Tuesday, November 5, 2013

James Maxwell

Meanwhile, Steve was still in grad school finishing his last class-computational linear algebra.  And in fact, he was working on his thesis project which was a graduation requirement.  He didn't know it at the time but, his project proved to be very strategic in this whole journey.  He chose the topic because he loved the material.  Michael Faraday and James Maxwell had always been scientific heroes of his and so he decided to study about Maxwell's Equations of Electromagnetism which are the bedrock foundation of electromagnetism and electrical engineering.

As an aside, this project was truly a beauty from ashes thing for him.  When Steve started at Cal Poly, he was talented and expected to do well; he entered as an electrical engineering student.  He spent nearly three years in the major but he was young and lacked discipline.  All of the sudden he had to study.  And he didn't have the skills or the confidence to fight through the difficulties.  The more difficulties he faced the more he retreated.  As a result, he didn't do well.  

He switched out of electrical engineering and when we got married, finished in math.  But his difficulties as an undergrad always haunted him.  He felt deep regret for how he had handled his studies and also felt that his potential had been wasted.  That is why, after five years, he went back to school for his Masters in Math and he rocked it, showing his abilities.  With maturity and much more on the line, he really soared.  

So it was fitting that his final project for his Masters in Math was an electrical engineering project (that was very math heavy).  When he told his graduate committee chair what he wanted to do, his chair was a bit reticent saying he thought the content might be too difficult.  But Steve was determined.  So his chair relented and told him to make sure and update him regularly on his progress so that he could be sure he was headed in the right direction.  So Steve researched and slowly worked his way through Maxwell's Equations, teaching himself the ins and outs of the problems.  He also read Maxwell's biography and that really touched him bringing out the humanity in Maxwell and not just the genius in the math. 

In fact, awhile back, I posted about a poem Steve read to me one particular Saturday toward the end of Texas A & M.  That Saturday he had been out all day working on Maxwell and had come across the poem in Maxwell's biography.  The poem has had a huge presence in our lives since.  We recite it to each other often.  It's posted on our bedroom wall.  

"Trust me Spring is very near, All the buds are swelling, All the glory of the year, In those buds is dwelling.  What the open buds reveal, Tell us life is flowing, What the buds still shut, conceal, we shall end in knowing....".  

It became a continual reminder of what we were working toward.  And that God would reveal to us where we were headed in His time.  Spring was coming.

Steve presented his thesis project to his committee, passed his final oral exit exam, finished his last class and graduated with honors in May.  We thought we'd know where we were going by then.  But we didn't.  It was a bit disappointing but we tried really hard to just keep going forward, keep working as hard as we could to open up connections for him, and let God do the rest.  And did God have a HUGE blessing in the works.  

We had no idea what was coming right around the corner...but God was about ready to move on our behalf in a big way.

It looked like nothing was in sight and then God just moved.

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground."  Isaiah 44:3