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” (Dictionary.com). 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)

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