My Grad School Story

First things first: Happy Birthday, mom! You are such a special person, and I love you so much. Thank you for being who you are, for living your life with passion, and for always reaching out toward the purposes that God has put in your heart.

NOW…for the post:

I took Earth Science every chance I got in high school, and avoided all the upper sciences as much as possible. Shoot, let’s be honest here. I didn’t actually go to high school. And so, when I decided to apply to a Masters of Science program, I thought that was a bit funny, but I had this hope in my heart that I had a shot. But see, I didn’t meet a lot of the pre-requisites, we didn’t have enough money for me to pay for school, and I had to be able to still find time to work at my job. I mean, it seemed like a tall order for what I needed for my life to work out. And maybe I’m one of those people who does hold illusions that promote well-being, or maybe I’m just optimistic, or maybe I can be very convincing when I want to argue the I am the ideal candidate for _______, so choose me!

Prior to getting into my current program, though, all of my emotions about my life’s path were pretty charged. I was starting to panic that I had missed my boat (the boat being, my life’s calling) ever since I turned down a bunch of other offers to go to grad school in 2007. We had even accepted one offer in Arizona, and–based on their offer to give us full out-of-state tuition waivers–we had prepared to move there to attend (in this case, both Collin and I had applied together and been accepted into the program). I mean, we had put a down payment on a condo out there, I had told my boss that I was probably going to be leaving his employ to attend grad school, and we even agreed to rent our house to someone name Vince.

But, it wasn’t right. And I knew it as soon as we visited the school (which, next time, I will do before accepting an offer of admission). I got this horrible feeling when we visited; I remember it so vividly:

We were meeting with one of our future professors, and he asked me, “SO, what exactly are your methods?” And then he leaned back in his office swivel chair, with his hands behind his head, and raised his eyebrows in anticipation for an answer. And I felt horrible. Sick. I knew NOT what he meant. Methods for what?!?! What kind of methods?! Why were his eyebrows so big and raised and staring right at me?

So, I babbled and rambled and gave some wretched answer by remaining vague enough that I hoped what I said would be appropriate regardless of what his question actually was. But how do you do that?

There really wasn’t a chemistry, there, with me and that school. Another nuance that set my intuitive alarms sounding was that the office manager for the department was our age and had a pen that had a big feathery, fuzzy thing on the tip of it. It made my spine cringe. I’m not sure why, but it did.

As we walked through the campus, I just knew that I didn’t belong there. BUT, I thought to myself…that’s not practical or wise—to throw away good plans and a commitment on a gut feeling that something isn’t right (and what I mean by that is that I begged Collin to decide to bail right then and there, but he was the one who had the firm commitment to sticking with the plan).

SO, imagine my relief when our scholarships fell apart due to complete disorganization of the office. Apparently, that office manager was brand new, and she was giving out wrong information, losing paperwork, and overstepping her position to the detriment of the department. I knew that fuzzy, feathery pen was not a good sign. So, with it being clearly not financially feasible for us to attend the program, Collin agreed that we should decline and re-route our lives. And thank GOD we did. For so many reasons.

It was at that point that we decided to start doing development work in Kenya, and we added our dog, Zuri, to our family.

But then, around the time that I would’ve graduated from that program (so, May 2009), I started to doubt that I had lost my shot at life. I thought that maybe I was never going to actualize my dreams or live the plan that I felt God Himself had put in my heart. Sure, we had started that development work, but how were we going to take it to the next level? I felt sure that I was supposed to be in grad school. I spent a hot second feeling trapped and afraid that I had blown my chances by applying and declining previously; but then I remembered that I could die trying, if I really wanted to make something happen. Then it seemed that I hadn’t tried all that hard yet.

See, there is this energy inside me that propels me up mountains, that inspires me to run marathons, that takes me to remote villages across oceans and continents, all in search of love, truth, and a sense that I am living this life. And so, late one night, I sent a very convincing email to the director and chair of my current program, and a month and a half later I was enrolled in classes as a full-time student.

And see, it’s not like I’m attending Harvard for neuroscience (which actually sounds dreadful to me, but impressive nonetheless). But still. It’s my life, and it’s a life that I respect and like. The point is, I know that God put these things in my heart; if they were not going to be realized, I was going to feel unfulfilled.

I am not exactly conventional or all that public about what I believe regarding God and my faith in God, etc. BUT. I am learning that when God has put a dream or desire in your heart, and you really try to achieve that dream, then He will give you the resources that you need to fulfill those dreams, plans, and purposes.

It starts with believing that you have a purpose. It takes sacrifice along the way. And the story might not always be as you imagined, but it will be beautiful and passionate. You can not be separated from your purpose against your will. It is written on your soul, etched on the core of your identity. No one can take it from you because it is who you are. That is how I think it is with the purposes and dreams that God has instilled in us.

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