Classes have started again, and I jump into year three of grad school headfirst. These last two years have been the most challenging and rewarding times in my life thus far. I'll recap a bit.
June: Put final touches on Matt and my dream wedding, finished up my time at South Main Baptist Church and was sent off to seminary with so much support and love.
July: My dearest friends and family were around me all summer until the wedding. July 12th was the most beautiful day I had ever experienced, not because of the fluff and the fancy, but because I had genuine, loving people around me as Matt and I publicly professed our love to each other and committed our marriage to God. It was special to me that day, but that act becomes more sacred and personal to me each day after the wedding. Costa Rica was an amazing getaway honeymoon. The day after we got back from our honeymoon? Leading music at a children's church camp! I have a wonderful husband. Then we moved to Waco after the 5-day camp.
Fall 2008: Stress, stress, stress. Not only are we just trying to get the hang of being married (okay, really I'm having to learn how to share for the first time in my life!), we are figuring out the foreign lands that are Central Texas. There is no live music in sight, and we played hide and seek finding the artistic culture the rest of the month (we're still working on that one).
Money was the main stress then. It was horrible. But, somehow, we were able to pay our bills, buy textbooks and live frugally as much as possible. The most stressful part of grad school is not the reading, discussions, and long papers. It's the money! It's the stress that comes with wondering every day if you made the right decision to come to grad school and spend all of your time stretching and growing your faith and sense of calling, when all you really can think about is how you're going to pay rent this month or if buying groceries is even an option this week. (Okay, sorry, a tangent.) My point? It was a challenge. But the hardest part was that my beloved grandmother was sick, really sick, and I didn't know what to do. She was so supportive and enthusiastic about me going to seminary, but all I wanted to do was quit and go home and take care of her. She would not have it, though.
Spring 2009: Throughout the struggle, God kept showing me that this was exactly where he wanted me. It helped that my peers were--a number of them, at least--in the same boat. They were trying to make all of this work, too. Day 1 of seminary was a shock to the system--there are 2 creation stories in Genesis! Why did my Sunday school teachers not talk about both creation stories!? But what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? And I was certainly lifting heavier weights by this time. God was right there, this whole time. Still job uncertainty, a bad fit with a good church, and money stresses.
Summer 2009: Why do we live here? When do we get out? Can't Baylor be in another town? Is it physically possible for me to pick up the seminary's building and carry it on my shoulders a mere 90 miles to Austin? Oh, I would do that in a heartbeat! Anyone have King Kong's cell #? But this summer was a time to breathe, allowing Matt and I to get closer.
Fall 2009: My grandmother was still sick, my parents and uncle and aunt were running on less than fumes, and I wasn't able to be there. It was hard. I had come to peace with her death (and, really, her full life) which came during Thanksgiving. I miss her daily but God have me a supernatural peace when she died. I truly feel I need to live with her legacy in mind. Filling big shoes on a little woman, for sure. (Although she did wear size 7 1/2 extra narrow, she still had big shoes to fill.) Christmas was strange but peaceful. I got closer to my mom, dad and Matt, for sure.
Spring 2010: Matt and I finally came to a place of peace of where we live. No, it's not for us forever, but it will do for now. And having a job at a grocery store, where I'm around real people with really fascinating lives, was the most humbling and substantial parts of my education thus far. Not even all of those overnight trips to NYC to promote a band or support my musician buddies could prepare me for some of this stuff. My eyes were opened.
Summer 2010: Financial peace. Security. Heat. What a warm summer, but what a great Sabbath. This time of rest has been amazing. But now it's time to get the road on the show and dive back into our mission.
Fall 2010: Here we are. Literally. (The name of Matt and Chris' new album.) Here we are, living and learning and doing our thing. We're excited about things to come, grateful for things that have passed, and living in the moment that is the present. I'm taking one "pastor" class at the seminary and the rest are social work classes. I LOVE IT. This is exactly where I need to be.
Here We Are, and who knows where we'll soon be?