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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Homeless to Graduate...How I got to LU Class of 2012: 28 days...

Goood Morning campers! The ticket window is open! (My Philly friends will remember those words from "Bubba" John Stevens)
The opportunity clock went off at 4:30 this morning but I was already awake. Don't know what woke me up but there I lay...caught between sleep and awake, and the bell rang once again. This morning's schedule is...Math for 2 hours followed by work all day then come back and work on a paper for my class on the book of Daniel. I have to do a full exegesis on Daniel 9:27...the prophecy of the 70 weeks. It's my final bible class and the first one where I had to do an actual line by line exegesis of a passage. I'm looking forward to it. Sometime tonight I have to draw plans for a couple of decks and a carport.
I have no plans on going out tonight and now you all know why.
This has pretty much been my schedule since February first. After this weekend I'll be caught up enough in Math that I'll feel good about going back to the gym in the mornings. I'm looking forward to that.
No one has asked me yet, but I'm sure somebody may be wondering so I'll answer a question here..."Why are you writing this 30 day journal before graduation?"
Well the answer has a few facets. First of all I am pretty sure I will be the first homeless graduate of Liberty University. Technically I'm not homeless anymore but I was until January. That means that of the 6 semesters it took for me to finish my degree, I completed five of them while living in my car. When you are enduring something like that you don't see it as inspiring or character-revealing or whatever. It's just a humiliating grind that you wish wasn't true and you want to get away from as fast as possible. But once the finish line is in sight, and you have hung in there and made it begin to appreciate the path you just walked and you see how others can look at you and be inspired. So I'm telling my story because I sure as I'm sitting here...that there are people out there who had to bury some dreams at some point in their lives. Maybe it was finishing the degree...maybe it's starting it in the first place. Maybe it's starting a business or losing weight or taking the plunge and getting married. Whatever it is, I'm hoping more than a few of them find this blog and read about my own very difficult path and say "If he can do that...I can do my thing too". I hope so. I hope I get a few more emails and tweets from people (I've received a few already) who decided to enroll at LibertyUOnline (or another school) because they heard about me.
Let me interject a sidebar here...I was a resident student at Liberty University for two years so for me, the decision to finish there online was natural. But if you are considering a school...especially an online option...please consider my alma mater. This road I trod to get my degree was NOT easy and I was frequently of ill humor as I battled the joy-killing grind of homelessness. I never told anyone at LU about my homelessness until this last semester because I didn't want to use it as an excuse, so there were times I snapped at some poor adviser and they undoubtedly had no idea why I was so cranky. But without question...every single person I dealt with at LUOnline was as helpful and kind and truly concerned as they could possibly be. They really approach this from the perspective of having a burning desire to see you all the way through. They want you to graduate.
My other hope is that people will see my struggles and be encouraged to endure in the everyday grind. Some people have dreams that have nothing to do with returning to school or finishing an education. For some it might be a career change or a personal change or whatever. But I hope they'll see--underneath it all--that God enabled this journey. I could not have survived what I went through without the grace and strength that my faith provided. Paul says "His grace is sufficient for me..." Sometimes sufficiency means overflowing and sometimes it's just enough grace to hang on one more day and not give up and become tragic. For me, most days were the latter until this past year. Since August, when the goal moved into clear view and the finish line was plain and it was apparent that I was actually going to graduate, my hopes have been higher than any point since 2007 when I lost my home. Hope is everything! I want people to read this journal and take away some hope. Listen...I've taken courses in Bible, U.S. History, Creation Studies, Anatomy and Physiology, Algebra, and Life Coaching. As valuable as all those classes were to me, the lesson of hope was equally important. Maybe even more important. With the hope of graduation came hope for other successes as well. If I can do only one thing for the readers of this blog, I want it to be bestowing a little hope on them...on YOU. This has been the hardest of journeys but I would not have it any other way. Exactly 28 days from today...two hours from the time I write this...I will file into Williams Stadium to begin Commencement Exercises. Sometime around 1PM I will assemble with my classmates from the School of Religion and take the walk. The walk that concludes at Liberty Mountain...where it began, half a lifetime ago. I learned as many lessons along the way as I did in the classroom. But that is tomorrow's story. Factoring Trinomials beckons...
Until Tomorrow...
Class of 2012 (In case you forgot) :)

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