Today is the day I officially receive my graduate degree! This has been a seven year process of intense summer classes, one on-line class, and a comprehensive exam. I’m so excited today is here! Due to our current crazy life situation, I am not going to actually get to walk across stage at a graduation ceremony. Although I am sad by this, I have accepted that life here happens first. I am SO thankful to Nathan however for supporting me in this journey. He encouraged me to pursue this degree because it was something I wanted. I never could give him a good explanation of what I might use my degree for, but my love for the content and my desire to just learn more was enough for him. I also need to thank my parents, my in-laws, my aunt, my sister, and my brother and sister-in-law because all of them at some point played a role in watching my children over the past five summers so I could go and immerse myself in history. THANK YOU for supporting me!!
The program I attended at Ashland University in Ohio was exceptional. The Masters of American History (or MAHG) program is designed for teachers by offering one week summer courses and now on-line courses. However, the content is focused on primary documents throughout history. I can honestly say that when I began this program, primary documents were difficult for me. It was such an exciting moment when I realized that I could read primary documents throughout American history and actually understand them! The Federalist Papers used to be a foreign language to me, but now I understand them (and can even explain them to someone else!) If I ever have the privilege of returning to the classroom, I cannot wait to share all I have learned with my students. Reading something actually written by Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and James Madison and being able to understand it is worth more than almost any commentary on the documents I can think of! It was such an amazing experience these past few years to get to know more about our country and everything it was created to be.
And now I can finally check the box for graduate degree completion when filling out forms! :)
San Antonio, Texas! I am super excited to announce that Nathan has accepted a new job, and we will be headed to San Antonio at the end of this month! We are very excited about this new adventure for our family both the new “civilian” life and the new location. I have to admit, I never thought I would be writing that we were going to Texas, it was not at the top of our “let’s move here” list. In fact, I know that I said more than once throughout the process, “Anywhere but Texas!” Perhaps its just another example of God’s sense of humor! Texas just seemed so far away, and in our minds we wanted to drift closer to places we call home like Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. However we also set ourselves up to be willing to go anywhere—and for us, anywhere ended up being Texas!
It still seems far away from most family and friends, but along with the excitement has come a peace that seems to transcend that overwhelming feeling. I know there will be days to come that will have hardship and sadness as we say good-bye and begin again, but right now the excitement of something new overshadows all of that.
There is still much to be done as we wait for transportation dates and purge our house of all it has collected over the past few years. There has already been much researching and reading about the new area with many more hours to come. We’ve started explaining to the kids that we will be packing all of our things and taking a long trip. Unfortunately we did tell them we would get to stay in a hotel during this trip, and I think they think we are going back to Disney World. :/ So, Texas might come as a shock!
It might not be Disney World, but we are excited to move to an exciting city with lots to do and hopefully one that will be a vacation destination for our family and friends. We would love to see you! San Antonio, here we come!
As we draw near to decision time and hopefully an actual announcement about where we will be moving, I have to take a moment to talk about Nathan. I am so proud of him! This process has been difficult for me, but I am not the one who had to make the initial difficult decision to leave the Army, then suffer through countless interviews, then follow ups including a couple that involved getting up early to drive to the airport and fly to and from an interview in one day. I am impressed with the work he has put into preparing for interviews and learning about various companies and locations to be able to better decide what is best for our family. When Nathan made the decision a year ago, he immediately started training and reading and researching about working/getting a job in the corporate world. I know he has prepared himself, and therefore our family, for what is to come.
Since Nathan has been home quite a bit the past couple months he has frequently helped out with the kids and given me a break. I know it has not been easy to be home quite so much, but we have all survived. :) He also committed to reading through his Bible in 90 days—and this has been impressive. Its involved many early mornings and probably a lot of coffee! I know that making this commitment has helped to keep him focused as we have persevered through some of the more difficult days.
Most recently Nathan has been working around the house to get it ready to put on the market. Over the weekend he re-did our deck. Fourteen hours of painting, and it looks great!
I’m so excited that whatever comes next! We are in it together! I love you, Nathan!
A week ago I sat down to write this post. Right after our pastor preached a sermon with this title. The words never really came though and the busyness of the week took over. But the theme stuck with me all week because truly it was one of those Sunday’s when the sermon seemed written just for Nathan and I. Waiting. It’s become an occupation for us these days. Last week I waited at home while Nathan went on two job interviews. Then we waited to hear the results, and now we are waiting for a few more interviews to take place. Waiting–some days we do it better than other days. I think that is why I liked that the title included “learning” because this is definitely a learning process. Learning about ourselves as individuals, as a couple, as a family—with lots of ups and downs in the process.
Waiting well is difficult…in fact I’ve decided our nature is actually to fight against waiting well. Waiting well involves trusting in God’s timing. That His timing is perfect and when we wait, we get His best for us. And really, is that not what we want? HIS BEST. Wow. It’s going to be awesome! But it’s going to involve waiting and trusting Him.
I appreciated the verses pastor shared with us including this one from Isaiah:
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
How many times have I heard or read this verse and just not comprehended it? Not taken comfort in what it is saying? Waiting is a real part of life, and it doesn’t have to be the misery that I often assign to it. According to this verse waiting is a time of renewal. A time to build strength and learn to soar. Who doesn’t want a little more strength in their life? Most importantly, the verse doesn’t guarantee waiting will be easy or short, it just promises that when we look to the Lord during our waiting, we will persevere and grow.
One final thing that really struck me comes from 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Waiting on God’s timing will not only bring about good for me, but most importantly will glorify Him. His Glory, my good. And in the ups and downs of waiting, He is there, building us up and bringing us closer to each other and to Him. I’m thankful that every day is a new day to try and get better at waiting well and honor Him in the process.
A few weeks ago I wrote my first post in this “series.” When I wrote it, I said honestly that we did not know what was coming next for our family. However, at that particular moment, I thought in a few short hours we WOULD know what was coming next (and I was really excited to write my next post!). Nathan had recently returned from a job interview, and we felt confident that a job offer would follow. But sometimes even when you have a lot of reasons to believe something is going to happen, well, it doesn’t. And for us, that day, the offer did not come. The news was slightly devastating at first. Shocking if nothing else, because, as I said, we really thought it was going to come through! We thought within weeks we would be packing and moving. When the job offer did not happen, I think we kind of wandered around a little lost for a couple days. There was (is) still a plan to pursue what is next, but it took awhile to recover from the disappointment.
So, what does this have to do with decisions. Well, decisions still had to be made. Decisions about the house, about the next steps, and about taking the kids out of school (which was already planned since we thought we would be moving). In some ways we had to make a decision not to let this disappointment get us so down we couldn’t move forward. And we had to accept that God has a different plan, a different job, a different place than the one we had decided on. Decisions. Did I mention they were hard??? After picking up the pieces of disappointment and putting them in their place, we moved on. We started making decisions—the house will still go on the market in the near future, we did withdrawal the kids from school, and we decided to travel and see family while we had the opportunity. We are still connected to a head hunting agency that is helping Nathan pursue job opportunities, and we still believe that we will soon move. We just do not know where. Needless to say my faith has been tested. Everyday.
It is easy enough to say in words that God will take care of us; that He will provide; that He has a plan and already knows what is coming next. It is more difficult to believe it in my heart. In fact, that is a decision that must be made every single day. For me, trust does not always come naturally even after years in a relationship with Christ. But I am learning to rest in Him when anxiety threatens to take over. There have still been some sleepless nights, but there has also been inexplainable peace. And even excitement. We were excited about the opportunity we thought was coming our way; we’d made plans; we’d done research. Now, when I let myself, I am excited because I know whatever God ultimately has in store for us, it is more exciting than anything we could imagine. It’s a better fit for our family. I choose to believe this. There may be more difficult days, more days of anxiety and uncertainty, but ultimately our family is going to decide to trust God even in the moments without answers.
I did not grow up in a church that celebrated Lent, that is, we never gave anything up during the 40 days of Lent. Occasionally we would have an Ash Wednesday service and of course we celebrated Easter but the time of Lent got lost in the shuffle. I think it was in college that people started talking about celebrating Lent by giving something up. Eventually it struck a chord with me because it was not something I had ever done, and it intrigued me. Since college I have given up random things here and there but never consistently. When I felt led to give something up, I would, but I never pushed myself to do it every year.
This year, after not giving anything up for awhile, I gave up Facebook. I really did not want to, and in the end, I think that is the reason I finally gave it up. When you find yourself holding on to something so much, it’s time to reevaluate. I was wasting so much time on Facebook, and I knew it. I would get on there to look at one thing or to check on one person or to view a picture and I would be on there for 20 or 30 minutes. Every time I had a spare moment (if those even really exist in a world with two young kids), I would open my phone app and look at Facebook. There is nothing wrong with this habit, but for me I knew it was happening too often, yet I found it difficult to stop. As Lent approached it seemed to give me the opportunity (or excuse) to give up Facebook. Honestly, I needed a reason–or the challenge–that Lent presents because I was not motivated to step back on my own.
I think that is why the season of Lent is important to celebrate–because sometimes we need the extra push to give something up. It is good to create more time for yourself or to challenge and discipline yourself, but more importantly Lent is about giving something up so that we can be drawn closer to God. Since it is a time of fasting from something, it is the reminder that we need to spend time in prayer. Time we might easily be filling with other things. Also, it is a reminder that we need to depend on God daily. For me, dependence was key this year. A few weeks back on Ash Wednesday, I don’t think I knew how much I would need to depend on Him during this season of Lent, but I have desperately needed HIm–especially in regards to our unknown future. As the last few weeks of Lent unfold, I am thankful for my “free time” but most importantly thankful for the reminder that I need to lean on Christ, to cast my cares on Him, and to trust His plan for my family’s future. And I know when Easter arrives it will be even sweeter to celebrate His resurrection because I obeyed His push to give something up.