I recently received a wonderful email from a reader:
"Good Evening Jon, I read your column most every week. This week's column reminded me of my upbringing, move forward with your head down, work hard, and be good. At 63, I am coming to know something of infinite value and worth — I am God's beloved. Your thoughts on not daring to dream or aim too high, lest there be disappointment, is so rooted in our post World War II parents and grandparents. Thank you for giving voice to those feelings and longings.
"As a young Christian mom, not growing up in a faith household, I wanted to walk in faith, but did not know what that looked like. I wanted my children to go to college and thought it wise to model that myself. At the age of 32, we had enough for food and shelter, but little else. I asked a counselor if I could pay the $50 fee in four installments, I needed some wise counsel. My ask, 'Was it wise to pursue college, for myself and to model well for my children?'
"I will never forget his kindness. He let me know God put me here for a purpose and part of that purpose was to dream what I could do with the gifts he had given me. That session, the seasoned wisdom of that kind and wise counselor gave me the courage to dream, risk, and reach out. I look back and am in awe of how God moved on my behalf.
"I went to Twamley Hall and asked if I could register for one class. The registrar sent me to Tom Rand, an advisor at UND. Such a kind and caring man, within an hour I was registered for a closed class and on my way to my first semester. Every semester along the way we were provided for, and soon we felt we could afford two classes at a time.
"I woke early to study, put many a supper in the crock pot, and slowly worked my way through to my junior year — elementary education as my major. Then the flood of 1997 hit. My insurance man told me there was a grant for older students. I discovered the state of ND had loans for teachers, paid back with five years of service. I completed my last year in a year, the same year my daughter entered college.
"I have never forgotten the encouragement of the counselor and the advisor at UND. Though our meetings were brief, their belief in me changed the trajectory of my life.
"Thank you for your column. You never know who needs encouragement to dream amidst the foggy struggle or believe in themselves when no one is there to encourage them on. We would all love a cheering section, but often, like God, it is one still small voice that says, 'I believe in you, you have what it takes' or something of the nature of, 'Yes, I think this is worth pursuing, though the path is not clear.'
"Today my children both have completed college, with their master's, and I am Judith Konerza, Ph.D. I have no greater honor than to love and serve in the name of my Savior and King, Jesus."