This summer (actual date TBD but it's SOON), we will be heading down to Tallahassee for the next 3-5 years. Carson was accepted as a PhD student at Florida State University. He will be pursuing his PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity.
How did this come about? Well, I've mentioned before that Carson applied for programs all over the country (mostly the Northeast and Southeast). He was accepted to Florida State in February, so this option has been on the table for awhile, but we weren't thinking super seriously about it until more recently. Since February, we have been praying for wisdom in making the decision about this school, but due to a few financial things about the program, we were almost ready to call it and stay in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
We didn't feel like we had really clear direction, so we continued praying, but went ahead looking for a job for Carson here and had looked into another place to rent for the next year or so. Our friends were excited about the prospect of us staying, and the biggest reason in the "Pro" column of our decision making list was our church and the people we know in Cleveland. This makes me smile, because the biggest prayer I had when we moved here is that we would find friends. Little did I know that we'd form great friends who would ultimately make it difficult for us to say goodbye. And I dread saying goodbye.
Were we to stay, Carson wasn't sure what the next step would be. He loves the academic setting he's been in and strongly desired to continue on that path, but it felt like the one open door (Florida) wasn't wide open. After consulting students currently in the program, he came to the conclusion that perhaps it wasn't the wisest move. We came to grad school with the prayer that we wouldn't go into debt, and financially, we were uncomfortable with Florida because it might have made us need to take out a loan or two. Not the end of the world, but we weren't sure if the "no-debt" policy meant that the door was closed.
Tallahassee is much closer to my family than I've been in five and a half years, so when that option came up, I was thrilled. Even though we felt like it wasn't a valid option, I asked Carson if we could leave it on the table for as long as we could. The prospect of living in warmth and near family was SO exciting to me, and I selfishly really wanted to pursue it because of those reasons. So we left the option there, knowing that by April 15, we would have to call Florida with a decision. Our prayers shifted to be less about "how can we make Florida work/is this an option" and more about about "please just show us what's next". Carson had a job lined up for the summer and actually had another job offer on the table here, with options to teach adjunct at JCU in the fall.
As my prayers shifted, I began to pray more for Carson. He loves research and the little world he's in, and I can't emphasize that enough for those of you who aren't here to see it personally. He doesn't just do the work he's assigned, he thrives in it. He never thinks he's doing enough, when in reality, he's just eating up everything available to learn. I was never the world's best student, but Carson puts me to shame like you wouldn't believe. Anyway, he loves academia, and so I prayed that a door would open up for him to pursue what he loves to pursue. I know full well that he could have a job as a used car salesman and do well at it and thrive, but this is what he loves, so I prayed that Carson would be able to pursue what he'd like to do, even if it was through an option we'd not considered.
Carson planned logistics for a conference at John Carroll last weekend and the head of the department at Florida State was in attendance. They got a few minutes to talk and it turned out that there were more options for Carson than previously thought. A little more money would be involved and even a few more opportunities. We began praying a little more seriously about Florida. We set Friday, the 11th as our day to decide.
That morning, we discussed our reasons for going and staying. There were strong pros in both columns, and I was completely torn about what we should do. We LOVE our church here and would love to stay for them, but we didn't see job options here and didn't really plan to or feel like we would end up staying in Cleveland, so were those good reasons to stay? Possibly taking the easy way out, I left the final decision up to Carson. He told me after we prayed that he would call the school and then call me later.
When he called, I thought it was because he'd left his lunch or something, because it was only a few hours later. "So I called Florida," he said, as I thought, well there went that option. Cleveland it is. "...and it looks like we have to go there since I told them that we would". This took me by surprise, but I was relieved that a decision was made and also a little shaky that A DECISION WAS MADE.
So we called our families and told them (everyone I called was surprised, but THRILLED) and texted a few friends who'd been asking. Later that day, I put the news up on Facebook, and felt a little bad that all the people I'd told just weeks ago not to worry because we were probably staying were now getting a completely different story. And I'm still sorry, if you're one of those people. I'd made plans for the summer and beyond in my head too and it's going to take a little time for my mind to wrap around it all.
And there you have it: how we decided to move to Florida. If you know anyone in Tallahassee (we don't) or anything about it and can offer words of wisdom in any way, we'd love to hear what you have to offer!
We are excited about this next adventure and I am excited that it will be to a warm place (poor Carson might melt) as this winter has provided me with a wonderful case of Snow-PTSD. Our prayers for a wonderful church and wonderful friends have been more than answered in Cleveland and we're sad to leave, but hopeful that there will be equally wonderful churches and friends awaiting us in Tallahassee. We also hope that Cleveland friends will be more motivated to visit, seeing that Florida is more of a tourist destination than Ohio and since it seems that all Ohio residents either move or visit Florida at some point in their lives anyway.