“I would first and foremost like to thank God who led me to the Master’s program at Southern Nazarene University (SNU) and graciously showed me I could go further when I came to the end of myself.” So begins the Acknowledgements page of the thesis I completed earlier this month.
The journey began much earlier, May 4-8, 2008, in Grapevine, TX, as a matter-of fact. I am a registered nurse, working in a hospital-based Out Patient Surgery Unit. My manager strongly encouraged two of my coworkers and me to go along to the National Conference of the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) with her. As I had never gone to a national conference before, I went with few expectations. What I saw at the conference were intelligent, highly educated nurses making a difference. What I unexpectedly caught there was a vision. I wanted to be one of those nurses. From that moment forward I was gripped by a deep conviction that I was supposed to complete my master’s degree.
I began online classes late fall the same year through Oklahoma Wesleyan University. To say that adding full-time school work to a 40+ hour/week full-time job was a shock to my system would have been a gross understatement. However, there was an upside. I started back to school not too terribly long after my divorce. All I wanted to do was spend my time off work alone at the house. Friends were worrying about me, but once I began school, staying home on weekends to do assignments was a socially acceptable reason for being alone. Working consistently, I completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing the fall of 2010.
There was a point at which just thinking of applying to a university for a master’s degree gave me the willies, but I did it anyway. I started the Master’s of Science in nursing education degree at Southern Nazarene University the spring of 2011; completed classes October 2012.
Shortly after beginning the master’s program at SNU, I chose as my research topic spirituality. I spent the next year and half researching spirituality, but when it came time to turn it into a thesis, I could not get it to write regardless of how hard I tried. Reluctantly, I started looking about for a different topic. A stroke of inspiration led me to the topic of “The Effects of Prayer as a Coping Strategy for Nurses.” I spent the next year researching the new topic, then the following year actually writing the thesis. I was amazed and encouraged by the amount of scientific research regarding prayer.
Through the master’s program I learned that a thesis was not indeed simply a paper to write, but a report of original research accomplished by the researcher (me). I was blessed in that ASPAN agreed to let me use their membership to run my research (answer my questionnaire). Over a two-week period, 1259 nurses completed the research instrument (survey) entitled “Prayer Functions Scale” by Drs. Bade and Cook! Thank you, Jesus! I was hoping at least one or two nurses would complete and submit the survey. One of my professors told me that it is very unusual for a private research study to get that many responses. Perhaps a government or large corporation research study would have a large response. Go God! The large numbers made it possible to determine if, indeed, nurses use prayer as a coping strategy. To boil a great deal of data down into a summary, the greater number of the nurses responding to the research survey acknowledged using prayer as a coping strategy in their day-to-day work as nurses. I was able to complete the thesis November 2014 and graduated December 2014.
I couldn’t think of a way to make the timeline of life-events that happened while I was in school interesting, so here they are listed as bullet points:
- 2009, a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage IV.
- December 14, 2009, 1st grandchild was born!
- August 5, 2011, 2nd grandchild born!
- November 24, 2011, a kind, gentle, patient man from church asked me out.
- The next six months I spent freaking out – I had been praying for the gift of singleness up to that point.
- August 25, 2012, the kind, gentle, patient man proposed.
- August 30, 2012, my son became very ill requiring him to move back home.
- August 31, 2012, my brother and sister-in-law separated unexpectedly.
- August 31, 2012, my dear friend was diagnosed as terminal.
- September 3, 2012, my son was hospitalized for a week.
- October 27, 2012, I got married!
- October 29, 2012, my dear friend decided to stop transfusions which she had been requiring every 4-7 days. At that time, it looked as if her life would be measured in days.
- May 21, 2013, my husband of 7 months was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
- May 22, 2013, my dear friend died surrounded by family and friends.
- Early November, 2013, my son was healthy enough to move out.
- August 31, 2014, 3rd grandboy was born!
Working on the assignments for the master’s degree just about broke my brain at times! It was extraordinarily tough! I had to grow to support the thesis. Looking back, the only way I could have made it through was by the grace of God and his strength. What kept me from quitting was 1) I had accepted scholarships that I would have had to pay back if I did not complete the degree program, 2) I had announced to my kids that I was going to get a master’s degree and they believed me, and 3) I still held the deep conviction that I was to get this degree.