September 08, 2010

choosing growth.

hmm.  i've been asked to write about going back to school- choosing to get a PhD with a family.
and, this post is hard for me to write.
a. because we're still in the middle of it... not looking back and smiling.
b. because i know we're weird and i don't love telling everyone just how weird we are or why we choose weird.
c. because i often wonder if i knew then, what i know now if i could have made the same choice.

This is what I know...
1.  When we DO what we FEEL is right, it is not always EASY, and it is almost NEVER what we expect or plan.
2.  This life is a time for us to prepare to meet God.  It is a school.  We can try to choose a life free of growing pains, or we can sign up for advanced classes.
I was the kid who always talked my way into the gifted classes.
3.  The past four, going on five years that we have been in Lubbock, Texas for a PhD program have been blessed, growing years for our family.  It has been harder than I ever imagined... and pretty much ideal as far as PhD programs go.
4.  I believe in the law of the LATE harvest.  We are in the years of sowing... lots of young children, no money, intense study, and tons of "growing experiences."  Many of those around me have spent these years without children, enjoying financial prosperity, touring the world, pampering themselves...  Many have spent the years along side us in their struggle for growth...  We each have a journey.  My thought is, my time will come.  I am still young.  My children will be grown.  We will have money, and freedom, and flexibility, and will reap our harvest later.  (I hope.)
5.  I have a close to perfect life.  A close to perfect husband.  6 close to perfect children. A close to perfect home.  A close to perfect PhD program.  Close to perfect friends and family.  A close to perfect church.  A perfect God.  I try my hardest almost every single day.  And, I am continually surprised at how dang hard life is.
6.  I guess I should say it again.  We planned on finishing our program in 3 years.  We planned on going to a top 10 school, we planned on accepting the job offers we received last year, we planned on selling our house in Michigan and living fairly debt free while in school.  Life did not turn out as planned.  But still... it's good.

The best thing about having a husband in a PhD program...
Todd is doing what he feels he was meant to do.
We are where God needs us to be.  Nothing can compensate for peace.  nothing.
Todd is flexible.  If i NEED him during the day, he can arrange things to accommodate.

There is great hope for the future... financially we'll always prosper, and professors have great schedules (summers off, daytime flexibility, long holidays, great benefits, travel, etc.)

We LOVE Lubbock, Texas.  I wouldn't trade Texas Tech for Harvard.  There is no place on earth we could have lived in a beautiful home, 6 minutes from a temple, with GREAT friends and neighbors, while we were in school.  This is a great place to be poorer and a great place to raise a family.  I thank God everyday for sending us here.

I have changed my wants... I am not as worldly as I was, I want to get out of debt more than I want a wealthy lifestyle.  I want to live modestly.  I don't want to live in the best neighborhood, or the richest school district, or the nicest house.  I'm different, and I'm glad.

The worst thing about having a husband in a PhD program...
He is stressed.  Almost always... so, I miss him.  I really miss the husband I had before school started.
A PhD is not a job.  It never ends.  There is no 8 to 5.  No, work four 10 hour days and get Friday off.
No Saturdays.  No holidays.  It is constant.  Like another woman.
As a wife I am constantly fighting to do everything at home so that Todd can focus on his school without stress, and KNOWING that it isn't good for him to focus only on school.  So, some days I sacrifice and some days I fight for him to relax and play and spend time AWAY from his stress.
And-- Todd really is more balanced than most.
It is so hard watching someone you love struggle... and no matter how hard this program is on me... it's harder on him.  and that's hard on me.

We are poor.  Not a lot of money = greater stress.  We live off of Todd's stipend, student loans, medicaid, free school lunches and food stamps.  (I have a little debit card from Mr. Obama, I get $1000 a month for groceries... wherever I want to shop, whatever FOOD i want to buy.  This is why I give food for most birthday and Christmas presents.)  I said I would NEVER.  and we do.  And, I didn't know how proud I was until I had to be humble... and it's VERY hard.  (the professor has NO PROBLEM getting help from the government.  he is not proud like i am.  and, he insists we will pay back what we are getting hundreds of times over.  but once, when he was buying food from a cashier that happened to be a student in one of his classes, he paid with a regular debit card, not his OBAMA card.  hah! even he does have a little pride.)

We receive, a lot.  It's humbling being the poorest of Todd's brothers and sisters... the poorest, with the most kids.  This summer, I found an envelope with $1000 taped to my door.  And, we needed that money to pay our bills.  It was a blessing... and it was familiar.  We are often blessed right in the moment we need it most.  And, I am grateful.  But, i can't wait to be on the other end... the one giving instead of receiving.

I am grateful God sent us to Lubbock.
I am grateful for a husband that works hard, every minute of every day.
I'm grateful for knowledge and experience and faith...
i am grateful for the little miracles we see every day.
and for the miracles we thought we needed and learned we did not. 
Todd and I, we don't sit and enjoy life for long, we tend to look for mountains to climb.
We have lots of kids, and we left a lucrative job to go back to school...
hopefully, someday we will look back on our decision and know it was for the best
today, we just hope.
and enjoy our moments.

because even when life is hard, it is good.   

Todd said he'd write a follow-up to this blog.  PhD school from his perspective.
but, he told me NOT to say he'd do it tomorrow, just sometime... soon.

the end.


Letti said...

I love that Heavenly Father has a plan for us. I have to put my trust in him often. Thanks for being so real :)

Kaela Enzler Frame said...

this is beautiful jen! love you! you are a great example!

beckyjune said...

You really are amazing, Jen. I am inspired by the way you live life with your priorities where they need to be. You are doing what you need to be doing right now and will be so blessed. And, people will look at you wierd for having too many kids (not that you have too many kids) or for not having enough kids. Here we are in a big house that we thought we'd be able to fill with kids and it just hasn't happened...and maybe it never will. We do the best with what we have and try to live each day to love and keep each other happy.

Tiffany said...

Mmmm... I just adore this post, and I adore YOU! And (minus the 6 kids & counting part, but CONGRATS!), I can relate to this post more than I wish I could. *sigh* But you nailed it on the proverbial head. I love how you are always STRIVING and GROWING... but mostly, I love how you inspire me to be a better me. (way to turn it back to myself:)) Miss you!!!

The Davis Family Three said...

Jen - SO SO happy for your new addition! Loved your post - thanks for keeping it real.

Reenie's World said...

Congratulations on number 7! And thank you for this post. It helps immensely to hear others words of wisdom. We'll be entering pharmacy school (we = he) with 4 kids in tow. I feel the embarrassment you mentioned sometimes too. It IS amazing how many comments I receive: "Are they all yours?", "you sure have your hands full", "going for a basketball team?"... etc... and I only have 4!

Again, thank you. I am grateful I found your blog. I don't know you personally, but I totally consider you a Sister in Zion!!

The Tremendous Thomas Family said...

Congrats Jen!! Hope everything is going well for you! You are amazingly gifted in so many ways! But the one gift you have that I am grateful for is your ability to write and share! I feel your happyness, pain and all of the things you mentioned in this post!! We are in residency with four kiddos, we want more, not sure if we can, people think we are crazy and we are not making a whole lot of money:)I FEEEL your feelings!! Thanks for bloggin!!!

Teachinfourth said...

We can choose to look on the positive side, or not as well…

Good for you for being a positive sider...

Theo Fam said...

Ok, so you don't know me. Well, we met at a Stake book club once and then I found your blog via Sarah Thomas's blog. We were in the Lubbock, TX stake until we moved recently to begin a medical residency. Anyway, I just want you to know that I have been inspired by your posts on your blog. I know it sounds silly, but really, the ideas you have expressed are ones I have certainly felt. Thanks for this post b/c it truly touched me and helped me kind of understand some of the same feelings I've been having, especially since our move. I just love to read your blog and have really been inspired as I've done so. Thanks for putting into words the way I have felt so often. :) Have a great day!

Texas Dimons said...

Thank you for the post and all the reminders in it. We are in the same position now, (only it's a bachelors!) AND shane is going through some rough medical crap (only way to say it :) but I need the reminder that we are where we're supposed to be, not necessarily what I would choose and the Lord reminds me of that through blessings. Some days it sucks, but most days I try to look at the blessings.
Loved your top picture btw!

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