Letter #514: Finished!!!!

Dear grad school,

YOU ARE FINISHED!!!!! Honestly, I never thought I’d pursue you to begin with. I’ve never been a die hard academic. I always put decent effort into doing well, but let’s just say studying in college wasn’t my greatest priority ūüôā So for me to begin a whole new endeavor in the academic realm wasn’t on my radar. Then, I decided to go to the Kanakuk Institute, and it only made sense to also get my Master’s in the process. Thus, you began.

As I think back over the two year span I completed you, I laugh. I coined myself the JBU slacker during my Institute year. Not so much because my performance lacked, but more so because while everyone else locked themselves into study mode I was making memories with my friends! I may have slept less, but I always got my work done and never felt I missed out on memory making. I knocked 24 hours out during my year at the Institute, took a year off because I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew by pursuing school and my first real, big kid job, and completed my last 12 hours this year. 36 hours of coursework, countless papers, presentations and discussion boards, and three years later, I am officially a master!

I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with my Masters of Ministry with an emphasis on Leadership and Ethics, but I do know I learned some great stuff along the way. Tons of practically applicable information I’ve already been able to apply to my life and job, but also countless intangibles that have shaped the woman I am and am becoming.

My takeaways from my time at the Institute can’t be defined. A foundation was laid in my life I will build on forever. An¬†understanding of the Bible as a whole is something I can’t put a price on. Researching, writing, studying and defending my beliefs before a panel backing everything with Scripture taught me more than I can ever gauge. Practical leadership skills I can use for life. I’ve read books I can drop in conversation and sound smart. Learning to balance a full time job and a full school load these last eight weeks, I’m convinced will allow me to balance even more important things in my life better, especially concerning future family. You have allowed me to learn so many things. Even though I don’t know exactly how you’ll benefit me career-wise, you’ve already benefited me personally.

While I am unbelievably relieved to be done with you, seriously a giant weight is off my shoulders, I think I’m also going to miss you a smidge. We’ve had a long relationship going, and now it’s over. I’ll miss the opportunity to learn and will have to train myself to learn on my own. Completing you is one of my greatest accomplishments simply because I had to manage a balancing act of life in the process. My anthem was true: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!!

Thanks for a fun, challenging, knowledge-gaining ride,

Grad school graduate

Letter #497: Bubba and the Masters

Dear golf,

I definitely don’t know how to play you and I sure don’t watch much of you unless I’m wanting to take a nap, but the Masters is different. Some sort of allure and entrancement surrounds the Masters that makes it such a coveted event. It seems that nearly every year something amazing happens or a story develops that tugs on the heartstrings. This year was no different.

A pretty good nap or two occurred while you were on TV, but I also found myself caring who won. I ended up listening to the playoff on the radio (who am I?!?!) as I drove back to Branson and actually LOVED getting to imagine what was happening based on the commentators words. Tears flowing, hugs abounding, Masters history making. I got to paint the picture of tear-filled Bubba Watson receiving his green jacket wishing his wife and newly adopted son could be present for myself.

As they interviewed Bubba, he couldn’t believe he had won the Masters. The reporters asked him something along the lines of if he had dreamed of this moment. His response: “My dreams never got this far!”¬Ě I LOVE this response. He dreamed of playing pro golf. He dreamed of winning a major. He’d dreamed of playing in the Masters. But he had never dreamed of becoming the champion and wearing a green jacket. This just reminds me that bigger dreams than we can even come up with happen! Will I ever win a green jacket at the Masters? Heck no, but what dreams am I currently dreaming that will later on end up being smaller than what actually happens?!

The reporters went on to ask him how he came back after getting behind early on. His response went something like this: “I just kept my head down and played. I knew there was a lot of golf left.”¬Ě Bubba didn’t give up after a bad shot or two. He continued to execute and play the way he knew how. He proceeded with confidence. He persevered. It paid off because he eventually won! What a great reminder of digging deep and executing regardless of what the “score’ is. What a great reminder of being faithful in the little things. The second hole of life might not go the way we would’ve liked it. The guy we’re playing with may have made a double eagle, a very difficult feat to achieve, but there are a lot of holes of golf to play. Who knows what could happen on the 16th, 18th or even the playoff hole?!?

Bubba Watson made Masters history yesterday. He also got to go home to his wife and new little boy. He also taught/reminded me of some great lessons and truths…1) Dream, but don’t be surprised when those dreams are surpassed. Sometimes the Lord has bigger things in store for us than we can even imagine. 2) Persevere. Put your head down and keep playing. Remain faithful. You never know when the playoff hole will appear.

Lastly, as Bubba’s wife tweeted last night, “Baby Caleb, a green jacket, none compare to the price Jesus paid to make today possible. #thankyouJesus.”¬Ě Bubba and his wife serve a God much greater than golf. Neat memory, but celebrating Easter’s symbolism would have been sufficient. He just got to honor and glorify the Lord wearing a green jacket and holding his new baby!

Even the coveted green jacket can’t surpass the overwhelming greatness of the God in heaven,

Appreciator of Masters’ moments

Letter #475: ‘Double the Coursework’

Dear grad school,

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I have a feeling this elusive tunnel we speak of is going to be filled with more obstacles than ever. You see, I’m set to complete my masters’ degree May 4th. (Insert choir belting, “Hallelujah!”) I started my final two classes yesterday. Last night I finally sat down to read up on the requirements for each class and begin my week’s work. When I got through one assignment from one class, I had to quickly remind myself why I was taking two courses at the same time. It was the only way.

My classes are crammed into eight week periods and nothing I needed was available from January to March. Thus, in order to knock you out, two at once was a must. I can already tell it will be necessary to remind myself this often when I’m swimming in assignments for the next eight weeks. Hence my tunnel of obstacles discussed above. Double the coursework. Crunch time to ready camp. Spring=wedding and nephew being born season…lots of traveling. Double the coursework. Nice weather. Turning 25 and really being over school. Lots of visitors coming to Branson. Fulfilling all my 2012 goals. Double the coursework. All good things, but when I stop to think about the time between now and camp, a decently difficult obstacle course develops.

Is this going to stop me? Absolutely not, just being honest in what I see staring me in the face as I approach you. The light is just beyond the obstacles, and this will be a true test of my ability to multi-task while pursuing excellence as well as to my ability to prioritize and focus on only the most pressing and important things. May 4th will be here before we know it, but right now it seems far away. Anyone can do anything for eight weeks, but my prayer is that I would be able to do everything that needs to be done within that eight weeks well and not simply be consumed by ‘double the coursework.’

I have big plans for tweaks and improvements for K-West that I refuse to let fall to the wayside. I will be the best friend, sister and aunt I can be when I’m at a wedding or meeting my new nephew. I’m committed to executing my 2012 goals regardless of how crazy life gets. I also want to sell out and glean everything I can from my courses, Leading Change and Global Leadership & Ethics. I have big plans and high expectations for the next two months of my life, and I believe the Lord does as well.

I’m stoked to complete you soon, but Lord, don’t let me miss the lessons and growth You have in store for me during this season. Guide and direct my focus. Remind me to be a good steward of my time. Allow positive change and improvements to happen in the things You’ve allowed me to have my hand in, but also allow me to see the areas I can let go of because they aren’t important. Lord, teach me.

T-minus two months…let the lessons and time-management begin!

Pursuer of excellence as I see the light at the end of the tunnel

Letter #321: Back to School

Dear first day of school,

Today is you in so many people’s lives. From the anxious excitement small children experience on their first ever you to the single mom beginning her journey to make a better life for her family to the coveted freedom coupled with the initial anxious excitement of starting college, people all over are taking the plunge into another year today.

I was always the kid that LOVED you. Let’s be honest, I was typically the kid that loved school in general. The school part came fairly easily to me and even when I didn’t enjoy that, I could always count on the social aspect. School equaled lots of people which resulted in friends and this meant lots of people to talk to! I always liked you…then I went through a bunch of things called graduation, and well, you were no more.

No more school clothes shopping, learning what teacher you get to pester for a new year, comparing class schedules with all your friends to see if you have classes and most importantly lunch together or trying to work college classes out to where you don’t have to wake up early, finish late or have Friday classes. No more easy settings to make friends your age.

Moral to the above thoughts: if you’re starting school today, embrace it. Enjoy it. Make all sorts of new friends. Learn…about academic things and about yourself. Live it up.

So why am I, the 24 year old with a full time job, writing about this? Well besides the fact I’m envious of all the minions beginning you today, to some degree I’m starting you today too. Not the fun kind though. Today I begin my on-line journey of finishing my Masters’. One of my first assignments is me being semi-forced to make “cyber friends’ through our discussion board. This could be interesting! As much as I don’t want to be in the middle of on-line classes right now, I will choose to make the most of this. Oh and readers, if you think about it, next time you talk to me ask if I’ve done my school work…it’s been awhile since I’ve had “homework,’ not to mention I’ve never had it and a full time job.

Looking for a headset/microphone for my on-line classes,

Embracer of 24 but would go back to starting 1st grade in a heartbeat

***The above picture is me on my first day of college in 2005…check out that blonde hair!!!***