Monday, April 8, 2013

Thesis, Random Musings, The Gospel, and the Final Stretch

A major mountain was climbed today.  My husband jumped the last hurdle in sight to obtain his MS in Computational Mathematics from Texas A & M University by successfully defending his thesis.  Now all that remains are a few assignments in his last grad school class of Computational Linear Algebra.  He graduates the first week of May.
The presentation went really well.  The professors loved it.  They said he did exceptional.  Maxwell's Equations was not an easy topic to research so they were impressed.  All in all, it was the best of the best.

I knew he would do fine.  He had already submitted a few drafts to his committee chair and the feedback was good.  I knew it was simply a question of presenting the material.  Yet for some reason, the bigness of it all still hasn't hit me.

That was it.  That was the last big mountain.  All of the years of studying, and studying, and studying.  The endless, empty Saturdays.  The many week nights with him gone.  The never-ending pressure.  All of it, has culminated to this point and he did well.  Really, super well.

You know when a major life event passes by and you almost can't taste it because it's too surreal?  That's me right now.  It's too surreal to grasp.  I know the implications of this degree are huge for him, for us and for our family.  I just don't know how they're all going to play out.

These last three and a half years have squeezed out all of the fight in us.  This journey hasn't been the hardest one we'll ever face.  But, it's definitely been the most enduring one we've had so far.  Never before have we had to have such focus, such perseverance, such overwhelming grace and such teamwork!  

Yet like God always does, He's shown Himself in all the details.  

This journey has been of upmost importance to my husband.  He needed this.  It was exactly the path he needed to travel.  And I've been honored, absolutely honored to walk by his side.  Never before have I been so proud of anyone.

Some people have wondered how I could take care of all of the kids and at the same time be happy that my husband was out studying all the time.  And I have to answer, I don't know.  It doesn't make sense.  You'd think I would be frustrated and angry that he was gone chasing his dreams while I was stuck with all the work at home.  That's how it seemed anyway.  But to be honest, I didn't feel that way.

There were times I felt overwhelmed.  There were times I was frustrated.  And there were times I just wanted him to be done.  But, I knew from the get-go that his success would rise and fall with my attitude.  And I also knew that I loved him and was sold out for him.  I'd do anything for him.  And that right there is what kept me going.
The more I saw him succeed, the more I was encouraged to continue.  And the more God blessed his feet on this path, the more I let go of myself.

Awhile back our pastor was preaching through a passage (sorry I can't remember which one) and the topic of marriage/submission was being discussed.  He talked about submission as a woman being sold out for her husband's mission in life.  And as he talked, it became more and more clear to me that this journey toward Steve's MS has been exactly that.  God has made my husband to do math.  It's who he is.  And as his literature loving wife, I love him, math nerd and all.  I'm sold out for what makes him Steve.  I'm all in.  

Also, for years Steve built such love in me by cultivating grace, forgiveness and kindness.  So when it was time to start writing checks from my bank account, he had already filled the coffers full.  It was a no-brainer.  Of COURSE I would be sold out.  Of course.  Why wouldn't I be?  I am in love with this man.  I know he'd give his life for me.  Why wouldn't I step into this role so that he could pursue his dreams?  How silly to even think otherwise.   

But you see, it didn't start with me.  It started with him.  He had already laid the groundwork.  He had made it possible for me to step into that role.  It was a natural progression for me.  And it was truly an incredible blessing.

All of that got me thinking about Christ and the passage, "We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19  That is the gospel.  

Christ loved us.  Christ died for us.  Christ laid down everything for us to have salvation.  Christ saved us.  

But He loved us first.  And then, because of that love, we could respond with love for Him.  Without Him loving us, there would be no redemption.  There would be no grace.  There would be no forgiveness.

I haven't done anything extraordinary.  I've only done what anyone else, who was deeply loved, would do for their beloved.  God has provided the rest.  

So here we are...just a couple hundred yards left to run.  The glory of the finish is well within reach and the success of a race run well, is riding at our back.  To say we've done it on our own would be an understatement.  God has done it.  And He provided lots of support from family and friends along the way.  Looking back, none of it makes sense.  How could we possibly drag a family of seven through full-time work, full-time grad school and make it out intact?  Only God could orchestrate such beauty, such grace, and such perseverance.  But we've also labored, and run with muscles straining, trusting that God was with us.  And because of that, we prepare to celebrate.  Celebrate God's faithfulness.  Celebrate God's favor.  Celebrate God's goodness.

And as we look back on this chapter of our lives, we will look back with extreme fondness.  God enabled us to run this race well, with the wind at our back.  It's humbling, it's overwhelming and it's good.
Thanking God today for all He's done.

To Him be the glory.  Amen and amen!  


  1. oh, I would be proud too! I can hardly comprehend the name of his degree. Haha! You are a wonderful example to many. Blessed to have your family in our lives!

  2. Shana,
    Thank you for your kind words. The funny thing is that YOUR family is a blessing to us! And your stud, surfer family is quite impressive to me. Love how all of us are made so unique. Thanks for always being so kind/encouraging to me. Blessed to know you friend!
    Love, Nikki

  3. Yay! So proud of both you and him... you are as much a part of his degree as he is! Blessings as you are almost there at the finish line!

    1. Steph,
      Thank you my dear, sweet friend. I know it hasn't been the exact same journey as you but it's been fun to bond with you over the craziness of grad school. You keep hanging in there and enjoy the successes along the way. It's not long now until you guys make it through USC. We're so proud of you both and we love you!!

  4. I was reading your post off of a friend of mine and it caught my eye. I am in your very shoes and I look forward to having my husband's PHD work done. We have three classes to go and I can't wait to be done. We got married in 2007 and I've been working along side him supporting him emotionally and raising our kids sometimes alone being that he's been deployed two times too, but also all those nights he comes home eats dinner then goes to the computer. When we got married he was working on his Masters and then he went on for his PHD. It's been crazy as you know. The difference is I only have two little ones and we've moved twice in the 5 years we've been married. God is what glues us together and keeps us glue together, and we owe HIM all the glory.
    The funny thing is I'm from SLO! Before I met and married my Michael, I went to Grace Community on Osos and Pismo close to Firestone grill and my parents still go to that church. It's a small world!Your hubby looks really familiar to me, so I'm wondering if he attended Grace too? We had a guy that lead worship every so often that's name was Steve. Ken Peet the youth pastor there at Grace married my husband and I so Grace is very much my extended family! I also was on Youth Staff for Grace for almost 10 years.Thanks
    for your blog it's an encouragement to me, being that we are so very close to being finished. We are currently in Japan so he'll finish and hopefully we will be back to the States!Congrats to your hubby and you and your kids!! Blessings, Arlene Robertson-Martinez the wife of a handsome Air Force Officer

  5. Arlene,
    Wow, what a small world it is!! We both went to Grace SLO and Ken Peet married us as well back in 2002. My husband was the youth intern for Ken in 2004 and he did help with worship so that is probably why he looks familiar. I'm not sure that you and I have ever met but, it is really fun to hear from you. I completely understand where you're coming from regarding grad school. Congrats that you guys are so close to the PhD. Hang in there. We've thought about that but feel we need at least a year off. Anyhow, how fun to connect with someone from that community. It will always hold a very special place in our hearts. Take care and it was lovely to hear from you!!

  6. Nikki,

    Praise God! We are so excited for you and Steve! Congrats! Thank you for being such an amazing encouragement and example during this journey. I love the love God put inside both of you to serve so selflessly! Go team Dauphin! :-)

    Love, Sonja and family

    1. Sonja,
      Thank you so much!!! Thanks for always being so encouraging. We love the Thoma family!!
      Love, Nikki