I Have Called You to This, I Will See You Through It

23 08 2015
TNU graduation

TNU graduation, May 2015

I’m 42. I have a full-time job. I have a family.  Most people who know me would say that I am busy enough as it is with my “normal” life (whatever “normal” looks like these days.)  So why did I start grad school again two years ago to pursue my MBA?

Since high school, I have wanted an MBA.  I wanted to be a business woman, not a teacher.  In fact, growing up, my mom often recommended I go into teaching.  I fought her every step of the way.  How I came to be a teacher is a completely different and wild story, but that will be told another time.

The MBA was put on hold for a couple of decades for many reasons.  When we got married, my husband was working on his Ph.D., so it was not a god time for me to go back to school since we had bills to pay.  Since I was teaching, a Master’s in Education made more sense so that is the first higher degree I received.  And we had a couple of kids.  That always makes going back to school a little more difficult for a working mom, too.

An MBA was on the back burner for a long time, and I was just fine keeping it there indefinitely.

Until two years ago.  Through some personal and professional situations going on at the time, I felt a calling, from God to “Do.  This.  Now.”  He was emphatic on the “NOW” part.  This was in March 2013.

I rarely get such a direct call from God.  I didn’t question it, but prayed (a lot) that if this wasn’t really from God, the doors would close.

But they didn’t close.  They opened wide. An application was submitted and the acceptance was received.  My first class was in September 2013.

In those first few months, there was much crying and much cursing.  And more crying.  And more cursing.  I complained to God, “Why?  This is cursing my family more than it is blessing it.”

When I needed it most, God confirmed on several occasions this is what I was, indeed, supposed to be doing.

Twice he reminded me, “I have called you to this, I will see you through it.”  Both times were amidst severe doubt and praying for a sign to quit.

Once, through tears on the way home from class (Economics to be specific), I prayed for a sign to let me know I was still doing what He wanted me to do.  I turned on the radio and heard, “You’re an overcomer.”  Normally, I don’t take too much stock in such things, but I needed this song at that time.

Another time as I pulled onto the campus, I noticed a stained glass window on the main library’s dome I had never noticed before.  I thought to myself, “I wonder what it would be like to teach here someday?”  The immediate reply was, “I have greater things in store for you than this.”

What does one even do with that kind of answer?  I immediately felt a surge of excitement followed by trepidation. Greater than being a university professor?  I guess for many people, there are a million careers greater than being an educator, but being a university professor has been a dream of mine for a while.  Every time I step onto a college campus, I feel “home” in terms of my career.

I began to dissect what “greater” often means in the Kingdom mindset.  It usually doesn’t mean wealth, fame, or success, at least not by human standards.  I want to explore this idea, too, but that will also be the topic of another post.

I began my MBA at Trevecca Nazarene University on September 12, 2013, and I finished on August 6, 2015, with a 4.0, which still amazes me considering I’m not even a business professional.  I learned a tremendous amount of material, and I am so thankful for the professors I had who were not just experts in their fields, but who modeled Christ throughout their teaching and who challenged us to model Christ throughout our coursework and in all aspects of our lives.

Here a few fun facts about this journey I just completed (for those of you considering something similar):

  • I took 14 courses, one at a time with each lasting 6 weeks. Class meetings were held every Thursday from 6:00-10:00 p.m.
  • I literally wrote over 1,000 pages of papers, projects, and homework assignments.
  • My lowest grade final grade in a class was a 95% and my highest a 116%.
  • I failed two quizzes in Economics, but they didn’t count toward my grade since our four lowest ones were dropped.
  • The longest textbook I read was just over 1200 pages (thank you, Project Management).  Yes, I did read all of it even though we weren’t required to.
  • The longest paper I wrote was 59 pages and had 38 sources (Marketing).
  • I averaged 15-30 hours per week of course work, depending on the class.

Despite all the accolades, I still don’t know why I was called to this program at this time.  The MBA won’t affect my current teaching position, and I have no plans to enter the world as a business professional.  I need a doctorate to move up to university level teaching.  An Ed.D. is actually my next goal, but I plan to take a few months off to reacquaint myself with my family and friends and to read as many books as I can of my own choosing before jumping back into my final round of grad school.

This was a wild, difficult, and incredibly challenging season for me and my family.  My professor in my very class told us as we embarked on this endeavor, “the greater the sacrifice, the greater the potential reward.”  I have no idea what this “reward” might be for me, but I am nonetheless filled with gratitude that God made good on his promise to “see me through it.”


2014 Reading List

17 01 2015

Not much to offer this year as most of my reading was from textbooks for my MBA work.  That is one of the things I miss the most about life not in grad school mode–reading books of my own choosing from which I will NOT be quizzed or tested or have to cite in research papers.  Less than seven months, and I’ll be able to start tackling my growing book list with fervor. 

  1. Essentials of Economics, 3rd Edition by Stanley Brue, Campbell McConnell, Sean Flynn
  2. Corporate Information Strategy and Management by Lynda Applegate, Robert Austin, Deborah Soule
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  7. Learning to Walk in the Dark y Barbara Brown Taylor
  8. Leaders, Fools, and Impostors by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
  9. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima
  10. Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach by Craig E. Johnson
  11. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
  12. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
  13. Falling Into the Face of God by William Elliott
  14. You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
  15. The Agile Pocket Guide by Peter Saddington
  16. Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd
  17. Coffee with Jesus by David Wilkie
  18. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner
  19. The Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd
  20. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
  21. Human Resource Management by Robert L. Mathis and John H. Jackson
  22. Business: Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment by Marianne M. Jennings
  23. Holy Bible

Holy Bible
Yes, this book will always be at the top of my reading list.  This marks year five of reading through the entire thing, and I never get tired of it.  In fact, the more I read it, the more I desire to read more.  It’s a wonderful circle.  I continue to be challenged, rebuked, and encouraged, and I hope I always will.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
I’ve read this book numerous times, but I felt I needed to revisit it this year.  Even though I know what’s coming, I’m still in tears throughout this historical fiction retelling of the book of Hosea.

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima
This was a Christian approach to becoming an effective leader by confronting potential failures—the dark side of our personality.  Though it was required reading for one of my MBA classes on Ethics and Culture, it was an insightful book that I would recommend to anyone in any kind of leadership position, Christian or not.

Go:  A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd
Kidd takes the beginning graphic designer through the basics of form, typography, content, and concept of graphic design.

I wish I had read this a decade ago.  This is by far the best “how to” for beginning graphic designers that I’ve yet to read.  Absolutely everything about this book is an example of incredible graphic design.  I will be using this as a text book in the Digital Media & Graphic Design class I teach for my high school.

Coffee with Jesus  by David Wilkie
This is a collection of the popular online comic strip, Coffee with Jesus.  The characters are selfish, judgmental, childish, bitter, angry, and jealous.  Sound like anyone you know?  I saw a little bit of myself in each of them.  Jesus’ words are that still, small voice we hear and too often ignore, but spelled out in print gives it a little bit more edge.  I will probably be reading through this book frequently.

The Advantage:  Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni argues that rather than become smarter or having a better strategy, the one thing that organizations need to focus on first and foremost is their organizational health:  leadership, communication, behaviors, etc.

Even though this is a business book, Lencioni’s style is incredibly approachable, and his writing is filled with plain old common sense.  His advice works just as well in family relationships as it does in organizational relationships.

Falling Into the Face of God by William Elliott
This memoir chronicles Elliott’s adventure in the Judean desert—spending 40 days and 40 nights there to draw nearer to God.

Despite the monotony of living in a desert in a tent where it’s too hot to do much of anything, this was still quite a fascinating story.  For several years now, I’ve longed to go on an extended silent retreat—not 40 days and not in a desert—but now I realize this is something I must do at some point in my life.

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
Lena Scott/Abra Matthews is a young girl who runs away from home with the proverbial “bad boy” to find her life turned upside down in an instant.  Abused, ridiculed, unloved, she turns to the one man who can make a star out of her, but at what cost?

Rivers tells the story of Ezekiel 16 in this amazing novel set in the 1950s.  Unconditional love, redemption, and forgiveness are the main themes.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor
Brown reflects on why we have been taught “the dark” is a scary place or is synonymous with sin.  Brown takes the reader on a journey explaining how our lives do not always work in the light; like the moon, it waxes and wanes and disappears altogether.

There were some incredible gems in this book.  “One of the hardest things to decide during a dark night is whether to surrender or resist.  The choice often comes down to what you believe about God and how God acts, which means that every dark night of the soul involves wrestling with belief.”

Leaders, Fools, and Impostors by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
This was another required reading for my MBA class on Ethics and Culture, and it, too, dealt with the dark side of our personalities and the problems it creates for leaders.  While not quite as practical as Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima, Kets de Vries still gives numerous real examples of the dangers leaders face when they give in to the psychological traps of their personalities.

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
World-renowned psychologist, Dweck explains her idea of fixed- versus growth-mindests and how, with the right, mindset, anyone can achieve most anything.

This was required summer reading for my job—because, really, who needs a real vacation?  The main idea is more common sense than some ground-breaking concept, and the book could have been drilled down to just a couple of chapters.  Instead, it seemed like Dweck was repeating the same premise 100 different ways with 100 different examples, but all said the same thing:  a growth-mindset is better than a fixed-mindset.  Growth mindsets allow us to accept criticism, acknowledge our faults or weaknesses and seek to improve and continually grow and mature in how we handle setbacks and disappointments.

You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
Klam describes her life transition into becoming a “dog person” and working with a dog rescue organization in New York City.  I appreciated Klam’s humor and realism in describing life with a dog.  It was a quick, easy read and one I would recommend for dog lovers, especially those who have a heart for rescue and adoption.

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Considering these were not text books, they automatically move to the top of my reading list for the year.  I read through all three of them in a week, and they reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games trilogy.  If you liked the one, you will probably enjoy the other.

The only disappointment was the very ending of the book.  No spoilers, but I was MAD.  I don’t remember ever finishing a really good book or series, and feeling mad.  I’m still not over it.

The Agile Pocket Guide by Peter Saddington
Only Project Managers will understand this:  this book was a “quick start to making your business Agile using Scrum and beyond.”  It was actually a fairly easy, quick, interesting read once I got used to the terminology.  I admit this little book got me interested in pursuing my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification.

The Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd
Dodd explains the eight core emotions of the heart:  anger, fear, guilt, hurt, loneliness, sadness, shame, and gladness.  I don’t agree with everything Dodd believes, but there were some gems buried within.

Project Management:  A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner
1200+ pages of All.  Things.  Project.  Management.  At least I’ve been told this is really the only text I need to study for the CAPM certification exam.

Human Resource Management by Robert L. Mathis and John H. Jackson
This was a textbook about . . . wait for it . . . human resource management!  Surprise!

Corporate Information Strategy and Management by Lynda Applegate, Robert Austin, Deborah Soule
This was a text book about corporate IT strategy and management.  For a text book, it was one of the better ones I’ve read so far.  But still, it was a text book.

Business:  Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment by Marianne M. Jennings
This was a textbook about business law.  Other than the chapter on securities law, I enjoyed a lot of this.  I’ve always contended I’d have made a good lawyer.

Organizational Ethics:  A Practical Approach by Craig E. Johnson
This was a textbook about ethics in organizations.  The case studies presented in each chapter were interesting, but not so much the rest of the text.

Essentials of Economics, 3rd Edition by Stanley Brue, Campbell McConnell, Sean Flynn
This was a text book about economics.  That is all.

Favorite Verses

8 09 2013

I just began my MBA program at Trevecca Nazarene University where my husband teaches. One of my first assignments was to explain my favorite Bible verse. We could only select one. The Christian Bible is comprised of 66 books, 1,189 chapters and 31,102 verses. My favorite verse really depends on the situation or occasion, but more often than not, simply what kind of mood I’m in.

For this assignment, I chose Daniel 2:21, “He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to the scholars.” I thought that applicable to this academic endeavor.

Here are some of my other favorites.

•Engraved on my wedding band: Hosea 2:19-20, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

•My claim for Caleb upon his birth: Psalm 22:10, “From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

•My claim for Jason upon his birth: Psalm 103:1, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

•My mantra while I’m running or in a triathlon: Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

•Best reminder/rebuke when I am being stubborn: Deuteronomy 29:19, “Those who hear the warning of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin!

•My prayer for myself when I need to extend compassion, patience, and grace: Ezekiel 26:26, “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

•Reminder as a teacher: James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

•The power of team work and community: Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed” and Ecclesiastes 3:12, “A cord of three stands is not easily broken.

•On being content: Proverbs 30:8, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread,” and Job 1:20, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

For a little humor . . .

Just a few weeks before we got married, Matthew sent me this reference at the end of an email as an encouragement to me: Genesis 29:20, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” However, I mistakenly read verse 21 (which is also applicable to a soon-to-be-married couple, “Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.’”

I could fill up a dozen more pages on other favorite verses. What are some of your favorites?

This Is Why You’re Not Getting a Christmas Card From Us This Year (or maybe ever again)

6 12 2012

No More Christmas Cards explains how we came to our decision to NOT send Christmas cards this year.

So, the winner of what would have been our Christmas money was Safe Haven Family Shelter, by almost a 3-1 vote.  I was introduced to Safe Haven almost two years ago, and since then, both Caleb and Jason have joined me on various occasions to help provide dinner for the residents.

Besides the money issue, the other reason you are not getting a Christmas card from us is because this is it!  SURPRISE dear readers!  We’re going all-digital this year.

Many of you keep up with us via Facebook anyway, so you already know our year in review.  For those who don’t, here you go:

The Huddleston 2012 Year in Review

Matthew continues to teach physics and launch high altitude balloons at Trevecca Nazarene University.  He loves his job, and even took on the challenge of hosting a national high altitude balloon conference at TNU in June.

He finished his first (and possibly, probably, hopefully last) full marathon in April.  His goal was an ambitious 4:00, but he made it around 4:25.  This is incredibly impressive considering he only “trained” once each week . . . most of the time.

He has also completed several mud runs, the latest rage in running races around the country.  Now that he’s in a new age bracket, he will probably start placing and winning some nice prizes.

On a heavier note, Matthew’s dad, Mark, was diagnosed with colon cancer in October.  He had surgery just a few days after.  The doctors thought they got all of the cancer, but subsequent tests showed a spot on a lymph node.  He is currently undergoing chemo therapy once every two weeks for six months.  His doctors remain very optimistic, but we’d still appreciate your prayers for complete healing and for strength and endurance for Mark and Martha during this time.

Kelly (me) continues to teach technology and journalism/graphic design at Franklin Road Academy.  I also love my job.  I did NOT do a ½ (or full) marathon this year, and I feel great!  Triathlons are my new thing (My First Triathlon).  Having successfully finished three of them, I can no longer qualify for placings in the Beginner category.  However, being really a really weak swimmer, mediocre bicyclist, and slow runner, I wouldn’t qualify for placings in any category anyway.  Maybe when I’m 80 and still doing triathlons will I win something.

Gourmet cupcakes are my newest indulgence so if you are ever looking for a gift . . .  (I also love chocolate and a good extra sharp cheddar cheese.)  However, I really need to be eating more fruit and vegetables, so a membership in some sort of fruit-of-the-month club would be a better gift.

Matthew and Kelly’s (our) international trip this year took us to Nicaragua in July.  We met another one of the kids we sponsor through Compassion International.  Always an eye-opening, life-changing event, you can read about it here:  Open My Eyes.  You can also read about the amazing amount of fun hell we had as we hiked a volcano on Ometepe Island.

Next year’s trip is another once-in-a-lifetime trip:  india!  For three weeks we will traverse a good chunk of the country in June.  The first 10 days or so will be spent in Chennai and traveling up the Indian Ocean coast of south eastern India, mainly to visit two more kids they sponsor through Compassion International (link) as well as spend some time with a friend who pastors a church in a small village there.  During the second half of the trip, we will get to play tourist:  visit the Taj Mahal, ride elephants and camels in the dessert, visit Agra, Jaipur, New Delhi, and take a boat tour along the Ganges River in Varanasi, the heart of the Hindu culture.  Expect great blog posts to come from this adventure.

Other big news for 2012 included placing membership in a new church, Priest Lake Christian Fellowship.  Our former home church group, the Gathering, fizzled out as families found new churches around the Nashville area, so we started looking, too.  Being less than a mile from our home was a great benefit, but the people were the main draw.  We have never been to a more humble church where the Holy Spirit is so alive and thriving among its members.  It’s inspiring and challenging and moving each week.

Caleb is in fourth grade at Franklin Road Academy and continues to love school and excel in his academics.  To brag on this child for a moment, he has yet to receive a B in any term grade since he started PK.  He’s got his Daddy’s brains and aptitude for math and building things.  Caleb continues to love all things Star Wars, but his Pokemon obsession (thank goodness!) has come to an end.  If you know of anyone interested in buying a 700+ card Pokemon collection, please let us know.

Caleb’s newest obsession is legos.  The kid lives and breathes legos, which we are fine with.  He actually builds some really cool things, like a working flashlight—complete with an on/off lever and working bulb.

Caleb is also learning to play the recorder and trumpet, and we (as in Kelly) are trying desperately (and futilely) to get him to sing “This Song is Just Six Words Long” by Weird Al Yankovic in the Fourth Grade Variety Show in January.  Weird Al is another recent obsession of Caleb’s, and being the cool parents we are, for his birthday we bought him tickets to see Weird Al in concert in April when he comes to Nashville.

Caleb is a Webelo scout this year, and is a popcorn selling machine!  He sold over $1500 to win first place again in his cub scout pack.  He won an archery set, 8% of his total sales in cash, a $50 Walmart gift card, an LED head lamp, a patch, Predators’ tickets, and a trophy.  (Don’t get me started on winning trophies for something like selling popcorn.  Let’s just say, I’m not a fan of the practice.)

Caleb’s most exciting adventure this year, though, was his ER trip that led to a hospital stay for a couple of days at the end of August for pneumonia.  Despite this bump in the road, we are still tremendously blessed.  His asthma and allergies have plagued him something fierce this fall, much worse than normal.  We have an appointment with an asthma/allergy specialist next week so we are praying for something to help manage this better.

Jason started preK at FRA this year, and is loving it.  Being the second child, we did not work with him on things like the alphabet, drawing, writing, or reading much (hardly at all) before he started school.  Thankfully, the kid has a mind like a sponge and is taking off in the writing and reading department.  He also loves to draw.

Jason, too, is obsessed with Star Wars and legos.  At three he could recite entire scenes from Star Wars.  I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed by this.  Did I mention he was three at the time?  The kid can build lego creations with the best of them . . . well, maybe not a working flashlight yet, but he can build really cool spaceships, race cars, jails, mouse traps, and monsters.

Jason and Caleb took their first official swimming lessons this summer.  Lesson 1 involved Jason crying and screaming for the full 45 minute session.  He had snot running out of both nostrils to his belly button when I picked him up.  He only cried for about 15 minutes of lesson 2, and by lesson 3 he was actually excited to go.  Now, of course, the kid is terrified to put his head in the water, which reminds Kelly of herself as a child forced to take swimming lessons.

Packer, our dog, continues to love to eat anything that falls on the floor including baby spit-up (true story) as well as grass to later make herself throw-up said baby spit-up.  She loves to sleep during the day and wake us up around 4:00 a.m. to pee and play.

Finley Bubbles the VIII, our beta fish, didn’t last the year.  At this time, we are uncertain if we will buy Finley Bubbles the IX.

Hopes and prayers for 2013:

  • Good health for everyone
  • A safe and amazing trip to India
  • Jobs we love
  • Caleb and Jason would continue to grow and mature in their faith, following Christ
  • Matthew and Kelly possibly beginning a new Marriage Builders home church group
  • Kelly hopes to begin working on her MBA at Trevecca in the fall

As we reflect back and look forward, may we always remember WHY we celebrate.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14

Love and prayers to all,
the Huddleston Family

PS.  If any of you find yourselves in Nashville and need a place to stay, we’ve got plenty of room and love house guests.

Bucket List

13 01 2011

My bucket list is in no particular order, and it changes often.  Many items have to do with travel, a passion of mine, and some are slightly off-the-wall.

1.  Launch a grenade.
2.  Dance a Viennese waltz in Vienna  on New Year’s Eve at the largest Viennese Ball in the world.
3.  See Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theater in London.
4.  Visit Venice during Carnival.
5.  Ride on the back of a motorcycle at a sport bike track day.
6.  Sky dive someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
7.  Hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
8.  Ride the Orient Express in first class.
9.  Fly first-class on an international flight.
10.  Learn to play the piano without effort.
11.  Learn to dance as if I were in the finals of Dancing with the Stars.  (Derrick Hough
would be my partner.)
12.  Run a Victorian bed and breakfast on a lake.
13.  Teach at a missionary school in Indonesia.
14.  Run an 8-minute mile for a 5K.
15.  Retire to Costa Rica.
16.  Learn to cut an onion efficiently, like they do in infomercials for Ginsu knives.
17.  Bungee jump someplace amazing like in New Zealand.
18.  See a lion capture a zebra on a safari somewhere in Africa.
19.  Visit every “Wonder of the World” old and new.
20.  Learn to speak, read and write fluent German, Chinese, Polish, Swahili, Spanish, and French.
21.  Give 50% of my income to charitable organizations.
22.  Grow my hair back to the length it was on my wedding day.
23.  Earn my MBA.
24.  Earn my Ph.D.
25.  Fly in outer space.