It has been almost two years since I started really praying about going back to school instead of just dreaming about it, and sixteen months have passed since those prayers became reality. On January 16th, 2014, I woke up with butterflies in my stomach + an overwhelming feeling of excitement (with a dash of nerves) on that Thursday morning, got ready for my first big day as a graduate student at Bob Jones University, drove ten minutes down the road, walked to class, and attended my first four classes in pursuit of my degree. When I got home nine hours later, I sat on the couch with a blank stare as I prayed, "Lord, did you see all of those syllabi? I really hope I don't die before this semester ends." He has been faithful to bring me through four semesters of full loads, I'm still alive to tell about it, and I will walk across the stage this afternoon at two o'clock to collect the degree that I have so whole-heartedly pursued. You better believe my heart will be racing and I'll be wearing a big smile - even bigger than the one I usually wear.
It's bittersweet to be closing out this chapter of my life, especially since it has been one so richly full of challenges that will serve me well for the rest of my life, but I'm thankful for all the new friendships I have made with both fellow students and teachers, the wisdom that I've had the opportunity to learn under, and all the knowledge + wisdom + lessons that I am able to take away and use in the next chapter of my life. Honestly, it is a bit terrifying to think about the new doors that will be + are currently being opened as I continue to follow where the Lord leads, but there is also an unending amount of peace because of the confidence I have in the grace of Jesus Christ. My whole life has been preparing me for this degree, and although I never thought I'd actually seek + attain one, I am so thankful that I did. The fellowship of the Most High God is good, and it's humbling to think that He delights to meet with me exactly where I am and walk with me as He leads me down paths that glorify Him.
Two words that will always come to my mind when I reflect on my time at BJU are gratefulness + growth. I'm grateful to all those who have invested in me, encouraged me, enabled me, challenged me, etc., because it has taken much more than just my own abilities to get me to this point. I grew more than ever before while studying my life away this past year, and I hope I never stop growing for as long as I live. God has always been so good to me, and now I will be able to share my story more effectively + with more wisdom as I help others see how good He has always been to them, too. Please look past my I'm-eight-months-pregnant-and-I-don't-care-how-my-hair-looks attire and see the joy in my smile + the light in my eyes. I'm a girl who, for my whole life, has been empowered by my God, and the anticipation of what comes next is absolutely thrilling!
The world tells us to chase our dreams and follow our hearts, but I want to chase after Jesus and follow His heart. He died to give me life, saved me from hopelessness, gives me His strength in order that I may boast in Him, and He loves me enough to discipline me in preparing me for every new season. Though my time of pursuing the heart of Jesus in a formal setting has come to a close, the rest of my life is full of informal opportunities to pursue + praise Him in both joy and sorrow. May you join me in the pursuit of being fashioned into the likeness of Christ and find that His will is exponentially greater than ours even has the potential to be. To God be the glory forever! Amen.