July 13, 2017

Reflection Moment

Happy Thursday! It is Thursday, and I am here at home, enjoying the last month of my summer. Yes, in just four weeks, I will be on the clock again as school will start at ASU, Regent, and GCU. I am still not sure if I will be out at GCU this fall or not. It will depend on the outcome of my interview last week. I was told that the team would make a hiring decision by the end of the month, so I have two more weeks of “unknown” status until I hear either “yea or nay” on whether I was picked for the full-time faculty position. It really is in His hands, I mean. There is no point in worrying or being upset because there is nothing I can do. The job is either His choice or it is not, and if it is not, then hurrah! I wait patiently for the job that is His best for me. If it is His best, then it will be. I will receive an email telling me as such, and I will rejoice because of His good favor and blessing. Either way, I rejoice. He has me covered. He knows my needs, and He has a great plan for my life.

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day working with my students online. I have to admit that I really love working online. I love staying at home, doing my work from home, and interacting with  my students this way. There is part of me, though, that wonders how I will adjust to full-time online teaching. One thing I know — the school has to allow me to work from home. I don’t want to go and sit in an office all day and do my work from a cubicle. I need the freedom to do my work at all hours, in the evenings and early mornings, and be able to work 12 hours on one day and four the next. I love the freedom of working from home. I love being able to plan my day. I have tried to work regular hours, and frankly, I just don’t do structure like this well. I mean, some structure is a good thing, but too much structure can be confining.

For example, I don’t mind teaching on campus as adjunct. In these cases, I pop in, do my time, and pop out. I know my schedule, when I am in class, and when I am not, and while I may not always get the choicest on campus schedule, I still have a great deal of freedom to do what I like and in the way I like it, know what I mean? This is one of the major reasons why I like being adjunct. There is some oversight, but mostly you are there to do your job. Your faculty lead knows this, and since he or she is just as busy, they leave you to do your work. They TRUST you to do your work, and in truth, that is a golden thing. I mean, there are very few jobs where the boss actually believes in you and trusts you to do your work well. Teaching is one of these places where there is little micromanagement in my teaching, scholarship, or oversight. Some schools are more restrictive than others, for sure, but so far I have found that all of my schools have been really, really laid back. God is good. He is so good to provide environments to me that are low-key and low-stress! Selah!

Since teaching, for the most part, is an autonomous practice (at the college level), it is not regulated or managed the way other businesses are or can be, and as such, generally Academics are free to keep their own office hours, do their own time, write their own articles, present at conferences, etc., without a ton of mingling by upper-ups. This fact among others is the main reason why I love the profession. So…the next step for me is a full-time job.  My continued and consistent prayer is that I am offered the “perfect fit” job rather than just a job that will cause me extra stress and pain.

For now, I remain as I am — adjunct — and I am content in that fact. I have a good “gig” going, and while I am not crazy about teaching 3 campus classes, 3-5 online classes, I will do whatever I have to do to earn a decent living. I know that in time, the Lord will provide. Yes, in time, He will make a way for me that is so good, so pleasing, and so blessed. Until He opens that door, I will be faithful and obedient, and I will look up! I will look up to where He is seated because in His position and from His perspective, He has my entire life planned out. He knows what will be, what could be, and what won’t be, so with His knowledge, and with His ability to orchestrate and plan, I can rest assured that whatever happens will be the result of His handiwork. Selah!

Thus, I can rest in the assurance that God has His hand on my life, and as the Word says, He is directing my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I can rest now because I know for sure, for certain, that the path I am on is His best for me. He knows where He is sending me for ministry work, and He knows what type of work He wants me to do. I am simply to follow Him, agree with Him, obey Him, and stand beside Him while He does what He does best — and that is — to make miracles happen, to make the possible from the IMPOSSIBLE (Luke 1:37). He is able to handle more than I could ever imagine this good day, and while I sometimes feel overwhelmed (like I do now), I know that He has never left me alone, never asked me to figure things out on my own, and never once insisted that I try to make His will happen through my own efforts. On the contrary, He has only ever said that His will, His way, and His work can be completely through Jesus Christ ALONE. There is no other way for me to go, there is no other power, authority, or claim I can make save in the Name of Jesus. In this regard, what will be, will be because of Jesus and Jesus alone. I rest my case, I cease and desist, and I let His blessed plan come to pass as He has ordained it. Like a mighty fountain or river, I let the water wash over me this good, good day. I let Him have His way, and in doing so, I take comfort in knowing that He loves me, He cares for me, and His plans for me are GOOD, so GOOD. Selah!

It Is Not Rocket Science

This morning I woke up with a bit of a headache. This is not unusual since it is almost the summer monsoon season in Arizona. The dirt, dust, and dryness wreak havoc on my sinuses, and as such, I often suffer with headaches during the summer time. Winters are better, and despite the dryness, there is more rain often, and the constant rain helps to relieve the pressure. Once the summer rains start, if they start, I will feel better too. But, this morning, I was thinking about this past June, and about how I spent a week in Indiana with my parents. I had a great time visiting with family, but what I noticed most was that during this time, I had no headaches. I did have a runny nose and some sneezing on one day, but otherwise, I felt great. The humidity was nice and the sun-part-clouds throughout the day was such a blessed change. As a result of my experience and this deep unknown longing that I have had for now on 20 years, I have decided that I want to move back to the Midwest. Yes, I have decided that it is time to exchange the sun, dryness, and the dirt in Phoenix for the variable clouds, humidity, and beautiful grass and trees of some midwestern city or town.

I know, I know. I just said I was content, and I am. I know that I am in Phoenix for a reason, but I am also being honest by saying that I really want to leave Phoenix and go back to a place where there is a variable 4-season climate. I have had almost 21 years of the sunshine and dirt, and I am so sick and tired of headaches, sinus pain and pressure, and the general maladies that go along with living in the desert. For some people, the desert climate is a good thing. I know folks with serious arthritis that need the steady heat. Asthma suffers like me, though, struggle to breathe here, and that is because everything we breathe in is cloaked in dirt. The dust gets to me — dust is everywhere — and I cannot tolerate dust anymore. So what I am saying is that while Phoenix is lovely in the winter, it is intolerable in the summer. I am surviving it as I always do, but each summer, it becomes more difficult to find joy is this place. I want to be happy. I want to be content, and I am choosing contentment today because I know that the Lord has another plan for me. I do not believe the Lord intends to keep me here, not long term, any way.

How do I know this? Well, the more I think about my life, the plans the Lord has for me, and such, the more I realize that my tendency to over analyze events and circumstances has really clouded my judgement. I have vacillated on moving for several years now, but for the past 6 or so, I have had this pull toward the East, and especially toward my childhood and family located in the upper midwest. I have tried to change my mind on the matter. I have tried to analyze myself out of the way I feel. For a time, I did just that. I made myself accept a number of other places, but after a time of thinking on them, considering them, imagining them, I would always come back around to one place in particular. I would come back to my childhood, and the more I did that, the more I would think that I was just trying to run away, return to “Oz” so to speak. I believed that I just wanted to go there because of memories I have tied to that place. But those memories are not sweet or wonderful or warm. There are no rose colored glasses giving me a “Pollyanna-ish” view. No, I think the reason I feel the way I do is because the Lord is telling me that this is the place He wants me to go — permanently — forever.

The past 6-9-12 months have been wearisome for me. I have worked so hard, so hard, and I have accomplished so much. I have dealt with trial, hardship, and stress levels like never before, and while my life was good (as in I wasn’t suffering an illness or family problem), I was mentally and intellectually as well as physically, challenged — consistently — day in and day out, for months (four years, to be exact). My final push through to the end of my program achieved great results. I graduated with my PhD, and I completed a wonderful dissertation project that was a lot of fun for me to do. I am finished with my higher education, and now I am resting, relaxing, and trying to recoup from that long, long, long journey. My future, therefore, is open. I mean, I have no destination, save my eternal one, on the horizon. Once I receive a full-time offer, then this goal will be checked off my “to do” list. But, until that time, I am in limbo land. I have no plans past this one: get a job. I have no “next steps” laid out, and for the first time in almost 8 years, I am in this wasteland, so to speak. I have no direction, clear direction, in front of me. Or, so it appears.

Back in 2010, the direction I received from the Lord was simple. Go to Mercy. Graduate with my Masters degree. Get a job teaching English. Once I completed that goal, the Lord gave me a new one.  In 2013, He pointed me in the direction of Regent University. This time, the goal was to graduate with my PhD in Communication. The rationale behind studying communication and not English was clear — start a communications ministry. I pursued my PhD with diligence, and in May, I graduated. In some ways, I have accomplished everything the Lord asked me to do, but now in the middle 2017, my direction seems to resolve with one final step — get a full-time faculty position. When I stop and think about the end game, I become so restless. Is that it, Lord? Is there nothing more out there for me? I forget at times that my PhD was not to secure a teaching job because that ability came with my Masters degree in English. I forget that the reason for the PhD was to begin full-time communications ministry and to focus 100% on His work. More so, my graduation from Regent was very specific. During my ceremony, I was dedicated. I was commissioned. I will consecrated — designated to the Lord — for His work. Yes, I was not just handed a degree, but I was confirmed in my calling and my mandate. God has a bigger plan for my life than teaching alone, and while teaching is a blessed profession, don’t get me wrong, it is not the end of the road for me. It is just the beginning. Let me explain…

Calling and Mandate Confirmed

I know my next steps include a permanent job as a teacher. I need security. I need good practical work. I need something that is not tentative like adjunct. I have so focused on the job as the “be all and end all” of my life that I have lost my perspective. Well, I’ve lost His perspective, I should say. I have focused on my job as the most important thing in my life, and that without a good job, somehow my life will crumble out of existence. This is a lie from my enemy. He doesn’t want me to do the work the Lord has for me to do, so he has been feeding me miscommunication in order to get me off the track, to forget my calling, to stop pursuing my mandate.

I know this is the case because this past week, I was really suffering with depression and some oppression. I was so focused on going to a place that the Lord wasn’t calling me to, simply because it “made sense” to me, that I lose my sense of balance. I became undone. In fact, during my graduation from Regent, the Lord spoke to me and said that the next couple months (meaning summer) would be difficult for me. He was telling me that I would encounter trial and testing because I had been commissioned to do a specific work. I forgot about that warning until last week when I couldn’t figure out why I was so miserable. I prayed, confessed, and surrendered to my calling and my mandate again, and over the past couple days, I have begun to see clearly again. What this means is that I recognize that my job, as a teacher, is not the only calling I have received from the Lord. I have received three callings, really, to be technical about it. Calling #1 was as a missionary. Calling #2 was as a teacher. And, calling #3 was as a prophet, specifically, someone who speaks God’s word to the Church.

Merriam-Webster defines the word, calling, as “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” With this definition in mind, it is clear that my calling to become a teacher fits. I believe, and I have believed, that the Lord called me to this profession. More so, I have always desired to be a missionary, ever since I was a child. I believe the Lord called me to the mission field when I was 16, and although I didn’t go back then, I have had the desire to go on my heart since that time. Lastly, as a prophet, I have been given a calling to speak God’s word, the truth of His word, to the Church. I have always done this, and I still do, though this part of overall calling has been most difficult (rejection, mockery, and betrayal).

The confirmation of my calling came to me over the past several years. First, it took a while for me to accept that God called me to teach. Second, it took a very long time to get over the fact that when He called me to the missions field, I disobeyed Him. Instead of pursuing both teaching and missions, I turned away, got married, and followed after my husband. I didn’t reject God, but I did reject His calling, and in this way, I suffered gravely for my disobedience. It wasn’t until many years later, after my marriage ended, did I receive His call again. This time, the call was to teach. The call also included a missions-focused ministry, and it included my spiritual vocation as a prophet (speaker of God’s word). So after many years of living in rebellion, the Lord gave me restoration. I repented, and I turned around. As a result, the Lord reconfirmed to me that He still had a great plan for my life, but that plan required that I follow Him and that I do the specific thing He asked me to do a long, long, long time ago.

My calling, therefore, is complex because it is not just one vocation, but really three. However, what has been most difficult for me to grasp is that within that calling, the Lord gave me a mission or mandate. By this I mean, He told me specifically what to do. I think it is best described this way. A young man or woman is called to the mission field, but they do not know where they are to go to do missions work. They feel called to missionary work, but they are unsure — is it local, national, or international?  They may pursue missions, work toward preparation for missions work, but not until the very end of that process will they receive word that they are to go to Europe, Africa or Detroit. Sometimes they know right away, but often, they come to understand the exact mission field after a time of testing, trial, or training. In my case, my calling was pretty clear, but I didn’t really understand what I was to teach, preach or to whom I was to minister until I attended Regent University. Once I was there, I understood that the Lord was preparing me, training me, and equipping me as a communicator, and I was to take my field of communications back into the Church. My mission field is the Body of Christ. My mission or mandate (specific task) is to “help the church communicate faith more effectively in this post modern age.” My calling, my mandate, my life, is all about the latter.

But, I also need good practical work and this is where teaching is the perfect fit. I need a job that will facilitate this ministry, but I do not believe the Lord is calling me to work inside a church (been there, done that already). No, as of right now, I believe that I will work alongside a church, perhaps one that has a well established communications ministry already or perhaps I am to start a ministry where that are other people waiting to participate. I don’t know what will be, but for now, I am to do teaching as my practical work (daily job) and do ministry as my spiritual work.

So, when will I do this? Sigh! That is the part I haven’t figured out yet (or better, the Lord hasn’t shown me yet)! For now, though, I will look up. I will wait patiently for the Lord to open the doors that must be opened. I will wait for the blessed provision that will take me from here to there, and I will seek Him as my only source, my only provider and my only way. There is no other Name than the Name of Jesus, and it is in Jesus’ Name that I commit, confess, and consecrate this plan. In His Name, I pray this good, good day. Amen, so be it, thy will be done! Selah!

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