14 Years to get a 4 Year Degree:
Fourteen years is an awfully long time to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. ”You still in school, Girl?” is a question I got asked repeatedly. I would answer, “Yup, I’m still there.” Some folks assumed it was taking me such a long time to get out because I was failing and repeating classes. Thank God, that was not the case. Well, here is the story behind the story…
I started college at eighteen-years-old and graduated at age thirty-two. Well, how in the world did that happen? Well, I met my husband my senior year of high school and we became best friends. We talked about our childhoods, hopes, dreams, fears, mistakes, successes, etc… We covered it all, but I never thought he would be the man I would marry, even though my mother said, “I think that just might be the man you marry.”
I looked at her and said, “I ain’t marrying him,” but in the back of my mind, I remembered what he said to me the first day we met. He told me that God told him I was going to be his wife. At the time, I could not imagine marrying my best friend. A word of advice to all you single folks: You’re better off marrying your best friend. Aside from being my best friend, he was a nice guy. “Why would I want a nice guy?
My Nice Guy (1986)
At the time, I was a professional dancer and aspiring writer on her way to college. He was a businessman, managing an oil company and pretty set in his ways to be so young. I won’t bore you with the gushy romantics in between. You can just pick up a romance novel for that. We got engaged and planned to marry after I graduated college. My mother was so excited, until I came to her a few months later and said, “Mom, uh… we’re going to get married in a few months instead of a few years. I’m going to have a baby.” I got married, had the baby, and…
in a very short period of time, I went from
this 1986 to this 1990
I had completed my freshman year of college, and I knew it was going to take longer than three years to finish, but I was determined to get my degree. I took one and two classes at a time for the next thirteen years! Folks were really confused because I was a stay at home mom. What is taking her so long, they kept wondering because you know some folks are always “wondering” in places their minds shouldn’t be wandering. Well, for the first thirteen years of my marriage, I was a hard working stay at home mom.
My son and daughter as children
My son and daughter as adults
Also, durring those thirteen years, I had a few surgeries, my father died, I went through 6 months of depression, and of course there were a slew of other very interesting circumstances that slowed me down a bit. However, I always took at least one college course a semester. At times, I would think, this is just going to take me forever, and my husband would say, “Well, the years are going to go by anyway, so you might as well get your degree. Even if it takes till you’re sixty, you’ll be sixty with a degree.”
Can I tell you that is the best advice anyone has ever given me concerning the completion of a goal? The time is going to pass whether you go for what you want or not, so you might as well go for it! If you are trying to reach a goal, don’t give up even if it feels like it’s taking forever. Complete a little bit of it at a time if you have to. It could be something as mundane as cleaning out a closet. Time is going to pass whether you clean that closet out or not. If you take five minutes a day to clean it out, eventually you are going to make some progress, but if you sit around dreading how long it’s going to take you, you’ll never get it done. You get it? Whatever it is you’re struggling to complete, just do a little bit at a time. I discovered that once you do a little at a time, it becomes easier to do a little bit more each time. Before you know it, you will have completed your goal. Pray on it and keep moving forward because if it is His will for your life, God will get you there.
After 14 years, I graduated summa cum laude.
God got me there!
6 Years to Complete a 160 Page Book:
“You still working on that book, Girl?”
Sound familiar? Indeed it does. First, I wrote a devotion a day, until I had over 100 devotions. I spent about a year revising those devotions. Finally, after I had them all revised, I wrote more devotions because life just kept happening and I kept learning and sharing. Then I revised my new batch of devotions. I repeated this process, until I knew it was time to stop. I thought, now I need a title and subdivisions. There… was that messy closet. Ugh!
By that time, I had the fourteen year BA degree, but my husband and I also started a tutoring company. I tutored 25-30 students a week, taught multiple dance classes, and completed my poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, which was published in 2008.
While I was doing poetry readings at coffee houses, bookstores, churches, and schools, I was still working on my devotional a few days a week. I seldom thought about the number of years I had been working on the devotional because I understood the process was just as important as the finished product.
Eventually, I came up with a title, “Pictures in Glass Frames” and 6 subdivisions: When the Glass Breaks, Reframing Your Picture, Cropping Your Photo, Expanding Your Album, When the Picture Fades, and Restoring Your Photo.
I am so sure those subdivisions came from God because I am just not that clever. As a matter of fact, they came to me in a matter of minutes. However, figuring out which devotions would go in which section of the book would take months!
After I finished Pictures in Glass Frames, I had to make sure my memory was serving me correctly. I read a few of the devotions to my mom to make sure I had the details concerning her life correct. Then, I had ten people from different backgrounds read it. Next, I had the head of Christian education at our church, approve it for its theological content. Last, I submitted my book proposal to Ambassador International. I worked on the proposal for 12 hours. I only stopped to eat and go to the bathroom. Ambassador got back to me in less than 24-hours and told me they would love to read the entire manuscript. In less than a week, they sent me a contract. A lawyer reviewed it and I signed it. Pictures in Glass Frames was released Dec. 2, 2011. God got me there.
By the way, I have to mention this one very important detail, my friend, Lorraine Castle, who was the leader of our writing ministry at church, gave us an assignment to write a devotion a day. I did not plan on writing a devotional at all. My thoughts were still focused on cleaning up a juicy novel I had written in my early twenties. I was going to clean it up just enough to make it suitable for most audiences. Now that I think about it, I know that would not have been possible. I wrote that book when my mind was in a place I pray it will never return. That book was titled, Pleasing to the Eye, and believe me, you do not even…want to know the story line. I have learned there are some stories you want to write that you just shouldn’t write, and there are some stories you should write that still remain unwritten.
Barnes and Noble 3/10/2012 God got me there, too!
”I don’t know what your destination is today or what purpose God has for you, but do not get discouraged on your journey. Even if you have not found the energy to start, prepare. Then, take small steps forward, and God will get you there.” - Shawn R. Jones, Pictures in Glass Frames
Here is a prose piece by my friend I mentioned above, Lorraine Castle: http://www.castlevirtualsolutions.com/2012/05/02/the-last-gift/
It is very moving! Read and enjoy!