I want to say right away, the support we receive in the form of prayers and financial aid is greatly appreciated and so are all supporters. My family has been in Ambridge, PA for just over a month now, and I am completing my first week in seminary. My wife and I feel like it has been 3 years already. The struggle to get moved and settled has seemed overwhelming at times.

We miss Charleston, our home for the past 20 years. Fellow first-year seminarian from South Carolina Martha Horne and I have realized how blessed we are to have a supporting parish (St. James) and a supporting Diocese; however, we certainly miss the closeness of our family and friends. The other side is that we have become a part of a new family here at Trinity School for Ministry. It is hard to imagine that we have met so many friends and become grounded in the seminary community after such a brief time. What God does here daily in our relationships is nothing short of miraculous.

Balancing life has become my challenge. Each day I tend to look at the day and the few days upcoming and determine my study topics and schedule and what events I have planned. The work required for the seminary classes is overwhelming. I deal with a certain level of anxiety about getting it all done as soon as possible.

My heart desires as much time as I can manage with my family. My 5 year old daughter Madeline and 12 week old Jack are a joy. I cannot get enough of them, but they don’t really help with the studying.

I also need stress relief. For me this comes through exercise. I have been ever thankful to God since finding a great park for hiking and walking the dog. This area is also great for biking. Along with running, I have been hiking and biking regularly. I am currently in denial about the approaching cold weather here, so that is not a concern yet for me.

The most important item on my plate continues to be my relationship with God. I remind myself daily that studying for seminary, whether reading a book about prayer or the Old Testament, is not personal quiet time with God, even though it can often be devotional. I have found that my time with God becomes most rewarding at night alone in the basement (where I spent the first week here cleaning, scrubbing and painting.) After everyone else is asleep and I set aside the seminary books and ignore them and the computer, I seek communion with God. Mercifully, he condescends to meet me according to this schedule.

The seminary has chapel service in the morning Monday through Friday. Initially, I thought attending chapel would be a burden. I wondered if I would have to go each morning. I find myself rushing in the morning to get to chapel early to pray and sit quietly with God. Chapel services are a blessing and a perfect start to a school day. We have also been welcomed at nearby churches we have visited.

So, this Friday afternoon I’m skipping the pickup flag football game to study. My family is going to the Pittsburgh Pirates game tonight (It’s free ballcap night!). Tomorrow morning a fellow classmate and I are meeting early for a bike ride through the beautiful and STEEP hills, then studying, a class get together Saturday night, church Sunday morning, study, watch the USA v. Brazil soccer game Sunday afternoon, then take Henry our golden retriever and Madeline to the park, then home for more studying. In between it all, I’ll change diapers and feed the baby, put up blinds, maybe mow the yard (probably not now that I think about it), try to spend as much time with the family, and each night meet with God as the first in importance even at the end of the day.

I consistently deal with a barrage of thoughts tempting me to worry like “when is our house in Charleston going to sell?” “should I get a loan or a job?” “how cold is it going to get here?” “Have I studied greek long enough today?” “Is it safe to spend this much time in the basement?” “When should Jack start playing soccer?” Ahhh…”Holy Spirit, Come.”