Fifth post in the series (and too long as usual)….

My name is Joy, and (at 29) I’m the eldest of the four McCarnan “supersiblings.” I was born on the campus of what was to become my alma mater, and earned a B.A. English/Creative Writing and an M.A. Theology from there. I was not “born again” until shortly before my freshman year of college, and so, as God would have it, a great deal of my post-conversion discipleship took place on that campus and in churches affiliated with that university. Like my dad, who also got an M.A. Theology from there, I opted not to use my degree for a pastoral position (we all thank heaven for that). I wanted it for a better basis for discernment in my writing. Even if I never write a book, I’m grateful for the educational path along which the Lord has brought me. When I sought the counsel of men and women for whom I have great respect, whose own lives and accomplishments I admired immensely, not one of them told me I would regret pursuing higher education. Not one of them told me that I would regret pursuing a seminary degree as a female. Did they have admonitions for me? Did they have advice? Yes, and yes. But the unanimous verdict was that a degree in theology could be of benefit to me in every aspect of my future, no matter what God might have on His agenda for me. They said it couldn’t hurt me — couldn’t hurt my “helpmeeting,” couldn’t hurt my mothering, couldn’t hurt my writing, couldn’t hurt my teaching, couldn’t hurt my housekeeping, couldn’t hurt my spiritual life. They said it seemed to them it could only help.

what joy looks likeI live in the river district in Rockford, Illinois (about an hour due west of Chicago). If it would pay the bills, I would write haiku and shoot photos all day, but alas, I had to get a real job. I coordinate the production and promotion of distance education courses for a paleoconservative, classics-focused, magazine-publishing “think tank.” I freelance for BigBlueHat, a South Carolina based web firm. I have a number of dream jobs, some of them more or less likely to be realized. Since the Discovery took off without me yesterday, I’ve had another reminder that “Astronaut” isn’t one of the likelier dreams to be fulfilled. I’d love to be a Wife, a Mother, perhaps a Missionary, a Teacher, a Writer. I’d love to teach creative writing on a university level. I’d love to teach English as a foreign language overseas somewhere. I’d love to write with a Christian worldview, yet competitively artistically and credibly, for a mainstream audience. For now, I’m doing a lot of stuff that I hope will continue to employ and multiply the affinities and abilities God’s given to me — I help out in various ways at my church, teach ESL, teach Greek, edit for Kids4Truth, take pictures, study languages, read fabulous books, sit around plotting ways to visit cool people like my new nephew, and — last but not least — I write the occasional poem or essay or article.

I don’t have a skyrocket IQ. My GPA in college was nothing to write home about (unless the deans were writing warnings home about it). But one of the best things any woman can learn is the vast disparity between what she has learned and what there is left out there to be learned — in other words, how much she doesn’t know. There are a lot of things I should be doing, or that I could be doing, but I’m not unhappy or overly stressed. If I get stir-crazy or tense, there are always rollerblades in the trunk of the car. There are always dishes to wash and letters to write and people to see and places to go. My mama (who has a degree in education, by the way, and who is still pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership and Supervision) always said, “Only boring people get bored.” A lifelong learner is never bored, and I’m content with how my experience with higher education has helped me become just that — a better lifelong learner.