March 23, 2017

Spring Rain

It is a good day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. I woke up to the sound of rain as it gently tapped against my window this morning. It is sunny now, the but the cooler air is such a blessing. Our expected high today is only going to be in the mid-60s! I am loving this weather!

I slept fairly well, but I woke up with an aching back. Lately this has been my experience. It seems that I wake up stiff and unable to roll over. I think it is my mattress. I bought my Sealy mattress back in 2011, so really, it should be in good shape still. I am not sure why I have such back pain, but it always happens toward the end of my night’s rest. Sigh! I am thinking that whenever I move house again, I will invest in a Tempur-Pedic mattress. I am willing to try just about anything to get a good night’s rest.

In other news, yesterday was a bittersweet and sad day for me. On the upside, my manuscript was accepted for submission to ProQuest. This means that I am FINISHED with my PhD. Now, I simply must wait to finish the semester in May and graduate with my peers who also finished on time. It is a great feeling to be completely done with my program, to know that I have finished well, and that this chapter of my life is closed. Now, I am beginning to sense the Lord’s movement as He prepares me for my next steps. I am excited to see what the Lord intends to do in my life, and to come to know His will more completely. It is a good thing, such a good thing, to be safely held within the Master’s hand! Selah!

On the sad side of things, my goldfish, Lenny, died in the night (the previous night). He had been off his food for about a week prior, and he had stopped swimming regularly. I believed he had swim bladder disorder, which is not normally fatal. However, in Lenny’s case, he didn’t recover even though I did everything possible to help him out. In the end, I think his age (3-4 years) simply was too much for him. He was weak and he simply couldn’t go on. I buried him in the back yard, under one of our shady trees, and while I am sad about losing him, I am glad he is no longer suffering. Unfortunately, I have this very large (20 gallon) tank in my bedroom. I really do not want more fish — they are a pain to care for — and they can be expensive to boot. But, what do I do with this tank? Ugh!

It is a good Thursday morning, and I am sitting here in my bedroom with my furry friends next to me, and all I can do is think about the empty fish tank in the corner. Part of me misses having a fish in the tank, but part of me appreciates the experience without wanting to repeat it again. In fact, since I don’t know what the summer will bring, not having a fish to care for is really a blessing. I am thankful that my nephew gave me his fish to care for some three years ago, but really, I am ready to move on with my life. And, that means — ALL OF MY LIFE.

Thinking More About My Life

So yesterday, I blogged about the sense I had that I was to begin to focus on teaching communication courses rather than English like I have been doing for the past five years. Today, as weird as it seems, I feel the opposite. I feel like I am to remain where I am, to stay fixed teaching at all my schools. I am not sensing that the Lord intends to move me just yet. In fact, I would say that He seems ready to plant me even deeper, to let me remain where I am so that I can be settled. In this way, I am sensing that He is asking me to simply let the Him lead, guide and provide for me.

What is more is the fact that I am sensing that the Lord has a good plan (always), and that His plan is about to be revealed to me. More so, I feel like He is saying to me to rest, to wait, and to be patient while He orchestrates the details. I am to wait until I actually see what He intends for me to do for work — my future work — and until He reveals His will in that regard, I am to relax, rest, and simply let go the “need” to know all the details. Yes, He is telling me to let this drop, to let the matter sit. He has me well covered, and He will provide for me. Until He does, I am to be thankful for what I do have, to know that what He has in mind is good, and that my future is hopeful and oh-so filled with opportunity.

This means that for today, for the “here and now,” I am settled right here in Phoenix. I have a good life (praise God), and in truth, I cannot imagine my life being any better. I also do not see myself moving away from Phoenix. I used to see it, strongly even, but lately — well — within the past year or so, I have become more convinced that this is where the Lord wants me to remain. I feel now that I am to stay put, to put down roots, and to be content here in Phoenix.

As I consider this truth, I realize that the Lord has blessed me abundantly right here where I live. I was so focused on moving that I couldn’t see how rich and rewarding my life is right where I am already planted. I mean, my parents are doing well, settled for the most part, and my son has just been hired to work at a church to the west of us. He is also teaching at ACU part-time, and for the most part, he is well-set in his future life, too. I have good jobs, a nice home, and I am starting to build up my resources so I can be financially secure. The Lord has opened up His storehouse, and He has poured out His blessing on me. Thus, I feel like the Lord has closed doors that would lead me outside the Phoenix area, and that He has called me to remain where I am. Moreover, I feel that He is about to open a door that will keep me here permanently, that will provide abundantly for me, and that will prepare me for the future life He has in mind for me. Let me explain…

Settled and Contented

I cannot really say why I feel this way, but I do. I feel like the Lord has determined that for the next season of my life, I am to stay here in Phoenix, and I am to begin to develop myself as a scholar, professor, and lecturer. I am to focus on three things: teaching students English, publishing papers on organizational communication and identity research, and working in the Church as a consultant of some sort. I am to focus on my daily work/life, which includes teaching students at GCU and online. I am to continue to pursue scholarly research in the area of communication, specifically organizational communication and religious communication. I am to work with several churches in the area to help them develop communication programs that will provide better adhesion and cohesion. I am not sure how I will do the latter, but this is what the Lord seems to be saying to me. I am to be active in church work, but not from a volunteer/ministry position. I am to be my own person, a consultant, and I am to work with churches in the Phoenix area to help them communicate more effectively internally. Hmmm….I have no idea how to go about doing that work, but if this is the Lord’s will, then He will do it. I trust Him to lead me, to guide me, and of course, to provide for me.

My heart is saying that this seems right, if that makes sense. I just have this feeling that this is what the Lord wants me to do — these three things — and nothing else for the next season, the next time, in my life. I am okay with this mandate because I know that it covers me in His way. He has always been clear that I was to work as a teacher, and that I would teach English and not communication. Moreover, while I have this desire to teach communication, I am thinking that what the Lord wants me to teach is how to avert crisis and how to work through internal struggles. I guess I have been sensing this shift, but I assumed it meant to teach these classes at one of my schools. Rather, I see now that the Lord intends to keep me planted in English studies, but that my professional work will be in the church.

What does this mean for me today? Well, at the outset it simply confirms what the Lord has said to me previously, and that is, that I would be an English professor at some school. I would teach composition, primarily, and that I would focus on teaching as my daily work, my income-producing work. All other work was His work. This means that for now I am already doing what He has asked me to do. Furthermore, I am already working at several wonderful schools, teaching and mentoring students, and that for the rest of my working days, this is the work I will do. I will be an English teacher.

The communications part, the teaching communication part is something my heart longs to do, but I have never really desired to do it full-time at a school. That is, until now. I feel this push toward communication, but I am thinking this is the Lord saying to me that I will teach communication, but I won’t do it directly through my teaching contracts. I will instead teach communication to groups, to churches, and to individuals in one-on-one settings. I will teach the church how to communicate faith more effectively, and in that way, I will be employed as both a professor and scholar AND as a communicator. I think this thought terrifies me more than anything else. I am so comfortable teaching students in an academic setting. The thought of teaching in public absolutely panics me.

I am not going to worry about the latter role since I know the Lord will prepare me for it just like He did when He asked me to consider teaching as a profession. I was panicked then, too. Now, I am confident, cool, and comfortable teaching students. Now, I am able to teach large groups of students without much fuss. But, teaching outside of the classroom scares me, and I feel so unready, so unprepared. Yet, I know that if the Lord desires me to overcome my fear, He will put me in a place whereby I can learn how to do that very thing. He will place me in a role where I teach communication so that I can become as expert at it as I am when teaching students how to write well.

Now, though, I must rest. I must accept what the Lord is asking me to do, which is simply to trust Him again. I must let this all go so that the Lord can reveal His will for me, and then He can move me into the position of His choosing.
His Plans 

As I sit here today and try to understand what the Lord intends to do with my life from this point out, I know that I am established in part. I have His way set. By this I mean, I am set as a teacher, so for the next 15 years, I am to teach. I am to teach what I know, which is English, and I am to be settled, contented, and agreeable to it. I am not to seek other courses to teach, but rather I am to be comfortable teaching both composition and literature courses as they are made available to me. This means that I am to teach whatever combination of courses the Lord provides each semester. Mostly, it will be English composition. Mostly, it will be writing courses. However, occasionally, the Lord will allow me to teach literature courses so that I can enjoy the process of teaching cultural studies.

Communication courses will be given to me as a bonus, and for now, I have only taught one course, Human Communication (different names). I have taught it at two different schools, but the emphasis was similar. I have taught this same course four times, total, so I am very comfortable with this class. I haven’t taught small group, interpersonal, or intercultural communication. Nor have I taught public speaking. Thus, for all intents and purposes, I have taught only one communication course, but I have taught oodles of English courses. It is clear from this pattern of experience that the Lord intends to keep me in English. I am comfortable in English. This is my area of specialization. I am an all-around English teacher. I love teaching English, specifically cultural studies. I am not a technical writer nor do I like to teach technical writing or this style of writing. I have learned to become an expressive writer, a “Writing Down to the Bones” kind of teacher (Peter Elbow follower). Thus, I have conflict with other instructors who teach fundamental writing as structured. I much prefer creative expression, a gentle approach to writing that frees the student up and distances them from past experience. Yes, this is my niche, and while not very popular today, it is my little sandbox.

With this in mind, I realize that the Lord has made a way for me to go. Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” I may have plans and designs, but it is the Lord who actually lays out the steps for me to follow. For example, I wanted to study English and the Lord provided a program for me to follow. I graduated with my Masters degree in Literature. Then, when I wanted to study English at the doctoral level, the Lord instead showed me a Communications program. I didn’t want to study communications, but oh my goodness, am I so glad I relented and listened to His leading. I am a better person today because of that act of obedience, and as a result, I have formed life-long friendships, developed interests that challenge and stimulate me, and overall, learned a valuable skill that is not only practical but beneficial to me and to the church as a whole. 

Now, I want to trust Him for my next steps, and that means to realize that somewhere and somehow the Lord will bring all these disparate pieces together to form a lovely picture. I mean, He is able to do this. He can bring me to a job whereby I am recognized as a scholar, a leader, and an effective teacher. He can open doors that no man can shut and vice versa. He can make my life brand new, if He chooses it to be so, and He can provide riches to me simply with an assent of His will. My needs are met in HIM, and by that, all my needs are summed up in Christ Jesus. I need nothing save Jesus Christ, and Him, crucified (as Paul so eloquently stated). I have everything I need in Jesus. Anything I lack has been made up by the Lord through His personal presence in my life. I lack nothing because in Jesus, my every need has been considered. He is my sufficiency, and in Him, I have everything I need. He is my all-in-all.
In Conclusion

As I close out this blog post, I think about all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me recently. In fact, I expect a miracle today. I am expecting to hear some word, some testimony, some confirming news that will help me understand what the Lord intends to do in me and through me. My next steps are ordered, planned and prepared. I must simply follow Him. I must obey Him as He leads, guides, and provides for me. I must go where He sends me. I must do the work He has prepared for me to do, and that means, that I must be content in this way, in His way, I mean. I must be content. I must be settled. I must be prepared and ready to do His special work. He is good to me. He provides for my every single need, and as such, I lack nothing. I have everything I need to do His good work this very, very good day. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy to be praised! Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

March 22, 2017

Recovering from Stress

It is Wednesday, and I am at home resting. It is the middle of spring break, and frankly, I am finally starting to feel relaxed. The past couple days have been really slow and well, boring. I know that sounds funny, but after spending four years working non-stop on my school work, the abrupt stop has been difficult to handle. It is like a train rushing full steam ahead and then suddenly screeches to a halt when someone pulls the emergency stop line. My life has come to a crashing halt, and while I have finally arrived — achieved my goal — there is this sense of “is this it?” Is this all there is to finishing a PhD? In truth, I am ecstatic about finishing, and I am so grateful to the Lord for providing a way for me to finish in such a short amount of time. I am happy, joyously happy, that this part, this season of my life, is over. But, there is this sadness too. My good friend, Heather, said she felt bittersweet, and I agree. I feel the same way. I am happy to finish, but sad to leave the experience behind. Getting my PhD was one of the hardest pursuits I have ever engaged in and it took great sacrifice and effort to achieve it. I worked tirelessly for four years and now this episode is over. This chapter has ended, and I am moving on to the next chapter of my life.
Next Move

As I sit here this week, I cannot help but think about how the Lord brought me to this place and this time. I mean, if I am honest, the past seven years have been dedicated to one goal — graduating with my doctoral degree. Second, after graduating, the result of obtaining that degree will be the receipt of a full-time position as a professor. Then, once that step is completed, I will begin to do the work the Lord has set out for me to do (as in communication and the church). So for all intents and purposes, the degree part is done. My dissertation has been proofed and submitted to the library (pending ProQuest’s receipt), which means, that I will officially graduate in May. My official degree will be conferred at some point thereafter, probably in June. However, technically, I am graduated. I can wear the moniker, Dr., and I can advertise myself as a Dr. on my resume/cv and apply for jobs as such. I have what is known in the business as a “PhD in hand” or I will, I mean, by the time school begins next August. This means that when I apply to jobs where this is a requirement, I can honestly say, “Yes” when asked if my degree will be conferred within the timeframe stated.

In all, I have grown tremendously as a person through this process. I mean, when I started graduate school back in 2010, I was still pretty tentative about my abilities. I felt good about my overall ability to do work, and of course, I had a lot of success throughout my life (with various jobs or tasks), but I still felt like I was a “no one” or that my life really wasn’t special or unique. I mean to say, that I felt like I wasn’t anyone “special”. Even after I graduated from Mercy College, I felt as if I was no different. My master’s program was great, don’t get me wrong, and I loved what I learned as I studied  literature at this level. But, truth be told, I was “one of many,” meaning that I was just like many of my colleagues who had their master degree (in business, music, or some other field). I felt average among my peers, and while I enjoyed the blessing of having my masters’ degree, I really didn’t feel like I had done that much, achieved that much, or received that much recognition or fame, so to speak. I was pretty much the same person.

Then, I enrolled in a doctoral program at Regent University, and well, my life changed. Not only did I have to change careers, but I had to put most of my life — my home life, my relationships, my work, etc., — on hold. I had to stop everything so that I could focus on this one goal. In the pursuit of graduating, I worked harder than I had worked previously. I pushed myself, challenged myself, and proved to myself that not only could I be a scholar, but that I had the chops to be a full-time faculty person at a major university. I worked without ceasing, and in the end, I finished my program with a 4.0 GPA, a strong dissertation, and an even stronger feeling of accomplishment that I could have imagined possible. I can say today that I believe the words of Paul when he said, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.” I can do all things, and I mean all things — anything — the Lord asks me to do, I believe I can do it. Of course, I can do it with His help, and I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory for what He has done with me, in me, and through me. He receives the praise. He receives the honor. And, He receives the glory for His amazing and enabling work this good, good day.

Now, I feel like this door has closed behind me, and it is shut permanently. I can never go back to where I once was; no, I can only go forward now. It is funny how just three-four months ago, I was panicked about the future. I felt so unsure, tentative, and I had this worried sense of “will I make it” constantly in my thoughts. I felt confident that the Lord would see me through to the end, but there was a part of me that simply didn’t know what would be the “next steps” involved.

Yet, now I see that the Lord has moved me into this place of calmness, stress free waters, so to speak. The previous churn of the river has puddled out and I am floating freely upon the still glassy water. It is a good place to rest. It is a good place to float free. Yet, as I sit here and float, I realize that all of the panic and the dread leading up to this place was worth the effort, the fight, and now that I am on the other side of that rough water, I can look back over my life and see His hand, His guidance, and He complete sustenance as He has provided for me. In truth, I am where I am today because He determined it would be good for me. He said, “It would be good for you to do this thing” and then He made a way. I agreed. I followed. I obeyed, but He provided the tools, the resources, and even the place so that I could accomplish this amazing and wonderful goal.

What does the Lord intend to do next in my life?

As I ponder my next steps, the next move, so to speak, I can only think that whatever the Lord determines for me next, it will be BIG, BOLD, and BETTER than what has come to pass previously. I believe in BIG things from my God, and He has made me ready for the next task, the next goal, and the next step in my progress toward His Celestial City.

Some Ideas to Ponder

Right now, I think the “next” step on my to-do list is to finish the semester, which simply means to focus on my students, attend to my duties as instructor, and complete the work assigned to me. I have 5 more weeks of school on campus, and my online courses just started over (we are beginning week 2).

After the semester ends, I will be free for most of the summer. I have one class scheduled at Regent, and there is a good chance that I will start at Grantham in June or July. I hope this is the case as it would provide much needed income over my dry summer month. Fall contracts are in place at GCU, but if I can pick up enough work elsewhere, I might opt-out of them if the Lord permits me to do so. I don’t really mind teaching out there again, but part of me is so ready to move on, to try something new, and to begin a new work or new job. I will have to wait and see, so for now, I feel content to remain where I am and to wait for the Lord to open up the next door for me to walk on through toward the fulfillment of His plan.

Outside of the immediate plans for work, I also have a trip planned to VA for graduation, and a potential trip planned to Indiana (though we haven’t made any reservations for this trip). My summer as of today is free and clear (praise God) and I do plan to enjoy the down time, the free time, and the low stress of the summer months. Of course, that is assuming that nothing serious or bad happens (circumstances or situations beyond my control). God be praised, my prayer is that nothing serious or unfortunate occurs over the summer.

In thinking about my next steps, there are a couple things I’d like to do or see happen that come to mind. First off, I do need a full-time job. I have decided that working all of these part-time jobs, while a good thing, a blessed thing, can also be a difficult and stressful thing. I am content to remain as I am, but I also see blessing in downsizing and in working in one job that pushes me further in my career. I’ve been considering this for a while now, but I think the Lord desires that I remain where I am for the short-term only. This means that while I love my students at GCU, I honestly do not think this is the school of His choice, long-term. GCU gave me the opportunity to teach, and for that, I am so thankful. But, now that I have my PhD, I realize that I need to be established in a school that respects my area of specialization. GCU is a school that respects hard work, and as such, expects their faculty to work hard, but they do not really push scholarship or treat faculty the way that other, more research oriented, schools do. I am a work horse out there, and while it has been a good thing while in school, I feel like I am ready to take off the training wheels and start riding my bike like a big girl. In truth, I am ready to graduate and move away from GCU, and begin my career as Assistant or Associate Professor at a school where I would be awarded tenure-track.

Last week, after I finished my defense, my dissertation committee chair asked me what classes I intended to teach as part of my future academic career. He basically wanted to know if I would continue to teach a wide range of classes or if I would specialize in one area. I started thinking about his word to me, and really, I understand what he is saying. You see, most full-time faculty teach one class in order to define their subject area, develop strategies, and then pursue scholarship with this work in mind. As adjunct, I teach composition, primarily, and sometimes literature part-time at many schools. My field is communication, yet I haven’t taught communication since last fall (2016). This means that for now, I am pretty much situated in English since this is where I found work easily over the past couple years of schooling. However, with my new job at Grantham University (still part-time), I will begin teaching other communication courses as well as English. The interim chair said she needed me to teach a variety of classes, and while I am happy to do that because I need the income, I really need to decide if I will focus on one aspect of communication for my specialization.

I’ve prayed about this for a couple week’s now, and my gut is telling me that the Lord desires me to begin this transition soon. I believe He desires me to focus on crisis and small group communication because both are related to my interest in organizational communication and culture and identity studies. However, until He opens that door, I need to remain where I am — and that means — teaching English. As such, I am thinking now that the full-time position I will be offered will be in Communication and not in English. I will continue to teach composition and some literature as a side option only (through my online courses). This means that I need to move into my field of communication this summer. I need to find a job where I can teach these types of courses and where I can begin to develop skill and experience in these areas within my specialization. At present, the only school where I will teach these courses is through Grantham (Lord willing).

I am open to teaching at any school of the Lord’s choosing. He will lead me to a position that will offer the right combination of courses. The pay will be within His parameters, and hopefully, the school will provide benefits to me so I can let go of Obama Care. Also, while I am hoping for online work, I will teach on campus as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. If He wants me to teach FTF, so be it. My preference and my choice is online simply because it gives me the most freedom. Yet, I understand that I may have to take on work as full-time faculty on campus. Of course, the Lord knows my needs, and I am trusting Him to provide for me.

It is really crazy to think that I am about to leave the safety net of English for a deep dive into the pool of communication. After all, I have spent the past four years studying Communication, and praise be to God, I have learned so much about this particular field of study. In some ways, I wish I would have been teaching communication all along, but I think the Lord put me in Composition, in particular, so that I would have the opportunity to teach online as a retirement strategy. I always thought this was my focus, but I could never grasp why He would have me study communication only to work in English. I really do not fit in English, and it is obvious to me now as I look for work. The open positions ask for PhD in Literature or in Rhetoric and Composition and not Communication. Thus, I need to move to my field now, and to seek work where I can make a name for myself as a scholar.

As I begin this process of moving from one field to another, I realize that I have the blessed opportunity to remain connected to English virtually. I have the opportunity to teach online at several schools and enjoy helping students write good essays. I think the truth dawned on me the other day when one of my peers was helping a student in my class. He was working with this student to help her write, but he was instructing her at such an advanced level. He was pushing her ahead of where she should be as a freshman. I appreciated his tenor and his interest, but I was like, “This is so unnecessary.” You are pressuring this student to perform when she is simply learning to express herself well. I teach writing freedom, creative expression, and the interest in writing as a love, a process, and a journey. I do not teach it compositionally, and that is why I don’t fit well in composition courses today. I simply do not fit in this way. I think this reality has been coming to me for a long, long while, and despite my unwillingness to accept it, I realize now that I need to go. The Lord is showing me an out, a way out, and I have to take it.

I am a communications scholar who teaches in English. I need to move to my own field and begin teaching what I know as my subject area. I need to move now.
In Closing

I am ready now, today, I mean, to let this go. I am ready to pack up my things, and to exit out of English and to embrace my field of study, to embrace communication. I embrace it with the thought that this is what the Lord intends for me to pursue — with a passion and intensity — and I need to make communication as much my home as English once was. I am not an English teacher anymore. I am a communications professor, and it is time I wear this hat and proudly begin to represent my field in and among my peers, my colleagues, and my students at the university of His choosing.

What does this mean for me today? Well, I really think it means that I am ready to be moved by the Lord into a position of His choosing, for His name, and to bring Him praise. I am ready to do this work, this level of work, and as such, I am ready to begin to study, to write, and to publish articles that serve to promote me, to polish me, and to open doors to professional opportunities within Communication.

Lastly, as I process this change, I cannot help but think that this is what the Lord has wanted for a long time, but that I was hesitant to trust Him to develop me as a teacher and a scholar. I know that I enjoyed teaching communication previously, but that I felt more “safe” in composition classes. Now, though, I feel like I am being pushed out and in this way, I am being told to “move on.” I need to move on, I know this is the case, but I guess, I didn’t think it would come this way. Thus, today, I accept this as a fact, that the Lord intends to open a door somewhere wonderful, and within that wonderful school, I will finally find my perfect “fit.”

March 18, 2017

Blessings of Rest and Relaxation

It is a blessed Saturday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. Yes, the air temperature is going to hit mid-90s today, and praise be to God, I am ready for the warm weather. In fact, I am so ready for summer, that I am thinking of starting my bikini diet today (LOL!) Well, let’s just say, I am thinking of going low-carb to see if I can shake loose the extra 10 pounds I added to my petite frame since last summer. I have wanted to do this, tried to do, planned and prepared to do it, but with all the stress over work and my doctoral studies, I simply gave up, gave in, and wimped out. Now, though, I am feeling more refreshed, more relaxed, and well, more ready to really get this old body back into some semblance of shape. Good shape, that is. I have let go my desire to be skinny again, and now, I simply want to be trimmed and toned and have less flab around my hips, thighs, and middle. I do want to lose 20 pounds still — that magic number — but between you and me and the wall, I will take 5, 10 or even 15 as a huge blessing and achievement.

Today, thus, I am going to have my eggs, and go low-carb (Atkins). I had success previously, and if I can kick my body into ketosis, I should be able to burn off 5-6 pounds in my first week. I know, hopeful, so hopeful. In reality, I would just be happy with a steady 1-2 pound drop over the next 7 weeks. Oh my goodness -- I would be so happy!

So with this in mind, I am marking my graduation date as my target today. I think if I can lose 10-14 pounds, and build some strength, I should be able to feel better and fit into my summer clothing. More so, my parents are planning to go to Indiana in mid-June now, so between now and then, it would be good to be somewhat slimmer. I would be more comfortable flying, and I would also feel better walking about in shorts. I know that in order to get the weight off, I have to start now. The longer I put it off, the more I will have to lose. I cannot delay any longer, and frankly, I know that I need to move — to physically get myself moving — so I can feel better and start looking better.

Plans for the Day

Today, my plans include resting, some work around the house, and taking care of my sick fish. Yes, I need to do a deep cleaning of Lenny’s tank, and I also need to do some regular house cleaning. My Mom and I may go out to the store later on, but generally, I am going to take it easy. This is my Saturday before my break, and while I can laze about some, I really need to take care of some business dealing with my house and home.

My son is in Las Vegas, and part of me would really love to get into his room and do a deep cleaning of it. He will be back home on Monday, and then he leaves for Southern CA on Wednesday. In all likelihood, I won’t be able to get into his room or do anything because he really doesn’t like it whenever I do. My prayer is that someday soon he will get bitten by the “clean” bug, and he will start to keep his room tidy. Until then, sigh! I simply keep his door closed.

I am excited to think that soon, perhaps very soon, I may be out on my own again. I am not tossing my parents out, by any means, I just am thinking forward to the day when I will be able to plan for my own home, and that thought, excites me. I am so ready to be my own person, to be on my own, and to be able to move forward in the life the Lord has for me. He has made my new life possible, and He has made my life so good. I don’t mean to brag because I know that there are many people out there who are suffering with unfortunate circumstances. Many people I know are struggling with debt, loss of jobs, illness, and other physical and psychological concerns, and in truth, their “life” is not very good at the moment. I understand this is the case, and while I don’t mean to boast about my life being so “great” and all, I cannot hide the truth, and that is that for some reason, the Lord has chosen to bless my life during this season of it. I take no credit for it. I have done nothing to warrant it. I am simply bearing testimony to the fact that the Lord has chosen, seen fit rather, to create a life for me that is modest, comfortable, and oh so very, good.

He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Thinking and Moving Forward

I am trying to figure out why things seem to be going so well for me. I mean, it was less than two months ago when I was so panicked, so worried, and so fearful that my life was not getting any better. Then, I had this epiphany moment whereby I made the conscious decision to embrace the life the Lord has provided, accept the fact that I am poised and positioned to remain here in Phoenix, and well, the stress, the strain, and the struggle seemed to simmer down. I mean, I started to feel better, more content, and more at peace than ever before. I started to accept the fact that I may never have one job; rather, I would have work at multiple jobs. I also gave up hope for that illustrious title of “Assistant Professor,” and instead, I accepted the title of “Adjunct Instructor.” It was hard for me to let these thoughts go, but in the end, I made the decision to be gracious and thankful for the good gifts the Lord has already given to me. He has blessed me beyond all measure of blessing, and to want more than what I currently have, well, that was the mark of greediness. Should the Lord choose to lift me up, so be it. But, should the Lord choose to keep me down, right where I am at present, well, I have to respond in the same way. I have to say, “So be it, Lord. Not my will, but thy will be done.”

The Lord appears to not be doing the latter, and instead, He has opened doors for me to be successful right here in Phoenix. This thought scares me to some extent because my heart has been fixed on moving someplace else — any where, really — but here. Now, though, I see that the Lord has made it possible for me to remain here in Phoenix, to have enough work to earn a decent living, and to be comfortable to boot. This means that while I don’t own my own house yet, there is a possibility that in time, I could buy a small home that would fit my needs well. I could afford a home, I mean. This thought is what excites me more than anything because I had come to be so fixed on the idea that it was impossible for me to ever purchase a home in Phoenix (the median price of a home in my area is $250K). I never imagined even thinking that I could afford a home of this price, yet the Lord has shown me ways in which it will be possible -- in time -- that is.

What is more significant, is the fact that as I plan my life here in Phoenix, I come to see the blessing of being "planted." I have come to see that there is anxiety when we spend all our time looking for our future, and when we forget the opportunities that exist right here in the present. I have so wanted a "future" that was filled with hope, and I think after all the years where I spent living my life from hand-to-mouth, in fear of being evicted, and always looking backwards and over my shoulder for the tax man, I got into this habit of thinking that the only possible solution was to escape, to run away, and to find some new life -- over there -- in another place. Lately, though, I have come to see how the Lord has blessed me right where I am at now. He has given me good, practical work that I enjoy. He has made it possible for me to earn a living, a decent, yet modest living. I have my needs met, and with that fact, I can live comfortably now. I am no longer panicked about tomorrow. Moreover, as I consider my future, I see more of the same. I see the next 10-15 years of my life working as a college professor. I see my future include scholarship that focuses on the church and church communication. I see opportunities for presentation at conferences, travel, and other perks that come along with a life as a professor. Furthermore, while I see a lot of work -- and I mean -- WORK, I also see times of rest. I see that I will have my summers free, my holidays off, and in many ways, while I will work very hard during the school year, I will have significant down time to relax and recover. I will not be stressed to the breaking point, and I will have a future that is steady.

In many ways, this is what I asked the Lord for some 11 years ago. I remember praying, begging really, and asking Him to provide me with what I called "steady work." I wanted a career that wouldn't disappear tomorrow. I wanted one job, one career, whereby I could devote my life to pursuing and then when I was ready to retire, I could say, "Oh, yes, I was X for X years." I wanted a title to go with my name, and I wanted a job where I could simply say, "I was such and such." It is weird, but I always hated the fact that whenever I was asked "So what do you do for a career?" my  answer was always "I've done so many different things." I didn't want to be known as a "jack of all trades." No, I wanted to be known for doing one thing really well.

In my prayer back then, the idea of being a teacher always was first and foremost in my mind. I wanted to be a teacher, and often I would say this to the Lord. Lord, I wish I could say, "I was a teacher." I wanted to have the title of "teacher" attached to my name, and what is more, I wanted to work as a teacher until the time of my retirement. Little did I know back then that this was the path the Lord would choose for me to pursue. He opened the door up, and after some really shaky moments early on, I stepped on to this path, and well, I have been blessed to be able to remain in it. Now, I see this as my "title." I am a teacher, and I love it.

With Blessing Comes Loss

As my life began to change, however, so much of what I thought was real, steady, and true, fell away. It was like the Lord handed me a gift, but the exchange included significant loss. In the past 10 or so years, I have lost my marriage, my extended family, and through the heartache of divorce, I lost my own sense of self. In less than four years, I went from being someone's wife to a single person. I ended up as a no one, a nobody, a person without any family ties, no future, no hope. I was shattered, and it was so hard to lose that sense of who I was and what I knew, but I understood that I had to go through the shredding process so that the Lord could give to me this life of newness and blessing.  As such, I am a different person now. I have a different life, and now, I am in this wonderfully blessed place where I can begin to imagine myself in this career, living as a professor, and doing professorial work for the rest of my days. The Lord has blessed me with a future filled with opportunity and hope. He has blessed me and made my life good.

Therefore, as I close out this blog post, I am reminded of the words of Jeremiah 29:11 where the Lord said to the nation of Israel:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The plan the Lord has for my life is known only to Him. He has made a way for me to prosper in this place, in this land, and He has given me a future that is filled with hope. Today, I look up, and with a heart filled with gratitude, I express my thanks to God, my Father, for His gracious and merciful gifts. He has given me a future and a new hope, and for that, I am thankful. I am so very thankful to God, my Savior and my King. He has redeemed me, saved me, and placed me on this path toward future glory. May God be praised forevermore, and may His Name be honored throughout all the nations.

March 17, 2017

Happy Friday!

Thank goodness, it is Friday! My incredible week has come to an end, and I am finally feeling like the “decompression” process is in full-swing. Next week is spring break, and praise be to God, I am so excited about that fact. My plan for the week, outside of teaching in my online sections, is to rest, rest, and rest! Yes, I plan to rest well and enjoy time with my family.

I am almost finished with my dissertation. My final copy has been sent to the proofer, and praise God, she said she will have it back to me in a couple days. I am so blessed. I have also sent a copy to my outside reader, and so for all intents and purposes, I am 9/10 of the way through the final stages required before I can walk in graduation. I need to submit my document to ProQuest by 4/1, and with that completed, there is nothing left to do but enjoy the month until I visit Regent for the last time (sigh!) The good news is, of course, that as faculty, I will always be tied to this school. I plan to teach at Regent for the rest of my career, Lord willing. So my heart will always be with Regent University. I will always be a part of the faculty and the campus (thank you, thank you, thank you — Jesus!)

Letting the Stress Go!

My body seems to be settling into the fact that I am finished with school. It is funny, but I remember how I felt when I finished my Master’s program at Mercy College. It was like this big rush to finish, to submit everything on time, and to graduate so I could “potentially” become a teacher. Now, I am on the other side of that dream. I am a professor, and I am teaching at several schools. I am content with my jobs, but I am feeling the push (or really shove) to move from adjunct to full-time. Weird, really. I mean, I was content to be adjunct for the rest of my life. I was content to remain just as I am, as an adjunct instructor for several schools, and then BAM! I graduate with my PhD, and all of a sudden, I feel this shove to leave the comfort of part-time work for the grind of full-time work. I don’t know why this is so, but I think it has something to do with what my professor said to me on Monday. He and I were chatting in his office after my defense, and he said to me, “Now, Carol, we need to get you a full-time job.” I said that I was okay with working part-time, that I was blessed to teach at all of these schools, but he said to me, “Well, you have your PhD now.” The more I thought about what he was saying to me, the more I realized that you don’t get your PhD to work part-time. You get your PhD to work full-time, as a scholar. My mind is thinking, “Really? Is this true?” I know that answer, and yes, I need a full-time faculty position so I can pursue scholarship.

This morning as I was laying in bed, the Lord spoke to my heart and mind and said much the same thing. It was like He said to me, “Now that we are finished with this degree, we need to move into a job that will prepare you for my work.” I know that all along, I have wondered if I will ever teach Communications — I mean — after all, my degree is in communication. But, here I am teaching English, and well, it does cause me some concern. Will I ever teach Communication, Lord? I am okay, content I mean, to teach English as long as the Lord provides. But, there is part of me that thinks perhaps I need to transition to teaching Communication soon. Sigh!

The Lord has this all worked out for me, and I don’t want to think that I need to find this job. In fact, the Lord hasn’t said that I am to be looking for it at all. Instead, He has simply said to me, “Rest, Carol. I have you covered.” Yes, Lord, I will rest. I will wait for you to provide the “best” full-time job that will fit me well. I guess I am feeling this push, and with this push, I want to make sure I am doing exactly what the Lord wants. It is difficult to navigate these unknown waters right now. I want to do what will bring me solid income, but I don’t want to overcommit myself to one or more schools.

For example, I am content with my course load at Regent and at ASU. Combined, I teach 3 classes in each sub-semester (or 6 for 16 weeks of instruction). This load is very doable for me. I am not overloaded, and the pay more than compensates for my time. But, when you factor in my ground contracts at GCU, I typically end up teaching 3 classes face-to-face. So in all I am teaching 6 through 16 weeks of the semester. According to my professor, full-time faculty would teach 4 classes in a semester. I am teaching more than this now, and the combination does provide an adequate living for me (between $55-60K). However, there is no assurance with any of these jobs. They are “at will,” which simply means that if the school cuts back, drops courses, or hires someone full-time, I could lose the job at the end of the contract. Thus, in a perfect world, I would like to be hired full-time, teach 3-4 classes, and then keep these “extra” online jobs to build my nest egg for retirement.

Today, as I was praying over my options, I noticed several “full-time” jobs in Communication in AZ. None are in my area of town. They are either in Tucson or Prescott, and while the commute makes it impossible to drive there regularly, I could consider moving if the job were offered. I would prefer Prescott, which is only 90 minutes from Phoenix. However, it is very expensive to live in Prescott, and outside of the town center, there is really nothing to do there (it is a small, but quaint community). Tucson is home to University of Arizona, and while that sounds impressive, it is a college town, and outside of the university square, again, there is not much to do. Then, there is an opening at my current school, GCU. At first blush, I thought, “WOW! This could really be it!” However, I am so gun-shy on applying at GCU. I mean, I have been faithfully teaching there for four years. They like me (so they tell me), and I do a very good job for them. I have very high marks in my classes, good retention, etc. Yet, when it comes to being offered full-time employment, I am constantly overlooked. It hurts, and as such, I am really not thinking this would be the Lord’s will for me. However, should the department offer me the position, I would have to consider it. I mean, I am already teaching 3 classes for them — big seminar size classes — so it would not be any different than what I do now each and every semester. Still, I don’t know if this would be His will or not.

Part of me thinks this would be the easy solution. I mean, I could stay where I am at, work full-time, get benefits, etc. It would be easy. But it would mean working full-time on campus versus, part-time, as I do now. More so, I am not sure if this is what the Lord intends to provide to me. I googled salary for GCU faculty, and Assistant Professors earn about $78K per year. This would be a very good starting salary. Associate and full Professors earn closer to $100-120K, so there would be definite benefits to working there long term. But, there is this stigma in my mind, and I need to work through it, deal with it, and accept the fact that I have been overlooked before. However, now I have my PhD, which as my Professor at Regent said, will cause schools to look twice. I love this man — he is so encouraging to me and even when I am like “it is so bleak, there is no hope, I don’t see how” — he is always looking on the bright side of things. He always reminds me that God has a good plan for my life. Yes, God be praised, God be praised for giving me a circle of influencers and for the WORD of knowledge and encouragement they share with me. God is good to me, He is so very good to me.

So as I read some student essays to give pre-final draft feedback, I think to myself, “Lord, whatever you decide for my next steps, I will be content in them.” I will do as you lead, guide and provide, Lord. I will go where you send me, and I will do the work you have prepared and equipped me to do.

In Closing

As I close out this post today, I am giving the Lord a sacrifice of praise. I am choosing to lift up the Lord, to honor Him with my mind, my heart, and my soul, this good, good day. I have what I have today because He has made it possible for me. I am where I am today because He has opened doors for me. I am content to be where I am this good day because the Lord has said to me, “I will provide. I have you well-covered.” Today, therefore, I rest in His complete and utter sufficiency. I say, “Yes, Lord” as I accept the provision He has graciously provided to me.

March 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday! It is a lovely day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The air temperature is cool, but the skies are clear. The day looks to be another perfect spring day!

I was up early this morning because I had to drive my son over to school. He is off on a trip to Las Vegas for the school’s music program. As I was driving back home, I marveled at the beauty of the spring mix. I noticed that all of the blooming plants are setting flowers, and as I was driving back to my home, the colors were profuse and gorgeous. I couldn’t help but remember that it was spring when I first became impressed by Phoenix. I remember thinking that there was no place quite as beautiful as Phoenix in the spring.

Phoenix in the Springtime!

Funny, how that is, I mean. The memories come flooding back, triggered by some small event. I remember visiting my then in-laws and thinking that the home communities where they lived where especially lovely. The housing developments had all of these beautiful displays of flowers at each entrance by the road. As I drove by them, I thought to myself, “If only ‘I could’ live here someday.” Little did I know then that I would find myself planted in Phoenix. Yet, I never lived in one of those high-end developments. I never imagined it was even possible. In truth, after I moved to Phoenix, for a short while, anyway, we did live in a lovely town home community in North Scottsdale. Afterward, we rented a home in a very nice part of mid-Scottsdale. Later, we bought our first and only home in North Phoenix. But as we settled into this place, we ended up in neighborhoods that were what I call, “mixed” housing. Some of the homes on our street were well-cared for and tended regularly. Other homes had broken down cars and trash in the yard. It was a mixture, and then come summer when the weeds get out of control, the homes that didn’t have care, started to look abandoned and lost.

In fact, our home often looked that way when we couldn’t afford to have someone come and take care of the weeds. I hated this aspect of my life. I hated the fact that on the inside, my little home was comfortable and warm. On the outside, however, it simply looked tired and in need of care. My ex didn’t make regular money so we lived from feast to famine, and the last thing to be cared for was our home. I always felt embarrassed to have people to visit because our home looked so poor. I tried to keep it up nice, and I often decorated, painted, and tried to be as creative as possible to cover the fact that we were “dirt poor.” The worst part was that my ex-husband ran his business from our home office so people would naturally come by. I never was comfortable having people in the house — simply because I thought our home showed itself so poorly. Sigh!

Gracious Living

Now, though, I am in this very different place. Since my divorce, I have lived in a lovely town home complex in North Phoenix (on the border of North Scottsdale), and I am presently in a very nice home right around the corner from where my parents lived for 15 years. I am in this good place, a safe place, and my home is clean and well-cared for, so much so, that there is never an issue when people drop in. My home always shows well.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9 NLT)
This is important to me. I guess it is how I was raised. My Mom always cared for our home so that anyone was welcome to pop in. She kept a clean home, and it was always presentable for visitors. This is so important to me. It is an issue of pride, for sure; but really, it is more about hospitality. It is about caring for a home and making it warm and comfortable for visitors. I feel called especially to be hospitable, and I think this is a biblical mandate for all Christ followers. We are to open our homes and entertain people, to share our lives, and to fellowship with them. It is important that we have a hospitable attitude, one that is welcoming, and to do that, we must first be willing to be used in this way.

I have come a long way from the place where I was ashamed to have people visit my home. Now, I welcome them, and I long to be a hostess and to share my life with others. Granted, I don’t want to be a hotel or B & B, but I think being open to hosting is a good thing, in general. I need my private space, my downtime, but I also see value in allowing the Lord to use my home as He has need. I am open to being a gracious hostess, to entertaining strangers, and to keeping an open door policy whenever possible.

However, until that can be, I have to focus on my life now. I live in this home with my parents and my son. We certainly can entertain, and we have many times in the past. My parents really aren’t able to entertain anymore. It is too hard for my Mom to have guests in now. In time, though, I will own my own home, and that means that I will be able to host people as the Lord leads, guides, and provides. Until then, I wait patiently for Him to provide for me. As I see it now, I need to earn a little more income to cover my expenses. I need to set aside money for a down payment. I need to find a home that will suit His needs. I need to purchase that home. It is all in process as of now, so I wait on His timing. He knows what He is doing. For me, I am ready and I am willing. The rest, as they say, is up to Him. God be praised — my outcome — my future is up to Him!

WOW! What a great thought — I mean — I don’t have to think about my future, worry about it, or even be concerned about it because the Lord is the One who is responsible for the outcome. He makes the plan, and He brings the plan to completion. I can rest in His decision, in His choice, in His provision. I don’t have to fret or become anxious about it. He has me so well-covered.

In thinking about the Lord’s plan for my life, I realize that much of what I have today has been the fulfillment of desires in my heart. For example, just this morning as I was driving home and looking at the flowers, I thought about how I wanted to move here, how when I first came to Phoenix, it was the flowers that attracted me to the area. Now, after almost 20 years in the desert, I realize that I have become accustomed to seeing them. I have also become very accustomed to seeing the desert brown, and that means, while we do have trees, we just don’t have trees like they do in VA. Sigh!

In all, I am content to remain here. I mean, given the choice, Phoenix is not that bad of a place. It is a good place, in many regards, and I have been able to carve a small life here in the desert. Now, I am at this transition time, where I feel like I am about to get off this train, to finally settle at my destination. It is funny to think that for all my desire to go —> I may just end up settling here. I feel like the movement, the forward momentum wasn’t so much about relocating as it was about getting moving forward in the Lord’s will for my life. Now that I have completed my degree, my higher education, and I have a good career path in front of me, I feel like the Lord might be saying to me, “Stay awhile, enjoy the scenery.” No matter what, I will do as He says. I will do the work He provides, and that means that I will live where He chooses for me to live. He has this all figured out, and I rest now as I consider the future and the plans He has for me.

In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I am thanking the Lord for His gracious provision and His goodness toward me today. I feel confident that I am right where I belong, and in this way, I am doing the work He has provided for me to do. In all things, I am good. I am so very good.

March 15, 2017

Happy to be Home!

It is Wednesday, and I am so happy to be at home. I enjoyed my whirlwind trip to Virginia, and I had a wonderful time defending my dissertation. Now, though, it is good to be at home. I missed my home, my family, my cats (and Lenny, the fish), and of course, my bed. I guess I am more of a home-body than a traveler. I really like to have my things around me, and I like my routine. For example, I have this set routine every single morning. I get up, clean the litter box on my way out to the kitchen, fix my coffee, and feed the cats. My boys know this is my routine so they follow me around. Afterwards, I head back to my office to sit down at the computer and read emails, blog, check on the events of the day. My boys sit near me (one is on the printer next to me, and the other, is laying in the doorway). This is our day. It is quiet, comfortably, and really low-key. I don’t like noise in the house, and if my parents weren’t here, there would be zero noise coming from the family room (my Mom watches TV). I find that my quiet morning routine sets the stage for my entire day. I really need to move slowly in the a.m., and typically, after 12 noon, is when I start to get moving strong. I usually do not tackle my real work until after 4, and then I work straight until 10 or 11 p.m. This is my preferred work schedule. I do my best, my concentrated work in the evenings, rather than in the mornings.
Ready, Set, Go!

It is 12:20, and I am dressed and ready to get this day going. It is weird, really, but I was up at 7, and then dressed by 11. I normally am trying to get myself pulled together by this time each day. I guess this is one of the prolonged benefits of Daylight Savings Time! The good news is that I am ready to go. I have my power points all updated, and pretty much, I just need to drive over to campus. I am letting my 3:20 students go early today. They will have peer review on Friday, and well, I just don’t have anything new to share with them today. My IAs did a super job with APA on Monday, so truthfully, I just need to wrap up this mid-semester essay so we can head on out to Spring Break! Woohoo!

It is such a good day today. I am still stuck on this post-defense high, I guess. I really have no feelings one way or another, but I am pleased, like super, uber, dooper pleased with my result. It is like the Lord simply tempered me, took the highs and the lows, and gave me this middle of the road feeling. Perhaps it is so that I can focus still and finish strong. I have some minor tweaks to deal with on my final draft, and then I have to send a copy to the proof-reader and to the outside reader (my chair at ACU). Once I get my copy back, I can submit it to ProQuest and then ride on through to graduation. I am ecstatic that my document needs no real work. I mean, it is like it is finished — finished — and I guess that thought brings me joy and anxiety all rolled together. I mean, “Am I really done?” I guess I am! Praise be to God, I guess I am.

In conclusion, as I pack up my things to head over to campus, I am in awe of the Lord. I mean, He said to me that I was finished, that I had passed, but I wasn’t sure I believed His word. I wanted to believe it, but there was part of me that simply didn’t think I could be done — like perfectly done. I assumed there would be a lot of changes, a lot of pressure to finish, etc. Here I sit today, resting. I mean, I am at rest. I have nothing really to do except wait to head over to campus. The Lord has taken all this work, this effort, and brought this phase or stage of my life to a close. I am so blessed, so blessed, to be finished. He is good to me, so very good to me!

March 14, 2017

I'm Finished!

Well, it is a good Tuesday morning in Norfolk, VA. I am sitting at the airport, typing on my wonderful MacBook Air (Thank you, Jesus!), while sipping Starbucks Verona Blend, and eating a cinnamon Raisin Bagel. It has been a good two days, but I am so ready to leave the wintry weather and return to the southern warm skies. I had a wonderful day yesterday. My defense went very well, and I am ready to graduate. I have some very minor changes to make, and praise be to God, I am going to be able to send my document to the proofers on Thursday. In all, this has been a blessed adventure, and as this chapter of my life closes, I cannot help but give all the praise, the honor, and the glory to the Lord. He has done this -- He has made this possible, and I can take no credit for it. He deserves the honor, and because He is in charge of this outcome, I simply give Him the credit. All of it. All the credit goes to my heavenly Father, the blessed Son, and the awesome Holy Spirit! Selah!
His Next Steps

Now, I am ready to take the next steps, and to see what the Lord has in mind for me. I was saying this yesterday, as I took a nice drive over to VA Beach. I have never had the chance to walk out on the beach in all my 5 trips back east. Yesterday, it was very cold and windy, so I simply drove out along Pacific Avenue and looked at the ocean. It was a good way to unwind after my defense. As I was driving, I couldn't help but think about how tentative I was when I first came to VA back in 2013. I really wasn't very confident in my abilities. I had just graduated from my Master's program, and while I had gotten good grades, I didn't feel very comfortable in this new unknown discipline of Communication. My colleagues were all pros -- communication majors and professionals -- and I was this little English person. I wasn't even teaching at that time. I was working at CVS Caremark, and at that time, I was pretty content to stay in corporate communications. But, the Lord had other plans for me, and after I came to VA for that first residency, I realized that I had to make the commitment to the program, and that meant a change of career.

The Lord provided a job for me at Grand Canyon, and praise be to God, I am still there after almost five years. Moreover, as I developed my skill as a teacher, I was able to pick up other jobs at ACU, and then more recently at Regent University and Arizona State University. It is a good thing, really, and over time, I have come to this place of contentment. I would really like to be able to teach in one job only, but until the Lord changes these plans, I will remain at peace with what He has provided. I give Him all the praise, and for this path I am on, I thank Him. I cannot imagine doing anything different nor can I imagine living a different kind of life.

I was thinking about this while I was driving out past the NAS Oceana and the big jets were flying so low over my car. The sound or should I say roar was deafening. Yet, as I looked up at the military planes, I thought how blessed I am to live in this country, to be protected by such a great military. More so, as I drove out toward the ocean, I marveled at the beauty of the surrounding area. The trees were all bare and brown, but even in the winter drab, they were so lovely to look at and so impressive as they bordered the road way. My heart was at peace in this blessed place, and I thought to myself, "Lord, this is a special place to visit." I appreciated the fact that with DST, the skies were still light at 6:30 p.m. Furthermore, despite the cold and the wind, the outdoors were such a nice change from my normal and sunny life.

The Lord has richly blessed my life. I have been able to do most everything on my bucket list, and praise be to God, I have experienced some really wonderful things. God has given me a rich life, a life that has had ups and downs, and yes, a lot of heartache, but overall, my life has been sweet. I have met people who have changed my life, impacted my life, and given my life such pleasure. I have good friends, loving family members, and dear sweet colleagues and peers. More so, I have so many wonderful students. I have almost 300 this semester, all told, and I enjoy all of them. And, I should say, the Lord promised me that while I didn't have many children of my own, I would have influence on thousands of children over the course of my lifetime. I have already done this -- with children's ministry and Awana -- but now I have the double-blessing of impacting the lives of these young people for eternity. Praise God, I am right where I belong.

My professor and Chair said to me that I need one job now. I agreed with him, but I couldn't help but think that this is not the Lord's will for me, at the least, not yet. Perhaps in time this will be the case, but I love what I do, and I love being busy. I am thankful for each job, each school, and I will heartily work unto the Lord until the day of His return. I will wait on Him by serving my schools and my students, and in the way, I will honor my Father in Heaven. I will do this work to the best of my abilities, and then I will work with His abilities to accomplish whatever He has in mind for me. He is good to me, and He meets my needs with sufficiency. He has a great plan for my life, and I am excited to think that I am right where He wants me to be. God is good, so very good to me.


As I consider the possibilities the Lord has for my next steps, I think to myself, "What more do I need, Lord?" I mean, I have good practical work. I have a nice life. I have a good home, and I have my needs met financially now. I really have everything I could want, desire or need. It is a rare thing to be in this place of security, whereby your needs are met. This is where I am today. This is where the Lord has placed me, safely within His blessed hedge of protection. I trust the Lord, and I thank Him for this gift of peace, of comfort, of modest style. I can think of nothing to add to my life, and while I certainly do not want anything to decrease, I am grateful for what I do have today. I know I am in this good place, this safe place, and for that, I give Him all the praise. I asked Him to be my shelter, my security, my protection, and He answered me and provided this want to me. More so, I asked that He take the role of husband and Father to me, to provide for my needs, and He did this as well. In truth, He is my provider and my protector. I have looked to Him for this need, and while I have at times struggled to let Him lead, guide AND provide for me, I have come to learn the blessedness of reliance on the Lord. I have come to understand what it means to "lean" unto the Lord. I lean upon Him for my stability. I place my weight, my burdens, and my cares on Him, and He gives me peace, rest, and comfort. The more I draw near to Him, the more He comes closer to me. It is a fascinating relationship to be close to the Lord. I know Him well, but not nearly as well as I can possibly know Him. The depths of the Lord's love, care, and mercy are endless, and thus, it will take the rest of my days to come to know Him more intimately, more completely, and more joyfully. I take pleasure in this thought, that over the next 10, 20 or 30 years, I will know the Lord more than I do now. WOW! How amazing is that thought?

Thus, as I sit here and think about my life and what might be His next steps for me, I am safely and securely dependent upon Him. I need Him for everything, and I trust in Him to provide and meet my needs. I look up, and I wait. I don't know what He wants me to do, but whatever it is, I believe it will be GREAT! It will be great.

In closing, I think about this day and how I am about to board a plane to head back home. Back home. Those words sit with me now because I believe that for this season of my life, the Lord has opened doors for me to work, to live, to grow, and to remain content in Phoenix. My heart still longs to go elsewhere, but for now, the Lord seems to be saying to me, "Wait, my child. Just wait." I am content. I will wait on the Lord, and I will trust that whatever He does next, it will meet my needs, provide for my family, and bring to me even more adventure and excitement than the previous 7 years. Yes, the next 7 should be amazingly wonderful! I believe it, I believe it!

March 13, 2017

The Day Has Arrived

I made it to Virginia yesterday in one piece. The trip was uneventful, except for two crying children in the seats next to me (the row across the aisle). It was painful to travel with their constant cries, but I tried very hard to give the Mom and her traveling companion grace. After all, they were going to FL, and how else can you travel with children under age 3? I mean, really, what could this Mom do but try to keep her little ones happy for 4 hours. It was a struggle for me simply because I had been up at 4 am, and then at the airport at 5. I was so exhausted (I still am), but thankfully, I made it safely. My bags arrived (woohoo), and I got a pretty fancy car to drive (a new Mazda 6 series). In all, it was a long, long day, and I was very glad to finally arrive at the lovely, Founders Inn and Spa, last night.

The Founders can be pricey, but my room rate is comparable to other nice hotels in the area. My room is in the main building, and frankly, it is small, but cosy. It took me a while to figure how to turn on the heat. It is chilly here -- in the mid 30s -- so last night as I was hunkered down in bed watching "Thor" on TV, I thought, "Something has to be amiss with the heat!" Finally, I figured out that the thermostat had been set to "cool" and not to "heat." It is warmer today, but not as warm as I would prefer. I am sitting here now wearing a complimentary robe from the spa. It is about 68-70 degrees in my room, but I am comfortable as I begin to prep for my defense later today.

I made the decision this morning to forgo breakfast at the Swan Terrace Grill. It is complimentary, but I don't want to give up my morning to eat anything. I brought granola bars from home, and with my in-room coffee maker, I am enjoying my hot (not so great) coffee and my peanut butter bar. I am still feeling the bends, so to speak. It is 9:17 a.m here, but my body thinks it is 6 at home. Sigh! I have a feeling that I will crash as soon as I get back to my room at 4 today.

I am feeling punchy, but I hope that after I get in the shower, this hazy feeling will go away. I am praying for my colleagues who are taking the Red Eye in tomorrow. Oh my goodness! With DST, it really messes up our internal clocks when we have to fly East.

Still, I am thankful to be here today. It is a lovely crisp mid-winter morning. When I arrived at Norfolk yesterday, I could tell it was chilly outside. However, it wasn't until I went to pick my car up that I felt that chill sink right into me. It was so cold! It wasn't like "Chicago-style" cold, but it was similar. I went outside and thought, "Ok, this is definitely chillier than I expected." It is a good thing that I bought a down jacket on sale at Kohl's on Saturday. I found a cute little puffer jacket on sale for $48 dollars. It is a little big on me, but I could only find four in the entire store. I took it, and I am so thankful I did. It was the perfect companion for travel. I was warm and comfy on the plane, and it is light enough to take the chill off without causing you to sweat under a heavier jacket. It wouldn't work for me say in Chicago (maybe in fall or late spring), but it works well in VA Beach.

BTW, it may snow tomorrow. The forecast calls for mix -- which is just rain or snow or some compliment thereof -- but it would be fun, just the same. There is a big Nor'easter hitting the New England states, and north of here, there is a solid chance of snow. However, out my way, more than likely, it will just be rain.

Well, this is all I have time to write now. I need to get ready for my day, read my chapters 4-5 so I am prepared for my conversation with my professors, and generally, relax some before my final dissertation defense. I am thanking the Lord for His mercy this good, good day. I prayed over my day today, and I realized that at this very moment, I am 100% dependent on Him for everything. I am worn out, so worn, that mentally, I think I can barely put two sentences together so they make sense. I am beat, physically, and I need to rest. I am emotionally settled -- thank you, Jesus -- but nonetheless -- I have this "I am finished" feeling in my mind and body. I am giving Him praise today. I am giving the Lord all the glory, for He alone is worthy of it. I am trusting Him for the outcome, and I am resting in His provision of grace, intelligence, and intellect. I am doing this work for His name and His praise. He has brought me through to this point in time, and it is up to Him to see me through to the very end. He is good to me, so very good to me.
Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.


March 11, 2017

Defense is in Two Days

It’s a great day in sunny and warm, Phoenix. It is Saturday, and I am home relaxing this morning. I woke up around 6:30, but I forced myself to stay in bed until 7:30. This is my last day at home before I leave for VA. Tomorrow’s flight leaves Sky Harbor at 6:30 so I will be up very early. I feel pretty ready — confident I mean — but I still have things to do before I can really rest.

Today is a busy day for me, but in a good way. I completed most of my grading this week, and I prepped for my new classes that are beginning on Monday. I still need to finish my presentation and read my dissertation (one more time) before Monday, but overall, I do think I am ready for this big step. Well, I know I am ready…

Preparing for My Next Steps

As I sit here this morning, I think about the past 8 years of my life. I have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. I know that 8 years seems like a life time, and while I agree, the fact is that in the light of eternity, it really isn’t that long at all. In fact, I was just thinking about this very thing the other day. I was trying to remember how many years it has been since I first attended a megachurch (in preparation for my defense). In my mind, it seems like such a short amount of time, but when I put it in perspective, I realize that I have been attending a megachurch for almost 35 years.

Yes, crazy as that sounds, it is true. I first attended Los Gatos Christian Church (in Los Gatos, CA) in 1982. I was newly graduated from high school, and I was looking for a larger church where I could find more young people my age (college age). A friend invited me to attend the college bible study group, and I went a couple times before I started to go on Sunday mornings. I fell in love with the church the moment the service began — there was something about the music and the preaching — the combination, that simply met my needs back then. Of course, little did I know that the church I was attending was very conservative, almost ultra-conservative, but for the time and place, the church, the structure, and the approach they used, ministered to my heart and helped me to grow as a struggling, somewhat new, Christian. After I moved from California to Phoenix in the 90s, I attended Scottsdale Bible Church, where I go now. I’ve been a member of SBC since 1996. Thus, my faith-journey has taken me from small midwestern congregations (Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran) to non-denomination megachurches. I have grown through the various experiences, and it is my relationship with the church, the organizational differences in congregation size and in worship/service experience, that has served to prepare me and bring me to my present situation.

In fact, as I think about my life and my experiences, I realize just how integral the events of the past 54 years have been to prepare me for this next step of faith. You see, my life has been one long progression of events (some good and some not so good), and the experiences I have had have helped to shape me and make me into the person I am today. My megachurch attendance, just for example, has no doubt, influenced my desire to study this late 20-century phenomenon. As such, I have just finished my dissertation on the megachurch and its communicative practices, but I couldn’t have done this level of research and work, if I wouldn’t have had some relationship to the megachurch. I would say, that as weird as it is, the Lord used my past church experience  along with my previous education and professional work as an artist and designer to bring me to this place in time. Then, with His desire for me to study church communication, the Lord opened doors for me to study and to research a topic that not only could I explore for my final project at Regent University, but that I could embrace and hold as a unique calling and ministry for the rest of my life. In hindsight, and as I sit here contemplating my life and my next steps, I see how the Lord provided the perfect combination of interest and experience, and with those two things, I was able to do this amazing — almost unfathomably work. In this way, I was able to complete this intense and very difficult project, and I think, I was able to do it well. Praise God! I was able to do it well!

Now, I am about to defend my research, and while that thought scares me some, it also excites me too. I am ready to wear a new hat, the scholar hat, and with that thought, I cannot help but give the Lord praise and honor this good day. He has done this for me, through me, and with me. He has made this possible. I take no credit in the work that has been completed or what is to take place on Monday — no — I give Him all the praise. I know that I have been a partner in the work, for certain; but, the Lord gave me the desire, the interest, and the fortitude to keep on pursuing this work, this level of work, and with that desire and interest, I have now crossed the threshold and made my mark in my field. Yes, it is a little mark, but it is a mark. My name is now added to the list of communications scholars who are actively researching issues and concerns in the field of mediated communication (new media), and that thought absolutely thrills me to no end. I mean, who am I that the King of Glory should choose to set me out, mark me this way? I am nothing, yet He has purposed and planned for me to do this work. I am in awe of Him, and I give Him my praise. I am in awe of Him, and I lift His name high, and I give Him all my praise and my adoration!

Getting Ready to Go

Now, as I put all this aside, I think about the Apostle Paul’s words to the church at Corinth where he said,

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13, New International Version).

More so, I think about these words as final encouragement from the writer of Hebrews 12,

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (New International Version).

I have put off the childish things of my former way and life, and I embrace the work the Lord has called me to do. I am running this race of faith, with endurance, with my eyes keenly and firmly focused on Jesus, who is “the author and finisher” of my faith. I have no shame, rather, I look up and forward toward the finish line, and I await my crown of glory that will be bestowed upon me when I kneel before His glorious throne. Until then, I patiently wait. I keep myself busy. And, I run without tiring, carrying with me the hope of His glory and praise. Yes, the hope I carry with me is simply this: that in all things I will bring honor and praise to my Heavenly Father, and through my work, I will tirelessly and without fail, endeavor to share with others the hope that lives within me (1 Peter 3:15). I work unto the Lord, and in all things, I desire one thing, and that is that His name will be praised — by all men.

March 9, 2017

No Pain, No Gain

Happy Thursday! It is early, 8:30 a.m., and I have been up for an hour while the Pest Control company arrived to tackle our termites (again!) My room, in particular, is the place where the little buggers seem to show up. Today, the inspector said that we have a crack in the foundation, and this is the spot where these guys are finding their way into the wall. He sprayed, drilled, and injected goop, so hopefully, this will keep them away for a while (a couple months, I hope).

I am in pain today. My hip is hurting, and last night, I had horrible pain in my lower back, left hip, and thigh region. Some days the pain is so intense that I can barely function. I ended up falling asleep around 8:30 last night. I woke up after my son returned home at 11:30, and then got into bed and slept the majority of the night until about 7:30 this morning. In all, I actually did sleep well. I am still sore, but the sciatic nerve seems to be calm right now. Hopefully, I will have a good day of rest today, so that the pain dissipates completely. My prayer is that I don’t have any pain between now and when I have to fly to VA this weekend.

Speaking of my travel plans, I am praying that the forecast for snow sticks (no pun intended). I would like to see snow on the ground or flurries, but I really would like the roads to be clear by the time I arrive in Norfolk at 6:00 p.m. I plan on taking my heavyish coat, just to be warm. I also plan on taking my sweater and gloves/hat. In all, I am ready for this day to be over, and I am looking forward to graduation!
Thinking and Planning More

So this week has been a challenge for me. I made it through, praise be to God, and I have one more day of school (work) before I can focus 100% on my trip and my final defense. Right now, I am still in grading mode. My ASU, Regent and GCU classes either ended or were at the mid-term of the semester. I have had oodles of grading to do, but today, I hope to get all the drafts read in my Comp II classes, and my other assignments in my Lit class. If I can get all of my grading off my plate, I really can work some on my defense presentation as well as prepare my study notes. I plan to study on the plane to VA, and then spend the morning of my defense, running through my presentation. Honestly, I feel like I know this “stuff” well, so it is more that I will need to remind myself of key points, and then trust and rest in the Lord for His provision of clear memory and cogent articulation.

I feel confident today, at the least, less stressed. The anxiety that seemed to be with me the first part of the week has disappeared, and what is left is really a sense of calm and steadiness. I feel absolutely no worry right now. What is more, I feel like “nothing” at all is up in the air, on the bubble, so to speak. I guess you could say that right now, I have this feeling that everything is running as it should — full steam ahead. All systems are “go,” and I am in this place of complete control.

I am giving Him praise today because certainly this is not my doing at all. In fact, I was pretty upset yesterday (at myself, at my students, at my life), and after I came home from class, I crashed hard. I remember thinking to myself, “I just cannot go on.” I remember praying and saying to the Lord, “I need a new life,” which is my mantra these days. I simply meant that I need the Lord to handle what is happening in my life, and I need Him to provide a way out. I guess my sense of calm is simply a letting go of the worry, the fear, and the doubt, and acceptance that my life is not my own. I am at His will and His mercy, and by His grace, I go here or there. I do His work. I trust in Him. I look to Him. I rely on Him.

The more I think and plan, the more unsure I am of His intentions, other than the fact that they are always for my good. For example, I am in the waiting mode on the new job at Grantham University. I haven’t heard back from them regarding my background check or the next steps. I did submit all my paper work on 3/2, so in truth, it has just been one week (with a weekend in there). I know I am being concerned for no good reason, but still, once I know more, I will feel more settled.

In Closing

I know the Lord has me so well covered. I am prepared and ready for whatever He has in mind for me to do. Today, is a day of resting, of trusting, and of relying on Him for His perfect outcome.