Dear Dr. Mitchell…..
That’s how an email I recently received from Zondervan Publishing began (quite erroneously I might add). But those three words brought with them a flood of emotions and a reassurance that the decision Lindsey and I had already made was the right one.
From the outside looking in, the decision looks unwise and even a bit unstable. I get that. Lindsey gets that. Ben doesn’t get that, but he’s also busy saying “tur-dle” for no reason–so we can’t really hold it against him.
This fall will mark my return to graduate education and academia proper. Lindsey, Ben, Nora Jane, and I (and yes, Bailey dog) will be returning to the place it all began–Emmanuel Christian Seminary, formerly Emmanuel School of Religion. My focus will be biblical studies and the accompanying languages-with an emphasis in Hebrew Bible.
Now while I won’t qualify and respond to every possible assertion as to why this seems foolish, I will respond in advance to one objection I suspect a good number of people may harbor, namely, “Isn’t Patrick being irresponsible by doing this with a wife and two infants?”
Answer: Yes. It is foolish. How could I argue it isn’t foolish? I have made less money with each successive move our family has made, and this one will not change the trend. That isn’t easy for me to write, and it’s not easy for some of you to read either.
Were I to drag my family back to school kicking and screaming I would rightly deserve the moniker of chauvinistic brute. What makes this move extraordinary and less irresponsible, though, is that Lindsey fully supports it and even urged it (with great faith and encouragement, I might add). The desire to pursue doctoral studies has long loomed in the back, and often times front, of my feeble mind. My experience in ministry and most recently in teaching has served to strengthen that desire and once and for all push us over the edge. Emphasis on us, as this is no one-person show.
No more ‘what if’ or wondering what might have been had I just…
I am going to work as hard and diligently as I possibly can with the hope of gaining acceptance to a funded PhD program, which is about as common as spotting a leprechaun riding a unicorn across a double rainbow. Nevertheless, we’re making the move and doing so with faith that if God cares enough to nudge us into this venture, then he cares enough to provide all the way through.
Lindsey has been feverishly applying for teaching jobs, so we have full hope that she’ll be interviewed for one sooner or later. I will be a full-time student and stay-at-home dad, so the kids will spend minimal time with a sitter.
As for timing, we are moving our things into a wonderful little house in Elizabethton that is being provided by a generous friend for very little cost (and we’ll be neighbors with the most amazing Magnesses of Milligan College!!). That will happen mid-July, and our sweet Nora Jane will arrive mid-August. Can you say whirlwind?
The temptation is to care about what naysayers think or say, but we’re moving forward with confidence and assurance. We have an incredible support system in family and friends, some of whom have chosen to support us financially in this endeavor–by which we are humbled and grateful. We appreciate any and all prayers in this most unfamiliar season. A new baby, new job(s), and a somewhat new path make for plentiful footholds for the devil. That’s why we ask for your prayers. More updates will follow.
But for now, the mountains of Upper East Tennessee beckon…