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!

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