They say that when we plan, God laughs.
It’s important to have forward motion to motivate us towards our goals and dreams, yes. Absolutely. But it’s important to remember that ultimately, God knows what’s best for us, and therefore it’s best to not hold onto those plans too tightly.
Twelve years ago I was a senior in high school in the middle of college applications, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life as well as where I wanted to study. Over the course of the next several months, I made a decision – I committed to attending Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. I was planning to sing in the choir (I even auditioned in person for a music scholarship) and study vocational non-pastoral church ministry. As my senior year of high school was coming to an end, my mental health – due to a wide variety of factors – was beginning to unravel. In May my parents and I made the difficult decision to wait an extra year before sending me to Minnesota, but five days after graduating high school I was placed on my first psychiatric (suicidal thoughts) hold and hospitalized for the first time. At that point any small spark of hope that I could still go that fall was extinguished, and over the course of the next year and a half I was hospitalized three more times. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And not only that… but throughout the next several years, almost every attempt to take college classes – in any setting or context – failed miserably as a result of my poor mental health.
During that season of my life people tried their best to encourage me when it came to my college journey (or lack thereof). I was reassured that college isn’t for everyone, that not having tens of thousands of dollars in student loans isn’t a bad thing… and those are helpful and true reminders, sure. But those reasons for not attending college had very little to do with why I never went. I WANTED to go. I WANTED to learn. So while those reassurances certainly helped, there continued to be a big college sized hole in my heart. One that has healed over time, but one that has never really gone away.
So much happened between then and now, and if you want the beautiful God story of how He rescued me and healed me enough to finally leave home in 2019, you can read about it here.
Interestingly enough, over this last summer I had the chance to talk with a staff/faculty member from Concordia St. Paul who I had met during my college visit there over 11 years ago. I (re)introduced myself, and I had the chance to share the story of why I never went, everything that has happened since then, all of the beautiful miracles God has given me… and the grief that has never fully healed. If I’m being honest, I don’t entirely remember what exactly we said in that conversation, and I don’t remember feeling an overwhelming sense of resolution or closure. It was definitely helpful, though, and I am grateful we had the chance to connect. Little did I know what God had in store within a few short months…
We came home from family camp, I continued recovering from shoulder surgery, and a couple of weeks later Nicholas and I came down with COVID. We came out of our COVID isolation just in time for me to start my new job at Concordia Lutheran School here in Peoria. Going into the job, the idea that I might decide to pursue becoming a teacher and have a classroom of my own was on our minds, but we both knew that in order to do that, I would need to do something that up until now has never been hugely possible…
I would need to go to college.
Even before I had my first day at CLS, we were talking about and discussing various options for me to get my bachelor’s and teaching credential. After my first day, though, the research and conversations about how to make it all work became much more intentional and timely. I came home that day with a renewed sense of hope and drive and joy. Ask my husband sometime… that day changed me, and I haven’t been the same since.
The specifics of how our original timeline got moved from next fall to January to two weeks from now may be its own blog post in the near future; included in that would be the story of how we decided on a specific school and (online) degree program. For now I will share the title of an essay I had to write for acceptance into my school and program addressing my low college GPA, why it happened, what I’ve learned, and why things are different now.
“The Beautiful Story of an Eleven Year Delay in Becoming a Concordia Church Work Student…”
The short version? Concordia University Wisconsin has an online program for a bachelor’s in Elementary Education with the option to add the Lutheran Teacher Diploma – the piece of this whole thing that makes my career ahead of me truly church work. The beauty of going through CUW means that I won’t have to go back and do the added certificate specifically for Lutheran teaching after the fact, and it also pretty much guarantees that they are willing to work with my current employer – one of the many incredible Lutheran schools in our national Church body – so that I can complete as many of my observation and student teaching hours as possible at a place where I already know the students, teachers, and administration. In fact, I’m already enrolled in my first practicum class, and I’m able to count work hours towards my observation hours as long as they overlap (which they currently do for at least part of my day). The rest of my classes this semester start two weeks from Monday on October 23rd… four days after my 30th birthday and six days before our first anniversary.
In some ways it’s still sinking in that I’ll finally be attending a Concordia to study in a church work program. Recently in a closing prayer my therapist gave thanks to God that my dream of college and vocational ministry never died and that I never gave up on it. As soon as we finished I looked up at him and very quickly corrected him – no, I gave up on that dream a long time ago. Thankfully God never gave up on it on my behalf. But that’s the kind of God we serve, one who refuses to give up on us in so many beautiful ways.
So, to summarize the announcement and update, TL;DR…
Mrs. Farley, Lutheran Teacher, coming to you fall 2026!