June 21, 2017

Resting and Rethinking

It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and hot, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air temperature is very hot. The high today is expected to hit near 116, which is better than yesterday’s 118-120 (or hotter) day. We are in a cool down pattern, and the gal on TV said to expect temps to drop to normal or 105-106 by the end of next week. Okay, so not really “cool” but 105 is better than 115. Just saying…

The hot weather has not been an issue for me today. I am feeling well, and I am sleeping better now. I still toss and turn, and I am waking up at least once per night with a hot flash, but in all, I am getting in a fair amount of regular sleep. I have been dreaming a lot again, and most of the dreams have been fragments that seem to be related to my work and life. Most, I mean. I’ve had some weird ones recently, thankfully though, I don’t remember the details, just that I had them.

Dreams and Dreaming

This morning is a good case in point. I must have dreamed four or five different little dreams during the night. I woke up around 7, got up to use the bathroom, and then went back to bed to read my iPhone. I fell asleep and woke up at 9. In that short little time, I must have had two or three more dreams. What gives? I mean, why am I dreaming so much all of a sudden? I am guessing it has to do with several factors. One, I am well-rested. I have decompressed from my very hard and long semester. Two, I am thinking more about work, full-time work, that is. Three, I am not settled so to speak because I don’t really know what will happen or when I will be offered full-time work.

Last night, I had three dreams that I can remember. The first one was about teaching. The second one was about time (day/night). The third one was about traveling or moving or driving (it had a car). You can see that the “themes” of these dreams all coincide with my current predicament — aka — I am a part-time instructor, in the middle of transition, and waiting for some confirmation on where to go, where to live, and work to do.

In the first dream, I was a teacher. I was at a school I didn’t recognize, and I was walking across campus and to the classroom with another teacher. I was wearing a black short sleeve t-neck top and a printed long skirt. It appeared to be spring or close to summer because I was not cold. I walked into the classroom building and up and down the halls. As I recall, I was conversing with this teacher, but I didn’t know her personally. We stopped into an office/lab type room, and the two men sitting in there handed me stickers (decals) and a handout to take with me. I then walked to the room where the students were waiting. There were about half-dozen students in this room, and there were two teachers in here as well. I handed out the decals and handouts to them, but I realized that I was not given enough for all the students coming into the room. I left to go back to the place where I picked them up, but I couldn’t find my way. The other teacher had disappeared on me. I walked back down the hallway, retracing my steps, but I was lost. I remember looking down at my shirt, and I noticed that there was a long string — a pull — in the front of it. I started to fix the pull when I found myself standing near an office. I walked into the office and spoke to the woman sitting at the desk. I asked for directions to the place where I needed to pick up materials. She refused to tell me. She said due to policy, she couldn’t tell me where this place was. I had to find it on my own, so to speak. I left this office, muttering about the fact that the policy seemed really silly to me. Finally, I found the place where I could get the supplies and then I headed back to the room where the students were waiting.

The second dream was really short. I was sitting in my bedroom in Hazel Crest, IL. I had just woken up, and I went to the window to look out. I remember that the window was open and there was a nice breeze coming through it. As I looked out and across the street, I saw my old neighbors homes. The weird part was that only half the street was illuminated. One half was lighted with the sunrise and the other half was still in darkness. I thought it was weird that I couldn’t look down the street to see the rest of the houses like I normally would do.

The third dream was really short again. I was in my car, my old Triumph. I was driving for a time, and then I was sitting and waiting. I remember feeling like I needed to go someplace, to get moving, but I couldn’t go — I was stuck. Cars were parked in front of me, and there was no way for me to move. I just had to sit there, ready to go, but with no forward movement possible. There was no clear path for me to follow to get me moving to my destination.

So all three dreams are tied to my current situation. I work part-time as a teacher, mostly teaching online. I live in the West, but I work in the East. I feel the call to move forward, but I am stuck, waiting for things (people, jobs, other issues) to move out of my way. I cannot go, even though I am ready, until some things ahead of me move — clear the way — so I can start moving forward.

It is interesting how I dream about my life in this way. I have blogged before about the way I dream, and how my dreams often are tied so closely to my life. Most of the time, I can see a parallel between a current event and my dream. Sometimes, I just dream weird snippets that make no sense, like the shorter dream I had after I fell back to sleep. In that dream, I was in San Jose. I was in my bedroom, trying to clean off my headboard and my computer. I had made a flyer that I was presenting to some people. I walked out of my bedroom to the living room and I saw my Mom outside hanging a wreath. It was raining, and then I walked to the garage door and stood in the garage looking out at the rain. I asked my Mom if DJ had left yet, and she said yes. Then I saw two stuffed toys in the yard. I mentioned that these stuffed toys were getting wet. All of a sudden, one of them got up and it was a little girl, soaking wet. I told her to go home.

Going Home

San Jose used to be my home. In all, I have lived in many places over the course of my short 54 years. I have been in Phoenix since 1996. Prior to that, I lived in San Jose for 18 years. Before SJ, I lived in IL for 8 years. Before IL, I lived in So. CA for 3 years. I was born in MD, lived there 3 years, and I spent a short 3 years in Rochester, NY. So counting Phoenix, I have lived in 6 places. In all these places, I have lived in Phoenix the longest — 21 years. San Jose was second with 18 years followed by IL for 8 years. I call San Jose home partly because I graduated high school there, and I was married and had my son during those years. I also call Hazel Crest home because I lived there during my middle childhood and early teen years. I have good friends from IL, and my heart in many ways is tied to IL more than to any other place. But despite the moves, I seem to remember two homes most fondly, my childhood home in IL and my teen home in CA. These are the homes that I return to when I am confused or frustrated. I go home. I go to my old, old homes, and here I seem to figure out what is going on in my life. Sigh!

I guess in all these dreams the fact remains that I am still in the waiting mode. I am waiting for forward movement, and like being stuck in my car, ready and willing to go, I cannot go until someone moves out of the way! Just today, I tried to call Regent again on my transcript delay. My colleagues have received their transcripts already, but mine has not posted. I was told on June 8th that it would post by the following day. Now, it is 12 days later and well, no post. No transcript. No confirmed degree. I am sure everything is fine, but I know that I cannot get that full-time job without it, and I can’t even get passed the employment screening at Grantham. I am stuck where I am until my degree posts. More so, I cannot move forward, whether that is to physically move or just move schools until I get a full-time job offer. So in many ways, I am where I am for a reason. The delay, whether natural (due to backup) or error is something I have to accept — patiently accept. I have to patiently wait for my confirmation. Until it comes, I must sit here and rest.

More so, right now, I am in this waiting place in other ways as well. My parents are doing fine, though it is touch and go. My folks struggled this past week while we were on vacation. It was difficult for them to travel, and while we made the best of it, it was a challenge to do so. Now that we are home, they seem to be doing better, more comfortable, more rested. This fact is key. I realize now that it is impossible to move anywhere so long as my folks are alive. I don’t mean to sound morbid here, but it is just a fact. They need to remain where they are now simply because it is the best thing for them physically, but especially for their care and their long term needs.

Thus, as I process my night, my dreams and my thoughts, I realize that I am where I am because the Lord has decided that it is best for me. I can say that I am here because of choices I have made in the past, and while that would be partly true, I have to also acknowledge that the Lord of Heaven could have moved me any time within the past 10 years, but He chose not to do so. I certainly could have been disobedient to Him, and in many ways, I was — but not because of willfulness — rather because of fear. Still, the Lord could have had His way. He could have made me go, forced me by His hand to go where He said to go, but instead He didn’t do that. In fact, He didn’t discipline me at all. He let me remain here, to stay here, and through it all, He blessed me in remaining. In many ways, this staying and blessing don’t make sense, from a biblical perspective. Normally, if the Lord says to “go,” and one does not go, they end up with some major life lesson (think of Jonah).

In my case, I can say that there were times when I did suffer the consequences of my actions, of my willful refusal; but not in this specific instance. I was thinking about this fact last week. I mean, the Lord has blessed me despite the fact that I didn’t go to Tennessee back in 2009. The Lord has blessed me despite the fact that I didn’t go to Northbrook, IL in 2012. The Lord has blessed me in remaining here in Phoenix, and my life has been steadily improving ever since. Yes, I think of the opportunities I might have had in both of those places. For example, I just read an article online that said that TN is one of the best places to live in the nation. More so, had I moved to IL, I probably would have been very, very happy living in North Chicagoland and working/teaching at the schools and colleges there. But, instead of going, physically going, I chose to remain here. I made a decision to remain here, and in doing so, I gave up some of what might have been in either of those places —opportunity, lifestyle, progress, for example. I stayed here for my son and my parents. I stayed here because I thought it was right and good to do so.

I think the reason why the Lord blessed me or has blessed me is that He gave me the choice to go or to stay. Over the past 10 or so years, the Lord has offered me options for moving, but I have consistently chosen to stay in Phoenix. He gave me the choice, one or the other, and I stayed put. I stayed here to be near family. I stayed here to support my son and not uproot his life after the divorce. I stayed here, despite the fact that I felt there would be no “permanent job” for teaching (I still do). I stayed here knowing full well that I would have to teach adjunct for longer than necessary because of the lack of teaching jobs at our three major schools. Yes, I chose to remain here for family, and I sacrificed full-time work because I wanted to take care of my parents and to be near my son.

The experience of going and staying has been difficult for me. I have had several opportunities to go to a new place, to move — physically — to a new place. I never did go anywhere, but the Lord offered me prosperity and protection should I go to a new land. I stayed home. I stayed where I am comfortable, and despite the odds of having prosperity in this particular place, I simply chose to stay.

Now the Lord is saying I can go if I want to go. I can leave Phoenix, move across the country, and live in any state I choose. I do not need a job. I can simply go. However, I am finding it difficult to imagine going. I have tried really hard to imagine living elsewhere. I simply cannot imagine living any other place. I guess the rub in all this is that I have wanted to go to a new place for the change of scenery. I have wanted to live some place new simply to change things up. I really didn’t need to go, and deep down, I really didn’t even want to go. I just liked the idea of going, the thought of going. I am stuck where I am because I simply like living here. I like Phoenix — despite the heat and the desert and the dirt. I like Phoenix because it has become home to me. I have lived here for longer than any other place, and with that longevity, I have come to see Phoenix as my hometown. I guess I am going native, as they say, and I am becoming a Phoenician after all.

To Go or Not to Go?

So the question is whether or not I should go. If the Lord calls me to go, I will certainly go. I have focused on going someplace new for a really long time. I mean, I have fixated on going, thinking about going, wishing, dreaming, and hoping to go someplace besides where I am right now. The Lord, however, hasn’t moved me one inch. No, not at all. He hasn’t opened a door to a job that would take me to Georgia, for example. He hasn’t provided a way for me to move across the state, let alone across the country. In short, for all my “going” and feeling of being called to go, the Lord really hasn’t made it possible for me to go. I have been given a lot of opportunity to THINK about going, but there hasn’t really being any movement toward that end. So what does this mean?

A friend of mine from Regent recently received a job promotion that will take her family from their home state of PA to FL. She was sharing her good news on Facebook, and I marveled at the Lord’s grace and provision in order for her to actually move to this new place. First of all, she received a great job offer at a school of her choosing. Second, her husband was able to transfer with his company to this new place. Third, their house sold in a few days. Fourth, they bought a house while on vacation (and right after the job interview). Fifth, her kids will be able to attend a good Christian school near their home. In short, the Lord provided for every single need. Provision. Protection. Prosperity. He made a way for her to go, and He blessed the “going” with everything needed.

In my case, the opposite is true. I have been blessed by staying put. I have been given open doors at schools where I can teach part-time. Sure, I want that full-time position — benefits mostly — but the title is awful nice too. I have no offer for full-time work, just part-time work. More so, I have a lovely home that I rent with my parents. I have transportation, money in the bank, and generally, a good quality of life. I am blessed right here where I live. I am experiencing provision, protection, and prosperity right here in Phoenix. I have everything I need to be content, happy, and satisfied right where I am at today.

Does this mean the Lord will not move me in the future? I am not sure. I don’t know what He might do down the road, but what I know today is that for whatever reason, I am where I am now because it is His delight for me to be here. I am not convicted. I am not suffering some disciplinary action. I am at rest. I am at peace. I have a good life. The Lord has blessed me, and while I don’t have everything I think I want or should have right now, I do have what I need. I have what I need, and for that fact, I am thankful. I am grateful. God be praised, I am filled with gratitude for the blessings and gifts the Lord has already given to me.

I guess what I am saying is this…I believe the Lord has a purpose in every action He makes. This means that my living in Phoenix is part of His will for my life. I am where I am because it pleases Him to keep me here. Second, while I think I need more (and realistically, I do), I also know that my Jehovah-Jireh is my provision. He is the One who sees me and my need. He knows me best, and He provides what I need to rest. He is good to me. He is so good to  me, and I do not deserve His goodness. Third, the Lord has a good plan for my future, and that plan may include movement of some sort or another. Perhaps I will purchase a home in Phoenix. Perhaps I will purchase a home in another state. Regardless, I will have what the Lord desires, and my willingness to accept His offer, to agree and obey is tied to my receipt of it. I must accept whatever the Lord offers to me — even if it doesn’t make a whole bunch of sense — because He knows what I need. I cannot reject His offer. I must not reject His offer. I must accept it, willingly and agreeably, with a good heart, a humble heart, and a mind that understands that no good gift is ever withheld from our heavenly Father.

My life is the way it is because God has chosen for it to be so. No complaining. No grumbling. It is what it is, and I accept it as such. I look up, I thank the Lord for His gracious provision, and I receive His blessing into my life because to do otherwise is an affront to His marvelous goodness and His grace.

In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I understand that there are times when in my foolishness and ignorance, I have rejected the very thing I desire most. I have rejected what the Lord offered to me as “good,” and in doing so, I arrogantly believed that what I wanted was better or best. Now, I sit here today and I wonder how often I have said to the Lord, “No thank you, I will wait for something better,” when what the Lord offered was already for my best. I know I have done it, many times, but now I look with sadness and think of how I regret my foolish behavior. In some ways, I have been like Esau who sold his birthright for a meal. The bible says that Esau begged for the blessing with tears and regret — but it was not to be — never to be again. I don’t want to let go of my blessing for the same foolish and arrogant attitude. I confess now, Lord, that I have behaved at times in this way, thinking that my way would be better, when in truth, your way is always BEST! I ask for forgiveness, and I ask humbly to receive whatever gift, blessing, and provision you desire for me now to come to pass. I need your help. I need you to resolve the transcript issue with Regent. I need you to make a way so I can move that little car of mine (figuratively) out of the parking lot and back onto the highway. I need you to provide a way for me to live here in Phoenix or to move to a new place, and I need you to do this for me because I cannot do anything on my own. I need you, Lord. I need you to make a way because right now I don’t see any way forward. I don’t see anything but a jammed up parking lot. I ask all of this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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