August 31, 2017

Turning of the Tide

It is a typical Thursday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, the sun is shining brightly, and the day is off to its usual motif. Everything is as it should be for the last day of August 2017. I am finding it really hard to believe that it is almost September (tomorrow) and that in just three short months, we will be working toward to Fall and then Christmas. It is funny how the year just moves on by so quickly. It seems like yesterday, I was so stressed over my dissertation and finishing it by the March 15 deadline. It seems like I was so overwhelmed at the thought of traveling to Regent twice in the spring, once for my defense, and once for graduation. Now, I am sitting at my home computer, thinking about all that has passed, and I cannot help but wonder what is next for me. I mean, what plans does the Lord have for my life now that I am graduated and ready and able to do His work and His will?

Moving On

I have written these words, "moving on," some 20-30 times over the past couple months. In many ways, I should simply say, "still moving," because that is more accurate. I am moving on from where I was just yesterday. I am not standing still but I am walking on this journey, one day at a time. I have no future plan other than to "keep on keeping on," and to wait patiently as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. I am walking out my faith, as Joyce Meyer would say. I am getting up each day, looking up to the skies and saying to the Lord, "not my will this day, Lord, but your will be done." I place my faith, my hope, and my trust in the Lord, and daily He refreshes me. He keeps me. He helps me. He holds my hand, so to speak, and in this way, I keep on trying to do what I think He wants me to do. Some days, like today, I feel so down, so depressed, so unworthy. Some days I feel like I want to give up, throw in the towel, or just hide under the covers. Other days, I feel so strong, so confident, so bold, and while I don't always know from day to day what will happen, most days, I feel thankful, grateful, and definitely blessed simply to be alive, to have good practical work to do, and to know that my God has my life sorted, organized and planned out.

Today, I am challenged, and my heart is very heavy. I am about to start to teach another class, at the last minute, I should say, and that means that I am scrambling to get everything worked out. This is twice that I have been asked to step in when another instructor has bowed out at the last minute. It is a challenge to prep for a class 3-4 weeks out, but a day, one day, simply doesn't give enough time to do a good job. I hate having to create something from scratch, and given my time right now, I am in this place of dread and overwhelm. Just this morning I said, "Lord, why did I do this?" The response was because it was His will, and well, I cannot argue with that point. I just feel unprepared, and I don't like to walk into situations without all my ducks lined up.

I guess I am learning how to do that, how to go with the flow, how to handle problems as they arise. Yesterday, the podium computers would not work, so I wasn't able to load any video. It was a network problem, and my whole rhythm of the of the day was just knocked off balance. Today, I am facing uncertainty again, and I am walking into a class of seniors with little to no preparation. I have no knowledge of what to expect. I will show up with my game face on, and I will do what I can, but my heart and my head worry because I don't want to let these students down. I don't want to let them have a bad experience due to my ill-preparation or my lack of knowledge. Yet, I know that I am good at what I do. I know that I know my stuff. I guess anyone who speaks on stage, who teaches experiences this same agony. I remember my ex-mother in law, who spoke for many years professionally in Christian women's groups, conferences, etc., would literally have an anxiety attack every time she finished speaking. The guilt, the panic, the anxiety is overwhelming to public speakers. We put ourselves out there, open ourselves up, and when we make a misstep or mistake, it is like target-season. We are hit left and right with commentary, all-guns barrelled. It really is part and parcel with our contentious society. We are a people who argue openly, who name call, and generally who act hostile to anyone or anything that is said that causes some disagreement.

I struggle some with my calling because of the environment that I am in at present. I don't like contention. I don't like to be called out, but I have been gifted with the ability to preach the word of God, and as such, I have to preach in season and out, regardless of the crowd's receptivity to me. This translates to the classroom as well. I have to show up, do this work, and trust that the Lord will cover me. He will be my safe guard, standing at the doorway to make sure no one passes through who seeks to harm me.

I never wanted to be a public speaker. In fact, I never wanted to be in the public or the limelight. I never wanted to go on stage. I am an introvert, and as such, I really don't like to express myself outwardly. I like to write on my blog, to think quietly, to be circumspect, but I work in a public venue, and I teach students content and curriculum that is not original -- it is given to me. This means that I teach what I know through another creator's lens. It is a challenge to do this because I don't always know what the designer had in mind. I don't always know what I should do or say. I do my best, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes I crash and burn. It is hard for me to stand bare naked and let other criticise me, analyze me, and scrutinize me. It is hard to handle dissension, disagreement, and controversy.

Now, I know what I have been called to do, and that is to help the church communicate faith more effectively. I know my ministry and my mandate, and I know that the work I do day in and day out is a reflection of that call. However, sometimes I wonder how what I do really affects my ministry efforts down the road. At first, I knew that I had to learn how to be comfortable on stage. I had to learn how to handle large crowds. I had to not panic, but to be able to present information. I still struggle with presenting, and I still struggle with my approach. I worry that it is not effective, that I am not effective. I worry whether my students are getting what I am saying and whether or not they care. My students are fine, I am assured, but I want to know that my daily work is pleasing to Him, and that it matters to Him, and that my effort will be rewarded some day soon.

Resting Without Any Knowledge

So today, I rest without any real knowledge of what the day will bring. I have some personal challenges to attend to this good day, and of course, I have to show up for my first class and jump into that deep pool of worry, but I do so without any assurance of a productive outcome. I have no control today. I have no authority today. I have no prospects and no real hope that the day will go well. I do have faith. I do have faith, and through that faith, I have hope. Not in myself, of course, but in the One who is able to control the seas, calm the wind, and make the ocean surface smooth. My faith rests securely in Jesus, and it is in Jesus, my only Hope, where I know I will find the security, safety, and blessed assurance of a good day. The day may not turn out well for me, but one thing is certain, no matter what happens this day, God is always good. He is good, and I will say it as many times as needed to remind myself of that fact. He is good. He is always good to me.

"Part The Waters / I Need Thee Every Hour" by Selah

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

August 30, 2017

Its HUMP Day!

Happy Wednesday! It is a good day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, and the air is pretty warm. Our high is expected to hit near 106, which is lower than our high of 110 on Monday. In all, it appears like summer is still with us. At least, for the next couple months. I will be so glad when October rolls around, and we will have fall-like weather again. The funny thing is that some of my students come from Midwestern climates and they remind me that "back home" it is only in the high 60s-low 70s! Oh my goodness! How I miss those late end of summer days.

I remember growing up in the Midwest and walking to school on the first day of class. It was always cool in the morning, but hot in the afternoon. The first week or so we would have an "Indian summer" and our temperatures would be abnormally warm (summer-like). Then, whoosh! The weather would change, and we'd be in our new fall clothes (sweaters and boots). Oh, fall, where have you been the last 20 years of my life! Sigh!

In truth, I am thankful for the dry and hot weather. I am praying for my brothers and sisters -- and all the people -- who live in Texas. The weather has been brutal for these people, and only the Lord knows the true magnitude of what Hurricane Harvey actually did to the South-central Texas coastline. I wonder how much more anguish the people can take, I mean, with nearly 50 inches of rain, we are almost talking "Noah-like" flooding. It is so very sad to see the devastation and to know that so many people will never recover from this disaster. They simply will not be able to rebuild their homes or their lives. Even though the loss of life was minimal (and I mean that with heartfelt sadness), the destruction of property and infrastructure will have long lasting effect. People will be displaced for years to come. Businesses will cease to exist. Whole communities will be destroyed. It is so very sad.

My heart is sad, but my faith remains strong. I know the Lord will care for His people. He will care for those who are brokenhearted, displaced, and who are suffering this day. He loves His people, and He is never far from them (Acts 17:27 BSB). Selah!

Making Plans

Speaking of Fall, I am in planning mode again. Yesterday, I mentioned that I had received an "overflow" contract at GCU. I was approved to teach a fourth class because of the desperate need in the COM department. I spent the afternoon creating my first lesson, and while I am not finished, for the most part, I feel really confident about the course. It is in my field of specialization, and praise God, I am so thankful to be able to teach a 400-level class. I have pretty much accepted the fact that I was going to teach English Composition for the rest of my life, but now I see that I might just get to teach more of my own area of interest in time. God is good to me. He has provided another course, and with this extra work, my monthly income is well-set. I am so well-set for fall.

My first new car payment is due in September, and for the first time in my life, I am making two payments on cars. My Nissan is ready to be paid off, and I intend to do that just as soon as possible. My son is blessed with the Kia Sorrento, and I am blessed in knowing he has a safe and sturdy vehicle to drive to work and school each day.

More so, my school loans are coming due in January, so it is good to know that I will be able to make the payment on them. My prayer is to pay them off as quickly as possible, and I know the Lord will cover me. I went back to school on His word to me, so I am taking Him at His word when He says, "I've got you covered, Carol."

I am thinking more and more about whether I want to teach on campus or online or in combination. Right now, I really feel that I am best suited to online teaching. I love to teach online. I really do. I enjoy my campus classes, but part of me sees my future as an online teacher coming to pass very soon. I already teach 6 online classes a semester. Now I am teaching 4 campus classes, and well, the combination is grueling. I think I could easily teach 7-8 online classes without too much trouble. It is the preparation for on campus that takes so much time, and then it is the driving to campus and the time in class (standing and speaking) that really does me in. But, I am thankful none the less. The Lord has me covered, and I said I would not complain about His choice of provision.

Some thoughts as I close this blog today....
  1. I see the hand of the Lord clearly all over my life. I prayed for more work, thinking the higher income would benefit me, and He opened a door immediately to supply that desire.
  2. I know He is with me because I feel His presence, but I see His work as it develops in and through my life.
  3. I trust Him for my needs because when I have them, He provides a way for me. It is not always the way I think is best or the way I want, but it is His way, and it is always for my BEST.
  4. I have confidence in the way I am going even though I don't know the outcome or what exists at the end of this pathway. I believe it will be for my good, and I feel safe walking on in this direction.
The Lord knows me well. He knows what I can handle and what will just do me in. He knows how much pain I can stand (literally), and He knows how much work I can manage to keep under control. He knows when I will fall down, and He knows how long I can remain standing without falling. Honestly, He knows me so intimately, that when He says, "Carol, I know you," I can rest in that thought. He KNOWS ME. He knows me so well, and He cares so deeply for me. He is not going to allow me to suffer for no purpose, and He is not going to leave me "high and dry." He has hold of me, and He is not letting me go. In truth, as the BSB says, "He is never very far from us."

In closing, I give Him thanks and praise this good, good day. I thank Him for His daily presence and the confidence that I have as a result of His nearness to me. Nothing is going to overtake me today. My God, my King, my Champion, my Victor, and my Savior stand guard over me. He is the GOOD SHEPHERD, and as such, He loves me and cares for me and He keeps watch over me. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

August 29, 2017

Open Doors and Blessing

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. It is forecast to be another hot day today. I am so ready for cooler temps, especially since it is the end of August. Yesterday on campus, it was 110! So not a nice way to begin school!! But, we all survived, and thank goodness for A/C in all the buildings.

Today is a blessed day. Well, in fact, yesterday was a blessed day too. I had a pretty good start to my fall semester out at GCU. I was panicked, of course, as I always am panicked. But, after I arrived, got situated and such, I was able to focus on the work at hand. In all, my three 106 classes look to be pretty good classes.

The Lord is Good to Me

On my way to my first class, however, I received quite an unexpected blessing. I was chatting with the academic manager for CHSS (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) when she asked me if I would consider teaching a COM class at the last minute. Apparently, one of the faculty dropped out, and they needed a teacher for this upper division course. I said I would think about it, you know, simply because I am already in overwhelm mode. I spent the whole day thinking about it, and as of last night, I thought, "No, Lord. I have enough on my plate already."

This morning, however, as things would turn out, I received a call from GCU asking me "officially" if I would teach this course. I prayed over it, and I said, "Lord, if you want me to teach this class, so be it." Well, I was told the class was a Mass Media class. I have experience with Mass Media, but it is not really my specialty. Instead, today, I learned that the class was Organizational Communication and Leadership, which is my FIELD! I mean, I did my dissertation in Org Com, and well, I was just over the moon to think I could teach an upper division class in my field of specialty.

As I prayed over the course, my mind ran back to this weekend when I prayed to the Lord and asked Him for enough work to cover my needs. Part of me was concerned that I was working too hard (hence the recent blog posts) and part of me was concerned that I needed more money (always on my mind). Yesterday, as I was walking to class, I was praying over my first day, and I said, "Lord, I am kinda sorry that I didn't sign up for some new class to teach. I love ENG 106, but I really am sorry I don't have a challenging class to teach." Huh? Really, Carol? Well, what I meant by challenging was just something new to focus on for the semester. Last semester, I taught American Literature, and I ended up becoming a SME for it as the course needed to be revised. It was my best class -- best students -- best experience, and so part of me was thinking wistfully about that whole enjoyable 15 weeks. Then, I bump into the AM in the restroom, and well, the rest they say is "history." What is more is the fact that last week, as I was purchasing supplies, I picked up four pocket zipper folders for my courses. I only needed three, but I bought four just so I would have one of every color. Ha! I put the other folder away yesterday, and said to myself, "Oh, maybe I will need it another time." Well, lo and behold, I need it now. God is good, so very good to me!

I just received my contract to teach an overflow course. I will have 40 COM students waiting on me for Thursday. I could have shown up today,  but I asked for the day off to prepare. Besides, I am still recovering from my day of standing, and well, I just wanted the day off to do my online grading, and to get myself ready for Thursday.

In all, I am praising the Lord today. I have a bounty of work to do, and God has amazingly provided for me. I have released this semester to the Lord, and I have trusted Him to walk me through it. I realized yesterday that I am overwhelmed simply because I am trying to control everything. The Lord is my Manager, and I am still trying to run the show, so to speak. The good news is that I cried last night -- really cried out to the Lord -- and said, "I cannot do it, Lord. I just cannot do it." Not only were my feet and back aching, like they always do at the start of school, but I was feeling so punky, so rotten, and so low. I gave up, and with His blessing, I simply received refreshment to my soul. I fell asleep early on, and I pretty much slept hard all night long. At about 3:45, I got up and took some Advil, which helped me rest better, and thankfully, today, I am feeling better.
In Closing

I know that as the Lord lead, guides, and provides for me, I am at His mercy -- 100% -- at His mercy. The good work I have is because of Him. The peace I have is because of Him. The rest I have is because of Him. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do this work simply because He has said it is so. He is Lord, my King. He is God, Almighty. He is the GREAT I AM, and I stand in awe at this thought. The Great I AM listens to me. He hears me. He supplies my needs, and He enriches me beyond words and with the best of measures. I am good today because He is GOOD. He loves me, cares for me, and looks after me. I can rest today in His name, and I give Him praise for His goodness and overflowing blessing! God is good, so very good to me.

August 28, 2017

First Day of School

It is a good Monday here in sunny and hot, Phoenix! Yes, the skies are clear, but the air temperature is WARM already. It is 97 right now, and our expected high is supposed to be 109! Oh my goodness! What a way to start the new school year?

It is the first day of school, and I am already feeling worn out, LOL! All my preparation has taken its toll, and rather than be super excited, I am simply exhausted and feeling so very drained. Of course, it is only 8:30, and I don't have to even head out the door until 11:15 this morning. I am enjoying my cup of hot coffee, and perhaps after this cup is downed, I will start to feel perkier. I will definitely put my "game face" on once I get to GCU. After all, my students deserve to see a happy and engaged instructor for this first day of class.

It is funny, but I remember how excited I was for school when I was an undergraduate at SJSU. I looked so forward to starting my new classes, and I will never forget how awful I felt when I arrived at a class where the instructor appeared dis shelved and disinterested. In one particular class, the instructor simply droned on and on in a monotone voice, rambling and disjointed. The class couldn't end soon enough. It was so horrible! In another class, the instructor was so mean, like yelling at students, that we all hid or cowered in the corner until the hour was over. Thankfully, if instructors behaved this way at GCU they would be fired for sure. We pride ourselves on our professional attire and our very professional and business-like manner in the classroom.

I am thankful for my courses this semester, and while I would have rather worked from home full-time, I am grateful for the work the Lord has provided to me. My responsibilities here at home are getting more involved, and as such, it would be easier for me to remain home to make sure my Mom and Dad have what they need. My Mom just isn't able to do what needs to be done without assistance, so even today, I hesitate to leave them. She will be fine, of course, but I will worry about dinner preparation all afternoon. As soon as I come home, I will have to prepare the meal, and while that is fine, I am so busy with work from home and campus work that truthfully I just haven't focused much on it lately.

I know the Lord has my life well-covered. I say this enough to believe it, and well, I do believe it. I believe the Lord has my life in His hands, and my every single need is already apportioned to me. He knows what I need and when, and He is providing good to me.

Getting Ready

So this past weekend, I spiraled down and out again. I was in good shape going into the weekend, but Saturday and Sunday were busy days. I simply felt overwhelmed at the work I had to do -- planning my 5-week English unit, which starts today. I already had most of the content completed, but I wanted to revise it to make it better. My students always struggle with this first unit of instruction, and though I have tried and tried and tried to make sense of it, I struggle to present it to them.  I so wish GCU would remove this assignment and put another persuasive essay in its place. Sigh!

I struggled mostly with doubt and feelings of confidence (a lack, I mean). I know this curriculum so well, but I struggle to teach it, and I really would rather not teach it, if you know what I mean. But, I have to do so, and the first unit always takes a toll on me and on my students. Still, I know that I will endure another semester and then I will move on. I am getting ready to move on, really. I am thinking about the day when I will no longer teach on campus, and well, that gives me encouragement and hope.

I remember how I felt when I worked at UOPX. I started that job with such great hope. I was so thankful to have a full-time job. I had been out of work (full-time) for over a year and a half, and while Macy's was a good part-time position, the work was grueling and hard on my body. When UOPX came about, I was so thankful. I was so happy. Until that is, I realized just how hard the job was, and how much I would suffer working as an enrollment advisor for an online school. I cried most nights. I sank into despair as I came home and realized that my evenings were for sleeping. I never did anything other than work and sleep. My days and my nights just rolled into one long experience. In the end, when I was able to leave that job and move to CVS Caremark, I was so relieved, so ready to go. But, it took almost 15 months before I could leave. I had to endure, be faithful, stay the course until the Lord opened the door for me to go.

The same thing happened at CVS. I was so thankful for that position too as it was not phone related and relied solely on my analysis skill. I worked there for a year, in an unreal or surreal place, where I was miserable and overworked (hours and hours). I came to loathe the job, and the management style was so overbearing. It was intolerable. But, I had to wait. I waited a year before the Lord opened the door for me to move to GCU.

I remember walking on campus that first day of school back in 2013. I was so relieved to be on campus. I was so relieved to be free. I could go to school all day long, and I could hang with students. It was like a "get out of jail free card." I loved those easy days as an Instructional Assistant. I simply showed up to help my instructors, and while the work was really boring, it was low stress. I mean, no stress!

I only did that work for one semester before I transitioned to working in the classroom. I have been on campus as an adjunct for four years, and each semester I still feel that sense of "awe" at my work place. I mean, what is better than hanging with students every day of the week?

Sure, there is the stress before the school year begins, and stress at grading time, but generally, there is very low stress during the mid-points of the year. I am tired today, so my mind sees the start of something not so pleasant, but really, I do have a wonderful job. I have a good job, a job that I love, and a job that I am really good at, to boot. God has made a way for me, and while there are times when I feel overwhelmed and depressed, I know that this "too shall pass."

What I mean is that I have waited patiently for a full-time job. Thus far, I only have part-time work, but I have multiple part-time jobs. I guess what I noticed this weekend was the fact that keeping track of multiple part-time jobs is really hard to do. I think this semester is a good case in point. This is the first semester that I don't have any school of my own. Thus, the workload should be easier on me. I guess it is, but perhaps because I don't have work to do on my own, I feel more pressure to perform in other areas. I do it to myself, so before I get too "fur" along, I am taking a break from those thoughts to reignite my purpose, my passion, and my place. I know I am where I am because the Lord has chosen it to be so. I am at GCU this semester because the Lord provided this to me. I may think, "Oh, Lord, I cannot do this again," but He knows best. He knows I can and I will, and what is more, He knows that I will rely on Him for His grace, mercy, and goodness to do it.

My heart thinks that a full-time online position would be good. I actually turned down the offer to interview for one just recently. It was with Western Governors' University, and after many years of applying there, I finally got called to interview. I decided that their format, being on the phone and such, wasn't the fit I wanted, so I declined the offer. I also interviewed for a full-time position with the Writers' Studio at ASU. I didn't get that job, and honestly, I am okay with that fact. I really didn't want to do full-time what I currently do part-time. I mean, I like the work, I do. I love the pay, really, I do, but the thought of teaching so many students just overwhelmed me. I prefer my students the way I have them, and I love the variety of my classes. For example, I am teaching three classes of Introduction to Argument. I am teaching a Research Writing class and a Grammar Class. Then I am teaching one section of English Composition I. In all, I have five courses, but they are all different. I like the variety. It works well for me.

As I think about it now, I realize that there is a reason why God has not provided one full-time job to me. I mean, I am content as can be to teach at multiple schools. It works for me, but I really would prefer to teach at one school, one job, and have one future plan. But the Lord knows best. This is what He provided, so it is wrong for me to grumble and complain about His provision. My mind reaches back to the Old Testament and the children of Israel in the wilderness. God provided manna for them, but they complained. God provided quail for them, but they complained. They were never satisfied with His provision, and they grumbled and complained. God left them to wander around for 40 years in what should have been a pretty straightforward 11-week trip. I don't want to wander around in this wilderness simply because of a grumpy attitude and a hardened heart! May it never be so!

In Conclusion

In closing, I realize that what I am doing is this: I am learning to be content with what God has provided to me. It is not perfect. It is not complete. It is not always 100% suited to my happiness. But, it is provided, and it is enough. My heart and my attitude have taken a rough approach to life lately, and I have allowed disillusionment, disappointment to cloud my judgment. Instead, I should be happy for the good life I have, and I should be thankful for His excellent provision.

Today, I make the stand to say, "Thank you, Lord, for your excellent provision!" Yes, I say, thank you, to the Lord for He has me well-covered, and where I am right now, today is good. If He chooses to keep me in this desert place, working multiple part-time jobs, it is because He has determined it is best for me. Thus, I rest. I wait patiently, and I let all of this go. I realize that I am at His mercy. He is good to me, and His goodness is always apportioned for my well-being and for my best.

August 27, 2017

Panicked but Almost Ready

It is a blessed day here in Phoenix. The sun is shining and the air temperature is warm, but not too hot (yet!) It is clear out, and as no rain is forecast this week, I am thanking the Lord for His provision of grace. Yes, I would love some rain, but with all the torrential rain in Texas, I am thankful that we are spared that outcome. My heart goes out to the good people from Texas who are suffering under feet -- yes, FEET, of rain. My mind rushes to the Bible in times like these, and my first thought is of God's promise to never flood the earth again. Floods do occur, but praise to God, the entire world will never flood again.

As I sit here today, I am struggling with so many competing thoughts. I am not feeling 100%, partly due to the panic over starting school tomorrow. I am ready, I mean. I have almost 3 weeks of lessons mapped out, and my power points are almost finished. I am struggling with confidence mostly, and after my horrible semester last year, well, part of me simply feels condemn before the year starts. I won't go into details, but last semester was rocky from start to finish. I had such little control on my class due to a competition of sorts with another individual, and the entire semester was awash with criticism and constant passive-aggressive behavior. I am scared that this semester will be a repeat of last, and even though I know that will not be the case, part of me is simply loathing starting over. Sigh!

Today, I am at home, intending to watch my church online. I simply overslept and couldn't get myself up and ready for the 20-minute drive to campus. I would have to leave now, and I am just finishing my coffee. I decided to stay home, watch online, and spend the morning resting since it is my last day off before school begins. I know, I know...I cannot help it. I am having an anxiety attack right now, and the only way I know how to deal with attacks like these is to reduce my stress and relax. If I can relax, the panic will subside. In truth, I haven't had a full on panic attack for years. Not even through my entire Ph.D. program did I suffer from panic, especially when I was defending my work, taking my exams, and graduating. Here I am today, panicked over tomorrows classes. I know that my mind is spinning with irrational fears right now, so I have to pull myself together and remember whose hand I hold onto so tightly. It is not up to me to figure this one out, but instead, it is up to my Lord, who covers me with His protection and His blessing. I remember the words of Paul, who said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Trusting the Lord

It has been a good and long week. I was fairly productive, despite the fact that I felt like my classes were not in sync (online), and I was behind on grading. I had hoped to create a calendar so I could keep on top of the assignments. I feel so out of sorts right now, but today is a good day, and God is still on His throne, so I am going to soldier on. I am going to trust the Lord, and I am going to keep on walking in faith.

First, I need to confront my feelings. My feelings this week have been significantly trumped over some personal concerns in my life. In truth, I have had to deal with things that I thought were long past. I think I am over the worst of it, and frankly, I realize that there is nothing I can do about these concerns except pray -- thus -- I am committed to praying for them and then letting them go.

Second, I need to confront my lack of confidence in teaching my ground campus courses. I am a good teacher, and I really need to give myself a little pep talk. It is not hard. It is not too out of alignment, and I just need to do it.

Third, I need to organize myself more so I know when things are due in my classes. I think the reason I am panicked is that I feel like I am not in control. I have my weekly checklist, but I think some things are missing. Last year, well really the past few years, I have lived by my checklist. I work from one list starting each Monday, and I accomplish everything on it by the week's end. I have my list, but I need to make sure I have a plan to cover my students. I can do this today, it is not hard, I just need to print some things out, post them near my desk as reminders, and well, I am good to go.

Fourth, I have been depressed about my weight, and well, I have no one to blame but myself. I spent the entire summer doing nothing about losing weight, despite the free time, despite the good intentions, and here I am now at a miserable weight, feeling full and paunchy, and of course, emotionally depressed over my lack of will power and simple control.

In all, between the emotions swinging back and forth, I am simply out of sorts. I feel out of sorts, and I need to good kick in the pants to get my emotions in check, my faith back in charge, and my will power charged up. I can do ALL THINGS said Paul, which means ALL, as in every thing I need to do, through Christ's power and presence. I lack no good thing, and this means, I have everything I need to do the work He asks me to do this good day.

Making Plans to Regain Control

I am a planner by nature. I plan everything I do and rarely do I function without some plan, even a sketchy plan. I guess the reason why I feel so off is that I have failed to plan consistently this summer. I took the summer off to rest, and with that rest, I simply let a lot of things slide. It was good to be lazy, but I didn't really like it. I much prefer to be in charge, in control and attacking my workload. I like to be busy. I hate being bored.

Now that fall is here, I am ready to take back the reins and start moving forward with the work the Lord has assigned to me. This means I need to faithfully execute the work the Lord has given to me, do my best always, and while I do care about the outcomes, I need to let the actual results fall into His hands rather than my own. I work unto the Lord, and in doing so, I trust Him for the results.

First things first, though, and that is to consider any issues or places where I may have gotten off the track. I feel as if something is off, and normally when I feel this way, it is the result of three things:

  1. I have sinned in some way
  2. My enemy is accusing me of sin
  3. I have misinterpreted the Lord's word to me ( and as a result, I have taken a wrong turn)
As I think over my last week, I realize some things that I did without really even thinking about them. I don't mean to say that I sinned intentionally, but rather that I sinned in ways that the Lord simply is asking me to reconsider -- thoughts, words, AND actions. I realized what I did, and I have since confessed it. Now, I know that I need to be more careful as I move forward in the days to come.

More so, as I think about the days to come, I know that I must take control of my words. My thoughts are a challenge, but I control what I say, the words I speak, and the words I choose to allow to come to life. It is not just about speaking words of life or words of death, but it is about words of grace, words of forgiveness, words of healing. I understand that the Lord is asking me to take control of my mouth, to not utter words that do not build up myself, my life, and my family -- but also -- words that do not build up others either. I am to speak life and not death; I am to speak words that bring hope, reaffirm hope, and words that are filled with His presence since I am called as a prophet (a teacher of the Word), I must be careful in what I allow to come out of me.

Furthermore, I must also remember that the words I speak are powerful. I recently found this out when I allowed my enemy to taunt me, and my mind started to create scenarios that were not true, not part of God's plan for me, and the more I allowed these thoughts to sit with me, the more depressed and dark I started to feel. I remember the words of Paul in his second letter to the church at Corinth when he said,

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

We are to take captive every single thought and MAKE IT OBEDIENT to Christ. This means that any thought that we have that runs contrary to the word of God must be rebuked. We must not think about these things, ponder them, wonder about them, or even give them time to percolate in our minds.

Thus, as I consider all these things, I realize that the reason I feel so off is that I simply have allowed lies to sit with me. I have spoken lies over my life, and I have not rebuked them as I should have right from the beginning. The Word of God is clear on this matter. God’s word is true, every part of it, and especially that means the truth He speaks about us through His word. We need to remember to believe and accept what God says about us more than what we choose to believe and accept that our enemy says or other people.

Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 BSB). He was not ashamed to speak the truth about the Gospel, and in doing so, he declared that God’s plan of salvation was for everyone within hearing distance of his message (and ours as well). Are we ashamed of our position in Christ? Are we ashamed of the grace of God that has saved us from our sins, and that sanctifies us daily as we seek to walk and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ?

The more I think about this fact, the more I understand how vital it is not to give the devil a helping hand. He loves it when we agree with him, but God says we are to not do that. We are to only agree with God, and that means to agree with the word of God.

In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I remember my words today. I think about my words and how I use them. More so, I think about the words I allow into my mind, and I stand at the ready to rebuke the devil when he accuses me of being lazy, fat, or unworthy. I rebuke his lies when he tells me that I am no good, cannot please the Lord, or even be a good person to my students, my family or my friends. I stand with God’s opinion, and I believe what the Lord says about me this good, good, good day. He is good to me, and I believe His word to me is true!

August 26, 2017

My Last Saturday Before…

It is a good morning here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, it is a good Saturday, and the skies are clear, and the air is slightly warm. I read online that we are in a warming trend. I shudder to think about the temperatures getting warmer, I mean. How much warmer do we need to be in late August? Our daily highs have been in the 105-106 range, which is pretty warm for the end of summer. Where is our rain? Where is our moist air? Where is our monsoon?

Of course, this is what happens some years. Our monsoon arrives, but instead of providing relief, it brings hit or miss showers. By the summer's end, the dry air is back, temperatures settle back to high, and well, we simply roast away the days until October gets here. Sigh!

I guess I shouldn't complain because the good folks who live in Texas are suffering horribly from Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall last night as a category 4 hurricane. I read today that some areas are expecting up to 40 inches of rain! Oh my goodness! I cannot even imagine what that would be like or how I would survive over three feet of water. Praise God for His mercy that I live in the desert. I am praying for the folks along the Texas Gulf coast this morning. May the Lord spare them the fury of this wind and water producing massive storm. Selah!

Thinking More About My Life

As Hurricane Harvey arrived on land last night, I couldn't help but thank the Lord that He chose for me to be settled (for a time) here in Phoenix. I really don't like Phoenix. I mean, I blog all the time about my desire to move elsewhere, but frankly, I am stuck here for a reason, for a time, and well, my attitude about remaining has shifted from happy to sad to unknown and back to happy again. I just seem to go round and round, and in truth, I am getting pretty tired of the whole process. So last night, as I was praying, I asked the Lord about moving again. I asked like "if" I were to move, would such and such come to pass. I felt the Lord say "no" to me, as in every question I asked, He responded with  a firm "no." I drifted off to sleep feeling frustrated, and I woke up wondering if all this thinking has colored my perspective some. You know, has my ability to accept what is right in front me changed because I have been spending so much time thinking about possibilities and opportunities on the horizon?

I guess all of this questioning came about the other day when I realized that my summer was about to end, and my new classes at GCU were set to start next week. I was panicked over preparation, and even though I know these classes like the back of my hand, I still struggle with my course content, my teaching content, and the way in which I teach these subjects. The Lord knows me well, so the diversion of thinking about future places, at times, helps to keep me from being overwhelmed in the present. But, part of me is simply done with that type of thinking, and part of me wonders if it is even helpful to me. Would it be better to accept the reality of my situation and just live as I can, right in the here and now?

This morning, I was reading online and I typed in the words, "accept reality." The first article to pop up was one over at Psychology Today. The article title, "Accept Your Pain; It Will Hurt Less," addressed a common practice by many people -- rejecting emotions, life, situations, and circumstances -- in order to try to control or change the outcome. I read the brief article written by Dr. Becker-Phelps, thinking that it would help me address some of the issues I am currently struggling to understand. In particular, I was wondering if I was refusing to accept reality just so I could hope to change the outcome and really get what I want (rather than what the Lord wants for me and my life.) 

Am I refusing to accept the reality of my life right now? Am I trying to change the situation by negating the truth, the fact that I am pretty much stationed here in Phoenix, and that my future doesn't appear to look any different down the road, in 3-6-9 or even 12 months? At one point, Becker-Phelps writes, "Begin by accepting your current reality. Your situation is what it is. No amount of wishing for something different or rejecting the situation (or yourself) will change anything. However, by facing your problem, you can at least begin to address it." I thought, "Okay, I get that point. I see how failing to accept your situation could set a person up for failure to consider options or to even work toward solutions." But, I wonder if this is really my problem. After all, my prayer and my hope are to only do as the Lord guides me. Thus, in believing that He may ask me to move, would suggest that it is OK to actually think about doing so.

In response to that thought, I read these words. Becker-Phelps says, "Plan for a better future. If you are unhappy with some aspect of yourself or your circumstance, you would benefit from planning for the change you would like to see—even as you accept and nurture your current self." Okay, so once again I am in a conundrum. I may not be accepting the reality of my situation well, but I am certainly planning on a better future. Sigh! What am I to do?

Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." As I read this psalm, I am reminded that no matter what situation I find myself in, the Lord is the One to lead me through it. I believe that the path I am on is the right path, and in this way, I believe that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am speaking spiritually, so what I am saying is that I believe that I am right where He wants me to be in the process of growing up spiritually, in maturing, in becoming more Christ-like. Sure, I still have a long way to go, but in truth, I am doing well. I am growing. I am learning to depend on Him more and more, and I am learning how to trust Him for everything, every need, every wish and every desire. I am also learning how to rest, and in resting, I am learning how to lean on and abide in Him (John 14). Thus, my life is turning out just as it should turn out. I am growing up as a Christ-follower, leaving the childish ways behind me, and embracing the mature and adult ways of handling situations, circumstances, people, and well, life in general. I am doing well.

Physically, I am struggling. I am still trying to discern the "here and now," the answer to the big question of where to go, where to live or simply, when to stay put. The physical part of the question is what bothers me most. Am I moving or am I staying? If I am moving, then when am I to go? If I am staying, then how will I remain here and where will I live long term? It is this part of the "unknown" that is driving me crazy, taking over all my mental energy, and making me wonder whether or not I am on the right track, the right path, so to speak.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP) says,

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

This verse is cemented in my brain, and I often find myself repeating it at key moments when I am truly stuck, really stressed, or simply overly concerned about any real lack of movement in my life. I mean, it is a good testimony, some great advice, and well, it is a proverb that promises a blessed reward simply for adhering to it.

Perhaps my problem is two-fold. Perhaps my problem is that I am unwilling to accept the reality of my situation right now, and while it is okay to think about my future, it is not okay to lean on my own understanding of it. I think that perhaps the failure here is not so much with the plan, but with God's timing and provision of it. I want Him to make His way known now, and He is not ready to do that yet. I want Him to be clear and to say, "Carol, you are to prepare to move to X place by December 12." You know, I want to hear His voice tell me what to do. Instead, what I hear is Him say to me, "Trust me, Carol. I've got you covered." Yes, Lord, I need to trust you to provide for me today and tomorrow, and to provide in the way that you determine is best for me. You are good to me, and You are faithful and true. I can trust you. I can rest and wait patiently for your delivered promise of goodness to me.

Learning to Let Go

Over the past several months, I have blogged about how I have had to learn to let things go. I recently had to deal with some unpleasant emotions that resurfaced after several years of suppression. I had to deal with the fact that my life is what it is now, and that I could no longer hold onto the past or the people of my past. I had to let them go. I had to release the thoughts and the memories of these people and the potential that no longer existed for friendship, love, and affection just so I could move on with my life. In moving on, I meant, moving on emotionally, and not physically moving on.

I moved on earlier in the week, and in doing so, I felt a fresh sense of peace about it. I stopped carrying negative feelings around with me, and really I stopped thinking about these people or even wondering about them (what they are doing, thinking, or feeling). I let them go. It felt good to do so.

I think today is another good example of my need to let go. I have been holding on to a memory, to a way of life that has been with me since I was a child. I wanted to go home, like home to my childhood home, for so many years. Some how thinking about going home gave me solace. I felt safe in those thoughts, and I loved what I could imagine as far as my life, and how it might look, should I be allowed to return home. Yet, in all my desire to return home, I never once made any real movement toward going home. Nope, not at all. Instead, I just thought about it. I just wished for it. I just dreamed and imagined it.

In accepting my reality today, I guess I have come to the place where I realize that I am where I am for a good reason. While I can analyze that reason to the "nth" degree, the truth is that I am living here in the desert because the decision was made back in 1996 to move here. It was my decision initially, but my ex-husband agreed, and with his agreement, we upended our life in San Jose to move to this hot and miserable place. He didn't follow me. I didn't follow him. We moved here together, and as such, we started our life over. And, while our life didn't improve that much over what we had in San Jose, we survived the move and the massive change. In the end, however, our marriage failed, and our life changed to where he went his way and I went my way. Sadly, what was a struggle in San Jose simply became a bigger struggle in Phoenix. The place wasn't to blame; it was the marriage, the commitment to marriage, and the lack of understanding and communication within the marriage.

Today, my ex-husband is fighting for his life. He is waging a war against a disease that has taken most of his abilities away from him. I stand on the sidelines, and I grieve for him. I grieve for my son, who may lose his dad in the coming days, weeks or months. I stand by and I watch. I am helpless to do anything because I am no longer part of his family. My position has been replaced by another woman, and as such, my input, my advice, and my care are not wanted or needed. I stand alone, watching as the situation turns desperate.

This situation has caused such turmoil within me. I had to deal with the possibility of becoming a widow this week. Sure, I am divorced. I am already single, but in effect, should my ex-husband pass away, I would be a widow as well. I would be single, not by choice of the divorce, but single by the hand of the Lord. It scares me to think of that part of my life dying, and while I have accepted the reality of my past -- the ending of a marriage, the death of a love (as in heart love) and relationship, I never really considered the death of a loved one as part of that process. Now, I must consider it. I must think about it. I must accept it.

As I think about all this change, I realize that my life is really messed up. I mean, sure I have this great education, and I have a super degree (Ph.D.), but I don't have what I should have and that is a solid marriage, an intact family, and a love relationship that mirrors the love of the Father and the Son. Instead, I am alone. I am living with my parents, and while I am happy to be here, I also am unhappy to be here. I mean, this is not what I hoped would come to pass. I wanted to be married for life, and I wanted to have a good marriage, a happy marriage, a partner to share with, to do things with, and simply to live with "until death do us part." This is not how my life turned out, and what I have now, well, it is good. It just isn't what I wanted. It just isn't the life I had imagined some 33 years ago when I said, "I do."
Accepting Reality

Accepting reality is hard, very hard, especially when it is a matter of the heart, the mind, and the will. I am pragmatic most days. I am a realist. I believe in what I see right in front of me, and while I have great faith, I also see the writing on the wall. I see what is real, is true, is fact. I don't like to live in "wishful thinking" land. I don't like to pin my hopes to a dream.

I think I have finally come to the end of all my wishing today. I mean, I am not choosing to take on a "doom and gloom" outlook; no, not at all. Rather, I am simply choosing to be realistic, rational, and in this way, to realize that what I have, while it might not look like I had hoped, is actually pretty decent. My life is good just as it is. My life is safe. I am secure. I have enough. It is good. In truth, I am good enough. My life in all its parts is good enough.

As I close this blog post, I embrace this fact. What the Lord has given to me today is really OK. I am doing well, and I have enough work to satisfy my needs. I have a roof over my head, and my bank account is full. I have food on my table, and pretty much, my life is quiet and calm. I have a good future, despite not having a full-time job, and frankly, whether I end up staying here or moving away, my life right now is fine -- just as it is.

Philippians 4:19 (NIV) says,

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

I take this verse to heart today. My God WILL MEET all  my needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. My NEEDS are met in Jesus alone. No house in the midwest, no fancy professor job, no skinny body will ever meet my needs. Only my Lord, my King, Jesus will meet and supply all my needs. I lack nothing this day because I have Jesus. I may not know the ends, the ways or the means, but I can say today that because I have Jesus, well, I simply have enough.

August 24, 2017

Rain or Shine: God is good!

Oh, what a blessed day! It is sunny and mild today, and the air has that “freshly washed” scent to it. Everything looks so “clean,” thanks in part to a good gully-washer rainstorm last night. I really had thought that our monsoon rain was a memory, but the radar showed possible storms to the south of us yesterday afternoon, and by 7:00, the skies were filled with lighting. The storm finally hit around 9 p.m., but the light show continued on well until 11 p.m. It was glorious to hear the hard rain pelt my window, and well like I said, today everything is just peachy-keen — clean, clear, and so fresh looking.

This morning, I am sitting at my desk with my fur-friends. I have already checked my email, and as I read blogs and my school announcements, I marvel at the goodness of God. I mean, He has made a way for me this year. I cannot believe that I am about to begin my 5th year of teaching at GCU, and with this start, I really feel like I am settled as an instructor. I feel so much more confident than in previous semesters, and since I don’t have a lot of other work to do (no more school, that is), I feel really good about immersing myself in my classroom and the instruction I have created. I think this semester will be GREAT!

Blessed Beyond Measure

In truth, I am blessed beyond measure. This week is “pay week,” and for the first time in 5 years, I actually have money in my bank account. I mean, in previous summers, I didn’t work so my bank account dwindled down to nothing while I waited for school to start. This year, I had three courses offered to me beginning in May and ending in August. The extra income provided grace — mercy — to me as I worked a light load. Now that school has started, I will start to see my pay checks, and well, that thought just relieves me. I cannot tell you how much I am comforted in knowing that I am well-covered even as an adjunct instructor. God has provided a way for me to make ends meet, to be comfortable, all without a full-time job. I am well-covered, and I am blessed by His hand of mercy and goodness. I am so blessed.

I am still holding out hope for a full-time position at some point in my career. Until then, however, I am comfortable teaching as I do — by contract. I was really concerned about not having a stable, steady position once I graduated from Regent. Now, though, I see that the Lord has chosen this path for me, and with His decision, I can rest assured that He will provide enough to cover me each and every semester. He knows my needs, and He knows how He intends to care for me into my golden years. I simply must remain faithful and do the work He has provided to me. I will do this work, and He will provide. It is our “deal,” and I am totally happy with that state of being.

My prayer today is for the fall semester to be a great success! I am so excited to be able to devote 100% of my time to my students. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am to be free from school. I mean, I loved my program. I am over the moon filled with joy about graduating and having my Ph.D., but I am so happy to be moving on now. I am so really, really happy to be moving on.

I know the Lord has a great plan for my future, and with that future, I know that whatever He asks me to do, I will find sweet blessing in the request. I will find joy as I do the work the Lord has called, prepared, trained, and equipped me to do. I will sense His enduring presence as He leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good to me! He is so very good to me!

My Purpose is Clear

As I sit here today, I marvel at the Lord’s goodness. He has completed me, and with that saying, I simply mean, He has given my life purpose and focus and direction. I no longer feel lost, unsure about where I am to go or how I am to get to my final destination. I know my days, how I am to live them out, and what I am to do with them. I am convinced of my purpose, and in that knowledge, I have this confidence that says to me, “You are going the right way. Just keep on walking forward and you will get to where I want you to be in no time at all!” Yes, I feel like the direction I am heading is blessed, and with His blessing and approval, I am moving forward with this sense of “It's all good!”

My dream as a child was to become a teacher. My dream as a young adult was to teach college students, English, to be precise. The realization today is that I am a teacher, and I teach college English courses. I have fulfilled my dream, and I am living out my desire to teach. What is more is the fact that I am doing the very thing He said I would do. Yes, I am living out the personal revelation and testimony spoken to me, spoken into my life by the Lord. I am doing what He said I would do, and with that knowledge, I realize that everything the Lord says to me is true. Every WORD is true! I can trust Him, rely on His word, and believe in faith that His word will produce results. There is no guesswork because He is always truthful, faithful, and good. He delights in providing good things to His children. He delights in providing insight, a path way, and instilling purpose in their lives. He delights in helping them realize their potential, and He delights in giving them the desire to do what He thinks is best. In this way, He moves and motivates, encourages and equips, and prepares and provides for every single need, every single decision, every single opportunity. I lack no good thing because my Lord has seen to my needs. He has provided every good thing to me, and my life is full to overflowing as a result. He is good, so very good to me!

My purpose in life is assured. I feel confident. I know the way I am to go, and with that knowledge, I am able to rest in every area of my life. I am doing what God wants me to do, and as such, I don’t have to think about it anymore. I mean, IT IS DONE! This chapter, this phase, this season is finished, and I can now move on to the next step or stage in the process of maturing in Christ. I can move on to the next destination on His Roadmap for my life. I am so excited to be moving on, and with that movement, I believe that whatever comes my way, it will ALL be good.

Some things that are yet to be discovered...

While I sit here today, I do understand that long term I need more work. I need another job, just one more online teaching position to fill my schedule up so that I not only earn more money, but I have a full-day of teaching semester by semester. I currently teach 6-7 classes, but this combination of on campus and online is a drain. I would like to replace my campus schedule with another online schedule, and then I will be able to teach full-time (in combination) from home. Hopefully, by the years' end, I will be able to be 100% online. However, I am content to continue as I am until the Lord provides, but it would be nice to know I could remain home and earn a really decent income.

I also know that I need some major provision coming up in January. My student loans begin repayment, and well, I simply need some big cash to take a bite out of them. I am praying for a way to discharge my loans completely so that I can take my extra earnings and ply them away for retirement. The Lord has me covered, so I know He has a plan to pay back my student loans.

I also need a big influx of cash to pay off my credit cards. I have used these cards over the past couple years to live on, and well, with the high-interest rates, I need them to be cleared of all debt. This will give me more income to live on and to invest for security down the road. I would like to have my credit cards paid off by the end of the year as well so that I can walk into 2018 debt free!

Other than these two major issues, I feel confident that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am living here in Phoenix and I will remain here for a short time. I still feel that I may move to another place (this feeling doesn't ever go away), and now I am feeling more confident that the place will be tied to my son's future more so than my own. Weird, I know, but the Lord has always shared with me things about my son's future life (not details, but thoughts, ideas, feelings and such). I just know that wherever he needs to be, I will need to be. He and I are sort of tied together, and while I don't mean in an unnatural way, I simply mean that I don't see my life being absent from his. We will live near each other all the days of our lives, and for me, this just means that I will move to the place where the Lord intends for my son to work. I will simply move to be near him, to help him, and to continue to support and mentor him. It is the role God has given to me since the day my son was born. I dedicated my son to the Lord as Hannah did (a barren woman and later the mother of Samuel) when he was a baby. I made a vow to the Lord that I would do whatever necessary to ensure that my child (my gift from the Lord) would grow up to serve the Lord all the days of his life. I devoted my days to this care, and now, I see the fruit of my labor. I see what the Lord has done in my life and in his life, and I know -- for certainty -- that the Lord has a plan for my son and that I am part of that plan.

Thus, while I live here in Phoenix, I am constantly looking, planning, perceiving, and accepting the possibility that I will move in the short term. I will move to a place where I will live comfortably, modestly, and where my son will be able to do the work the Lord wants him to do. I have my work as well, and besides teaching, that work is to help the church communicate faith more effectively. This will be my ministry when I am retired from teaching, but between now and then, I simply have to attend to my tasks, the work the Lord has graciously provided to me.

In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am reminded of the words of David in 2 Samuel 22:50 where he says, "For this I will give thanks and praise You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing praises to Your name." My response this good day is the same. The Lord has dealt graciously with me. He has bountifully provided for my needs, and He has given to me grace upon grace to live my life according to His word and His testimony. I will sing praises to the Lord for ALL THESE THINGS. He is worthy to be praised, and I will give Him thanks and praise for His goodness this good, good day! Selah!

August 23, 2017

Wednesday -- Hump Day!

Happy Wednesday! It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear today, and the air temperature is moderately warm (100+). The good news is that the humidity and dew point is low, so really while we have warm air, the temperature doesn't make it feel too horribly hot right now. We are on the tail end of our yearly monsoon season, and as such, we are starting to "dry out." Simply put, we are heading into fall, and that means cooler and drier temps to follow. Yay!

It has been a rough week here in Phoenix. Many things are in the works, the school year has begun, and life has kicked into high gear, but with the excitement of a new semester, there have been personal challenges, issues, and concerns that have made it very difficult to focus and to carry on. I have been working overtime just to make sure that my family is well-set, and that these concerns are cared for in a way that is not impacting life any more than necessary. I know that sounds harsh, but what I mean is that when difficulty hits, when trials and struggles ensue, you can either succumb to them or fight through them. I have chosen the latter, and that means to do whatever is necessary to keep the ship afloat all the while working through these challenges the best way we can do it. And, with the Lord's help, that means to work through these difficult times with faith and a fervor that says, "God is in control. He has this 'event' covered, and as a result, I don't have to worry about the outcome."

It is hard, of course, to do that when your heart is filled with fear or dread. Yet, the Lord knows my status, and He knows what I can and cannot handle. Thus, I rest in His control, His sufficiency, and His provision knowing that He will always provide what is best for me and my family. He is good to me, so very good to me!

Today, I am trusting the Lord to meet every need. Today, I am resting in His grace and His provision. I believe He is faithful, and I know Him well. He is good to me, and today, He has good things in store for me and for my family.

August 22, 2017

It's a Beautiful Morning...

Good morning, sunny Phoenix! It is a beautiful day here in the Valley of the Sun! The skies are clear, and the sun is shining brightly. All is well with the world -- we survived the total solar eclipse yesterday -- and the world didn't end!! LOL!! Actually, the news took a day off, thank goodness, and everyone on the planet focused on Mother Nature's grand event -- watching the moon eclipse the sun. It was sort of ho-hum here, but the visuals from Nasa were astounding. God is good! He reigns, and the heavens declared His glory yesterday! For sure, for sure!

Today is a "back to business" kind of day. I woke up feeling rather refreshed, and I am slowly moving. So far this morning, I have checked my email, and setup my online banking for my new car. God has generously provided a job for me that will be used to cover this car payment, so today, I am giving Him thanks and praise, simply because He has made a way for us to purchase/lease a new car, and in 34 months, be in a better position to buy the car. God is good, so very good to me!

I am sitting here at my home computer thinking about His mercy. I am thinking about all the good He has brought to me, and I am thinking about how my life is "peachy keen!" I am in this very safe place right now. I am secure.  My future is bright and shiny, and I have hope for continued prosperity. In all things, I have such amazing hope. I don't have a clue what tomorrow will bring, but I know that my Savior and King is in charge of the details. He has made a smooth path for me to walk on, and as I walk on it, I have the assurance that I am heading in the "right" or best direction possible. I am moving toward His goal for my life, which is to grow up, to be fully mature in Christ, and to know and to understand His expressed and precise will for my life. I know what my role is, and I understand my responsibilities well. I am in this very, very, very good place right now. God be praised, I am good because He is good. He is good to me, and His goodness rains down blessing upon blessing. I shout the name of the Lord this good day because He is so very good to me! Selah!

Plans and More Plans

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

It is Tuesday, and well, Tuesday is a good day for making plans. Yes, I am deep into my weekly planning for my classes at GCU. I made the decision this summer to revise my lessons for my English 106 classes, and well, here I am, the week before school begins -- revising! LOL! Actually, I had to deal with so many other things, so truthfully, this is the only time I had to do this work. Good news is that yesterday (Monday), I made super progress, and I was able to scope out the entire course. Today, I am building power points and locating articles for my students to read. In all, I should have weeks 1-5 (our first benchmark assignment) completed before the weekend. My second and third benchmark assignments are pretty much ready to go, though I will make some changes to them as well, Lord willing. I may end up putting that work off until right before I need them, but we will see. It would be super sweet to head into week 1 on Monday knowing that my entire semester is planned and prepared and ready to go! God be praised! It would be awesome!!

My heart is filled with such joy today. I have good news, good news to share, and praise to God, I am ready to share it. In so many ways, my life has been building to this one moment in time. I have made such good progress, and the transformation from weak and miserable to good and golden has taken a lot of time. It has taken a lot of hard work too, but mostly, it has required that I be fully surrendered to the Lord, fully committed to His plans, and fully capable of knowing that my life is no longer my own, rather it belongs to the Lord. Yes, He purchased my life, and as such, He has given to me purpose, a plan, and a path. In this way, I know the way to go, and I follow after Him as He leads me on. I may not always know the details of each day, but I have a general sense of well-being, of goodness, and of His grace as He gently calls me to follow Him. This day is a perfect day, then, to follow the Lord. This day is such a good, good day, to pick up my satchel and my cloak, and simply walk with Him to the destination He has planned for me.

My life is in full swing, and as I walk on, I am reminded daily that I do not deserve His goodness or His favor. I do not deserve His hand of blessing or His merciful kindness. I simply do not deserve anything but His wrath for my sins and the life choices I made that took me to places where I was not destined to go. Yet, as Paul said so beautifully in Romans 5:8 (HCSB): "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God, in Christ Jesus, died for us while we were still enemies with Him. His sacrifice was made not after we cleaned up some, but rather right while we were still a mess and living very messy lives. The good news is that no matter how messed up or messy our lives our, Christ Jesus is able to transform and take that messed up life and make it into something really, really beautiful. He did it for me, and I believe He will do it for anyone who calls upon His name in faith.

My good news today is simply this: my life is no longer moving as I desire it to move. It is moving now in full and complete alignment with the Father's will, and that means that whatever happens this day, well, it is not unknown. You see, my Heavenly Father knows exactly what this day will bring. He knows what will come to pass, and as such, I no longer have to be concerned or worried about these details. He has me well-covered, and in this way, I am able to rest completely because He has all of the details of my life accorded, set apart, and settled. In many ways, my life is FINISHED. I mean, it is settled, set in stone, completely and fully laid out. I am now fulfilling my destiny, so to speak, and I am living my life as He has designed it to be lived. I know it. I feel it. I am compelled by it. I have this deep sense of satisfaction, goodness, and grace racing through my veins, and in this way, I feel confident, in control, and well, cool and comfortable in the plans the Lord has for me. I can rest in the knowledge that my life is now moving forward at His speed, with His direction and course set into the GPS of my inner being. I am on autopilot in some ways, or perhaps, cruise control is a better analogy. I can certainly turn the control off at any time, but if I leave it switched on, the Lord will simply control the speed and the accuracy with which I travel this road set before me. I am moving, and it is so exciting to finally be able to say that I heard His voice calling me to go, and this time, yes this time, I listened and I obeyed.

Going, Going, Going

Today marks the first day of my going homeward. I mean, I have made a big leap forward, and today, I feel the Lord encouraging me to step forward and walk along side of Him. I mean, normally, I follow. I linger behind, more accurately. But today, I hear Him say to me, "Carol, come and walk alongside me so you can hear me speak to you." Yes, Lord, I am coming. I will walk next to you.

It is a curious thing to be called to walk next to the Lord.

I do not deserve this position. I haven't done anything to warrant it. Yet, the Lord asks me to walk next to Him, so I listen. I heed. I obey. In doing so, I am able to hear His voice more clearly. He no longer has to shout at me, to wait for me to catch up. I can listen and walk. I can be close to Him, and in this way, I am able to hear what He is saying to me. It is clear now. I get it. I understand Him better.

In all things, the goal of my life is to honor and please the Lord. My heart's desire is to be faithful, fruitful, and fearfully obedient. I desire His best, always. I desire to do His work, and I long to be in a deeply committed and wonderfully satisfying relationship with Him. I need Him so desperately. I need Him so much, and when I feel His bond of assurance, I am able to sense that my life has order, it has balance, and yes, it has expressed purpose.

There is something wonderful in purpose, in knowing one's purpose. Purpose or function is that missing element that for many, drives their desires and motivates their accomplishments. I always remember the words from the movie, "Chariots of Fire," when the actor playing Eric Liddell says:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

I understand this statement. I get it because this is how I feel as well. I feel that when I am using all the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given to me, I feel His good pleasure. Even more so, when I am submitted, yielded, and obedient to His call on my life, I feel His pleasure in me. It is as if the Lord says to me, "Yes, you are doing what I ask. I am so well-pleased," and with His compliment, I smile. I rest. I know that I am pleasing Him. I am doing what He wants, and in that way, I have found out how to please my Abba Father.

There is blessing, beauty, and bounty in seeking to please the Lord. I seek it with my whole heart, and my desire, the inner most desire I have is to run to please Him. I run, as Eric Liddell said, this race of faith, and while I may not actually "run," in my heart and with a purpose of mind, I run hard and I run fast. I want to complete this race in His time, doing the thing He asks of me. I do it to honor His name, and I do it because He has asked me to do it. I run this race with His power, His strength, and His endurance, and in all things, I run it in order to bring Him good pleasure. It is a good thing, such a  good thing.

In Conclusion

Running hard, and running fast are good things. I run because He has empowered me to run. I run with the best of my natural abilities knowing that I can only achieve the final result through His enabling grace. He has given to me natural abilities and supernatural abilities, and in this way, I am supernaturally empowered this good day to do all the things He asks of me. I run to please Him, and in doing so, my Father in Heaven restores me, rescues me, and readies me for bigger and better days ahead. He is good to me. He is so very good to me!

August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

It is Monday, and that means it is "Solar Eclipse" day here in the USA! Unfortunately, Phoenix is covered in scattered clouds, so we are seeing bits and pieces of the eclipse through our homemade view scope. I have been watching Nasa's live feed, however, and the eclipse was pretty impressive over in Salem, OR. So far, the clouds are moving in and pretty much obscuring any live viewing here. Still, the whole experience has been interesting. I mean, how often do you get to see the moon block the sun? The last time this happened was in 1918. My grandfather more than likely experienced it live while he was stationed in Dayton, OH during WWI. I can tell my grandchildren if I have any, that I witnessed this amazing spectacle. Perhaps they will get to witness one during their lifetime too, but more than likely, the Lord will return, and with His arrival, we will witness something far more amazing, wonderful, and truly SPECTACULAR! Selah!
In Other News

I am sitting here at my home office thinking about all that I need to do this good, good week. For example, I am into week 2 of my 7.5 weeks of teaching at ASU. The first week of school is pretty much handled independently of me, so I get a free week. My Regent classes start officially today, and praise to God, I am so excited to be involved with them again. I love my school! In truth, I love Regent so much, and I am thankful for the experience to be a part-time faculty member there. The Lord has blessed me with abundant work, but not just a volume of work, but really good, practical work. I am so blessed, so abundantly blessed.

My heart is full today as I think about the blessings God has bestowed upon me. I am in this safe and good place. I have my needs met with sufficiency, but more so, my greatest need is completely met. My deepest, my heartfelt need is met by my Savior and my King. Jesus is my soul's need, and His daily presence and companionship give me such peace. I feel safe and secure in the presence of my Lord, and I know Him well, which makes it possible for me to be content, no matter what circumstances or situations may befall me.

I am good, really good, and today, as I ponder the mystery and wonders of the universe, I know my Savior King lives. I know that my Jesus is everything, and He makes it possible for me to focus on my earthly future. My heavenly, afterworld, future rests solely in His hand, but until that time, I have work to do. I have good work, practical work, earthly work, and I have ministry work as well. I have work that satisfies my needs, provides for me financially, and even brings me happiness and joy. I have such good work to do. More so, I have work that will benefit the kingdom in tangible ways, and in this work, I have hope that what I do will bring goodness and blessing to others. I will be able to do both over the course of my days. I will be able to produce practical work through my contracted teaching assignments, and I will produce spiritual communicative work through my ministry efforts. In all, the Lord has given me the desires of my heart, and He has made a way possible that is good to me. I mean, really good to me. I am comfortable. I lack no real need. I have my needs met and praise God, I can tentatively plan for my future because I know that the Lord guides and directs my steps. He does this for me, and I submit to His leadership. In this way, He gives to me what I need each day, and I rest in His provision. It is a good deal, and I am thankful for His mercy, goodness, and grace. He is good to me, praise God! He is so very GOOD to me!
In Closing

The past week or so has been challenging for me. I was asked to deal with a number of emotional issues, and while I was put into a position that tested my strength and endurance, overall, I was able to put to rest some lingering concerns, some hurt (deep) that had remained hidden. More so, in letting that deep hurt go, I was able to feel the release of emotions so that I could finally heal. My heart is now fully healed, and as a result, I am in this really good place. I feel at rest, at peace, and because I hold no hard feelings anymore, I am able to release those who hurt me and let the past go. I have put the memories, the feelings, and the associated pain into the Lord's hands and asked Him to bury them in that place of forgiveness where there is no account of wrongs. Yes, I have asked the Lord for the ability to forgive and forget, to let go, so that I could move on with my life. I am ready to move on, and the Lord knew that I couldn't do that unless I took care of some difficult business. I have done what He asked, and with His help, I am now ready to receive the blessing and provision He has for me. I am ready to go, to really go, and in going, I am ready to experience all the glory and goodness the Lord has made ready for me. I need to go now, to move on. I am ready, and I have begun this process. I am moving on this good day, and I am embracing the future the Lord has for me. Praise His good name, I am ready, and I willing, and I am agreeable to living my life according to His marvelous and blessed plan! Selah! It is done! So be it! Amen!