For a month or so after Jennifer and I decided to respond to God’s call to attend seminary, I was filled with enthusiasm. I was excited to have a reason to escape the paper mill and start doing something I had grown to love—studying Church history and theology. I announced our decision before our whole church, and everyone there (especially our pastor) treated us like heroes.
But then I started looking at the financial ramifications of our decision. As an engineer, I was earning a comfortable living, so much so that Jennifer was able to stay home with our baby. But we realized that quitting my job would mean that we would both have to take near minimum wage jobs, because even though I had and engineering degree, I had almost no real engineering skills. Worse still, since I would only be able to work part time, Jennifer would have to work full time, and Audrey would have to go into day care.
Like a good mathematician, I started crunching numbers, estimating our expenses and our likely (meager) earnings. Fortunately, the seminary owned some apartments, and they rented them at a very low cost. I ordered a scale drawing of the floor plan of an apartment, and I actually drew the model on some graph paper, trying to see where we would fit our few worldly possessions. I remember saying to Jennifer, “there’s not even room for a desk chair in this tiny place! I will have to sit on the bed when I study!” It quickly became clear to us that we would have to sell about half of our furniture just to fit into the apartment.
Soon I realized that even with the low cost of living in a 700-square foot apartment, we would not even be able to earn enough to make ends meet. One evening, in tears, I said to Jennifer, “We can’t do this. There is just no way!” Thankfully, I married a woman of great faith, greater than my own. She said to me, “James, if God is calling us to go to seminary, don’t you think that He will provide for our needs?” I had to admit that she was right. So, the following fall, we loaded up a small moving van and headed for Fort Worth.