Author Archives: Ryan

About Ryan

We are native Alabamians who have been displaced to Chicagoland for a season. Ryan is a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School studying for his MDiv. Laura is a dentist working at Dekamore Dental.

Why Are We Here?

Hello friends and family. I know Laura and I have already blogged about our move, but I wanted to give a brief update on why on earth two Southerners who have never lived outside of Alabama decided to pick up and move to the big city.

As you likely know, Birmingham is our hometown, the place we were raised and thought that we would likely stay until the end of our days. After getting married and God working out the details where both of us would be able to attend school in Birmingham, it seemed like we would never leave, and we were okay with that. Getting out and exploring is fun, but maybe not for us.

During the Spring of 2010, I began to question what I was doing in seminary and what my end goal was. The thought of pastoring a church terrified me, I didn’t know if I was bright enough to get into a PhD program, and I thought that I might be able to do more good working in the world rather than in the church.

I started thinking over what I was naturally gifted in and how I could apply that to a career. For those of you who did not know me since high school, I happened to be an all-star mathlete. Yes, you read that correctly. Mathlete. I had a T-Shirt that said “Briarwood Mathletics” across the front, a letter for my letter jacket that read “Math” down the big “B,” and even found some ribbons lying around from the glory days of my mathletic career. Ridiculous, I know, but I honestly was really good at math. So why not rekindle the flame, maybe look into teaching math, and just see how that goes? I began volunteering at Restoration Academy (a Christian school in Fairfield) on Saturday mornings. I bought books to brush up my Calculus. I even worked for a time as a paid tutor, terrifying as that may seem. I began to look into teaching programs at UAB to possibly get a master’s degree in secondary education.

Well, to be fair, I gave it a good try. But as the old saying goes, “You use it or you lose it.” When some kids start pointing out where I was messing up on problems, or you find yourself saying, “I have no idea how they got that number,” it’s probably time to find something else.

Not only that, but I was digging in more and more into trying to be a good teacher of the Bible in my college small group and in our couples’ small group. I just love studying and teaching the Bible. Moreover, I began to think more and more about the Church and about what God means for the church to be. I listened to pastors who were faithful expositors and godly leaders as they shepherded their people. I thought back to those days and weeks and months when the Lord had brought great joy through the study of his word and had ignited a passion to teach it to others. It all kind of clicked, and I knew that I wanted to go back to complete my Master of Divinity degree.

“Wait. Now, what was it that you received at Beeson?” That was an MTS, a Master of Theological Studies. It is a 60 hour degree that is meant for the motivated layperson. The MDiv is a 96 hour beast that is the basic degree that most pastors get.

So I began to look at seminaries, again. Since I already had one degree under my belt, I knew some places that I wanted to visit due to their professors and their respectability as academic and ministerial institutions. While Beeson is a great school, I thought that it might be nice to get out of Birmingham, and the fact that they do not offer a PhD or a ThM (Master of Theology, a one year advanced degree beyond the MDiv; I know the acronyms get confusing!) was a negative as well. The two schools I narrowed the search to were Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts (northeast of Boston), and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois (north of Chicago). Both are near big cities, both have some great faculty, both are highly respected. After visiting both and talking with alumni from both, Trinity seemed like the best fit for what I wanted and where I thought God might be leading our family.

So, here we are! Laura has a great job starting this week at a dental practice in Dekalb, Illinois called Dekamore Dental. I start at TEDS in August. We are living in Arlington Heights, which is a nice northwest suburb of Chicago. We know almost nobody in the area, but are so excited to be in a new place. Even over the past couple of weeks, we have had to trust in the Lord’s provision and lean on one another more than we have in a long time.

How could you pray for us? I’m so glad you asked! Please pray that we would find a church home. I’ve been at Brook Hills for forever, and Laura and I found another family there among our small group. Trying to find a new church is daunting, but God is faithful and will lead us where we need to be. Pray for Laura’s job. She hasn’t started yet, but it is an hour drive from our apartment and she is working with people she has never known in her life. Pray for safety in her commute and opportunities to share the gospel with her coworkers. Pray for school for me. I’ve been off for a year and half now, and I’m hoping that it is like riding a bike, but who knows! Finally, pray for our marriage. This is a unique time for us, before kids and in a place where all we have right now is each other. Pray that God will use it to deepen our affections for one another.

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