Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How I became the Dean of Women for Grace University

"Tara, do you think I should go back to school to get my counseling degree?" As I was dialoguing with my friend about whether she move forward to get a masters in counseling; the LORD prompted in my heart a reminder of a childhood dream. As a five-year-old I said, "When I grow up, I want to go to college on a scholarship and I want to be a doctor!" I wasn't thinking medical doctor. I don't even know that I knew what a "doctor" meant. But, I watched how my family celebrated a friends son's accomplishments and I just knew in my heart it had to be for me. I wanted people to be pleased with me, too. My thoughts were immature and naive, but a vision was born and then reignited on that blustery fall afternoon. I went home to share with Greg about the reminder of my dream. He immediately said, "You should do it." So, we prayed and asked God questions. "Why would I get a doctorate?" "For what reasons?" I would like to think I was a lot smarter than my five-year-old need to seek approval, but that little beast comes to haunt me periodically so I must do a God check often on my motives. After much prayer, I realized I longed to be sharpened like iron. I knew I was not giving my best because I needed to learn so much more. After all we can only give what we know and live out. Greg and I both knew I needed to go back to school in order to seek iron. I was not looking for a job or for that matter mans approval. I simply wanted to grow. And grow I did. Like a happy fat caterpillar, I went from class to class the first three years eating up every ounce of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from my professors and colleagues I could grasp-- getting fat on learning and loving it. But, then I moved to the dissertation phase only to discover that it was dark and lonely just like when a caterpillar is all tied up in his cocoon. It takes a lot of struggle to break free of our cocoons, mostly because we can't fly if we don't form just the right amount of butter on our wings and butter is only formed through struggle. Somehow, I have to show that I can fly with all that knowledge, understanding, and wisdom I had accumalated. Throughout the entire process people kept asking, "So, what do you plan to do with a doctorate?" And on a few occasions a few people encouraged me to quit or even questioned my ability to hear from God. In these moments, Greg and I would go back and pray. "Did we hear You correctly, LORD?" Without question, we always heard a resounding, "Yes!" My answer to those about my goals or plans was simple, "I do not plan to do anything, but what I am currently doing. I went to get my doctorate to be sharpened." I had no goals or plans except to be better at what God had already given me to do. But, in the process God began to grow a new dream. I started longing for a focused group of women to disciple. I think it was at the beginning of my second year at seminary that I was given the privilege of speaking at Grace Universities Women's Retreat. As I watched Marilyn Amstutz, the Dean of Women, minister to the women I had a thought, not a prayer, just a thought. "I would love to do what she does." I never thought of it again. Until one day, while perusing my emails I was asking God who should I send my prospectus to so that I can cast the net about the research I have written about using biblical storytelling among the homeless. Just then I saw an email I had written to the new President of Grace, Dr. Barnes, about three months earlier welcoming his family to our children's school Omaha Christian Academy to Grace. I prayed, "Do I send it to him LORD?" Just as I finished praying, an email came in from Dr. Barnes. For a few seconds I was confused. "Did I send it?" I did not. To my surprise, his email stated that he noticed an email I had sent to him about three months prior and he thought to send me an email to let me know that the position for Dean of Women opened at Grace and that they were accepting applications. He wondered if I might want to pray about it. As I read his email, God reminded me about my thought at the Grace Women's Conference. I felt as if God said to me, "See, even when you do not pray I hear you. I am listening." Greg and I prayed and felt that God wanted us to take the steps to move forward, so I applied. Unknown to Marilyn about the emails between Dr. Barnes and me as she prayed about the position she wondered, "Is Tara Rye ready? Would her family be ready? Is she far enough along at school that she would be open?" She decided to go and tell the Dean of Students, Deb Osmanson. As she walked into Deb's office to tell her, Deb said, "Have you ever heard of Tara Rye?" Sometimes, we do not know why God has us do something, but we can trust Him that if we obey He will show us clearly His plan. If you asked me in November if I would be the Dean of Women at Grace University in January, I would have laughed. But, now that I have taken the steps and moved forward I feel that I have finally made it home. I was sharpened for such a time as this. I am so thankful that God has a plan and that He alone will set the path straight. He only asks us to take our steps moving forward in faith and from there He will make all things clear. Today, January 22, 2013, He is allowing me the privilege to begin my journey as the Dean of Women for Grace University. Father, I commit this to YOU alone, for YOUR glory alone. Use me to disciple countless women to be Your disciples to all nations! In Jesus Name, Amen!