“And when the future hinges on the next words that are said, Don't let logic interfere, believe your heart instead” - Philip Robison

So here's the latest of the recent stressors in my life:

My plans for next year have been thwarted.

And the weirdest part is, they weren't even real plans.  They were tentative plans.  Let me explain.  I've been feeling pressure to make some serious decisions about my career and future life.  I have really been struggling with this decision, trying to choose between becoming a technical writer or the decidedly more difficult task of becoming a history professor.  Recently, I had essentially decided on pursuing a masters in history at Clemson University and determining whether or not to go on and get a Ph.D after finishing an MA.  Although I don't think that I would be a terrible technical writer, I've always loved history and traveling, and I feel like being a history professor would allow me to continue to learn about and see things that I would not have to opportunity to learn about or see otherwise.

However, becoming a history professor is a long and hard process, much longer and harder than pursuing an MA in communications and becoming a technical writer.  Although the idea of being a professor sounds great, it is scary to think about going to school for so long and working so hard.  Also, as a history professor, finding a job would be hard and I would have to face possibly living very far away from my family.

It has been pretty difficult for me to commit to my decision to pursue this career path for these specific reasons.  Anyway, I spoke with my advisor, whom I trust deeply, about my plans to go to Clemson for two years to get an MA in history.  Imagine my surprise when he urged me to reconsider!

Before you get the wrong idea, let me just say that he did not question my decision to pursue history and getting a Ph.D.  He merely suggested that I consider other programs which would allow me to get an MA and a Ph.D simultaneously in a shorter amount of time.  Although this is a good idea and would cut down tremendously the years I would spend trying to get a doctorate, the majority of the schools with an Irish historian and a Ph.D program are not close by.

And their application deadlines have already passed.

This throws a pretty serious kink in my plans of going to grad school in the fall.  So now, I'm faced with either going to Clemson after all and taking longer to get my doctorate, or take a year off and wait to apply for the next year.

The good news is, I've discovered a program at Queen's University in Belfast that offers a MA or a diploma in Irish Studies in a year.  This means that I could live in Ireland and study Irish history and anthropology while waiting to get into a Ph.D program.  As exciting as it might be to live in Ireland, it is also a scary prospect to live so far away from my family and friends for so long.  Mostly, I feel like it's a really good opportunity and maybe I need to be stretched as a person and taken out of my comfort zone.

Anyway, these are some pretty significant decisions I'm being faced with.  I'm praying that God will bring me clarity and either open or close some doors to help me make some of these decisions with more comfort...

“Sunshine cannot bleach the snow, nor time unmake what poets know.” - Emerson

So we're back from Christmas break, unfortunately.  I super love having that time at home to spend with my family and relax after what is usually a very stressful last few weeks of fall semester.  This year, I seemed especially stressed because I had to wrap up my senior seminar for my history major.  I didn't think that I was that stressed about it, but I started losing my hair.

Clearly, I severely underestimated my stress level.

Anyway, I had a good Christmas break, even though it felt super short this year.  It was also an emotionally turbulent time since I felt like it was my last real Christmas at home.  I'm pretty serious about maintaining traditions, especially around holiday times, so the prospect of no longer living with my parents and celebrating Christmas the way we always have was a struggle for me.  My family is also going through some significant changes, which will probably also affect our holiday traditions, so it was pretty hard for me to come to grips with the fact that my childhood is essentially over and everything is going to change.

Literally, everything is changing.  I'm graduating college, I will no longer be in a position where I see my friends all day every day, I probably won't be living in my childhood home at all anymore, some of my best friends are married or are getting married very soon, some are moving to different parts of the country and even the world, we're getting jobs, etc.  I've never responded to change very well, and these are some pretty significant changes.

Anyway, over Christmas break, I went to Washington DC with Campus Outreach.  It was an awesome time to learn more about God with some of my best friends.  I think we were all challenged during the week and that we all learned a lot about ourselves and about the Lord. I became more committed to really relying on God for my happiness and my strength, rather than my earthly relationships.  Even though they are important, they are relationships with sinful humans who will let me down, whether purposefully or not, and they will never be able to satisfy me.  I was confronted with the fact that I believe the lie that I need a husband to make me happy and that God is holding out on me by not providing me with a man.  Jesus is so much sweeter and more satisfying than a human man could ever be, even if he were the perfect man for me.  That's something I often struggle with, and it was good to be reminded of the truth when the world around me often encourages me to believe the lies of Satan.

The other day, I studied Psalm 69:1-13 in my quiet time.  The word that I found myself using the most to describe this passage is "beautiful."  It is a beautiful picture of salvation and the worth of God.  David is declaring his love for the Lord, even though he is being persecuted for it.  It shows that we, as believers, are not exempt from suffering: "For it is for Your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face (7)... and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me (9)."  However, despite being reproached, he claims that "zeal for Your house has consumed me (9)."  How many of us can claim that zeal for God has consumed us?  And David continues to persevere and pursue the Lord because he recognizes God's infinite worth.  I was convicted of the fact that I am more concerned with my reputation among those I live with and my sorority sisters than I am in reveling in God's worth.  I often forget that Christ's sacrifice is far more precious than how others think of me.  Anyway, this was just something that I found particularly beautiful and interesting and pertinent.  I hope someone else can learn something from it by reading this.

On a lighter note...

Although we are back at school, we are not really back at school since this is the second snow day we've had this week.  That's right folks, it has legitimately snowed in Clinton, South Carolina (and by legitimate, I mean about six inches).  This is probably the most natural snow I've ever seen in my life.  Calhoun House had a pretty good time yesterday playing in the frosty, white goodness. We were spectators of a particularly epic snowball fight in front of the dining hall, attempted to sled down a hill on Rubbermaid bin lids (not very successfully, I might add), built a sweet snowman in the front yard, and watched some Pride & Prejudice in the cuddly warmth of our beds.  We also made a fairly risky venture to Waffle House last night for some breakfast for dinner.  It was a good bonding time for the house mates.  Today has not been as fun, as the roads are iced over, the dining hall ran out of food, and we had to make a rather treacherous trek to McDonalds on foot... dangerous.

Here are a few photos of what we at Calhoun like to call the Great Blizzard of '11:

The Calhoun mansion itself in all of its snowy glory

Anna and me outside the house

Housemates in the snow


A closer look

Our snowman

Roommate quote of the day: "This is how I got stuck in my pants last night..."