Enter inspiration: the Gehmans.
The little Gehman house, nestled in the depths of urban Minneapolis, is a home beaming with the light of Christ and joy of seminary living. When we stepped up to the charming deep-toned red house, little did we know we were stepping into a positively perfect seminary preamble.
Three bright-eyed blonde boys greeted us into their doorway, as Heather welcomed us in with a cheering smile and home cooked smells. The humble house was simple but chic, had touches of children, but with taste. House plants vibrant with life and care were put on every shelf, corner, and table. We went around saying our polite introductions and then were ushered into the living space.
Jon is a 2nd year seminary student living here with his wife Heather, and their 4 children. We were given their contact information by someone at the seminary. I think? I’m not sure how Bobby got their information, nor how we ended up at their kitchen table, but all I know, is I’m glad we did.
It’s funny how meeting someone famous just the morning before, pales in satisfaction to meeting someone who you can just ask all the things! What’s your story? How did you end up here? Why did you choose Bethlehem? What was the application process like? What is a week like for you? Where are the good places to live and the not-so-good places to live? Who are your friends? Tell us it all!
And boy were they happy to tell us it all! And then some.
Their story was different than ours, but similar enough to the fact that they just wanted to devour the Bible. As they grew into “big God theology” they grew into the calling of seminary. Coming from a very friendly, genuine, caring church in Pennsylvania, they were eager for relationships, but desperate for learning. Jon could not stop talking about his cohort. Heather gave all the details about the “sem wives.” They were like us, yet refreshingly different than us, which made it fun, adventurous, and curious.
Our evening with them consisted of a delicious Indian rice dish, well-mannered bright children, and lots of stories and laughter. It felt like it only took 10 minutes before we were fitted friends. Or maybe fitted friend-ish/mentors/mentees. Heather suggested emailing the seminary wives right away so everyone can be in prayer for everyone. They invited almost all of their cohort families to their home, or to a BBQ, or whatever, before the semester even started. They told us scary stories of muggings, shootings, and ketchup and mustard bandits. They told us about the three different Bethlehem campuses. They told us about home life, seminary life, and the diverse lives of diverse students.
Basically, our dinner with the Gehmans was just as I dreamed it would be. Well, it was more than I dreamed it would be. When Bobby first spoke the words “seminary,” the only worry in my mind was “What about our marriage? What about our family life?”
Well, the Gehmans are a living testimony (well one living testimony) that seminary doesn’t seem to be ruining anyones marriage or life. Now, granted we were only there for 3 hours. But it’s pretty hard to fake that happy of life for that long. None of any of those Gehman family members said one thing that would imply any sense of neglect, strain, or unhappiness. You could tell their children adored their parents. The 8 year old boy basically hung around the kitchen table the whole time as we discussed “adult” things that would otherwise bore a kid. He even piped in at one point when his dad was talking about planting a church. Jon said he presumed they would go back to Pennsylvania to church plant, in to which the oldest boy declared with dreamy determination, “No! I want to plant a church somewhere else in the world!” His dad replied, “Do it! I told you before you can go and plant a church wherever you want!”
This family just appeared to be the happiest family on earth.
Not only did they seem happy, they seem to thrive. Heather is my new-found role model. Her parenting is gentle, loving, and patient. She homeschools her boys, made us a great meal, all while having an 8 week old daughter (which also showed me you can have a real human baby during seminary too… just saying…). I think I thought seminary life would mean having no life. No husband. No family time. No time to relax. No margin. No babies. No life. But, the Gehmans? Well they disproved my theory very quickly.
Now, I think Bobby left their house a little unsettled by their big-city horror stories. They told quite a few. But Jon left me with a different taste in my mouth.
“So when we go out to our car, is someone going to shoot us?” we laughed as we hesitantly looked into the gloomy cold darkness of the Northern hood.
“Well if you do, it will be for your good and God’s glory!” Jon said with a confident chuckle and God-fearing tone.
Talk about a great benediction.
I think our dinner with the Gehmans accomplished a lot. At least for me it did. I’m not sure Bobby’s final impression. But me? The Gehmans taught me seminary life isn’t cemetery life. In a spiritual sense, but also a physical sense. God is bigger than the big city. God is better than the American dream. God will lead you. God will provide. God is faithful. God always comes through- not in ways expectant to man, but always in ways divinely good. God sees the big picture, knows the big picture, and won’t let you perish in the big picture. He is a personal God with a global perspective. Oh how good it is to serve and be led by such an awesome God!
And that was just the preamble!
I personally feel like I have a better sense of what life can be like here. We have a better sense of the area, a better sense of the seminary, and a better sense of a God who leads in mysteriously wondrous ways.
And that in itself is inspiration enough.