This past summer, I was about two weeks away from completing my last two courses. I started classes in Fall 2014 and now, Summer 2017, I was about to finally finish and ready to begin my research. Exciting times!
But then I got a phone call. A family member made some bad life choices and her 20-month old daughter was taken away and placed in foster care. My husband and I knew exactly what we had to do; we just had no idea how to do it! Yes, we had room in our home. We had room in our hearts. But did we have room in our lifestyle? Our oldest child, already living on his own, was getting married in just a few weeks. The other two "kids" were in college and living on their own. We only had a cat to care for, and she would soon be moving in with my son and his new wife.
My husband had taken up running half-marathons with a goal to run a race in all 50 states and a total of 100 halves over a 5-year period. Sometimes I traveled with him; other times I stayed home to study and complete school assignments. We both worked full-time jobs. We both had volunteer commitments. Life was full. We were the perfect example of happy empty-nesters.
We could have easily said, "No. We have raised our kids and now it's our turn to enjoy each other."
We didn't say no. We knew that somehow, some way, we had to make room in our lives for this little girl. She needed us. And we knew she would forever change our perfect life for the better.
Through all the paperwork, home visits by DHR, and court appearances, I finished my coursework. Surprisingly, I made it through every class with an A! That's a huge accomplishment all its own.
We cleaned out a bedroom, put in a toddler bed, dressed up the walls with pretty pink, gray, and teal, and told all our friends. The gifts started flooding in. Her room was filled with stuffed animals and toys and her closet filled of clothes.
On August 25, 2017, (37 days after that first phone call) we drove 2 hours away and picked up our new little princess.
Fast-forward 8 1/2 weeks....
The princess is 22-months old. She attends a church academy full-time and loves it. She has a huge family here. She appears to be happy and content. We are elated and can't wait to pick her up from school each day. She is "joy"!
My husband and I are finally adjusting to our new schedules and beginning to make time for me to disappear to my office each evening. I am editing my prospectus (2nd draft).
Having a total life interruption that kept me from thinking about my research or ANYTHING clearly, revisiting my research felt as if I was playing 52 card pick-up with one hand!! All my thoughts were totally jumbled up. I'm a big analogy person so hear me out.
Each card represents a subject area of my research. 52 subject areas is a lot, right? With the life-interruption, I felt like all the cards were thrown up into the air and were now a scattered mess on the floor. Nothing was in order. The connections I had once made were now all disconnected.
Knowing my topic had expanded, focused, expanded, focused, and expanded yet again (thanks to a professor that made me write a paper that only caused me to be confused about my original question ..... (I know, I'll probably thank her later)), somehow I had to eliminate some of the cards and rearrange others.
I can only hold so much in one hand, so as I mentally gathered the scattered cards, I had to figure out which ones were priority, if and how they fit together, and decide which to leave on the ground.
I speak of this in past tense, yet I'm still picking up and laying down the cards. Tomorrow I meet with one of my co-chairs in hopes of gaining his insight and direction.
Adding a toddler to this PhD journey was never in the original plans... but plans were made to be changed! God started me on this journey. I can only trust him to help me finish it. And I do. :)