On June 30th Stephanie and I will be loading all that we own into a truck and heading to Ohio. This move is bitter sweet for a number of reasons, but here are a few: (1) Stephanie and I love our church family at Faith Baptist Church, (2) we love the Raleigh area, and (3) we have to say goodbye to countless people that we love and have supported us in so many ways throughout the years.
You must be thinking, “If you love everything about where you live and work, then why would you move?” Good question. Stephanie and I have been careful to pray and to receive counsel about where God is leading us in the future. After sensing the Spirit’s leading, we have arranged our lives to pursue our role in God’s Kingdom. With our gospel goals in mind, our next step was obvious, I need to continue my academic preparation by pursuing a Ph.D.
If there is anything more difficult than post-graduate education, it is providing for a growing family while pursuing further training. To spare you the ups-and downs of our quest, I received a generous scholarship that requires me to be a full-time student. With that information I approached my boss and asked him if I could work less hours each week (in order to study more), and get paid more money (to provide for Stephanie, myself and Hope, our unborn daughter). Like a boss who has a lick of sense, he looked up at me and said, “That’s not how things work around here, Walter.” We had a good laugh and we began to strategize about how I could fulfill my growing family, school, and work commitments and without leaving the job that I love at Faith Baptist Church.
Another large consideration is that Stephanie has a strong desire to be a dedicated mother, and to raise our children in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” This is one of the reasons I love her and married her. It is my desire to provide her the best opportunity to fulfill her passion of motherhood without delaying it because of my schooling. Although raising children does not require a stay-at-home mom, we agreed that if we could afford for her to do so, then we would pursue it.
After months of scheming and plotting we had more questions than answers, and the Lord provided a scenario that answered all of the questions with a few added perks. Beginning in July, I will begin working as a Resident Director at Cedarville University with the possibility of teaching a course in the school of Biblical and Ministry Studies. This is a rewarding job because I will be able to minister to over one hundred undergraduate men in a dorm setting. Due to the nature of dorm-life, my schedule will be flexible enough to allow me an opportunity to excel as a husband, father and a student.
This job also allows me to fulfill a residency requirement for the Ph.D. program at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) we anticipate starting in the fall. The degree requires that I live in Scotland for 6 of the 36 months that I’m in the program. The job at Cedarville allows us to spend our summers in the land where large men wear skirts, but don’t worry, I won’t try to bring that back to the States with me!
We are sad to leave our church that we love, our friends, and our city, but if all goes as planned the Strickland’s will be moving back to the Raleigh/Wake Forest area as late as the fall of 2015 as I will begin teaching theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
On a related note, I mentioned that our little family is growing and that is one of the primary reasons for our move. The Lord has blessed Stephanie and I will a little girl that we named Hope. On May 18th we found out that Hope has two life threatening conditions, so we covet your prayers for our daughter who we love so much.