It was the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas 2006! I laid on my bed on a chilly Christmas night in my Christmas pyjamas under the covers all warm and toasty watching the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie marathon. This was my absolute favorite thing to do during the Christmas season. Most of the story lines were similar: A lady or a guy returns home to care for their aging grandmother, or for a work project and runs into their high school, or college sweetheart, they rekindle their romance, sparks fly and they fall back in love. He proposes the next Christmas under the mistletoe, they get married, and live happily ever after. The end! LOL! These story lines were so cliché and cheesy, but I loved every bit of it and couldn’t get enough of the Hallmark movies. They had a way of putting one in the Christmas spirit, and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. As I laid down, I reached for my hot chocolate on the table, took a sip, and allowed my mind to drift. I began to imagine what life in Charleston was going to be like. I had not received my provisional acceptance letter yet. I made a mental note to send a follow-up email to Ms. Heather the next day.

I sent an email to Ms. Heather, the director of graduate admissions the next day and asked if my official GRE scores had been received. In her reply, she said that she had received my official GRE scores and that they were going to send out the provisional acceptance letter in a day or two. Two days later, and five days to Christmas day, I received a lengthy email from the Graduate Program Director – Dr. Martin (not his real name). Dr. Martin said in his email that he was surprised that I had taken the GRE exam twice. He congratulated me on the 30 point increment on the GRE exam, but also said that they were running on a tight schedule to admit me before the spring semester, and that they would have to defer my admission to Summer 2007. He added that deferring my admission till later would give me an opportunity to retake the GRE exam and prove to him and myself that I could bridge the gap in my GRE scores before he could grant me provisional non-degree-seeking admission. This was a little bit disappointing! I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me to pull up my GRE scores and was going to work hard to prove that I could bridge the gap in my GRE scores. However, I had hoped that receiving the provisional admission letter would be my little Christmas gift. I was a bit sad. I lost my Christmas cheer and was a little bit moody the rest of the Christmas season, but I was thankful to God that I still had a chance.

Few days passed and soon, it was New Year’s Eve. I was excited to finally end the year and ring in a new year full of promises. That day, I had to decide on which church’s New Year’s Eve service/crossover night I was going to attend. I had two options: 1) Go to our really small African church and bind and cast all my “village people”, and all the demons and their cousins as we entered the new year, or 2) Go to Right Direction Christian Center (African-American church), see lots of my peers, be entertained all night with upbeat gospel music, Christian comedy, possibly a recording gospel artist, inspiring messages, and so on… I went with option 2. Don’t blame me LOL, I was young and loved a hype, and fun-filled fellowship 😊. The New Year’s Eve service at Right Direction was everything I expected it to be and more. A few seconds to midnight, as the Pastor was making decrees for the new year, the countdown timer appeared on the projector screens. You could feel the excitement all over the sanctuary as everyone began to countdown together “…5…4…3…2…1 Happy New Year!!” There were loud screams as people celebrated all over the sanctuary as the timer hit 0. The screen showed fireworks and balloons were dropped from the ceiling. I shouted “Hallelujah” repeatedly and then hugged the people who were sitting close to me. I was so thankful to see another year. Soon, the pastor asked us to pray for the new year and then he told us to ask God for something special for the new year. For the very first time in the history of new year services, I told God that I had no special requests for the year. With tears running down my cheeks, all I could say was, “Lord, let your will alone be done in 2007.”

To be continued…