By Debbie Splaingard

Chapter Building: Bonding over Breakfast in Columbus

Monthly gatherings seem to have a particular appeal to graduate student women. As Becky, a mechanical engineering student, recently told a newcomer to the group, “It’s great, because you get to touch base with each other regularly, but not be overwhelmed time wise. And, if you miss, you know you’ll see everyone next month!”

On the first Saturday morning of each month at 9 a.m., women gather for an hour in the “community room” at a local breakfast spot called First Watch. Over pancakes, omelets, and bottomless cups of coffee, we chat and get to know one another. This month, Alex, an engineering student, has been asked to share the devotional — a few words about some things the Lord has been teaching her recently. She wonders if anyone else around the table has ever felt like she sometimes does, inadequate to the task she faces in graduate school. Knowing smiles and nodding heads assure her that she is not alone. She goes on to comfort us all with the comfort she has been given as she reminds us from 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” and that “when I am weak, then I am strong.” She tells about putting 1 Chronicles 28:10, “Be strong and do the work,” on Post-it notes all over her apartment, as motivation when her energy begins to flag. It’s important, she says, to believe two things: what God says about himself is true, and what he says about us, his beloved daughters, is true.. She closes with the assurance of Joshua 21:45, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

“You know,” exclaims a Ph.D. student, “it’s just so good to be here — women in this group understand the challenges of graduate school that many of my other friends just don’t ‘get’!” Conversation continues, ranging from the difficulty of finding a good advisor to achieving balance between academic work and the life of a disciple. We head out by 10 a.m., energized by coffee and by the encouragement of time spent with other women walking a similar path.

Next: The Pause that Refreshes

About the Author

Debbie Splaingard has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a Masters in Organizational Communication from Marquette University. Over the years, she has been a medical grant writer, owner of a personnel consulting business, church staff member, wife, mom and grandmother. She is currently a research associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a campus volunteer with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries at Ohio State University.

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