July 18, 2017

A Mormon Mother of 8 In Grad School

Me, on my first day of school- Summer 2017

I have been hesitant to blog these last few months.
For years, I have shared my journey of motherhood.  Blogging has been my daily journal, my therapy, and my calling.  It is natural for me to share about my life journey, I'm not sure why.  But, when I began considering grad school, I pulled away.  I really, really don't want to be the "mom who left home".  Choosing to go back to school was a very hard, very prayerful decision for me to make.  I don't think this decision is right for everyone and yet, I know this was right for me and my family at this time.

Before I gave birth to Ben, my soul marched bravely towards what I knew was my life purpose.  I felt with every fiber of my being that there were children waiting to come to my family.  This feeling was so strong that I knew if I did not have one more child I would regret it eternally.  My family is my greatest gift and my great work.  

Because I have to leave soon for school, I cannot take the time to explain how I ended up in graduate school full-time this summer.  I will tell you that choosing to go back to school after a 20 year academic hiatus was not my idea, but absolutely fills my soul with gratitude and wonder.  I feel God guiding and directing my path and I honestly don't know where we are going.  "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."
Image result for the lord is my shepherd
 Last year, I didn't know what an MPA was.  This year, I am sitting in classes that speak to my soul.  I had no idea that I would LOVE to use Excel, that I would find budgets interesting, that my mind (still foggy from not-so-recent trauma) would expand and stretch as I studied for the GRE and learned terms and processes so far from my life as a stay-at-home mother.  I feel God guiding me and teaching me and preparing me for a future that I know now of.

What am I going to school for?

Well, I'm not sure.
I have been accepted to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  I am currently in a one year Master's program, but am considering doing two masters in two years and adding International Relations.

Ben will start preschool full-time in the Fall, and my mother is living with us to help care for my kids while I am away.  The Professor (my husband) is more excited about me going to school than I am.  Without his faith, inspiration, encouragement, and the flexibility of his career, there is NO WAY I would have ended up here.

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  I do know that I love working with non-profit's that I believe in.  I also LOVE humanitarian aid.  My husband does research with 3rd world countries and I think his education, paired with mine, will make us great humanitarian aid missionaries someday.  Truthfully, I think we would have been great humanitarian aid missionaries even if I didn't have a degree.  I'm not sure why I find myself sitting here, in the top MPA program in the nation.  But, I believe we are here in New York so that I can attend this program.

One quick story I want to record before I run out the door.

For years, I have testified to my husband and children, about the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy.  I have encouraged them not to do school work on Sunday and reminded them the blessings that would come as they gave their minds a day of rest.

Last Friday, I was given a project to do and was told to "start early because it will take you two full days of work".  On Saturday, my son Jakob went through the temple for the first time (more about that tomorrow).  I worked on my project in the morning and got to a point where all of my Excel equations seemed to be giving me inaccurate data.  I had to stop and leave for the temple and didn't get home until late Saturday night.

Sunday I spent with my family and worried a bit about my  project.  I knew I wasn't just in a little bit of trouble, I honestly didn't know if I had the intelligence to do what I needed to do.
Monday morning, I woke up early (I always wake up early these days).  And, I knew what I needed to do.

I had been trying to figure out one part of my project using yearly numbers (and it should have worked that way), but the Spirit whispered for me to figure out the number BY MONTH.  After class, I sat at my computer and fixed my equations.  Everything worked.  I was able to finish almost my whole assignment in a few hours.  There is no doubt at all in my mind that Heavenly Father allowed me to struggle through the weekend so I would remember to trust Him.

God is real.
You might be struggling with Day Care Budgets in Excel, or a baby that won't sleep through the night.  "As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be."  I know this is true.

I don't really like not knowing where my life is heading right now.  But, I know God.  I trust Him.

I hope there is still purpose in me writing this little blog.

I don't believe Mothers need to go to school to change the world and yet here I am.

This recent BYU Devotional spoke to my soul.  In fact, I believe it was written just for me.
You can read it if you'd like.

"Women and Education: A Future Only God Could See For You." by Eva Whitesman and Associate Professor, BYU Marriot School of Business.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
Your mind is precious! It is sacred. Therefore, the education of one’s mind is also sacred. Indeed, education is a religious responsibility. . . .
. . . In light of this celestial perspective, if you . . . cut short your education, you would not only disregard a divine decree but also abbreviate your own eternal potential.

President Henry B. Eyring said, “Part of the tragedy you must avoid is to discover too late that you missed an opportunity to prepare for a future only God could see for you.”
To this, President Nelson added:
We . . . need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without . . . women who can speak with the power and authority of God! . . 
. . . I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. . . . As you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!17
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said:
All women need to see themselves as essential ­participants in the work of the priesthood. . . . The kingdom of God cannot function unless we rise up and fulfill our duties with faith. Sometimes we just need to have a greater vision of what is possible.18
Sisters, never question the value of your education or wonder whether you will have an opportunity to learn and use the knowledge you have gained. God knows you, and even though you may not yet know His plans, He knows the end from the beginning. He is preparing and qualifying you for the work He wants you to do. He will continually guide you to ways in which your knowledge and skills can be of benefit to yourself, your family, your community, and His kingdom.

Have a great day friends.
I miss you.
I love you.
I know life is good, God is good, and He is guiding YOUR path.
Trust Him and trust you.


Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

Love your new family picture!!!

I'm glad you liked that devotional. :) I'm still trying to finish it!
But isn't it lovely to find someone who speaks to your soul?

Stephanie said...

I have loved your blog for years and have learned so much from you and enjoy your honest and unique perspective, even if I don't always share your opinions. I completely respect that you are trying to follow the Lord's will in your life and yet I can't help wondering why, after feeling so compelled to bring each of your children into the world, you would then choose to have someone else raise them in your place. I understand and believe in the value of education but don't think it is confined to an institution. I sincerely ask you to help me understand the trend I see in our church (I am also LDS) for women to leave their young children to go back to school or work. I so fiercely believe in the need for mothers to be home with and raise their children! In the spirit of love and the desire to understand the women around me who are making that decision, I really would love to hear more of your thoughts on the subject. I apologize for sounding (or even being a litttle) judgemental. I am so concerned for our nation, as a whole, though--where families are concerned--and feel that mothers can still be home and put their children first and also find ways to make an impact outside of the home. This is a tough issue, and I hope you don't regret your decision to blog about it! Hopefully this can be an opportunity for a great discussion. I think you're an amazing woman and appreciate that I feel like I can ask you hard questions and you (hopefully) won't take offense. :)

Handsfullmom said...

I tried to post earlier but it looks like it didn't go through.

I love that you are following those promptings you are having and embarking on this grand adventure! I am excited to see what the future holds for you and your family.

Stephanie, I don't know how old your kids are, but I did want to say that motherhood is truly different when they are no longer all little. I have kids who are similar ages to Jen's and while kids always need their moms, the ways they need mom change, allowing for a lot more flexibility to add other things to a busy mom's schedule without being detrimental to the kids. Nine of my kids are ages 5 and up, and while I still have some very needy little ones (a 2 year old and one on the way), I am amazed at how many extra things fit into my schedule now that I am not the only one who can cook a meal, fold the laundry, clean a bathroom, and put a child to bed.

Jen's youngest son is 4 now, and she has a lot of teens who will grow a lot from being able to contribute to the household functioning in a meaningful way. Jen is hardly leaving her kids for someone else to raise -- she has raised them and IS raising them, and she and her husband have worked out and will continue to work out ways to do both graduate school and the things her family needs.

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