Three years earlier I had gone through a time of intense prayer and fasting to determine what future God had for me. I felt God speak to me very clearly that I was to go to seminary because He was calling me to full-time ministry. This thought had never occurred to me before and it took some time to wrap my mind around it. The school I was interested in had a distance education program, so I assumed that was the way I was to attend there. I would not consider leaving Nashville.
My job required me to travel extensively and I was often out of town Tuesday through Saturday for weeks on end. With the hours I worked and the demands of travel, I wasn’t able to focus on school work. I spent several years applying for other jobs, trying to find something that would pay a little more so I could afford school and stay in town. With nearly every job opening, I made it to the final cut only to lose the job to someone else. It was very frustrating and I couldn’t figure out what God was doing. When I got engaged, I truly hoped that we would go to seminary together, which made a lot more sense to me than going as an unmarried female.
When my engagement ended and everything else fell apart, I knew that God was telling me to GO to seminary – in Virginia Beach. He was going to get me there, even if He had to kick me out of Nashville by force. We moved around a lot while I was growing up: I went to 2 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools – and then I changed colleges three times in four years. All this transition made stability and security very important to me. I don’t like to move. I wanted to live in Nashville for the rest of my life. Leaving didn’t appeal to me, except that I knew a change of scenery would probably do me some good.
There was also the huge financial issue of going to school. I still had debt from my undergraduate degree, plus credit card debt. I’d worked hard to reduce it significantly, but it wasn’t gone. I had no idea how I could pay for graduate school, but I applied anyway and prayed hard for financial aid. I asked God to prove Himself and if He really wanted me to go, I would get a 100% scholarship. The financial aid letter came back with news of a 20% grant. I was beyond disappointed, but I knew the minute I read that letter that God was not releasing me from the call. I had to go. God led me to the book of Proverbs and showed me many times how Solomon commanded us to get knowledge, get wisdom, and get instruction – and that it was worth any price. With fear and trembling, I decided to take out student loans.
One thing I had learned well in Nashville is, “It’s all about who you know.” I knew our church’s senior pastor was friends with the dean of the school. I tried to set up an appointment with the senior pastor to ask him to let his friend know I was coming to the school. But our senior pastor was in the middle of writing a paper for Oxford and couldn’t meet with me. I was devastated, but God reminded me that I knew Him and He is the One who opens and shuts doors.
My mother and I scheduled a trip to Virginia Beach in July to check the area out and look for a roommate, housing, and a job. The university hired writing coaches, so I applied for that job. In the interview it came out that I was a professional meeting planner. The person interviewing me stopped the interview and took me to meet her co-worker who was trying to hire a graduate assistant to help him plan student workshops. My background and experience were perfect for what he needed and I got hired. I was one of the only students who went to school with a job already lined up. It was such an encouragement to me.
Not only did that job suit me, but I was put in a cubicle in a large room with other people my age. We all got along great and had a blast working together. I used to go in on my days off just to say hi to the friends I worked with. It also led to a secondary job as the newsletter editor for the university. Almost everything about that job was a blessing to me and I relished the good atmosphere after what I had just left. It was healing to my soul.
I had a hard time finding a place to live because housing is so expensive in Virginia Beach and my cat was not exactly a positive thing to perspective roommates. I prayed and prayed about what to do, not wanting to leave Moses the kitty behind but unable to find a place to live. Several days before I was to leave for school, I got a call from a woman who rented me a room in her house close to the school and let me bring Moses – all for a really good price.
After being out of school for six years and struggling with severe depression in college, I was also terrified that grad school would be too hard for me. I wondered if my brain still worked like it used to or if I’d have to study 2 or 3 times harder than everyone else. I worried that my professors wouldn’t be interested in teaching a girl. I was full of fear. Thankfully I had a few friends who encouraged me and believed in me. They listened faithfully and repeatedly told me that I could do it. After all that God had already done to pave the way for me, two weeks before classes started I panicked and seriously considered not going after all. Through the prayers and encouraging words from my friends, I finally accepted that this was the time I was to go and nothing was going to stop me. Once my mind was made up, I dove in and gave it everything I had.