Friends Who Go The Distance

“Good morning, August 1st. You have been looming for quite some time now. I’m thankful that you are now in my past.” August 1 was our Year 1 paper deadline for our Fuller program. Honestly, writing a forty-page stab at the first section of a dissertation has been probably the hardest academic thing I have ever done – maybe because it is not just one 40-page paper, one time. This is one of many 40-page papers. I feel so small, so uneducated, and super unworthy to be on this journey! Yet at the same time I’m so filled with joy that I can participate in God’s kingdom with this tiny contribution.

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Yesterday our family went to a new pool to celebrate completion of Year One. (Dylan’s behind us; Marissa’s on top of the colorful bubble.) This was truly a day to celebrate because I personally have battled several internal giants while writing this paper, including my issue of avoidance (which only leads to anxiety), the new disciplines of “Two Awesome Hours” and daily investment in reading. I have changed habits, hopefully for life! This is so life-giving, I am shocked. Hard, but life-giving. And lastly I’m learning where to set the bar for myself as I look at up to all these incredible, brilliant scholars, who I will never be. There is something so healthy about standing on the shoulders of giants! I have loved every minute of this, even in the hardship, which is the confirmation from God to keep going.

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In the midst of all the academic stress, late nights, drafts and re-writes, joys and frustrations, we not only had New Life English Camp and a New Life Fusion Camp visit, but we also had a different kind of visit. Our dear friend Aleisha Stephens came to town. She and Brian are our dearest friends, hands down, in this season of life. Unfortunately Brian’s dad ended up in the ICU in Florida, so Brian ended up flying there instead of to Ukraine, but Aleisha’s visit (with two of her dear interns) was perfect timing. I just lied – of course it was the worst time of year for them to come: this paper was due in less than 10 days! But honestly, it was the best time for them to come. We don’t have many people in our lives with whom we can be totally open, honest, vulnerable, and free with. And I have felt particularly lonely since re-entering Fuller, so I needed this.

God knowns our needs and puts people in place at just the right time. I’m thankful to be on the other end of this August 1st deadline, but the lessons I have learned and the time I got to spend with Aleisha during this time will have ripple effects for me into the next decade of life and ministry, no doubt.

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