Real Life Dreamers: Jen

Hey friends.  It’s Friday, which means its time for another story from a “Real Life Dreamer”.  Today our story is from a blogging friend of mine Jen, who blogs over at The Arizona Russums.  I hope you really enjoy what she has to share about chasing her big dreams!

I’ve had a dream since I was a very little girl. A dream to be a doctor. But not a medical doctor. No way. I could hardly stand to look at the blood when I scraped my knee as a child. I wanted to be a doctor of books. I wanted to get my PhD before I really knew what a PhD was. All I knew was that it meant you went to school for as long as possible. Since I already loved school, I knew a PhD was for me. I was probably five or six years old.

My life often looks something like this… {and I LOVE it!}

When I graduated from undergrad a few years ago, I contemplated going straight into grad school. College had only made me fall more in love with my field, English, and with the prospect of becoming a professor. However, I decided to try teaching high school first with plans to return to grad school in a few years.

The next fall I started teaching high school, coaching volleyball and track, and, soon after, started dating my high school sweetheart again after a four year sabbatical. The only slight downfall was that this was a long distance relationship. I was in Texas; he was in Washington, but I was busy so it didn’t bother me too much. Life was perfect. And I had a plan in place. It went something like this in my head: teach at this school for three years, during the third year get engaged and plan a Washington wedding from Texas and apply to graduate programs at the same time, go home to Seattle over the summer, get married, move away with new husband right after honeymoon to best grad school possible, no matter where it was located.

I know it sounds silly now. What about this poor boy that I wanted to marry and then drag anywhere in the country as if he had no plans or dreams of his own? But, honestly, I thought it would work this way.

My way.

And then plans changed. God changed them. And I had to put my dreams on hold.

At the end of my second year teaching and maintaining this long distance relationship, Micah asked me to move home. He wanted to pursue marriage, but he wanted to live in the same city for a while before we made it official. We typically only saw each other over Christmas and summer for the whole two years of our long distance relationship, and he wanted to interact on a daily basis before getting engaged.

At first, I was upset. I was supposed to teach in Texas for one more year and watch the group of students I was closest to graduate. They were about to be seniors. But after a week or two, I realized that Micah was right. I needed to move home and learn how to make my future husband the most important man in my life after God.

Goofing off with some of my volleyball players. Love them.

However, I went home with my plan still floating in my head. This move was only a slight detour. I wouldn’t get to be in Texas to watch my students graduate, but I could still apply to grad schools with the plan of getting married the following summer. Then I would whisk Micah away to some other state while I finally achieved my dream of getting my PhD.


While I was busy applying to ten different grad schools on both coasts and everywhere in between, things were not going well with Micah and me. In fact, we almost broke up. It turns out that getting through the ups and downs of daily life with someone is much more difficult than going on fun dates at Christmastime. We struggled at first. We both saw sides of each other we had never seen before { that ugly sinful side} and it was hard to adjust to knowing the good and the bad about each other instead of just catching a glimpse of the good for a few weeks each year. Meanwhile, the acceptance letters to grad schools started coming in and I had to make a decision. I went to visit the University of Miami and Arizona State University over spring break. I came home and accepted my offer from Miami. I would be moving to Florida in a few short months. And somewhere in my silly heart I held onto the idea that Micah and I would get married. It was April by this point. I don’t know what I was thinking….

Then came the breaking point. Micah finally had to tell me point blank that he wasn’t ready to get married and he would not be moving to Florida even if I chose to. And he was right… we weren’t ready to get married. It had been a tough year and in many ways it felt like we had to start our relationship all over again. Meanwhile, instead of pouring all I had into this relationship that I wanted to lead to marriage, I had kept myself preoccupied with my own plan of applying to grad schools. Finally, I had to decide. Would I choose Micah, this man I loved, or grad school in Florida? Thankfully, the Lord led me to the right decision. I chose Micah and then e-mailed the director of my new program and told her I would not be attending school in the fall. I knew I was doing the right thing, but it felt like I was losing my dream that I had worked so hard for.

Fast forward two years. Micah and I persevered in our relationship and eventually talk of marriage started again. A few months before Micah proposed he urged me to apply to grad school again, and this time he would be coming with me. We made a plan together and I only applied to schools in cities where he could easily transfer in what has become his dream job over the past five years. I got into a handful of schools but the choice of Arizona State seemed obvious. Micah was miraculously able to step into his same position in the Phoenix area, and I received full funding for school and a teaching position on campus.