Wednesday, December 9, 2015


I'm happy to say that my first semester of my PhD program is coming to a close.  I have one last project to turn in, a portfolio review to complete for the class I'm teaching, and I'm finished.  It's been a long semester full of teaching and grading and classes and homework and projects, but it's been great.  I am truly blessed to be a part of this program.  It feels like home.

This past semester has been very busy - so much has happened and some things have changed.  Poetry is my passion, but it's rare that I get to spend time writing or submitting because of how busy I've been with my doctoral work.  My artwork has been put on the back burner, as well.  But I know these things will always be there waiting for me to pick them back up when I've completed this goal.  I'm happy to be busy with my PhD program since, at this time last year, I had just moved to a new state with my husband (which required me to quit my teaching job back in Indiana) and I was trying to decide what my next move was going to be.  I had already applied to the program at Bowling Green State University, but it would be months before I would hear a decision from them.  Justin had just started his new ministry position and I was eager to help him at the church, but I wanted something more.  I ended up doing some freelance writing and then worked for the local Boys & Girls Club for awhile, so it was a very welcomed blessing when I heard news of my acceptance to BGSU.  I had something to work toward and it made the big move to Ohio seem less new and scary and more exciting and wonderful. 

Teaching at Bowling Green has been a new experience since the classes are so different than the ones I taught at Indiana University South Bend or Indiana Tech.  I've enjoyed getting to know my students this semester and I'm looking forward to seeing a few of them next semester in the class I'm teaching.  I've gotten to know my classmates and cohort-mates this semester and they are all wonderful people and friends.  The commute may get a little tiring every day, but I love being at BGSU.

I've still managed to be a part of the high school youth ministry at the church even through busy weeks of grading, classes, and homework.  It was heartbreaking to hear that we lost another Maumee student recently to suicide.  This loss comes a year after the passing of Sarah, a student in our youth group at St. Paul's who passed just a month after Justin joined the staff at the church as the youth director.  It has was a tough experience and it has been hard this past year to see how much this tragic loss has affected our youth.  Don't forget to love each other, and don't ever let a day go by without letting the ones you care about know how much you care.

My family suffered a tragic loss this past month that still has me reeling.  On Veteran's Day (November 11th), campus was closed and I was planning to sleep in a bit and visit with my parents since they also had the day off (Justin was back in Indiana for the week for grad school).  I received a call from my cousin Danielle at around 7:30 in the morning and she gave me gut-wrenching news.  Our 25-year-old cousin Rachel had passed away.  A month prior to this, I had traveled back to Indiana with my aunt, uncle, and cousin Danielle to attend Rachel's baby shower.  She looked absolutely beautiful as an expectant mother and we were all so excited to welcome the first baby to any of the grand-kids on that side of the family.  We all had a great time visiting and watching Rachel lovingly open each gift that would bless her, her husband Michael, and their soon-to-be newborn son. 

It came as a shock to hear Danielle's voice the morning she told me Rachel had died from a rare complication while having her son, William.  All I could manage to ask was whether or not William was alive and healthy, and she said he was.  That day turned into a blur as my parents and I grieved together over Rachel's death.  Rachel was the closest cousin in age to me.  We grew up together.  My dad was her godfather.  I thought of my own husband and how he would handle a newborn baby without me.  I thought of my aunt, uncle, and cousin Richard as they would try to navigate the coming days, weeks, months, and years without Rachel.  I thought of Michael without his wife and William without his mother.  I thought of how my family celebrated with Rachel and Michael on their wedding day two years ago.

Rachel's funeral was one of the hardest days I've experienced.  We got to meet Rachel's beautiful son, William, but we had to say goodbye to her.  This past weekend, my cousin Danielle celebrated her 21st birthday and, for the first time in awhile, the whole family came together to celebrate.  My dad, his brother Jeff (Danielle's dad), and his sister Missy (Rachel's mom) were all together.  The cousins were all together, sadly without Rachel.  We all took pictures, ate good food, celebrated, and marveled at how sweet little William is.  It was a bittersweet night, but I'm happy we all got to be together. 

Recently, I've been reminded of the importance of love and family.  Never let a day go by where you don't tell the ones you love how much you care about them.  Make time for family.  Make time to listen.  Spend time together.  Love each other. 

All the cousins on my dad's side, minus my older brother (who just got home from a business trip) and Rachel.  Tyler (my brother), Kurt (Danielle's brother), Danielle, Richard (Rachel's brother), and me.  It was a wonderful evening celebrating Danielle's 21st birthday. 
My dad (right) with my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Missy celebrating Danielle's birthday.