When I was in college to become a nurse, I used to faint all the time, sometimes 20 times a day. I have a heart condition that is worsened by stress, affected by diet, and drastically influenced by the amount of sleep I get. As you can imagine, I wasn't very good at managing any of those factors as a college student. As a result, I suffered fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rates that caused me to faint all the time, and several times I nearly died because of it. From that point on, I lived life holding my dreams loosely, never knowing exactly how much time God intended me to be on this earth.
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:18)
Years passed, and I got better at living a heart-healthy lifestyle. I was also helped by advances in medical science that directed my cardiologists how best to treat my condition using medications, and finally, in 2010, a pacemaker became available that had a special function specifically designed for people with my heart problem. Life with my heart condition gets better with every passing year, and it looks like I might live a long and healthy life, as far as my heart is concerned.
One of the dreams I harbored deep in my heart, in a space surrounded by tears of grief whenever I fainted and the dream seemed to fade in the distant and perhaps unattainable future, was that of someday obtaining my PhD and teaching with my father at the very university I was a nursing student at.
"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." (2 Chronicles 15:7)
Last week, my father carried boxes of books up to office 204 in the nursing building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, a short 5 minute walk from the building where he has worked since 1984. The very building in which I fainted all those times, but grinned and bore it, and, by the grace of God, graduated on time in 4 years with my bachelor of science in nursing. This was one dream, one of the dearest to my heart, one that sat right next to my longing to bear children and raise them, that God did plan to help me fulfill.
|My office looks out on the historic Council Oak Tree that is on the University seal, and Little Niagara creek.|
I return now with something more important than any career aspirations constantly in my heart and on my mind - a husband, a home, and four beautiful souls who are dearest to me of anything I have on this earth. They have already fallen head-over-heels in love with UWEC, in a similar way as I remember falling for it as a child, entranced with everything from my papa's hands that smelled of chalk-dust to the peaceful cool of his office, and the constant trickle of youthful energy in the form of the students who came to ask questions or talk about their ongoing projects. There is something incredibly synergistic about the education process, especially at the college level, where most students have honed in on an interest all their own, and are deeply invested in their own success.
My children love my office (perhaps partially because they are allowed to watch unlimited hours of Netflix movies on my 2nd monitor while I squeeze in some work). Caleb loves to work the lock on my door and unlock and lock my file cabinet, desk drawers, and explore the inner workings of my printer. Katy has set to work reading a text on philosophy (I do mean to get a shelf of more age-appropriate books set up - but perhaps it is better for her to read the college texts??). Rosy is busy creating art to grace my corkboard. Amelia likes to arrange my textbooks largest to smallest and then redo her work in the reverse. And they all love the trips to the vending machine, simulation lab, library, and colleague's offices, where they are always greeted with smiles and pieces of candy (note to self: get a candy jar for my office!). Caleb is already a building favorite, as he doesn't differentiate yet between acquaintances, friends, family, and gives each of my colleagues a hearty hug and kiss upon leaving!
Oh, how richly my Lord has blessed me! I am thrilling with excitement, waiting for the beginning of classes after labor day, when I will finally get to meet my first group of students in the four classes I will be teaching! I will still be homeschooling, as I was able (again with God's grace! and pray for me as the semesters go by, that I might be able to continue this?) to block my schedule so that I am gone from home 2 days a week, 3 days a week for one week per month.
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." (Psalm 62:5)