, the pain is minimal. I have the normal cricks and cracks, but Lord willing, I am able to get up and do everything I need to do each day. Granted my day takes me from the bed to my desk chair, just a short walk away, and most of my day is spent online (teaching/grading), but I am able to sit all day and do my work. Praise be to God, I can do my work!

I was thinking this morning how blessed I am to have this life. I mean, I have everything I could possibly want, and while it is not perfect, it is a good life. I have a job I love to do, and I have my studies (my ongoing studies). I have purpose, focus, drive, ambition, and thanks to God, I have a plan that seems to be directed toward accomplishing His specific will for my life. I feel empowered, engaged, and I am enthusiastically interested in the details of my life. I feel confident that in a short time, I will have that mystery job. I feel confident that in a short time, the uncertainty about my home life will finally be resolved. More so, I feel confident that in a short time, all the unknowns at present will be made clear to me, and with that clarity, I will create a new 5-year plan. I will have goals, tasks, and achievements to managed, and with a new plan laid out, I will have a good way to go. I need a plan, I need to have goals, and I need to have directed studies — directed steps — in order to feel accomplished, purposed, and as though my life matters (if only to me).

You see, completing my PhD was the highest accomplishment that I could imagine, and it took me nearly 25 years to do it. It was what you call a long term goal. Now that I have graduated, I look to the future, and I need a new long term goal to focus my attention. I’ve thought about making my goal my career, and while that makes sense, in higher education there is only so much movement to be had, so once you are hired as full-time tenure track faculty, the requirement is on scholarship, leadership (committees and such) as well as bringing in research dollars to your university. I don’t plan on doing much, other than scholarship, but the fact is that since I teach online, there is not a lot of opportunity to move up (nor do I want to do so at this point in time). For me, therefore, the focus needs to be on something else, some other tangible goals that will help me stay busy, keep my mind working hard, and so forth.

School is my go-to for intellectual stimulation, but since I just graduated, I am not ready to step back onto that mouse wheel at this point in time. However, next year, perhaps I will feel different. Perhaps I will want to pursue another masters degree, I am not sure. I have talked about studying linguistics, and that seems the most likely path for me to pursue. It aligns well with my English background, and it would give me extra instruction in the area of second-language acquisition in the classroom. I could definitely benefit from studying applied linguistics. Another possibility is to continue my studies in literature. I have my masters in literature, but another PhD (Lord, help me!) would open up doors. I just don’t think I can invest time and money in that pursuit. I don’t think I have the stamina at this time or state of life. We will see what the Lord desires for me to do, so for now, I am content to rest. I am content to rest, relax, and let the Lord recharge my batteries, so to speak.

One of the things I have learned is that short term goals are good for must-needs. These are the type of goals that net “things” in life. So for example, getting a bachelors degree may net a career path. Getting a promotion at work may net a bigger pay check. Saving enough money over the course of a year may net a vacation or a new car. Short term goals — good for getting things — or for changing directions and setting new paths. Long term goals, on the other hand, are for future scenarios. Long term goals net an environmental shift. What I mean is a long term goal such as retirement planning may net a better quality of life during one’s golden years. Long term goals such as diet and fitness may net a better quality of life overall (less pain, sickness, or disease). Thus, short term goals are great for quick fixes or for taking small steps to maneuver into a better position for growth. Long term goals are the ones that effect the most change because they are realized many years down the road. They take careful planning, diligence and discipline, and when considered seriously and faithfully, can make big differences in one’s overall quality of life.

I completed my biggest short term goal of my life and that was to get my PhD. I had started on this path some 25 years ago, but life intervened, and I never was able to complete the goal. It sat on the back-burner, and when the time was right (praise be to God), I was able to complete the work and graduate. Now, I am positioned well in higher education. I am a professor, and I love my life and career. But, what do I do next? What is the next short and long term goal for my life?

Short Term Goals

I blog about my short term goals all the time, but suffice it to say, my short term goals are pretty realistic and rational.

  • Full-time faculty job at a university
  • New car for my son
  • Student loan debt forgiven/paid
  • Credit card debt zeroed out
  • House purchase
These goals are all about things, and while some of these will produce a better quality of life down the road, for the most part, they are simply a means to an end. For example, my son needs his own car, which means I will get my car back! Praise God! A full-time position for me will bring me benefits not tied to Obama/Trumpcare and a 401k to help build retirement security. Student loans and credit cards reduced or zeroed out simply means that I will have more income in my pocket, less payments to make, and generally an overall better managed financial life. Lastly, a home purchase is the best financial move possible. Paying rent is like tossing good money down the drain. It accounts for nothing, nets you nothing, and while it works for temporary housing (if you plan to move a lot), in the end, it is better to be paying toward real property than lining someone else’s pocket with your hard earned cash. Therefore, all of these goals are really good ones, and they will produce some long term benefit for me. Long term goals, conversely, will require more effort and will naturally take more time to complete.

Long Term Goals

My long term goals include things like building a financial investment portfolio, buying secondary property, managing my tax burden, and yes, retirement. In addition, they include developing a ministry, attending school again (down the road) for said ministry, and generally, developing my skills and abilities as an orator, media specialist, and of course, producing a legacy in scholarship. All of these “things” require time, lots of time, and in order to complete them, I have to setup short and mid range goals that will move me closer and closer to each goal post. I have to have a long range plan that factors in short, mid and long term goals, and then once my plan is set out, I can develop a strategy that will net me each accomplishment. 

Goal planning is probably one of the things I love to do most, and I am really good at it, to boot. I love to plan, to scheme, to imagine scenarios, and in this way, I love to dream about possibilities and future outcomes. I guess you could say that I enjoy the strategy involved in realizing a plan, seeing it come to pass, and finally achieving the end result. This is what fuels me, challenges me, and most of all, provides the “get up and out of bed” attitude I need each day to be productive. Without some plan of action, I will turn into a puddle of jello. I will become fat and lazy, and I will be bored beyond measure. I need goals, lots of them, and I need high hurdles, hills, and yes, mountains to climb just so I can feel like I am doing something, anything, that is worthwhile. Goals are my friends, and my to-do list, is my constant companion. I love the order, the synchronicity, and the power that I feel as I move through my checklist and accomplish everything I have set out to do each day.

God knows me well, and He knows that while I need to rest, I also need plenty of work to do. I am not content to do just one thing only. I am not content to work at one job — no — I need three jobs. I am not content to have one degree — no — I need multiple degrees. I am not doing the work to prove to others I am worthy (no, not any more), but I am doing the work to demonstrate my own abilities to my self, to show that I can discipline my life to such an extent that I can achieve whatever the Lord desires for me to achieve. This means that I live my life to score another point, to scale another mountain, to stop at nothing short of His best in every single area of my life. I long to hear Him say to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and in this way, I will know that I have run the race set before me to win. I will have done what He has asked me to do, and I will have finished the race of faith with every fiber of my body, my being. It is all my best for His best. It is all for His way, His work, and His will, and may the Lord be praised as a result of my hard work, diligence, and obedience in walking out my faith.
In Conclusion

As I blog today, I am thinking about all the possibilities that exist for me in my next 10-20 or even 30 years. I have so much to do, and I have many things I desire to accomplish. I am not content to retire yet, and I am not content to make retirement my end goal. Nope, not at all. In fact, I hope to keep on working right up to the day I die. I want to be found busy in the Lord’s vineyard when He returns or when He calls me home. I plan to be busy, really busy, and the Lord knows that I will not work in vain. It will all be for His name, His praise, and to bring my Father honor. I will work heartily unto the Lord all the days of my life so that when I do finally rest, it will be with the blessed rest of eternity as my reward.

May 26, 2017

Making Some Changes

It is a lovely day here in Phoenix. The sun is shining, but it is not quite as hot as it has been the previous couple of days. The high today is supposed to be right around 90. I will take these summer lows any day of the week. Pretty soon, our day time highs will sit consistently at 105-110, and well, then there will be no relief until October! God is good, however, and I am thanking Him for this blessed day and the good, good life, He has given to me. Selah!

Today is Friday, by the way, and I think I am losing my mind. Not really, of course, but I sure do have my days out of order. I was texting my friend today and I seriously thought it was Saturday and NOT Friday. I am sure he thought I was crazy! The summer days just roll on by, and one by one, they pass without much fanfare. This is the first summer, I should mention, where I actually have no school work to do. I have no work! I am teaching summer classes, and while I do have "real teacher" work to do, I really have a very low-key, low-stress summer ahead of me. God be praised, I have such a good, good summer ahead of me!
Steps Toward Success

It is a good day, as I mentioned, and I am feeling well today. I didn't sleep well last night, however. I tossed and turned, and then I woke up around 3:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep at all. I tried, and I think I eventually drifted off around 5:30. I then woke up/fell back asleep twice. Needless to say, I feel sort of groggy this morning, and what is more, I just realized that it is almost noon, and well, I am still sitting here in my PJ's, LOLL!

The good news, despite the poor nights rest, is that I am actually feeling well. I mean, I am FEELING really well. I feel rested, well-rested, and by that I mean, I feel as if I have decompressed from my spring semester and my hard and very long push toward finishing my degree. God be praised, I accomplished one of the biggest goals imagined -- a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communications. I graduated! I still cannot believe that I am finished with my advanced studies. I still cannot fathom that I graduated with such high grades and such a great big BANG! God is so good, so very good to me! I thank Him today simply because He is good, and His goodness flows down from His merciful hand and soaks His children with good, good things -- blessings, favor, and most of all -- GRACE! He is good, so very good to me!

Today, my life is rock solid. I mean, it is ROCK SOLID. I feel confident that everything that is meant to be is in place. I have been praying over my job situation, and I think I finally am settled on this one path. I have waffled. I have vacillated. I have done the "salsa" back and forth now, and I think I am finally ready to receive His promised reward, His provision of good and practical work for my career. I have thought about this path for a long while, I have prayed over it, and I have considered many different possibilities, but in all things, I seem to come back to this one desire. I really desire to work for Regent University full-time. I cannot get this thought out of my head. I have asked the Lord to remove the desire should it not be His will. I have asked Him to help me accept my status as adjunct and to be happy with it. I have relented, agreed to stay put, to remain here in Phoenix, but the desire just doesn't seem to wane. I go to bed thinking about it, and I wake up thinking about it. Not like "pressing" thinking, but just like a lingering thought that this might be His will.

Furthermore, I have tried to let the desire go, to push it away from me, to embrace my life here and now, and to be CONTENT in all things. I think I am content. I mean, I feel like I am content. I am at peace, at rest, and there is this wonderful calmness in my life. I don't feel stressed, anxious or worried. I just feel like this is His desire. I have this sweet and happy feeling whenever I consider it. So today, I decided to embrace that feeling, just to let it linger with me. I am not going to talk myself out of it nor am I going to fixate on it. I am not going to "try to get my own way" and make something happen; rather, I am just going to let the desire grow as the Lord chooses it to grow. If He keeps me as adjunct, I am happy. If He opens a door for me to go there for a full-time position, then I will be happy. Either way, I am choosing to let the Lord LEAD ME, GUIDE ME, and PROVIDE FOR ME.

I read this quote online today: "When God gives you a desire, He will always give you peace about it." I thought about these words, and I have to say that I feel this way today. I have this desire, and I also have peace about the desire. What is more, I have this sense that what is done is done -- meaning -- that whatever the Lord intends to do in my life, He has already completed it. Thus, if I am to be hired full-time at some point, that process, that plan is already in place. It feels like everything is as they say, "a done deal;" yet, I don't have any confirmation about it. I haven't received an offer or even any interest toward moving me from one position to another. But, like I said, I have this great sense of peace about the whole possibility.

More so, I felt the Lord prompt me to check out jobs on the website. I did this yesterday afternoon, and as I expected, I saw nothing but adjunct work. There are full-time positions, of course, but none in AZ. I didn't see any online teaching positions that were full-time either. In short, I believe that the job I am to have, to be offered, has already been given to me. It is just a matter of timing. I have asked the Lord if I should be looking for work, and He has said, "no." I have asked if I should be praying for work, and He has told me to wait. Therefore, I believe that in all truth, I am to be patient while He brings His desired end to pass. He has given me the desires of my heart, and I believe that He will continue to do so.

Moreover, I have asked Him to give me His desires -- to supplant my desires with those of His heart -- so that in all things my mind, my body, and my spirit will be conformed to His will for my life. I believe Psalm 37:4-5 as my life verse. I have taken this verse to heart, and I have believed that it is possible to receive the very desires of one's heart as a reward for making God their delight. I also believe Psalm 20:4, which says, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." In both of these verses, I have found truth. The key, of course, is to make the Lord your all, to surrender everything to Him -- including -- all your desires, dreams, wants, and yes, needs. If you make the Lord your everything -- really everything -- something wonderful happens to you. The Lord becomes an intimate companion, and through His indwelling Holy Spirit, not only do you experience transformation toward glory (an ongoing process -- changed from one instant to another -- to our final glory); but also, you experience blessings, favor, and sweet reward. I can bear testimony to this fact that once I began this faith walk, this deeper committed and most holy walk, I began to be transformed. I began to have my mind changed from where everything revolved around me to where everything revolved around Him. 

In addition, as my thoughts changed, so did my behavior. I began to change outwardly, and my motivation and aspirations shifted from me-centered to God-centered to other-centered. I have experienced renewal, healing, and an abrupt turn around to where everything I do now is focused on one thing, and that is to bring God glory. I desire to worship the Lord, and as the Puritan and reformed catechism says, "enjoy Him forever!" He has become my delight, and my desires have been shaped to represent His ideas, wants, and plans for me. 

In every area of my life, I have experienced transformation, and because of His goodness, I am the recipient of His favor and His grace. Please let it be known -- I have done nothing to warrant His goodness in my life. I have done nothing except surrender to His powerful will, and to His most blessed way. He has done everything, and my recent achievement of graduating with my PhD was simply a demonstration of His ability to take a poorly educated and struggling student (with learning disabilities) and create an amazing outcome. He did this for me, through me, and He allowed me to partner with Him as I experienced such great joy and success. Truly, my PhD was a walk in Psalm 20. The Lord gave me good success!
Learning to Let Go

As I have walked with the Lord these past few years, I have learned the hard lesson of letting things go. I think back to when I first started my PhD program, and frankly, I was a wobbly mess. I had just come through a difficult marital crisis. I was separated from my husband, but I was not divorced. I had been working in corporate business, and I had good success in each job I held. I wasn't very happy back then. In fact, I would say I was a frantic mess. My life was improving steadily, and I was earning more income, but I was so unsure of my future. I had an inkling of what the Lord wanted for my life, but mostly I was in this desperate state of learning to trust Him for my needs. I had never lived on my own before. I never had to be responsible for my own life. More so, I never had to be responsible for anyone's life, and back then, I was the sole practical provider for my son (then aged 20). I had all these desires, all these dreams, and I was living in this transitory way. I had my own place, praise be to God, but I was so frantic as to how I would do a PhD and work full-time. I had high hopes for completing my degree and becoming a professor, but at the time, I was working as an analyst, and I had no way of moving from one field into the teaching profession.

It didn't take long, however, before I was put into a position whereby I had to make a major life change decision. I had to decide whether to stay put at CVS Caremark or trust the Lord for His provision as an Instructional Assistant at GCU. The latter job was hourly and part-time, but it was an open doorway to teaching Adjunct, and well, it just landed in my lap one day in July of 2013. I was hired on the spot, and before I knew it, I was contracted to assist in three English classes. I had no clue that this was how the Lord intended to position me as faculty. I had no clue that this was how He would provide work to me -- while in school -- and in order for me to do well in my studies. Yet, this is what He did.

I was a mess, of course, and it took me several years before I learned to relax and let Him provide for me. I had to trust Him with everything -- every bill, every need, and every trip back to VA -- all on my meager adjunct pay. He did it, praise be to God, He made it possible for me. After three years of hard study, the Lord eventually opened enough contracts so that I could start to teach "full-time" in combination. I was able to make enough money in order to live more comfortably. I pushed work to the limits as I attempted to study and pass my exams, begin and later complete my dissertation. In all things, the Lord enabled me to complete every single part of my program with ease. Yes, with ease. I did it all without sinking below the water line. In truth, I dipped many times, but He was always there for me, always ready to lift my head up so I could breathe. Now, I am graduated. I am still an adjunct instructor, but I believe that my time as part-time teacher is ready to be replaced with a job offer for full-time professor work. Yes, I believe my time has come.

Learning how to let go of the process was difficult for me. Learning how to rest in the Lord was challenging, but in the end, I came to realize that the only way forward was to let go of everything I held onto and use both of my hands take hold of the Lord and His hand of blessing and favor. I had to do that "movie thing" whereby the person dangling and holding on to the roots has to let go and use both hands to grab onto their rescuer. This was metaphorically a picture of my life. I was holding onto the Lord with one hand while I still grasped at earthly roots with the other. I got to the place where the Lord said to me, "Carol, you have to trust me now. You have to let go and take hold of me with both hands." I listened, and well, I was rescued. I was lifted from my panicked and anxious state, and I was able to be lifted to this wonderful place of security.

Now, I am in that same place, safe and sound. But, as things would turn out, the Lord is asking me to hold onto Him with both hands as He moves me from where I am now to where He wants me to be tomorrow. I have let go of all earthly wants, needs, and desires, and I have embraced the Lord fully so as to be moved by Him according to His most blessed will and plan.

What This Means for Me Today

The reality is simply this -- I am ready now to go where He sends me. I am ready to believe Him, to trust Him, and to completely rely on Him for every single need. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, and as such, He is my PROVIDER. I no longer look to my own hand, my job, my paycheck or savings account. Rather, I look to the Lord for the provision of every single need in my life. He knows what I need today, and He knows what I will need tomorrow. If He delights in providing that full-time job for me in VA, then I know with confidence that He will make a way for me to get there. He will care for all my needs here and there, and He will make a path for me to follow. I will move with His help, His preparation, and His provision. I will be settled where He has provided, and my life will be good -- not because of His blessings (though they are excellent) -- but good because He is GOOD to me. Yes, my life will be good simply because God is good, and He only gives good things to His children. Selah!
In Closing

As I close this post today, I am reminded of the path I have been on and how hard it was to learn how to let go and let God lead me. I cherish those experiences because in each one, I grew tremendously. I grew up in my faith, and as a result, I learned that I could depend on Him for everything. Not once did I lack any portion. Not once did my bread bowl or kneading basket fall empty. He provided for me. He gave me everything I needed to be successful, and I have no doubt in my mind that He will continue to do this for me as long as I keep Him as my DELIGHT.

May 25, 2017

Thinking More and More

What a blessed day it is to be alive! God is so good, and His mercy and goodness are from everlasting to everlasting! This is the day the Lord has made — I will rejoice — and I will be glad in it!

It is a good day here in sunny, and yes, very warm Phoenix. The skies are clear again, and the air temperature is expected to remain in the high 90s. High 90s sounds so nice when compared to mid-100s! There are more highs coming this weekend and into the first part of next week, but praise God, I am enjoying this weather, and the fact that I don’t have to be anywhere specific.

In truth, I woke up this morning and I thanked the Lord for His provision of a job where I don’t have to get out of bed until mid-morning. Yes, I thanked Him for good practical work that allows me to show up to my job at 1 p.m. and where I can spend most days at home. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

As I think about His mercy toward me, the blessing that I receive day in and day out, I cannot help but lift my voice in praise to Him and to His good, good Name. You see, I know that I am blessed. I may not have material blessings, but I have spiritual blessings and physical and emotional blessings that help me to wake up each day with a smile on my face, a cheer in my heart, and happy thoughts that remind me that today, I am covered. Today, I am well-covered by His mercy and His grace. He is good to me, and for that reason alone, I give Him praise!
More Thoughts on Life in General

So I passed a good night. I slept pretty well despite the fact that I am having major hot flashes now during the overnight. I have dealt with hot flashes for the past couple of years, but they were more of a nuisance and not a life-interrupting event. I am having total meltdowns now, and they seem to come during the night. Of course, this interrupts my sleep, and I toss and turn all night long. I despise these things, but I know that the discomfort is only for a time. I have my fan turned up stronger than normal, and I am prepared to layer/un-layer as the flashes come and go.

More so, I am so glad that I am single. I mean, I don’t think I could stand sleeping next to another person. Furthermore, I roll around the entire bed as I try to fall back to sleep. My companion, Winston, has learned how to stay out of the fray, and he curls up right near the far corner of the bed. Ike chooses to sleep on the floor, under the bed, or out on the living room sofa. They know better than to get in the way of my feet. Still, I had to laugh this morning. I woke up to several stuffed beanies on the bed. The zebra was closest to me, so at some point, Winston, decided to bring me a toy for comfort and protection. I love that cat!

In all things, I know that my life is blessed. I am here today, alive and well, not ill (to the best of my knowledge), and I am living “the dream.” Yes, I am living the dream of a professor, the dream I had when I was first in school, and then later about to graduate from SJSU. I am living what I believed to be the “impossible dream,” and yet, here I am — a living, breathing, and functioning — teacher. I love my life! I LOVE MY LIFE.

As I think about my life, in general, I realize that I am the recipient of God’s grace and His favor. You  see, I have done nothing to warrant this life. I may have dreamed about it years ago. I may have desired it, wanted it, thought about it, but I did nothing to move myself toward achieving it for nearly 17 years. I believed it was a dead dream, never to come to pass, never to be realized — at least as they say — not in this life time. Yet, here I am, a teacher. God decided to bless me with the provision of a career as a teacher, and for that, I am so thankful. I mean, I get to do something so wonderful every single day of my life. I get to help students learn, and while I am not responsible for their learning, I get to assist them in the process of learning new material, synthesizing that material, and developing new skill. How cool is that? I get to do rewarding work every single day, and I get to partner with young people for a very short season and encourage, mentor, and train them to be successful in their own careers (in education and then afterward). I am blessed, so royally blessed.

I can think of no other job that I would want to do in place of this one. And, while this job is not perfect, and it isn’t, it suits me so well. I mean, it is like the best fitting gloves or shoes. I am comfortable, happy, and content to do this work. God has provided a job to me that I love. He has made it possible for me to teach at really good schools. What is more, He has blessed me with advanced education and opportunities so I could really enjoy the whole academic process, experience, and pathway. He has done this for me. I have done nothing but walk in obedience and trust Him for each and every outcome.

Now, I am at the threshold. I am ready to tackle new horizons, and that means potentially moving to another state to teach full-time. I don’t know where this might be or where there will be a job for me, but I do know that my God is in control. His hands, finger marks, are all over my life. He has me well-within His hand, and because it is so, I am able to do work that I love, consider moving to unknown places without fear, and generally, appreciate every opportunity that comes my way simply because I know that it is His gift, His blessing, and His provision that sits as Actor and Action behind all of it. I know He will provide, and if He chooses to keep me planted in Phoenix, which has been the case for the past 20 years, then He will make a way for me here. If, however, He chooses to move me to another state for work, then He will make a way for me to get from here to there, and to be settled in this new place in time for school to begin in the fall or early spring. He will do it. I have full-faith and confidence in the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah, my God and My LORD.

Some Specific Needs on My Mind Today

With this said, I do have some specific needs on my mind today. I have been tracking my expenses over the past six years (since 2011). I have kept a spreadsheet where I keep tabs for current and future expenses as well as track my credit card balances. This expense sheet has made it possible for me to keep an eye on my needs. Each January, I save the previous sheet and create a new one. I am able to go back and look at how the Lord has blessed me financially, how He has kept my bread basket and kneeding  bowl full (Deut. 28). He has ensured that I have never run out of flour and oil, and that my basic needs are met. In this way, I have come to rely on the Lord for all my bills — paying on time — managing the money, the extra, each month so I have money in savings and in my checking accounts. The interesting thing is that over the course of the past 6-7 years, my income has grown significantly from $600 per month (part-time retail work) to close to $5k per month (adjunct). More so, my savings account, which has benefited from student loan disbursements the past several years, has flexed up and down during summer. This is the first year where I will not have any loans, yet my savings account has not dwindled. I am earning money now through teaching at multiple schools, and this “extra” money has helped to establish me well. I am not flush, by any means, but I have a measure of comfort should any circumstance require a lump sum of money.

Still, despite the increase, I am not to where I should be as an adult, aged 54. My good friend from San Jose mentioned in an email that everyone we know is retired now. I thought about that fact, and while I see how that would be the goal of most people — retired by 55 or 60 — I simply cannot even think about wanting to retire anytime soon. I love what I am doing, and I plan to work until they kick me out (LOL!) I plan to work until I am 70, at least. If I can work until the mid-70s, all the better. It is not that I need the money (even though I do), rather it is that good practical work is an honor to the Lord. I want to work until the day I die, not because I have to do it, but because it is good for me to have busy work to do each day. I need a reason to get up every morning, and just lazing on a beach somewhere, while sounding nice, in my view, would get pretty boring after a while. No, I want to remain active. I want to teach until I can no longer do it, and then I want to be involved in ministry — daily ministry — so that my days are accorded to Him in honor and praise. This is my heart’s desire, and I believe it is His heart’s desire as well. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

In all of this ramble, the specific needs I have today are monetarily focused. I do have enough money to do the things the Lord asks of me. He has provided enough to me, and I give Him praise and thanks for His provision. But — I know I need more. For example, my son asked me the other day when I will be able to get him a car. Now granted, at 23, he should be thinking of getting his own car, and rightfully so. However, he and I have a plan, and together we are working towards this end goal. He doesn’t work full-time because of his school scholarship, and because of ministry, he is often called on at odd moments to travel, to perform, etc. This means that he would have to make a choice of honoring his scholarship or turning down blessed ministry experience in order to work fast-food service or in some other hourly wage job. I have said that I wanted him to follow the Lord’s will, and I believe that the Lord’s will includes both school and ministry work.

Thus, in order to buy a car, he needs my help. I consider this partnering with the Lord to provide for my son. The Lord provides the money to me, and I help my son be established. I am sharing the material blessing that has come to me with others. I want to be a blessing to others, and I have asked the Lord for permission to be such a person, to bless others with the blessing I receive from His merciful hand.

Therefore, we have been waiting for provision so we can go and purchase a newer car. I have believed that this provision would come in June, and as such, my son would be provided for with a good mode of transportation. I would also have my car back, praise be to God, and then we both would be set for travel needs.

Needs in Ranked in Order

My number one need right now is a car for my son. I am praying for the Lord to disburse funds to me so I can purchase this car. We have eyed several good used cars, 2014 or later models, that would serve his music/gear needs well. He needs a compact SUV, and unfortunately, these models are not cheap. Still, we could finance one, but my gut says that we will pay cash instead. My son doesn’t need a car payment while he is trying to finish school. He needs to focus on his senior recital and his application to ASU grad school for fall 2018. Yes, I know. I am coddling my son (so the naysayers say), but I believe that I am simply serving as a benefactor, helping my son be established in a ministry and work that is sanctioned by the Lord. It is something the Lord has asked me to do, so while other people might not agree, I do not have to work for their approval. I do, however, have to work unto the Lord, and that means obeying His commands to me. Enough said. It is His way. Selah!

My second need, outside of a car for my son, is travel mercy and funds for my summer trip to Indiana. I am taking my parents to Indiana for a last visit. My Dad’s sisters are up in years, and he wants to make all the necessary cemetery arrangements for his and my Mom’s burial. He is adamant about doing this, so I said I would take them to Indiana in June. This trip, stacked on top of my trip to VA in May has really racked up my credit cards. I need funds to clear this debt so I can freely travel with my parents and enjoy this time together without any real worry or fear.

My third need is longterm stability, and this is what I blog about most frequently. I just received word from Regent that I am set to teach 3 classes in the fall. This is one short of what I budgeted, but it is highly likely that I will be asked to take on one more during the fall as the semester draws near. Still, the thought of having a schedule that is not as expected causes me some concern. ASU has not assigned fall classes, so for now, I am going on the assumption that my teaching schedule will be as it was in the spring (1/1). I would prefer (2/2), but part of me thinks that with the way they teach, it would be really difficult to do that, to have two courses running simultaneously. Still, I am trusting the Lord for His answer to my prayer. My perfect solution or the solution I think would be perfect is one teaching job only. Of course, I don’t know how I will live on a single salary. I know the Lord has this worked out and it will be in my favor. Until I hear back, however, I will focus on what I do know, and that is that I am set to teach at three schools in the fall: GCU (on campus), Regent (online), and ASU (online). I have not heard from Grantham University, so I am thinking that that school is a no-go for me.

Last, my final need is for a resolution to my home/life situation. I am happy and somewhat content to remain where I am for the near term, but I really need a permanent option for my home. I love my parents, and I am very content to help them as they navigate their latter years. However, in our current home, I live, and I mean “live” in one room in a four-bedroom house. My Dad has an office for his ham radio equipment and computer. I have a bedroom with my office in one tiny corner. I am not saying that things are unequal, but in fact, they are. You see, I understand my Dad needs a place where he can do the one hobby left to him — ham radio. I also understand that my Mom’s whole day consists of her watching TV or reading. Thus, my life is about me living out of my room. I work in my room, sleep in my room, rest and relax — all in my one little 10x10 room. For someone who has just graduated with her PhD, this seems really unfair. In reality, fairness is not the big issue, rather it is space. I need more bookcases for my study materials. I need a real office with a big desk, and 3, if not 4, big book cases.

Furthermore, my son needs a proper music studio. He is not able to do the work he is being asked to do (audio engineering) in his bedroom. He is too noisy for my parents. He works late hours, often overnight, and well, his routine is disruptive to their normal life. They are gracious to him, of course, but the time has come for both of us to move on. I see it. I know it has been this way for a long, long while, but since I was in school full-time, needs-must dictated that we share our space in this way. It has benefitted my parents, for sure. They need help. They cannot live on their own anymore. What is more, and this is a more recent issue, is that my Dad is losing his ability to deal with all the “house issues.” He has always been on-top of the details, and he has been an excellent provider, but over the past four or so years, he has not been able to handle the pressure and the issues related to the house. This is why my parents downsized, and why we moved in together. Now, it has become more pronounced, and personally, I think I need to take over as head of household — but to do so — I need my space. I need to be able to be in control and not just sent to a back bedroom as a “house guest.” I have patiently waited, and please understand, I am not complaining or grumbling. I am simply calling it the way I see it, and that is to say that I am ready to be my own person, to live on my own, and to have a home that is well-suited to my needs, and not to the needs of others in my family (no matter how much I love them and want to care for them).

Consequently, I am ready to move out on my own, to buy my own place, and to begin to settle down as my own person. It is time, and I believe it is the Lord’s will for my life.
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I am reminded that my bread basket and my kneading bowl have never been empty since I began to place my faith, my trust, and my entire reliance upon the Lord. He has provided for me, and as Jehovah-Jireh, He continues to provide for me, day in and day out. I can rest in the knowledge that just as the LORD provided manna and quail in the wilderness to the Israelites, He will do likewise in my life this good day. I am believing that my needs have been met with sufficiency, and that all my listed needs are covered under His provision for my life. He will provide a car for my son (it is done); He will provide one stable job for me (it is done). He will provide for my parents long-term care, and He will provide a better home for my family (me and my son). He will open a door to a place whereby we can be settled, and in this way, my time in the wilderness will come to an end. My transition, my temporary housing and life, will finally be replaced with a permanent solution, a permanent home, and a fixed (settled) way of life. I will have enough income to live comfortably, modestly, and I will have a secure future where I can focus on His work and His will. I won’t have to worry about contracts being renewed. I will know I have a job until I retire or until the Lord says I am retired. I will work faithfully, continually, and I will do as much as I am able (as much as He says I can handle) so that I am always busy for the Lord, busy in His business, His work, and fulfilling His will for my life. I will do all things unto the Lord, working to please my Father in heaven, and knowing that my attitude, my everything is situated to bring Him praise, honor, and eventual glory. To God be the glory for the great things He has done! Amen, so be it, thy will be done.

May 24, 2017

Making Decisions

It is a beautiful Wednesday morning here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, but the air temperature is starting to rise. It is 95 already, and the expected high is forecast to reach 106. I am so not ready for these high temperatures -- not yet -- not today. Still, I am giving thanks to the Lord for His goodness toward me. I am giving praise to the Lord for His provision of air conditioning and a cool home. Lastly, I am giving Him honor this day simply because He has permitted me to live, to breathe, and to enjoy this blessed day. He is good to me, so very good to me.

I passed a fairly good night last night. I slept well, despite some tossing and turning, and in the end, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my day. I have a low-key day planned. Mostly, I have the grading for my class at ASU to complete. I am liking the fact that I am teaching only one class right now. It is taking me about any hour to grade assignments, interact with students, and provide good feedback. It is so nice to have free time built around my normally overly busy day.

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I asked the Lord to help me see His preference for my life. I wanted to know that I was pursuing His best for my future, and although I believe I am aligned with His will, I wanted help in making the decision whether to stay put or to go to where I have thought He might be leading me to go.
Clarification on Next Steps

I have been wrestling with the decision to go for a while now, but last evening, I had a nice conversation with my son regarding some things he wanted to pursue, and well, it just got me thinking that perhaps it is in my best interest and that of my son's to just stay put. I mean, I am here. I am employed. I have a good life so why rock the boat, so to speak? Why upset the apple cart?

I prayed for a long while before I finally fell asleep, and even when I woke up this morning, I had this strange feeling as if I had misunderstood something, or rather, as if I had taken a misstep. The Lord is gracious to me, and of course, I started to pray first thing for clarification. I need understanding and lots of it. I need to have a better handle on what I should be doing right now as well as how I should conform my thinking so that it aligns with His will completely. I don’t want to make a mistake — oh, no! I want to make sure that whatever decision I do make is 100% His choice for me.

Yesterday, I blogged about my sense that I was to move to VA. Last night, I started back on the “staying here” is best line of argument. After all, it is the most practical and logical course of action. But, this morning, I started to think about VA again, and well, it didn’t take long before I was off-track, wandering down that path, and thinking that I will never be clear on this matter at all.

While I was in the shower, I took some time to think about this situation, and to remember what I believe the Lord has said to me previously. It is always important to return your mind to what you last knew or believed to be true. In this case, I recalled everything I felt was for certain in my life. I recounted every detail of my belief regarding ministry assignments, practical work, and my current life as it is today. Once I recounted everything I knew to be true, I felt relief. It was like the clouds cleared, and my mind started to return to its normal status. I felt like the confusion melted away, and with that sense of relief, I began to once again think about VA. Weird as it may sound, I do think this might be His desire and not just my own want or need. In truth, I think He may be placing this idea in my mind to help me think about it, imagine it, and yes, even desire it.

So where does this leave me today? I would say it this way. I spent this morning looking at some property online right here in Phoenix. I love Zillow, and I always go there to just browse. I like to look at houses, see inside of them, and imagine what it might be like to live in each home. I just to do this when I was a child, especially on drives where I had to stare out the window. I would try to catch a glimpse of what was inside each room, past the curtains, and then to think what the house layout would be like. Later, as I got older, my Mom and I would often tour new home developments. We would go and look at how the rooms were decorated for ideas. As I matured, I started to collect magazines, and I would sit for hours and just look at the rooms (can you see that I might have had a career as an interior designer?) Now, with Pinterest and Zillow, I get the same thrill without having to physically leave my room. I can browse on my phone, laptop or computer. I find the whole process both relaxing and invigorating.

Back to the point at hand…I spent the morning looking at some homes I have bookmarked here in Phoenix. These are “sample” homes, which simply means they represent a type of home that I would love to own someday, Lord willing. I am content to live in any size or price home, but I look at homes that would meet my needs today as well as in the future. These homes represent what I like about living in Phoenix, and they run the gamut from small to large, modest to expensive. I think I like to bookmark them so that I can virtually imagine living in them. I try not to covet them or envy the owners because God’s word says we are not to covet. I simply try to imagine what would work for me down the road, as the Lord provides. I like to look at counters and cabinets, paint colors, window coverings, etc. to help me decide on preferences, style choices, and ultimately, what I could live with (put up with) should I need to move.

In all of this, as I spent time looking today, I came to the conclusion that Phoenix doesn’t hold any attraction to me other than my family being here. I loathe the heat (yes, I did say I wasn’t going to complain anymore), and the dust and dirt do get me down. Yet, I know this place has been a blessing to me, so I simply say, “Thank you, Lord, for my time spent in the desert, in this wilderness.” I am ready, though, to step into the promised land.
Making Plans and Getting Ready

It took me a while to figure this whole thing out, but I think I finally get what is happening to me. You see, the Lord has given me clear instruction as to my life — His will and the plans He has for my life. I have tried to explain this to people before but they often don’t get it or it doesn’t make sense to them. When I say that I teach for practical work, they naturally begin to say that it is my ministry since God provided this way to me, and since teaching is considered a spiritual gift, it would logically follow that God intends for me to do ministry as a teacher. I don’t disagree with this view, per se; but I end up correcting them because I believe that teaching is my career and not my main ministry. God called me to Regent to study communication — not to become an English teacher. I teach English, and yes, I love what I do, but I studied communication for a very specific reason, and that reason is my calling and mandate. I am to help the church communicate faith more effectively, but my day-to-day work is to help students learn to write essays and express themselves well academically. I know I may be parsing words, but I see both sides of my life as connected, but not as the same thing. Teaching is good practical work; communication is ministry, for the church and for the Kingdom.

With this said, what confuses me most is when I get the two facets of my life mixed up. For example, when I focus on teaching to the sole exclusion of everything else, I realize I have overstepped my boundaries and I need to retreat. Teaching is practical work for me, and while I do mentor, and yes, I do consider some of what I do a ministry to students (in my attitude, I mean), I teach to earn a living — to be paid a living wage. My work in communication, however, is ministry, and as such, this is something I cannot avoid doing. I am called to it, and I love it. I cannot wait to begin this work nor can I ever hope to engage in it without His help. I cannot start it, do it, even imagine it without the Lord’s help. I am waiting to begin this ministry, and in time, the Lord will provide everything needed for me to do it. I must attend to the practical now, and that is where all this indecision and hesitation has caused me such angst.

Today, though, I had a brief moment of clarity. I had a moment whereby I was able to see things really clearly. It wasn’t as if I heard a voice from heaven say, “Carol, you are to go here…;” rather, it would more like I stopped for a moment and thought about my choices, staying or going, and compared the two. One just seemed to make more sense to me — and the one that made more sense — ended up not being the one that was most practical or logical. Yes, it was just like when I had to make the choice to pursue full-time teaching, and as such, I had to physically stop looking for corporate jobs. I vacillated off and on for so long with making this decision. The practical choice was to get a job in corporate business — put all this teaching nonsense behind me — and start earning real money. I interviewed back in 2016, and as I have blogged about it, I knew the moment I went into the managers' office. I just knew I didn’t belong in an office environment any more. I walked out, ashamed for even wasting that man’s time, but I left with the confirmation that I was meant to be a professor. I just had my eyes opened through an unpleasant experience.

In the same way, I thought about my two choices today. How one choice is the practical one (staying in Phoenix) and one choice relies on faith alone. This choice requires that I teach at multiple schools just to make ends meet. But, it keeps me close to my son and my parents, and it is the easiest path to follow since I am already on it. The second path is a path of faith. It is like teaching in that there is no assurance of an easy outcome. I believe the Lord will provide for me, but there is nothing out there to confirm that at this time. I have my past experience, my past faith-filled and promise fulfilled experience, but in this way, I must trust the Lord to provide where there seems to be no way.

I guess the crossroads of my life are simply put: I must choose one way or the other. One way places all my faith and dependency on the Lord, and the other way, rests more with me and with others around me. Staying put in Phoenix seems less chancy, less insecure because my parents are with me, and with their help, I have been able to live/will continue to live comfortably. My son is here, and with his presence, I have comfort and joy and happiness. My life is good right now, so very good. But, to go means letting go of what I enjoy now, and it means trusting the Lord to provide everything — a job, a house, a new life. I am willing. I am agreeable.

In all of this discussion, I have been asked to consider why I am confused, why I don’t understand what will be. I have come to the conclusion that my confusion simply stems from my unwillingness to embrace the destiny the Lord has for me. I am afraid. I am fearful of not knowing what will be. I have said I will trust Him, but I am not acting very trusting right now. So much so, that I have allowed my enemy to confuse and confound me and make me feel unwell.

Thus, after careful consideration, I am choosing to go where the Lord is sending me. I don’t have any inkling that I will go to VA and work full-time, but I am open to it. I am simply saying that at this time, I am going to trust the Lord to provide everything to me. If He desires it, so be it. If He asks me to stay here in Phoenix, so be it. I am trusting the Lord to open the door for me, and when He says it is time to go, then I will go. He is good to me, so very good to me.
In Conclusion

I am choosing this day to believe that the plans the Lord has for my life are good. They are really, really good. More so, I am choosing that He will show me the job, ask me to apply, and then provide a smooth transition from my current work situation to the new one. Until that time, I will do what He asks me to do here. I will continue to teach my students. I will be faithful, hopeful, and agreeable. I will be content — in all things — and I will wait, eagerly and with excitement for the Lord to show me the way to go. He will lead me, guide me, and yes, provide for me. In all things, He will do as He has promised. He is faithful. He will do it. I am sure of it. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done.

May 23, 2017

More Thoughts on Moving

So it is 4:22 p.m. on a bright and very hot afternoon here in Phoenix. My day has passed rather slowly, but at the least, it was very restful. I spent most of the morning taking care of some issues around the house, and then later in the afternoon, I ventured out to Big Lots to find a cheap smartphone cover for my Apple iPhone 6s. I dropped my phone twice in VA, and I dinged up the bottom pretty badly. I had a clear cover on it, and a shatterproof layer on the screen, but the frame was chipped, and the screen cover has a big crack in it. I am sure I can get a new screen cover, but I thought it would be good to get one of those extra rubbery cases to prevent further damage. I will probably upgrade my phone come next June 2018, when I am eligible. Until then, I need to keep it safe since my life is organized on it. Sigh!

Waiting Patiently for His Sign

I am here at my desk now, and I am just beginning my daily blog post. Today has been a pretty good day for me, reflection wise I mean. I spent some time this morning in prayer and reading the Word (Deuteronomy 28, to be precise), and then I meditated on some of the things I read in this chapter of the Old Testament. I think one of the reasons I have been reflective today is simply because I am still trying to understand why I feel the way I do. I mean, I have this sense that I am doing the right thing, on the right track, so to speak, but I worry that I am following my own desires rather than the Lord’s. I was praying over this very thing today, and I feel pretty confident today that what I feel inside, the little inkling of desire is really His desire. I have asked the Lord to confirm this desire, to make it be real to me so that I will know for sure. I want to make sure that I am 100% seeking the Lord’s will for my life and not rushing out after anything that seems good, but could take me to a place the Lord doesn’t want me to go or to where I may not experience His best for my life. Of course, I know that anything I do, so long as I am seeking His will and permission, will be blessed. I simply know that the Lord will keep me from running down the wrong path. I believe He will, I mean.

As I ponder all of this today, I cannot help but believe that the Lord has a job waiting for me. I have felt confident that once I graduated from Regent with my PhD, I would be offered a full-time job. Not necessarily at Regent, I mean, but at another school. I have always focused on finishing my program and then pursuing a full-time job. Now, I am in this very spot. I have finished my program, and praise be to God, I am ready to take on full-time work. It is a scary thing to think about simply because I have also believed that no full-time jobs exist for me in AZ, and that I would have to move elsewhere to be hired. Of course, I have focused on being content, being happy to stay put, to remain right where I am, but in the back of my mind, I have known that I could not survive longterm on adjunct pay. I would/will need a full-time salary to make longterm goals and monthly ends meet.

This means that while I have said I am content to remain here in Phoenix, I am simply saying that I am OK if the Lord desires this for me. I accept it. I am willing to remain. However, the feeling of moving again has surfaced. I wondered if it was because I finished my program. I mean, for a while this spring, I simply had to stop thinking about it. I had to make up my mind to stay put so that I could finish my dissertation and close out the semester. Now, though, I am graduated. It is May 23, and my summer is approaching. I have always believed that summer 2017 would be my summer to move. I have always believed that 2017 would be my time to go.

So here I am. I am waiting patiently for the Lord to show me, provide for me, lead me to His promised land. In Deuteronomy 28, the children of Israel were on the threshold of entering the promised land of Canaan. Moses was instructing the people, telling them about both blessings and curses associated with God’s law. The people needed to understand that before they could enter the promised land and enjoy the prosperity there, they had to live a certain way. As I read through the words again, the blessings and the curses, I was reminded how I am standing on the threshold of my promised land as well. It is figurative, of course. I believe there is a “land of prosperity” waiting for me, and while it is not some physical piece of land, it is tied into my faith in the Lord. I am under the New Testament banner of grace, but God’s law is not done away with; rather, it stands fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. I am to keep His commands, and as Jesus clearly instructed, the summary of the law is reduced to loving God and loving others. Thus, I am at this place where I must choose whom I will serve, and I must go into my promised land, wherever that may be, with these commands forever pasted on my forehead, arms, and heart. Yes, the lintels of my heart hold the words of the Lord, the Law, and by Christ’s mercy, I am able to remember them, keep them, and abide in them.

I must wait, however. I am not sure how long. The children of Israel waited over 40 years in the desert before they were allowed to enter into the land God had promised to them. I have been waiting a long time too, not 40 years, but a lot of years. I long to enter into His rest, His promised rest, but for now, I must wait and endure. I must endeavor to live a wholly and holy devoted life, and I must rely on, adhere to, and abide in Christ. He alone is my Shepherd. He is my Rock and my Redeemer. He is my King, and I surrender all to Him, all to Him this good, good day.
In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I rest in the knowledge that I am right where the Lord wants me to be today. I don’t know where I am going for work in the fall, but I know that wherever it is, it will be His will and His provision. I will wait. I will patiently wait. I will look up. I will seek His way, and I will rest in His will.