Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Thankful Thursday"

Alarm at the normal time: 3:10am. Lavazza Espresso brewed in my stovetop stainless steel Italian brewer: check. Balance the check register, return some e-mails, send some Facebook messages: check. Usually, my morning run followed but not today. Since Tuesday, a radio station in northeast Ohio, WCRF 103.3FM has been having their annual fundraising event dubbed "Share 2013". For four days, from 6am till 8pm, they raise the funds to operate the station. They've been doing so for 55 years and even today in the tough economic climate, are 100% listener supported. No commercials or anything of the sort. I've become good friends with the host of the morning program and have been in the studio on the air a few times over the past few years. Even while I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, I listened to them via stream on the internet. I truly love what they do, their staff, and everything they represent. Today was my chance to volunteer in the "Phone Zone" and take calls from listeners who wanted to support the ministry of Moody Radio Cleveland. I had to be there by 5:45am for the 6am sharp start and I was welcomed in with open arms like always! Throughout the morning, I talked to several listeners where some had stories and some didn't. Each one was a joy to talk to. I also was interviewed twice "live" on the air to talk about what the ministry has meant to me and to encourage listeners to participate. I remember well when we passed the 1 million dollar mark. The goal is $1,675,000 so that was a huge milestone. There was always applause and cheering when we hit milestones. I also remember talking to a listener who donated $600, just as we cross the 60% point. "We just hit 60% and we're at 60.02%...and you're giving $600!!! Thank you so much!!!" That was awesome. Well, just after 3 short hours (I wanted to stay but the next volunteer was ready to take over), I made my rounds to say goodbye, was interviewed one last time, then hit the road. Next year, I'm signing up for more...no doubt. What a fantastic experience!

So "Thankful Thursday," that is the theme at the radio station today so I thought it was appropriate for today's post, plus I am thankful today for many things. Back in the late 1990s, I pursued my undergrad while on active duty and it was paid for. After graduating, I started my MBA and I had the GI Bill which funded much of that, too, with a small amount each semester that was out-of-pocket. I graduated that program free of debt. So lately....actually for quite awhile now, I've had a yearning to return to school. I've played with the idea of a PhD program, a Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) program and others. Every program I looked at asked me, either literally or on their website "why?" I wanted to pursue it. To pursue a doctorate, it doesn't seem to make sense to just "want to" and not have some kind of end state goal. Plus, each program, especially the DSL was very expensive. So I've gone in waves when it comes to education. I'm a sucker for learning and challenging myself (e.g.: ultra running!) so it's always on my mind. But, it has to financially make sense and it cannot rob me from my family. Those two pieces are deal-breakers.

Enter Moody Bible Institute. For most undergrads at MBI in Chicago, they go free. Yea...free. For decades, the students of MBI are supported by donors so that they don't graduate with debt. Pretty awesome, eh? MBI is a school with a very long and rich heritage. Their graduate programs aren't free but are very, VERY reasonable in cost. Shortly after the mens conference I attended a few months ago which was put on by Moody, I felt a very distinct "nudge" towards MBI and that I should look into their programs. Just last Fall, they kicked off a brand new program which is exclusively online but wholly Moody. It's the Master of Arts in Applied Biblical Studies. It makes a point to say it is NOT a degree in preparation for a doctorate, due to not delving into all of the languages, but contains all the rest. Here is the degree description if you want to review:
http://www.moody.edu/edu_MainPage.aspx?id=88187&src=home
So as you can see, it will provide a very nice "framework" for me moving forward in my life. I definitely have a desire to dig deeper and honestly, I have no idea where this will lead, if anywhere at all. I couldn't care less about the letters behind my name or having another degree. I seriously only desire to learn and do what I feel led to do. What's the "big picture" in store for me? What could I possibly do in the future as a result of this or what doors may it open? Who knows!? Well, I'll tell you who knows....God does. Unfortunately, we're not privy to that knowledge but fortunately, I know He's in control and I'm excited to simply take the next step as He dictates. It's really that simple. So as you can imagine, my answer to those who ask "why?" isn't exactly an easy answer to convey. It's clear to ME but for many, they'll just scratch their heads and wonder "what's the point?"  As for thankfulness, I'm thankful that I still have some GI Bill left over to fund it. I absolutely refuse to return to debt and this is no exception. I have just over a year's worth of the Montgomery GI Bill left and then I'll switch over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill which I have some entitlement to, thanks to my deployment in 2011. My plan is to start this Fall and graduate in the Summer of 2015...and yes, I plan to drive to Chicago and walk at commencement. Who wouldn't??!!

Before I say goodbye, how about one last shout-out for thankfulness. Dance. Oh yes...dance. Last night, we wrapped up our 6-week tango class. We've been married for over 20 years and have tossed the idea around of a dance class for years but never acted on it. Thanks to a killer Groupon deal, we finally did it. I don't think we've laughed and smiled like that...ever. It was so much fun! So, with the conclusion of this one, we're continuing on another 6 weeks but this time, it'll be 'swing'! Very different but certainly high energy and lots of fun. We also learned of a monthly "dance night" held by our instructor where many couples show up just to have fun, have a bite to eat, and dance. From what we hear, even the veteran dancers are "tolerant" of the newbies there so it sounds like something we might enjoy...and we can always use another date night. 

Have a great day, everyone, and a wonderful Spring weekend!

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