Monday, January 2, 2017

Thoughts from a older grad student



As year two of graduate school will be starting next week, I've been reflecting over the past twelve months.  I know when I first decided to return to college, I knew I wasn't going to be just an adult student - I was going to be an older adult student.  It was a huge, scary decision to make. I had lots of questions and I googled everything I could think of hoping to learn something from the experiences of others.  This is a long post, but I'm hoping to give back by sharing with the internet some of those questions and the answers I've learned through personal experience.

Will I be the oldest student in the class? Will I be older than the teachers?
Depends on how old you are.  The average graduate student is 33 years old according to data from 2000.  Many of the students in my classes are in their mid to late twenties.  Even though this does make me one of the oldest students, I have not encountered any issues with age.  I have had teachers who are younger than me and teachers who were older. 
One of the interesting things about age diversity in a classroom setting is the mixture of viewpoints from different generations during class discussions.  I try to avoid using phrases like ‘back in my day’ or ‘when I went to college the first time’, but I do share my life experience in class discussions.  And I am getting a unique opportunity to hear thoughts and ideas from today’s twenty-somethings.


Should I do online or on campus classes?
First make certain that whatever graduate program you are considering is properly accredited.  Otherwise, online or on-campus is a personal decision.  There are unique benefits to each.
Although I’m attending an on-campus program, I seriously considered an online program.  Online classes are flexible and you are not tied to a rigid schedule of lectures times.  You can watch the lectures whenever and wherever you want, as long as there is a good internet connection.  And you are able to replay the lectures if you want.  If you are working and raising a family, this is a huge benefit. 
I decided to enroll in a traditional on-campus program for the people connection.  For me, this has turned into a really good decision.  I enjoy getting to know my professors face-to-face.  In a live classroom, the professor is able to be tailor lectures to the questions and discussions that come up during class.  Class time sometimes tends to go in unexpected directions.  Online pre-recorded lectures don’t have this level of flexibility.    
One benefit that I didn’t foresee is that, for a limited time, I’m getting to be somewhat of a peer with the younger generation – those young men and women who will become future leaders in our field.  I listen to them talk about their passions and their hopes for their future careers.  There is a lot of negativity out there regarding Millennials but I have been so impressed with the students I’ve meet so far.  On-campus classes are giving me a unique glimpse into their lives.

Will I be able to do the work?
Yes, you will, but it takes effort.  And time.  It will take lots of time.  Graduate school means a ton of reading, a good bit of research, and papers to write for every class.  I don’t read as fast as I use to so the reading part has been a challenge.  I make an effort to stay ahead but the end of the semester always seems to catch me a little behind in the reading.  I enjoy writing but have had to learn to not be quite so personal in the assigned papers.  Some classes require a paper every week while others assign one long paper to be turned in near the end of the term.  But I won’t lie – graduate school requires a commitment of time to get the work done well. 

Will I be able to balance everything? 
In my opinion, you will not be able to balance everything perfectly.  When I made the decision to go back to school, I made a list of everything I was doing and then decided what the top three priorities would be during the grad school experience.  It has gone well – I work a full-time job, I do school, and I serve at church.  There are some things which I’ve had to temporarily put on a back-burner to be picked up later.  Graduate school is, after all, a short-term experience.

Will my family and friends support my decision?
You will certainly need the support of family and friends   I can not stress enough the importance of having people in your life who agree with and support your decision to return to school.  I could not do this without the encouragement of many different people in my life, some of whom I don’t get to see as often as I wish because I’m focusing on school.  

Becoming an older adult graduate student is not the right decision for everyone.  There is a lot to think about and the choice should be a well-considered one.  But, for me, it has been the right choice and I’m looking forward to continuing my studies.  If you are considering grad school, I hope this post has been helpful.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Thought 2016



The only bit of Christmas decorating I did this year was to pull out our Advent set.  As I lit the candles and read over the Scriptures, it was my late husband’s voice I heard.  A treasured memory - Bobby reading the words of Romans 15:13.  

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I love the blessings found in Scripture and it is a cultural loss that we no longer speak such blessings over one another.  Can you imagine how the world would be if we intentionally built one another up with words of encouragement and faith?  What an awesome gift that would be!

But I have a memory of my husband standing next to me reading those words and I thank God for that.  I have been blessed.  The God of hope still fills me with peace and with joy now on the brink of a new year.  2017 promises to be a year of changes.  But for today, I leave you with this Christmas blessing.

May your trust be firmly planted in God.   
May you overflow with the hope that only He provides.  
May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and Peace.   
May you share that hope with others.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TRUTH!



There are three things which are always true.  No matter what happens, no matter when or where you are, there are three things which you can always hold on to as TRUTH!

            First, God Loves You!  As a matter of fact, God loves you even if you don’t believe in Him.  He loves you even if you don’t love Him back.  He loves you on your worst day when you just can’t seem to get things together.  He loves you as you are and because He loves you, He wants to change your life.  And there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that can come between you and His love for you.  

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:30-39)

            Second, God is good!  He loves, He creates, He is merciful, and He leads those who turn to Him.  His goodness is seen in the beauty of creation from beautiful sunsets to vast mountain ranges.  His goodness is seen in acts of kindness and compassion. 

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  (Psalm 34:8)

            Finally, God is sovereign!  Sovereign is a word we don’t use very often today.  When I think of sovereignty, I think of a king sitting on a throne overlooking a vast kingdom.  That king is sovereign over his kingdom.  There is no one more powerful than the king.  He has many people living in his kingdom.  Some of those people do things which the king doesn’t like.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the kingdom belongs to the king and he is sovereign over it.  That’s what God is.  God is sovereign over all creation.  We live under God’s sovereignty.

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Timothy 1:17)

            Even in the midst of turbulent times when our culture becomes filled with lies and half-truths, it is good to know that real truth exists.  And we can build our lives on the foundation which is found in knowing the truth about God.



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Stray Cat Lesson



So I have this stray cat that showed up at my house a few months ago.  It’s a cute cat with shiny black fur and huge eyes.  I’m a good person and I have compassion towards the poor homeless cat.  I start putting out a bit of food, then a bowl of water, and I fix a place for Cat to sleep.

Cat mostly ignores me. I’ll walk outside and see Cat.  “Hi Cat!”, I say.  Cat stops, looks at me, meows, and then continues on with whatever it is Cat does during the day.  I find myself thinking about how to help Cat when the weather gets cold.  Cat continues to mostly ignore me.

Until today.  Today, I saw Cat and spoke as usual.  Cat stopped, looked, and then actually walked right up to me!!  I bent down and began petting Cat which he/she totally loved.  So I found myself sitting in my garage while a loudly purring Cat enjoyed a few moments of total feline bliss in the form of head scratches and back rubs.

I explain to Cat that I’ve been trying to take care of him/her.  I’ve provided food and shelter and other things a cat needs.  Cat (I said), if you wouldn’t always walk away from me, I would scratch your head and love on you more often.

And then I realized something…

Isn’t it fascinating how we are given life lessons through the simplest of interactions?

Because what I was explaining to Cat, is what God tries to explain to us.

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  (Matthew 23:37)

God loves us and He is full of compassion towards us.  God provides for our needs, even when we mostly ignore Him.  But, oh, can you imagine how much God desires for us to stop and walk towards Him? 

Have you done that?  Have you taken time to stop whatever it is you do and just go to God?  Do you let Him love you?  Have you experienced the bliss that comes from spending time in the Father’s presence?

Often, I have found myself like Cat – too caught up in my own thing to notice the One who is providing for me.  I didn’t expect to learn a lesson from Cat, but I’m sure glad I did.
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thankful in the Waiting


Recently I gave myself a prayer challenge.  That challenge is that for a week or so I will only pray with a total attitude of gratitude.  Too often, I’ve found myself praying more along the lines of “God, I want…” and “God, I need…”.  I know that God does want us to ask in prayer for what we need.  God also wants to us to turn to Him with the struggles and issues we face in this life.  He knows it can get tough at times.  But He also wants us to notice how He is at work in the world around us.  

Prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving are a way of praising and worshiping God.  The last couple of years have been tough ones and I’ve leaned heavily on God the Comforter to get me through some very dark and difficult days.  I want God to know that I deeply appreciate His presence and His strength.  I’m very thankful for all that He has done.  So I’m taking some time to just thank Him daily and to ask for nothing.  It has been going well.

Until – I found myself waiting for a phone call.  I also found myself wanting to ask God to make that phone call happen.  

I remembered my challenge – Just Be Thankful.

But how am I supposed to be thankful when something I want to happen isn’t happening? 
What is there to be thankful for in that?

As I pondered over this question, it suddenly came to me.  

Be Thankful For The Waiting.


Be Thankful, for the waiting means that some things have already been accomplished and done.  Life is a journey, always moving forward.  As we move from one season of life to another, there will be times of waiting.  Waiting is a sign that growth and change has already happened. 

Be Thankful, for the waiting is filled with anticipation for the new things ahead.  I have a friend getting married in a couple of weeks.  She is deep in the waiting phase and is counting down the days to the wedding.  Her waiting is filled with a growing sense of excitement as to what the future will hold.

I’ve face days of waiting on lab results after some major surgery.  The waiting was a time of hoping for the best and preparing for the possibility of the worst.  The waiting strengthened my faith as I knew whatever happened, God would provide the means to face it. 

Be Thankful, for the waiting is a reminder of God’s timing.  I want it now and God says not yet.  God knows when the time is right.  I don’t wait alone – God waits with me.

So often waiting is taken as a sign that God is teaching us patience.  But it may be that the waiting is the very thing God wants us to experience.

To be still and know…
To know that He has brought us this far.
To know that He is good.
To know that there are so many things to be grateful for now … in the waiting.
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