In June 2005, I received my Masters degree in Marriage Family and Child Counseling. After graduation I had decided that I was done with my academic studies and would start searching for a job. One day I stopped by my mentor’s office with the intention of discussing my plans with her. After telling her my plans, she looked up at me with a big smile, sweetly and softly said, “Oh no, you’re not done you’ve have to keep going… you will become Dr. Cooper.” I laughed and responded, “Yeah right, sounds good but Dr. Gena (my shortened name for her) a PhD program? Not for me.” After giving this much thought, talk, argument, and consideration, I agreed to pray about this and to keep her posted. Shortly thereafter, God confirmed that this was his plan for me. Fearful and clueless I decided that I would further my studies in Clinical Psychology. I began my search for the college that would be a good fit for me with the desired program. After attending three orientations, I selected a school and started the process. I attended the school’s weekend orientation and gathered more information about the program. A few weeks later, I was scheduled for an interview with the school. My interview went well . A week later I was notified that I had been accepted into the Clinical Psychology program with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. During this phone call I was told that I needed to contact the Financial Aid Department. “Oh my gosh, I suddenly thought…financial aid?” I suddenly realized that throughout this entire process, after attending three orientations, I had not looked into the cost of these programs. What was I thinking? Was I crazy? Had I lost it? I immediately started praying, crying, and rushed to call my mentor. I gave her the details and told her how I had made this decision totally backwards and that I had no idea how this was going to happened. I also informed her that I needed $1000 in less than a week. I knew that a lecture was coming. I knew she would ask me how I had overlooked the financial part. Suddenly she began laughing and explained that she was not laughing at me. I’ll never forget her next words, “You weren’t suppose to know about the money first, if you had you would not have pursued the task. You are where you are supposed to be. God did not want you to focus on the money part just yet. He did not bring you to this place to stop…proceed forward and keep me posted.” I continued to ask the whys and hows. My mentor continued to encourage me politely got off the phone and asked me to keep her posted. I sat there in my car for a while looking at my cell phone thinking that she was as crazy as I was. Being overwhelmed by this all I felt I needed a church…a sanctuary to sit and talk with God. I remembered that I had to take my grandson to Vacation Bible School and decided that I would sit in the sanctuary then and talk with God.
As I sat in the chapel at Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena, California I began talking with God. As the tears poured, I shared my fears, and lack of understanding. I told God how inadequate I was, how this was a task that I felt that I could not do. I was totally authentic with him standing clean before him. Suddenly, I felt his presence like I never felt before. God revealed to me that I was to trust him, try him, as he teaches me. I was to start this journey knowing that I was to be His chosen untainted vessel. I fought to stay in a place like Moses did giving many reasons why I could not do this. Finally, in my brokeness I yielded knowing that this was a calling from God, I wanted to be obedient. I left the chapel a changed individual having experienced God on a new level.
Miracles took place like never before within the next few days. A friend called me and told me she had the $1000 that I needed. Another person whom I had only met one time during orientation called me to check on the status of my application. I told her that I had gotten accepted and had applied for financial aid. She told me that the purpose of her call was to open an account so that I could purchase my books…another $500. She told me that she had shared my story with her husband about raising my grandson and starting a doctoral program. She stated that they were Christians, her husband was impressed and wanted to do something to help. Were these my angels? God was definitely in the midst of all this. I thanked her and accepted the gift. She explained that she had already set this up and that all I needed to do was to call the bookstore and give them my address. All I could do was to thank God!
About a month later, I began my doctoral program. My first weekend at school I was still uncertain if I had chosen the right school. I felt that I needed more answers…I just wasn’t sure. During this entire process, I had talked and prayed with my mother on several occasions. She was elated for me and told me so often. She encouraged me and expressed how happy she was for me. What happened next blew me totally away…
It is a tradition at Pacifica Graduate Institute for the senior class to do a special ceremony to welcome in the new class. After the last class we were guided through a candlelit trail to the outdoors ceremony area. During this ceremony we are welcomed, encouraged, given a special gift, assigned a mentor, and instructed to choose a card which would be the deciding name/image for our class/cohort for 3 ½ years. A person from our class would select this card from a person of the senior class. This was a beautiful ceremony. As I stood in the circle listening to the words of encouragement, hearing the night sounds and the music, experiencing the beauty of the stars I thought of my mother, anxiously waiting for morning to call and tell her all the details of this experience. I was also asking God for assurance that I had chosen the right school. Suddenly the moment came when my classmate selected the card…I could not believe my eyes or my ears. On the card was a picture of a beautiful butterfly! Our group was named “The Butterflies”! The tears flowed…God affirmed! Though she was physically in Houston, Texas at the time, my mother was there in that circle during this ceremony. While I needed affirmation from God, he also knew that I wanted to know that my mother was affirming my decision as well. Between the tears, choked up words and elation I was able to share this experience with my mother over the phone the next morning. She assured me that no matter what would happen as far as her health was concerned she was supporting me and wanted me to continue on in the program. I promised her that I would. August 2008, I completed my doctoral coursework and passed my comprehensive exams.
It’s been five years since this amazing experience. My mother passed on July 4, 2009. Years prior to her illness she fell in love with butterflies. She began to purchase whatever she could find that depicted butterflies. During those years I had no idea what butterflies actually meant to her. I continue to have “butterfly” experiences and memories that give meaning and connections with her. Although she is no longer physically with me the butterfly connection continues….she is the heart behind me.