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.

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