Good News and Great Faithfulness

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Image credit: Julie Dawn Fox.

I don’t typically use this blog for personal updates, but the news I got last week was just too good not to share everywhere.

Last week, I got accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan.  It’s a joint program in English and education, and I was awarded a full five-year fellowship.  Free tuition.  A stipend.  Health insurance.  I’ve been on cloud nine since then, humming to myself and waking up excited and absent-mindedly doodling “Dr. Wilson” on a Post-It note.

It’s a dream come true, and a dream that’s been a long time coming.  I married young and thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  Tim and I would have been good parents.  But God had something different for us.  When it became clear that we wouldn’t be having kids, it was like waking up from a long sleep.  I looked at my life with new eyes and thought, “What is it that I really love to do?  What makes me come alive?”

I loved English, and I loved working with students.  But I also recognized some of the gaps in my own training, and I wanted to fill those gaps.  So I went to grad school and got a master’s degree in English.  Going to class again was a marvelous privilege that I relished and appreciated far more than I had in undergrad.  I felt like a door was opened for me to a new universe of ideas, and I was staggered by how much I didn’t know (that feeling you get on a really clear night when you look up at the countless stars in the Milky Way).

Three years ago, when I graduated with my master’s degree, I really wanted to pursue a Ph.D.  But more than that, I wanted to support my husband’s dreams as faithfully as he’d supported mine.  So I set aside my research interests and career goals, hoping to return to them one day.  We moved to California, and I got another job teaching high school English.  I was happy to see Tim so happy, finally getting to go after the seminary degree he’d wanted for years.  He had put his dreams on hold for me, and it was my privilege to do the same for him.

At the same time, a new dream was taking shape.  With a good idea of the scope of an English teacher’s job, I was more aware than ever of the resources I lacked and the things I’d learned through experience that I wish I’d learned in a teacher training program.  Why couldn’t I help fill some of those gaps for future teachers?  Instead of impacting the lives of hundreds of high school students, why not impact thousands through training the next generation of educators?

I was inspired and excited.  But I was also worried.  Was I really Ph.D. material?  Would I be able to pick up where I’d left off when I finished grad school?  I completed my applications last December, and sent them off feeling calm and confident.  I’d done everything I could, and it was in God’s hands.  Over the next few weeks, my confidence eroded.  Trust in God’s plan was slowly being replaced by anxiety that my plan might not work out.  I became acutely aware of the pockets of doubt and pride that plagued me.

So it’s hard to describe my euphoria when the phone call came that I’d been accepted.  I was overwhelmed by a sense of God’s great love for me.  He is present, He is sovereign, and He is so very, very good.  Throughout this journey, I’ve seldom been able to see very far ahead, but He always lights the next few steps.  In the darkest and most confusing times, He was always working, pushing and pulling and prodding us in the direction He wanted us to go.  I’m trusting Him with my future and praising Him for today’s lit steps.

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8 thoughts on “Good News and Great Faithfulness

  1. What fantastic news! Congratulations! I especially love this story because of how you put aside these desires for a season for your husband and now are having the desires of your heart granted. It can be so hard to try to navigate two people’s careers and dreams and interests in a way that feels “fair” and I love this example of God’s faithfulness to obedience. Congratulations again. I’m excited to see how God lights the next few steps. 🙂

    • Thank you very much! You’re right–it’s often a difficult balance to respect your spouse’s aspirations while acknowledging your own. For us, it might mean spending 18 years of our marriage taking turns in graduate school (he wants to pursue a Ph.D. as well!), but it’s worth it.

  2. HOORAY! Muchos congratulations! (Why doesn’t English have a superlative for ‘congratulations’ when you’re really, really excited and happy for someone?) You will be simply smashing at it. 🙂
    And while we’re on the subject of things at which you are smashing, I truly enjoy this blog… you always bring such thoughtfulness, wisdom and humor to the things you write about. Plus, you know, one book lover to another. 🙂
    Will be praying for you and Tim as you move and have changes.

    • Thank you!! I think it’s “Congratulationsest!”

      And thanks also for your kind words about the blog. It always surprises me that people enjoy it, because I really do just write about whatever random thing pops into my head. I don’t do branding well.

      Also, do you have a blog? If so, I’d love to see it!

  3. Perhaps the Lord intended you not to have one or two children but hundreds? The influence you’ll have on young people at a time when many fall away from their faith may be incalculable. My daughter is pursuing her Ph.D at UC-Davis and sees her roll as a missionary to academia. 🙂 Be blessed!

    • Thanks, Katy! How cool that your daughter is getting her Ph.D. from UC-Davis. That’s a great school! I appreciate your kind words. I call my students “my kids” and love the ability that I have to speak into their lives at a crucial moment in their development.

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