August 1, 2017

Summer is Almost Over

It is Tuesday, and I am sitting here thinking about how in less than two weeks fall classes will begin again. My summer is almost over, and after four months of downtime, I can say that I am feeling well rested. I am a bit apprehensive about the fall term, simply because I still don't know what or where I will be teaching or if I will be full or part-time again. As of right now, I believe I will be part-time at my three existing schools. I will be on campus at GCU on MWF's beginning August 28, and I will be online at both Regent University and ASU starting on 21st and 17th, respectively.

I have not heard back from Grantham, despite my attempts to resolve the discrepancy on my transcript or my recent emails to the interim Chair. So with that said, I believe that my fall will look much like my spring, with the exception of writing and defending a major dissertation project. The Lord is good to me, so even without a full-time position, I believe that He will carry me through yet another semester as an adjunct instructor. I am open to any and all full-time work, and I am open to any and all offers for relocation, but for now, it simply seems like the Lord is keeping me stationed in Phoenix, and with my life in place as it is, I have to think that He knows that this is best for me. For now, I mean. For the short or long term and for His will and His work.

Struggling to Accept His Will

The past couple weeks have been trying for me, despite the fact that I have been busy with online teaching at my alma mater (I love saying that word!) I have been active in teaching two online courses, and praise God, I have been settled in the course content and approach. I also completed a Master Class for Online Teaching through ASU, and while not overly new and exciting (as in content), I did really enjoy interacting with the other online faculty and discussing issues, problems, concerns, and approaches to teaching online courses. It was a good thing, really a good thing. God be praised, I feel that my summer has been blessed. I have had enough income to be well-covered, to pay all my bills, and even to travel to Regent for graduation and to the Midwest to help my parents visit and prepare for their eventual burial. I have been busy, yet not too busy, to enjoy life. I haven't done much other than teaching and taking care of business around the house, and even though I would have loved to have had a real "get away from it all" vacation, I can say that I am content with what I did have, and I am thankful for the Lord's provision and grace to afford me such a luxury. God is good to me. He is so very good to me!

Now, I wonder about the future, about whether there will be an offer coming to me. Perhaps I am good just as I am, for the short term, and perhaps the Lord desires that I wait for another year. I did find out that the open position at Regent University is not going to be filled this year. The department said to let the chair know of my interest for next year. I am not sure if this is what the Lord wants or not, I just know that for now, my life seems to be in a holding pattern here in AZ. I have no forward movement, no backward movement, just a stand still.

As I think about the recent events in my life, I cannot help but wonder if I misinterpreted the Lord's direction last spring. If that is the case, then I know that I am at this stand still for a reason, a sure reason. Let me explain...

This past spring, while I was hip-deep in my dissertation writing and defending stage of my program, the Lord came to me and spoke these words into my heart and my mind. I say it this way because that is just how it was. I heard this voice say to me, "Remain." No other words, just the word, "Remain." At that time, I assumed the word that I heard was simply confirmation that I was to remain fixed, you know, steady on the path to graduation. I was overwhelmed for sure, uncertain if I would graduate in May, and well, I knew I needed to "remain" focused on my studies. I also knew that I needed to remain focused on the work the Lord had already provided to me, and that was my contracts at ASU, Regent, and GCU. So, I believed that what the Lord was saying to me was testimony, so to speak, confirmation that I was to focus on the present and not worry about the future.

After a while, I started to think that perhaps the Lord was also saying to me that I was to "remain" planted in Phoenix. I blogged last spring about how staying here was not my choice, and how the very thought of living my life in the desert, well, it just wasn't the happy scenario I wanted, hoped for, or dreamed about. I really wanted to "go" some place else, live in another climate, and be settled in a different culture for my remaining days. I prayed about it, and when I accepted the fact that the Lord may have wanted me to "remain" in Phoenix, I did have great peace about it. I felt like the path, while uncertain, difficult, and yes, not very open to full-time work, seemed to be a blessed option.

But, then I became fearful of the cost of houses, the fact that it is so blazingly hot, and I simply started to think that remaining was more about a mindset than anything physical. Doors seemed to close at the same time, and one by one, my options became more limited. I started to see the only path available to me as moving away from here and moving to a place where I could live and teach online.

The hard rub in all of this was the logistics of it. The fact that I am fixed in this place, now and for the long term, simply because my parents are here and they cannot and will not move anywhere else. So, I am stuck, like in cement, and the idea of moving sounded better and better. I want out, you see. I want to go. I want to live anywhere but here. I know it. I feel it. I so desire it. Yet...

Nothing is happening on that front. Thus, I have to believe that the Lord is not ready for me to go, just yet. Perhaps never, I don't know. What I do know is that my life is on hold, now until a full-time job opportunity comes my way or the Lord provides significant income for me to up and move to another, less expensive place.


Coming to Grips

This past Sunday, our pastor emeritus, Dr. Darryl Delhousaye, preached a message on Ecclesiastes 3. It was a good message, and it had his usual quirky little jokes peppered through out. The message itself was really about enjoying the life God has given to you, and realizing that there are seasons apportioned to us. Pastor Darryl said that in our "bag" (meaning life), we are given everything Solomon said in the opening verses of the book. We are given life and death, sorrow and joy, success and failure, and so on. The idea behind his message was that God has given us a full range of experiences in this life in order to prepare us for the next, for our eternity. Thus, it should be no surprise that in each season there are dualities -- good and bad -- almost like bookends to a book. We will not always have seasons of sowing. We not always have seasons of reaping. Instead, we will sow and we will reap. They go together just like we will not always live in a season of grieving, but there will be a season of joy to comfort us.

His message resonated with me for a number of reasons. First of all, I feel like I have been stuck in this one season, sowing my education and trade, for a really long time. I see my friends, who do not have their degree yet, get offered full-time faculty positions. I see them move across the country after being "promoted" to Assistant Professor roles. I see my life, and all I envision is more adjunct work. I don't see any hope for promotion. Yet, as Solomon, the wisest man ever, says, there is a time for rejoicing after the time of sorrow is passed.

My life is on stand still for a reason, and as Pastor Darryl encouraged us in his final remarks, it is up to us to choose how we will live in each season. We cannot live in the past no matter how much we want to do so. We cannot live in the future, either. We can dream of the future, hope for the future, but the life God has given to us to enjoy is only available to us in the present. We need to be present thinking people. We need to think about all that is in front of us now and accept our season in life as part of God's overall plan for us. We are moving toward eternity, and along the road, we will have times when we are asked to remain, to stand still, to stay put just as we will have times when we are given the okay to move ahead. No matter where we are, here or there, standing still or moving forward, we are to be content (happy and joyful) in it. We are to enjoy our everyday life (as Joyce Meyer says) and that means enjoying the good and the bad that God has allowed in our life.

As I sit here today, my thoughts are all twisted and turned up. I had thought I figured out that the path I was on was part of God's plan. I still think it is, but now I am wondering if the path I should be on is the one right next to me. I mean, should I continue to hope for a position that will move me elsewhere or should I simply accept what I have in front of me, consider it good enough, and let the rest (the worry over promotion, future concerns, etc.) be?

A good case in point is a text I received from my son just now. He asked about a car for this semester. My plan had been to get him a car by August, but as the summer wore on, and I didn't see any way to do that, I assumed that we would "yet again" be stuck ride sharing this fall. Ride sharing is not really the issue, rather it is the fact that I need a car to be on campus from 12:30-4:30 MWF and my son need a car to be on campus (at his school) from 7:30-9:30 M-TH. So in order for me to get over to pick up my car, I need to ask for a ride from my Dad. Sometimes, he is okay with that request. Other times, he is not. I am left feeling guilty in asking for a ride, and yet, I have no other choice.

My whole life is spiraling downward today. I mean just yesterday, I was okay with the idea of moving. I thought that I still had a good chance for this job at ASU and that with that job, I could let go of my campus courses. The job at ASU would be the "solution" to our needs this year. I would be able to let my son use my car, and I could get by with using my parent's car as needed during the week. I could also potentially trade my car in on a bigger car, an SUV, that both my son and I could use. In this way, I could continue to make payments on a car that works for us. But, if this isn't to be, I simply cannot afford another car payment now, and I cannot figure out how to make our situation work. If I don't get hired full-time, I will have to keep my campus job. This simply means that I will be working on campus and online, and if we had two cars, I could swing it. But with just one, well, it is problematic. I cannot see a way out right now.

Lord, why am I so confused? How are we to go if there is no sure or clear path to follow?

So here I sit and I wonder. What is the solution to the problem? Is it just getting a full-time job -- any job -- and is it remaining here and being content about it the answer?

I want to be content. I want to be happy in my situation, but as this new month begins, I have more questions than answers. I am left without any real solution at this point in time, other than to remain still, to be patient, and to wait for the Lord's provision. He is good to me. He is so very good to me.

My prayer today is simply to listen. I need to hear the Lord's voice this good day, and I need to be brave enough to accept what the Lord asks of me. If He tells me to stay put, to remain physically settled here in Phoenix, I have to accept this as His will for me. If I am to remain, I must be content, and I must be happy with that decision. Greg Laurie, Pastor at Harvest in Riverside, says that contentment stems from who you know, meaning knowing Jesus, rather than in circumstances, situations or places. Contentment is found only in knowing Jesus, in knowing that in Jesus, everything makes sense, everything has a purpose, and everything is made complete.

I know Jesus. I know Him well. I trust Him, but I struggle with these details, these awful and difficult details. I so want to know what will be, what will come, and while I am so eager to know about tomorrow, I often lose sight of today, the purpose and plans God has for today.
In Conclusion

As I close this blog post, I realize that what I want and what God wants should be the same thing. I should want His desires for my life, His plans to come to pass, and His will to be accomplished. In many ways, I do want these things. I want to have His desires fill my heart, and I want His plan for my life to be the only plan I follow. I want His will more than anything. Yet, because my eyesight is limited, my vision is only short, I cannot know what will be passed this moment in time. I can hope for tomorrow. I can have a vision for tomorrow, but I cannot know for sure. I cannot know for certain. I have to wait for His revelation. I have to wait for His provision. I have to wait for His approval.

Until, I hear the words, "Carol, go here __________," I will remain where I am, fixed and focused. I will attend to His word, I will listen to His voice, and I will patiently wait for His blessing and provision. The Lord is the One who leads me, guides me, and yes, provides for me. As such, He is the One who calls the shots. I need to make sure I am listening, heeding, and then attending to His voice. I say all the time, "Lord, I am ready. I will go," yet I also know that I don't ever go. I stay. Perhaps my heart needs a tune up to realize that what the Lord desires is my willingness to go, my agreeableness to go, and whether He sends me or not, my heart and my motivation are what matters most to Him. I pray it is so. I pray it is so.

Psalm 68:19 New American Standard
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, 
The God who is our salvation. Selah.

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