What to Remember When Your Life Feels Broken by Dr. Andrew Stenhouse Dean School of Graduate and Professional Studies

7713-sweeping broken.220w.tnWe were driving home from the Grand Canyon, trying to determine which soda belonged to whom, when my youngest daughter claimed hers by identifying the straw. She explained how she would bend and break the tips of all her straws in order to mark her drinks. If it’s broken, it must be mine.

I could relate. I felt as if everything I touched had broken. If something was broken most likely I had been there to break it. There was a trail of broken things behind me—opportunities, dreams, aspirations and people. As the girls slept in total silence, I drove on through the Arizona desert and reflected on my daughter’s mark of ownership: brokenness.

My dreams were broken. I was broken. And all my friends knew it. I shared King David’s lament from Psalm 31:11-12: “I am a dread to my friends—those who see me on the streets flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.” That was exactly how I felt, like broken pottery.

Here I was on another vacation with my daughters, watching other families in their cars occupying the seats the way they do in the TV commercials; Dad, Mom, the kids in the back. It seemed that mine was the only car on the road with no one sitting in the front passenger’s seat. I felt alone. I felt sad. A dad, two daughters and a dog; something was missing. Something was broken. I slowly nodded my head and admitted, If it’s broken, it must be mine.

Were my dreams really broken though, or was I simply disappointed because things had not turned out as I had hoped they would? Perhaps my dreams were really just altered. Since that trip I have often pondered these two questions: Is it really broken? Or is it really altered?

Is it really broken?

It can be many things; a career, a relationship, a family, a dream. It, like most things, can usually break. But is it really broken? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is utterly destroyed and irreparable, and we must admit the loss, hurt a while, grieve and heal. Other times, it’s not really broken.

Occasionally when I think something is broken I later discover that I just didn’t understand it. One time I bought a treadmill and couldn’t wait to use it, so I immediately plugged it in and turned it on. Nothing. I called the store and told them they had just delivered a broken treadmill and they needed to send someone out immediately to replace it. They encouraged me to read the instructions and call them back if it was still broken. (I got the feeling I wasn’t the first person who had placed such a call.) Of course I found out that it did in fact work. I had simply failed to insert the safety key. It wasn’t broken after all. I had just failed to fully understand it.

We are often overwhelmed by the moment and fail to understand the much larger picture. We then conclude that our dreams are completely destroyed. When talking to a friend of mine about the broken life that I had ended up with rather than the life I had dreamed of, I told him that I was a family man without a family.

He tired of my self-pity and told me so. “First of all, your life isn’t over yet, so stop talking about how it has ended up. Secondly, you have a beautiful family. You have two wonderful daughters. What you don’t have is a wife, but you do have a family. Don’t get the two confused!”

He was right. While my marriage was broken, my family was only altered.

Is it really altered?

While the death of a loved one or a marriage is always tragic, I do believe that God can provide peace after the storm, and good things can emerge from tragedies. Having experienced the tragic death of a sister and a divorce within months of each other, I grew weary of the perky-chirpy advice I received from many about turning lemons into lemonade. I did, however, deeply appreciate the wise few who had experienced similar pain and patiently encouraged me to allow time to heal. One wise friend said to me, “God will make this up to you. I promise.” He was right. God has.

Occasionally when something appears to break, it isn’t totally destroyed but only altered and can actually become more useful than before. In the movie Cast Away, Tom Hank’s character, Chuck Noland, is trying to break open a coconut with a rock. The rock shatters. Moviegoers can easily see the despair on his face until he realizes he is now holding a sharp-edged blade rather than a bulky blunt rock. His broken rock had become a much more functional tool. It wasn’t broken at all but was instead altered and more useful. Sometimes it breaks enough to be more useful. And sometimes we are it. We become wiser, more sensitive, more understanding, more pliable and more willing to rely completely on God.

I have been surprised to learn how many people have experienced the same brokenness I had. I have been comforted by others before me and have been a comfort to those after me. We all share a common journey and eventually better understand the bends and turns of the paths we have been on. We know that things do break, and we must let healing happen. We learn that God will make it up to us. We read the Psalms now and better understand King David when he wrote “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again” (Psalm 71:20).

As I drove, I remembered the countless sermons about God reshaping and remolding broken vessels that He would ultimately use for His glory. I remembered all the books I had read about the importance of total submission to God, being broken and humble before Him. I remembered the verses I had memorized since childhood reminding me that Christ came to provide hope and to heal the broken.

I remembered many things during that long quiet drive as my daughters slept in the car. I particularly remember a paraphrase of Matthew 9: 12. It is not the whole who need the healer, but the broken.

Dr. Stenhouse, a professor at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif. has a passion for helping adults in transition.

The Center for Single Parent Family Ministry was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2003, led by a Board of Directors and supported by an Advisory Council. Today, we humbly follow where God is leading in order to bring about hope and healing in the lives of single-parents and their children, the modern-day widows and orphans (James 1:27).

Publication date: August 1, 2013

 

Dr. Andrew Stenhouse, Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies

Andy

Dr. Andrew Stenhouse has returned to Vanguard to serve as the new Dean for Graduate and Professional Studies.  Recognized as an expert in leadership development, Dr. Stenhouse brings a unique approach from education and industry, as well as the insight of an alumnus and former faculty member.  Dr. Stenhouse was kind enough to share with us the changes in adult learning at Vanguard, his thoughts on leadership, and what makes Vanguard such a unique place.

Q: You received three degrees from Vanguard, taught as a tenured faculty member here, and now returned as the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies.  What is it about Vanguard sets it apart from other institutions?

There is a Soul to Vanguard like no other institution I have encountered. What we do here is unique in that there is a deeply spiritual foundation that underlies absolutely everything that happens here. I know other universities talk about their unique Christian perspectives, but things really are different here. There is a spiritual commitment that binds the faculty together that is inspiring. We can sometimes disagree on the “how,” but we are all absolutely committed to the “what” (student learning) and the “why” (our calling to change lives). When you have faculty who are absolutely dedicated to the what and why, the how will inevitably be resolved – and with better outcomes due to the collaborative process. We all want the same outcome – students living a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service.

Q: You are known as an expert in leadership development.  What advice do you give to students and alumni who want to better develop themselves as a leader?

Whenever anyone tells me they want to be a leader, I ask them why? Where they want to lead people and why they want to lead them there is foundational. Until a person has discovered that passionate call to truly make a difference – to rectify an injustice or to bring restoration to the broken – leadership is not about creating positive change; but is merely an ego trip. Leadership is always about other people. The best leaders I know really are not all that interested in being in charge. They’re interested in making a difference. People always follow someone like that.

Q: Our graduate programs and our School for Professional Studies have now merged into Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) at Vanguard.  Can you tell us the benefits of all adult learning being in one school?

All of our graduate and professional studies programs equip adult students for professional excellence. Our students are not the traditional students who live on or around campus and take classes throughout the day. Our students attend classes in the late afternoons, evenings, on weekends, or online. They generally have family obligations while furthering their own careers and are highly motivated to succeed academically as well as professionally. With this new organizational structure we can better leverage our efforts to attract, equip, and graduate students into fulfilling careers whether its business, education, nursing, counseling, or ministry.

Q: What would surprise our alumni who haven’t back to campus in over a decade?

If they walk around campus at nights or on Saturday mornings, they will see hundreds of adult learners ranging from their mid-20’s to mid-60’s. Some of the greatest diversity within the university is among our graduate and professional studies students.

Q: What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?

From my Dad: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Q: Can you tell us a little about your family.

My wife Karen and I were married ten years ago in Needham Chapel – a place that has always been special to me. Since she had a daughter (Lindsay) and I had two (Taryn and Kayla) I proposed to her with a simple gold band with five diamonds. I told her that if we were to marry, it would be a package deal. There would be five us involved in the new enterprise. She agreed and life since has been an amazing blessing. Sure blended families like ours have unique challenges, but we also have unique blessings as well. I have written numerous articles for Focus on the Family about our stories and the November issue of OC Family will carry one of my favorite stories. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Q: What is the single greatest attribute you admire about your wife?

She absolutely loves the Lord. Her faith is constant.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time, when you are not on campus?

You will find me at the pool or the beach. Water is good for my soul.

Welcome Vanguard University’s 10th President Dr. Michael Beals

Beals-1President Michael Beals, PhD

Over the last 36 years, Dr. Michael Beals has been called to Vanguard University in many different capacities, including undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty member, and administrator.  Mike’s rich journey with Vanguard is evidence of his ability and willingness to serve its constituents in the highest capacity.  After a rigorous and prayerful search, the Board of Trustees has chosen him as the finalist for the role of 10th president of Vanguard University.

A native of California, Mike originally came to faith in Christ at Vallejo First Assembly of God in 1977.  That same year, Mike followed God’s initial call to Vanguard and became an undergraduate student of Religion, double-majoring in Christian Education and Psychology.  After receiving his BA, he went on to earn his MA from Vanguard in Church Leadership, and a second MA at Fuller Theological Seminary in Biblical Studies and Theology.  Mike also holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Fuller where he has served as an adjunct faculty member since 1999.

Mike began teaching at Vanguard as an adjunct faculty member in 1991.  In 2005, Mike became an Assistant Professor of Philosophical Theology and Christian Ethics. He left that position in 2009.  In 2012, after serving for 23 years as the senior pastor of Mission Hills Community Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, Mike returned to Vanguard as Dean of Spiritual Formation, a position that serves as the university pastor for the Vanguard community and the senior administrator of the Spiritual Formation Department.

Mike is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and spent 31 years of ministry in local churches. He was first credentialed as a Licensed Minister in 1981 and that fall he began as a youth pastor at The Harbor Church AG in Lomita, California. In addition to membership in the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Mike has written for Enrichment, the journal for Assemblies of God ministers, and contributed to Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.  Mike has been actively involved in global outreach in Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, China, Israel, Switzerland, France, England, and Scotland.

Mike met his wife of 33 years, Faith, at Vanguard.  They have two grown children and a grandson.  His son-in-law is also a Vanguard alumnus.  In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys reading and working in the garden, fly fishing, sailing, listening to jazz and blues, and playing the upright bass.

 

THE 20TH GRADE: Professional Women Overcoming 7 Barriers to a College Education by Andrew Stenhouse Ed.D..

black-mom-and-child“I’d send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if only I knew your name and address” (You’ve Got Mail). When Joe Fox revealed to Kathleen Kelley that autumn made him feel like buying school supplies, we instantly knew exactly what he meant. Fall (even more than New Year’s) marks the season of new beginnings. It was that way when we were kids and it’s that way now. The smell of newly sharpened pencils (just like markers, chalk, white glue, and crayons) takes us back to our childhood and opens a flood of wonderful memories.

A single mom, returning to college after a divorce, was trying to explain to her son her new role as a college student.

“Wow!” He counted in his head, squinting at some sort of imaginary abacus. “You must be in the 20th grade!”

After a good laugh, she admitted that this was a good way to describe it. She had not planned on being back in college at her age, but after her husband left her and her son in California so he could pursue another life out of state, she was forced to make a new life for herself. Having married young, she was a stay-at-home mom who had hopes of living a very traditional family life. Now, everything had changed. It usually does.

Eighty three per cent of adult college students say that a major life change was the main reason they went back to school. Among the greatest barriers facing these mid-life women in college are age (I’m too old), cost (it’s too expensive), difficulty (it’s too hard), negative experiences (it’s too painful), social stigma (I’m too embarrassed), irrelevance (it’s too meaningless), and time (I’m too busy).

Since more than half of today’s college students are older adults, and most of these are women, many colleges and universities have programs specifically designed for those of us who are juggling family, career, and studies. Although colleges are slowly making it easier to go back to school, the barriers are still frightening for most mid-life women and the anxiety is extremely high. While the reasons for going back to school are strong, the reasons for not going back are often stronger. Meet seven remarkable women who overcame these barriers by transforming their fears into their greatest motivators. After reading their stories, you will sigh with relief (and resolve) as you confidently claim, “I can do this!”

BARRIER 1: AGE

“I’m too old”

mentoring women(Martha Harrison, age 79 – owner and operator of a private school in Los Angeles). Having attended countless college graduations of her former students, she never quite got around to it herself – until now anyway. While vacationing in Kenya, she became acquainted with a woman who had returned to college at the age of forty. This woman, who now holds a doctorate, began the familiar line of questioning. “How old will you be in five years if you go back to school?” She set her trap. “How old will be you be in five years if you do not go back to school?” She smiled at Martha, realizing that her point had not been lost in the simplicity of her challenge.

So, after the death of her husband, Martha decided to “start all over again and not waste any time.” When she thought about it, she realized that she wasn’t getting any younger and that now was actually the perfect time for her to go back to school. Her pastor encouraged her to pursue her dream no matter how old she was. If the dream was still there, she had to pursue it. Once she was back in the classroom she realized that while she was still older than everyone else was, she was treated with respect. She actually felt that her age gave her an advantage. It did. It’s called wisdom.

BARRIER 2: COST

“It’s too expensive”

(Brenda Jamison, age 46 – Risk Manager). Before moving from Texas, Brenda conducted an exhaustive Cost/Benefit analysis as she researched various Universities. While she became convinced of the sound investment a college degree was at her age, she became even more convinced when she discovered that she would not be hired (even though she was top in her field with over fifteen years of successful experience) without a college degree. Personally generating $48 million for her company (during the year and a half she was in school) Brenda recognized the importance of due diligence and sound investments.

When she figured out how much money she was losing because of her career gap, she decided that she couldn’t afford not to go back to school. Her new promotion following graduation paid off immediately. Even at her age, she actually made money by going to college. To top it off, she helped launch a new company as a result of one of her class projects. “Killer Coolers” now has distribution both internationally and throughout the United States. When asked if she thinks that her degree paid off, she smiles. “Yeah, I’d say so.”

BARRIER 3: DIFFICULTY

“It’s too hard”

woman sitting on pile of books 1(Linda Thompson, age 40 – Speaker, Author, Wife, and Mom). After several years of searching for her niche, Linda (the wife of a prominent minister and mother of 3 energetic boys) discovered that her passion as wife and mother had evolved into a career once she received her degree in Psychology. Her biggest fear though, was that after talking baby talk for twelve years, she wondered if she could maintain the same academic standards after which she strove in her earlier years. Well, she graduated with a 4.0 proving to herself (and others) that she still had it. (By the way, while she was attending school, she discovered that she and her husband were expecting their fourth child, an unexpected and very improbable surprise!)

Linda was surprised at how much she enjoyed learning later in life. This time around (twenty years later) she found that the classroom and learning actually invigorated her. She loved learning new things and was surprised to discover that she was a much better student than she ever was before. “Things just make more sense to me now.” She was so excited she seemed surprised.  “Learning is so much easier as an adult because I am learning about life.”

BARRIER 4: NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES

“It’s too painful”

beach with mom(Tami Peters, age 36 – Marketing Assistant). When Tami thought of going back to school, she shuddered. For her, college was a time in her life she tried desperately to forget. She was a terrible student, the teachers didn’t seem to care, and her classmates lived in a different world. College was not a priority in her life at that time. She had other things on her mind. Remembering those early years brought back vivid and terrifying memories of her enraged husband beating her and her children. When she thought of her college years, she recalled images of her son being kicked across the room by his father. Going back to college meant she had to face her demons and confront her nightmares. It meant opening up old wounds. But it also meant healing and new beginnings, and taking control.

“Coming back to college was such a scary thing for me, “ Tami confessed. The memories of college as an eighteen-year-old were so humiliating; she was terrified that she would simply relive those terrible experiences. Instead, she has found that faculty are so supportive and really do want her to succeed. The friends she has made are the main reason she has been able to finish. “We have really helped each other get through school. We built such a support system that we plan to keep in touch forever.”

BARRIER 5: SOCIAL STIGMA

“I’m too embarrassed”

(Gloria Richards, age 56 – Philanthropist). Having graced the covers of the Society Pages for years, some might wonder why she needed to go back to college. She didn’t. She wanted to. Going back to school was for personal fulfillment and once she made up her mind, Gloria had few apprehensions about going back even though there might be social recourse. “Back in the earlier years, if a woman married right, she didn’t need to go to college.” It was a sign that she was among the social elite.

When Gloria decided to go back, she really didn’t concern herself with the thought of others. Her husband (President and CEO of a major corporation) had the career. She cared for the family. Once the children had married and established homes of their own, Gloria felt that she was in the perfect time to pursue a degree. Since she was actively involved as a volunteer with an extensive counseling program at her church, she figured a degree in Psychology could prove to be helpful. Today, Gloria serves on several boards and committees, is a highly sought after counselor in her community and has become an admired trendsetter for the social elite wanting to go back to college. Since she has gone back to college, many of her friends have followed her example and have also enrolled.

BARRIER 6: IRRELEVANCE

“It’s too meaningless”

(Sue Jeffries – age 44 – Commercial Property Management). After selling her real estate company to manage her husband’s corporation, Sue had already enjoyed a lucrative career and had clearly established herself as a success story. However, once her kids became more independent, she was ready for another challenge and was even considering another career change.

A no-nonsense administrator, she was used to spending her time in the real world – meeting deadlines, meeting payroll, meeting investors, meeting labor demands, meeting real-life challenges of business. Sue could never quite see the value of a college education early on. That’s why she dropped out in the first place. She was going to school to get a job and then a job opportunity came that paid her twice as much as those college graduates were getting. For her, unless it added to her own marketability, going back to school seemed like a waste of time listening to college professors pontificate about theories that only have value in ivory towers or on game shows. However, the education that she received proved to be practical.

Being able to rely on her past experiences, she instantly recognized concepts that she had been using intuitively. Now, her business acumen makes even more sense. Applying theory to her experiences (rather than the other way around) had given Sue a consuming quest for knowledge once her expectations had been exceeded. She is now pursuing an MBA and plans to earn a doctorate and start a consulting practice so she can provide pragmatic application to other businesses, based on sound theoretical wisdom.

BARRIER 7: TIME

“I’m too busy”

Mother with Daughters(Diane Fargo – age 39 – Financial Manager). Balancing a successful career as well as raising two children is hard enough. When you’re a single mom though, it seems impossible. Going back to college was an idea that simply sounded overwhelming when Diane first thought about it. Since one of her boys was disabled and prone to seizures, her demands as a mother were even more taxing than most could imagine. However, she decided that she would do it for herself as well as her children. Once Diane began to feel as though a college degree was “career insurance,” it became an urgent necessity. She would find the time, make education a part of her career, and do everything possible to provide for her boys.

At first, she was afraid that going back to college would take her away from her sons. Now she realizes that it was the best thing she could have done for them. She has focus, determination, and is retooling herself for a better career. Not only will her boys benefit from her education later; they have benefited from the very first night of class. “I have actually become a better mom.” And being a great mom was her priority. After overcoming her tumultuous childhood, she vowed that she would not replicate her childhood through her sons.

After living in four foster homes, she was reunited with her abusive mother until moving out at seventeen. From the slums of the inner city, Diane knew at an early age that she had to go to college in order to make it in life. However she lacked emotional support throughout her childhood and two abusive marriages. Plagued with health problems herself, Diane eventually found the support she so desperately needed at church. Through her new faith she went back to college with drive and determination. Even after twenty surgeries including a bilateral mastectomy, Diane excelled with focus. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree and went to another university for her Master’s. At another university, still, Diane is in her final term of coursework for her doctorate. She wants to become a teacher and empower other women. I think she will.

woman graduateI admire these women for not only taking the initiative to go back to school but also for their determination to finish. I suppose that is why I love my job so much.

As a college professor, I have taught hundreds of women just like them and I get to see their stories lived out in person every day.

Every student has a story to tell.

Some of them I know. Most, I don’t.

All, however, are still writing their stories.

What will yours be?

Andrew Stenhouse is the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies

Vanguard’s Support Team is Here for You

Last week, we posted a blog about Commencement Excitement and the support team that each student has at home.  This week, I wanted to remind every SPS student that you also have a support team here at Vanguard University.  I used to be the assistant for a few shared Student Life offices:  the Career Center, Counseling Center, and Office of Disability Services.  Did you know each of these offices is here for all Vanguard students, including you?


Counseling CenterVanguard’s Counseling Center is the perfect resource to help adult learners cope with the stress of balancing family, job, and school.  The therapists are psychology graduate students and have similar schedules to yours, including evenings and possibly weekends.  You may request an appointment by filling out the online application or email your questions to counselingcenter@vanguard.edu.  The Counseling Center is located in Scott, right across from the SPS Office.

 

Career CenterOur Career Services staff loves meeting with SPS students since you have already been out there working.  Career Services offers resume and cover letter assistance to help you on the way.  Schedule a mock interview before you need it, to hone those conversation skills and help you with your 30-second elevator speech.  Don’t know what a 30-second elevator speech is?  Make an appointment by emailing careercenter@vanguard.edu to find out.  The Career Services Center used to share the office with the Counseling Center, but they have relocated to the first floor of the Smith Building next to Newport Boulevard.  The office is open until 6:00 pm on weekdays or 7:00 pm by appointment.

 

Office of Disability ServicesDo you have a documented physical or learning disability?  Did you break your leg just before midterms or have another short-term disability?  The Office of Disability Services is here to help.  Email disabilityservices@vanguard.edu to set an appointment and let the Office of Disability Services work with your professors and Vanguard staff to help you succeed.  You will need a note from your healthcare provider which states your diagnosis and recommended accommodations; our staff will take it from there and will keep the details confidential.  The Office of Disability Services shares their office with the Counseling Center on the second floor of Scott, next to SPS.

From the SPS website, you can always click on the Student Center page on the vanguard.edu/sps for these and other offices on the Vanguard team.  Go Lions!

Have you been helped by one of these offices?

Commencement Excitement!

graduation cheering

Attention Graduates:  Did you know commencement isn’t just for you? 

Even though you get to walk across the stage, shake the hand of the president, and get your diploma cover (no, you don’t get the actual paper on the spot), commencement is also for your support team – those in the audience who have worked hard and sacrificed as they walked alongside you through the educational journey. They have been the ones encouraging you, supporting you when you felt overwhelmed, taking on extra responsibilities so you could study, and continuing to remind you of the end goal.

Whether it is your wife doing more of the family duties, your husband taking care of bedtime for the kids, your parent helping with financial support or your friends babysitting the kids, your support team has always had your back. This has been just as much a journey for them as it has been for you.

I know because this year I fall into the commencement cheering section not only as an advisor, but more importantly as a wife. My husband Justin will be graduating in May with his BA in Business at Vanguard.   I’m proud of Justin for going back to school while juggling a job, marriage, ministry, and preparing for a new addition to our family at the same time (coming in June)! I am proud that he is completing his degree to better provide for our family, advance in his career, and hopefully further his learning in seminary in the near future. I am  incredibly excited for commencement because it gives me the opportunity to celebrate the achievement of my graduate.

Graduates, you may have been surprised to discover that your support system seems more interested in graduation then you are! In fact, you may be so ready to be finished, you aren’t really even looking forward to walking across that stage. But your friends and family keep asking you questions about the events, making plans to celebrate, and bragging about your upcoming accomplishment.

Your support teams wants to celebrate you, your hard work, and the great accomplishment you are about to complete! Don’t deny them the chance to honor you. Let your support team cheer and celebrate! Let them throw a party for you or take you out to dinner. Take them to the SPS Graduation Celebration on May 2, and let them cheer as loud as possible when you walk across that stage on May 10. You’ve earned it, and so have they.

Are you a graduate this year, or part of a support team? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Photo courtesy of http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Masuk-High-School-graduation-3646573.php .

Taking a Swing at Life’s Challenges

jr

Contributed by Terri Quinones, SPS Nursing Student Services Coordinator

Have you seen the move “42”?

It’s about Jackie Robinson, the first-ever Black player in major league baseball. Jackie didn’t physically or verbally fight back against racism, but he stood his ground, kept his eye on the ball and managed to break the cultural color barrier that existed in America’s favorite sport. Mr. Robinson overcame phenomenal challenges to create baseball history. As I watched the movie this weekend, it reminded me in a small way of the adult learners here at Vanguard.

I’m not saying that the full quest of “42” is comparable to an educational quest, but the spirit of facing a challenge while experiencing the pull of mainstream society to hold one back is admirable.  As adult-learners, life can be incredibly complicated: we’ve taken on massive responsibilities and over time we’ve been pitched more of life’s curve balls than the average traditional undergrad. 

However, in spite of these challenges, one hundred and sixty five courageous adult learners will be Graduating from Vanguard’s School for Professional Studies on May 10, 2013. These graduates will be receiving their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees, and I’m proud to say forty-four of them are Registered Nurses receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Hollywood may never produce movies about these student’s lives but every one of them has an incredible story to tell.   They are amazingly brave, and acknowledge that God has played a huge role in helping them fulfill their educational dreams. Through prayer and with the help of supportive family, friends, and faculty they’ve persevered and managed to round the bases of education to reach home plate: graduation. In the process, they took care of their family members, weathered health, work and financial troubles, and grew in their knowledge of their preferred profession. They are now suited up for success in the next phase of life.

At one point in “42”  Jackie says, “You give me a uniform, you give me a number on my back: I’ll give you the guts.”  These SPS grads have guts - they are not afraid to learn in the face of life’s challenges.  They know the value of education and they’ve hit a home run!

Photo compliments http://www.wdl.org/en/item/29/

Pileus Quadratus

motorboard

Pileus quadratus is Latin for “square cap”

Are you graduating this semester?

Grad Fest is currently underway at Vanguard, an event in which soon-to-be graduates proceed through a series of information booths to assure that (at least on paper) their graduation day will be a flawless success. Among other things, students can have their picture taken while enthusiastically waving blue and gold pom-poms, and will spell thier names phoenitically to avoid mispronunciation on the big day.  

The piece de resistance of Grad Fest is, of course, receiving the coveted ceremonial cap and gown in which one will so proudly pass across the graduation stage.

Sometimes, though, adult students decide not to walk the stage. They figure they’ve attended enough events, just send them a diploma in the mail, thank you very much. To be honest, I was in this category myself until I came down with graduation fever earlier in the year.

So today I happily navigated my way through a sea of booths handing out candy and pertinent information. I donned a goofy motorboard and shook a set of pom-poms for a silly picture; picked up five tickets for loved ones who are going to share the day with me; took a pass on the opportunity to order a class ring or yearbook; and helpfully told the registrar that my last name rhymes with “therapy”.

I have my own cap (pictured above) and gown,  and am counting down the days (thirty six!) until I wear them “for reals”. I’m doin’ this thing, and I’m doin’ it right - I hope you are, too.

Are you on the fence about attending your graduation ceremony?

 

 

 

Facing My Fear of Adult Education

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Contributed by SPS Staff Member Christie Wimberly

Are you afraid of anything? I’m afraid of going back to school. As an adult it can be quite scary and intimidating.  I’ve wanted to go back to school for years, but never had the courage to step foot on a traditional campus because the students were mostly younger than myself and I didn’t feel like I would fit in.

Then my husband got accepted as a student in Vanguard’s SPS program. Every night after his class, he would rave about what a blessing it was to attend Vanguard. He loved everything about it! The professors were wonderful and shared their knowledge passionately; each of the professors genuinely cared for every one of their students, and on top of that, class always opened with prayer. 

My husband kept encouraging me to at least take a class at Vanguard to experience how special this University is, but I was too scared kept making excuses as to why right now wasn’t the right time.  Well, the Lord’s timing is always right-on-time and not a second late, and last week I felt compelled (with the encouragement of others and through prayer) to start the application process. 

I’m still scared to go back to school because I haven’t had an in-class college experience in ten years.  But I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to continue my education, and Vanguard’s amazing SPS program for adults is the perfect fit for me.  I encourage anyone who may be on the fence contemplating whether or not to go back to school to check out Vanguards SPS program. Take a step of faith in the Lord and rely on His strength and not your own.  All things are possible through Christ and by trusting in Him is one of the best ways we glorify Him.

Has God helped you overcome a fear lately? Share with us in the comments below!

God’s Got Your Back

theo

For several weeks, I’ve been praying for an acquaintance’s son who is very ill. Theo is fifteen and his body is battling a potentially fatal fungal infection – the result of  a rejected bone marrow transplant. Theo’s immune system is shot. Doctors are working hard to keep the infection from spreading to his brain.

Friends and family are blanketing the Internet with “Team Theo” prayer requests. I’ve been praying for a medical miracle. Total, absolute, 100%, done-as-only-God-can-do-it complete miraculous healing.

But that changed when I read a profound post written by a very close friend of the family, Dale Kuehne, who said that even though God hasn’t answered their prayer in the way they hoped, he has done something much, much greater. He gave them something they hadn’t asked for.

“As I sit here with Brant and Emily, Theo’s Mom and Dad, we should be overwhelmed with grief and sadness, if not bitterness. But we are not. Rather we are experiencing the most curious thing: peace.

There is an overwhelming presence in our midst that is speaking peace to our souls.  It is telling us all will be well no matter what happens. The presence of peace in this time and place makes no sense, but it is undeniable.

Why is it here?  Prayer.

We pray for healing.  The world is praying for healing, but the gift we have been given is the presence of God. God has answered the prayer I should have prayed for but didn’t.

This concept is mind-boggling to me.

I’ve always been comfortable with the ins-and-outs of prayer as I considered them. I know God doesn’t ignore our prayers, they’re always acknowledged with either a “yes” a “no” or a “hold, please” (the equivalent of a parental “we’ll see”). But I’m completely blown away by the realization that God anticipates what we need. He is so in tune with our individual hearts that while we’re busy asking for what we want, he goes one step better and gives us what we need.

I’m thinking we all need the presence of God.

The peace that Dale talks about, that can wrap us in calmness and quiet even as we are being swept up in a tornado of physical and emotional pain.

So I have a new prayer plan. I pray for me, for you, for Theo and his parents, for the whole world – to find this peace. To find it and grab on, to cling to it as the life preserver it is.  And I pray that you can share this peace with others.

I’m praying to have the ultimate peace that only the presence of God can bring. What are you praying for?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7