July 30, 2017

Keeping it Real

Blessed Sunday! It is a beautiful cloudy and gray Sunday here in Phoenix. The monsoon brought rain overnight so the air temperature is cooler than normal. It also feels quite sticky, so I can tell the moisture and humidity are still in the air. Nonetheless, it is lovely outside. I cannot say how much I enjoy the change of weather. I absolutely love variable clouds, skies, and temperatures.

I never really knew how much I would miss living in a moderate climate until I moved to Arizona. I came here in 1996 from Northern California, San Jose, to be precise. The weather in San Jose has been described as "ideal" by many because while not a four season climate, it is close to one. The winters are cold and wet (sometimes with mountain snows) and the summers are hot and dry. There is little need for air conditioning, and only the very few days each summer when the temps reach into the mid to upper 90s, do you wish you had some AC unit installed. Mostly, the breeze off the Pacific Ocean cools the inland parts of the valley, and well, the weather is simply gorgeous.

Some Feelings Today

I remember coming to Phoenix in November of 1996 and thinking that it would be similar to California, with cool days and nights. Instead, I arrived fully clothed in jeans and a sweater, only to find the day time high was still in the upper 80s. I soon ditched all my winter clothing for more moderate items, and well, that first winter was the first year I stopped wearing a winter coat.

As the days and months passed by, I also noticed a pattern emerge. The sky was always sunny. I mean, like sunny with no clouds at all. Moreover, I noticed that with the bright sunshine, there was stark contrasts between highs and lows in perception. I mean, the brightness of the sun was like sitting under a lamp all day long. There were no lows, no soft light, no shimmery mornings or evenings. There was plenty of sun, but very little color change.

The brightness of the day started to bother me within a couple weeks of moving here. I had only spent short visits to the Valley of the Sun, and on those visits, the thing I noticed most was the pretty flowers (in March and April). I never had visited during the heat of the summer. Phoenix does have a certain beauty especially around the resorts where profusions of flowers and the deep green of grass exist. But within most communities, there is less grass and more rock. After a time, you come to see that Phoenix truly is a desert place with small pockets of lushness. Mostly there is a lot of dirt, a lot of dirt.

I have lived in the Phoenix area for 21 years, and of this time, I have come to accept the dirt, the rocks, and the bleak and bright sunshine. But, I have not been content in it, not like most people I know who tell me that they love the sun or they adore the heat. I really do not love or adore either. No, I miss the cool temperatures in the fall, and the chilly winter mornings. I miss rain and snow. I miss the green trees, grass, and the lovely variety of colors that are found in more mild and temperate climates. I miss living in a four season climate, even with harsh winters. I know that sounds crazy, but I think about the millions of people who choose every day to remain in the blustery northeast or the hot and humid south. They live in climates that are harsh and difficult, sometimes without choice, but mostly because it is what they know and love. They simply are content to remain where they are and they make no bones about the more unpleasant parts of their climate. For example, I have a friend who lives in the sticky humidity of the South. He doesn’t like it per se, but it is home to him, and he doesn’t want to leave his home. Likewise, I have good friends who live in the upper Midwest and who will tell me that while they don’t like the hard winters, they love their neighbors, their city, and that they are really content in their lifestyle in this cold and harsh place.

As a child, I was raised in the Middle Atlantic region, Maryland to be precise. I lived in Maryland for three years before moving to New York State. I lived in Rochester, New York, for almost two years before moving to Southern California (Bakersfield), where I lived for three years. Then, I lived in the South suburbs of Chicago for almost eight years before finally living in Northern California for 18 years. In all, my childhood to adulthood, I spent 13 years in cold harsh climates and 21 years in moderate to hot climates. As an adult, I came to Phoenix in 1996, and well, it has been 21 years of living in the desert. Now, I am ready for a change. I want to go to the place of my childhood, back to the Midwest where my family is from originally. I have family in Indiana and Ohio and my recent week trip to Indiana confirmed to me that I self-identify as a midwesterner more than any other type of person. I have a midwestern personality, and I am very plain in my outward appearance. I like plain things, simple things, and I tend to have a very practical side to my nature. I guess you could say that I simply am old-fashioned, and that I really just want to go back to a place where I feel most at home.

The funny thing is that when I was in Indiana this past summer, I felt so comfortable there. I simply felt like I fit, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I fit. I had conversations with people on the street, with people in restaurants, and with clerks in the hotel. I am not extroverted, so to start up a friendly chat with a stranger isn’t something I would normally do. But, it naturally happens in the Midwest. You just chat with people. I know that other areas of the country are similar, but there is something about being from the Midwest that makes it okay to be yourself. Other areas of the country can be specific. Like when my brother tried to relocate to North Carolina and found that he was routinely called a “Yankee” despite the fact that he was born in Georgia. The cultural vein ran strong in that place and no matter how hard he tried to “fit in” he was considered an outsider. The same can be said of folks who live in New Jersey or New York. I have friends from both places and you either are from these cities or you aren’t. Perhaps I am generalizing or I am feeling wishful, I don’t know. But it just seemed like a good fit for me when I was back home in Indiana, and I really enjoyed my visit — so much so — that I am seriously considering moving there when the time comes to move. Well, to the upper midwestern area, I mean.

This morning as I blog and I look out my window, I see the cloudy skies. I hear the cicada’s buzz, and I think that this place, Phoenix, has been good to me. I don’t hate it here by a long shot, but I really do not want to spend the rest of my life here. I don’t want to retire to this place because this place is not the place of my choosing. It is a temporary (albeit long) stop over for me, that is all. I want to go live in another place before I die, and I want to enjoy the blessing of a variable climate.

It is interesting how I know several people who have recently moved in their mid-to-late 50s. One couple I know lived here in Phoenix for a long while. In fact, the gal is a native (hard to find those), but she loves the beaches of Southern California, and after much soul searching, she and her husband made the decision to move to San Diego. Rather than talk about it, they made a plan and moved. She said on Facebook recently that she is happier now than ever simply because she is living in a place she adores. Another friend recently moved to Colorado. She needed a break after a messy divorce so she moved to get a fresh perspective. One of my second cousins recently left Phoenix to move to Florida. She relocated near the beach as well and has found a good place for her remaining years. My other cousin recently left Georgia to move back to Maryland. Her children are in Maryland, and despite the cold winters, she chose to live closer to family.

I guess what I am saying is that some of what I am feeling is a desire to be connected to family and to community. I have been a traveler for a long time, thanks to my Dad’s work that took us to different parts of the country. Now, though, I have a choice in the matter. I don’t have to stay here in Phoenix if I don’t want to stay. I am not tied to this place. I am not glued down. I need work, and I need a way to move, but really work can be had in most places. The willingness to go is what is key. As I contemplate moving, I also understand that I am not 100% free to go where I please as the Lord does have a say in the matter. He is the One who has a job, as in ministry, for me to do, and that job is tied to a place of His choosing. Still, I am able to think and to dream about moving almost anywhere in the world — as the Lord leads, guides and provides for me.
In Conclusion

Thus, on this blessed Sunday, this last Sunday of the month of July, I wonder where I will be next July. Will I be here in Phoenix or will I be sitting in my home office in some distant city? My prayer is that wherever the Lord leads me, I will find a home there. I will make friends and I will surround myself with community (the church). I will find a home and a place where I will feel like I finally fit. The people will accept me. I won’t be an outsider. I will be home, finally home, and I will be able to rest my weary head and my tired feet. It will be good, I know it. I am not saying perfect because there is no perfect place, but I believe it will be good. It will be good because the Lord will have made a way for me, He will have blessed my going, and He will have established me firmly. He will make a way for me to go, and I know that once I get there, I will be at peace in the way, at peace in the establishment, and at peace and at rest in all the desire that has been pulling me homeward. He is good to me, so very good to me.

July 29, 2017

Peace Returns

Happy Saturday! It is a great day here in Phoenix. The skies are overcast, and the air temperature is moderate right now. It is only 9:45, but still, it is so nice outside that I have my window opened so some fresh air can circulate through my room. God is good! I am enjoying this blessed morning, sitting at my desk, drinking my coffee and nibbling on some toast with jelly. Yes, it is a good day to be alive, and a very good day to praise the Lord for His goodness and His mercy! Selah!

I am enjoying my morning despite the fact that I didn't sleep well last night. As odd as that seems, I feel GREAT even though I slept fitfully, and I woke with a tension headache. My headache has subsided (after some coffee and movement around the house), thankfully.  I feel good inside, like really good, and all I can think of is that I have my peace back. I feel rested and at peace. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I have this sense of "wellness" throughout my body, and my mind is stress-free. I mean, I feel no stress. I feel as if everything in my little corner of the world is going well, and as if I am in this wonderfully safe and calm place. God is so good to me! He is so good to me!

I am not sure what happened or how I got my "peace" back, but I can tell you that between now and the previous few days, something changed for me. I was feeling edgy last week, unsure, so tentative, and really concerned about my future life. I felt like something was off, and as I blogged yesterday, I really felt like I was giving way too much attention to my feelings, and as such, I was not thinking clearly. I prayed about it last night before bed, and I asked the Lord to help me recover my confidence. I asked for His help in everything, really, and I confessed that right now, I simply cannot handle the details of my life. Yes, I asked Him to take control of the details and to take responsibility and authority over them. The funny thing is that this morning, I read this blog post about how different Meyer-Briggs personality types deal with stress. One of the things that INTJ's stress over is the details. We often find ourselves frustrated when there are too many details to consider. Case in point -- my life right now! I am awash in details, and after trying my best to rationalize my way through them, I had to give up, give in, and give them over to the Lord for His management. I am sure that my surrender last night is part-and-parcel with my feeling of peace today. He is good like I always say, He is so very good to me! Selah!
Guided by Peace 

Many years ago, I was watching Joyce Meyer on TV. In one of her messages, she said something that has stuck with me. She said, "If you don't have peace about a decision, don't go through with it." She told a story about how she gave up a job because she didn't have peace. I thought, "You've got to be kidding. I could never do that -- humble myself and say I had made a mistake!" The interesting thing is that I actually did the very same thing the time I was hired to work for Centene Corporation (2013), and after 30 days of employment, I knew I had made a major mistake. I confessed, humbled myself, and walked away with my tail between my legs. It was the best decision I ever made, and as a result, I am where I am today because of it.

I learned that lesson well, and I remember Joyce's words about being guided by peace. Peace according to the dictionary means, "freedom from disturbance" or "quiet and tranquility." Peace is both a state of mind and a state of being. From a biblical perspective, peace means more than just a cessation of hostilities. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines peace in four ways (from the Hebrew word, Salom or Shalom).
  1. Wholeness of life or body (as in health)
  2. Right relationship or harmony between two parties or people (as expressed in covenant)
  3. Prosperity, success, or fulfillment
  4. Victory over one's enemies or absence of war
Peace comes from God alone. God is our Jehovah-Shalom, the source of our peace. Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection bring us into a peaceful relationship with God, our Father, and as such, we are joint-heirs along with the Prince of Peace. Peace, therefore, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and we are called to live in peace (as much as is possible) with the world, walk in peace, and bring peace to all those we meet (in blessing, in greeting). The New Testament greeting, "Peace be with you," was a way for the early Christ followers to shower the blessing of peace upon their families, neighbors, and strangers daily.

The Bible speaks of peace as a way of life, and as such, the Holy Spirit often speaks to us through the confirmation of peace. If we have peace about a particular decision or idea, then we can feel confident that we are moving in the right direction. If we lack peace, then it is a good indicator that we need to stop what we are doing, seek God's counsel, and wait until our peace returns. Truthfully, the best way to avoid making mistakes is to NOT rush ahead of peace. We are to wait for confirmation, for the feeling of peace to come to us and to rest in the knowledge that there will be no situation without peace where we will find any or all of the outcomes listed above.

For example, changing jobs can be stressful even on a good day. But, if there is no peace in the pathway, perhaps the job is not the best fit or will not be the environment over the long haul. I knew going into my interview with Centene that the job sounded "too good to be true." It just sounded like this perfect opportunity, this perfect place to work, and all I could see was $ signs showing me a really good, really lucrative job opportunity. However, what was lacking was peace. I had peace in the job I was leaving (working part-time as an IA at GCU). I didn't like the low pay, and I didn't like the fact that I was panicked and stressed over making ends meet, but the job was not the problem back then. The problem was that I didn't trust the Lord to provide for me. He had opened the door at GCU. He had walked me to the office, interviewed alongside me, and then placed the job into my hand (it was 100% a God-thing). I simply was overwhelmed by His provision at the time. The rub was, of course, that the job was hourly. The Lord had clearly communicated to me that in order for me to do well in my doctoral program, it would be impossible for me to work full-time. I knew it. I believed it was true. What is more is the fact that I resigned from my job at CVS for that very reason. I was overworked as an analyst. I knew I couldn't keep the pace up (as they expected), and with 3-years of doctoral courses ahead of me, it was a sure no-brainer that I needed a part-time job. I simply didn't know how to make ends meet, and that was where the Lord stepped in and showed me a path to follow. 

I lost my peace when I agreed to leave GCU and take the position as Centene. I showed up, did the work, but after 3 miserable weeks, I knew I was on the wrong path. I had followed the wrong path. I sat day after day, alone in my cubicle, no work to do, and with no one with which to talk or visit. I knew I had taken a bad turn, and in a moment of utter desolation, I cried out for a return to my peace. The Lord provided for me. I walked back to GCU, tail in hand, and I asked if I could come back after making such a horrible decision. They graciously said yes. More so, I was offered an adjunct teaching position the next semester, and well, as they say, the rest is history. 

The Holy Spirit uses peace as a guide to help us know right from wrong, good or bad. If we tune into the Holy Spirit, really seek His wisdom and guidance, He will help us navigate through the decisions and choices we face daily. I have learned this lesson well, so the past couple days when I was lacking peace, I knew what to do, and that was to humble myself before the Lord and ask for His peace to guide me back to where I needed to be.

He is Faithful

I know that this is an overused saying, "It is not rocket science," but honestly, I think it best sums up life and life decisions, in general. I think we make life and decisions in life more difficult some times simply because we are foolish and arrogant and we don't want to surrender or submit to the Lord's authority in our life. The Bible clearly tells us that Jehovah God is a good Father, and as all good Father's, He gives liberally and justly to His children. He doesn't want us to suffer needlessly, but He also understands that children are children, and as such, they need discipline (correction) and training (instruction) in order to grow to maturity. Furthermore, He knows that sometimes the best discipline and training comes from lessons learned through mistakes. This is why He often allows consequences to follow our actions, simply for us to learn what not to do next time we are presented with a similar situation. More so, He gives us written instruction (His word) as well as internal instruction (His Spirit), and in this way, we have multiple avenues available to us to help us navigate the course of our lives.

We fail when we don't follow His instructions, when we don't listen to His Holy Spirit, and when we choose to follow our own devices and ends. We suffer the consequences of our choices often because of our own insistence on having our way, rather than submitting and yielding to His way, which is always best for us.

He is faithful to provide a way for us. He is faithful to give us clear direction. And, when things get muddy, fuzzy, or simply murky, He gives us a faithful companion to guide us through the most difficult part of our walk. He never leaves us alone. He never is far from us.

I have learned over the course of time that the Lord desires an intimate relationship with us. By intimate, I mean close, and by close, I mean personal. The Lord wants to be intimately involved in the daily business of life. He wants to be part of our life so much so that He has made it possible for us to be in communion with Him constantly. As Christ followers, the Holy Spirit lives within us. Get that point. He (God, the Spirit), lives on the inside of us. In our hearts, in our minds, and within the walls of our body. He is within us. This is why the Word says Christ is "Emmanuel," which means "God with us." God has made communion, connection, and constant companionship possible through Jesus' reconciliatory act of the crucifixion. We are no longer alone. We are not striving on our own. We are now in a compassionate and conversational relationship with the God of the Universe.

Yet, how often do we neglect the Holy Spirit and refuse to listen to His wise advice? I regret to say that I do this often and that when I have neglected His advice, I have suffered greatly in the loss of vision, loss of insight, and loss of understanding about a situation or event. I have struggled to figure out things on my own simply because I have not considered the prompting of the Holy Spirit nor surrendered to His specific direction.

Lately, I have made a great improvement in this particular area. I have worked hard at listening to His voice. I have made Him a priority in my decisions, and I have considered His counsel as best. I have taken heed of what He has said to me, and I have really considered His voice as primary and solely authoritative over every single issue, concern, and worry. As a result, I have come to find peace in my life. I have come to experience a sense of wholeness (1), harmony (2), prosperity, success, and fulfillment (3), and a cessation of turmoil between relationships (4). In truth, I have experience peace in all its definitions, and as such, I have come to this place where I "feel" good about my life, my path, and the plan the Lord has for me. I have peace in this way now, and I feel right, good, and as if I am on track according to His purpose and His will.
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I realize that not everyone has peace inside their hearts, minds, or homes. Some Christ followers are suffering as a result of poor decisions, poor choices, and as such, they have no peace. Others have family members who are not believers, and as such, there is drama, tension or even violence in their homes. Still, others are suffering financially, facing poverty or loss of job, incomes, or homes. More are under the curse of ill-health, and even still more are facing uncertain futures. Not everyone who claims Christ experiences victory and many wonder how they can live a full and completely devoted life to a God who seems absent and far away. My heart breaks for those who are suffering today. I am fortunate, blessed, and highly favored -- not because of my own hand -- but simply because of His grace and mercy. I can say that victory is a function of peace, and if you are not walking in victory, clearly you are not fully realizing the price your Savior paid for you -- your life -- and your future. He is victorious. He has overcome. The power of sin and of death has been broken. The answer is in Him and Him alone. He will comfort you, counsel you, and compassionately care for you. Draw nearer to Him, and rest your weary self upon His breast. He cares for you. 

July 28, 2017

Making Sense of Things

It is Friday, and well, I am thankful that the week has come to an end. Yes, Friday's are always wonderful, and even though my weekend never looks any different than my weekday, I am still thankful for the opportunity to have Saturday and Sunday as key rest days. Resting for me is always key, I should add. Lately, I have been feeling less than stellar, and between my sinus/tension/migraine headache and my recent bout with food poisoning, let us just say that I really need some downtime where I don't have anything to do but REST! Unfortunately, that blessed prospect is not on my radar this week. I am in week 6 of my Regent courses, and my master teaching course at ASU wraps up on Sunday with a paper (of all things!) Plus, I have oodles of student essays and projects to grade, so really there will be no rest for the weary, as they say.

I am good, really, despite the fact that I am busy. I would say that right now, I am running on half-steam. I mean, after my hard push toward the finish line at Regent, I really collapsed this summer into a muddle of jello (or is that a puddle of jello?) I didn't see the whole decompression thing until it hit me sideways this past week or so. I was resting at night (mostly), but I would get up and simply keep on "going" all day long. Then earlier in the week (last week, I mean), I crashed. I just started to sleep in longer and longer, and frankly, I simply didn't feel well at all. It was like all the rush ran out of me, and I just sat down and couldn't move an inch forward. My whole body has reacted to this downtime, and for the first time in months, I am starting to feel more rested spiritually, I guess you could say. Physically, I need more time, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I am finally starting to feel like I am in the right place, and that I am moving at the right pace. Let me explain...

Plans and More Plans

A couple week's ago, I prayed earnestly for the Lord to provide some direction to me. I pretty much know where I am going (as in ministry, for example), and I have a good career in front of me (for the next 15-20 years). I am confused on whether to remain where I am, planted here in the desert of Phoenix or to pick up stakes (when I can) and move elsewhere. I've blogged about how my future is filled with such unknowns. If I was totally and completely content to remain in Phoenix, then this part of the puzzle would be settled. I mean, I am right where I am supposed to be. There would be no worry, concern or be fretting about next steps. I would stay in this house until I had to move, and by that mean, move to downsize or because my parents had to move to assisted living or another type of arrangement. Instead, there is this lingering doubt as to whether I am to stay here or not. First off, there is my desire to move some place moderate (a four-season climate). Secondly, there is the pull to move that I think is from the Lord. Third, there is some hesitancy regarding whether or not our homeowner will keep this house as a rental (my Dad feels the folks who own our house may be thinking of selling it). Last, there is the constant worry about my parents care because neither is able to really live well in this home (for now, we are okay, but I am not sure how long this will last). So, I have this feeling that the Lord is preparing me to move. I just don't know if it will be to a rental home or apartment in Phoenix or to purchase a home in another state.

As I prayed for clarification, my mind drifted back to conversations I had with the Lord many years ago. I have blogged about the fact that I have felt that He was asking me to move some 10 years ago, and how that it is 2017, my time in Phoenix is up. I never really explained why this is so, but suffice it to say, the Lord intended to move me east 10 years ago, but I would not go. Then He asked me to move in 2013, but I said no because my parents needed more care, they were downsizing, and well, I simply was afraid to go (both times, I said no because of fear). I made a deal with the Lord to remain in Phoenix through 2017, until I graduated from Regent, and now that this has happened, well, I believe He has said to me, "time is up, Carol. We need to go!" The problem is as I have shared -- I've got sticky situations all around me. My parents need some measure of care, my son is not finished with school, and I don't have a job that provides enough support so I can live on my own. Yet, the Lord seems to be saying to me, "Get ready. I am about to move you! With all this unknown, the feeling of being overwhelmed simply drenches me. I want to follow this time, and I believe I have conquered my fear. However, I still don't see a way clear. I still am unsure if what I hear is true, and if the Lord really does want to move me for ministry and not for a job.

So today, as I was sitting at my computer, I started to think about why I feel the way I do. Why am I so undone today? Why do I feel so unwell? I know part of it is that bout with food poisoning, and I know a part is my lingering tension/migraine headache. However, there is something else at work, some lingering doubt, some feeling of uncertainty, and I cannot get hold of it. I need to do so in order to feel at peace again, but for now, I simply feel unsure of myself. Will I be offered that full-time online position? Will the other school that has stalled employment finally get me approved to teach? Will I have to teach my ground campus classes again this semester? Or will I pack up my things this fall and move to this unknown place where the Lord intends to plant me for good? It is all too much for my pea-brain to handle. I need His grace. I need His comfort. I need His clarification and His peace. I need Him to tell me straight out -- "This is the place, Carol. Make yourself ready," so that I will feel good about what is to come. Yet, I am not sure if this will be or if the Lord will tell me ahead of time or just let things move me along like a rush of water.

I guess I am panicking over the latter. I mean, the Lord knows how much I "need to know," and how I don't handle change well (even if I think I am getting better at it). I really would love to have an Oracle where I can just get the answers! LOL! Thankfully, He wants to develop our trust, and the only way to do that is to keep things from us. Things, I mean, as in details! The Lord is good to us. He knows what we can and cannot handle, so I am resting in His will right now. I may not know the details of His plan, but I have confidence that He does have a plan for me. He has a way for me to go, and that way is a good one. He is good to me, so very good to me!

In Closing

As I close this short post today, I am reminded that not everything we feel is accurate. Sometimes we just feel because our emotions are waning or our situation is trying or we are being hard-pressed by our enemy. Sometimes we think something is true when it is not. And, sometimes we simply feel sad, alone, or depressed because we are choosing to be sad, alone or depressed! Today is a good reminder that I do control my feelings. I can give into them or I can stand ready to defeat them. I can accept how I feel without lingering around in my feelings. I can choose to be joyous, faithful, and trusting just as much as I can choose to be miserable or unhappy. Today, I choose to trust the Lord for the unknown outcome. I trust Him with the details, and I let go my need to know at this point in time. He will tell me what I need to know when the time is right, and until then, I will rest in the fact that He has me well-covered. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

July 26, 2017

Making Some Progress

It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and humid, Phoenix. The skies are mixed, some clouds and some sun. It is a good day, though, as the air temperature is warm, but not too hot. Yesterday was beautiful as far as temperature goes. I even sat outside on the porch for about 30 minutes just so I could enjoy the breeze and the cloudy mix of skies. It was so unlike Phoenix, and I almost felt like I was back in the midwest on a mid-summers day. It was such a nice change of pace for me. I was so longing for a change of scenery, and so sad that the monsoon seemed to bring rain to other parts of the valley, and not to where I live. And, then out of the blue, we were blessed with some solid rain this weekend, and well, the whole week has been really delightful. Sticky, hot, and well, just not Phoenix! God is good to me, so very good to me!

I am feeling good this morning, and not just because of the variable weather (though that has been helpful). I simply feel good. I feel like things are about to change, and I am finally ready to handle that change, whatever it may bring. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day in a fit, and by that I simply mean, I was sorted of "fitted up" or tied up with thoughts and feelings that I couldn't sort out (no matter how hard I tried to sort them, sigh!) Last night, I went to bed with a slight headache like I had this pressure band around my forehead. It was a tension headache, the kind of a headache that will not go away until the tension subsides. My head hurt. My eyes wouldn't focus, and I was nauseated whenever I sat up or leaned back on my bed. As a result of the pain and nausea, I decided to forgo watching anything on my Macbook, and instead, I laid down with the heating pad to decompress. It worked wonders to help me relax, and around 10 or so, I was able to drift off to sleep. I slept fairly soundly throughout the night, despite getting up twice to pee. I finally woke up at 8:30, and now I am sitting at my computer, drinking my coffee, and reading emails and doing my early morning routine. God is good to me! He has provided such a blessed routine, and I am blessed in the living of it!

In all, I am feeling well, like really well. I have had my ups and downs the past couple weeks, mostly with fears and confusion about the place where the Lord may or may not move me (eventually). I have also struggled with not knowing if I will have permanent full-time work or if I will have to work at multiple schools long term. I know that I cannot control the outcome of any of these things, but still, the worry has gotten the best of me, and I have been feeling less than at rest, at peace, and in control, as a result. However, the Lord has graciously provided for me. I am in good shape, set to finish my summer strong, and while I have had some "fits and starts" with my classes this summer, overall, I am in this good place, this safe place, and I am learning how to be a better instructor, a better teacher, and a better scholar because of all the opportunities He has provided to me. I am in a good place right now, and while I would really like to know if I have been selected for full-time work (oh, wouldn't that be sweet), I know that I must be patient and wait. I must continue to wait. God is good, He has me well covered, and I know that His plan for my life is perfectly suited to His will and His way. I will go and do everything I am meant to do, and I will do it with His grace, His abundant grace, and His marvelous and sufficient provision. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!
Change is on the Horizon

I have been blogging for some time now about how I believed, and I still do believe, that the Lord intends to move me away from Phoenix. I think over the past 10 years, I probably have written about moving, my sense of moving, or my desires and wishes to move, at least three dozen times. It seems that at least once each month, I bring up this thought, and I wonder whether, if, when, the Lord will do it -- will move me. I am ready to move. I have said I was willing and agreeable to move anywhere the Lord wanted me to go. But, I have been stuck in this place, in Phoenix, perpetually planted here, for such a long time that it seemed impossible to move me without some total disruption to my life.

I had hoped that I would move with a job offer. In fact, as I watch my colleagues receive offers for work, and I see them pack and move their families, pets, and belongings across the country, I wonder if the call for me to move will ever take place. Will I receive an offer to go soon?

My professor/mentor has said that my next step is to be offered a position as an Assistant Professor. He feels that I am not meant to work continuously as an adjunct. However, I am in this place where the only jobs that seem available to me are adjunct positions. There are few full-time tenure track roles out there, and even fewer for someone with my qualifications. None the less, I have full faith and confidence that the Lord has a path laid out for me, and that I am walking on that specific path now. I am not sure of His timing, but I am confident that He does have a full-time job for me.

Over the past couple weeks, I have talked myself into remaining as an adjunct. I mean, it is easier to soften the blow of rejection by being convinced that you are right where you should be, and that the job you wanted, interviewed for, and hoped for, really wasn't in your best interest. Of course, I don't know any such thing, but I admit that over the past couple weeks, I have tried to downplay my disappointment when and if the rejection notice comes to me. It is easier, you know, to simply accept the fact that I am to be overlooked, yet again, then to continue to hope in faith.

The Lord has not said I should take the former road, rather He has consistently told me to trust Him in this matter. Thus, I am trusting Him for His best outcome. I am trusting that He is able to open the door, slide me into the role, and to give me hiring favor. He is able to do this for me, and the matter is not if or when, but rather solely based on His determination as to what is best for me. I am not at the mercy of any one's will; instead, I am at the mercy of His will, His way, and His work. He alone is the One who opens and closes doors for me. He alone is the One who makes my way, my path, smooth.

So yesterday, I asked the Lord if the position I applied for is still open to me. He has said, "yes." This suggests that the door has not closed yet. Therefore, I must wait for the answer to come. Perhaps it will be this week. Perhaps I will be notified today or tomorrow. I don't know. What I do know is that the Lord knows my needs well. He has me well-covered, and as Jehovah-Jireh, He is my Provider. He sees me -- my needs -- and as such, He provides exactly what I need for each day of my life. He gives me sweet manna, and He opens the storehouses of heaven in order to rain down His provision upon and into my life. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

Change may come this week. It may come next week. Change is coming, I can feel it. I must be ready, prepared, and able to handle that change, so today I am hunkering down to do the business I have been assigned. I am hunkering down to focus on what needs attending, and I am bound and determine to get my house in order. My summer is drawing to a close. In less than 3 weeks, I will be back in Fall school mode, so I have to be prepared. I have to be ready. He will guide me, help me, and decide for me so that I can remain in this blessed state of rest. He will open the door for me, and He will lead me by the hand through it.

Some Specifics

This week, my Regent courses are winding down. It is week 6, and that means that my students have three more weeks to complete their assignments. This summer has been a challenge for me. Several of my students have suffered family issues that were severe enough to cause them to withdraw from school. Other students are simply facing struggles that are vying for their time, and interfering with their ability to do well in class. My heart stings for each of them, and I am praying over their situation, trusting the Lord to provide some measure of healing and wellness to their lives. My life is steady. It is on the upswing, so to speak. I am in this very good, very safe place, but I know so many people who are on the edge, and who are trying hard to hang on to the little they have or to people they love dearly.

God has me covered. I say this often, and by my pronouncement what I mean is that the Lord is the One who holds me tightly. He has me well-position and in a place where I cannot be lost, let go, or even let loose. No, I am firmly positioned, and as such, I am secure. I am secure in every area of my life, and that my friends, is a blessed place to be. It wasn't long ago when I was less than secure, especially financially, and where my life was so in flux that I worried from morning to night as to how I would make it through. Now, I have peace -- a peace that reigns over me -- and peace that guides me, covers me and keeps me safe. I have His blessed peace, and for that gift, I am so thankful. I am so thankful to have the peace that surpasses everything -- every stronghold, every struggle, every situation -- all through the One and Only, Jesus Christ. Jesus is my Prince of Peace, the author, and perfector of that peace, and it is in His Name that I declare peace in my life, in my work, and in my relationships. Peace -- His peace -- be with you all! Shalom!

Peace in my life.

I have peace in my life because my life no longer belongs to me. I have submitted, yielded, and relinquished control of my life -- the outcome -- the daily business to the Lord. He is my Head, and as my Head, He brings authority to me. He gives me comfort for certain, but He also makes it possible for me to work under His authority as He leads, guides, and provides for me. He helps me make wise decisions. He helps me consider options. He gives me clear direction and keen insight so that I can know the right way (the best way) to go. I no longer struggle as I try to figure out His will because I know it. I know His overarching will (that all men, women and children be saved), and I know His specific will for my life (that I mature, grow up, and become like Him). I also know the plan He has for me, the specific tasks He has assigned to me, and the gifts that I am expected to use. I have His plan laid out, and like a map, I have a visual snapshot of my entire life (past, present, and yes, even some future details). What is more, I have a path to follow, a path that has been walked by others, described in detail in His Word, and marked for me as a safe, secure, and solid path to follow. In this way, I know who I am, where I am going, and what I am to do along the way. I have peace because these three key areas of my life are no longer confused, foggy, or shrouded in mist. I have knowledge that helps me manage my days, practical and good knowledge, as well as spiritual Counsel that helps me with the "sticky parts" of life, relationship, unknowns, and the like. In this way, I am able to rest because internally I am comfortable, confident, and in command of my own self -- will, desires, and identity. I am no longer seeking the approval of men, and for that, I am thankful. I am seeking His approval for every decision, every course change, but I am no longer in need of anyone's (human, I mean) opinion. I have been set free from the need to please others, and while I do enjoy pleasing those I love, and doing favors and kind gestures for others, I don't need to do these things in order to feel good about myself. I am good because of His work and His life, and because He has made His presence known to me.

Peace in the pathway.

I also have peace in the way I am walking today. I mean, I have this sense of peace, of rightness, of correctness, and in spiritual terms, I simply have this sense that I am doing the right thing for the right reason. There is this sense of wellness that comes when you are doing the thing you are meant to do, and when you are able to say, "I am right where the Lord wants me to be today." I feel good about my past now, my past mistakes, missteps, and my past hardships. I have let the past and the painful memories go, and I am now able to walk on, to move forward in freedom knowing that I will always carry scars with me, but I am no longer tormented by the experience. I am free to live my life as a redeemed person, wholly devoted, and completely committed to doing the Lord's work for the rest of my days. What is amazing to me is the fact that as a Christ follower, I am in this wonderful place where I can help others work through their past issues. I am in this place where I have not only been healed, but I have been set free from the pain, the past, and in this way, I can devote myself to helping others find their way through as well. It is a good place to be, and I am thankful that the Lord has enabled me to finally let go of the deepest hurt, the one place where I sheltered my heart in order to keep my secret safe. I am no longer bound to live in the shadows, and I am able to be relentlessly honest and transparent to the point that I can now talk about my painful experience without getting upset, angry, or spiral down into depression. I can simply bear witness to the painful experience, the hurt, and the sorrow, and I can give testimony to the goodness of God, the healing power of Jesus, and the transformation work of the Holy Spirit as He has gently comforted me, corrected me, and counseled me so I can now be used as a tool for ministering to others. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

Peace in my vision.

Lastly, I have peace in the vision the Lord has given to me. I have a ministry goal, a focused plan that I believe the Lord intends for me to accomplish. I have been given this vision, and as such, I am committed to seeing it come to pass. I am willing to sacrifice everything in order for it to come to pass, and that means, sacrificing my time, my talents, and even my tenure, in order to do it. Yes, my goal is now 100% focused on completing His will for my life -- all of it -- and that means that I am no longer sidetracked by thoughts of career, ambition, or even preference. I know to whom I belong, and though I may never wear the moniker of Assistant Professor, I also know that I will wear His stamp of approval, His blessed "I approve," and I will hear His words of praise, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Yes, I am heavenly focused now rather than career minded, and while I don't mean to say that I am not concerned about my career, job, pay, benefits, and the like, what I am saying is that while all these things are needed, I am no longer focused on grasping for them. My Father in Heaven knows I need these things, and because He is my Provider, well, I don't have to be concerned about them. He will provide as I have the need. Selah! My vision simply shows me that down the road, in time, and over many days, months, and years, His will and His purpose for my life will achieve His result. I will do the thing He has called me to do. I will perform what He has purposed, designed, and destined me to do, and in that thought, I am excited. I am so excited to think that in time I will look back and say, "Lord, everything you showed me has come to pass! It was all true!"
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post, I am giving praise to God for His goodness, His complete provision, and the fact that as His child, I am so well-covered with His love, His mercy, and His grace. I have everything I need this good day, and I have a plan that is provided for -- long term -- and that simply gives me a wonderful all-encompassing feeling of serenity and peace. He is good! He is the Prince of Peace!

July 23, 2017

Clarification and Other News

Blessed Sunday! It is a wonderful day here in sunny and sticky, Phoenix. Yes, the monsoon was active last night, and as a result, we had a good downpour with some impressive thunder and lightning. Today, as a result of all that activity, the skies are clear, but the air temperature is really moist (aka, humid!) It is 97 degrees outside with 37% humidity. The dew point is sitting at 61 degrees so yes, it is humid outside. My room has that slightly sticky, less than cool, feeling as well. Despite the stickiness, I am really glad we seem to be having an active monsoon. At the least, this is providing a break from the monotony of sun and heat. Selah!

In other news, I slept really well last night. I mean, I slept really, really well. I woke up around 5 to use the bathroom and then crawled back in bed to sleep for a few more hours. I woke up again at 10:43, after I heard my Dad out in the storage shed by my window. I was in one of those "twilight zone" moments because I wasn't sure where I was or what the time was (early or late morning, I mean). My parents normally are out to church on Sunday mornings, and instead, today, my Dad was moving about outside. I thought perhaps they had skipped church. However, after I got myself up and out of my room, I realized that they had been to church, and they were just coming back home! LOL!

Needless to say, I was woozy some until I made my coffee and settled down to attend my own church service online. This morning, Tom Shrader, former founding pastor of Redemption Church in Phoenix was our guest speaker, and as is usual, he gave a wonderfully practical message on taming the tongue. The service was great, and I was blessed with wonderful (simple) worship and a focus on solid Bible teaching. Yes, God has blessed me with amazing teaching at my home church, Scottsdale Bible Church.

After a morning of worship and teaching, I had my breakfast (Atkins) of a scrambled egg and coffee. Okay, so not in that order. I had coffee first, egg after church. Still, my goal is to get back on track, fitness-wise, and one of the ways I am going to do that is to eat low-carb and start working out. My nephew is putting together a fitness plan for me. He is a personal trainer and he is creating a plan that will help me trim and tone here at home. I am excited to start working out again, and with his plan, I hope to lose about 20 pounds and slim down, all the while I build some muscle. I really want to be in better shape, feel better overall, and of course, fit back into my clothing. I believe this is the Lord's will, and that this season of my life (post-doc) is ripe for change. Selah!
Clarification of Plans

So, yesterday, while I was stressing yet again about possible plans and relocation, I asked the Lord for clarification on where I am to go, and whether the job I applied for in February at Regent was still in play. I haven't heard anything from Regent, so with His permission, I sent an email to the Chair and asked if they were still looking to fill that vacancy. I received an email today, and praise to God, the answer was no. I know! I am so happy that the answer was no. I mean, I would love to teach full-time at Regent. I have prayed about it, over it, and asked for it, but without any real knowledge of whether or not it would come to me. The Chair's word, "not this year," was music to my ears. I really just wanted to know if the opening was still available, and I had an inkling that the job had been put off due to some other changes in the school. In many ways, I had a hunch it was not to be. More so, in subsequent conversations with the Lord, I also had this sense that due to the changes in the department, the college was not going to be hiring this year. But, there was still this open door. The job was posted on line, and my application was sitting in limbo. I really wanted to know "for sure" so that I could cross it off my list and move on.

Now, I have that closed door. In fact, just last week, I asked the Lord for confirmation, and I asked Him if He would close all doors to jobs or locations that were not of His provision. I wanted there to be no confusion about where I am to go, the job I am to have, and the work I am to do. I wanted to count this job as either an open or closed door. Now, I feel I can check it off my list as "closed." I realize that the Lord could choose to keep me here in Phoenix for one more year, and then in 2018 He would move me to VA, but I have never sensed that this would be the plan of action. I have always felt that the job would come after I graduated and that I would have a full-time position in 2017. Now, it is mid-summer, and well, I still don't have a full-time position. I am waiting for one more open or closed door, and that is for the position I interviewed back at the beginning of the month. I haven't heard anything, but the hiring faculty leaders said they would make a decision by the end of July. I am in wait and see mode with that one, but I have vacillated on whether or not it was "the one" the Lord said would be. It has many of the hallmarks of His word to me: online teaching, full-time, faculty invitation to interview, etc. It just isn't the right title or doesn't come with room for leadership or growth at the school. It does have the potential for scholarship, however. Moreover, the Lord did ask me if I was willing to give up the title, "Assistant Professor," but I assumed He meant in order to keep working as an adjunct. The position I interviewed for is as "Instructor," so perhaps I am waiting for His provided position, nonetheless.

I guess I can assume the following:

  • The Lord may provide a full-time faculty position for me as Instructor
  • The Lord may provide me with multiple adjunct positions and not open a door for full-time work
I have a 50/50 chance that one of these scenarios will pan out. First, I am already set with three potential contracts at schools (one on campus, two online). Second, I have the potential for another school (online) to come to pass, but I am stalled in the hiring process. Third, I am content to remain as I am (adjunct), even if that means trusting the Lord for His complete provision of work from semester to semester. Last, should the job pan out, it would mean that I would have solid income and benefits, but I would be very, very busy. I am in this weird place, sort of betwixt and between, and for the interim, the only thing I can do is wait. I need to wait for the door to open with a letter of offer or to close with a "no thank you, we've selected someone else." God knows what is best, and I am ready to accept either alternative. I would like to know, though, in case I need to exit out of my contracts for campus courses. More than likely, even if I am hired full-time, I will be honorable to my teaching contracts through this fall. I am open to teaching on campus as well as online, trusting completely for the Lord to manage my schedule, my time, and my transportation needs. God is good to me. He knows what I can and cannot handle, and praise to His name, He is covering my needs with sufficiency. He has me so well-covered.

Some Things I Know Now

So with this closed door, I think I can safely say that the Lord doesn't intend to move me to VA. I love my school, and I love teaching at my school, and I would welcome a move to VA in a heart beat. However, throughout the past months, while I have felt a strong pull toward VA and Regent, in particular, I have never really been able to "imagine" myself living there. It is a great place to visit, and I will continue to visit my school whenever possible. But, I just haven't been able to see myself there. I can certainly envision it, but it was always like a dream more so than a reality. Plus, I never really had a sense of peace about it. I was like "willing and  agreeable" to moving there, but I never quite felt like "this is it." No, I never really had that feeling like the Lord was saying to me, "Carol, go here, and live and do my work in this place." It was a good place, a nice place, and I was open to moving there, but I never really considered it as though it was a God-thing. 

I think what has been so confusing to me over the past couple months is deciphering the difference between God's will and His plan of action. You see, many things are within His will, but not all of them are precise to the Lord's plan, the expressed plan He has for our life. So in my case, working at Regent clearly is part of His will for me -- teaching at a university -- being an Assistant Professor -- all are aspects of His will. I know it. I feel it. I believe it. But, the plans He has for me, well, they are more than just teaching. I know that the Lord desires that I do good practical work and that in that work, my career and profession are as a college instructor. However, the Lord is also moving me for ministry, and for ministry His calling on my life as well as His mandate are specific. I cannot confuse the two things. He has called me as a teacher, for sure. He has also called me as a minister, a communicator, and as a prophet. His mandate is for me to teach the church to communicate faith more effectively, and as such, He sent me to Regent University to be trained, prepared, and equipped for this specific work. My teaching experience and training came mostly from Mercy College, and while I did learn more about being an academic, a scholar, at Regent, I consider Mercy to be foundational to moving me from corporate work and into teaching English at the college level. Thus, my career is about teaching English. My ministry is about teaching communications to the Church of Christ. I teach in both venues, but the training and preparation were specific to each task.

Now that I am finished with my education, I am seeking a full-time career position as a teacher of English. I know that my ministry work will come vocationally and that it will not be a paid position (like as a Communications director at a church). My practical daily work is through teaching college courses in English, but my vocational work is through a ministry that will be developed by me outside of the every day practical work I do if that makes sense.

I think what has confused me the most is the fact that I live in Phoenix at the present, and while I do some work here (ASU and GCU), I also work in VA (Regent). I am in flux, between places, and while I know that there are no openings at this time at GCU, and now I know that the position I had applied for at Regent has closed, this leaves only one option for me, and that is to hope that the job the Lord has for me is the one I interviewed for at the first of the month. Otherwise, I am employed as a temporary contractor for another season, another year, at the least.

My heart really wants to rest, to know for sure that I will be an instructor at ASU, for example, and that I will remain here in Phoenix for the long term. This makes sense to me, but I have no peace about remaining here so I have to wonder about it. I learned this past week that there are a number of instructors at ASU who teach online, but who live in other states. I didn't think that was possible, but now I am wondering if it is possible and if this is the Lord's plan of action. If not, I get it. I do. I mean, there are benefits to being a self-employed contractor too. I can make a lot of money, and I can be free to come and go as the Lord leads. Yet, there is such unknown, such fear, associated with not having a permanent place to call home. I really don't like feeling so transient. I have been in transition for now on 7 years, and the thought of being this way, remaining this way for another year or more, just frustrates me (and it scares me). Still, I know my Lord. I know He wouldn't keep me here if there was another way. He wouldn't keep me here if He could trust me to let go and trust Him for every single need, either. Hmmm.

Okay, so maybe I just answered my own question. I mean, I have said to the Lord that I wanted to remain wholly dependent on Him, and it is very possible that He has granted my prayer. He has decided that the best way for me to remain 100% dependent is to not provide one full-time position, but rather to keep me just as I am. In my submitted and yielded position, I have to rely on Him for everything. I have no knowledge of what will be tomorrow, and I have to trust that He will bring me the contracts I need to make ends meet. He knows how much I can take, and how much I am able to rest in His care. Perhaps this is His plan. Perhaps this is what He has chosen for me.
Making Sense of it All

As I close out my blog post for the day, I cannot help but think that perhaps the Lord intends to not make things easy for me. I mean, He knows I don't need a trial to keep me invested in His plan. But, perhaps He wants me to stick close, and He knows that I do that best when I really don't have anything -- job or people -- to rely on except for Him. Perhaps He is just saying to me, "Carol, you've trusted me this far, so now just keep on trusting me to provide work for you to do." Yes, Lord. I will continue to trust you. I will rest in your abilities, and I will abide in your presence. I don't need a job for security when I have the One who is my ultimate Security. I have no lack, as I have said previously, and in that way, I also have no fear. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, the One who sees me, and He knows me so well, loves me so deeply, and cares about my every single need with sufficiency and provision. I know this is the truth. I don't have to panic or fear tomorrow because the One who holds my hand is the One who is leading me on. I can rest in Him alone, and I can find all my joy, my sufficiency, and my security in His Name alone. He is my King. He is my Lord. He is my Savior, and I rest in the knowledge of who He is, and the power that is His alone. Selah!

July 22, 2017

Saturday and More!

It is a beautiful day here in hot and sticky, Phoenix. The monsoon is here, though it hasn't been real active the past couple of days. The weather forecast for the next 7-10 days calls for a chance of storms, which simply means, the conditions are ripe that storms "could" develop late in the afternoons each day. In our monsoon season, which occurs every year from June 15-September 15, the chance for storms is a regular occurrence. Some seasons, we end up with scattered rain showers. Other seasons, we get pounded with micro bursts and torrential rains. It is a "give and take" most days, and we never quite know what fickle Mother Nature will throw at us each year. So far this year, we have had some good rain and a bit of dust. Perhaps as the month wears on and we turn into August, we will see more rain, thunder, and lightning. Who knows!

In all, the day is starting off nice. It is humid out, and I can tell that by my bedroom temperature. It is not quite as cool as it could be. Weatherbug says that it is currently 98 degrees with 34% humidity. The dew point is sitting at 64, which means the air has plenty of moisture to fire up storms later on today. My AC is cool, but I also have my ceiling fan running to keep the air circulating. I am comfortable while I sit at my desk and work on my classes.
Fall Preparation

My classes at Regent seem to be fine, but I can tell that the summer students are struggling more than my normal spring or fall students do. My online class in teaching strategies at ASU is going well, despite the fact that there are some 96 students (as of the last count) enrolled. I haven't really learned anything new, and the course design is a bit overwhelming -- too much information to absorb. Still, I am checking off a required course so I can remain active as an adjunct at this school.

Speaking of schools, I am still pondering what the Lord has in store for me come fall. As of today, I have four classes scheduled. I have my 3-contracts at GCU (ground), and my online class at Regent has just populated Blackboard (a good sign it is to go). This means that with ASU, I should end up with 5 classes for fall. Grantham may or may not come to pass, and I am okay with that fact. But, I feel confident that something is going to change for me soon; it is just that I don't really know if that will be the full-time instructor position I applied for and interviewed early this month or if I will be called (finally) by Regent for the full-time assistant professor position I applied for last February. I am in the dark, so to speak, as to what the Lord intends to do. I was pretty comfortable with the idea of teaching full-time online up until today. I have had a lingering feeling that perhaps the Lord would move and open the door for me at Regent, but thus far, there has been no real movement toward that end. However, I know Regent, and they tend to move slowly. So, the job is not off the table for sure. It is just on hold, I guess.

My prayer is to be offered the position of the Lord's choosing only. I am content to remain as I am -- adjunct for another semester if that is His will. He knows my needs, and He knows that I cannot move forward without some commitment to do so. I can certainly live off adjunct for a while, but with my student loans coming due, frankly, I need some settled plan of action. I am comfortable living here in AZ just as I am comfortable moving to VA, should that be His provision. I am also comfortable going anywhere in between here and there, should the Lord decide that there is good work for me to do in another state. However, right now, I feel that the two most viable places for me to live are here in Phoenix and there in VA Beach. I mean, I work for both schools now -- ASU and Regent -- so really, one needs to offer me a job full-time. Doesn't that make sense? I think it does, and while I have already interviewed for one, I just need the other to get moving so I can be considered for more secure employment.

The Lord knows my needs, and He knows the needs of these schools. He also knows my son's needs and those of my parents. Thus, I am content to remain or to go. I am content to live as He calls me to live. I am content to be promoted or to remain as I am. I am content in all things because, honestly, I am stuck in this place until He chooses to do something for me.

It was just a couple weeks ago when the Lord said to me that I had to make a decision. He was ready to move, and He wanted my permission to open a door. I know that sounds weird, but what I really mean is He wanted to know if I was okay with Him opening the door. The idea here is that He wasn't going to open a door for me -- IF -- I was unwilling to walk through it. I had to agree to walk through the door, accept what was offered, and then go where the door leads me. I couldn't back out. I couldn't change my mind. I had to go.

I remember thinking, "Oh, Lord, is this it?" Of course, I don't recall if anything happened after I said, "Yes, I would go." I don't recall any bells or whistles going off. I simply recall some silence, and the words, "Consider it" echoing in my head. I am not even sure if I have considered "it" yet or if I wanted to think about other things. I have been pretty well distracted the past couple weeks, so honestly, I really think I let it slip. I've prayed over the situation, asked the Lord if I "goofed" up or if I am right where He wants me to be. His response is that we are good, which means that I haven't done anything to really set the matter back, mess it up, or delay His will in any way. I am glad for that fact simply because I tend to get in His way.

Yesterday, I watched a clip of Bishop TD Jakes on Twitter. He said, "Sometimes you just gotta get out  of God's way!" I thought to myself, "Amen, sir, you are so right!" I know that there have been many times when I have stood in the way and the Lord has waited for me to move. I have wanted to move, but I was unable to do so. Sometimes it was due to fear. I was afraid of what He was asking me to do, so I panicked like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. Other times, it was more that I was confused, confounded, and as such, I stood there pondering the Lord's command to me. It was like I was dazed, and I couldn't respond to what He was asking me to do. And, then there have been times when I have defiantly stood in His way because I simply didn't want to do what He was asking me to do. I wanted my way, not His way, and as such, I stood there with a willful and stubborn attitude while He patiently waited for me to relent.

I feel that this last experience was more of His way hitting the wall against my way. I have said I will go anywhere He leads me to go, but more and more I find myself getting upset as I think about the options. It is not that I don't want to go to any of the places He has shown me, it is more so that I am tired of waiting, and I am tired of looking. I think I am just "ready to go," but I cannot go so I get frustrated at the stalemate. Am I to go, Lord? If so, when? If so, where?

So as I sit here today, and I think more about my fall plans, I find that I am running up against a mighty and immovable force. I cannot make Him do what I want, and He will not relent in this matter. It is His way or the highway, so to speak. I want His way, of course. But, I also want to know the details now, and I want everything to start moving forward now. Like NOW!

My heart and my head are filled with all sorts of thoughts, and there is this part of me that simply wants all the unknowns that I am facing to finally be settled. I want to be settled. I want to be established. I don't want to wait anymore. I want to go now.
His Timing is Perfect

I sit here today, typing on my blog, putting off what I know I need to do, and there is this lingering doubt brewing within me. I want to have all this "ICK" situated so I can know what the next 3-6 or 9 months of my life will look like. That is all. I am not asking for much, am I? WHINE!

I know the Lord's timing is spot-on, and with that knowledge, I also know that I am not going to get Him to make a move that He is not willing to do. First, He is not going to give me a job in a place where He doesn't want me to work. Done. Secondly, He is not going to move me to a place where He doesn't want me to live. Done. Third, He is not going to promote me from adjunct to professor until He has the position lined up, ready to go, and if this is why I am waiting, then I cannot do a darn thing about it. I have to wait. Done. Last, He has other people to contend with right now, not just me. He has my son and his school to think about. He has my parents and their care to consider. He has my life in His hand, and where He holds me, well, I am safe and sound. He has all these things under His control, authority, and with His assurance that I am good, He will provide a way soon. I know it. I believe it. I am sure of it. He is good to me, I know this is true. He loves me and cares for me, and I see His faithful demonstration every single day of my life. He has a good, no a GREAT plan for me, and I have watched that plan develop over the past 10 years. He is not going to short change me now. Nope, everything He does is perfect and complete. He will bring my life to its conclusion, and everything He desires for me to achieve, accomplish, and enjoy will come to pass.

So, silly little me. I am trying to best a GIANT, and the GIANT in front me happens to be the Lord. So not gonna win this one. I am so not going to win this battle. Therefore, it is in my best interest to just relent. I need to let go of this horn, and let the Lord have His way. Honestly, I thought I had let Him, but I guess I was being stubborn. I guess I was being childlike when He was asking me to trust Him with adult faith. He wants me to be mature in this matter, and that means I cannot have my 'cake and eat it too,' if that makes sense. I have to take what He is offering, and then I have to accept that this is His will, His way, and His provision. There is no other option on the table -- take it or leave it -- so I would be wise to take what He is offering to me this good, good day.

Going to Rest Now

I am going to stop contending with the Lord on this matter, and instead, I am going to rest. Yes, I am choosing rest now above all the other options, and I am going to trust Him to make my path clear, to open the door of His choosing, and to push me (literally) through the open door. I figure that I have two options with the "take it or leave it" ultimatum. I can accept it, taking it, I mean -- cheerfully; or, I can reject it -- with great sorrow. I am choosing the former so I must take His offer with gladness, cheerfulness, and an upbeat and happy attitude. Yes, I am choosing to be grateful for His provision. I am choosing to accept what He is offering to me with wholehearted happiness and joy as I receive His blessing and new opportunity.

What is this new opportunity? What is He asking me to accept, to receive with joy and a happy attitude?

I believe that the Lord has determined that I am to be promoted to assistant professor and not to an instructor role, no matter how convenient that role is to me. What I mean is that all along, from the time I started at Regent through to the end of my time there, I have believed that the Lord was positioning me as an Assistant Professor of English. I have worked as an adjunct building "skill and resume" and now that I have my Ph.D., I am ready to be promoted. I am ready to be put into a role where I will continue to develop leadership skill and ability, to where I can engage in academic pursuits outside of simply teaching.  I have long believed that this is the next step, and while I have interviewed for a non-tenure track position, honestly I just don't think this is what the Lord intends to provide to me. It is a good job, mind you. But the work load is heavy and the pay minimal. The requirement is a Masters degree and not a Ph.D. I need to be hired where my education matches the salary and where I can have a future for growth. This says to me that the only job for me is the one at Regent University. The Lord has not shown me any other jobs, no other applications have been submitted, and when I ask, He tells me we are good. We are fine. We are where He wants me to be.

Thus, without speaking out of turn, I feel that the Lord intends to plant me in this place. However, I cannot make this happen on my own, and who knows if this will be today, tomorrow or sometime in my future. I honestly do not know. I have to wait. I have to be patient. I have to let the Lord move me. I cannot run ahead of Him. I cannot make something happen out of thin air.

Therefore, today, I relent. I accept with cheerfulness, joy, and gladness the offer on the table. I accept what the Lord desires, and I rest in my efforts to make something come to pass that is not meant to come to pass. I simply rest now. I let go, and I will wait patiently for His open door.
In Closing

I am going to step out in faith today and let the Lord lead, guide, and provide for me. I am going to patiently wait for His best to come to pass, and in this way, I am going to trust that He will move me, provide for me, guide me right into the job of His choosing. He is good. He is so good. He is so very good to me!

July 21, 2017

Friday, Friday!

Happy Friday! It is another end to a good week here in the desert. It is a good day, hot and a bit humid, but overall, fairly quiet on the monsoon front. Hopefully, with the lull in the monsoon moisture, the heat and humidity will kick up some good afternoon storms. It has been such a nice change of pace to have rain, thunder and lightening each evening.

I am doing well today. I woke up around 9:30 after passing a fairly uneventful evening. I did have some leg pain (right), and I was surprised to see how twisted my hip and leg region are at this point in time. I have always had “structural issues,” as I like to call them. Most of my hip/leg pain is related to the fact that my spine is twisted and my hips are out of alignment (I am curved due to scoliosis, but my hips are turned toward the left and one leg is shorter than the other). I am not sure how I got to be this twisted up, but as I am aging, I am noticing more and more hip/leg pain that ever before. One doctor said it was due to trauma at birth. Another doctor said it was more than likely my car accident at age 17, and yet another said it may have been when I fell out of a window at age 3. I don’t know for sure anymore. I have had spine x-rays that show the severity of the twist and misalignment, and I was told at age 16 that I had pretty serious scoliosis, rated high enough to warrant surgery and a back brace. Unfortunately, the orthopedist also said that I was too old at that point to do anything corrective so I would have to “live with the twisting” and get used to it. Which, as they say, is exactly what I have done.

Last night, I had this throbbing pain down in my ankle. It is like this burning constant pain that sits right above my ankle joint on the outside of my shin. I wonder sometimes if the pain is associated with my bad ankle sprain from 2015. I get this pain pretty regularly now, and nothing I do seems to help it. However, I have found that some stretching exercises and mobility movement do help lessen the pain, so before bed, I spent a good 15-20 minutes stretching. However, about mid-night, I woke up to RLS and nothing I could do would shake it. Thankfully, I rolled over on my stomach, and I tried to rest all my muscles. It is interesting when I lay on my stomach because my curvature and structural issues are more pronounced. For example, when I lay this way, I cannot lay with my head facing right. I have to lay with my head facing left. I can lay the other way, but it is very uncomfortable and hard to do (my head doesn’t want to go that way). Secondly, my right leg cannot lay flat. I mean, I try to get it to lay flat, but I can tell that my hip on that side is not laying correctly, which causes my foot to splay out. My knee doesn’t lay as it should either, so all in all, I end up in this really wonky position.

I could feel my body relaxing, so I forced myself to remain this way for about 20 minutes. I worked with my foot to get it into a position where it would begin to relax. I was painfully aware that my body didn’t want to lay flat like it should, and with my head in this very awkward position, I also realized that the only way I could be comfortable was to lift my arms over my head. Weird, I know. However, as I did that, I realized that when I sleep on my back, I do the exact same thing. I put my arms up. Now, I can see that because of my structural issues, I am unable to sleep on my back or my front. I struggle with a side position for similar reasons, but through this little experiment, I came to understand that my body has gotten stuck and all my joints and ligaments and muscles are compensating in order to keep me moving forward.

The good news is that I realized that without some intervention (surgical), I am going to have to live with my aging body. I am going to have to learn better ways to live that will not cause continued pain for me. Losing the excess weight is key as is working in a good therapy plan with strength and conditioning exercises. I have to make the most of what I have been given, and that means that I have to start taking care of myself to ensure that when I am 80-90 years old, I can still walk and climb, and do daily work as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good to me, so very good to me!
Plans for the Day

Today, I have a couple major to-dos on my list. I am enrolled in a Master class on Effective Online Teaching Strategy through ASU. I have a little project to complete and some online interaction to add. I am also in the middle of week 5 of my two Regent courses, so I have grading and some other tasks to attend to today. I am loving my summer schedule. I have just enough work to keep me busy, but not too much work where I cannot enjoy my summer vacation/down-time.

I am still waiting to hear back on job possibilities. I have received no confirmation from Grantham to date, so I am letting this school go for now. If the Lord desires it to be so, it will be so. I am no longer going to worry about it. Apparently, they have some real management issues, which leads me to believe that perhaps it is best to simply let this school go. I have not hear back from Central Texas College, but I did check and my application materials are under review. Other than these positions, the only other one sitting out there is ASU. I have been approved to teach for fall (part-time), so if they want me to teach full-time, I will need to hear pretty soon. I guess I can add Regent to the mix as well, but since I applied back in February and I haven’t heard a peep back, I have to assume that they are either not looking anymore (have someone else in mind) or they decided not to fill the vacancy at this time. Either way, in all cases, I mean, I am in really good shape. I am trusting the Lord for His provision of good practical work. Wherever I am to teach, He will open doors for me. He will bring contracts to me, quality work, and He will give me His blessing and favor. I am no longer waiting for a job, instead, I am considering the work I have as “enough.”

My reasoning is this way: If the Lord wanted me to have a full-time job, then He would have provided one to me. I have applied for full-time work previously, but these jobs have either been filled with other candidates or they are still open after many months. More so, the only work the Lord has brought to me consistently has been adjunct. I believed that this was because my first focus or number one priority was Regent and my PhD. Now that I am graduated from school, I am ready to begin working full-time. I have relented in that matter simply because “technically” with all my contracts, I am actually working time and a half. I work more than full-time right now, but just not at one school.

Thus, if the Lord was ready for me to move into a full-time faculty position this summer, I believe it would have happened by now. At this point, it becomes difficult for me to exit out of my ground campus classes. However, I am trusting the Lord to provide for me. He has this timing thing down pat, and He knows exactly what He wants for me to do, and when He wants me to move from one job to another. I will rest. I will rest. I will rest.

More so, as I consider my work, life, and the balance between the two, I realize just how special, how favored, and how privileged I am right now. I mean, I have oodles of work — good work — and I have contracts in place for fall, praise the Lord! More so, I am in this really wonderful place where I have no lack. By lack, I mean, I have no real financial stress or strain. I have enough money to cover me in my checking account/savings account until my contracts kick in this fall. Furthermore, I have checking and savings set aside from my earnings at ASU that are “extra” comfort for me. They are not to be used at this time, so they are just there providing an extra measure of care. I love that the Lord has done this, provided this way to me. He has made sure that my kneading bowl and basket are not empty. I can honestly say that over the past seven years my income has never run out, and my accounts have never crossed into the “red zone.” He has seen to it that my financial situation has been well-established, and while I haven’t always been “flush” while in school, I have had a roof over my head, bills paid on time, and food at the ready. He has cared for me, and He continues to care for me every single day. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

One thing I know is this: My Lord has me well covered. He knows my needs, and He understands what I can and cannot do. When I say this, I mean, He knows my ends, where my ability and skill ends, and where I can no longer go forward without Him. He knows how far He can stretch me, and how much strain I can take before the pressure really gets to me. What is more is the fact that I can rest in this knowledge. I know He is not going to break me. You see, the Lord does allow His chosen ones to undergo pressure, and yes, sometimes that pressure leads to a breakdown. That breakdown has a purpose, and that purpose is to call attention to sin issues such as selfishness (dependency on self or others) or to pride. However, the Lord typically doesn’t keep His children in painful situations after the lesson has been learned. I mean, what point would there be to keep a child in constant turmoil and strife? No loving parent would do this, and God, the Father, is the most loving and caring parent we know. No, in my life, after I hit “rock bottom” many years ago, I have rarely felt the chastisement of the Lord in this way. I have been disciplined, mind you, but that has been different. Discipline is corrective, and I have learned boundaries and how far and wide I can walk within His will. But, in all this discipline and lesson learning, I have come to see His hand as merciful and kind, always loving, and always filled with grace.

Therefore, as I consider my life today, July 21, 2017, I have to believe that I am right where the Lord desires me to be. I am right in this place, and in this place, He has determined that everything is good. I may hope for release. I may long for a full-time job with more income and better benefits, but the Lord has said, “It is good,” and as such, I have come to agree with Him. It is good. I am good. He is good. Everything — His plan, His purpose, and His provision — is so GOOD.

In Closing

I stand at the ready to go where He sends me. I am ready to pick up my tent and move on. I am ready to take on new work, full-time or part-time work, and to go live, do, be wherever He has chosen for me to live, do, or be. He is good to me. He knows me well. He knows just how far He can pull me in order to bring to the place of His choosing. I have to wait for His blessed opening, and I have to listen for His command to go. Until I hear Him say, “This is it!” I will keep my eyes open, and I will rest, abide, lean, and conform to His will and His way. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah!

July 19, 2017

Waiting For Word

It is a good Wednesday in sunny and warm, Phoenix. We had another go-round of storms last night, which has caused our morning temps to be mild but sticky humid. Sigh! I guess you cannot have one without the other, right? I am enjoying my morning cup of coffee. It is just about 10 a.m., and I am sitting at my desk, sipping my coffee, and thanking the Lord for this blessed day. I feel good, despite the morning headache, and I am in this very good place, spiritually and mentally. I have a sense of purpose, value, and I feel confident that within the next week or so, I will have a much better vision of what to expect come fall.

In fact, I feel confident that whatever happens, whatever comes my way, the good of God’s plan will come to pass. I am resting in the final version of that plan, in the version that has yet to be revealed because I know that God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t shortchange us on His vision, and He doesn’t acquiesce to our demands. No, He takes His time, He completes His plan, and He does everything with one goal in mind, and that is to bring us to maturity in Christ Jesus. He has one objective — heaven — and the pursuit of shaping us, recreating us — reconciling us (as Pastor Cooper shared on Sunday) so we are fit to spend our eternity with Him as eternity was originally meant to be (perfect, good).

Thus, wanting His plan to come to pass sooner than He has designed it to do so suggests that we know best. I may desire a quicker response, a “right now” provision, but God knows that the wait will be worth it. In truth, as I have experienced this before, I know that the wait is always worth it. For example, I remember when I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to teach for a really long time, but through my own error in judgment and my misinterpretation of God’s will for my life, I ended up going in the wrong direction. I ended up very far from God’s design and plan. Later, when my life had sort of upended itself, I was in this new place where I could actually choose a career. I chose teaching because I thought it was what God originally planned for me to do. I wanted a career as a teacher, I longed for a career as a teacher, but I wasn’t able to just step into that role. In fact, the more I tried to do it, the more the doors slammed shut on me. I realized after a couple failed attempts that no one was going to give me a shot at teaching until I had the proper credential. I had to wait to complete a masters degree, and then I had to wait a while before I would be given an open door to even work as a teacher’s assistant. Eventually, I was hired to teach as adjunct, and after one successful semester, I was retained and given more opportunities. Now, I am a seasoned adjunct instructor, and I teach both campus and online classes. But, the rub was that it took time to prepare me (school), and then train me (teacher training/assistant), and then test me out (adjunct) before I could even be considered worthy of full-time practice.

As I wait for God’s provision, I marvel at His handiwork. I marvel at how gracious He has been to let me learn how to be a teacher — at my age — and to “do over” the plans He had for me originally. Had I listened to Him way back in the beginning, I would be celebrating my 25-30 year anniversary as a teacher. Yes, I would have been a longtime teacher — perhaps even thinking of retirement — now. But, I didn’t follow His leading well when I was younger. I tried, but I listened to other people who simply were not devoted followers of Christ, didn’t have my best interest at heart, or wanted to see me succeed. I am not blaming these folks because I made the decision, it was really more that the people I surrounded myself with back when I was in college were not the best “advisors” I could have had. More so, the college counselors I met with simply did not care that much for helping students. They were like, “Here. Take a paper on this degree.” They did not really want to invest time in the lives of the students they were supposed to be counseling and advising on life/career choices. Sigh!

The good news is that God is a God of the DO OVER. Yes, He is a God who loves to restore and reconcile. He loves to restore people to their former position (in Christ, as joint heirs, and in His family), and He loves to reconcile them to Himself, others, and even to the designs and plans He has for them. He is all about doing things right, and even when you blow it big time, God is able to restore, reconcile, and turn things around so they come out right. I am living testimony to His faithfulness, His goodness, and His desire to make good things happen for the right reasons. You see, I believe so dearly that God allowed my wandering heart to percolate deep in the dark desert until such a time as I was ready to receive His goodness. I wandered away from Him, not the other way around, and while He never let go of me, He did let me be stranded for a time in a pretty awful wilderness experience. But, when the time was right, and I had surrendered to His will, He rescued me. He reached down and rescued me. He set about reconciling me to Himself (again), and through that reconciliation, He also restored to me the life He had designed, planned, and purposed for me to walk in. I am now in this privileged place, this good, good place. I carry within me the message of reconciliation, and I am ready to take my place, my role, in His kingdom plan, His marvelous ministry of kingdom restoration.

My life is born anew, and the way in which I walk now is surefooted and secure. He has made it so, and while I wait for His next open door, next byway, I know for certain that the way I am going, the direction, the path I am following is also to be blessed. He has a great plan for my future, and I am filled with hope this good, good day, that He will bring everything He has promised to me to pass. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

In Conclusion

In closing, as I sit here today and wait for His provision, I know that He will provide the very best to me. So whether His best happens to be the full-time position I applied and interviewed for earlier in the month or another semester of part-time work as adjunct, whatever comes to pass, it will be best. I know it. I believe it. I am sure of it. He has given me a heart filled with gladness. I rejoice today not just in the material security and blessings I have received, but in the spiritual happiness that resides deep within my soul. I am happy. I am filled with joy. I know my Savior well, and because He loves me — really, truly, deeply — loves me, I can rest in the security and provision of His mighty and majestic will and way. He is good to me, so very good to me!