July 15, 2017

Saturday Concerns

It is a great day here in hot AND humid Phoenix! Yes, the monsoon has been active the past couple days, but so far, we have just received lots of wind and some dirt and dust. Last evening, we had a severe thunderstorm warning pop up in the late afternoon to early evening hours. We got some strong winds but no rain. I was just outside briefly and the dew point is high, I can feel it. It is stickier than normal, and the air is already feeling really warm. Perhaps today or tonight we will get some rain. I am hoping so. I am hoping it will be so!

I slept rather well last night. I tossed and turned, and I had several hot flashes throughout the night. In all though, I feel as if I actually did sleep. I have been sleeping later and later than normal. Usually, I am up around 7:00-7:30 am each day, but lately, I’ve been waking up closer to 9:30 am. I think it is partly due to the hot flashes, but also it is due to the fact that I cannot seem to fall asleep at night. I turn in around 11:00 pm, but I am not falling asleep until nearly 1:00 am. Sigh! Still, I feel pretty well overall. I am stiff this morning, with a slight backache, but my head feels clear (hurrah) and I don’t have any sinus issues today. Let’s hope the pain and pressure stay away now that the monsoonal moisture and variable clouds and skies are here for the next month or so!

In other good news, my son arrived home safely yesterday evening. He had a good time in Southern California, and he enjoyed his vacation (and work trip) immensely. He has been blessed by his connection to our church, Scottsdale Bible Church. He has been able to take several missions and ministry-related trips to California and the Midwest over the past couple years simply because of his status as musician and worship leader. I missed him this week, and I spent most of the days thinking about how I will get along when he leaves me for his own life someday. He is going to be 24 this September, and while he still has one more year at school, he is already talking about his next steps and the plans he would like to pursue for his career. I realize that I cannot keep him with me forever (its every Mom’s dream, you know), but there is this part of me that finds parting to be “sweet sorrow” (quoting Shakespeare). I am getting ready to let him go, as the Lord leads, and I am praying for the grace to do so. It is hard for me to think about it, but I know that the Lord has a wonderful life planned for him, and that the gifts and talents He has given to him are not simply to make money — they are for His praise and honor. I think the future looks bright, and I am blessed to be able to witness God grace, mercy, and goodness as He leads, guides, and provides for my son. God is good. He is so very good to us!

Preparing for Fall

It is July 15, which means that in about one month, school will start for me again. I am ready, technically ready, but I would like to take the next four weeks and get better organized. I think I am going to be really busy this fall. I mean like SUPER BUSY. As of right now, my schedule looks like this:

  • GCU — 3 classes
  • Regent — 3 classes
  • ASU — 2 classes
  • Grantham — unknown at this time

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30-4:30, I will be at GCU teaching 3 courses in English Composition II. Then I will have 3 courses online with Regent University. I am scheduled to teach English Composition II for the first 8 weeks followed by English Composition II and Survey of Western Literature for the second 8 weeks. I am not sure what courses I will teach at ASU, but I am guessing that I will teach English Composition I for each 8 week session. This adds up to 5 classes for the first half of the fall semester and 6 classes for the second half of the semester. I am comfortable teaching this combination of courses since nothing is really new. I have taught these core content classes for the past couple years so the curriculum is familiar and I am comfortable with the rubrics and grading. The sticky wicket in all of this is GCU — simply because I am teaching on campus. My son, at this point in time, doesn’t have a car. This means ride sharing for another season, which is not impossible, but not the best situation for us. It would be better for A) him to have his own car (the plan) or B) me to work online only so he can use my car as he needs it.

I noted that at this time Grantham is a big unknown. I have submitted my paperwork to the company and also to the HR person. I have not heard back from them yet. I also applied yesterday for another online teaching position at Central Texas College. This job posting just came out, so I don’t think I will hear back for a couple weeks. CTC would be a great pick up, should they have enough courses to keep me employed. I really would like to drop GCU and go full-time online, if possible. Note that I am saying full-time simply without having a full-time job. The problem has been getting hired full-time for work. As I scan the higher education jobs boards, the fact is that most colleges and universities are no longer hiring full-time faculty. Instead, they are hiring adjuncts to teach core courses. This is a win for the school, but it is a loss for the teacher who often has to teach at multiple schools just to make ends meet.

I am still waiting to hear on the full-time position I interviewed for back at the start of the month. For now, I am optimistic, but realistic, if that makes sense. I am open to working full-time for this school, but there is part of me that wonders if I can make more money and be more free to come/go as I please if I remain an independent contractor. I mean, I really hate the fact that I am an independent contractor at so many schools, yet there is part of me that sees this as a possibility. I mean, I can invest myself in an IRA account (versus 401k), and I can buy my own benefits through Obama or Trump Care or whatever iteration comes to pass. Honestly, at this point in time, I feel it is viable to drop all my hopes on one full-time position and instead accept whatever work the Lord brings to me. He opens the doors, and like when manna fell from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness, God has never stopped providing food, shelter or clothing to me while I waited on Him and patiently sought Him for His provision. I am taking Deuteronomy 28 to heart. I am standing in faith on the Word of God, and I am believing that He will not let my basket or kneading bowl go empty so long as I am faithful and obedient to His commands and precepts. Yes, I will keep the Word of the Lord, and I will rest securely in the shelter of His mighty hand. He will provide for me, and if this is His will, to provide multiple part-time jobs, so be it. I will do this work, faithfully and to the best of my ability, and I will allow Him to meet my needs with His sufficiency. Selah! It is done! Amen! So be it! He is able to do all things, and to do them more sufficiently and abundantly than I could ever hope or imagine! He is good to me, so very good to me.

This means that for now, I have the potential of teaching at four schools (realistically speaking). GCU may drop out for me, which is okay. I am tired of the drive over there — and I really do enjoy teaching online. I am thankful for the good work they have provided to me, and I am thankful for the wonderful experiences I have had. However, I am ready to move on, to try new things, and with this in mind, I am opening up my heart, mind, and arms to other possibilities, other scenarios, and other ways of working this whole “teaching” gig. God knows me well. He knows my limits. He knows what I can and cannot do, and with this in mind, I am simply agreeing with Him for His future provision. Whatever He determines is best for me — will be BEST for me! If this is His plan for providing for me, then I am OK with it. If this is the way He has figured out for me to go, then I will go this way. You see, I have struggled to try and make my thoughts, my ideas, and my wants fit into His timeline and His provision. I have spent years trying to make pieces of His puzzle fit into the framework I was creating. Instead, after so many not-so-successful attempts, I decided to exchange my puzzle frame for His, and well, the pieces started to fit. Now, I am building this beautiful picture that is all about Him and His work. I am putting in the pieces as He hands them to me, and well, they just fit perfectly. Thus, it is vital that I don’t take what He has given to me and try to make it work in ways that are not suited to His plan. I am resting in this endeavor. I am resting and letting the Lord determine which pieces to give to me and when. I am resting in the final picture, the final outcome because I know that He is a far better creator than I ever could be. He has this all designed, planned, purposed, and in His way, the outcome will be beautiful.

My plans for fall now include multiple teaching contracts (I believe it will be so). I am still hopeful, but I am sensing that the Lord desires that I remain free for the short time, the interim, and by free I mean being able to go, up and move, relocate or change living arrangements without issues regarding being tied to one fixed location or job. I am sensing that with my life in flux as it is now, the Lord is saying to me that it is better for me to remain free to go when He needs me to go, and that even though I won’t have the security of a 9-month contract, I will have the assurance of His provision, His security as He leads, guides and provides for me. It was the other week when the Lord asked me if I would go without provision. You know, like “Carol, will you go to where I am sending you even if you do not have a full-time job?” I was unsure of what He wanted, but I said, “Yes, Lord. I will go.” I think now that what He was saying to me was that I would be sent with provision, but it wouldn’t necessarily look like I had hoped — a full-time secured position at a good college or University. Instead, it would be “enough” but from multiple sources or another kind of source.

If this comes to pass, and I feel like it will, I am having to accept the fact that I may never have one job. I am having to agree that I will have to rely on the Lord semester by semester for “enough” work to keep me covered. I am saying to Him that I trust Him enough to let Him fill my basket and kneading bowl and not look to a job, college or university to do that for me. Sure, I believe God provides through organizations and institutions, but what I am saying is that I don’t believe the Lord intends to bring me a lucrative position whereby all my needs are met with a paycheck. Instead, He is asking me to trust Him to provide through whatever means He has at hand. I guess you could say that He is asking me to walk in faith, to be missions-minded, and in this way, to realize that everything I have been given thus far is a gift from the Lord. He will provide. He will make a way — it just might not be the way I thought or hoped it would be, know what I mean?

Therefore, as I think about this fact today, I wonder how the Lord will keep me covered. I have such great needs (big school debt, mostly), and I live in a place that is rather expensive to maintain. I have thought seriously about moving to a place where housing could be had for under $150-200k. I have thought about setting aside enough money to put a big downpayment on a house or to pay for a house cash — simply to reduce my debt burden to the point where I owe no man. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 says of the nation Israel that they will not borrow from anyone, rather they will lend to those in need. I am thinking now that this is part of His will for me. I will not borrow, but I will be a cheerful lender. Right now, though, I am a borrower and I need to get out of this place and position so I can be set free from debt. I have good credit, which I believe the Lord has helped me to restore. Now, I need to be in a position whereby I can manage my money (what He provides) well, invest wisely (for my future), and then owe no man anything. I can live freely. This is what I believe He is saying to me.

However, between now and then, I see a mountain of debt. I see no easy way out. I see no full-time job. I see no way to remain here in Phoenix longer than necessary. I see the way here, the way I am living here, as quickly coming to an end. This means that in time, in a short time, I will need to go. I will need to be able to go, and I will need to be ready to go. The Lord has been saying to me, “You need to be ready, Carol.” I assumed He meant like ready in spirit, in maturity, in mind. But, now I think He is saying, “Ready,” as in being prepared with material things (money, credit, bags packed, etc.) so I can go when He says, “It is time.” I am willing. I am agreeable. I am not ready, however, to pick up and go (like the disciples did in the New Testament), and this is what He is saying to me. Can you freely go where I send you? Now?

He knows that I am stuck where I am at present due to two factors: my parents aging needs and my son’s schooling. He knows that for all intents and purposes I am to remain where I am because my parents cannot care for themselves without me. My son needs shelter while he completes school. I have business to attend to, but with GCU out of the mix, my job will be online and I will be able to relocate without any issues or concerns. I will be able to go freely and without any interruption. Until that time, I must be prepared. I must work to prepare for that day. It is funny, but the other morning, as I was praying, I felt the Lord remind me of how my aunt and late uncle prepared to go to Africa for a year-long missions trip. They had made plans, agreed to go, were accepted to go, but between that time and the actual “get on the plane to go time,” they had work to do. They had to get their house in order, so to speak. They had to put aside cash. Pay debts off and some in advance. Buy supplies. Ship supplies. Make arrangements for care, etc. All of these things needed attending to before they could ever get on that plane. Logistics, planning, preparing — all these key steps — were a big part of their missions trip.

As I think about what the Lord is saying to me, I think He is saying the same thing. He is ready to send me out on a missions trip, so to speak. He is preparing to send me to a new field, to a place where I will minister, but before He can release me to go, He has to help me prepare. I have to take care of things here at home. I have to make plans, arrange for care, pay debts, etc. I have to work through the logistics of the move, and in this way, I have to diligently and faithfully allow the Lord to use me in whatever way He sees as best in order to accomplish His will in this matter. He needs to make me ready to go. I may be ready in mind, in spirit, and even in body, but I don’t have everything I need to actually go yet. I am still in need of some provision, and once that provision comes, I will be able to set off on the next phase of my life. I will be able to go where He sends me. I will be able to live where He tells me to live. And, praise be to God, I will be able to do the work He has prepared, trained, and equipped me to do. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah!

In Conclusion

As I close this blog post today, I think to myself, “Okay, Lord. I think I get it. I think I understand what you have been saying to me.” Of course, I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. I really do think He has been telling me for a while that I needed to get ready to go. I was so focused on the destination, however, that I really didn’t pay as much attention to the preparation and work. I wanted to know what would be over the hill, rather than simply attending to the process of getting my life in order, my goods in hand, and standing at the door — ready — to walk through at His command.

I was like the little child who is so excited to start vacation, but who in all that excitement sits staring at the empty suitcase that Mom or Dad has asked them to pack. Yes, I sat at the figurative suitcase while the Lord waited for me to start packing. I couldn’t go on the trip He planned for me without packing, so as long as I sat there thinking, dreaming, wishing, and wanting, nothing really happened. There was no “getting ready” until I put the first item in the suitcase. I believe that first item was, again figuratively, my degree. I worked so hard to complete my PhD, and while I understood that my training at Regent was more for His work, my degree would help me secure vital employment over the course of my remaining years. I wasn’t willing to put that degree into the suitcase simply because I was waiting to put the full-time job in first. Yet, the longer I waited for the full-time job, the more the suitcase sat empty. I put the degree in, as if to say, “It is going along with me, and the Lord will use it to suit His needs.” In doing so, things began to shift and move. I can sense the movement. I don’t know what will go in next, but perhaps it will be my online teaching positions (those will move with me). Later, it might be my car or a new car or furniture or a house or even my cats. I just don’t know. For now, though, I have started the packing process as the Lord asked me to do several months ago. I started the process, and I will continue the process until my suitcase is packed and I am ready to stand at the door and go.

Psalm 46:1-3 (AMP)

God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],

A very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah.

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