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.

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