“So what’s your #1?” and why it’s OK I don’t have an answer

People are still so shocked when they hear me simply say, “I don’t have one” after they ask me that question about my fast -approaching decision of where I really want to go for school next fall. I understand they are doing the polite thing by being interested in my future and what I’ve been working towards all of my college career. I’m still tired of having to explain how I don’t have a first preference or that I really do not know where I want to go RIGHT NOW. If you asked me where I want to live in ten years or who I want to marry, would you also expect a well articulated detailed answer with confidence? It’s impossible. I only know who holds the future, and that is enough.

I realize this is an incredibly good “problem” to have, and I am not at all trying to sound like I’m stressed out about it. At the same time, having so many options is not always the best for someone as indecisive (when it comes to major life decisions aka college, major, etc) as me. I’ve always been one to heavily weigh each pro and con of pretty much everything. I didn’t commit to a university until May of my senior year of high school when I ultimately chose to go where everyone in my life knew I probably would. I guess I relish the drama and like to keep people guessing.

Since I wrote about my first UTHSC – San Antonio interview on here, I’ve traveled close to home (Dallas and Houston) and to an all together new world of the Northeast (Philly and NYC) to a total of four other schools: Texas A&M/Baylor College of Dentistry, UT School of Dentistry – Houston, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Wow.

“Take a step of faith when God gives you a vision because you trust that the One who gave you the vision is going to make provision. And for the record, if the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.”

It was such a season of waiting and anticipation those few months of constantly checking my inbox or SDN notifications (yep I’m one of those nerds), and I couldn’t help but jump up and down or do my happy dance with each new invitation. I am so grateful that God opened all these doors for me, and I can’t help but praise and give him the glory throughout all of this. Just to be offered interviews at those schools was a huge dose of affirmation that all of my years of hard work and passionate commitment to my future vocation were worth it and that I truly am walking in God’s calling on my life. If you would have asked me in my little small town Atlanta, TX high school (when I did start considering a medical career – first medical school, later dental) if I saw myself even going to interview at an Ivy League grad school, I probably wouldn’t have even known which schools you were talking about. Now all of these big scary decisions are in front of me that lead to four (I can pretty much rule out San Antonio at this point personally for various reasons even though it is an excellent school!) very tangible and realistic lives I could have for the next four years or even more depending on residency possibilities.

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”

Everyone that I’ve talked to that’s already in school somewhere seems to have the same kind of answer when I ask how they ended up choosing that school (if they had that wonderful problem that I’m hoping to have which is multiple acceptances). They all say something along the lines of just having a certain feeling at the end of their interview day that it was somewhere they could thrive, be surrounded by supportive classmates and faculty, find their specific niche through opportunities that the school offers, and ultimately a place to call home for the next season of life (we’re talking most of the 20s.) Well, I felt that at every school. Seriously.

My roommates, friends, and family like to guess which school I really will probably end up at, but I promise them I don’t know any more than they do. Most people don’t understand how complicated this decision is and that it’s based on so much more than just, “Where do you want to go?” How about we talk location, COST, student body, research, specialty exposure, honors programs, grading/testing style, ranked vs not ranked…the comparisons could go on forever.

“Finally, I learned that we shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God. We get overanxious. We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God’s timing. But here’s an important reminder: If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you. There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go and let God. How? By resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”

First of all, the general consensus of these interview days are that they are…fun! I don’t know why I was so nervous about this part of the application process. I have genuinely loved each conversation I’ve had with current students, my faculty interviewers -and not to sound too confident – but I honestly think all of them liked me too (we’ll see just how much come December 1st, right?). Another cool part of these visits is meeting the other students there interviewing with me that day. We all instantly click and have great conversations throughout the day about our colleges, other interviews, our diverse backgrounds, etc. These same folks that all laugh when I say “Y’all” (or actually know where Baylor is and that our football team is pretty cool as of late) could in fact end up being my classmates and life-long friends or colleagues. Weird. Also extremely cool to think about. 

If we were to play a game where I just say the first words that come to my mind when I think of that school/city (or if you had a peek of my extensive pro/con comparison chart of each school), it’d look a little something like this:

baylor picTAMU/BCD: Family, happy, reputation, lab work, downtown Dallas, Texans, friends, familiar, busy (lotttttts of tests/quizzes every week), proximity to Waco/Austin/home, churches, supportive, clinical competency, cheapest, numerical grading, awesome faculty, people like me (but more diverse than Houston), tons of Baylor alumni

houston picUTSD: brand new, fun, laid-back, cool new city, hot and humid, best facilities, super friendly faculty, TX Medical Center (best/biggest in the world), great food/bars, art/culture, cousins live there, churches, integrated curriculum, numerical grading, research collaboration, Texans, former frat/srat vibe (I really don’t mean that in a bad way – just that they are all very social/outgoing, have fun)

penn picpenn pic other 1penn pic otherPENN: historic, super cool city vibe, diverse/global vision, ambitious, individualized, extensive honors programs, in clinic from day 1 (as assistants), well-rounded curriculum (general/clinical v specialties), rigorous, reputation, externships, collaborative/ALL schools on one campus, insane specialty rate (like 13 got into OS of 14 that applied, same for all specialties), lots of research, graded/rank top 10, Yesle (D3 blogger friend), supportive, tight-knit, cutting edge, beautiful weather and actual seasons, far from home, scary amount of dollar signs, Dean’s scholarship

columbia picnyc picnyc other picCOLUMBIA: NYC duh, medical education (with med students/med classes first 1.5 years), pioneering research, pass/fail/honors (WOW tempting), most diverse, incredibly driven, mentorship, family, networking, reputation, they breed specialists, strong OS prep (insane high scores on Step 1), work hard/play hard, more scary dollar signs, zero competitiveness, less preclinic/clinic, externships, highest cost of living, John (D2 Baylor alum), foodie central

All that to say…that’s my [lack of an] answer. I may or may not have other thoughts deep down and visions of my future that point in one direction or another, but for now I’m staying open-minded to anything that could happen. I’m tuning in to God’s voice and praying circles around this. Several people have told me at this point there is no such thing as a wrong decision. I fully believe that, and I remind myself daily that I will get clarity in God’s timing. More than anything, on my heart is the weight of the financial stress that this decision entails. Recently I’ve shifted towards asking for bigger than ever faith and trust that God is the ULTIMATE provider. Eventually we have to realize that we can plan like it depends on us, but we’ve got to pray like it depends on God. 

The future is exciting, my friends.

“While we’re busy planning, sometimes God is chuckling. And if our plans are way off, that contagious chuckle probably makes its way through angelic ranks like a laugh track. It’s not a vindictive chuckle, as if God relishes our failure. I just think God is sometimes amazed at how small our plans are. He allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail. So keep planning like it depends on you, but make sure you pray like it depends on God. Prayer is the alpha and omega of planning. Don’t just brainstorm, praystorm.”

- All quotes from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson -

September, Sic ‘Ems, and Spontaneity

I can’t believe how long I’ve made it without writing. I promise I really hate having such a long hiatus. Senior year has been off and ROLLING so fast, and I’ve just been so preoccupied with things like spontaneous concerts, watching record-breaking comeback football games (OMG SICEM BAYLOR BEARS – yes, I rushed the field so I’m sure you saw me on every sports channel and highlight reel), and Northeast/Ivy League adventures of dental school interviews. I will be writing soon with an update on my recent thoughts about it all and a look inside what these interviews are really like; long story short - I LIKE EVERY SCHOOL and am praying harder than ever before.

For a quick side note, I’m almost finished reading The Circle Maker, a book that will rock your prayer life and challenge you to pray hard, specific prayers circling your dreams that God has given you until a miracle comes through. Can you say financial provision and peace regarding overwhelming tuition costs and loan amounts?

I am resolving to be better about posting at least once a week with more specific topics because I find that when I go as long as a month without writing, I don’t even know where to begin.

Senior year is flying by way too quickly. Strong denial still persists about this whole graduation thing.

Baylor football is gaining more respect after each week’s display of what we’re made of, and we really love points and winning here in Wacotown. In other news, I’m still obsessed with Bryce Petty. Last night was INSANE.

petty

Histology is picking up pace, and after our first round of quizzes and an exam I’m completely embracing the mindset that even if I don’t end with an A, I’m learning endless information that will help me survive D1 year. We have big case study projects in lab coming up, and I chose an oral/dentistry specific case despite my prof’s warning that they’d require the most outside research and work to understand this new language of oral histology. I’ll take the challenge, though, because what a rare and refreshing thought that I actually get to study things applicable to my career.

Physics is still physics, management is just another business minor class that I don’t find incredibly great, but I do enjoy my Psalms and Wisdom Lit class and getting to know people better in our small class.

My new LifeGroup has been extremely welcoming, fun, passionate, and I already feel knit together with this new spiritual community.

My intramural volleyball team, the Serve-ivors made it to the second round of playoffs before losing a hard-fought game. We showed those sorority teams they aren’t the only ones who can play.

vball

Intramural flag football with ASDA (the pre-dental org I’m involved in) started up last week, and guess who the starting QB is? My pre-dent roommate and I made a pretty sweet team with several long completions last week, and my other roommate is joining us this week as an honorary member. We future dentists can be pretty sporty and had a marina social on Thursday, complete with sand volleyball and stand-up paddle-boarding on the Brazos. I’m loving the bigger membership this year and getting to know all the new freshman and sophomores. It’s really fun finally being the senior getting to share my words of wisdom and advice about what it really takes to get into dental school like my upperclassmen did for me. I’m actually taking on a role as somewhat of an “Academic Chair/Mentor” this year, and I’ll coordinate a few events or presentations on the real academic requirements, course recommendations, study habits, DAT advice, and just be a resource for all of the underclassmen applying in a few years. It’s hard to believe that in just a year’s time, I’ll be one of the dental students coming back to Baylor to share what life in dental school is really like to current ASDA members.

I could keep writing for hours just on the last month, but I’m headed to work anatomy open lab for my students’ upcoming practical this week. By the way, I’m loving my new job, getting to know everyone, and reviewing gross anatomy along the way. Winning all around.

Overall, I’ve been worlds more spontaneous this semester, and I don’t regret any of it. To be honest, studying has been put on the back burner, and soaking up every last second of my final year here has been totally worth it.

“Nothing says #collegelife like going to the best football game this week (year?) and being in downtown Dallas 2 hours later for a concert.” – @jessieprice11 on Twitter

for the love of Thursdays

After jam-packed Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays (class, labs, teaching lab or cycling class keep me busy all hours of the day plus various evening commitments, meetings, intramurals), Thursdays have become sacred this semester. There is just something about the promise of waking up on Thursday mornings knowing that after one more sleep the weekend will have arrived and life as a college student will manage to slow down for a day or two.

This isn’t to say that I only live for the weekends (although it’s hard not to) or don’t enjoy my time in class or working. I am in fact a self-proclaimed nerd and learning-lover who was itching for class to start back up again during the dog days of summer. I also am absolutely loving my new job as a human anatomy lab TA. Not only do I get to use my passion and aptitude for learning the intricacies of the human body, but I’m becoming friends with my “students” who are mostly fellow senior biology majors applying to medical, dental, PA, PT, etc. schools just like me. I proudly already know all fifty of their names and can’t wait to begin dissections next week with them. All that being said, I still long for at least one day alarm-free and knowing that I’ll have a few more hours to devote to things I enjoy outside of school once the end of the week arrives and a little less time to things like studying for my first physics test (yep, third week of school and already took one yesterday).

After discussing and interpreting a few lament Psalms in my morning religion class and quickly working through a physics lab I semi-understood, I was finished for the day around 1 pm.

*Side note – before turning in my first lab report for physics, I was checking my calculations and realized me AND my fellow upperclassman lab partner both found slope of our drawn graph backwards (we did change in x on top instead of y). I had to change all the rest of my answers and analysis and immediately texted my partner that we apparently need to go back to seventh grade algebra. I promise we’re smart. We really are.*

I enjoyed a leisurely lunch (Thursdays are the only day I have time to not scarf a packed wrap or some fruit and nuts in between classes) and did force myself to stay at the science building for just another hour to get a start on some histology notes (this weekend is solely devoted to catching up in that class aka opening my book maybe?) before riding my bike back home.

Here are the real reasons Thursdays are so darn lovely. Today I got home mid afternoon and headed straight to my cozy bedroom, got under the sheets, and didn’t even bother to get my phone from my backpack to set an alarm. I woke up a perfect thirty minutes later, grabbed my book Delancey to hopefully finish (about a young couple opening a pizza restaurant in Seattle that I started reading over the summer just because), and curled up on the couch with the afternoon sun streaming through the window behind me.

Thursday nights are now Lifegroup nights, and that simply means meeting with a fun, intentional, passionate group of college students to be in community, worship, challenge and pray for each other. I had spontaneously told Jenna earlier that we needed to do a girls night of bruschetta and wine, because is there anything better? She quickly agreed, so after Lifegroup I headed to her place and threw together two varieties on golden and crusty roasted garlic bread: classic tomato basil and honey goat cheese/balsamic arugula/prosciutto. Our other friends came over and I insisted I make another batch. We sipped Pinot Grigio, talked, and laughed about everything with Spotify playing Michael Buble in the background. Jenna asked why was I so “crafty/arsty/sophisticated,” and as I plated and topped with the final curls of prosciutto, shavings of grano padano, and last drizzles of EVOO, said,”That is so Shauna!” For those of you that don’t know, I (along with Jenna, Chelsea, my sister and mom) am totally in love with Shauna Niequist’s books, insist to everyone I know that they must read them, and claim that the reason I relate so much is because she is literally me in about twenty years. Go look her up or check out my posts on here about her books that spoke so deeply to me. Long story short, she loves God, she loves people, and she loves eating food with those people, so basically she gets me. 10460322_772389946145578_6775106868803851349_n

As a senior whose GPA is solely down to a pride issue and will not have any implications of my future (i.e. dental school acceptances come December hopefully) now that I’m done with the application process, I have completely embraced these nights when other things matter more than studying: things like going to my favorite coffee shop to read for leisure, time spent with an uplifting community, cooking and eating with those I love, blogging, delaying sleep for an overdue Pinterest binge, and simply saying yes to spiritual and physical rest so I can do it all again next week.

16th grade and I’m still a nerd

yes, we picked out our outfits the night before the first day

yes, we picked out our outfits the night before the first day

It’s official. Now that I have made it to the end of the first week of my last year at Baylor University (cue “Time of Your Life”), I guess I can’t deny it anymore. I’m nowhere near back in the grind of full schedules, classes, and studying, but I guess that’s me already embracing the senior mentality. Heck, I even missed my first day of Tues/Thurs class and lab this week for my Houston interview (dental school/interview update post soon – hint: it involves a purchased plane ticket headed north!). As much as I enjoyed my long summer break free of studying anything besides books for leisure and acoustic guitar, I’m so excited for the new semester. Even after all these years of school (and let’s not do the math on how much more I have ahead of me), I still love brand new notebooks, pens, and pencils. Here’s a quick look into my classes this semester:

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

Histology – For any non-biologists out there, that would be the microscopic study of tissues. Sounds less than riveting, but I’d like to argue on behalf of the class and professor that it will in fact be really interesting (in other words extremely difficult but rewarding per usual of my favorite science classes). The professor is a recently retired pathologist, and with an M.D. and PhD., clearly he’s brilliant (or insane for that much schooling?). One of his favorite topics to discuss is his many former students now in med/dental/etc school texting him while they’re in histo lecture saying how bored they are since he prepared them immensely. Another class to suffer through now to have life be a tad bit easier later? I’ll take it.

Physics – Yes, you read that right. I put this “freshman-level” class off until now simply because it is not on the DAT and is not a prereq for any other classes for my major. Eight hours are required in my degree and for dental school prerequisites, though, so here I am working my way through online homework problems about trains passing each other. Joy. My prof at least is the sweetest and nerdiest Colorado native that seems to genuinely want to help us conquer the beast that is physics, and I know a few fellow pre-dent friends with senioritis in my class.

Psalms and Wisdom Literature – Once again, I get to study the Bible for college credit. As much of a challenge it always is and oftentimes outside of my academic comfort zone, I still love that I made the choice to do a religion minor at one of the top Christian universities. My professor is a jolly old man that reminds me of Santa Claus, and he pretty much already knows all the names in our small class made of a mix of religion majors, a few Chi-O’s, and a large handful of people that go to my church (if you go to Baylor you will understand this is comically predictable). I can’t wait to see what all I’ll learn this semester about one of my favorite sections of the Bible.

Organizational Behavior – this is the intro class in the Management department required for my business administration minor. I didn’t exactly go into it excited about another class with a lot of material not entirely relevant to my future career as a private practice dentist. I guess some ideas will be applicable to organizing my staff and understanding how people work together, though. The professor is a bit bitter towards higher education and claims to have hated every minute he was in school. He said he became a professor to teach students what actually matters that he was never taught; things like your GPA doesn’t matter, work you do at your job doesn’t matter, only using the corporation’s agenda to fulfill you own agenda. See why I already tune him out often? I’m not complaining about his non-existent attendance policy and saving us a chunk by not having to buy the textbook, though.

b-e-a-utiful and ready for football on the Brazos

b-e-a-utiful and ready for football on the Brazos

The first week was also filled with reunions with old friends literally all day long in the science building, leading my first couple of sections as an anatomy lab assistant (loving it already), the first pumped up college worship service of the year at my church, taking in the sights of our brand new football stadium at Traditions Rally, and some Friday night pizza and drinks topped off with a hilarious round of Balderdash with friends.

Cheers! To senior year.

ASDA Mouthing Off post – I guess I’m a real blogger now!

In the craziness of the last couple of weeks, I forgot to update all my pre-dental / dental student readers out there that my article I wrote for the American Student Dental Association’s blog, Mouthing Off, was published recently. It was also a fun fact to share in my last interview. If you’ve followed my blog the past few months, it was basically a revision of my original post on here about my dental mission trip to Panama last spring break. If you’ve always wondered what those trips are really like, read my post to get a first-hand look at the incredible experience.

“A smile is the same in any language”

Interview #1: nerve-racking or…fun??

The long awaited step that has been the one part of the application process I’ve always felt the least prepared for has officially started: I’ve got one dental school interview behind me!

My first one was at UTHSC – San Antonio this past week. One fun thing about interviews is the opportunity to squeeze a mini vacation out of it. My older sis and baby nephew tagged along for a couple days down to the chips and salsa capital of Texas.

but first, pizza

but first, pizza

Since this was my first of a few, I was slightly nervous and somewhat over-prepared. I trudged my way through pages of possible questions the week before and recruited Jenna to mock interview me as well as my sis helping the night before. Here’s a sample of some of the common questions I researched and thought up answers (but definitely not too-rehearsed) for:

Why dentistry?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Why our school?
How do you define success?
Tell me about your leadership experience.
Tell be more about ___________ (interesting topic from personal statement/other essays).
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
What career would you pursue if not dentistry?

I put on my brand spanking new suit and the heels that I was dreading would cause issues (I managed to end the day blister free thankfully), and found my way to the admissions office. I was thankful that me and my roommate were lucky enough to get the same interview date for both of our first. Having someone to make eye contact with during awkward moments or do mutual teeth checks with (remember we’re all talking to teeth-obsessed people so it matters, ok?) after lunch was a welcome gift. Once everyone had arrived in the conference room, I think I counted about twenty students. There was a collective quiet nervousness from everyone, but as the day went on and I got to talk to some of them, they were mostly pretty cool. The thought that some of these people could in fact become my classmates and best friends the next four years was crazy. We started with a presentation by the dean of student affairs about the school, curriculum, special programs, and student life. Next, there was a financial aid presentation discussing FASFA, loans, and the ridiculously intimidating dollar amounts none of us wanted to talk about. For lunch, one of my favorite parts of the day was getting to talk with current students about the school and life as a dental student. The (relevant side note – very attractive) guy that sat near me and I mostly talked to was a D3, super friendly, and eager to answer all my questions. Our interviews started around 1:00, and my student interview was first. Overall, it was extremely laid-back, and we clicked great; we discussed everything from triathlons to dental missions. Here’s some of the questions he really asked me (different from the lengthy list I practiced, but things I actually wanted to talk about).

What do you do to relieve stress?
What kind of books do you like to read?
How do you stay organized?
What will you/your strengths bring to our school?
How do you handle conflict?

Of course then I had a few questions I got to ask him about the school and how he likes living in San Antonio. We could have talked for several more minutes, but he had to take me down the hall to my faculty interviewer. 

My professor who interviewed me was an older ex-air-force doc over their AEGD programs in the comprehensive dentistry department (in other words a pretty important guy), and I could just tell by his loud and friendly demeanor that this interview would probably be just as stress-free. Again, I was wondering why I even thought to worry about this whole thing. We talked about playing music, my cooking, his military traveling, and he was especially interested in my religion minor. I went on to tell him about my personal interest in studying the Bible academically and even described a lot of the classes I had taken. Before I even started though, he said he could already tell I was a Christian (he was too) by the first ten minutes of our interview. It was really neat to be able to talk about one of my passions outside of dentistry-specific topics like my experience in Baylor’s religion department. Some other questions included:

How do you handle conflict? (again)
What do you do in your free time?
What kind of books do you read? (again)
How do you plan your day and stay organized/handle busy schedules?
What are your strengths?

Just like my first interview, we could have chatted for the rest of the hour. I felt like I had just met two people over coffee and talked about life. THIS was what I had been anxious about for so many months? He walked me back to the admissions office, and when we parted ways, he shook my hand and basically showered me with affirmation and wishes for my best. I was so thankful to be paired with such a genuine guy who loved his profession, being apart of the UTHSCSA family, and was so positive and encouraging to me in my future as a dentist.

The day ended with tour of the school, during which I actually ran into a friend there for a med school interview – small world! He casually blended in and tagged along to our tour so we could chat for a bit. After the tour we took a quick survey and had to write a short essay (nothing to really fret about – I can knock out a page on just about anything and make it sound convincing). I made sure and get one picture from the day with Audrey before catching the shuttle back to the hotel.

started freshman year, now we're here

started freshman year, now we’re here

I’ve got the other two Texas interviews this week and next, and I’m only hoping they are also so laid back and enjoyable. It turns out these seemingly scary days that determine our future could actually be…fun? After all, I should be looking forward to them because they are how I’ll get a feel for where I could be spending the next crazy hard but incredibly exciting next four years of my life.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

What else to celebrate one interview down than fish tacos and a marg on the riverwalk?

Interviews, SDN, and other nerdy things

Is this real life? All this time leading up to this next phase of interviews (and then ultimately/hopefully acceptances!) and now it’s finally here. I’m so grateful because I’ve already heard back from each of the Texas schools for interview invites! All of them are happening in August though (as soon as the 11th), and with it now being the 2nd, I’m getting slightly nervous since it’s so soon. I’m trying to be patient about the other out of state schools I applied to because according to Student Doctor Network (basically the type-A future doctor’s bible on all things admission tests/interviews/applications – and where I go to get a good laugh in at how ridiculous and stressed these guys are sometimes), they haven’t started to send out invites yet.

I quit working at Gap a couple weeks ago (freeeeedom), and I recently informed The Shack that this would be my last two weeks there – seriously so hard to do, and I’m not looking forward to whenever I have my last shift there. I hope if any of them are reading this they understand how much I loved and appreciated that job this summer. They let me fulfill my lifelong hope of working in a restaurant, and I have nothing but great memories to take with me.

I’ve spent some time (in between lots of spontaneous nights with friends, old and new) at one of my favorite spots in town to tackle projects with bottomless coffee and sweet morning treats in hand.10348360_750482198336353_6367950917821525942_n

First on the to-do list was to finish writing my blog post discussing my dental mission trip to Panama for the American Student Dental Association’s “Mouthing Off” blog (to be published this coming Friday!).  I have actually started to look into potential interview questions and tried to do some more research on each of the schools to somehow think up some all-too-important questions for my interviewers (without looking stupid by asking something I could easily find on their website). I’m confident on the talking about me part, so I’m hoping the interviews just turn into conversations elaborating on my application, discussing the latest books I’ve read, or what I do in my spare time to handle stress like blogging. Hey, it could happen.

Another task was crossed off this week when I purchased my first big girl professional suit. Now I’ve just got to find some “conservative” shoes to accompany it because for some reason admission committees don’t think dentists can be professional and stylish at the same time. I beg to differ.

To top off this post about the past busy few weeks, I think a picture of this Etsy purchase I bought for myself, just because, is in order. 10313654_751601114891128_1427569048264042981_n

It’s Saturday, friends. SMILE.

“Everything is interim…”

IMG_7566The dog days of summer are upon us, and I’ve definitely reached that point of the season when I’m so looking forward to the next that I can honestly admit that I’m just about ready to fast forward to August and a new semester. I am in fact a nerd and do actually enjoy school and busy schedules. This summer has been one of mental, spiritual, and physical recharging (i.e. sleeping incredibly more than I do Aug-May), trying to save up some funds, falling back in love with making music, diving into new and unexpected friendships that have marked my life forever (needing an entire post of their own), and of course tackling dental school applications and soon interviews (more exciting news on that to come!). Today I was trying to finish up my last Shauna Niequist read (if you’ve missed my past posts over the last year you should know that she is my soul sister and basically me in twenty years – I dream of having dinner at her table one day), Cold Tangerines – with a side of cold brew coffee -and the chapter titled “Writing in Pencil” resonated so deeply with me.  She basically highlights the [not always sunshine-and-roses] adventure that is discovering the difference between our seemingly immovable plans and God’s always-surprising yet perfect paths we end up on. IMG_7570 This summer is definitely one of those interim times of future-oriented thinking as I try to wrap my brain around how different my life (and bank account) could look the next four to ten years based on where I end up getting accepted and attending school after college. This road is ever-changing and every day I feel like God has something new to reveal to me about where He’s leading. I had a friend a few weeks ago put it in a new light, though, that really changed my previous view of “I just want to go where God wants me to go.” He said that God only wants to give us the deepest desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4-5 happens to be one of my favorite verses in the Bible) and that He is not only walking in front of us “leading us”, but right beside us and also behind us, nudging us to take the path we really want to (if it is a desire He has placed on our heart). He gives us new dreams for our lives and wants nothing for us but to thrive along the way of seeing those dreams become a reality. We are truly IN Christ and Christ is IN us, so can we ever really lose? Nope. I realized that no matter where I ultimately decide to go, I can’t really make the “wrong” decision. The point is not if I end up in Texas, Colorado, or the East Coast, it’s that anywhere I am, God will be there with me, molding and shaping me into who He has created me to be in THIS season and each season to follow. So I can sit here and think my life will look like ______ in five years (think something like starting an OMFS residency, most certainly not married yet, living in a “cozy” city apartment with a dog), but more than likely I could be beyond surprised by the goodness of God to make it look entirely different from my stubborn plans. I’m so thankful that “life with God is a daring dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do,” and that “with the surprises comes great hope.” Here’s to putting down the permanent marker and picking up a pencil, open to erasures and edits from an Author writing the best version of our lives we never saw coming.

the 254 and why it feels like home

wacotown-mar14People too often like to talk indifferently about this little city in the “Heart of TX” along I-35 between Dallas and Austin, but after living here for three years, I can’t help but speak up on behalf of my lovely home away from home in Wacky Waco.

I’m not claiming it’s some new bustling metropolis, but it’s so much more than just a place for a pit stop for a Cowboy Coffee (granted, that’s a pretty good reason) during a long Texas roadtrip.

These are just some little treasures I’ve discovered (or have been dying to) that help make the 254 what it is (and I’d add photos but there are too many to choose from of my 3 years of living here!):

  • It happens to be the home of Baylor University, a.k.a. the best college ever. Duh.
  • Sunsets that can’t be beat over the Brazos and now the brand-spanking new McClane Stadium awaiting its debut.
  • The wackiest and most perfect little coffee shop, Common Grounds. So many things make it the Waco treasure that it has come to be: the lived-in couches, cleverly-named and highly-caffeinated beverages that I partly owe my high GPA streak to, and the coziest backyard which has hosted musical guests like Jon Foreman, Phil Wickham, Needtobreathe, All Sons and Daughters, Ben Rector, and Gungor (all of which I’ve seen and/or MET).
  • That same shop’s competition and the newly named #2 on the top 20 hottest coffee shops in the nation, Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits. Seriously, why have espresso and alcohol never really been friends before this? We all know avid coffee lovers usually are the same people who appreciate a good cocktail. This place is a young-urban-hipster-craft-drink-connoisseur’s paradise. The rooftop view of the courthouse and the highly photographed Alico building’s red letters is the icing on this espresso cake.
  • Stand-up-paddleboarding on the river or “mountain” biking through trails on a sunny spring day, courtesy of rentals from locally-owned Outdoor Waco.
  • A city of passionate believers on a mission to set the world on fire, starting with McLennan County and reaching to Southeast Asia. There are an indefinite number of students and adults in Waco that I meet day in and day out that live to dream big with God and want to see the nations set free. My church, Antioch Community Church, is also the host of World Mandate, an incredible annual Christian conference.
  • Lake Waco Dam. Again with the sunsets…
  • This is Dr. Pepper country. So much so that Dr. Pepper [Float] Hour is every Tuesday at 3:00 in Barfield Drawing Room on Baylor’s campus. I’ve only been about twice in my college career due to a little thing called being a science major and living in labs at all hours.
  • The newest and biggest HEB in Texas. If you don’t happen to live in central/south TX or Mexico, man am I sorry for you. HEB is the gloriousness that is the best grocery store ever that makes even uttering the word “Walmart” downright absurd. Fresh, hot, scratch-made tortillas daily (these are not the kind to be used for tortilla tossing off the suspension bridge, another Baylor tradition), free samples and cooking demos, ample produce and specialty ingredients that meet the needs of most foodies, and two whole aisles of an extensive and quality beer and wine collection.
  • Cameron Park is one of the largest and most beautiful municipal parks in Texas. I’ve spent countless hours on the trails (and gotten lost a time or two), worshipped with friends on the grassy fields, ran two Bearathons (Baylor’s half-marathon) through the dreaded hills, and enjoyed some quality quiet times reading and journaling from Lover’s Leap overlooking the Brazos. Apparently it’s also something like the best disc golf course ever if you’re into that, but I can’t attest to it since I don’t have oodles of free time to throw a frisbee to some targets.
  • An on-the-rise downtown with new restaurants, bars (my favorite is easily Muddle – a classy cocktail lounge where the best Saturday nights are spent at the weekly piano bar or on the back deck with a taco and a live band), food trucks, and shops opening up all the time as well as the weekly Farmer’s Market. It’s so refreshing after growing up in a small town with about 70% of downtown vacant and rundown.

This collection is no where near all-inclusive, but at least you can see what it is I love about this place that I’ve come to call my home and can’t imagine having to leave in less than a year.

#Iheartthe254 #Wacotown #Wacoisawonderland #KeepWacoWacko #HeartofTX

Meat and other ‘Merica things


10367736_737019966349243_6995694065233738491_nWell I’d say I’ve officially crossed the bridge to being a real live American woman by cooking my first successful big roast of meat. Sure, I cook all the time, but rub down and roast a four pound pork butt for seven hours in my oven, I had not.

I had my friends over for a pre-July 4th celebration last night since all of us actually have to work today (what is that? that is not exactly freedom, my friends). I don’t even know why I automatically jumped to pulled pork sandwiches, but once I did I had the whole menu played out in my mind. I did some researching and landed upon this fabulous recipe for more of a Texas style pulled pork that wasn’t drowning in crockpot liquid (pulled pork is really not a TX thing, but I might like it better than fatty brisket, shhhhh).

http://thegoudalife.tumblr.com/post/26502809520/slow-down-eat-pork-coffee-chipotle-pulled-pork

A coffee chipotle rub and dry low and slow heat give you that beautiful charred bark on the outside and fall apart moist and slightly sweet meat on the inside. If that’s not American, then I don’t know what is. I let DJ contribute by having the all too important task of shredding the pork, even though I knew he was bound to (and did) “taste-test” about a half pound of it before bringing to the table. Boys…

I tossed the pork with about a cup of Stubb’s original BBQ sauce (again with the accidental TX theme) and paired it with the slaw from the same site (with the addition of carrots): red cabbage, julienned jals, cilantro, and a great tangy lime dressing (I subbed Greek yogurt for the mayo). Spicy, limey, and crunchy perfection to contrast the smoky sweet pork. I toasted up a combination of honey wheat Hawaiian rolls for sliders and onion rolls for regular sized sandwiches.

For an easy side, I roasted a few ears of corn (in their husks and directly on the oven rack at 350 for about 30 min) and served them with a chili lime honey butter that really complimented the pork sandwiches. I just eyeballed amounts of chili powder, lime juice, and honey and stirred into room temp butter.

Jenna brought over the cutest little watermelon, and dinner was served. Of course some cold, classic Shiner was the perfect beverage for this Texas, I mean American, celebration. After another dinner of hilarious conversations, we played a round of Apples to Apples and concluded that none of us have low self esteem or confidence issues; it gets pretty heated and competitive with our four fiery personalities, the only way games should be in my opinion.

What other way to finish off a Fourth of July dinner party than with Bluebell berry sundaes and watching one of the greatest American works of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby?

10404277_737009003017006_4792335426395103697_n

Happy Independence Day to all you lovely Americans. Rep those Stars and Stripes proudly wherever you may be today, and never take our freedom for granted!10151998_737240736327166_9154440737824637170_n