It’s been a long time since I blogged, but it’s been a pretty busy and wonderful spring semester this year!
Since I last wrote, I went on a fantastic and adventuresome spring break trip to Dade City, Florida, with 34 of the most energetic, enthusiastic, and caring young adults I’ve ever met. Over an incredible week that included 80-degree weather in March, we helped to construct and install the interior walls for two Habitat homes, and helped out at the local ReStore. During my day at the ReStore, I had the opportunity to meet some great people, who are dedicated to the cause of providing adequate and affordable housing to people everywhere, and particularly in their community. The students from ONU who went on our trip were fantastic, especially when our ONU bus broke down, and we had to car pool to the job site every day in the cars and trucks of the Care-avan volunteers. These folks travel all around the country in their RVs, working on Habitat builds. They were awesome! The other great thing about spring break trips is that it gives me the chance to get to know students I wouldn’t have otherwise come to know, and to have some really deep and meaningful conversations with them about life, school, and God.
After spring break, I put my nose to the grindstone, and finally finished my doctoral dissertation! And, on March 31st, I successfully completed the defense of that paper, making me an honest-to-God Doctor of Ministry! This process began back in 2009, when I first applied to the D.Min. program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Nine trips to Chicago, eight classes, two car accidents, a proposal, project, and dissertation later, it’s complete! I thank God for the opportunity that was presented to me to further my education, and for the strength to get through it all. I’m also grateful for my family, especially my wife, Kelly, who supported me through it all. It was really because of my doctoral work that I discerned a call to campus ministry, and that’s what brought me to ONU and to Ada. God truly works in mysterious ways.
I’ve also traveled a lot. Besides the spring break trip, I’ve also traveled to Tacoma, Washington, for the annual National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC) conference, and to Chicago for the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) chaplaincy conference. Both of these were opportunities for me to connect (or re-connect) with chaplain colleges from around the country who are working hard to make a difference in their own communities.
The semester has also come with some sadness. Shortly before spring break, we lost one of our own, a student named Tim who took his own life. It shocked everyone on campus, and especially his closest friends and family. What I learned from that experience is that the human spirit is resilient, and that communities really do pull together in times of tragedy. Tomorrow night, from 6-8 p.m., we will be holding a benefit dinner for Tim’s family in the Activities Room of McIntosh Center. The cost is $8 if you buy your tickets at the Mac table, or $10 at the door. Tim’s family will be there, so it will be a wonderful way to show our community’s support for them in this difficult time.
After all that, life is a little bit back to normal–whatever “normal” means. I can breathe a little more, and relax as I prepare for what comes next. In the short term, that means baccalaureate and commencement, and then my own graduation from Garrett. In the longer term, that means getting ready for the next academic year, and looking forward to a cruise to the Bahamas that Kelly and I will be taking in the fall, to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
Life is good, and God is great. Celebrate each day as a gift.