It's that Ephesians 3:20 favor that provides more than we could ever imagine or ask for. So on this week's podcast, I dive into how the Lord showed up and showed out with three fully paid-for degrees.
From a young age, I embraced standing on the Word of God, both literally (we'll dive into that) and figuratively. Time and time again, the Lord showed up and delivered on his promises over my life.
I can't wait to share with you my educational-career journey. Let's get right into todays' Truths & Promises.
Visit our Podcast page to listen online, Google Podcast Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.
Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or
imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and
in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we
do not see."
2 Corinthians 5:7: "For we live by faith, not by sight."
Get Caught Up with Episode 1: Catching Feelings: Facts v. Feelings v. Truth
That Ephesians 3:20 Type Favor: 3 Degrees Debt Free - Transcription
Hey y'all, hey, and welcome to this week's episode of the Truths and Promises podcast. I am so excited to share with you all this week my career professional journey testimony. And, this is a testimony that I think stands out the most, one I like to share, mainly because, if you don't know, I've been a career student my entire life. Here, I am at the age of 28, and I am finally starting my first real adult job. Let me just say, adulting is not easy, and this has been such a tough journey, but we're here. It's happening. I'm a real adult now, no longer a student. So it's a thing, and here we go. So today, I wanted to share this journey with you all? Honestly, in my own eyes, I'm no one special. But my friends, my family, others in my life, who've heard this testimony, have come to help me realize that I've had the opportunity to do some extraordinarily special things. Even if I, myself, may not feel that I'm special, I've done some cool things. I'm not sharing my story to brag or say, "Hey, look at me and how great I am." I'm sharing my story, partly because, as a new podcaster, I want you all to know who I am and who you're listening to, but also because, you know, honestly, I take zero credit for what has taken place in my life. Yes. I have worked hard and persevered and remained steadfast, and have stuck it out. But I don't think I could have done any of that without being empowered by God to do so.
At the end of my doctoral dissertation defense, I definitely gave honor to God, and to Jesus, to be exact, because I didn't want any confusion. All right. When I say giving honor to God, who's the Lord and Savior of my life, I mean giving honor to Jesus, who is the Lord and Savior of my life. And I did this, not because I'm so holy cause, y'all I mean, if I gave you some of my other testimonies, I'm not that holy, but you know, I've been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. And so here we are, but really, and truly, because I know if it wasn't. If I didn't give honor to God at that moment, I would not have truly been able to relish and live in that moment of having finally defended my dissertation. I also honored Jesus at that moment because I knew at that moment, and I still know today, that it wasn't by my might or by my own power that I was able to achieve that success of getting my Ph.D. So I knew that I had to give honor to God. I mean, honestly, the week leading up to that dissertation defense, I had taken time to make my acknowledgment slides, and I had gone back and forth about whether or not I wanted to put a slide in there that was specific to me giving honor to God. And honestly, I didn't; I decided not to do it because I was scared of offending people. I knew some folks there were Jewish or Buddhist. I knew some folks were atheists and didn't believe in God whatsoever. And I didn't want to offend them. But at the end of the day, y'all, the gospel is offensive. And like, it is just sort of what it is.
But also, I think as Christians; sometimes we do a lot to hide who we are because we're fearful of what others might assume about our Christian identity. But I don't feel like other folks do that much work, that in itself is a whole nother podcast so that I won't go on that tangent, but I will say, I gave honor to God during that dissertation defense because literally this journey would not have happened without Him.
So as you may know, from my bio somewhere or from knowing me, I am among the first in my family to get a college degree and to receive my Ph.D. I am trained as a health services researcher, and I study racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities among older adults. More specifically, I look at the impact of racism on access to high-quality long-term services and supports.
That's not what this podcast is about; maybe in the future, I'll share a part of that, if anyone's interested in talking about that, but this podcast is more about the journey. It's about the story and it's about the faith that got me to this place. I'm hoping that, in this podcast space that I can help to debunk the idea that you have to know your purpose before moving forward.
Because if that were the case, what would be the point of living by faith anyways. I must be honest and say, I didn't always know where I was going or how I was going to get there, but I just kind of moved one degree at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, just kept moving forward. So, you know how this story ends to date?
I'm an Assistant Professor here in Minnesota at the U. I am married. I have a doggie. I've got a great husband, Justin; things are good. But I want to share how this all started. So in the sixth grade, there was a woman that God used to speak to my parents and me, and she stood in front of me and told my parents that they would never, and I quote, never has to pay a dime for my education, but wait, let's go back further.
And if you've heard me speak before at a church, you might've heard this story, but at the age of four, something arose in me and caused me to do something a little strange. I think my family had been listening intently to sermons and teachings on faith. And I could recall hearing a minister say, you have to stand on the Word of God.
Okay. Yes, not God, but God. Okay. And at that age, I was obsessed with mimicking people. I would repeat whole conversations. I don't like I would kind of do these things mindlessly, and then my grandma would tell me, "Cut it out. Stop listening to grown people talk." And I think she still kind of says those things to me to this day, "Lillo' girl," as she calls me. I would, you know, sometimes line up my dolls and pretend to be my teacher. I would even pull out the music stand at our house and stand it and stand it up and stand at it like as if it were a pulpit. And I would preach a sermon or two from time to time. And one evening just before dinner, while my mom was cooking at the stove and my father was in the living room with his feet propped up, watching TV, I pulled the music stand out and set it up where they both could see me and hear me because I had a sermon to preach.
Let me just say; I actually remember this. This is, I'm not recounting the story that someone told me, like, no, I remember this. And probably because it might've been traumatizing. So I was all set up to begin my sermon, and I said, "Today, I want to talk about faith." Then as I was coming to a close, at the height of my sermon, I said, you know, this is the height where the organ's playing and the people are standing to their feet. Like, "Oh, how is she going to close?" You know, all the, all the hype that happens towards the height of the sermon. I said, "Sometimes when you have doubt, and you have fears and you don't know what to do, you have to stand on the Word of God," ...just like that. I said, "you have to take the Bible, put it on the floor and stand on top of it."
My mom immediately ran over from the stove to grab my small four-year-old frame off the tiny four-by-three Bible, which I had literally placed on the floor and stood on top of. Maybe it was her snatching me off that made this a traumatic memory, and perhaps that's why I still can remember it until this day, but either way, the moral of that story is that faith and standing on the Word of God has been beyond real to me since a very young age.
So when that Word of God was spoken over me and to my parents, that they would never have to pay a dime for my education. I latched onto it, and I never let it go. Don't get me wrong, I worked hard, but when it was time to apply to college, I wasn't getting many scholarship offers, and I didn't quite have the stamina to apply to 500 scholarships, like some of the students I knew, in order to, you know, sort of make ends meet. But God. Okay. He had a plan. That year that I was graduating, 2011, shout out to class at 2011, a gap scholarship was created out of nowhere. There was a man who I had never known, who sort of randomly decided to liquidate his assets and find students to support.
I was among the inaugural class of students that he would provide gap scholarships. My scholarship was to the tune of about $64,000- ish dollars, which was exactly what I needed after accounting for the merit scholarship I received from the University of Central Florida and the Florida Bright Futures scholarship, which every Floridian receives if they maintain X GPA, whatever it is. The gap scholarship made it so that my tuition, housing, and all of my other expenses were covered for all four years of college. Every semester I would receive a lump sum of all the funds I needed, and all I had to do was budget, and I would be set for the semester.
In case you missed it. This was a never-before-seen scholarship that happened to be created for the exact year I was graduating. This is only a thing that God can do. Now, maybe you say, you know, this was serendipity or something else, but this was the beginning of a pattern that I would see throughout the remainder of my educational career.
So now, let's fast forward to my senior year of college. It was time to apply to graduate school. There was a lot of purpose finding in undergrad for me. And, you know, we can talk more about that in the future, but I decided that pursuing a Master's made more sense for me at that time than applying to doctoral programs.
But I had been told by numerous people that, and I quote," no one gets a Master's for free. However, with every person that told me that, I had in the back of my mind and deep in my spirit the prophecy from sixth grade that my parents would never have to pay a dime. And for me, that also meant that I would never have to pay a dime for school. While standing on that Word, I applied to graduate schools. As you probably know, I ended up landing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; go heels. But what you probably didn't know is that going there was a series of divine interventions. I never thought I could attain UNC because, well, who am I? Nobody. So, two weeks before the application was due, I met a recruiter, shout out to Trinet, who is now still a really great sister-friend of mine. And she convinced me to apply because, well, what did I have to lose by applying? So I took those two weeks, got my application in, and ended up getting an interview. I got flown out to Chapel Hill. That's one nice part of interviewing. So I flew out to Chapel Hill to interview, and the morning of the interview, I prayed this prayer, and I think this is somewhere on the 1140 blog as well, but the prayer said:
"Where it is needed, Lord cause a divine substitution to happen, if that is what will move me ahead. Whether it be the interviewer, exam proctor, administrative assistant, whoever, shift the atmosphere now to be conducive to my success. Transfer, remove or change anyone who was focused on stopping my success. Let power change hands to the hands of your Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus."
Soon after that prayer, I found out via email that my interviewers had changed. Now, this was huge, for two reasons:
1. I have already researched the previously assigned interviewer so that I could relate to their interests and have a conversation and say things that I knew aligned with something they were interested in. And now I had less than an hour to get to know the new interviewers, to do research.
2. This was also huge because two, I had just prayed this prayer of divine substitution, and I could only hope and pray that this was God moving on my behalf.
And truly today, I believe that it was. I ended up interviewing with two Christian believers, and one of whom was the key to everything. When I was admitted to the university, I got back in touch with one of my interviewers to let them know that I may choose somewhere else, and they quickly responded, and I quote, "Please do not make another decision until we speak again." I have been taught enough, okay, by this point to know that that seemed like good news. And then, sometime later, they emailed me to inform me that I would be receiving a $20,000 merit scholarship. Now, these sorts of scholarships are the scholarships that they just drop in your account. So $20,000, just like that. And then they also told me that I was also receiving a graduate assistantship that would cover my tuition, health insurance, which I hadn't had for the past four years, and a bi-weekly stipend.
Again, everyone I knew said that I would have to pay for a Master's. But God. I was still standing firmly on his Word, and he showed me Ephesians 3 and 20, type favor. That type of favor that is exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask, think, imagine in the Shekinah version, I like to say no to apply to. According to the power that's working on the inside of us, Ephesians 3 and 20 type favor is the favor that pops up when we don't even know to ask for X, Y or Z. We don't even know to ask for a graduate assistantship. We don't even know to ask or apply to be thrown into a merit scholarship pot wouldn't even know these things, but God makes them happen anyways.
That's Ephesians 3 and 20 type favor. By the way, this assistantship that I receive only opens once every two years. So yeah. Look at that divine timing and intervention, similar to the undergraduate gap scholarship; God was right there and right on time. Free masters, done and check. And then came time for the free Doctorate.
So I was taught as a McNair scholar, shout out to Natalia and Michael that you never pay for a Ph.D. And if you're paying for it, you're doing something wrong. Now, since then, I have met a lot of people, a lot of great people who are paying for their Ph.Ds. So in their Doctorates. So, you know, I can't quite say that, but I will say similar to the words spoken to me in sixth grade. I like latched onto that thing. Okay. Having a fully-funded Ph.D. offer was never really a concern of mine because I was told that I should never have to pay for it. But in truth, Shekinah, standing on the Word, four- year old Shekinah, standing on the Word of God fashion, I had to believe that God would once again show me the Ephesians 3 and 20 type favor that goes above and beyond what I applied to.
And that he did. After receiving my offers to Brown, Johns Hopkins and USF, I narrowed it down to Brown and Hopkins. I had no clue where I should choose, and then I received a Word that God was giving me divine providence, meaning that no matter where I chose, God would be with me. God also gave me a vision of a building and said, this is where you will go.
While sitting at Brown during a visit, one day, I saw that building through a window across campus, just how I saw it in my vision. I knew Brown was the place, but to sweeten the deal, God allowed for other confirmations. And I love this about God. Okay. He will send confirmation after confirmation, after confirmation. Nice little cherries on top. So while I was sharing my offer with my mom, she said to me, I see $10,000. The offer is $10,000 short. And in so many words, I told her and tried to explain that she was wrong. That's not how grad school works. You can't negotiate in extra money, and we all get the same stipend. So there was no way for another $10,000 to magically appear or even divinely appear because she said, this is what God shared with her. But, even though at that point, I stopped standing on Ephesians 3 and 20, she continued to expect more and the more came in the form of a fellowship. So the fellowship offered an additional $3,000 per year for the first three years, an additional $1,000 in research funds to be used however I saw fit, and there it was...$10,000. This was the first year that fellowship was being offered, just like the undergraduate gap scholarship, and similar to my Master's graduate assistantship. God's divine timing couldn't be more perfect. And again, it was all above and beyond what I could imagine, I could ask, I could think, or I even applied to. I walked through these experiences with you all today because they all make me think, "How could I have ever doubted God?"
I'm not in the position to publicly share about my recent job search in the midst of the pandemic, but the little bit I can share is that I was scared going onto the job market. I had my doubts; I had my concerns. I thought maybe I should just do another year in school because no one's hiring. Every university had a hiring freeze, and no one was hiring.
But for no one to have been hiring, I don't have the exact number off the top of my head, but I had to have near 9 to 10, maybe 12, job talks. And in those interviews and job talks, I received several offers. I think I received offers from every place except two. And if not, offers strong interests after I had already accepted another offer to be where I am today.
I can't tell you, you know, how crazy this journey has been, but there were moments when I honestly and truly doubted God. For example, during my bridal shower, someone who I call another mother to me, Apostle, Doctor, LaNise spoke to me and said that she saw dump trucks of blessings that she saw offer after offer coming towards me. And when it came down to it, two days before the deadline of the first offer I received, I only had one offer. But I had a Word from God, seeing that I would have so many offers, and I was just so confused at how God could say I would have so many offers, but I didn't see any of them, except for one.
And that's when Hebrews 11 and 1 came to me, and I wrote it on the board, and I had to remind myself to walk by faith and not by sight. And sure enough, soon after that I had an offer come in, in the morning, an offer come in, in the afternoon and an offer come in, in the evening. I had, I went in a 24 hour period from one offer to four offers.
I ended up accepting an offer, and then the following week, having other universities follow up with me with other offers, it was crazy. It was absolutely insane, but I don't think any of that had anything to do with me. I give all glory and all honor to God for that one. If you take nothing else away from today's episode, I want you to hear that the truth and the promises that I stand on are Hebrews 11 and 1 and Ephesians 3 and 20.
And if my life is an example of nothing else, it's an example of how we should never doubt God because he is faithful. His divine timing is perfect, and he always shows up. He shows up, and he goes above and beyond for those that he loves. And trust me, he loves you too.
All right, y'all, I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I'm looking forward to the next one, and I hope you are too. Have a good one. Be blessed. As always, I'm so happy that y'all could take a listen to today's episode of the Truths and Promises podcast. If you want to connect with me or 1140Glory, go on over to 1140glory.com. There you can find show notes under our blog section, sign up for our email list or join our online community.
If this has blessed you, or if you have topics that you want to be covered, let us know in the blog's comments. And lastly, if you got anything, something, no matter how big or how small from today's episode, then be sure to share it with one of your friends and one of your family members.