Some of you may have noticed I’ve been absent from the blogging world…I don’t really know how to explain why. Well, first off, my travel blogging hopes were not only dashed, they were obliterated with the shameful lack of internet in New Zealand. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails…I was so eager…
Secondly, my life moved at supersonic speed thereafter with a trip to the US to defend my dissertation and a whirlwind attempt to keep up my title of “Best Aunt EVER” with my neices and nephews during my visit. Thirdly, my white (some say, dilapidated) MacBook decided to die 1 week before my defense, which coincides with fourthly, all my passwords that automatically populated [like to this blog] are noticeably absent on my new computer, only proving my fifth reason: I’ve been the laziest slug on the earth.
I don’t know…I kind of took that phrase, “Stop and smell the roses” and added “…for a month.” Never fear though…I have about 10 blogs all stored up because writers are always thinking and writing life…sometimes it just takes a while to get onto paper!
The most important blog of all those is this one. So happy reading!
Dissertation Defense Day.
The day began bright and early at 1:30 a.m. because I was super jet-lagged (which resulted in me looking like I had a drinking binge prior to my defense)…and I couldn’t get back to sleep. A major kudos to my sister who is notoriously late, for being on time and driving me to Liberty while I looked like I was nursing a hangover. (seriously, I kept telling her I couldn’t open my eyes and to stop talking so loud).
In all seriousness – I need to change the tone of this blog, and fast…this was a day that is forever etched in my mind because God in His grace illuminated a truth that I already knew, but He cemented it in my mind with a living, breathing, object lesson.
You see, because we worked with high schoolers for 10 years, we know a couple students at Liberty…one of which is from a family that co-labored as Navigator Missionaries in Okinawa with us for 9 years. We had the privilege of loving and discipling their four children during that time. Their youngest, Wren, is a student at LU and I wrote and said, “Hey, come on by and let’s catch up…I’m defending my dissertation tomorrow.” (In typical Vanossdall fashion, Wren showed up with OJ and a pastry in case I hadn’t eaten). While my sister arranged the reception table, I knew my only chance to catch up with Wren was in the next hour.
We sat down and I was able to hear her heart (which has gone through some pretty big maturing this year)…while I was listening to her, I could not escape the Lord pressing 1 Thessalonians 2:19 into my heart as Paul says,
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
Wren - one of many who are our glory and crown!
The rest of the story is that I defended, passed and got to be called “Dr. Rathmell”. Yet, truly…it was nothing compared to the joy of what God has called us to over the years – influencing, loving, discipling and encouraging students as they seek to please and follow the Lord. In that moment, God sealed in my heart forever the place that earthly titles hold. I remember thinking, “If people live for this moment of hearing those words, then they will be so sorely disappointed…” In contrast, I have never, not once, thought that I would be sorry for pouring out my life into others for the sake of the Gospel…and God was the master educator that day.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m proud of finishing, persevering and completing the work. I’m just all the more thankful for a God who so poignantly reminds us of what this life is about.
Soli Deo Gloria.