Have you had a difficult time and situation in your life and someone is available to help you at the right time, put the pieces together? We have! A couple of people did many years ago for us, but someone specifically helped around 23 years ago, making something that seemed impossible, work out.
We had no idea how it would happen, but Daniel and I really believed that at least he needed to return to college someday ! Daniel had some ideas of what he would like to do and what he would study if he started a college degree. The plan we originally had when we got married, fell through.
We struggled to support our family and once we knew our third child was on the way, there were important decisions to make. Daniel worked very hard to support us. He worked often over 90 hours a week with no breaks for months, managing a restaurant. With more children, we knew we needed better housing options and the cost of living in the Fort Worth area was difficult without having a college degree or both of us working. We knew that it wasn’t good for Daniel to continue working in restaurant management and spending such limited time with our family. Something had to change.
While looking at our options, we met a family who lived at the apartments we lived in also. This family was from out of state but connected us to Bryan College in Dayton Tennessee. Paulakay is now the Alumni director at Bryan! We looked through the handbook and she answered some questions for us as well as connecting us to some key people who could help us. The main person she directed us to was Tom Shaw, the Director of Admissions at the time.
We figured out a way since we lived in Texas and the college was in Tennessee, to go on a 2 day trip, there and back, to check out Bryan College. Originally, we weren’t sure how this would work out because of Daniel’s and my schedule at the time. His boss agreed to allow him to leave for a two days! We had a:
- 14 hour trip there
- 2-4 hours to look at the college and talk to Tom
- Look around Dayton and the surrounding area
- drive 14 hours back to Texas
At this time, we had two daughters who were ages 4 and 2 and another daughter on the way, due in 3 months.
Meeting Tom Shaw at Bryan College
We drove in the afternoon, into the night. In the morning we met with Tom to tour the college and got some help figuring out details for attending college. I remember calling Tom on our way there to make sure that we could still meet with him, and we were able to! There were so many “unknown’s, such as obtaining financial aid and was it likely that a married couple with children even, could make it through college, studying and working?
Going to a private, Christian college was also a higher cost than attending a state school. That was a concern of ours. But, Tom Shaw took the time needed to help us and explain what we needed to know! He gave us advice and helped us understand how this could work for us! He helped us understand enough about the college and the process and details for starting a degree.
Meeting Dayton Tennessee Too!
We didn’t know what the Dayton area was like either and if this was a good move for us. Housing costs and what the community was like was a consideration also. Living in the Dallas/Fort worth area was very large and busy. What would it be like living in a small town? Daniel would have to still work too! These were some thoughts we had and what we needed to consider before moving 14 hours away especially from family.
While in town, we picked up a newspaper so that we could look at some housing options and make some phone calls. We looked around and then looked at each other. Knowing that the situation would be tough, it was clear to us still that we needed to come to Dayton to start college at Bryan. It was important to trust the Lord to bring the circumstances together for us to move, for Daniel to start college and graduate.
As it turned out, Dayton had a much lower cost of living, as far as housing was concerned. Our housing cost was split in half immediately when we moved . Then the following year, the cost was lowered even more by renting a house owned by the college.
Leaving a Permanent Impact
It was not easy, but we could tell through the people we met, especially Tom, that he had a heart that wanted to see people succeed and make a difference in people’s lives. The mission of Bryan College states, they are “educating students to become servants of Christ, to make a difference in today’s world.” We could tell that Tom was well aligned to this mission and was a great example! He did what it took to help us get there.
Tom even told us about the church that he and his family went to. He told us that his wife, Carolyn, led a ministry to mom’s! This was such a valuable ministry to me as a wife and mom. I had an important role to fill to support my husband through school and be available to our children. I needed to stay focused and help encourage Daniel to keep the goal of graduating, in front of him and encourage him along the way.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.Hebrews 11:1 NIV
The Change in our Life
After our trip to Dayton, Daniel continued working for Braum’s until our youngest daughter Jessica, was born. When she was 6 weeks old, we moved to Tennessee. God worked things out in amazing ways! He especially used Tom to help us! Daniel graduated in 2002 with 2 degrees; a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics: Computer Science and an actual Computer science degree. I also returned to school, and graduated from the Aspire program in 2005. This was something that I never even thought possible at the time.
Getting to know Tom and Carolyn and their family through Bryan College and Grace Bible Church was very special and we are very grateful for them! We stay connected still and we want to say Happy Birthday to Tom!
Also, we are very grateful to other people who helped along the way like Paulakay and people in our church, and many of our professors!
Around the time that we were seeking what to do and circumstances were so difficult, a song we listened to often was Sometimes He Calms the Storm by Scott Krippayne. Life seemed like so much of a storm, but God worked things out in great ways. Our problems weren’t fixed soon, but He certainly calmed us, His children, down. He showed us what His plan was for us in the future. We needed to trust Him to lead, guide, and provide for us.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance , obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.Hebrews 11:8 NIV
On our move from Texas to Tennessee, we listened to this song several times. We were also reminded about the example of Abraham, when He was called to move. He did not know where He was going so he had to take one step at a time. Little by little, God made things apparent. He uses people and circumstances in our life everyday to take us where He wants us. We have to walk by faith.
Do you know someone who impacted your life in a big way? Please share your story! Let them know that they were a blessing and help to making it where you are today! I wonder, when you know that others have difficult storms in their life, do you allow God to use you? Think of how you can make a great difference in someone else’s life!
Thank you Tom for your investment in me and my family!!