Friday, January 11, 2019

So loved...

Last year was quite a year for me. I learned to trust God in new ways that were at times very challenging. I didn't write much here because much of what God showed me in my struggles was private and not something to be shared online. And when I tried to find more general words, none really came.

Another part of last year was starting a college adventure. But first some background and context.

I got married right after high school and had kids soon after, so I never went to college... even though my parents and almost every one of my aunts and uncles and grandparents did. I had a lot of pressure to go to college because I was considered to be a very smart and bright student... but I had no idea what I would go to college for. So it was almost a relief to fall in love and get married instead. People quit asking me what I was going to go to college for. I'm sure I disappointed a lot of people, but they hid it well and my marvelous family supported me.

But now my kids are almost grown. I've been in the workforce for 10 years now and worked my way up to senior management. I learned what Human Resource Management was, and I discovered a passion for what it is supposed to be... being an advocate for the workers in a company... helping upper management make their company a good place for the workers.  That's not what many people think HR is, but that's what it is supposed to be, and I have become extremely passionate about it over the last 10 years of being in the workforce.

So a little over a year ago I discovered a desire to go to college for business management... to see what things I didn't know that would help me, and to get a degree to validate and compliment everything I've learned in the workforce and in life. I knew that whether or not I could do it depended on two main things:
1. Money
2. Time

It's hard to say which is the bigger challenge. Our finances require that I still continue to work 40 hours per week, and I don't want to give up the volunteering and singing that I do. Thus, where would either the time or the money come from?

So I filled out my FAFSA and a few college applications, since that is the only way to find out how much it would actually cost. And I started really praying that God would lead me... take the desire away if it was not from Him and not in His plan for me, or open doors and lead me if it was.

I was flabbergasted to find out that I qualified for reduced pricing on classes, due to my age. My kids didn't qualify because of our income, but I did.  I had to get transcripts from high school, 24 years ago, and I had to take tests to see if I was college ready. Turns out all the tutoring I'd done for my kids as they went through high school worked quite well as college-prep, and I easily passed all the college-ready tests.

So last year I took my first college classes at the local community college. I aced them and realized that the traditional college setup is difficult for working adults. You spend a LOT of time reading and listening to lectures about things you already know, but you have to do it because it's part of the class... and you don't have as much available time as a full-time college student because you're already working a 40-hour job and have a family.  Then WGU announced it had partnered with the Ohio Department of Education, and I realized that here was a way that I could get a bachelor's instead of an associates, in this field that I've become passionate about, and it wouldn't cost any more than an associates at the local college would cost. And more importantly, it's set up for working adults to prove what they already know and save time, and focus on what they don't know, so they can get a degree within the life they already live. It looked like it would fit my life and what I wanted... but I kept praying, Lord, lead me. I don't want to step out of Your will, because You're going to have to continue providing both the time and grace and the money.

So all of last year was this process and journey, and I was supposed to start at WGU January 1st. But there was a delay in getting my transcripts transferred, and my start date got pushed back to February 1st. I was partly sad but partly relieved to have another month "off" because I was feeling stressed due to a lot of private family issues going on. That stress led me to back to prayer... stress has caused major health problems for me in the past, and I didn't want to wind up there again. So two weeks ago when the date got delayed, I prayed in my journal:
Lord, please be patient with me and give me confirmation in these next 3 weeks if I really am supposed to start this degree. 
I meant... like... Him just speaking to me. Showing me in any one of the millions of ways that He speaks to me, that I was still on the path that He had for me.

But yesterday, I got this:
A $2,000 scholarship to WGU.

I'd filled out the massive application for the principle of the thing. I'd told my kids to fill out scholarship applications because you just never know. No matter how long the odds are, you never know because it is in God's hands. So I filled it out and wrote all the essay answers.  I'll be one of 55,000 students. I'm not sure how many new students had applied, but the odds were definitely long.  And yet... they picked me.

I have laughed and cried so many times since this arrived in my email inbox. It's not even the money that has me so overwhelmed. I was going to edit an extra handful of reports on a regular basis to pay that $1000/year. I felt a little bit intimidated by adding that to my life AND adding the school work, but I could do it. I thought. (But wasn't sure, hence my prayer two weeks ago.)

Now I don't have to do both. Here I am, about to start a new semester at a new school, and my entire out-of-pocket cost for this semester I'm about to start will be $65. Total. E-text books are included so that's not even added.

I feel like I did when He went car shopping for me, picked out a car in amazing condition with everything I wanted that was $2,000 below average prices, arranged everything so it was the lowest-stress car purchase imaginable... and then He made the dealer voluntarily take $500 more off after they'd already received my purchase agreement at the higher price.

God is just SO faithful, and SO patient, and SO kind, and SO good, even despite my busy-ness and my doubt and my struggles this past year and all the tears I've wept out to Him...

Living with Jesus does not mean life will be easy. Far from it. But it means He is always there, and there is always comfort in the sadness and hope in the midst of dark circumstances and peace in the midst of turmoil, and it means He is always bringing me to deeper and deeper levels of trust, and then proving Himself faithful to the trust I have in Him in ways beyond my wildest dreams.

Friday, January 04, 2019

If you struggle with anxiety or depression...

Passion 2019 just finished. I might be 20 years "too old," but I love Passion.

Anyone who is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts or anxiety (regardless of your age), Session 1 had a message for you.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion