Sunday, November 04, 2012

Praying for a miracle

So maybe some of you have wondered why we are still in graduate school, because, hey, it's been SIX AND A HALF YEARS.  (I know I certainly wonder that.)

When we originally applied to graduate schools, we very carefully weighed all our options and decided to apply exclusively for master's programs rather than doctoral programs.  And then when we interviewed at the university here, and Neil was offered full funding and the option to enter into the doctoral program, we prayed about that and felt like it was a wonderful option (I should note that I was really not thrilled about this and I was sobbing in denial when we made that decision).  But we felt like it was the right thing, and so we went for it.

When we decided, we were told by the recruiting committee that he would finish his Ph.D. in four years.  When we arrived here to begin the program a few months later, we were told to plan on at least five.  And then after we were here for a few years, we realized it would be more than that.  The program, in fact, has an eight-year limit.  Another of Neil's good friends finished last year in six years, and he came in with a master's.  Neil, on the other hand, came here straight after his undergraduate degree, so he is doing what's called a direct Ph.D.

Another thing we didn't know when we started here is that Neil's entering class was the first to be offered the direct Ph.D. option.  Nobody in his lab has successfully finished a direct Ph.D.  Understatement: it is not easy.  And Neil's adviser is not one to tell everyone exactly what to do and kick them out the door after a few years--he is very emphatic that his students learn self-directed research and do every step themselves.  He's very supportive and he meets with them every week (which isn't too common around the university, especially since he has several dozen students in his lab), but he wants them to find their own path.  Which is great, and he has learned so many invaluable lessons along the way, but it, um, takes a lot longer.

So.  Things have gotten a lot more stressful as we've seen the years slipping away.  If you've been reading my blog for very long, you've probably noticed that Neil is sick quite frequently (pneumonia is a yearly visitor).  And if you've seen him in person lately, you've probably seen that he is visibly aging--more gray hair, more lines in his face, more pallor.  He looks tired and worn out.  (I love you, honey, but it's true.  And I have far more gray hairs than any woman my age should, so it's not just him.)

Some days I feel like I literally cannot do this one more day.  I love our ward, and I love our town, and I LOVE the kids' schools, but I don't like living on a stipend meant for one person that hasn't changed as prices have ballooned over the last six years.  The house that seemed so spacious when we had an eighteen-month-old toddler now seems bursting at the seams as I think about where to put our fifth baby.  As my children have gotten older and it's become more difficult to schedule in quality time with each of them, the lure of pursuing my own career has utterly lost its luster, but my income ensures that we can continue to support our growing family without worrying about our finances.  In any case, I am ready to move on.  I've loved this chapter in our lives, but I'm ready to leave our student days behind.

Today we had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Relief Society lesson.  (Something else I've been struggling with lately has been the fact that I was released from my calling in Young Women's.  I truly love those girls, and it was so hard for me to gracefully say goodbye!)  But today as I was sitting in Relief Society, I realized that I needed to be hearing these lessons and undergoing my own spiritual growth in different ways.

I won't recap all of the lesson, but one comment particularly struck me.  Another woman mentioned the passage in Mark 9 where the father brings his son to the Lord, and tells the Lord that he has faith for his child to be healed, but then adds, "Lord, I believe.  Help thou my unbelief."  She went on to say that often we have so much faith, and we are praying and working for an outcome, but we truly need the Lord to help us achieve the miraculous outcome that is impossible with simply our own faith and efforts.

I walked out of that lesson feeling very strongly that we need to be asking for miracles in our family.  Lately I've gotten out of the habit of having really long, meaningful conversations with the Lord about my problems.  I pray frequently, but I have always been far to prone to try to figure things out on my own and devise solutions and make lists and to try to fix things myself, and then asking the Lord to help me be patient or supportive as I do those things.  It's very hard for me to just turn over control completely.  But today I realized that's what we need to do.  We are working ourselves to death trying to get Neil done with this degree--we have scraped out every hour possible and I have grown so weary of feeling guilty for whatever time he spends with our family.

And so as a family, we are praying for a miracle.  We are praying that the time he can give will be enough, that he will be guided in his research, that he will be able to make the right decisions quickly, that his coding will function with minimal errors, that his equipment will work properly, and that everything will come together miraculously so that he can graduate as quickly as possible.  And rather than just praying for this guidance in our own personal prayers as we've been doing for years, we decided today to do this as a family in every prayer that is said in our home.  And we're asking for a miracle, because that's what we need.


Melanie said...

I'll pray for you, too. We love you guys, but I want you guys to get out of here! And in the meantime, I think we have a standing date with whats-her-name at Applebee's!

Jolena said...

What a situation to be in! I see similarities to my life in so many ways and just feel for you. I know the lord will help make this work out for you, however that is. Your faith and prayers will truly work miracles.

Andrea said...

We'll pray, too. We want to see you succeed and be happy. WL is such a wonderful place...and once it feels like 'home' it's easy to forget that you need to leave! (At least I felt that way.) However, like you said, you come to a point when you just need to be done. It's a big hurdle...and you're right--those prayers coupled with fasting help. As do prayers from all of the family. Tyler was looking at pics the other day of Kate and there were so many events/days when he was not there nor did he remember any of that phase. That was hard...but worth it in the end. I know I've told you that. It seemed we had to put everything else on hold until that degree was completed! We are silently cheering you on from 3 hours away...

Related Posts with Thumbnails