Josh and I were fortunate enough to travel to Seattle a few weekends ago. Our trip was a combination of investigating grad. school options/attending the discernment weekend at Seattle Pacific Seminary (SPS) and visiting Josh’s family. We packed a lot into our four days there, and while it didn’t feel like quite enough time, it was still amazing to see our far-away family in early February.
Neither Josh nor I are ready to jump into grad school immediately. Josh is currently finishing up his Master’s thesis from the University of Oslo, so he is eager to take a break from school. We do, however, both have some academic aspirations/interests and it was cool to take some time to investigate our options. I want to be an Elementary ESOL teacher, so I need to find a way to get my teacher certification. SPU has a Master’s in TESOL, which I could combine with a K-12 certification and an ESL endorsement. It’s kind of complicated and I met with four different people at SPU to talk about the TESOL part of the program, the Elementary Education part of the program, and about applying to grad. school in general. I learned a lot and feel better able to look around online at different grad. school programs.
Josh is interested in studying theology, so he signed up for the discernment weekend at SPS. Each potential seminarian can bring along a family member, so I got to participate in the discernment weekend with Josh. Celeste has recruited a handful of Greenville College students to come to the discernment weekend over the past couple years; this time she just so happened to recruit our good friend Mikey Ward and my cousin Maria Koppelberger! The discernment weekend was Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. We heard some interesting presentations and panels from professors and students from SPS, we went to a Taize prayer service, ate a couple meals together, and had a couple bible studies. It was good!
One of the most interesting parts of the weekend for Josh and me was a presentation/ discussion with an SPU professor Doug Koskela who talked about vocation and discernment. What we found really helpful was his distinction between the three categories of calling from God. 1) General Calling from God to all people to love and follow God. 2) Missional Calling, which is a person's guiding purpose, mission, or vocation and is usually connected to a person's gifts, talents and interests. 3) Direct Calling is a direct call from God to do a particular task and may not have any link to one's gifts or interests. It was really encouraging to us (especially Josh who doesn't have a crystal clear understanding of his vocation) when Doug said he believes everyone has a missional calling which may take time, prayer and some trial and error to figure it out. Furthermore, not everyone has a direct calling and this is not something that we should spend time seeking. Doug said, "with direct calling, it's best to think in terms of confirmation rather than discernment." With direct callings, God will make it clear to us (think of stories like Moses and the burning bush or Jonah and the Whale). And that is a relief. As a young person I think there is some pressure to figure your life out and to be a successful, contributing member of society. It's quite a relief to realize that success in God's eyes (which is what matters to me) can mean doing something meaningful that I love and feel drawn to do.After the discernment weekend was over on Saturday we had the rest of the day to hang out in Seattle with Mikey and Maria. We walked around Queen Anne Hill, where the Cranstons live, and we hiked through Discovery Park, a huge public park in the middle of Seattle on the shores of the Puget Sound. Since I didn't take my camera to Discovery Park, I am borrowing some pictures from the internet so you can see this awesome place:
It actually snowed on Saturday night and didn't fully melt until Sunday, which is pretty unusual. There was some concern that our Greenville people wouldn't catch their flights home, but they made it just fine. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning we hung out at home with this furry guy below (who is quite hard to photograph!), Elliot, Josh's best friend from childhood, and with some extended family. We ate Sunday lunch with Grandparents Cranston, Christopher and Ali (cousins), Aunt Paula, and Uncle Frank and Aunt Rhonda. We hadn't seen most of the Seattle contingent since last Christmas and we hadn't seen Paula since our wedding, so it was a real treat to spend time with them.
Our little jaunt to Seattle was encouraging, invigorating and down right fun. We love you family; thanks for making our time in Seattle wonderful!