November 11, 2012

Another Milestone

Yesterday, I took the GRE test for the second time (in 20 years). For months (if not years,) I have dreaded the fact that I would have to take the Graduate Record Exam again. More so, I felt totally unprepared to plan for it, to study for it, and to even get ready to take it.  I read all the books and blogs that said "plan to spend 6 months preparing for it." I thought -- "you've got to be kidding, right?" I don't have six months to study for this test. Yet, every book, every blog, and even the test exam website all said that it was necessary to study for the test.

I did attempt to study, but every time I would begin, something more important would take its place. When the months dwindled down to weeks, I finally gave in, and accepted the fact that I would have to take the test without any prep, and that the only way I would pass it, would be with the Lord's provision of Grace. I had a little confidence in certain sections of the test, and I felt reasonable sure that I would do well on the analytical writing portion. After all, I did just graduate with a Masters in English Literature (with honors). The last two and one-half years prepared me in some ways so I thought I would generally do OK on the verbal reasoning portion.

The math section -- well I knew for certain -- that I would fail it or do so poorly that my overall score would be impacted. I dreaded the math portion most, and the main reason I looked to prep for the test, was to give myself a better chance to get a modest score (given the fact that I barely passed Algebra 1/2 in high school, and only took General Math in college.) I was nervous about the whole process, about how I would or wouldn't do, and it didn't help that these thoughts loomed in my head constantly -- "what if I failed the test completely," and "what if I don't get accepted to Regent University?

In truth, I knew that the Lord was behind me and that this was His plan, so really, not getting into Regent would have to be His Plan as well. I have never thought that was the case, and the Lord has never once suggested that I would not go to Regent -- so with some fear (a lot), I went down to the testing center yesterday morning and took the 4.5 hour test. My suspicions were correct -- this test is probably the most difficult of all the placement tests out there (so the experts say). The New GRE, which I took yesterday, is scored differently than the old test. The top score is 200 now, and the median is 150. The old test scored between 200 and 800. When I took it 20 years ago, I got 750 out of 800 on the Analytical and Verbal portion, but only 250 on the math section (LOL!)

My score yesterday was good. I went into the test blind, but with great faith in the One whom I believed had sent me there. I am pleased with the result, and while not as high a score as I would have liked, it is good enough to satisfy the requirements at Regent. I do not plan on taking the test again (little time plus the outrageous fee rule out any second attempt). All in all, I am relieved, and so very thankful for God for His Provision of Grace. He kept me cool, calm and collected, and gave me the where-with-all to take the test and score mid-range. I am blessed.

What Does This Mean for Me Now?

In short, this means I am down to my last item to tick off before my application is complete. I have to write a short essay (about 750 words) to send in to the department expressing my views on Communication. My plan is to craft a statement of purpose that explores both the current view in communication along with my own plans for how to utilize my studies for Kingdom Glory. God be Praised, and so He shall, if I am accepted into this program!

As I contemplate completing this milestone, I must stop for a moment and reflect back on the past couple years. I have been steadily working towards this next degree, and even though I started planning for it some five-six years ago; truthfully, I am overwhelmed at the fact that I am at this point -- ready to submit my application for acceptance to a doctoral studies program. I see the path I have walked along, but I rarely see or can identify how I actually "walked" on it. It is like that famous poem, "Footprints." I see the path, but my footprints are not on it. I only see His.

He has carried me through so many breakthroughs -- from my marriage failing and into a permanent state of separation -- to graduating from graduate school with a Masters degree in English. He has provided financially, and He has ensured that I was established. So much has happened, so much has changed. On the employment front, I spent 18 months being unemployed, 12 months working part-time in a grueling retail position, and finally 15 months working full-time in a job I loathed, but desperately needed. The Lord chose to release me from this job in September,  and I started working for CVS Caremark -- finally moving into a type of job that suits my skills and abilities (a job I actually like), and one that has a bright prospect for future advancement. God has supported me through the financial hardships, through losing a home due to foreclosure and right on into the success I now enjoy at work, and the peace and comfort I relish in my rented town home. The Lord has provided for my every need, and His will is coming to pass in my life with each new day.

I think about all the personal heartache, the crisis with identity, the loss of vision and confidence in my own self. I look in the mirror now and the person I was is dead and buried. That "Carol" no longer exists. The person I am today is strong and confident, bold and unwavering. I am ready to tackle each task the Lord sets in front of me, and I am reliant upon His Grace to complete it. Truly, I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!

Today is a New Day, a Glorious New Day

This beautiful, albeit chilly Sunday morning, is the start of a brand new day for me. I have passed the test, overcome the greatest obstacle in my way (at present), and I am on the other side of things now. I am about to submit my application to Regent, and begin five years of intensive training and study to become the very instrument of God's choosing. I will use my experience at CVS Caremark, along with my advanced study not only to further my career (thank you, Jesus,) but also, to work in a strategic capacity to create, to develop and to empower ministry outreach programs. I am excited to be working within the Lord's plan, and to be working within His timeframe. He has everything under control, and He has completely covered me by His Grace. I love the fact that I am surrounded and ensconced in His Mercy -- I have every need met with sufficiency, and I know that my lifeline is attached firmly to the One who holds all things in His Mighty and Majestic and Most Merciful hand. May God be praised today, and forever more! Amen, so let it be. Selah (Pause and calmly think of that!)

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