Happy New Year! A little late I know, but I have been quite busy the first twelve days of 2015. Last week was my last intensive for my Duke DMin program. It's pretty surreal to know that a few short weeks my coursework will be completed and I'll officially be ABD (all but doctoral thesis). I am both excited and scared. I am scared because I know that many people in doctoral programs stall out at this point; some do not finish. Yet I am excited because I will get to embark on exciting research that fuels my passions, and there is a great possibility of getting this work published. We are at the very beginning stages and the task before me seems daunting most days, but I believe I am where God wants me to be and I'm having the experiences God wants me to have.
I must admit leaving Duke's campus on Friday was bittersweet. After having lunch with my colleagues (some of whom I wonder if I will see again), I spent a few moments in the bookstore before walking to the parking deck alone which was reminiscent of my arrival the very first time in August 2013. The last words spoken to me were from the cashier in the bookstore who said, "Come back and see us." I really hope I get to do just that. We still have eight weeks of online engagement and we have committed to keeping each other accountable for the duration of our writing, so I will definitely see my friends online. We have also made plans to gather together periodically and keep our connection as a cohort. My prayer is that we are able to honor that commitment. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I look forward to beginning my writing and research. My excitement is also emboldened by the way my colleagues have affirmed my gifts and challenged me in my stewardship of those gifts. The encouragement and conviction that have come by way of my friends causes me to reflect on the call, the plan, and the next season. After all, isn't that what the words of holy friends should do?