August 12, 2017

Saturday is Here!

It is Saturday, and that means that I have come to the end of my summer session at Regent University. My students are wrapping up their final assignments, and I am thankful for another successful semester. I am also preparing to start the fall semester, which begins in less than two weeks (about 10 days). More so, I have three weeks until campus classes begin at GCU, and well, I am starting to feel that sense of "what have I gotten myself into" again. The thought of teaching on campus and online boggles my mind, but this is what the Lord has provided to me, and I am thankful for the provision of classes in both modalities (even if I am a bit overwhelmed today).

In truth, I am ready. I am content. I am good. I know the plan He has for me is really good. I cannot help but feel though that something is not right. Yes, there is this nagging feeling like I have forgotten to do something, something really important. Or, that I am off the mark, so to speak. I cannot put my finger on it, but I just feel like something is off. I don't know what it could be as I have evaluated and re-evaluated my steps the past week or so. I don't see anything I have missed, so perhaps it is just nerves.

The good news is that my life seems to be settling down to a dull roar (ha!) I am getting my life organized, and now that I have my old car back, I am able to come and go as I please. My son is enjoying the new car, and he is glad to have a bigger car to transport his gear. I am glad, too. My backseat and trunk really took the brunt of all that loading and unloading of equipment. He must heft up 60-100 pounds at a time, and frankly, my little Sentra was not meant to be a cargo truck. In all though, we are blessed beyond measure to have the new car to tour around in, and despite the collision with a tiny rock on Wednesday, we are faring well. I am praying for the Lord's grace and mercy to cover us for driving and car safety. Please, Lord, do not let anything hurt that vehicle until we can get it paid for properly!

My mind is racing this morning as I am trying to anticipate my schedule for fall. I have to get my materials all organized, and while teaching online doesn't really require much in the way of management, it does require some preparation. My campus classes are the real heavy hitters. I have to make sure I have enough materials for my students to engage with for 16 weeks of the semester. I have to show up to teach, and that requires a bit of mental and physical preparation.

Making Some Plans (Again!)

Today is a good day for planning. I am home, and though I have some errands to run later, for the most part, I have the whole day to devote to planning and preparing for my future life. Yes, I want to plan my future, and in this way, I want to get the next 10 years settled, finalized! Shazam! I wish it were that easy, really, but in truth, I really cannot plan too far in advance. I can jot some ideas down, but only the Lord knows what will be tomorrow. I must trust in Him, rest in His abilities to plan and to prosper me. I cannot run ahead of Him nor can I try to guess what the Lord wants me to do next. I need to focus on the steps in front of me because only those steps are clearly marked for me. The rest of the steps are either so far out of reach or they are shrouded in mist. I must rest. I must trust Him completely, and I must not fret about what I don't know, and what I cannot see. He is good to me. He is so very good to me.

The Lord knows my needs. He knows what I can and cannot do. Moreover, He knows my limits. I am fragile. I am limited in my abilities, and I am not able to control my outcomes the way that He can. I simply do my best, but the Lord is the author and finisher of my faith, my entire faith walk, from beginning to end. I must rely on Him, lean on Him, and trust Him for my future life.

With that said, this is what I know now (as of today). I am to remain in Phoenix for the duration of my life, which simply means that for the time being, I am to remain where I am, living where I am, and doing the work the Lord has provided for me to do in this place. I am not to move anywhere -- yet. I am to rest. I am to relax. I am to realize that the Lord will move me when He chooses to move me and that He will not move me until He is ready to do so. This really relieves me, but I have to remember the fact that I am not going anywhere until the Lord says "go!"

As I remind myself of this fact, I also know that for the next four and half months, I am stationed here in Phoenix simply because I have work contracted to do. Yes, my contracts obligate me to remain here until the work is completed. After December, however, once again, I will be free to go. Technically, the Lord could choose to move me in January or He could choose to keep me here until next May. In either case, the moving would enable me to take on new work, more established work or simply give me the opportunity to live in a different place, a different home, and a different climate.

For now, I believe that the Lord will either keep me here in Phoenix or He will move me to IL. Phoenix and IL are the only two places the Lord has asked me to consider as potential "permanent homes" so I have to believe that He has work for me to do in both of these places. I am settled here, so to speak, but I don't have any permanency. I have a rented home, a good home, but there is some inkling that my landlord may choose to sell this house within the year. Thus, I feel confident that the timing for the move is really within a year at the most. This means that I need to be prepared to move should my landlord say, "we are selling the house." I would not want to purchase this house for many reasons, mostly because I don't believe this is the Lord's will or His provision for us. I do know that moving any place else is going to be problematic right now. My parents are not able to move. I mean, I can move them, but moving them is traumatic and difficult to consider. Thus, unless the Lord opens some door that will "move us" we are really waiting for some other way out.

My son will be graduated from school next May, so timing for moving by then seems practical and doable. However, I am not sure the Lord wants me to wait that long, and that He may send me ahead to get everything in order. This seems problematic as well since it would require that we have to move twice (me and then him). I feel that no matter what happens, the Lord will clearly execute His plan and that I can rest in the knowledge that it will be good. He will go before us, prepare our way, and then He will provide everything necessary so we can be approved to go. It will be just like buying a new car. I went to the dealer with my broker, test drove the car, agreed to the car. Returned in a couple days, picked up the keys, drove home. No big deal. No sweat. God will do the same thing for me and my family. He has always done this for us, and I have no doubts that He will do it for us again.

Thus, today, while I finish up my grading and do all the other little things on my to-do list, I remember that the God I worship is bigger than all my fears about the future. He is bigger and more able to handle my concerns so I do not have to worry. I do not have to fret. I do not have to be anxious for God goes with me. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah!

Shouting Out as I Go

In conclusion, I have decided to shout out His praise in the midst of all the unknown. I mean, I can hunker down and be afraid or I can boldly proclaim His Name and walk in confidence. In whom do I trust this good day, Carol? I trust in the Lord!

My God has my life well-covered. I am good. He is good. And, the plan He has for me is very, very good. I can rest in His authority, His complete authority, and I can take comfort in knowing that my God is not going to upset the apple cart for "giggles." No, not at all. He has a good way for me, and His way is perfect (to His plan). I can rest in the fact that the path I walk on today is the path of His choosing. It will lead me toward the accomplishment of His purpose and His plan for my life. I will arrive at my final destination in His time, and when I do, He will say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" Selah!

Today, therefore, while I feel a bit off, I remember that my God has this (my life) well and in hand. I don't have to be afraid today. I can be strong. I can be bold. I can trust Him to provide. He is good. He is so very good to me!

August 11, 2017

Getting Settled

Happy Friday! It is a good day here in warm and sunny, Phoenix. Last night, we had a few scattered showers -- just enough -- to make everything really dirty. Still, the clouds, the wind, and the rain brought us some relief. Today, it appears to be overcast to partly cloudy and the air is warm and a bit sticky. I am feeling better since getting up, though, so hooray for me! I woke up with a headache and a foreboding sense that something was really wrong. After some quiet time this morning, and two cups of coffee, I am starting to feel much better. God is good to me, so very, very good to me!

This morning I have been busy with my online teaching duties. I have a number of essays to grade, and I have some new classes to prep and setup. In fact, yesterday, I received an email asking me to teach a grammar course for elementary education teachers. I accepted, thinking that the class would be very small. Instead, it looks like it is full to overflowing. God is good to me! I thought I might be paid less (for the small group), but with a full class, this means a full paycheck! Woohoo! In all, I will have my four classes at Regent like I have had the past two semesters. God knows my needs, and He has provided abundantly for me!

What is more is the fact that I received my "rejection" email from the position I interviewed for back in July. It wasn't a surprise since I was offered two classes for fall (adjunct). Still, it was just as I suspected. The job was competitive, and most of the candidates were like me -- already faculty! I am sure the team had a difficult time deciding on a winner. And, in truth, I am very happy to continue as part-time there. I like the course load, and I can manage the coursework easily with all my other commitments.

The good news is that I am set now for fall -- 6 courses for each sub-semester -- which is perfect! I cannot believe how this has all worked out for me. I mean, just last week, I was asking the Lord for more work, fearful that I wouldn't have enough to cover me now that I have added another car payment to the mix. Then, whoosh! Provision lands right when I need it, and well, I am set, settled, and ready to start my fall semester. He is good -- have I said that enough? No, well then, I will say it again -- God is so very good to me!

Now that I know the plans for fall, I feel more like I can settle down and dig in. When I say, "dig in," I simply mean start to plan my life for the next four months or so. In truth, I can probably begin to forecast my life out for the next 12 months, which is very comforting to me. I am a long range planner by nature and temperament. I need a plan that is practical, functional, and wise. I need to know what my days will be like for the foreseeable future, and when I lack that vision, I feel very afraid and can cycle down into depression. Thus for me, I need to know what my days will look like in order to feel compelled and confident in the work I am being asked to do. Now that I know the plan, I can relax and simply get on with the business at hand.
The Business at Hand

The business at hand includes busying myself with last minute preparation for my on campus courses. I need to setup the new grammar class at Regent, but for now, I will just have to wait and see what materials are auto loaded into Blackboard. I am excited to see what will be produced, but for now, I have to wait until the folks in the Center for Learning and Teaching do their jobs. I also need to pick up a grammar handbook (I have one, but I will need the one we are using in class), and I need to print some materials so I can be really organized. My printer is out of toner so I need to stop over at Office Depot for some office supplies. In all, I am so excited. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have some new content to teach. I am happy with my schedule, mind you, and I am blessed beyond measure to be able to teach the courses I already teach. It is just nice to have a new one added to the mix every so often. It gives me a broad range of interests, and it helps me to be far more developed as an instructor. I really like the challenge too. I like to be stretched, and I need to learn -- always -- new things. Teaching grammar has been a desire of mine for a long, long time. I asked the Lord for the opportunity to teach linguistics or to teach a grammar course so I could really brush up on my own grammar and punctuation. Now I get that chance, and I am so excited! Yay!

My life is starting to come more into focus. I never thought I would be happy to have so many jobs -- different jobs. I really had hoped to be hired at one school, and then spend the rest of my days, teaching at that school. Now, though, I have three schools (maybe more), and I love the fact that each one is so different. I was explaining this fact to my parents the other day, how GCU teaches writing as a format, ASU teaches writing as a reflective process, and Regent teaches writing as a critical thinking exercise. Each school uses a different pedagogy, and while their approach is different, the results are similar. I love this fact! I mean, there is no "right way" to teach writing!

More so, I love the fact that I get to teach some literature courses along with grammar and writing. This means that I am covering all the various aspects of English, and in effect, I am learning how to be a fully functional English educator. I am so blessed to be able to teach all these different classes. My prayer is that I can settle into this routine -- teach all these fundamental classes -- and be confident in my abilities to help my students find academic success. My goal as an educator is to mentor my students in their abilities, to help them develop strong skills, and to guide them as they learn to use and apply these skills in every area of their life, be it in the classroom or in the work place. My desire is to be a mentor, a coach, and a guide. This is my role as teacher, and I love it!

I cannot think of any other work that I would want to do for my life's career. I just wish I would have done this work years ago. I mean, I love teaching. It is my passion, my desire, and my calling. I know it, I believe it, and I am so passionate about it. I cannot go backward, turn back the clock, but I can take hold of the good days ahead and pursue them with diligence and faithfulness. I intend to do my best as I continue to move forward over the next 10-15 years. Regardless of where the Lord sends me or keeps me, I will be faithful to do this work to the very best of my ability. I will teach with honor. I will teach with grace. I will teach with His best in mind. I will be to my students a mentor, and I will help them come to the place of competence and confidence in their abilities as students and as children of God.
Some Final Thoughts

Before moving on, I wanted to write some final thoughts on this chapter of my life as it closes out. You see, it was just three months ago when I graduated from Regent University with my Ph.D. At that time, I still thought I would receive a full-time offer for employment from either Regent or ASU. Instead, I ended up much the same as I was in the spring -- part-time -- and several schools. I was disappointed, really feeling down and hopeless, that after all my hard work and effort, the only job I could get was part-time. My colleagues were being promoted even before they completed their degree, and my mentor and faculty chair were encouraging me to push for a "tenure" track position. But, I was so unsure if this was the Lord plan for me, I mean, after all, I am in this strange place where I need to remain for my parents care and my son's school. I am not free to move about the country, to up and go, without any provision. More so, as much as I wanted the title -- Assistant Professor -- I wasn't sure if that was what the Lord wanted for me. In truth, many years ago, as I was thinking about transitioning over to teaching full-time, the Lord asked me if I could be content to teach undergraduate courses, mostly composition, for my lifetime as a teacher. He was telling me, in effect, that if I chose to teach, I wouldn't be teaching graduate students but freshman (mostly). Could I be content in teaching freshman? Could I be content to teach undergraduate (Associates and Bachelor degree students) for the next 10-15 years?

At first, I said yes (tentatively). I wanted to "try" teaching, and initially, the whole idea was so overwhelming to me that I really couldn't know for sure if I would be content or not. After a couple years, though, I realized that my forte, my best place is as a freshman teacher. I love freshman. I love new students. I love adults that are just starting out. These are my "peeps" as I like to say, and as such, I have a great affinity for them. I love to mentor -- and the students that need the most mentoring are in fact -- freshman!

Now, I see that the Lord took me into this role and that He intends for me to remain in this role. I don't see any "tenure" position down the road, and for once I can say, I am good with that fact. I am very content to do what I do from now until I retire. Sure, I would love to be able to have more income, and that is an important factor, nonetheless. I know He will provide for me. He will cover me and shower His blessing upon me, and I will be comfortable content, and so well-covered. He is good to me, so good to me!

More so, as I process these details, I realize that when I was a young girl, in grade school, I wanted to grow up to teach little children. I was sure of this path as a 6th grader, but through middle and high school, I lost my way. I became lost, confused, and then later when I figured it out, I was in a relationship whereby I was pretty much told that my desire was worthless, stupid, and not even valued. I turned away from what I see now was my first calling to follow after a man who never had my best at heart. I followed him, thinking he knew what was best for me, but in the end, he simply led me to a place of darkness, farther from the Lord, and clearly farther from the Lord's will for my life.

Yet, despite my sin and my choice to follow a man instead of the Lord, I was not left alone in the darkness. The Lord reached down and rescued me, and as part of His rescue, He restored His good plan for my life. He helped me recover from the heartache and heartbreak, and then He gave me the plan He had for me. He gave me the life of a teacher, the calling He first laid on my heart when I was just 11-12 years old. Now, I am living out that life, and I can tell you that it is the best thing ever. I love my life. I love my job. But, mostly, I love the Lord. He made all this possible, and He took the ashes of my former life and resurrected them into the life He had purposed and planned for me. I am doing the thing He wanted me to do all along, just 30 some years later.

I bear witness and testimony to the Lord and to His goodness each day as a result. He saved me, and with His saving grace, He has given me a life that is dedicated to His work. I am ready to do what He asks of me. I am ready to go where He sends me. I am ready to live where He tells me to live. I am ready to do what He wants when He wants me to do it, and what is more, I will do it for His glory, praise, and honor. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to be adored!
In Closing

As I close this blog post today, I marvel at the Lord's goodness. He is good. He is faithful. He is always there to help us, to lend us a hand, to show us the way. I have learned this life lesson the hard way. God will do what we ask ONLY when we are yielded and submitted to Him. He will help us, but we must be on our knees, submitted, yielded, and surrendered to Him. He will give us His best, and so while we may think what we want is for our best, sometimes, He gives us something better. Sometimes, if we are patient, if we really wait, He will give us the desires and dreams of our heart. He has done this for me, and He has made my dreams come true.

Psalm 20:4 (Amplified) says,

May He grant you your heart’s desire
And fulfill all your plans.

My prayer today is for the Lord to continue to grant my heart's desire, and that He would fulfill the plans I have made this good, good day! Selah!

August 10, 2017

Showers of Blessings!

My life is just getting better and better! I am standing in awe of the goodness of my God! I mean, first, He provides a beautiful vehicle for my son. Second, He provides more teaching opportunities for me. Third, He gives generously and abundantly in grace. I am blessed, so well and overly blessed!

Today, I woke up feeling uneasy and unsure of things. But, after some time in prayer and the word, I started to feel better, more at ease, and definitely more confident in the changes that seem to be happening to me. For example, last evening, after we got home from the dealer, my son took the new car for a test drive. As luck would have it (or not so lucky), a little rock skipped up and hit the windshield. Yep. We have a tiny crack in the brand new windshield! I was sick to my stomach over the fact that the car was damaged on its first venture out doors. Of course, in AZ, rocks are inevitable. I mean, we live in the desert, and we have rocks everywhere. They are by the road, on the road, and in our yards. It is hard to drive anywhere, even when not on the freeway, without getting pelted by some tiny projectile. I was really upset about it at first, but after a while, I realized that rocks are a part of life, and the car would have been hit by one sooner or later. I guess sooner is better in some ways. At least, the fear is over now. It has happened, so we just move on. We will get the chip fixed, but probably not until next week. Still, I am thanking God for His provision and His grace. I needed to rethink the whole "care" idea, and after praying and reading His word, I felt so much better. It is going to be okay. I mean, it is OKAY!

More so, after some reflection time today, I came to terms with my life "as is," I mean. I am in this place right now where everything seems to be settling down. I am confident of the Lord's will, and I believe His plan for my life is really good. I am feeling more and more at ease with what He is asking me to do. I am ready to embrace His plans, and the path I am on today is a good one. I have good work to do, good work. I am ready to enlarge my territory, and I am ready to begin to consider His work to be done in and through my life. By this I mean, that I am ready to start moving forward in my career and in my ministry life. I am ready, Lord, to begin your blessed way, and to begin to complete the plans you have for me. I want to be used by you, Lord, to be a blessing to others, and to use my practical work as a teacher along with my advanced studies in communication to benefit your kingdom. May your will be done, O' Lord, may your will be done!
Grace and Praise

It has been a long, long road to this point in time, and I have to say that it feels so sweet to finally be where I am today. I mean, I am good, like really good. More so, my bread basket and kneading bowl are overflowing with an abundant provision. For example, just this morning, I was asked to teach a course in another school at Regent University. I am already contracted to teach 3 classes for the English department, but today, I was asked to teach a linguistics class for the School of Teacher Preparation. It was a last minute need, and praise God, I was referred by my chair for the position. The funny thing is that last night, as I was praying, I asked the Lord for more work, more covering, simply because of the crack in the windshield and the fact that I was panicking a bit over the outflow of cash all of a sudden (like whoosh -- out it goes!) Then, this morning, I receive an email asking me to teach another course, and like a fresh wind of blessing, my worries are eased and my financial tension is relieved. God is good to me. He is so very good to me!

Now, I am wondering what the Lord has in mind for me today. I mean, what more can He give to me? I honestly am overwhelmed by His generous hand. I don't need anymore, but then I think, Lord, I need MORE of YOU! Yes, I need His grace, and I need the One who is filled with GRACE: Jesus!

My heart and my mind are committed to following Him completely. I want to do His work, His will, and I want to do it in His way. What is more, I am starting to think more about this whole moving thing again. I have to say that for the past couple months, the idea of moving has been pretty much all-consuming for me. I know it was a distraction. I know it was meant to help me focus on other things or rather to help me keep my mind off of things so I wouldn't worry so much. It worked! I mean, I was distracted, and I enjoyed it immensely. Now, though, I am thinking that the path that makes perfect sense to me is the path right in front of me. I mean, the path that leads me to remain here in Phoenix and to put down roots in this place. Let me explain...

About three days ago, I started to sense that perhaps the Lord was asking me to consider Phoenix as an option (again!) Okay, so I never stop considering it, but I had this sense like I was being prompted by His Spirit to say, "Lord, I am okay with staying in Phoenix." More so, as the days have worn on, I have felt this stronger sense that has almost brought me to say, "Lord, I want to stay in Phoenix." Now, those are not my words because Phoenix is not my choice of a permanent destination. But, the sensation hasn't subsided. It simply has gotten stronger, more present, if that makes sense.

My concern with wavering is that it can lead to doubt. Yet, I know that I cannot decide to stay or to go without His permission. So if I stay, it is because He wants me to stay. If I go, it is because He wants me to go. I am committed to following, to obeying, and to abiding -- completely. Thus, I have to consider that this decision is really His and not mine.

So, what has made me think about staying rather than going (again?) I would say it really was a decision I made the other night -- perhaps 4-5 nights ago -- when I committed everything to Him. I decided to be "all in" as I have said previously, but this time, I meant as in "all in -- no more worries." I gave everything to the Lord, every detail, every thought, and every possible issue, and I let them go. I decided to do nothing but His work. In this way, I decided to make His work my soul and sole focus. As such, my mind has started to turn towards Him, and as a result, my thoughts are now more about "what is best for you, Lord" instead of "what is best for me, Lord?" Yes, I am thinking more about how He wants to use me, and the provision He blesses me with as being for His use and not mine. I guess it occurred to me the other day that the house I live in has one purpose and that is to be used for the Lord. Sure, I get to live in it. I get to relax, enjoy family, etc., but ultimately, my home is for His use. It is for His work, thus, wherever I live, I do so with this thought in mind. I am a tenant in the Lord's house. I am a borrower of the Lord's car. I am a manager of the Lord's resources, etc. The idea is that nothing I "own" is really my own. It is all His.

My mind is starting to wonder if the Lord has asked me to consider staying here in Phoenix -- even though my heart and my desire -- are to go some place else. Perhaps the Lord is ready for me to embrace my life here, and in doing so, I have to be willing to let go of my desire to live in the cold and snow. I am ready to do this, to let this go, but I just want to know that I am not wavering again. Back and forth. Back and forth. I am tired of wavering, see-sawing, and I am ready to be settled.
In Closing

The Lord has asked me to consider this option, and I did briefly. My initial response was to obey what I knew to be true. I am to remain, to stay put, to be fixed on this path. However, as I have blogged previously, I also know and understand that "to remain" simply means to remain committed to His plan for my life. It is also to "stay put" as in focused on His will. Thus, I am already doing these things. The path I am on, the one that I believed was leading me to move away from Phoenix is just one of many options open to me at this time in my life. Phoenix is also a path, but I felt the Lord was preferring another route for me. Now, I am thinking He is simply saying to me that the "Phoenix path" is a viable option as well and that I should consider it instead.

I am not sure what will come to pass, but I know that with my new leased car, I am pretty much grounded for awhile. I can move, but not without the car, so really I think this is a mute point. I must remain where I am (fixed on His plan), I must stay put (committed to His will), and I must follow this path (Phoenix) until He tells me otherwise. He is good to me, and I trust Him with everything, every ounce of my life, every fiber in my being, and every single decision I am asked to make. Selah! It is done. So be it.

August 9, 2017

WOW! Wednesday!

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and the air temperature is moderately warm, but not too hot (yet!) I woke up early, around 8:30, but returned to bed due to a pounding headache. I am up now (10), and with my hot coffee, my headache is starting to dissipate. I am well today, despite not sleeping as soundly as possible last evening. I was up until 1 a.m. grading final essay drafts, and by the time I finally turned into the bed, my eyes were so sore and tired. I did sleep fairly well, but I think I needed a couple extra hours to fully recover. Oh well!

It is Wednesday, and so much is on tap for this good day. First, we finally got positive news back on the vehicle we hope to buy. I blogged about this recently, how I needed to get a newer car for my son. We've been ride sharing for nearly 1.5 years, and well, the time has come for him to have his own car. I have put off buying another junker simply because I feel like that is just a waste of well-earned cash. Instead, I have been saving for a new car, hoping to purchase it out right. Unfortunately, I was called to teach at GCU for another semester, and with my son's needs at ACU, the whole "ride sharing" thing was going to be really complicated.

Praise Report

Last week, I called a business connection who deals in car leasing. Leasing has always been an option for us, but I really wanted to buy a car instead of leasing one. My son needed something reliable, and I needed to keep our payment low, so I opted for a lease. Our goal is to buy it out at the end of the three years, if possible. Friday, we did a test drive and measure, just to be sure we were happy with the vehicle. We found one we liked, but it wasn't available locally. After some finagling with the dealer, we found the color and style at another dealer in Prescott Valley. The good news is that the car is being hauled down here today, so we should have it to lease this afternoon. God is so good to us! He made this way possible, and so today, I am giving Him a great "Shout Out" because He is good, He is faithful, and He keeps His promises!

This week has been challenging, and not just for the whole "will we/won't we" get the car scenario. On Monday, I received word that I would be teaching 50-65 students per class at GCU again. I felt confident that I would not have to teach on campus this fall, but as the days wore on and the time passed, it became evident that I would have to keep those contracts. More so, I received a request to teach out at ASU, literally ending my option for teaching full-time there. I took it in stride, knowing the Lord had a better plan for me. Then this morning, I received a request to interview for Western Governor's University. I had applied a long time ago, but as has happened in the past, I never expected to hear from them. I read the request, and as I did it, I felt my stomach sink. In some ways, I was really surprised to receive the request, but in other ways, I thought, "Oh, no! Now?" I mean, I have applied at this school more than a dozen times over the past 8 years. Never a peep from them. I prayed over the option, and then I did some searching on interviewing and such. Turns out, the school has a noncompete clause for 12 months, which means I would have to give up my existing work to take the job. More so, the interview process is incredibly challenging, multiple levels and people, all online with a presentation and an essay. Really, for the money, I thought what they were asking was over the top. Lastly, there was a week long training session in Utah, and well, with my ground campus classes contracted, it would have been difficult to meet that requirement. In all, while I was surprised at the opportunity to interview, I realized today that I am in a really good place. I have good work, albeit all part-time, but I have great freedom to do my work as I desire. This job was a "9-5, 40 hours, be on the phone, but work from home" position. The last thing I want to do is commit to being tied to the phone -- at home! Been there, done that before with CVS and UOPX! No, I am a free bird, and I am staying that way as long as the Lord provides for me.

It is weird to think that I just turned down an interview for a full-time position after I said that I would take any and all work the Lord provided to me. I guess the caveat was that I would take any and all part-time work the Lord provided. So far, all the work He has provided has never conflicted with anything else. I was not asked to give anything up, and because I feel confident in what He has promised me, I can stay at the ready and be patient for His best work to come. I am not panicked. I am not afraid, and I know He will provide to me. Some might say that I should have simply interviewed, but I don't want to waste their time or mine, and if I am not set on working for the company, there is no reason to interview for the job. More so, one of the questions was "why do you want to work for us" and I thought, "Really, I don't." Enuf said. If I cannot honestly say I want to work for the company, I have no business interviewing.
Resting in His Provision

This morning as I was waking up, I was praying to the Lord. I was asking for clarification on my path, where I am at present, and where He intends to send me in the future. I pretty much know that I am to "remain" where I am, but that "remain" doesn't mean stay in Phoenix (for a short time only), rather it means to remain on the path, to stay committed to God's plan. I believe His plan is set, and I am walking on a path that leads to the completion of His plan. Thus, I am to "remain" where I am, to keep on walking in this way, to not deviate from the path. It took me a while to understand that "remain" didn't just mean stay put in Phoenix, but that it had much larger and wider connotations.

As I think about it now, I believe the Lord's word to me, "REMAIN," meant to stay right where I am -- to be wholly and completely dependent on Him. I am to not change my way, but to be committed to His work, His way, and of course, His will. More so, as He was speaking to me this morning, He said that in the next day or two, I would have more clarification on my life and His plan for it. I cannot help but think that this request for an interview was part of that promised revelation. I am comfortable in my decision to fore go the offer, but I cannot help but take the receipt of email as the first provision to come to me. The Lord offered, I responded. This was not His will, I know it. Yet, the provision came. I guess what I am saying is that sometimes when the Lord releases His bounty to us, we receive many things, not all of them are His best. It is like when He releases His power, people, and things move as a result. I had applied for this job almost 9 months ago, and they finally decided I was a worthy candidate. The job has been open for a year. This means that they must have interviewed many more people and finally decided to give my resume a twirl. So just because the provision came, doesn't mean it was His best provision. It was simply part of the outflowing of His mercy and goodness. At the least, this is what I think happened.

The Lord said that I should expect change and that change would come to me in a massive way. So much has already happened to me this week, I honestly cannot imagine what more He has in mind for me. I know for certain that I am set on work (I have enough). I know we have a car purchased for my son (praise God!) I know that I still need more income to cover my debts and to prepare for a possible move in the early Spring. More so, I know that my student loans are coming due soon, and I will need to be able to pay for them. I have some credit challenges as well. Unfortunately, the folks at Kia messed up my application yesterday. They submitted my application to lease in the place of another person's application to buy. As a result, I was denied purchase and my credit report took a blow. Now, I will need to repair this error. I am not concerned, but it does affect my buying power. I need to get my credit cards and my Nissan paid off so I can be considered credit worthy again, especially if I want to buy a house next year.

The Lord has promised security to me. I am in a good place, but my budget is very tight right now. I need to get some of my finances under control moving forward into 2017-2018. I know He will guide me, and I know He will help me recover financially, BUT until that time, I need to be wise about what I consent to do each and every day. I need to be fiscally sound in all my decisions.

Furthermore, the Lord has provided for my life by giving me a career I love. The last thing I want to do is take work that will drive that love out of me. I am not desperate for work, so I am not going to jump at the chance to be employed if it means giving up the work I love to do. No job, no money, is worth suffering that way. I have sacrificed for 8 years to get to where I am today, and the Lord has graciously made it possible for me to be a professor. I plan to be a professor. I plan to remain in academia and to do this work until I retire. Therefore, I no longer control the job in that I am trusting the Lord to lead, guide, and provide for me, and that means, to provide the best job or combination of jobs to suit His plans for my life. I don't need to be hired full-time to be satisfied financially. I don't need one job to cover me. I need His blessing and provision, and I need His hand upon my life. I need HIM in all things, and in this way, I will have the security, provision, and comfort I desire, I want, and, yes, I need.

Lastly, as I recall His words to me this morning, I must prepare for major change. He mentioned navigating the "choppy waters of debt" and that means that His focus is on clearing my debt. More so, He said I needed to be prepared for the change that is coming, and that preparation was mental. I need to get my head in the game, be ready mentally, to deal with the changes in my life. I must be ready to handle whatever He allows and whatever I run into as I walk on this path. This path is blessed, I believe it. This path is good, I know it. This path is prosperous, I am confident in it. But, this path is a challenging one. It is difficult, and it requires much of my time. I am driven to produce, to succeed, to excel, and as such, I am ready to tackle the workload. But, I know that with that workload comes much sacrifice. I must continue to sacrifice everything in order to do His work. I will give up my free time, my family and friend time, simply to do this work. I know, I know. I am a workaholic, and this is true. I don't work for the money, per se, but I do work to achieve results. I work hard, long hours, and with great diligence only in order to see results. My Ph.D. was all about performance and doing my best. I wanted nothing but His best, and for me, that was to earn all As. I did just that, and now that I am no longer in school, my desire is to take my performance and drive and turn it heavenward. I am driven to do His work, to complete the tasks He has assigned to me, and to do so in order to achieve good results -- His results.

I make no bones about the fact that this is my life, and that I have chosen this path. I had a decision, I was part of the decision making process, and I could have chosen another, less intense, way to go. The Lord offered me the choice, and I took the hard way, the difficult way, the challenging way simply because it was the shortest time to completion. I wanted to rest at the end, and for me and to my mind, this meant doing the hard nasty work first. Eating the FROG as Mark Twain suggested just so I could get it over with and get on with my life. I am all about doing to hard work first, and even though some might think I am lazy, the truth is I am far from lazy. I am a hard worker, and I never give up. I don't give up, at the least, I don't remember the last time I said, "I quit. I give up." Of course, I tell the Lord this all the time, but I mean quitting or giving up as far as His work is concerned. I am a "do or die" kind of person, and because of my work ethic, there is no "quitting" allowed. Now, don't get me wrong. I love to "veg out," to "chill" and I do this all the time. In fact, most afternoons, you will find me lounging on my bed with my phone as I surf the internet. In the evenings, when I am not grading, I will be on my bed, watching Netflix or Amazon on my laptop. I do "veg" well, but at other times, it is "every man to the main sail" and I am all in. This is why last night, I graded until 1 a.m. I did everything I had to do, so today, I can focus on prepping for GCU and ASU. This is how I roll, so to speak. I work really hard for short bursts of time, 4-5-6 hours, and then I relax and chill. It is this ebb and flow pattern that must not be disrupted. I mean, I am happy to work full-time, but I like this push, then pull, then push approach to work and to life. It is what I have done since my early teens, and I have always been very successful at it.

In Closing

In closing, as I think about the plans the Lord has for my life, I believe that He has no intention of disrupting my approach to work. Instead, He intends to go with the flow of it. This means that as the blessings come to me, I will need to sort through them and I will need to be a bit picky. I will need to only receive the ones that fit my lifestyle. The other blessings are sent back out to land on someone else, someone who needs them more than I do. This way, I am passing His blessing on to others, and that allows me to be a blessing to other people. He is good to me, and I want to be good to others. He gives to me liberally, generously, and I intend to do that as well. In all things, I give Him thanks. In all things, I desire to bring Him praise and honor. In all things, my life, my heart, and my mind are positioned and poised to worship and adore Him. He is worthy, so very worthy, and today, I lift up my sacrifice of praise in order to worship Him! Selah! It is done!

August 8, 2017

This is the Day!

Today is a blessed day. It is Tuesday, August 8, and I am sitting in my office (aka, at my desk) drinking my coffee and reading the news. It is a low-key end of summer day, and I feel blessed, really blessed. I have all my needs met, including all my immediate and mid-range ones. I am working toward my long term needs, but for now, I am in this good place, this very good place, where I can confidently hope that everything I need, long term, will be provided to me. Yes, I feel confident that I am on a good path, and that this path, will lead me to a successful and prosperous life down the road.

As I consider my needs long term, I realize that right now, I have everything covered. I mean, I have a nice home to live in, a reliable car to drive, and I have good practical work to do every day. More so, I have my education behind me, such blessing as it was, and that means that I am able to move forward without thinking about any more school. I love school, don't get me wrong, and for a time, I thought I would just keep on going, adding in more degrees as time passed by. Now, though, I feel like I did when I finished my Masters' degree. I was so ready for a break. God was gracious and gave me a whole year to rest from my Masters before I began my Ph.D.

In hindsight, I can see how beneficial it was for me. I needed to decompress, but also, I was in this "move" phase where I had to move from my townhome to the home I am in now. I really needed to focus on work for a time, and on giving myself to my practical work. When the year rolled around, so much had changed for me. I was ready to tackle doctoral work, and I was ready for a major life change. I moved from my town home to this shared home, and then later, I left my cushy 9-5 job for a job working as an Instructional Assistant and then Adjunct teacher. The process was important, and even though I really didn't see what was to come (meaning back then, I was panicked over the change), I felt confident that I was making the right decision at the right time. Let me explain...

First, it was difficult to leave my own home (the first in 30 years) to move back in with my parents. I had just come through a difficult separation, and while the divorce wouldn't happen for another year, I had lost my home, the home I shared with my husband (first to infidelity and second to foreclosure). I had moved from that home to a rented place near the community college so that my son could ride his bike to school. The home I rented was a lovely place, and the Lord provided it to me through His power and His authority. I say that because I was given placement over five other applications, and in the 18-months that I lived there, I was able to reside in peace. It was a blessed placement. It was His best for me during one of the most difficult times of my life.

Second, when I made the decision to leave that home and move back in with my parents, I was so unsure if I was making the right choice. I mean, I was giving up my freedom, my space, and my needs for that of my parents. I was returning to my former life, and in that way, it was so difficult to know if the decision would work out well for all of us. In the end, while there were some challenges, the fact remained that I had obeyed the Lord, followed His lead, and moved to a home that I could have never afforded on my own. Moreover, the time I have spent with my parents has been worthwhile. I have enjoyed their company, and I know that my presence here has given them more freedom than had they lived on their own in an apartment. Let's say, they have extended their abilities to live alone simply because I am here with them. It has been a good thing.

Third, the decision to leave my cushy job, the highest paying job I have held thus far in my career, was really trying. I was unhappy at CVS, mostly due to poor management decisions, but I liked the work -- a lot. I liked the environment, and I liked the challenge. I enjoyed going to work most days. But, the thought of trying to manage the workload and school was simply too much for me, and I asked the Lord for another way, a way that would make it possible for me to do well in my studies. I wanted all "As" and I knew that I would have to work very hard to do that level of work. Plus, I knew that my doctoral program was all about Him, so I wanted to give Him my best. The Lord provided a way for me to do just that, and in the end, I graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. It was not easy, but I did my best, and praise to God, I was able to grow in more ways that I could have ever imagined had I stayed in my old position. I knew the decision to transition to teaching was a good one, and today, I know for certain it was the best decision I could have ever made, bar none.

Fourth, learning how to do a different kind of work was very challenging for me. I am adaptable, capable, and pretty flexible, but I am a control-driven person. I manage details well. I need to administrate, and teaching doesn't always allow me to be in control of all those details -- namely -- my students and their performance. It was so difficult learning to let go, to accept my students' weaknesses, and to realize that I couldn't control the outcome. However, as I have let go of what I can't control, I have embraced what I can. In this way, I have grown more precise, more specific, and yes, more empowered to change what is within my grasp. I guess you could say that I have become wiser in the process. I can let some things go because I understand my role and responsibility better.

Last, the transformational change that occurred as a result of these decisions was life creating. What I mean by this is simply that the change created a new kind of life for me. I left behind the old "Carol" while I embraced the new "Carol" and in this way, I was transformed into this very different kind of person. No longer was I timid and unsure of my mental and intellectual faculties, rather, I was emboldened with the knowledge that for once and for all, in short -- I am SMART. I am not Einstein brilliant, mind you, but I am very, very intelligent. My proof is in the Ph.D. pudding as they say. I was able to complete two advanced degrees with a 3.9 and 4.0 GPA, and I did both in less than 8 years. I proved to myself, rather than to others, that I was "once and for all" a smart cookie. I cannot tell you what my accomplished has done for my inner self-esteem, but suffice it to say, all those horrible naysayers from my childhood and early working career are figuratively put to shame. They called me names, made me feel inadequate, and after my effort was extended, I proved them wrong. They don't know that fact, mind you, but inside of me, I felt the stamp of VICTORY as the Lord pronounced my efforts to be worthy and well-done! I did it, I achieved the most difficult thing imaginable, and I was transformed through the process! Praise God! He is good, He is so good to me.

In addition to my achievement, the new life that was created for me came as a result of my willingness to change from corporate work to academic work. I found my passion, my desire, and yes, even my intensity as I settled into this niche. I found my "sweet spot," and while I don't have that steady "tenure" position, what I do have is a wonderful career that brings me enjoyment day in and day out. I can easily say that I love my life -- my work life -- and I love the work I do.

Furthermore, inside of me, something else has changed. The process of learning to let go, let God lead, and let Him provide for me has changed me in ways that I cannot always express. My faith has grown significantly as I have learned to lean on Him and depend on Him. I have needed His help every day -- just to maintain my lifestyle -- and in this way, I have become accustomed to reaching out for His hand. He is my Shepherd, my Guide, and I have become very comfortable as His sheep and servant. I simply am content to be where I am -- to remain where I am -- throughout my remaining days. There is comfort in knowing your place, in resting (ceasing to strive), and in this way, I have come to understand the blessing of abiding in His sweet presence. I am happy to abide, and when I abide, I feel at peace. I have rest. I am completely comforted. It is hard to explain, but I have learned how to be this way through the difficult transition that took place -- from separation to divorce -- and later through the various pathway changes that impacted and influenced my home life and my career and education.

Today, I can say that the path I am on is a good one. It has been rocky, difficult, challenging, and at times, almost unscalable, but now, at least for a short while, it is smooth and easy to walk. I am walking at an easy pace, and I am comfortable. Hopefully, soon, the path will again lead me upward, to new heights, to new challenges, and in this way, I will continue to gain strength, maturity, and wisdom. I long to scale new heights, to see what He has in mind and in store for me, but I know that with each new challenge comes a time of preparation, a time of intense preparation, in order to be ready, to be "fit" for the work He has decided I should do. I feel that I am about to enter another time of preparation, and not just in my daily schedule (as in preparing for my teaching duties) but in my life. This time, I am preparing for more challenging days ahead, and sadly some of that preparation will include heartache and heartbreak as I have to face my parents' eventual deaths. I know that sounds morbid, but I have to be realistic and practical and that means that some day my parents, whom I dearly love, will no longer be with me. They have provided comfort to me, their presence and their lives have been intertwined with mine. They will not always be here, and as they each turn 84, the days become shorter, less numbered, so to speak. It is a fact of life, and the Lord has graciously helped me accept this fact, and now is helping me to prepare for the day when I will be completely alone.

Likewise, as my son completes his final year of school, plans are already in place for him to study abroad for a year. This means that with my parents eventual passing, and my son's year abroad, I will be all alone -- all alone. I will have no one to live with me, save my cats, and for the first time ever in my entire life, I will be single in mind, body, and spirit. I will be all alone, and I will have to deal with this change. I need to prepare for it, and while I understand it is part of the change of life, I still have to be ready to handle it. I am a strong person, and I value my alone time, but I have never been 100% alone before, and this is a new state of being for me. I have to be ready, made ready, and the Lord is working to help me be comfortable in my season of aloneness.

New Steps Lead to New Places

One of the ways the Lord is preparing me is in His insistence that I "go." I have blogged ad infinitum about the many times the Lord has said to me, "Go!" His voice has clearly expressed His command, and with that command, I have said, "Yes, Lord, I will go!" However, as I have blogged, rarely have I gone anywhere at all. I have pretty much stayed in this place, mostly due to the fact that I had no resources to help me move from here to there. Now, however, as the time comes to a close on this chapter of my life, I am in this very good place. I am ready to really go, to really pick up stakes and move to a new place. As I think back over the many times He has said for me to go, I realize now that He was telling me I was to go, but not necessarily at that moment in time. He was telling me to go -- as in "you have my permission to go" -- but I was to wait for the provision to go. I am sure I got the message mixed up because I have felt guilty for not actually going anywhere at all. Now, though, I see that all of the previous years have led me to this place, to the maturity required to be ready to really go forward. It is very possible that the Lord's command to go was simply a confirmation that I would "go someday" and that I would need to be ready for that day. Hence, I believe that now that day has come. I am to go, and I am ready to go. He has made me ready, and with His constant presence, and His promised provision, I can "see" my way. I can actually see the possibility of going whereas before I could barely even imagine it. Now, it is a realistic option for me, and with my foresight, I can see even fine details. Yes, the time has come for me to go, and I am ready -- not just physically, but mentally and spiritually -- ready to go.

Ready to Move, But Not Prepared

During the early years of my journey with the Lord, I believed I would move some place other than Phoenix. As I have blogged before, I have considered a number of other places in the midwest and east. I have looked north, south, east, and west, and while I believed that I would move eventually, I never really understood the timing nor the process that would lead me, prepare me, and make me ready to actually move. I would say that over the past 10 years, I have tried to figure out where the Lord intended to plant me. Would it be in Chattanooga, TN? Would it be in Virginia Beach, VA? Would it be in Northern Illinois? Or would I remain here in Phoenix?

As I reflect back, I can see why I have focused on each place. Each place coincided with a specific season in my life, and in each season, I had certain needs. For example, Tennessee was the place I first considered when my life was in deep despair and turmoil (2007). My marriage was beginning to crumble, and I was desperate for some solution to our problem. There was a very strong possibility (at that time) that I would end up a single woman, but not through a divorce, rather through death. Between 2007-09, my now ex-husband suffered two major illnesses that for all intents and purposes should have taken his life. I was told as much by the doctors. I was told to be prepared for the strong possibility of this happening to me. I believed it was a matter of time, so my drive to relocate was more of necessity than desire. I believed the Lord was calling me to a place, to work, and to live where I could realistically raise my son as a single woman. As time passed, I never moved there. My ex-husband miraculously recovered (again the doctors said it was impossible), but with his recovery, he made the decision to follow a different path in his life, a path that didn't include me or our son. So despite the physical recovery, our marriage came to an end in 2010. I ended up a single woman, divorced, and left facing life alone.

As I think back on those difficult and dark days leading up to my separation and divorce, I remember that it was during this same time that I asked the Lord for three specific things. First, I asked for Him to heal my husband and restore our marriage. Second, I asked for a proper job (a proper job consisted of one that paid a regular salary and not being self-employed) for me and for my husband. I knew that I needed a job that would provide for all of us since my husband was not able to work for much of the time that followed. In my specific request, I asked the Lord for a job that I would love (be passionate about) and that would honor and serve Him. I didn't ask for a specific type of job other than one that I could do for the rest of my days, whereby I would have a "title" (such as a doctor, lawyer, or other professional) so that I didn't have to explain what I did when I was asked. Third, I asked for a ministry position that would fill my life and give it purpose. I worked in voluntary ministry roles for years, but I wanted to be "about my Father's business" daily, and for that, I wanted a full-time ministry position.

I remember the process clearly. I was researching possible jobs in Chattanooga, believing that the Lord wanted me to move there, when I came across Tennessee Temple University. I browsed the website, looking at jobs, etc., and it was at this moment when I thought about continuing my education. I really hadn't thought about graduate school for a long while, but something about this school just made me think about getting a Masters' degree and working at a college or university as a career. I remember asking the Lord if it would ever be possible for me to return to school (at some point) to get my Masters degree. As I said, I had never really thought about it as a possibility since my husband, up to that point, had forbidden it.

After some more time researching online, I found a non-profit organization that combined ministry and education. I had never heard of the group before, and even to this day, I don't remember their name or their website address. However, I do remember feeling this strong pull toward their ministry, and I remember thinking that if I could do something like what this organization was doing, I would be so happy. I spent some time considering their open jobs but was disappointed when I noticed that for all the administrative jobs, the educational requirement was a Ph.D. I remember thinking, "Lord, I would love to do this work, but I don't have the education required." Still, I prayed about the job, the organization, and the education, despite the fact that the cost to me would be 8 years of schooling. How could I return to school when my path had been previously blocked? I wasn't sure what the Lord wanted me to do, but I felt this strong desire to pray about this position more and more, so I did. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I prayed in the Spirit, and I asked the Lord if I could return to school to be educated for a ministry position like this one, and then, if I could go and do this kind of work as a result of that education.

In hindsight, the funny thing is I never did move to TN, and like I said, I don't even remember the name of the organization that had the job I thought I wanted. More so, over the years, I have tried to find the organization, but I cannot find them on the Internet. It is like this organization all but vanished! Yet, the outcome of that experience, those prayers, have been the path my life has followed. I didn't work for that ministry organization. I didn't move to TN. But, I did go back to school, complete two degrees, and now I am an adjunct instructor. Moreover, I am confident that the Lord does have a ministry for me, and that ministry requires the coveted, sought after, and deeply wanted, Ph.D.

Prepared and Trained, Now What?

I believe now that the years in between have been set aside for preparation and training. The Lord gave me the desire to move, to relocate, but He also gave me the desire to be educated and to move into a position that would enable me to do this specific work. Moreover, the desire to move has created a willingness to follow the Lord. In obedience, I have looked at many places, possible places, where I could do my eventual work and ministry. I have explored so many options for relocation, but in all these years, I have not moved anywhere at all. Why is this so? Why haven't I moved yet? I believe the reason why I haven't moved yet is simply that the Lord wasn't ready for me to move. The Lord wasn't finished preparing me to move, and with my preparation now complete, I am ready to go.

Yet, how can I go without His provision to enable me to go. I believe that this is the next step on His agenda for my life. I believe that the Lord is making the provision ready for me, and until it comes to me, must wait patiently. I must wait for His blessed provision. I believe God never tells us to go empty handed. He always provides for us. Therefore, as I wait for His blessed provision, I am to be busy doing what I can to prepare for this move. I have planned it out tentatively. I have scoped out possible places for living. I have considered many options, many possibilities, and many paths. I am settled right now on one path, but I am waiting for clarification and provision and an open door. For now, I simply wait. I do what I can, but I wait for His leading. If what I feel is His will, His plan, and His purpose for my life, it will come to pass. I believe it will be so, but for now, I must simply hold onto my faith, my belief, and my assurance that He will lead, guide, and provide for me all the days of my life. He is good to me, so very good to me.
In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am comforted in the knowledge that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am doing the work He desires for me to do. I am living out my days, temporary as they are. I am working, steadily toward His anticipated outcome, and I am faithfully attending to the tasks He has given to me. I am ready to go, but I know that the next 6-9 or even 12 months will determine the actual timing of the event. I cannot run ahead of the Lord nor can I try to make His plans come to pass on my own. I must be patient. I must wait. I must trust Him to provide, and in doing so, I will reap the blessed benefit of His bounty. He is good to me, so very good to me!

August 7, 2017

Monday, Monday!

It is a good Monday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear and that means that our daytime highs will be back into the low 100s today. The humidity is still running higher than normal, but we are in the monsoon season, so that is to be expected. It is a good day, though, and hopefully, today will be the day we hear news about my son's new vehicle.

It is late morning right now, and I haven't heard anything back from the broker or dealer regarding the vehicle we asked about on Friday. The dealer was working on a trade (from another location), and they were closed on Sunday. Our expectations are high that sometime today we will hear back that they located the car and that they are willing to do the trade for it. If not, then our search will begin again, and well, that is just what goes on when you are leasing a vehicle rather than purchasing one.

I am confident that we will hear some news soon. We have the entire week to get this thing sorted, and praise God, I am sure we will hear back affirmatively soon. Until then, it is just business as usual here in Phoenix. Yes, we are in summer wind down / fall prep mode here in sunny and humid, Phoenix!
Getting Ready

It is August 7, and that means that I have two more weeks until school begins again. I just received contracts for ASU, which tells me that I am no longer a candidate for the full-time position. I am not bummed or anything. More so, I am really relieved because now I know what the plans are for my fall semester. I will be busy with my contracts at ASU, Regent, and GCU, and well, I am well-set, good, and fully satisfied with the outcome. The Lord has provided well for me, and should Grantham get on the stick and call me, all the merrier, I say. In fact, I checked with Central Texas College, and my application for that online position is still under review. Who knows! Perhaps I will end up with contracts for their program as well.  In truth, I have said to the Lord that I would teach as many classes as He would offer to me. If I teach 5, 6, 7 or more, He will sustain me. I am free. I mean, I have no obligations for anything other than teaching, so right now, I am willing and able to teach as many classes as possible. I know He has my limits in mind, but I am happy to earn as much income as possible simply to help settle my debts. I want to be debt free by January, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there (Lord, willing). He is good to me. He knows me well, and praise God, He has me so well-covered.

As I consider my schedule for fall, right now I am set for on-campus and online. I will be at GCU three days a week (MWF) from 12:30-4:30. I will be online for two classes during the first 8 weeks of the semester and three classes the second 8 weeks. My workload right now is about as it was last year, with the exception that I was also working on my dissertation research. Really, 5-6 classes is a piece of cake for me. I think I could easily teach 7-8, so long as they were online.

My week ahead looks low-key for now. My plan is to get my lessons organized and perhaps even create some new lesson plans so that I can be super managed in my time. I feel good about what I have completed thus far, but I want to make my on-campus courses better. My goal thus is to review what I have, to reorganize all my materials, and get my self-settled so I am ready to go come August 28 (at GCU). My online courses are simply a repeat, but I want to improve these as well. I hope to make some short intro videos and commentary videos to help my students succeed in their assignments.

In all, I guess you could say that I feel well today. I am still battling some issues with my tummy, but overall, I am in this good place now. I have a line on a vehicle for my son. I have my contracts set for fall, and really, other than dealing with the leftover issues related to prep and planning, I am set. I am set. I am so well set.

Moving On

The Lord has provided abundantly for me today. In fact, I am well-covered financially. I feel confident going into this semester that my bills are, once again, accounted for and that I will be able to meet my monthly obligations without fear or worry. More so, as I look forward to the spring, I can see opportunity on the horizon. I am in this very good place, and with His provision, I feel confident that I am ready to move whenever He is ready to move me.

In fact, I believe that the reason why I have received these part-time contracts for a fifth year is simplt to make it really easy for me to move. I mean, had I been employed full-time, even online, I had no understanding of if I could move out of state. I would have felt obligated to the school, but now, while I appreciate their gracious gift of teaching contracts, I realize that I am contracted -- semester by semester -- as needed. They decide if they need me, and I decide if the school is a good fit for my experience and my requirements. It all works out well. I am not tied to school activities. I am not tied to other commitments. I can come and go as I please and as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. I don't have to feel threatened or uncertain. I can remain faithful, in hope and with great expectation, for the Lord's merciful hand and blessed grace to fall over my life. I am indebted to Him, and He is my King.

Moreover, I rely on Him completely this way. I am in full dependency on His provision, and with my reliance settled, I know that what He asks me to do is over and above my own abilities. I can only imagine doing His work, but with His help, I actually am able to do it. He is good to me. He is so very good to me.

So this day, as I close this blog post, I lift up a sacrifice of praise to God for His perfect provision. I am good. I am so good, and He has blessed me beyond my imagination. He is amazing, and I bow before Him this good day, and I lift my voice to adore and to worship His majesty! Selah! So be it! Thy will be done! Amen!

August 5, 2017

Change and Moving Foward

Happy Saturday! It is a good day here in sunny and humid Phoenix. The sun is shining this morning, and the skies are absolutely clear. Our recent monsoon has left us with a clear forecast for the next couple days but has brought a lot of moisture that has caused our temperatures to be sticky hot. The good news is that the rain has been beneficial, and the recent storm (the other day) caused quite a bit of damage to the south of us. We were pelted by heavy rain and hail, but there was no real damage in my neighborhood. God is good! He is so very good!

I also slept pretty well last night so I can say for certain that I feel good today. I have a slight tummy discomfort, but I am thinking that was the result of my late night dinner (with my son) after our interesting and eventual afternoon yesterday (more on that below). I am drinking my coffee, and enjoying some toast with jam, while my buddy, "Winston" lounges on my desk near me. It is a near perfect day, and I for one am praising God for His goodness, His mercy, and His lovingkindness. He is good to me. He is so very good to me! Selah
News and Notes

I am enjoying my downtime this week. My students are working on the final paper, so I have had a pretty low-key week. I have graded most everything, and other than interacting on the discussion boards or with students via email, text or Skype, I've been able to really just relax and take it easy. School begins again soon, so I am trying to rest as much as I can this week and next. I will be back to full-time (on campus and online) in just about three weeks.

My prayer is that I am able to handle the extra workload and to keep my life here at home in check. I need a certain amount of income to cover my expenses. I am in this unusual place where I am trying very hard to deal with my own future as well as be involved in the future plans of those I love. I am in this weird place, really. I mean, I am finished with school. I have my Ph.D., but I don't have a full-time faculty position yet. I have multiple part-time positions, and while I am thankful for the work, sometimes I wonder if it is best for me to work so hard at so many jobs. Wouldn't it be easier to work at one job only?

My gut says yes, but I am trusting the Lord for His provision, and I have said that I would do whatever work He provides to me. Thus, if He provides one job, so be it. If He provides two, so be it. If it is three or more, then I am okay with it. I accept His provision no matter how much work is involved in receiving it. He knows my needs well, and I am trusting Him to provide for me.

A case in point is my son's need for a car. The other day, as I was praying, yet again, for the provision of a car, my son came and told me that his semester schedule just got even crazier than he had thought previously. I was put into a difficult spot, and I had to ask my Dad for his help with ride sharing again. Okay, so not my first choice for another year, but I said, "Lord, if this is how you intend to provide, so be it." I relented. It was less than a day when my son came again and said that due to his recent performance at work, his manager had doubled his current rate of pay. Thus, in less than 24 hours, my son went from being able to pay for a car (like meeting the minimum) to be well-covered to pay for a car.

I asked the Lord for a next step, and whether I should reach out to a man who deals in leasing new cars and helping buyers purchase newer used cars. I stepped out in faith on Thursday by emailing him our information, not even sure if we would qualify for a lease (with my school debt). Then, yesterday we went and "test drove" a lease car at the dealer. Leasing has been an option for us only in that we could get a new car for less down and make a lower payment overall. I plan to purchase the lease in three years, so it made sense to lease for a short time, and then buyout. The car that we test drove has a special deal attached to it, so when we do the buyout, we only pay 50% of the sticker price. It works out to be less than what it would cost us now to buy a 2-3-year-old car. I had hoped to simply pay cash for a car, and while I have saved close to $10k already, the fact was that I simply would not have enough money to do that for another semester or so. We were stuck, and well, time was running out.

Today, I am waiting to hear if my credit is good enough. I owe a boatload of debt, and the dealer may see me as a credit risk. I am praying that everything goes well, and Lord willing, we should be able to get a new car within a couple days. If not, so be it. I am trusting the Lord for His provision.

The fact is that as I sit here and think about all the reasons why the dealer could turn me down for a lease, I realize that I am simply 100% dependent on the Lord for His provision. I have to trust the Lord, not the dealer, the salesperson or even the broker, to make this happen. I have to trust the Lord for His grace, mercy, and goodness. I believe He will provide. I believe He will make this happen for us. I believe He will show me the way to go, and in following after Him, my way will be blessed.

My prayer today is for good news. I am still waiting to hear about schools and contracts, but for now, my only prayer is for His will to be done, and for His provision to come to me so we can move forward into this semester fully prepared for the change that He has spoken to me, told me, and anointed me to handle. It is coming, and the Lord will see to all my needs with His power, authority, and sufficiency.
Considering Options for the Next Year

As I sit here and think about my life and what might be in the coming year, I am constantly reminded that God's plan and His purpose are from eternity. Meaning, God has a plan for my life, and as such, His plan accomplishes His purpose and will. Thus, the plan I am attending to today is a plan that the Lord laid out for me a long, long, long time ago. I have blogged about my life, how I married when I shouldn't have married, and how the opportunity to go to graduate school came and went many years ago. My calling to teaching and the ministry was never fulfilled in all my work life and personal life -- until that is -- my then husband asked me for a divorce. I ended up a single woman, and with no career option in front of me, the Lord graciously gave me a do over. I received a chance to start over, and in doing things over, I committed to Him (covenanted) that I would follow Him, His will, His plan, and that I would do so in His way. This was my side of the bargain. He would restore my life, give me a new plan, purpose, and a way to walk, and I would simply trust and obey. I would follow Him all the days of my life, walking after Him, trusting Him, relying on Him, and abiding in Him. Since that time, my life has changed. I have been transformed for sure, but the paths I have followed have brought me to this place in time where I am working almost full-time as a teacher, and I am about to embark on a life time of ministry. In short, all that the Lord had asked of me "pre-marriage" has come to pass "post-marriage." My former life has been restored, and while I am not that same naive 19-year-old, I am instead a mature 54-year-old, the facts remain. He has made a way for me to accomplish His will at this late stage of the game. I am doing what He asked me to do so many years ago, but now I do it with His strength, power, and provision.

I go now with His assurance, security, and knowledge. I don't take a step forward without His approval, and just like yesterday when we did the whole "test drive," I believed and I believe today, that it was meant to be. Thus, I am worried a bit (simply from the standpoint of not knowing), but I am resting in His abilities to make this happen. It is a good thing. I don't have a lack of peace. In fact, I would say that I am calm and in control. I am more just apprehensive about the process since I don't know what to expect. But, my faith is staunchly settled on Jesus, and my faith rests in the belief that Jesus is my sole sufficiency.

Therefore, as I think about options for next year, I realize that I am where I am for a reason. As much as I had hoped to purchase a car for my son earlier in the year, June to be precise, I ended up having to take my parents to Indiana instead. Then I felt the Lord would provide by the end of the summer, but as the summer drew near, I panicked. I was overwhelmed with the details of how to get him where he needs to be and get me out to my destination. One car would not work for us again. The Lord intervened, and well, this challenge is resolved. Now, I look at the next challenge, which I had thought would be a full-time job. Since this has not materialized, I have come to see that the Lord chose to take me another way, another route, and in doing so, I am well-provided for -- but worked a bit more than I would have preferred. It has taken me a couple weeks to accept the fact that I will not work full-time at any of the schools where I am currently employed. I have held out hope, but the Lord has consistently told me to rest in the matter, to not worry about it, so I finally let it go. Now, I see that He has provided for each and every item on my "future needs list," and that we are working our way through it quickly.

  • Graduate with my Ph.D. (May 2017)
  • Full-time job teaching (June 2017 - after transcript posts) OR part-time (multiple positions)
  • Purchase a car for my son (June, then August 2017)
  • Pay off my credit cards and student loans (December 2018)
  • Purchase a house (January 2018)
In my short list above, the Lord has satisfied each need, and while the job didn't pan out as I had hoped, what has been provided is going to be better in the long run. Let me explain...

I had interviewed for a full-time position where I currently teach. The job would have been a good one, but the workload was really heavy. As part-time faculty now, I can make good money, and relatively easily (lighter workload). By adding in a fourth part-time position, I actually increased my overall salary while maintaining the workload of just this one position. So I almost tripled my salary (2.5 times) without adding so many students and courses that I couldn't do a good job. It is weird to think of it this way, but the Lord provided a better solution to me. I will make more money, despite not having benefits and such. I will have to provide for myself as I do now, but I will have more freedom, less pressure, and less mandatory participation outside of teaching students. Thus, I will be able to do the grind, so to speak, for one purpose and that is to make really great money over the next 15 years. Most of my colleagues are looking for "career positions," and while that is great, at my age, it simply is not practical. My colleagues are in their early to mid-30s so they have 30 years left to earn that lucrative tenure-track position. In my mid-50s, I am only concerned with retirement. The Lord has provided a way for me to really hustle (which is what I prefer) and earn a solid retirement at the same time.

I am not sure if the reason why we are leasing is to help me manage my tax burden or if it is for ministry or the fact that I am going to be an independent contractor. I am thinking this is so, and as such, the Lord has made a way for me to be self-employed doing a job I love, all the while being free to manage His interests and desires. As I think about all of this change, I cannot but wonder what will be next year at this time. I mean, will I be here in Phoenix or someplace else? Since I will not be tied to one job, in one location, I can move where the Lord wants me to move for ministry. I can move to a place of His choosing, and I can realize the dream He has placed within my heart. I can move, settle, and engage in life in order to move forward with His plan for my life. Yes, I can see the future, and I can see that in time, I will be doing the very thing He has said to me to do. I will accomplish His will, I will pursue His purpose, and I will finish the plan He has for my life. He is good to me, so very good to me.
In Closing

The Lord is good. He is careful, and He will lead us into the path that is successful. He will guide our steps so that we are moving forward, achieving His plans and purposes, and living the life He has prepared for us to live. The key is to not intervene, to not get in His way. We are to do His work. His way. According to His will. It is all about Him, and when we surrender, fully and completely surrender, we are able to experience the blessed freedom that comes from the Lord's leading, His guiding, and yes, His providing for each and every need we have in life. He is good to us, He is so very good to us! Selah!

August 3, 2017

Thursday Thinking

It is a good Thursday morning. I am happy to report that I woke up feeling refreshed this morning. I slept well, and even after one midnight trip to the bathroom, I rested well for the majority of the night.

Mostly, I am feeling well. I am still having some tummy troubles, all related to my bout of food poisoning last week. I am on the mend and the little bit of pain and discomfort seems to come and go with whatever I happen to eat. Sometimes, I have no issues whatsoever. Other times, I feel the gurgling and pokiness of my digestion as it deals with my last meal.

In all, I can say that I am in a good place. I feel really good, and I feel confident that the Lord intends to do something GREAT this good, good day.

Rise Up and Say So

This past week, I have gotten back into listening to Indiana Bible College's Choir's CDs over Spotify. I used to just watch their big production on YouTube, but then I searched in Spotify, and I found almost all their CDs going back to 2008. I love the beautiful and melodic selections that are focused on praising the Lord, but sometimes, the jazzier, Gospel-fused selections just soothe my aching soul. Sometimes, I just need a good kick in the pants to remind me that our God is GREAT and that our worship of Him should be the same -- filled with great praise, adoration, and an exuberance of joy!

A perfect case in point was my sad and sorrowful attitude and my less than stellar actions of the past week or so as I struggled to come to terms with some things going on in my life. I've blogged about my life at present, and how I am in this weird and almost transitory place. I guess you could say that I am at the change of a season to be exact. I've just finished four hard years of study, and I am ready to begin my new life as a full-time instructor. Yet, I am not a full-time instructor at any of my schools. I have a couple jobs in the works, two that I am waiting to hear back on, but for the most part, I am still working as an adjunct (part-time) instructor at multiple schools.

My life is not settled. It is not set. I have some great plans, plans that I believe are of the Lord, but there has been no real movement toward these plans. I know of them, I have them memorized in my head, but I am standing still, waiting for a door to open, and until that door opens, I am getting mighty antsy. Yes, I am getting really frustrated that the door is not opening soon enough. Let me explain...

Some days, I am filled with great faith and joy, and I have this uber confidence that the Lord is going to reveal His will to me, and I will KNOW for sure which way to go. Other days, I feel like I am on a treadmill. I am walking, but not getting anywhere. Then still at other times, I have allowed doubt to cause me to jump back and forth between options, almost like salsa dancing. You know, step forward, step backward, and then twirl round and round in the same place. I am moving, but I am not getting anywhere. I am just wearing myself out. Sigh!

In order to keep from being so frustrated, I have tried very hard to find my contentment in Jesus alone. I have been intentional about the options, choosing to trust Jesus and only Jesus. In this way, I have surrendered my desires, my wants, and my wishes so that I could focus only on the things He wanted me to pursue. I felt certain that as long as I let all my wants go, I would be able to rest, to be at rest, but even after doing so, I found that I still couldn't stop the whole up/down, side to side, motion. In truth, I think part of my problem was the fact that I said I wanted to let Him lead me, but really I wanted to rush out and lead myself. I wasn't ready to let Him lead me -- in His time -- and to His place. I simply wasn't ready to stop my "fussing," as my friend from the south says, and let the Lord lead, guide, and provide for me.

As a result, I was utterly frustrated. I was depressed even. I was feeling so unworthy. I was feeling like I was wasting my time, and I wasn't feeling very good about myself. In fact, I was fueled by my enemy's condemning thoughts, and I was acting on them instead of acting in faith, believing what I know to be true about God and His promises.

After much turmoil, I finally was able to get some clarification from the Lord. A couple nights ago, after I had begged the Lord to clear up my confusion, I realized that my lack of progress wasn't due to my own fault, per se. I mean, I realized that I wasn't the sole cause of the standstill (like my enemy wanted me to think). The Lord helped me to understand that the lack of progression was due in part to other people and other organizations. So, the main reason why I wasn't making progress was that I was waiting on other people to do what only they could do. Sure, my behavior complicated matters. I wasn't waiting with a cheerful attitude, and my actions were not that of a patient person. But, the single action that could effect change wasn't mine to control. I was waiting on other people, and my attitude to that fact really needed to be changed.

Once I accepted this fact, I was able to rest more readily. It is not as if the worry completely subsided, but most of the worry dissipated immediately because I had to let it go. I had to say, "I cannot control this timing, so there is no point in getting upset over it. I will simply have to wait to hear the news." As I let the worry go, I found that my vision cleared. I was able to see the path in front of me more clearly, and while I still don't know if I will go to the left or the right, at least, I can see both paths now. I can see farther down each road, figuratively speaking, than before, and in this way, I have the confidence to know that either path will prove successful for me.

The Lord knows which path I am to take, but until I receive confirmation from Him and from these people, I will have to remain where I am. I cannot go forward until I know for certain, so I must just stand here and be patient. He is good. He is standing with me. I don't have to worry, fear or doubt. I can rest in His assurance that whatever comes, IT will be OKAY.

The Lord has confirmed to me that I am in a good place. I am right where He wants me to be, so that means that He is not concerned about the lack of momentum. He is waiting right here along side of me, thus, I need to settle down and just let things be. It is hard to do this sometimes. I feel like a little child standing at the gates of Disneyland. My parents are patiently waiting along side of me, and they are telling me to stop fussing, stop being so restless. But, I cannot stop. I want to go inside the park and see all the wonders behind those gates. Of course, the gates won't open until 9:00 on the dot, and I am anxious, eager, and filled with excitement and anticipation of what will be. My Dad says to me, "Carol, just stop. Rest a while. We will have plenty of fun once they open the gate." I am jumping up and down, and even whining a bit, "When, Daddy, when? When will the gate open!"

In so many ways, I am that little child, but instead of my earthly father standing next to me, it is my Heavenly Father, who is holding onto my very adult hand. Yes, my Father, my Abba, is holding me back. He is keeping me settled. He is telling me to rest. He is saying, "Be patient, it will happen soon." I trust His voice. I believe His voice. I know His voice.

Will I listen today? Will I rest today?

Yes, I will rest today. I will wait along side the Lord for each and every detail to fall into place. I will go when He is ready to go. Until then, I will stand there, patient and ready, for the gates to the next season of my life to open. He is good to me! He is so very good to me!

In Closing

As I look back on my life, specifically this year, I see how much I have (through the Lord's provision) accomplished. I have completed a major life goal, earning a Ph.D. I have transitioned to more than full-time work (multiple part-time works) and I am working progressively toward a full-time faculty position at the school of the Lord's choosing. Until He is ready for me to go, I must patiently wait. I must endure, which simply means that I must deal with the frustration, the waiting, in proactive ways rather than in distractive or destructive ways. I must keep my head in the game, so to speak, and make sure that I am always doing good things, good works, and thinking good thoughts. He has me well-covered. I am blessed. I am good.

The Lord knows me well. He knows what I can endure and what I can't endure. He knows my abilities, my stressors, and how much change I can handle without breaking apart. He knows how to test me, try me, and temper me. He has me well in hand, and I am well-covered by His mercy and His grace. He will care for me because He always cares for me. He loves me. He is good to me. Selah!