Surviving & Thriving as a Post-Grad, Part 1

Surviving & Thriving as a Post-Grad, Part 1

Obey the Fundamental Laws of Physics

Will obeying the Laws of Physics actually help me in the pursuit of higher education? Read on and you will believe! The numbers and equations are not scary, I promise :)calculus

Case Study: Pretend you are driving a McLaren F1 (a $1million car…I like this dream), you hit the gas and its 627hp V12 engine mightily roars. Right out of the gate you can accelerate 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds, incredible! But what happens as your speed increases? To simply accelerate from 180-200mph (a change of merely 20mph, one-third the original change) it takes 7.6 seconds! It took more than twice as long to only accelerate one-third the original change! And as your speed increases it becomes ever difficult to continue increasing your speed. Max speed ever recorded in a McLaren F1 is 243mph, and I am sure the driver kept trying to push the accelerator harder and harder just so he could reach 244mph, but it never happened.

Why was he unable to go faster? It is because he could not supply enough energy! His engine only had 627hp and the fuel consumption rate was incredibly high.

Now let’s take this to the next level: you are flying an amazing space shuttle and you are approaching the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). As you go faster, you realize that you need more and more fuel just to go a little bit faster. It keeps getting more and more difficult. You soon realize that you can’t reach the speed of light, and you conclude this because you finally come to the realization that you need an infinite amount of energy to move this fast. I repeat, it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light. The speed of light is the upper limit for the speeds of objects with positive rest mass. (Thank you Einstein, this is all solvable through his famous equation.)einstein

So what? Who cares? I’m bored; let me go now….you are so close, hang in there!

You have been a student for many years; after all, you are in graduate school. There was a time when little energy was needed to get you through. You would even sleep during lectures because you already knew it and you were the guy or gal who would always ask questions trying to stump your professor.sleeplecture And then, you started advancing and realizing that you needed to put more energy into it, and it was hard! And then you saw the next step and it seemed so close, but it took like 20 times the effort or more. Your thesis and dissertation will feel as if you are trying to travel at the speed of light. Thanks for the encouragement, right? But wait, it gets worse!

Consider now the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: in an isolated system, that system will tend toward disorder unless energy is added. Do you remember what your bedroom looked like as a teenager? I prove my point!

This is helpful because it makes us realize that the energy needs to be focused. If the McLaren F1 had a bad exhaust system, then the fuel which was being fed into the engine would not all correspond to usable mechanical energy in that isolated system. There would be wasted energy, and because the energy would be lacking, the system would obviously tend toward disorder. This is why it gets worse. If your energies are not focused onto the Thesis or Dissertation (or whatever the goal may be), you will tend toward disorder! And this is fatal; you will never achieve that goal which you had set out to achieve.

From Gimp to Athlete

It was during college, I decided to go for a run that day. Beautiful OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAweather, sun beaming down but not too hot. I went for a few miles and was running alongside the railroad tracks. Somehow, I tripped and banged my knee. I figured the pain would go away after a few days and it did; however, the pain would always come back when I tried to run. Like an idiot, I never went to the doctor. I decided to take it easy on that knee and because the glory days of racing were over, I thought nothing more of it, aside from praying for God to remove the pain. I had many people pray for me actually. But I figured I was now an academic, so that was where I focused my energies.

Note: this is not my actual x-ray, but mine was very similar to this.

After two years of no running I decided to give it another go – I was visiting my parents when I tried to go on this run. Once again, it was another beautiful day and I was running around the lake on their property. The pain in my knee became excruciating, I hobbled to the house and started rubbing down my knee and then I felt it: a huge extra bump on the inside of my leg! Whoa, what is this! Am I an alien? I asked my mom to look at it and she freaked out – and she is a nurse! We went to get X-Rays as soon as possible and discovered what is called Osteochondroma, essentially it was an extra piece of bone growing off of my femur. It was about 4 inches long and was wrapped around my knee, and the ligaments in my knee were catching on it whenever I moved. No wonder it hurt!

Long story short: I had surgery, they had to make a seven inch incision through the muscles in my leg. Surgery went well, we found out that it was not cancerous and it never came back. However, they completely destroyed the muscles! I would have a long journey of PT. Impact sports were out of the question because of doctor’s order. I decided to start riding a bike to commute, and enjoy the scenery, being I could not enjoy that by running anymore. I got really into biking, my wife and I even started racing. And then I decided to try running again. The scenario: I was competing in a cyclocross bike race, my tire flatted and there were no neutral wheels that fit my bike. I was not going to quit, so I ran for 4 miles carrying my bike the whole time and finished the race. I don’t like to quit. And amazingly, my knee was not hurting! Whoa! However, my back was killing me! What a strange twist of events?

My back problems continued getting worse so I visited several chiropractors and it was Dr. Scott Shepherd (Portland, OR) who helped me realize that I had been “tri-poding” for the last few years. Because of the weakness in one leg, I would put most of my weight on one leg so that I could baby the other one. The downside: it messed up my alignment big time! My spine was so curved! We decided to put in a heal lift on one of my shoes and after a year of this and regular chiropractic my spine was much more strait. He helped eliminate all of my everyday pain! Thank you Dr. Shepherd! But every so often I would attempt to run again, and I would develop more back pain, what was going on?

During this time my wife had become a personal trainer and was sharing my story with a few of her co-workers and it was Krista Loveless (now Krista Lennartz), the Pilates instructor, that I am ever grateful for. At this point I was so willing to run that I was willing to do whatever it took. Krista is not a big fan of heal lifts, so we got rid of it. Then she had me start strengthening my feet by doing toe curls! Have you ever done toe curls? they are hard! It takes a lot of coordination. And then we started doing a ton of different exercises on the Reformer – it is amazing how much stability you can gain through working out on that thing! I did personal training with Krista for close to a year, and during that time I withheld from running so that I would not ruin a good thing. I knew that a good runner needed strong feet and a strong core.

From the time of my original injury til today, it has been 11 years. I have been running again for the past 4 years year with no knee troubles and no back pain. I have now competed in one marathon and am looking at possibly competing in an ultra-marathon…we shall see :)

Eleven years is a long time to fight through an injury. I used to wonder if God cared about me, I would get upset on occasion because he did not heal me. But I have come to realize something: God did answer my prayers, it just happened to be through my hard work. God gives us freedom to choose and God loves it when we are faithful with the resources he has given us.

Do you love your #selfie or yourself?

When you look into the mirror, do you think to yourself how good lookin’ you are? Time for another #selfie! Many of us have experienced this sensation at least once in front of the mirror. It is quite strange how we are able to peer into our own eyes, as if trying to find meaning in them, yet we quickly turn when we look into another’s eyes. But I digress…more on the #self….

Have you heard the story of 200px-Michelangelo_Caravaggio_065Narcissus? This is the story of the first #selfie. Many people believe that he died because he was in love with himself through his reflection. I would beg to differ: Narcissus did not drown in the pool because he loved himself, rather because of his failure to actually know himself in his reflection. He had no true sense of himself–he gazed at himself as though it were an other. We, like Narcissus, can become infatuated with ourselves, not because we overly love ourselves, but because we have no true sense of ourselves.

Narcissus had a pool which he stared at, in our culture we have endless possibilities to stare at our #selfies. We even have “selfy-sticks” which have been invented to allow us to take better #selfies. But I ask a question: do we obsessively take #selfies because we love our #selfies or ourselves? The #selfy seems to have created a distance between the self knowing itself. We stare at the #selfie as something other to ourselves.Dubai Daredevil Selfie

Perhaps this is too generalized, but I am inclined to say that we don’t take #selfies because of an obsessive love of the self, but rather, because we don’t understand who we are.  I am not opposed to all #selfies altogether–all things in moderation–but I am bringing to mind that our culture makes a lot of #selfies. Look at this #selfiegraphic, just to get a general idea. Over 1 million #selfies are taken on a daily basis and 3 in 10 photos taken by persons aged 18-24 are #selfies. This is somewhat disturbing to me.

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Do you know who you are? Does taking #selfies help you understand your true identity? When you create your own image, do you see yourself the way God sees you? Do you see yourself as the beloved of God? Do you love your #selfie or yourself?

Praise God?

Have you ever heard a story about a loved one being saved from a near death experience, and then someone almost instinctively says, “praise God!”? God is certainly to be praised in this situation, but I wonder if there is more too it. Namely, ptlwhat are we supposed to say when the loved one actually dies? Should we not praise God during the tragedy? (Not for it though!) Near death experiences are far from the only occasion when you hear the phrase, “praise God!” It often comes about when a person gets a promotion at work, or when a student does well on an exam. Once again, God should be praised during these moments, however, what is to be proclaimed when the person actually dies, the promotion never comes, or you fail the test?

There have been so many instances in my journey with my wife over the past year which are “praise worthy.” We saved enough money to move to Belgium, I successfully completed the pre-doctoral year near the top of my class, earned acceptance into the PhD on a topic concerning ecumenism with an amazing promoter…it all sounds amazing, right? But then came the bad news, I did not get the funding stipend I was hoping for. How deflating! Talk about a shock to your pride. We went through an incredibly difficult journey only to now be faced with the hardest financial burden of our marriage? I ask a question to myself: if I had gotten the funding, would I be saying “praise God!”? If so, my faith is pretty shallow.article-1196755-058DCDF9000005DC-866_634x784

My financial burden is not my own, it is also my wife’s. When we got married we said, “for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse…” What would our marriage be if we only loved each other during the rich, healthy, better moments? Love is more than an emotion in the high times, it is a choice in the low times of poverty, sickness, and bad times. Is it not the same with God? As my pastor during college told me time and again, “our joy should never be dependent upon our circumstances” (Retired Lt. Col. Rev. Dr. Jerry Malone). I am so thankful that when I first became a believer, I had Pastor Jerry to help train me in the faith. Our joy does not depend upon our circumstances, our joy depends upon the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in having lived faithfully, going to the cross, dying, being raised, and ascending to the right hand of the Father so that he may continually mediate for us.

Am I saying that we should stop praising God? Heaven forbid! I am saying that we should praise God all the more, and not merely when life is going the way you wanted it to. Sara and I are still praising God, even though we did not get the funding stipend we were hoping and praying for. God is still faithful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this point, my wife and I have very little money and in all honesty, we are considering moving back to Portland where I teach HS, if we are not able to afford living in Belgium. This is difficult because we love Belgium and serving the church here. This dilemma of moving or staying reveals a major tension in my own vocation: on the one hand I love pursuing Christian reconciliation and pastoral work, and on the other hand I love teaching students. I am a theologian and an educator. Both are fantastic options and need not be mutually exclusive or be dependent upon my future career. We love Belgium and we love Portland. Your prayers for our direction and other funding opportunities are greatly appreciated.

There are many songs by Jeremy Camp which describe what it means to praise God in all things. He has experienced some very difficult times in his life, having experienced the death of his first wife to breast cancer and the death of his youngest child. Yet he remains a faithful believer in Christ. Here is one of my favorites and I pray it gives you hope:

For the Love of the Ride

So excited you can hardly sleep. Will your alarm go off? Does it matter? You will probably wake up before it goes off anyway because of the eagerness. You’re anticipating the first “real” mountain bike ride of the season. Sure, you have ridden a few little short rides on local trails that contain no technicality, but this ride is “real” because it will be hard. You realize that the pain, suffering, and work are truly what make a ride epic. The only race you face is getting all your stuff together in time so your teammates don’t leave without you. Did you start riding to race – no! You started riding because it was fun and this ride is all about having fun.

Gears? Single speed? 29er? 26er? Rigid? Hardtail? Full-suspension? Cross country? All-mountain? Who cares!? No one cares what you are riding, as long as you are having fun. You all cram into one suburban – never thought it would be possible to fit six men with all their gear and six bikes into one vehicle, but you all made it happen.

During the drive there you all talk about life. Work. Family. Things that matter. Perhaps you are talking about these things as a way to ignore the fact that you will be climbing 4,000 feet on a mountain bike. Perhaps you are talking about these things because you are a team, and you truly care about each other. Perhaps a little of both. You love your team.

You pull in to the parking lot, 20 or so cars already parked. You look at your watch – wow – that is a lot of people for being so early. It is a little on the cold side but you know it will get hot real fast because of the brutal climb that lies ahead. You grab your bike; you look at the other bikes…you like your bike. It is you. You are one with your bike.

You roll out. You thank your wife in your head for making pancakes and eggs; you know that you will be burning every single one of those calories in the next 3 hours. You pray to God to protect you and your friends, knowing full well that anyone of you could get seriously injured.

You are captivated with the immensity of the Columbia Gorge. It is breathtaking. You try to think of words to describe it but they all fall short. You keep looking over your shoulder on the switchbacks and staring at the horizon, the water, the mountains. Mt. Hood never looked so attractive. You continue climbing. You feel sorry for some of the guys who have not ridden Syncline before, they don’t know how long the climb is. At least you know how much energy you can pour into the climb and how much energy you should conserve. You see a seven year old kid riding up this climb with his mom – what!? That is awesome. You tap the kid on his shoulder, give him a fist bump and tell him how awesome he is doing. Continue climbing. Pause, the dogs need a break. It is fun mountain biking with dogs; they add so much energy to the ride. They also give an excuse to rest; no one is willing to admit that part though.

Finally reached the top. Now you get to go down. You earned it, enjoy. It feels like you are flying. You look ahead, Spence and the dogs are in front of you. You are going 35 mph and the dogs are keeping up. Craziness. Never saw little legs move so fast. What were those dogs’ names? Spence told me there names like three times, why can’t I remember their names?

You are so glad for the creation, it is so beautiful, and you get to enjoy riding your bike on it. You are taken on a new portion of the trail, exciting! You always enjoy new trails. You look ahead and see the ribbon. Ahhhh, bliss. Such a beautiful ribbon of six-inch wide single track in front of you. So flowy! You are flying again. Berm to the left, berm to the right, drop, pump, pump, power-up, berm right, berm left, power-up, creek crossing, rock garden, power-up, creek crossing, pump, dog? Dog in creek. Is she sleeping? Catching breath. You praise God for the dog needing to catch her breath and cool down, because so do you!

You realize that no adjectives can describe the scene. You are riding your bike in the Columbia River Gorge on a beautiful day, the sun shining bright. You are with your friends. No mechanicals. No major injuries – aside from Jon accidentally falling and banging his knee while showing Jeff how to clean a section. The irony is fantastic. He’ll be okay. He’ll get up again and do it with you next week.

The drive back – you talk about the ride and riding more together in the future. This is what makes a team an actual team – the unified purpose to enjoy the ride together.

You love being on a team that you feel a part of. These men are such an encouragement and they help you enjoy the ride with them. And you honestly admit that the church could learn from the camaraderie of a well-knit team bicycle team.  There are so many varieties of Christianity: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, etc. But who cares which one you are a member of. Who cares if you ride a single speed, or a 29er, or a full-suspension? They’re still bikes. Likewise, those churches all confess the same thing: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the Triune God – one God and three persons; the full divinity and full humanity of Christ; his actual life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven; and that salvation is only through faith and confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Challenges will always be in your way, there will always be 4,000 foot climbs, but you will persevere through them with your friends, and then you will enjoy the benefits of your hard labor. At the end of the day, you will realize that the unified purpose was to enjoy the journey together in Christ.

Thanks for the awesome rides, gentlemen. Thank you.

A Lesson from my Dad

My Father is a wonderful man.  He taught me how to enjoy learning, how to never give up, how to love a woman (he and my mother have been married for nearly 35 years now!), that a rolling rock gathers no moss, that family is more important than a career, and many other things. One lesson which he taught me stands out above the rest. He taught me this lesson through the telling of a story–like many of his lessons–thus I will retell the story as accurately as I can recall.

father and son

Two lumberjacks were both known for their incredible skills at chopping wood. The first was a young man of 23 years old, incredibly powerful and athletic. Everyone knew him to be one of the best lumberjacks, and he prided himself in that. The second man was an old hand of 70 years of so. He grew up in the trade, coming from a long line of lumberjacks in his family. He was a humble man, and kept to himself for the most part. However, he was so good at what he did, people would still come to him for advice.

Now it came about that there was going to be a wood chopping competition, namely who could chop two cords of wood the quickest. Both of these men were selected to go head to head. And so it began.

At the beginning, both men were keeping on the same pace. The young man because his strength, the old man because his craft had been perfected. After some time, the old man started falling behind a little, so he sat down to take a break. The young man saw this as a wonderful sign and went even harder. The competition kept going, and the old man would take breaks every half hour or so, meanwhile the young man only took a few. The young man could taste victory. However, the young man began to get very tired, and the old man began to overtake the young man. This infuriated the young man, so he began working even harder, but the old man was still somehow beating him. In the end, the old man won the competition. The young man and the spectators were completely dumbfounded.

The young man walked up to the old man and asked, “How on earth did you beat me, you were taking breaks every half hour, I just don’t understand?!?” The old man replied, “You thought I was just sitting down and resting, but in reality, I was sharpening my axe.”

Work smarter, not harder. Don’t forget to sharpen your axe. Why is this the best lesson I learned from my father? Because I think of this story nearly everyday. I work incredibly hard at what I do, but I still takes breaks to “sharpen my axe.” For instance, this last month I have been preparing for oral exams and my thesis defense. The mental energy that goes into this is incredibly exhausting. I put 8-12 hours of study in per day, but I still “sharpened my axe.” For me, this was in the form of playing worship music on my guitar, taking cat naps, and going on daily runs. In other words, I created a balance between my mental, physical, and spiritual life and successfully accomplished what I needed to. Thanks for the lessons, Dad.

What is a valuable lesson that you learned from your parents?

cut tree

Top 6 Tips for Teaching

Teaching is not just something for the classroom. It can be applied to any scenario. Personally, I am a high school teacher, but I have also taught a little at the graduate level, and a little at our church and in Bible studies. I just completed my third master’s degree–all this to say, I have teaching experience and I have experienced the teaching of a lot of really good teachers, as well as that of some really bad teachers. The following is a list of what I think are the Top 6 Tips for Teaching. This list is not a comprehensive end all, this is more of my teaching philosophy than anything else.

Teachers-apple-on-a-desk--007

  1. Teach students, not the subject per se. If your goal is to teach the subject, you have failed. Your goal should be to teach students. They are people first and foremost, and you have been given the opportunity to help these people succeed in life. When students know you care about them, they want to learn. If they don’t think you care, then you could teach the best lesson in the world, but it will not mean a thing to them.
  2. Teach multiple viewpoints and allow the student to come to the conclusions themselves. Not only is this good teaching, it is allowing other people to grow and discover. To simply give one viewpoint is arrogant. If you are dead-set on teaching one viewpoint, you have failed to teach students (cf. #1), and you are simply trying to create a mini-me.  You want to help creative thinkers, not clones of yourself.
  3. Allow the students to grade themselves for at least 25% of their grade based on the effort they have given. By doing this, they will realize that you respect them as people (cf. #1), and chances are, they will actually grade themselves lower than what you would expect.
  4. Relate the material to life. Every class should present some challenge to go further, learn more, search more diligently, study harder, etc. If there is no action step, the lesson will be forgotten. If they talk about you or the class during other classes, lunch, dinner with their family, etc., then you have succeeded.
  5. Don’t punish when they fail, give them the opportunity to try again. Life is this way, so allow your teaching to reflect this. Don’t label your students as “trouble makers,” rather, call out their true identity, they are “children of God.”
  6. Recognize your students’ dreams and coach them. Dreams without actions are just wishful thinking. You are there to help them succeed in life. God has given you this opportunity, now it is your turn to go help your students find their opportunities.

How do you feel about this list? I would love to hear opinions from students and teachers alike.

Can the Truth ever be a Mystery?

Why have we created a dichotomy between science and religion? Or more generally, why have we created a dichotomy between truth and mystery? When I say “we” I do not simply mean this generation, but I mean we as in humanity. It is as though we think that the “truth” is simply one thing which we can comprehend entirely. We have placed a dichotomy between truth and mystery. We only allow ourselves to succumb to mystery when we are at our wits end; we have proclaimed that to proclaim mystery is failure. But why? Is there no beauty to mystery? Is there no truth to mystery? Why can’t we view mystery as truth? Certainly not as the ‘whole’ truth, but as truth nonetheless.

God is other than this world, and as such he cannot be observed. Whenever we seek God, there is mystery involved. And whether we calvin mysteryare studying the vastness of physics and astronomy, or the microscopic of chemistry and biology, we cannot allow ourselves to try and find God in these things. If we think we can find God in these things, then we have allowed ourselves to say that God is confined to this world. It is true that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ–I am simply saying that there is no scientific way to locate God. He is in all things, and creates all things, but we cannot locate him. God’s presence is always a matter of grace, and we can only receive grace, we cannot find it.

If we cannot ‘find’ God on our own, how are we to understand him and have faith in him? We can only understand that which we know, and knowing is best understood in a face-to-face relationship, and we can only ever have a face-to-face relationship if we are invited into the presence of God by grace, and we can only receive this grace by faith. And this is a mystery, but it is also the truth.

riddleWe can never understand faith, because it is based upon a God which is other than this world, and thus there is no way to scientifically observe and measure it. However, we can certainly use our faith to seek an understanding of God, but we must never forget the element of mystery, and that this side of heaven we only see dimly, but there will come a time when we will see him fully and clearly, and face-to-face.

Do you think that mystery can be a beautiful thing?

Do you agree that the truth can be a mystery?

The Key to a Successful Marriage

W601- 119I brought the office to Heart Coffee Roasters today, and I have the privilege of watching them roast it while drinking a latte with two hearts in it—the coffee roasting process is fascinating to me because it is steeped with science, and I happen to love science. There are so many variables which could go wrong from the time of harvest to the time of pulling your shot of espresso, but through hours upon hours of practice and hypothesis after hypothesis, the product which I am drinking today taste absolutely fantastic. I compare this to my marriage…

Sara and I are celebrating our 7th Anniversary today! Marriage is not an easy task in the slightest. Over the past seven years we have had our share of highs and lows, but through it all we have decided to remain faithful to one another because we know how fabulous it can be and we know that God joined us together. There is no one method to practicing a good marriage, it is just like coffee in that sense. Some people prefer a coffee that is so thick and dark that it will put hair on your chest, and others prefer coffee so lightly roasted that it closely resembles a tea. Even so, in this process there are wonderful failures—failures so miserable you can laugh later on. For instance, have you ever had a friend whom tried to roast coffee in his kitchen and filled the entire house with a putrid stench? Some people do this with their marriage—they put little to no thought into some of their actions, hoping for the best but ending up with a disaster. That does not mean it is the end though.

Sara and I are aware of what it means to practice. She is a wonderful pianist, cyclist, personal trainer, and baker. She is good at these things because she has put in hours upon hours of practice towards each of these disciplines. I have not yet mentioned that she always knows how to cherish a person. She knows how to listen. She knows how to hold onto a friend and never let go. She is a fighter, and she will not quit—even when it means she is dying on a bicycle and has another lap to go, she will finish the race. Has Sara ever messed up? Of course she has, but she knows how to admit she was wrong and win back a friend—a feat which can be harder to do than destroying a city!

When we first got married, I would seek out counsel from more mature couples and ask them questions about how to have a successful marriage. My pastor, Jerry Malone, recommended I do three things every day: 1. Kiss my wife every day, 2. Read the Bible with my wife every day, and 3. Pray with my wife every day. I am realizing that I fail to do these things with my wife on a consistent basis, but I know that when I do these things, it is absolutely wonderful. I pray that I begin following through on the advice which I received from one of the men whom I trust more than any other. These three things are not universalized methods; these are simply principles which will help the process. For instance, when roasting coffee, you need a source of heat, a process for keeping the heat even, and a process to properly cool the beans….aside from that you can do whatever you want! This is like the three principles which Pastor Jerry gave me. These things ought not to be a source of bondage; rather, they ought to be the things which set our marriage free in our love for one another.

I adore my wife. She is my joy and my crown. She is lovely beyond compare. She is my beloved. The journey of our marriage continues towards that perfect cup of Esmeralda.heart coffee

 

We are Moving to Belgium!

We have a Big Announcement: We are moving to Belgium! A country filled with European history which also happens to be the land of bicycles, chocolate, and gourmet beer—things which we tend to enjoy on occasion. However, that is not the draw for us! We truly feel God calling us in this direction and Lord willing we will be flying to Belgium this July, and staying for the next 3-4 years.

KU Leuven

KU Leuven

If you have known me (Michael) for more than 10 minutes, you know my passion for teaching truth and wisdom, and that I pour my heart into my students. Becoming a professor with these values has always been my dream, and the world renowned faculty of Theology and Philosophy at KU Leuven will help me get there. During my conversations with the Faculty, I made it very clear that I will be writing my dissertation on the idea of church reconciliation between Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians, and they were intrigued to hear my thoughts and invite me to study with them. We believe that Church reconciliation is a possible impossibility, and we will continue pursuing reconciliation by faith, knowing that we worship the God of the impossible.

My wife (Sara) loves to serve others and wants to use this opportunity in Belgium to become involved with student life and the local church. At the same time, she will also continue pursuing her love for competitive cycling and is hoping to continue working in the fitness industry when we move (she has been a personal trainer for the last 4 years). None of this would be possible were it not for Sara’s continually love and support.

KU Leuven is located in Leuven, Belgium (about 25 minutes east of Brussels) and was founded in 1425, making it the oldest Catholic university in the world. KU Leuven is a fantastic university and we are incredibly excited for this opportunity to possibly earn a PhD in the next 3-4 years. The difficult part is leaving our family and friends. The people of Portland have truly impacted our lives in a wonderful way. We will miss you tremendously and we will certainly welcome if you ever decide to come visit us in Belgium. Please sign up for email updates so that you can follow us and pray for us during our journey.
All our love,
Michael & Sara

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