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.

May 22, 2017

It is Time to Leave the Past Behind

It is a good Monday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. In fact, I think it is going to be rather hot today! Yes, we are in a warm up, and for us that means we are supposed to hit the mid-100s this week (106 or so). I am so not ready for 100s, but living in Phoenix, summer begins when we hit 100 and it stays with us until the very last day we reach triple digits. In this desert place, 90s are spring like (LOL!)

It is a good day despite the fact that I woke up several times in the night, and I had an awful stretch of pain around about 3:30 a.m. I am not sure why I am suffering this way, but lately (as in the past few years), I will roll over in bed and feel excruciating pain in my right hip and knee. I have traced the cause of the pain to the way I am sleeping. I tend to splay out like a frog, which is a really comfortable and restful position for me. My back relaxes and I fall into a deep sleep. However, when I sleep this way for a long period of time, like for several hours, I cannot roll out of it without causing extreme pain. I think what happens in that the tendons and ligaments in my knee move out of place so my knee cap slides off its normal place. This causes a lot of pain when I try to roll over.  My hip seems to just get stuck, like it has locked up. I moved despite the pain, but even now, several hours later, I feel like I have been through the war. Ugh!

My prayer today is that the achy feeling subsides, and that I start my exercise plan. I really had hoped to begin Atkins again and use my “Walk Away the Pounds” DVD. Now, though, I am thinking walking might not be the best thing for me to do just yet. Still, I am going to go low-carb to see if I can shake loose 5 pounds before my Indiana trip. I really want to fit into my capris and shorts, just in case the weather is steamy. If I can lose more in the next 3-weeks, so be it. But, just a small drop will make me feel better. I will put the walking on hold for a bit, and Lord willing, I will figure out a better way to sleep so I don’t relax into this unnatural position as often as I do. Sigh!

Some Thoughts on My Life

In other news, I made the decision last night to stop blogging. Yes, I really did. I made the decision for a number of reasons — none of which — have to do with lack of time! LOL! Rather, I was thinking that all I blog about is my life and my future, and since school is over (my school), my blog really doesn’t have any focus. I mean, I just go on, and on, and on. I thought perhaps I should set it aside and focus on other things for a while. But, then I thought that I have blogged almost daily for 13 years and if I stop now, I will lose a record of my life that someday I may want to review. You know, I am writing my life on this blog, for good or for bad, and while it is boring at times, the truth is that my life is kind of boring at times! My blog is my record of each day or every other day and it simply records my thoughts and feelings in one moment of time. Still, I feel as if my writing should have more purpose, more focus, more direction. Oh well…

So my thoughts of stopping to write ended this morning when I sat down at the computer. With my coffee in hand, my trusty sidekick, “Winston,” on my printer, I picked up the keyboard, and started to type. It is routine for me. This is MY LIFE and no matter what anyone else thinks, this is the life I have and this is the life I enjoy. I love my life as it is, and I love my home, my office/room, and my routine. Selah!

The past couple days have been difficult for me. Nothing bad has happened, but I have spent the days thinking, pondering, and really focusing on ideas about future. I had hoped that I would feel better once I had a plan in place, but in truth, I only ended up feeling worse. I mean, I like to think about the future, to plan, to scheme (in a good way). I enjoy the process of strategizing about what might happen if I go this way or that way. After a while, though, I run out of steam. I get tired of “thinking,” and I find the process to be “boring.” Just the other night, I was on Pinterest (my favorite social media channel), and I said to the Lord, “Lord, I am done with Pinterest!” I mean, how many country pins does a person need? I have over 1,000 now, and every time I check the new feed, I just see my same pins! UGH!

I started thinking about the plans I blogged about the other day, how it would be a blessing to be offered a full-time job at Regent. I have to admit that I would love to work at Regent full-time. It is true, absolutely true. And what is more, I would love, love, love to move to VA. Yes, it is so true. However, there is also a part of me that likes living here in Phoenix. I am comfortable here. I know the surroundings, and while I am not partial to the heat, I really do find my life quite pleasant. It is good, you know. My life is good.

Furthermore, I started to think about GCU and my teaching contracts for fall. I am not thrilled that I chose 3-sections of 106 again, but frankly, I wasn’t sure if I would graduate so it was best for me to pick classes where I had already taught the content. This thought aside, I realized the other day that some of my best memories from teaching happened at this school. I love GCU, despite its problems. I love the courses, the faculty, and the curriculum. I love the students. I really, really, really love this school. The thought of not teaching there has hit me hard. At first, I was so ready to just walk away from the school. I mean, they have overlooked me for full-time work on several occasions, so walking away should be easy. I was so glad when the semester ended, and I can remember saying, “Lord, I am ready to let GCU go” as I walked for the last time to my car. Now, though, I think to myself how much I will miss the school. I will miss seeing my former students. I will miss my MWF’s on campus. Ugh!

What is wrong with me? I am vacillating, swishing this way and that way, and I am not content about moving. Am I just panicking? Am I just feeling scared at the thought of picking up and moving on? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I mean, I am pretty calm right now. There is no panic building up inside of me.

No Regrets

This morning, I watch a video clip of my favorite Women's Ministry preacher/minister, Joyce Meyer. She was preaching on living with no regrets. As I watched her talk about living with the mistakes we have made or with criticism or condemnation we have suffered as a result of other people, she said something that made such good sense to me. She said that it is a choice whether or not to relive a particular experience. In her case, she said that there are times when the abuse from her childhood comes back in a thought or memory. She can choose to look it over or she can choose to dismiss it. She said, “Been there, done that. I am not going back to that place in time” or to that effect. I thought about her words for a while, and my heart leaped up. I said to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t want to live with regret. I don’t want to live in the past or the future. I want to live in the here in now.”

As I thought more about my life, I realized this morning — this very morning — that my life is incredibly good. Sure, I don’t have everything I could possibly want, but what I do have is really good. For example, I live in a really nice home. I share this home with my parents, and while we don’t always get along well, we do get along. In fact, we get along pretty well on most days, most occasions. I live with my son, whom I love and adore, and I get to experience the blessing of his life, his love of music, and his maturity. I work at a job I love — teaching. I teach at several schools, all of which I really, really like. I love Regent, my education from there as well as the fact that I get to teach for them. I love ASU and the Writers’ Studio. I love the curriculum, and I am loving the fact that I am getting to teach regularly for this program. I love GCU as I mentioned, and I love the opportunities I have there to teach whatever I want — Literature as well as Composition. In truth, I love my life in its totality. I love what I do, where I live (despite the heat), and I love the fact that my life is blessed, favored, and generally filled with peace. I love what God has done for me, through me, and to me. I love the person I have become, and through all the ups and downs, the heartaches and trials, I love what I have become. I am content, thoroughly content in my life, in my future, and in the fact that Jesus is my sufficiency. I love being dependent on Him, and I love surrendering my life daily to His will, His work, and His way. I love, love, love my life!

With that said, I still have some regrets, and I still have some sticky parts to contend with — mostly in my personality and in my approach to life. I still have room to grow, to develop, to become all that He wants me to be. I still have much work to do, and praise be to God, I still have lots of opportunity to become a better person, a more godly and honoring person, and a more wholly and holy devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I still have so much work to do, and I still have time to do it. Thanks be to God, I still have a lot of time to live this life, to enjoy this life, and to fully engage with the people the Lord brings to me. He is good to me. He has given me this life, and I intend to live it with #NoRegrets!
Moving On

As I close out this blog post, I think about what options really exist for me today. I have blogged before about my desire to stay and to go, and how I wondered if the feelings I have about Regent and going to VA were satisfied in my schooling and my part-time work AND not in my actual presence on campus. Let me explain…

Each time I visit Regent, I say the same thing to the Lord: “Lord, I love this school. Thank you for this school, and for the privilege to attend and work here.” Then I usually express an interest in living in VA and working on campus full-time. As I drive around the campus, the cities near by, I always marvel at the green and I usually say to the Lord, “I would like living here. I would love to move here.” Now, I don’t know why I say those things, but I do. I just express them in this way — the beauty, the lovely oceanside, and the red brick buildings. I just love this place, and perhaps it is because I know God is at Regent — His Spirit — I mean, helps me feel this way. There is a wonderful sense of peace when you visit the campus. I have felt it every time I walked on campus, and despite the past 6 visits — the challenges and the costs — I count my experience there as blessed.

So, could my blessed experience be clouding my judgment and my interpretation skill? I think perhaps. I love this school, everything about it, and yes, even the not-so-nice parts (organizational challenges and such). However, is teaching there in my best interest? Is it really His best for me? I don’t know, I don’t know. I mean, I would be content to teach anywhere, so long as I am being paid for the work I do. I know that it is best for me to teach online simply to avoid standing for long periods of time. However, I can teach FTF at GCU and I don’t have to stand all day. I can choose what to do, how to speak, how to engage — I just prefer to walk around, to stand, sit, and engage with students personally.

Perhaps what is at core is simply the fact that I desire to move because of my experience at Regent. Yet, in truth, I desire to move to other places just as much as I desire VA. I mean, I would go to Wisconsin if a job existed there for me. I would go to IL if I job opened there. I mean, I have said I would go anywhere there was good practical work, and that means I would stay put, right here in Phoenix, for the very same reason. So what is really going on? Why do I think and feel the way I do?

Joyce Meyer said something that was important to my entire mindset this morning. She said that we mustn’t continue to live by feelings. I appreciated her advice because in truth I live by feelings. I am an analyst by nature, and my preferred approach to any decision is to strategize and analyze outcomes prior to making any choice of action. I am logical, very logical, but I am moved emotionally by the Holy Spirit, and I intuit a lot through my spiritual and emotional connection. Yes, I use my emotions, my feelings to guide me, and perhaps there are times when I use or rely on them too much. Perhaps I should be more in command and let logic rule just to ensure I don’t choose a path that is emotionally soothing, but not logically practical?

Thus, as I think about moving on, and by that I mean, moving on in life and not necessarily moving to a new place to live, I must put more emphasis on logic and practical outcome rather than just emotional connection. I must think rationally about my future, and I must plan for my life with consideration as to what is best for me practically speaking. I must be pragmatic and practical, and not all wishy-washy or flighty.

Thinking Logically About My Life

I am very good at solving puzzles, especially logic puzzles. I tend to enjoy any process that requires logical thinking. The dictionary defines logically as “in a way that shows clear, sound reasoning” or “in a way that is expected or sensible under the circumstances” ( I am logical. I am a person who uses sound reasoning and clear and sensible processes to make decisions. In this way, I guess you could say that I engage in rational thinking regularly. I am not an emotionally charged, overly feeling person. I am structured, scheduled, and very regulated. I don’t do “whims.” My son would say that I am a rule-follower, a planner, and a longterm scheduler, and he would be right. He often says that whatever I decide, I do. I accomplish my tasks because of my ordered thinking process and my skill in following through or completing everything asked of me.

So why then do I struggle when it comes to processing plans for my future? Why then do I waffle when I should stand still, stand straight, and focus on the practical and pragmatic details right in front of me? I think the reason is that I still do not trust myself to make good choices. I still do not believe I am capable of making a sound decision. Of course, this is a lie of the devil. He wants me to waffle. He wants me to sway back and forth and be indecisive. Yet, I know that the Lord intends for me to accomplish certain things, to do certain good work. Thus, I must remember the Lord’s word to me so that I don’t fall prey to the enemy and his lies that constantly ask me to question what I believe the Lord has said to me. My enemy still uses the same exact ploy he used in the garden. He whispers, “Did God really say this to you…?

In truth, I know what the Lord has said to me. I know what His plans are for my life. I know what I am to do; I just don’t have all the facts and plans as revealed yet. I have some, but not all of the details. I have some knowledge, but not all of the big picture before me. What I do know is this:
  1. I am to graduate from Regent University with my PhD (completed)
  2. I am to continue to work as adjunct until the Lord provides a full-time position for me (still in process)
  3. I am to continue to mentor my son, to help him make good choices, and to encourage him to follow the Lord’s will for his life (in process)
  4. I am to continue to care for my parents through the end of their lives as I am able to do so (in process)
  5. I am to engage in ministry work now and in the future that is predicated on my education in Communication (not started yet)
Other than these five things, I have no other details to help plan my future. I am in the wait and see mode, still in the wait and see mode, while I complete the tasks listed. It is up to the Lord to provide a full-time job for me. It is up to the Lord to care for my parents (directly) and to provide ways for me to support their care. It is up to the Lord to open doors for my son, and while we are together, it is my responsibility to encourage, to mentor, and to support him as he matures. Ministry, while I desire it, has two aspects. One is temporary (as in working with children in Awana) and one is longterm (as in working in the BIG ministry the Lord has for me to do). I am waiting for fall to begin Awana, but as for the other, well, I know that ministry will not be until I retire at age 70. So between now and then, I have 15 years of work (practical work) as a teacher to enjoy.

Thus, whether I stay or go, these five things do not change. These are the things the Lord has laid on my heart, and for the past four years, these are the things I have pursued. I have done nothing else outside these five areas of responsibility. My life has been ordered around them, and as a result, I have worked my way through number 1 (no small feat) and graduated. Numbers 2-4 are currently in process. I am working multiple part-time jobs, and I am working toward a full-time position. Number 5 is longterm and is on hold. There is a timing issue with it so I simply keep it on my “to do” list, but I focus on the other four instead. Now that number 1 is completed, I want to focus on number 2. I feel that this is the next step on the ladder of my success, so I have to apply myself toward this end. But, this is where I get all hung up. I don’t know if I should focus my efforts in AZ or if I should look elsewhere. Sigh!

For today, I am content. I will focus on what is in front of me. I will thank the Lord for His provision of good work — the work I do have — and I will trust that He will provide more when He is ready to do so. Until that time, I will be a good worker. I will be faithful. I will endure. I will do the work assigned to me. I will thank Him, praise Him, and trust that He has my next steps ordered. I will simply do what I can, and without complaining, I will patiently wait for the Lord to reveal His blessed will to me. I will wait, Lord. I will wait on you, O Lord.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, 
and he will lift you up in honor ~James 4:10 (NLT)

May 21, 2017

Seeing Clearly Today

It is a blessed Sunday, and I am at home resting. My brother just left to drive to his home in CA, and the family (my parents) are settling back into their normal routine (sans church, as they chose not to go this morning since my brother was packing to leave). It is business as usual around here today. The washer and dryer are running, my Dad’s TV is on in his den, and well, life is perking along like it does on most days. I am sitting in my office on the computer, sipping my second cup of coffee, the cats are behind me on the bed, and the house noise provides a soothing “hum” to the morning.

In all, I am blessed. It is a good day to be alive, and it is an even better day to be living in this good, good place. God has blessed me abundantly, and with His good pleasure, I am able to rest and enjoy my everyday life! Selah!

Making Sense of Things

This past weekend was good. I enjoyed my brother’s short visit, and we had a very nice dinner out last evening to celebrate my Mom’s 84th birthday. She enjoyed herself, which was the goal, and praise be to God, we all survived the “festivities.” I was able to make some progress on my new class, and for the most part, I enjoyed a good two days of rest and relaxation. More so, the weather has been very cooperative, not too hot yet not cool, and for all intents and purposes, the weekend was perfectly suited to the events and the visit.

Now, I am getting ready for my week, and frankly, my schedule has nary a thing on it. I am not used to having so little work to do, but thanks be to God, I am praising Him for the blessed downtime. I am thanking Him today for giving me such a good, good rest.

Tomorrow begins the countdown to trip #2. In less than 3 weeks, I will be taking my parents to Indiana for a visit. This will be a special visit for my Dad since he figures it might be his last time back home. His sisters are getting up in age, and he is not able to travel like he once did. Mom and I plan to rest and to shop, probably, but Dad has appointments with the cemetery association and the headstone company. I know, kinda of morbid. Dad has specifics in mind and he wants to make sure that everything is paid for so that we (his children) do not have to worry about anything when the time comes for their burial. I appreciate his attention to this matter as most people do not even think about it, and they leave all those details to their loved ones. It is nice that we will not have to worry about the details, but still, it is kind of sad to make this type of trip. Sigh!

So with that said, I have three weeks to lose some weight — if that is what I want to do. I have had three weeks since May began, and so far, I have only gained back the couple pounds I lost while in VA. Still, I do want to lose the weight, so the plan is to really cut carbs for the next couple weeks, and hopefully, see a drop of about 6-8 pounds — water and some fat. I just want to fit into my summer clothes without any pinching so even a 5-lb drop would be welcome. God is good to me, and He knows what is possible, and while I desire to lose the weight, I haven’t been too committed to that plan of action. I have waffled, and I have eaten what pleased me rather than choosing to eat healthy, low-carb and low-calorie foods.

Overall, as I look forward I see several options on the horizon. First off, I see a move in my future. I see a new job — a full-time job — and possibly a move attached to it. Second, I see a change in my status as single living with parents to single living alone. Third, I see several possible outcomes, mostly relocating to a place where there is a job, and then finding a home that suits my needs. My son is here for the next year, and if he continues on at our local state university for his masters degree then he will remain here for two-three years after his graduation (so 2020-21). I need to go, to move, to be settled, and though I would rather stay here to be near my son (just in case), there is a part of me that realizes that he needs to grow up, and one of the best ways for that to happen is to have him move out on his own. Yes, I am thinking that he needs to move out and practice being an adult.

This means that for the next year, my life will no longer be in flux. I will need to accept whatever position the Lord brings to me, and if that position requires a move, I must do it. I must go. I’ve been hesitant to even think about going lately, what with my parents longterm care needs and such. But lately, I have been thinking more about going as a positive move and not a negative one. You see, is the glass half-full or empty? In my normal view, leaving my parents and my son is a definitely empty glass scenario. I am the loser. I lose their companionship, their presence, and with my parents aging concerns, the precious time I have to enjoy their lives. It is definitely negative, no matter how you look at it. But, knowing that God is a God of compassion and love, if I look at moving as a positive scenario, then I begin to see hope and a bright outcome. For example, leaving my son behind doesn’t mean he will suffer; rather, it means he will learn to fend for himself and become an adult, a young man. It is a good thing, really. Leaving my parents, should that be the case, simply means that the Lord has another way for their care to be managed. Perhaps they come with me or perhaps they choose some independent living situation that meets their physical needs better. I guess what I am trying to say is that the perspective can be bleak and hopeless or it can be bright and beautiful — filled to the brim with hope and a good outcome. It is all in how one chooses to look at life.

My desire is to move, no bones about it. I have wanted to move some place less hot, more green, and where there would be less draw on my finances, especially as I head toward retirement. I’ve considered a number of places in the Midwest and east, but I have always felt a pull toward the Mid-Atlantic region or the Southeast. For a long while, I believed Tennessee was my destination. Later, I focused on North Carolina. When I started at Regent, I looked at Virginia. I have even considered Maryland (for a time early on). I’ve always struggled with knowing the place, the location, but recently I started to look at the facts of my life through a different lens. You see, I have believed that the Lord would move me to a place where I could get a job. Hands down, I have always looked to the move tied into job relocation. It simply made sense to me. I would work for a company (back before school) and I would take a job in another state. Simple. Easy to understand. Now, though I consider the move to be tied to a college or university, and for the same simple and easy to understand reasons, I would be asked to move in order to fulfill the needs of the position.

What is funny is the fact that I already teach for a school, a university in the targeted location. I teach for Regent University, and as such, I work in VA. I live in Phoenix, but I work part-time via distance. I am already employed at a University located back east. I am already set in a job that I love, that gives me great opportunities to be blessed —day in and day out — and I am content in the work I do there. I am blessed, royally blessed.

I also work here in Phoenix. I work part-time at two schools now, ASU and GCU, and while neither blesses me like Regent does, I am content to do the work I do. I enjoy my courses, my schools, and my students — but neither place — holds a key to my heart. Neither place draws or calls to me. I am content to do the part-time work, but in truth, my heart longs to do other work, in another place, and for another purpose.

Perhaps all things considered, I am right where God wants me to be. Perhaps the desire I have to move, to live back east, has been satisfied in my part-time online work for my Virginia school. Perhaps this is what God has meant when He said I would work in the East. Perhaps this is what He meant all along.

If I think this way, I must ask then, “What work will I do to meet my needs?” Teaching part-time is not enough, not in any measure, enough to cover my needs in AZ. The cost of living alone (housing especially) warrants an income of nearly $100K. Yes, it is difficult to live here in the desert unless you really make a significant income. There are other places that are more affordable, but the jobs don’t always align with them. Thus, I need to be in the “perfect” place whereby I can buy a house for a modest amount, work and earn a decent income, and budget and plan for retirement. I have logistics to consider, and for now, I have pieces of the puzzle that are missing.

-A job that pays me a salary in the $60-80k range
-A second source of income to help build retirement savings
-A house that costs me less than $2k per month in rent/mortgage (utilities, insurance, etc.)
-Benefits and other necessities need to be covered as well

Until I have all the pieces available to me, I must wait patiently for the Lord to provide. He has met my needs, my daily needs, and I live no longer in want. However, I know that daily I need several things — big ticket items — to ensure I have my future well-set. I need to have these things ready, at hand, in order to move forward in the plans the Lord has for me.
Some Closing Thoughts

I think about my options, and for now, I see only one possibility and that is for Regent to offer me a full-time job. I would have to move there at some point, but I believe this would be the perfect solution to my needs. This is the job I want. This is the school I want to work for until I retire. This is the place I long to be — but — is it the place the Lord desires for me? For now, I believe that answer is yes. It is a part-time yes, and that means that I have part-time employment, pretty solid part-time employment, but I don’t have any glimmer for other possibilities. I have applied for full-time work, but that was such a long time ago, and frankly, I was not really qualified. Regent likes to hire PhDs from other schools, so it was such a long shot. Still, I applied in faith, trusted the Lord, and then let it be. I let it go. I let go of the desire, the hope, and the opportunity. I haven’t heard any news on that front, so I have simply decided it is not meant to be. But — then things changed. My school went through a major departmental change a couple weeks ago, and some loved faculty were let go. The department merged, and presto! Everything as I knew it changed in an instant. What does the future hold for me at Regent? As of now, I have no clue. I don’t know if I will have contracts come fall. I sure do hope so. I think so, but I have no assurance, no real assurance that I will be needed. Still, they need me, at least for summer. I had one contract already set, and just on Friday, I received an email asking me to teach another. That is two classes for summer, praise be to God. If this continues, and I hope it will, I will have solid potential for work come fall. Yet, like a broken record, it is simply not enough. I need Regent to look at me as professor material, offer me a job, and then I will go.

I guess in all of this rambling comes the fact that I don’t really know what my future holds. I have inklings and ideas, thoughts and desires, but I don’t have any real concrete facts at this point in time. I simply have no dependency in any of the schools, and with that in mind, I simply have no assurance that any of my schools will want me to continue on. Thus, my dependency, my utter and complete dependency is on the Lord. He has this planned. He knows who will give me a job. He knows the timing. I must wait. I must wait for His blessed provision, the promised deliverance, and the possibility of His grace to fall afresh on me this good, good day. He is good. He alone is good. God be praised, He is good, so very good to me! Amen, so be it, thy will be done.